Reading DISPARITIES (6): The Failure of Substantialization

Zizek continues his exploration of the impasses of OOO by examining its passage from subject to substance. His argument here is that far from escaping the problematic of the subject (which Meillassoux draws from Althusser and re-names “correlationism”) OOO reinforces the very dualism that it purports to escape. The naturalisation of the object is accompanied by the substantialisation of the subject, which in turn must be compensated by a more or less poetic re-subjectivation (or “re-enchantment”) of the real.

Zizek advocates a reprise of the contrary movement, from substance to subject, that is to say he proposes to undercut OOO’s secondary re-subjectivation of the object (regressive re-enchantment) by means of a renewed concept of the subject as de-substantialized. This movement of de-substantialization was accomplished, in Zizek’s view by Lacan and by the Deleuze of LOGIC OF SENSE.

Here Zizek’s terminology and argument become murky indeed, but the main lines are clear. We need a concept of pure appearance that is not the appearing of anything. This de-substantialization of appearance corresponds to Lacan’s semblance and to Deleuze’s simulacrum. It is only with this concept that we can conceive of the subject:

subject is the self-appearing of nothing

Zizek proposes this idea of self-appearing of nothing as a more satisfactory solution than OOO’s subject as based on the self-withdrawal of the object.

Zizek argues that this de-substantialisation of the subject is a way of avoiding the paradox of transcendental constitution that pervades OOO. It does not accede to an objective vision of subject-indepebdent objects but only to a transcendental vision of a substantialized real that is in denial of its own subjective basis:

the problem with subjectless objects is not that they are too objective, neglecting the role of subject, but that what they describe as a subjectless world of objects is too subjective, already within an unproblematized transcendental horizon.


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4 Responses to Reading DISPARITIES (6): The Failure of Substantialization

  1. landzek says:

    A de-substantiation of the subject.

    I tend to be sort of a Zizekian; I enjoy that he reduces the subject to a conflation of objects, what I call but I don’t think he ever turns it in this way, the nil subject.

    So I see it that it is not so much that somehow my being my presence my position in the world is really based on nothing; I can fully and will fully describe Zigzeks situation and account for it: as an anachronism. As a result of a postmodern situation, in fact the postmodern subject in the last instance. It doesn’t mean that I am a postmodern subject, or that we are; it merely means that in reality this isn’t how humanity is situated along a certain line of meaning a certain cohesion and scaffolding of discourse.

    And because I can say this without any apology to or for theoretical bases, I have therefore and acted a division. It is not that I’m ignorant of the postmodern situation but in fact I am subject to the postmodern condition that is reality. Hence I say we have come to a fact about humanity about being in the world.

    I have come to a definition of an object. Due to the self-imposed limitation of humans being in the world, what we call the postmodern condition which is really just an apology for our modern world, we can take all these aspects all these descriptions all these various argumentative postures and clump them together. We can already see the outlines of this common thing. What is left is to actually fill in this outline; The way this is done is through doubt. We must doubt until there is no more doubting what is obvious.

    So it may be another 10 or 20 years or 50 years until the outline has been inscribed, until no serious philosopher can really set aside the parameters of the situation without actually just speaking of nonsense.

    Again I won’t go into Zacks position, because it involved and because it’ll probably be in this upcoming book. But once you understand his position there are only so many things that he can say, so many angles upon world and so many terms that he can use in various fashions before he starts just saying the same thing over and over again.



  2. landzek says:

    Oops. : first paragraph ‘isn’t ‘ should be ‘is’


  3. landzek says:

    Hey by the way: I think Miellasoux’s ‘accidental’ coining of correlationalism is really a weak argument. His book beyond finitude really I think doesn’t even stand up to his mentor Badiou. I’m not sure really what’s so significant about him except that he happened to be at a specific time where he brought up questions but really gave us no sort of substantial theoretical basis that makes his philosophizing very significant.

    Anyways. You said Athurser. Can you point me to where A. Talks about this idea?


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