Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

‘Passion In The Era of Decaffeinated Belief’

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Another provocative Žižek essay via his most-devoted American disciple, R. Vu—this one against (of all things) liberal tolerance/political correctness, and with one hell of a great title.

On today’s market, we find a whole series of products deprived of their malignant property: coffee without caffeine, cream without fat, beer without alcohol… And the list goes on: what about virtual sex as sex without sex, the Colin Powell doctrine of warfare with no casualties (on our side, of course) as warfare without warfare, the contemporary redefinition of politics as the art of expert administration as politics without politics, up to today’s tolerant liberal multiculturalism as an experience of Other deprived of its Otherness (the idealized Other who dances fascinating dances and has an ecologically sound holistic approach to reality, while features like wife beating remain out of sight…)? Along the same lines, what the Politically Correct tolerance is giving us is a decaffeinated belief: a belief which does not hurt anyone and does not fully commit even ourselves.

Everything is permitted to today’s hedonistic Last Man – you can enjoy everything, BUT deprived of its substance which makes it dangerous. This is why Lacan was right to turn around Dostoyevski’s well-known motto: “If God doesn’t exist, everything is prohibited!” God is dead, we live in a permissive universe, you should strive for pleasures and happiness — but, in order to have a life full of happiness and pleasures, you should avoid dangerous excesses, be fit, live a healthy life, not harass others… so everything is prohibited if it is not deprived of its substance, and you end up leading a totally regulated life. And the opposite also holds: if there is God, then everything is permitted — to those who claim to act directly on behalf of God, as the instruments of His will.

Written by gerrycanavan

February 20, 2007 at 3:05 am

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