Saturday, February 16, 2008
Cederstrom, Carl. "The Lacanian Left Does Not Exist." EPHEMERA 7.4 (2007).
Following the publication of the groundbreaking 1985 work by Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe, Hegemony and Socialist Strategy, the last two decades have witnessed a surge of books dealing with the odd couple of Lacanian psychoanalysis and political theory. While Hegemony only made a few explicit references to Lacan, it has nevertheless been retroactively construed as the work that made possible a marriage between Lacan and political analysis. The reason for this construal has a name: Slavoj Žižek. This Slovene philosopher, also known as the giant from Ljubljana, not only re-read Hegemony in his first book written in English, The Sublime Object of Ideology, making the former perhaps more Lacanian than was intended, but was also the most industrious theorist among those who have tried to introduce psychoanalysis to political theory. Publishing books at an immense speed, Žižek has consistently poured his unique theoretical cocktail over the bald heads of boring and dull academics. He has, perhaps more convincingly than anyone else, shown how ideology operates not only at the level of meaning but also, and more forcefully, at that of enjoyment. Starting out with an intense intellectual friendship, even publishing a book together (Butler, Laclau and Žižek, 2000), Žižek and Laclau have gradually parted. If before only an element of animosity smouldered, then now, after their heated debate in Critical Inquiry, following on from Laclau’s latest book, On Populist Reason, it has become clear that the two are open enemies. What did this debate generate, beyond a portrayal of their mutual dislike? If it gave a few indications of their different understandings of Lacan, for example as concerns the notion of the Real, and their opposing views of what class struggle may bring about, it did not say much about their own respective theoretical standpoints. . . Read the entire review here: http://www.ephemeraweb.org/journal/7-4/7-4cederstrom.pdf.