Zizek’s LESS THAN NOTHING is a very interesting and impressive synthesis not only of Hegel and Lacan, along with Badiou, but also of Deleuze, Foucault, and Lyotard.
Zizek was influenced by Deleuze more than many seem to think, but I would argue that by retroaction reading Deleuze in terms of Zizek allows us to see Deleuze in new ways.
In LESS THAN NOTHING Zizek provides us with a good example of this weird logic of creative re-reading. The book is implicitly written from the point of view of what Zizek elsewhere calls the « pact » between Lacan and Deleuze. This pact means abandoning the standard image of Deleuze as pure affirmation, which then requires a compensatory supplement of negativity (as in the recent promotion of a « dark » Deleuze).
Although I disagree with some of Zizek’s arguments and emphases he provides us with a very useful creative interpretation of Deleuze’s work, isolating out the meta-ontological heuristic core from the ontological instantiation (where many pro- and anti-Deleuzians get stuck) and opening it to be re-instantiated in many different ways.
Zizek comes even closer to Deleuze than in his previous writings, deriving several key concepts from Deleuze’s LOGIC OF SENSE: appearance-qua-appearance and retroactive causality (that Deleuze calls « quasi-causality »), and also the cut.
This notion of a cut or a gap is to be found everywhere in Deleuze’s work. He talks of it as the « fêlure », which can be translated objectively as « crack » and subjectively as « crack-up ».
One theme for which Zizek is closer to Deleuze than to Badiou is in his treatment of religion as a mode of subjectivation capable of instantiating his most general meta-ontological categories. This is something that is not fully assumed by Badiou as he refuses to count religion as a « fifth » condition on a par with science, art, politics, and love.
However, I disagree with Zizek’s take on Eastern Religion, in particular Buddhism. I do not think it essentially proposes enlightenment based on withdrawal from appearances, on treating the desire as an illusion. This may be the case of Theravada (or Hinayana) Buddhism, but Mahayana Buddhism favours immersion in the world of appearances.
For an imagistic presentation of these impressions one could refer to Spike Jonze’s film HER. Clint Burnham and Matthew Flisfeder have written a very interesting analysis of the film from a Zizekian perspective, but neglect some positive elements to be found in the unfolding of the story.
Viewing HER from a Deleuze/Zizek perspective one could see a sort of progression of ontological levels. Theodore buys the OS as a sort of ontic consumerist supplement to his life (like taking up a new philosophy as a new worldview), but evolving from simply « OS » to Samantha it (or she) moves from merely ontically organising Theodore’s existing life more efficiently to an ontological transformation that finally allows him to retro-actively re-vision his past and to open to the possibility of new love. In dialogue with her fellow AIs they create a « hyper-intelligent » AI (or meta-ontology) that they call Alan Watts (but that could have been called equally Zizek, or Deleuze).
Zizek’s talent for creative hybridization is such that his own followers most often lag behind him, inevitably simplifying him. I would add that most « Deleuzians » are lagging behind him too.