Reading DISPARITIES (1): Zizek, China Miéville and the Ontology of the Kraken

At first sight Zizek’s new book DISPARITIES looks like a disjointed disparate set of reading notes on a diverse group of trendy books from within the fields of Continental Philosophy and of Speculative Realism. To that extent its title is apprpopriate, if only as mise en abyme of self-description.

However, we quickly realise that the disparity of the title constitutes a new member of the heterogeneous chain of master terms embodying the provisional unity to Zizek’underlying ontological project. Other terms include negativity, parallax, quantum incompleteness, or ontological difference.

One could easily add to this chain Bruno Latour’s recent concept of “being-as-other”. In effect, each of these terms is a temporary halting point, provisional quilting points for the work in progress (or at least in process). Zizek cites, and tries to distinguish himself from, Althusser, Deleuze, Derrida, and Adorno. Yet he is of the same ilk, and his self-distinction fails.

Zizek’s distinction from these fellow thinkers lies in his refusal to read Hegel as a monistic philosopher of unification and reconciliation. He argues that in Hegel’s thought there is no unifying “mole” or cunning of reason, no dialectical determinism, no puppet-master of history. For Hegel too substance is barred, subject is barred, negativity is primary, there is no Big Other. Against the hermeneutics of the monistic mole, Zizek proposes a disparate reading of Hegel.

But Zizek himself is sometimes guilty of uniform perspectives and molish readings. In the case of Deleuze this leads Zizek to dismiss the disparate concept of the “rhizome” for the sole reason that it is derived from Jung. Zizek jokingly calls this Jung-phobia an example of his own “Stalinist”prejudices, where Stalin is one of the names of Zizek’s mole.

Zizek’s “criticism” does not invalidate the concept at all, and applies equally to his own position. Jung is Zizek’s blindspot, as he argues Hegel is for Deleuze.

In Zizek’s mind “Jung” is the symbol of all that is homogeneous, harmonious and holistic, whereas Deleuze in fact uses Jung for his disparate pluralist potential. Zizek criticises Deleuze for being influenced by Jung. He singles out the “rhizome” as a Jungian concept and proceeds to replace it with the concept of the Kraken. Of course the Kraken is just as Jungian as the rhizome. But having ritually denounced Jungianism Zizek can now tranquilly go on to embody it unconsciously.

Continental Philosophy is full of knee-jerk anti-Jungianism, due to a lack of openness and transparency, and of acknowledgement of disparateness, in its own intellectual history. It maintains a deconstructive relation to Freud without realising that Jung was the first to deconstruct Freud effectively.

In fact, Lacan did an internship at the Burghölzli Clinic in August and September 1930 under the directorship of Hans Maier, Jung’s ex-assistant. I think that Lacan was more exposed to Jungian ideas than he let on, preferring to foreground instead the influence of Surrealism, which pursued a similar deconstruction of Freudism to Jung’s.

The first critique/deconstruction of Freudian ego psychology does not date from Lacan but from Jung, but you would never guess this from Lacanian discussions of the failings of ego psychology. Deleuze had more openness and more honesty, freely admitting to Jung’s influence from the early 60s onwards. Zizek’s denegation represents a regression.

Deleuze and Guattari have the rhizome taken from Jung, but they also have the Thing, the Entity, from the Lovecraftian/Melvillean model. The Kraken is a figuration of both, of their unity. The rhizome is ambivalent between the mole and the kraken. Zizek in DISPARITIES gives attention only to the authoritarian aspect of secret manipulation and determination. He equates the pluralist rhizome and the monist mole as covert determinations. Zizek then proposes his own solution of the Kraken, which in fact is merely a repetition of the ignored uncanny Real aspect of the rhizome.

See also my take on Deleuze, Lacan, Zizek, Jung here.

China Miéville from his early novel called coincidentally KRAKEN to his most recent THE LAST DAYS IN NEW PARIS is far more Deleuzian, and so Jungian, than Lacanian. Miéville provides us with an example of the disparate in the realm of science fiction and his weird ontology is both Zizekian and Deleuzian. See: https://terenceblake.wordpress.com/2016/08/18/weird-ontology-and-noetic-estrangement-china-mievilles-the-last-days-of-new-paris/.

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One Response to Reading DISPARITIES (1): Zizek, China Miéville and the Ontology of the Kraken

  1. Hunter says:

    Cool

    Like

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