lukesimcoe asked: Correct me if I'm wrong, but I often get the sense that you haven't read anything from Laclau and Mouffe. Zizek has often cited them as influencing his own work (particularly The Sublime Object of Ideology), and if you really want to grasp Zizek's definition of the political and the foundations of his critique of liberalism, then they would be a good place to start.
I’ve actually read books by both Mouffe and Laclau in their entirety, though I’ll admit it hasn’t been recently. Also, Laclau spoke here at Nebraska last Spring in an excellent on-going series of lectures called Humanities on the Edge, put together by a couple of my colleagues, Marco Abel and Roland Végsö.
But here’s the thing:
I can’t understand why every defense of Žižek necessitates that I read something else. First, people told me that I must not have read enough of Žižek’s work. Then, when I started quoting from it and making even longer, more detailed arguments (here and here), people decided that I needed to read other people’s work to understand Žižek’s work.
At what point will I have read enough to understand Žižek? And at what point will Žižekians actually make arguments about the virtues of their Dear Leader’s theories rather than simply suggesting that I’m not sufficiently educated to offer a critique?
The claim in all the messages I’ve been getting — sometimes implicit but often explicit — is that there’s just no way someone could possibly disagree with Žižek. If I disagree with what he writes, as I do, it must be because 1) I haven’t read enough or 2) I haven’t understood what I’ve read.
I’m starting to feel like I’m living in Oceania and “Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.”