(Note: These posts refer to Slovoj Zizek’s talk he did in Spain a few months ago; this one:
This ‘post-traumatic world’ that might exist in a utopian dream, if it were not for the naïve subject who is able to have a view where by hope can reside, does not occur within the Symbolic and Imaginary frames; or rather, such a utopia is possible as a political empiricality within such effective frames. Where the ‘post-carnival’ state is possible, there do we find what is ‘the carnival’ itself, the moment wherein things are not what they seem and indeed shift and change in the single view. This is what Zizek (Lacan) calls ‘the impossible’, or, the Real order. The manner by which we make sense of what is impossible is called, for Zizek, psychoanalysis. When we see that these states do not change through subjective agency acting upon some actual empirical object but rather are only changes in view, then we must ask: What is this state wherein Zizek must disclaim his lecture in order to be understood, at once, to be not contradicting his innate imperative for logical consistency, and then as well not offending the sensibility that is discovered through psychoanalysis? Or more precisely: What is occurring such that this state, that he would have to qualify his subjectivity as naïve, against which a Socialist Bureaucracy seems preferable, or, what might be best to deal with things ‘after the carnival’ , needs be stated? Does not a state reflect itself de facto, automatically and axiomatically in the presentation?
What is occurring in the naive state is an inability to be dismissed from the carnival; an inability to make the next move; hence, for Zizek to communicate at this level and be honest he must qualify his presentation: What is naive is that which understands itself as not subject to psychoanalysis. So, the trauma continues and the carnival goes on; this is reality, the effect of the various periodic failures of the Symbolic and Imaginary Orders, and the solution to these evental failures is usually and commonly to resource the Symbolic and Imaginary orders, the orders by which the political world gains veracity, or the semantic scaffold by which what is political may be known.
One does not simply decide to give up on their world and then the world goes away; the world must be destroyed without consent. This is a fact. If we must speak of effective ideologies, we can hear Zizek through his book “Living in the End Times” (paraphrase): It is only at the time we notice the impending failure of an ideology that we fight hardest for its truth. We do not simply give it up, even if we know the battle is lost; we still man our stations and fight for the state. We do not simply and easily relinquish our world because we have a conception that it is ending. Notice the general responses to global warming. The rhetoric is not a condemnation of our system, rather the reaction is either flat denial or a call to adjust how we approach our modern living.
Likewise the recent Google diversity scandal. Notice that there is nothing terribly irrational or non sensible in the manifesto. In fact, his essay makes good sense from a open-platform ideal: Every voice should be heard, even the voice that has been marginalized in the popular political environment. He is not saying that Google should not address inequalities in the workplace; he is saying that the manner that they are being addressed may be based upon an incomplete consideration of the facts; a more complete rendition of the facts of inequality or structural misrepresentaion or skewed hiring and promoting practices being the logical and rational ideas that he presents, which are, actually, not too radical. He is not saying anything that I haven’t heard; whether or not I believe them or not, the various notions about gender he produces are indeed valid — but in a certain light.
Then look at the answer that is made by Danielle Brown, Googles new diversity manager.
…I found that it [the anti-diversity manifesto] advanced incorrect assumptions about gender. I’m not going to link to it here as it’s not a viewpoint that I or this company endorses, promotes or encourages.
Does anyone notice anything peculiar between the two discourses?
At risk of putting myself in either camp and looking as if I am defending the manifesto, the anonymous writer is merely putting forth his view under the ideal that everyone should be heard, he is saying that perhaps Google’s diversity policy should be put on hold until everyone is heard. There is nothing radical about this ideal; it is a very democratic and American ideal, liberal as well as conservative.
How about Ms. Brown? Her decision has already been made. The judgement of the diversity manager is that he is “promoting incorrect assumptions about gender”. Is that really true? It kind of sounds to me that it is the diversity manager that is promoting assumptions that are not true, namely, that the dude is promoting incorrect assumptions. But as Lyotard noted,by what ground shall we legitimate either of these discourses?
Nevertheless, this (his, the Manifesto) incorrect assumption is one that Google does not endorse, and indeed is why he ended up fired.
I don’t think there is a better indication where this world of ours is headed: Nationalism is on its way out; Corperatism is in. Democratic ethics is no longer the standard but is indeed being commandeered by corporate policy, policy that will decide what is ethical for the future.
Just from a (fair) neutral position: I am curious what exactly his manifesto says that is an incorrect assumption about gender. Are we not allowed any more to suggest that men and women are different? I thought in the discussion about race, at least, we are supposed to embrace difference, acknowledge difference and not be blind to color of skin and cultural expression. Any considerate and intelligent person is left to wonder why difference in gender is not to be acknowledged and embraced? Don’t we do that when we fuck?
In the corporate world we do not fuck each other, we fuck other companies. Competition defines the space of ethics; a meta-narrative of ethics does not yet define an umbrella space of companies. Difference, it seems, is not to be abided in the consideration of the workers value: Only the overt potential involved in the equality and sameness of human beings in general is to be considered in the place of production. The ability to produce is the standard, and we, as corporate subjects, cannot afford the inefficiency that can arise in the a priori classification of workers ability: All workers are equal in the potential to produce. That is the (post-) modern ground of ethics.
What do we have? We have the very postmodern condition coming to fruition. The Manifesto Man speaks of a Google echo chamber. What could be a better description of his very condition: He is speaking about a kind of ethical space that we all know of, but because the our existential condition (for lack of a better term here), the ethical condition that is the liberal agenda of freedom and equality that has been with us for at least 200 years, he cannot be heard, indeed will not be heard. Knowledge no longer exists as some source or conduit for access into an essential and ideal ground for ethics; knowledge now is determined along lines of which knowledge is valid, and so which knowledge is able to be heard. Lyotard puts it in terms of which knowledge is efficient. The Manifesto Man is speaking, and we all (but do we?) know what he is meaning, where he is drawing his knowledge from, but it is mute. Such knowledge is invalid: It is no longer a kid of knowledge that is included in what is valuable. The ‘experts’ have agreed and they have decided.
What better description of this world: carnival. And as well: dialectical. So what happens after? The discussion by two or more people is shut down and the discussion continues as if in an echo chamber, which is to say, the movement merely occurs and everyone just rides along, regardless of what sound is made. The Dialectic continues but under a new semantic rubric that is understood to not be new. Indeed; there is an irony occurring. For, while the point I make in my recent essay about ‘the event of the past’ and Zizek being naive, I find that around the same time (well, relatively speaking I suppose, lol) I was writing that post, Zizek himself was in Spain speaking about how he was going to proceed as naive (listen to the youTube above).
In this sense, we find a certain psychoanalytical significance to what is occurring at Google, but in the context of addiction as well. The naive subject has a voice that is always heard in the context of the times as a political voice, able to bring change to the world, in various potentialities, at various moments. But what occurs is that voice is automatically referred to a context that is outside of the communicative potential of the subject: She speaks, but it is as if in an echo chamber. The dialectical subject of ethics speaks of justice, but her voice resonates only in its own space, the sound that is heard in reality is offensive and indeed (now) incorrect, and actually promoting assumptions that no longer reflect what is true, except in as much as this echoing voice affirms the present justice; the past has been changed. As Zizek describes in his book “Event” determined by the facticity of the past itself, the present act alters the very condition by which it has come about to reflect the actuality of the present moment.
The addict in his cups is not privy to the change; she is determined by her past as she works to keep the past constituent to that ideal and dialectical moment. The addict sees the material as being unchangeable and essential, and ideal world or “musts” and “is’s”. Reality never breaks into the Imagined world to disrupt it and the addict stays in her echo chamber yelling for someone to hear her. But the world only hears a sound that no longer reflects the true of reality. The two exist within a dialectical moment that is denied for the purpose of asserting a justice that is already occurring, indeed has been occurring, albeit, to challenge the past which determined the criteria by which such justice has been ascertained.
Time behaves atemporally, as witnessed not only by Lyotard 40 some years ago, but in the movie “Fight Club” some 25 years ago:
This is no figure of speech, metaphor, or interesting artistic juxtaposition. It is the actual psychoanalytical situation that occurs.
(This clip is just so perfect ! lol)