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March 27, 2014

A Lunch BIT from The Parallax View by Slavoj Žižek

Posted by: Susan Mai

Yesterday we featured Slajov Žižek’s The Puppet Called Theology: A BIT of The Puppet and the Dwarf. Today, in our final BIT blog post, we turn once again to Žižek; this time highlighting a BIT of his magnum opus, The Parallax View. Here is an excerpt from The Subject, This “Inwardly Circumcised Jew”: A BIT of The Parallax View. In this BIT, Žižek draws on Lacan, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Kant, Hegel, and Marx to explore the philosophical implications of parallax.

Many times I am asked the obvious yet pertinent question about the title of my longest book (the present one excepted): “So who or what is tickling the ticklish subject?” The answer, of course, is: the object—however, which object? This, in a nutshell (or, rather, like a nut within the shell), is the topic of this book. The difference between subject and object can also be expressed as the difference between the two corresponding verbs, to subject (submit) oneself and to object (protest, oppose, create an obstacle). The subject’s elementary, founding, gesture is to subject itself—voluntarily, of course: as both Wagner and Nietzsche, those two great opponents, were well aware, the highest act of freedom is the display of amor fati, the act of freely assuming what is necessary anyway. If, then, the subject’s activity is, at its most fundamental, the activity of submitting oneself to the inevitable, the fundamental mode of the object’s passivity, of its passive presence, is that which moves, annoys, disturbs, traumatizes us (subjects): at its most radical the object is that which objects, that which disturbs the smooth running of things. Thus the paradox is that the roles are reversed (in terms of the standard notion of the active subject working on the passive object): the subject is defined by a fundamental passivity, and it is the object from which movement comes—which does the tickling. But, again, what object is this? The answer is: the parallax object.

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