I’m sure lots of you, if not all of you, have seen this take-down of Slavoj Zizek for being a Giant Jerk Who Says Rude/Insensitive/Terrible Things About and To Students. I’m not going to write a big, long post about this, but I just want to put it out there that I find Zizek a delight. I thoroughly enjoy reading his stuff, I enjoy teaching his stuff in my critical theory course and find it incredibly useful to teach him, and I have seen him speak and it was probably the most memorable, educational, and enjoyable academic talk I’ve ever attended.
I certainly don’t think the Crisis in the Humanities is the fault of Slavoj Zizek, a dude that most people castigating him don’t seem to know much about. They don’t seem to have a familiarity with his work or to have even known existed before this brouhaha (check out the comment thread of the piece to which I linked).
I find Zizek useful for my scholarship, in spite of his flaws. Kind of like how I love D.H. Lawrence’s novels in spite of the fact that he has some peculiar ideas (to say the least) about sex and women, or how I appreciate Ezra Pound’s poetry even though he was a fascist. Does the fact that I can find value in the work of these yahoos provide an excuse for the horrible things they have thought or said? Nope, not at all. But I am comfortable with being critical of the person while at the same time acknowledging the value of their intellectual and/or artistic contribution to culture. I don’t look to theorists or authors or celebrities or artists or whatever to be “good role models.” I mean, seriously. That’s awfully reductive, no? Anti-intellectual, even? This reminds me of a colleague of mine who said T.S. Eliot should not be taught in any college classroom because he objects to Eliot’s politics. I feel like those sorts of assertions have more to do with the Crisis in the Humanities than any blustery bullshit that Zizek spouts.
In other news, I am back to my book project with a vengeance and it turns out that writing comes easily when you buckle down to actually do some writing. I should have two chapters revised and my book proposal done before I go to Italy, and I should be able to get the whole manuscript ready (should somebody want to see the whole thing) by September 1. Yes, this is ambitious, but I need to be fucking done with this idea.
Now time to clean up around the house and get ready for Talking about Ideas and Drinking Wine with CC later.