Happy birthday, Slavoj Žižek! Here are some quotes from his writing.
“Words are never ‘only words’; they matter because they define the contours of what we can do.”
“The only way to survive such shitty times, if you ask me, is to write and read big, fat books, you know?”
“I think that the task of philosophy is not to provide answers, but to show how the way we perceive a problem can be itself part of a problem.
“I hate writing. I so intensely hate writing—I cannot tell you how much. The moment I am at the end of one project I have the idea that I didn’t really succeed in telling what I wanted to tell, that I need a new project—it’s an absolute nightmare. But my whole economy of writing is in fact based on an obsessional ritual to avoid the actual act of writing.”
“I do all my work to escape myself. I don’t believe in looking into yourself. If you do this, you just discover a lot of shit. I think what we should do is throw ourselves out of ourselves. The truth is not deep in ourselves. The truth is outside.”
“We live in weird times in which we are compelled to behave as if we are free, so that the unsayable is not our freedom but the very fact of our servitude.”
“If we merely wait for the appropriate moment we will never live to see it, because this [appropriate moment] cannot arrive without the subjective conditions of the maturity of the revolutionary force being fulfilled—it can only arrive after a series of failed attempts.”
“Think about the strangeness of today’s situation. Thirty, forty years ago, we were still debating about what the future will be: communist, fascist, capitalist, whatever. Today, nobody even debates these issues. We all silently accept global capitalism is here to stay. On the other hand, we are obsessed with cosmic catastrophes: the whole life on earth disintegrating, because of some virus, because of an asteroid hitting the earth, and so on. So the paradox is, that it’s much easier to imagine the end of all life on earth than a much more modest radical change in capitalism.”
“When we are shown scenes of starving children in Africa, with a call for us to do something to help them, the underlying ideological message is something like: ‘Don’t think, don’t politicize, forget about the true causes of their poverty, just act, contribute money, so that you will not have to think!'”
“Liberal attitudes towards the other are characterized both by respect for otherness, openness to it, and an obsessive fear of harassment. In short, the other is welcomed insofar as its presence is not intrusive, insofar as it is not really the other. Tolerance thus coincides with its opposite. My duty to be tolerant towards the other effectively means that I should not get too close to him or her, not intrude into his space—in short, that I should respect his intolerance towards my over-proximity. This is increasingly emerging as the central human right of advanced capitalist society: the right not to be ‘harassed,’ that is, to be kept at a safe distance from others.”
John Madera is the author of Nervosities (Anti-Oedipus Press, 2024). His other fiction is published in Conjunctions, Salt Hill, The &Now Awards 2: The Best Innovative Writing, and many other journals. His nonfiction is published in American Book Review, Bookforum, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, Rain Taxi: Review of Books, The Believer, The Brooklyn Rail, and many other venues. Recipient of an M.F.A. in Literary Arts from Brown University, New York State Council on the Arts awardee John Madera lives in New York City, Rhizomatic and manages and edits Big Other.