In this review essay I am reading Zizek’s DISPARITIES as he asks it to be read, against the grain, following the guiding thread of the disparate in his text and drawing a simple line of demarcation between the disparate and the monist elements. This is the same method that Zizek is both advocating and illustrating in this book.
DISPARITIES is an act of “philosophical warfare”. It is written as a political intervention in the domain of theory, in favour of a new or non-standard practice of philosophy. Zizek agrees with Althusser’s thesis that philosophy is class struggle in the field of theory, and specifies that here it is a question of a “struggle against the different forms of obfuscating disparity”. He favours division and struggle rather than dialogue and consensus. He wishes to draw a line of demarcation between the deployment of disparity (« ontological difference » ») and its obfuscation.
I argue that we can share Zizek’s concerns without necessarily adopting all of his conclusions. Another way of formulating this struggle would be as the attempt to formulate a view of the universe as open (and recall that Zizek has said that for the true materialist the universe is open all the way down) without falling into postmodern relativism. We need both disparity and realism.
From the perspective of meta-ontology Zizek’s concept of disparity is a contribution to the task of thinking the real with the right combination of plasticity and resistance, of subjectivity and testability, of pluralism and realism.