The Hedonist Ideal
Slavoj Žižek is a Slovenian philosopher and cultural critic. He is a professor at the European Graduate School, International Director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, Birkbeck College, University of London, and a senior researcher at the Institute of Sociology, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. His books include Living in the End Times, First as Tragedy, Then as Farce, In Defense of Lost Causes, four volumes of the Essential Žižek, and Event: A Philosophical Journey Through a Concept.\r\n
Žižek received his Ph.D. in Philosophy in Ljubljana studying Psychoanalysis. He has been called the "Elvis of philosophy" and an "academic rock star." His work calls for a return to the Cartesian subject and the German Ideology, in particular the works of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Immanuel Kant and Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling. Slavoj Žižek's work draws on the works of Jacques Lacan, moving his theory towards modern political and philosophical issues, finding the potential for liberatory politics within his work. But in all his turns to these thinkers and strands of thought, he hopes to call forth new potentials in thinking and self-reflexivity. He also calls for a return to the spirit of the revolutionary potential of Lenin and Karl Marx.\r\n
Slavoj Zizek: I totally reject the simplistic idea proposed mostly by conservative critics but also by some hedonist liberals that we live in the hedonist era where basically you can enjoy in whatever way you want. Yes, but, at the same time, this enjoyment is strictly regulated, controlled, deprived of its, let’s call it passionate excess, like sex . . . yes, but safe sex.
What is the model of today’s hedonism? A couple of days ago flying here, I read some airline journal that you get, and it had a long text praising sex but in a way which was totally depressive. It said, “Make love as often as you can because it’s good for your blood circulation. It strengthens your heart.” Then it had even an obscene theory how if you kiss a lot, especially French kisses, it’s good to strengthen your jaws, your mouth, and so on. This is a terrifying vision.
The only true hedonists, I think, are today, two kinds: drug users and cigarette smokers. And you see how under total pressure they are. (To avoid the misunderstanding, I don't smoke. I say screw the companies, tobacco companies.) But nonetheless, there is something deeply symptomatic in our horror at the chain smoker, as if what bothers us is his/her enjoyment, as if you see there is a guy who has a singular passion and he’s ready to risk everything he has for pursuing that passion.
I find this rather nice, if you ask me.
Interviewed by Megan Erickson
Don't have sex just because it's good for you, says Slavoj Žižek.
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