ZIZEK/DELEUZE (1): Pure Movement

« Contrary to all appearances, this is what happens in psychoanalysis: the treatment is over when the patient accepts the nonexistence of the big Other ». (Zizek, THE PUPPET AND THE DWARF, page 169-170).

This quote highlights a general tension in Zizek’s texts between a poststructuralist approach (the big Other does not exist) and a regressive Freudo-Lacanian recoding of such ideas. Zizek takes deconstructive and pluralist arguments and then retranscribes them in what he calls « Lacanese ». But, as I have argued, this Lacan never existed, it is the necessary mask for Zizek’s own ideas, a sustaining fantasy. The problem with his Lacanese reductions is that they that go against all the rest when he takes them as a baseline. There is nothing wrong Lacanese translations, indeed they can sometimes be quite illuminating. But used as reductions they generate an incoherence in Zizek’s thought, a collapse of his parallax.

Thus Zizek tends to waver between poststructuralist pluralism and a monist reductionism founded on his idiosyncratic reading of Lacanian psychoanalysis. Sometimes Zizek gives reductive oedipal interpretations, for example see:https://terenceblake.wordpress.com/2011/11/27/avatar-zizek-vs-the-post-jungian-vision/. But sometimes he is more open. LESS THAN NOTHING is in many ways a more open text, and his reading of Hegel brings him quite close to Deleuze’s nomad image of thought . But there is no break with and going beyond post-structuralismhere, rather its continuation . Unless you accept his caricature of post-structuralism as an accurate description, in which case it is no big thing to go beyond it.

Nowhere is the closeness to Deleuze more apparent thain in the new (2012) preface to ORGANS WITHOUT BODIES and in the opening chapter of LESS THAN NOTHING. In the preface Zizek characterises Deleuze’s late philosophy in terms of desubstantialised movement: « The purely virtual self-referential creating moves at infinite speed, since it needs no externality in/through which to mediate its self-positing movement ». This description of Deleuze’s philosophy corresponds to Zizeks own « Eppur si muove » at the beginning of « Less than Nothing », which Zizek presents as the ambiguous movement underlying the realisation of the lack of substantial basis in the big Other.

This notion of de-reification of movement as the basis of the dialectic allows Zizek to argue that Deleuze is much closer to Hegel (and so to Zizek) than he believes:

« the ultimate irony of Deleuze’s critique of Hegel » is that he « imputes to Hegel a substantialization-reification which is not there and, in this way, obliterates precisely that dimension in Hegel which is the closest to Deleuze himself ».

This common dimension is that of Spirit construed not as a pre-existing substrate to movement but as pure movement or « pure processuality ». For Zizek Deleuze misreads Hegel, and so does not see their real proximity, preferring to criticise the conventional stereotype of Hegel as idealist positing a substantial Subject. Hegel on Zizek’s reading gives primacy to movement, process, and difference.

« If ever there was a straw-man, it is Deleuze’s Hegel: is not Hegel’s basic insight precisely that every external opposition is grounded in the thing’s immanent self-opposition, i.e., that every external difference implies self-difference? »


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