The Crazy Philosopher

February 3, 2010 at 3:53 pm 2 comments

What’s philosophy all about?

To make yourself feel better? To find a justification for everything? To make an impression in a party-chat?

If you positively answer these questions, then you are not talking about radical philosophy – or I would say, not philosophy at all, because I think philosophy needs to be radical. And if it is not, then you’re probably talking about the daily philosophy-substitutes to affirm the ideas you already had and just label your thoughts with a seemingly intellectual name.

Therefore I think craziness is the main criterion to recognize philosophy: evoking discomfort, maybe laugther, maybe non-understanding or a strong rejection. Philosophy, as “Philosophy in the Present” points out,  should not directly give political answers but rather construct problems and invent or reorder categories (for example misleading contrasts of everyday propaganda such as “war on terror” or “islamic fundamentalism vs. liberal democracy/capitalism”). People so often take categories for granted and consequently affirm the cause of a problem rather than solving it, like a doctor giving the patient poison and then looking for the symptoms (Bush’s terror propaganda was terror itself, to give a well-known example).

I think a good example to illustrate the “Crazy Philosopher” is  Slavoj Zizek, a controversial figure in academic as well as public circles. He is so crazy (in my above stated, positive sense), that filmmakers shot many films about him, thus millions of snippets or whole documentaries are found on Youtube. The best Zizek-feature I came across was a Dutch documentary. Quite a political one (Financial crisis/”living obscenity” Berlusconi/China human rights…), but Zizek does not give direct political advice, but advice about the popular advice — and by this, revealing propaganda. The concept  concept of the documentary is innovative: Zizek is only sorrounded by screens and a cameraman. A disembodied, digitalized voice tells him the questions.

This center on the philosopher, the only “living voice” in this film, is a vulnerable point: Isn’t this too superstar-like?


I call the concept of the Dutch show (if not the whole self-marketing of Zizek) a subversion and undercutting of a superstar-crazy world, where pseudo-stars need to comment  and engage in everything (take recent charity shows as example). I guess it is quite dangerous (“You are a cynic!”, ” You don’t have solutions!”) too comment on the daily mainstream going on in our social network world, that sees charity, joining Facebook-groups and opening up Twitter-Accounts as a solution, instead of serious involvment and thinking about real, radical solutions. Probably people feel strongly the pressure from  (I admit, I feel so) daily discourse and crowd-intelligence (unfortunately, only a superficial intelligence). Zizek calls himself a “Communist” to attract attention, but he means a different communism and admits that the real-existing communism failed (recently in BBC – Hard Talk). Who else has the media attention and thus power to say that he is a “Communist” and actually thousands of people listen to his arguments?

It needs figures like Zizek to break out of the circle. Using popular culture against itself and thus making money from it. Profiting from capitalism to promote a different kind of communism, so to speak.  Here we are again in the trap of postmodern self-reflexivity. I just say: Stop.

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Piccobello  |  February 4, 2010 at 8:57 am

    The art of conversation, i agree, is the one which is needed.
    In every talk show you watch a team (sports, news, warreports)
    which give you THE news of the day. In addition, they have no own opinion.(in germany Klaus Kleber is the only person who have some words in the speech he can judje himself….)
    To have a clear opinion, like being a communist is a strictly way to say “No, I’m not the one you think I am!” It’s structarly complete another way of being part off the community.That’s an important fact! (In addition we need more non promi conversation)

    Reply
  • 2. creer  |  May 18, 2013 at 4:23 am

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