The Fragile Absolute: Or, Why is the Christian Legacy Worth Fighting For? by Slavoj Zizek
I’ve no idea what I’m doing reading books like this. I think that I picked the book up on some whim because of Roger’s mentioning of it a couple of weeks ago. Hell, I don’t even begin to understand most modern philosophy and this guy’s talking about Hegel, Freud, Lacan, Foucault (among countless others that I had never heard of). This book mostly left me in the dust, with the feeling that I had as a child when adults would speak around me and I felt like I *wanted* to understand what they were talking about, but the words just skipped over my head. (Now that I am an adult, of course, I find this sort of amusing.) Similarly, this book danced and skipped over my head, occasionally hooking down to leave some small residue inside my brain.
Some residues that I can recollect:
1) Art = Art because of some, erm, void (Void?) that the Art fills. (True Art being the noumenous Art, which inspires.) But without the void it isn’t art. Modernist art (and all art) being an attemt to define the void which makes something art. But the least Art-things are the “beautiful” objects which are produced by capitalism. Hence, the use of trash (literally) to create Art, to describe (or define, in terms of sketching its outlines) that frame of the void.
2) Drinking Diet Coca-Cola is drinking the essence of nothingness (its 0 nutrional value) and is a perfect symbol of the all-consuming (ever-consuming?) nature of capitalism. (For reasons that I can’t quite recreate.) This seems like a ridiculous thing to remember.
3) Regarding Pagan, Jewish, Christian thought: (this is the crux of the entire book; if I don’t get this, I’ve totally flummoxed the whole reading of the book) Fuck. I think I’ve flummoxed it. It almost made perfect sense when I finished the book last night. But I can’t seem to recreate it. Maybe I’ll try again later.
I have no idea if Zizek actually has good arguments for what he says. It certainly seems well-reasoned, but the reasoning is so far above my head that I can’t quite grasp it. For a marxist, atheist, lacanian writer, he makes the excellent point (I think) that fundamentalist Christians betray the true radical (revolutionary?) nature of Christianity [the rejection of those definitions (nationalism, tribalism, classism, sexism, historicism) which create tensions and hatreds between people] by re-creating the old adherence to the Law (definitional states) that pre-dated Christ.
There’s this fellow (don’t know his name, but I think of him as squuby) who wrote this thing about atheism, agnosticism, etc. I like what he has to say. I’m not an agnostic and I’m not atheist. Actually, I don’t really know how to define what I am. It might depend on what kind of socks I’m wearing (day to day sort of thing). Having been raised in some kind of Pentecostal thing, I’m definitely not THERE either, but I’m not able to easily just dismiss that totally either, the way some people seem to do. I mean to say, it’s easy to dismiss something about which you have no experience or, especially, have no desire to experience.
However, it’s another thing entirely to dismiss something that you HAVE experienced or desire to experience again. If you have perceived to have experienced something “real”, does it matter if it is “real” or not?
At any rate, I find myself in a very strange position. So what else is new…