Doing violence to Žižek

I mentioned in a comment over at HomeShop’s blog, that I had fortuitously picked up a copy of Slavoy Žižek’s Violence last night. I only had time to read the Introduction (“THE TYRANT’S BLOODY ROBE”), but the ideas outlined there seemed apposite to the last part of my article on Gentrification on the blog, displaying in themselves strong links to Agamben’s thought. The following are selected quotes, pulling out the parts which relate to my own interests (and undoubtedly doing great violence to Žižek’s overall meaning in the process):

“… we should learn to step back, to disentangle ourselves from the fascinating lure of this directly visible “subjective” violence, violence performed by a dearly identifiable agent. We need to perceive the contours of the background which generates such outbursts. A step back enables us to identify a violence that sustains our very efforts to fight violence and to promote tolerance.

“This is not a description which locates its content in a historical space and time, but a description which creates, as the background of the phenomena it describes, an inexistent (virtual) space of its own, so that what appears in it is not an appearance sustained by the depth of reality behind it, but a decontextualised appearance, an appearance which fully coincides with real being.

“Does this recourse to artistic description imply that we are in danger of regressing to a contemplative attitude that somehow betrays the urgency to ‘do something’ about the depicted horrors?

“There are situations when the only truly ‘practical’ thing to do is to resist the temptation to engage immediately and to ‘wait and see’ by means of a patient, critical analysis.”

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Doing violence to Žižek by escdotdot is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International