Learning to die as a practice of philosophy
Much Like Heidegger and Rorty would ascribe the role of philosophy in one’s life, the political will have us whether we acknowledge such positions or disavow them. Politics and being political are distinguished in our framework and philosophy. Politics involves the conscious volition and movements of individuals or groups under an ideological banner. However, being political is inherent and always-already in play upon the creation of any collective, community, and so on. What has become a focal point for the Žižekian Institute on the level of pedagogy, ideology, and examining the im/possibility of subverting a master/university discourse is returning to a paradoxical
issue raised in Lacan’s Seminar XVII…
In the appendix section there is an exchange with Lacan from an impromptu style session at Vincennes. The line of questioning raises the issue of not only the master discourse but also the university discourse. At one point, a remark is made by INTERVENTION, “…I claim that we have to look outside [the university] to find the means to overthrow the university.” Lacan responds, “But outside what? Because when you leave here you become aphasic? When you leave here you continue to speak, consequently you continue to be inside [the university].” Thus the paradox of an
ideological immaculate conception; that is, to have a pure substance discourse modality that has no father or master. The problem is not only pedagogical but also political in conceptualizing a ship with no rudder; yet, the rudderless ship still goes where its captain and crew need to go. Thus, there must be a certain understanding that power, and the allocation of power for the purpose of duty and utility, is not a nefarious cancer to cure. The measure of benevolence or malevolence is far more rigid and complex than many of the pedagogies of politics and politics of pedagogy have examined. This panel discusses the recently established Žižekian Institute for Research, Inquiry, and Pedagogy as a communal body of scholars, intellectuals, and all those who may have a vested interest (large or small). Each author holds a directorial position at the institute and philosophical duty that must answer to the political, but avoid the (post)politics stain that marks many of the “radical” projects of the current epoch.
Vision to bring together the disparate individuals spread across the world seeking to share in the quest for intellectual engagement beyond the edifices and constraints of the universities, politics, and geographical isolation.
There is the university and world, the aether (an in-between fissure of “out there”, an unknown-unknown (or as Garcia refers “the beyond”), and then “beyond the aether”, which is an erotic (Koziej, Perel) place of curiosity, playfulness, and operating beyond the conditional (e.g., exchange value, giving obligates taking, taking obligates giving, and so on).
Philosophy and Pedagogy
We have sought to construct a space, an intellectual exchange hub connecting those who seek to explore (to apprehend) and experience the knowledge known, as well as the knowledge of the “not-yet.” Though the institute’s name is associated with the work of Slavoj Zizek, it should be more applied and considered as a dedication than hagiographic enterprise. The notion of the Zizekian has been discussed and debated, but it is this motif that emblazes a spirit (esprit/geist) beyond the conditions of capital. That is, the purpose, principles, and philosophy on which the institute was founded are founded on the practice and project of embodying a “really existing socialism” that gives “as a gift is made to be given” without obligation, expectation, or conditions. We are always in relation to one another, as Sartre says, “I am as the other sees me,” and such relations must be viewed as a practice in fluidity, as engaging freely, as symbiotic constellations over linear competitions of such dialectical either/or, this/that, fucking/getting fucked. The logic of capital that has consumed the vast majority of spaces, discourses, and dictating promotions has produced good academics that are, as Terry Eagleton remarked of Edward Said, quite the opposite of intellectuals. The poverty of this epoch has produced the remarkable castaways on desert islands that appear on paper as having an affiliation of no affiliation with “independent scholar.” And yet, we do not call those employed with universities “dependent scholars.” But the institute is not a space of competition between who is more radical, who has published more, who has the most facebook friends, and so on. The institute follows the radical notion that if someone has something interesting to share then they may share it at the risk of receiving great enthusiasm, perplexed interest, or truthful critique. Perhaps the best analogy for understanding the guiding philosophy of engagement and development is “tuning,” which is the pedagogical perspective Kristopher Holland takes in his own work, as well as mentoring/guiding students. Each individual has a sound, a vibration to echo and resonate in particular ways with particular people. The intensity of some calls to not only learn, read, and write, but feel, as Antonio Garcia channels Henry Rollins, “if you’re gonna feel then feel hard. Feel like a mother fucker.” But an orchestra cannot rest on a single note, a single instrument (it would not be an orchestra), or perform with poorly tuned instruments. We are not just listening to music, as Bjork says, “I always hear a song in the back of my head, all the time, and that usually is my own tune.”