Don’t just do it; Talk !

When Zizek writes like this his sense and “wisdom” is easy to see. When he writes like this, it is harder to see because he makes so many statements against others … creating strawmen in the mouths of others, in order to disagree with them … but he is right on the topic of debate. This is rhetoric.

We are witnessing today [2006] the struggle for intellectual hegemony – for who will occupy the universal place of ‘public intellectual’ – between the postmodern-deconstructionist cultural studies and the popularizers of ‘hard’ sciences, that is, the proponents of the so-called ‘third culture’.

Prompted to read the latter by Chris Locke’s quote from it in a recent post comment.

Hadn’t really thought about it before but “hegemony” is the ultimate memplex. Domination by socio-political-cultural influence – the power of communication – rather than by either power of rational argument or physical force. Interesting, given that Dennett is one of those to whom Zizek appears to take exception. Sokal is cited as the point where rhetoric brought the foggie-froggie PoMos up against hard science.  He also appears to take exception to the whole John Brockman Edge / Third Culture venture explicitly (and presumably TED ?); so many of the popular science and culture media people whose work he cites are part of that “wave”. I say “appears” because with his rhetoric you can always tell what he’s talking about, but not always what he is trying to say.

One reason it is hard to be sure is that his reading of them seems caricatured and based on (strawmen based on) old writings – Fritjof Capra’s “Tao of Physics” for example. He writes like he’s the only person to have learned anything about wisdom in the last 30 years – the only person to have grown 30 years older and wiser. Don’t know where to start to react to what Zizek has wrong, because he mostly has the right topics – I’m guessing his mistaken view on the reductionist / determinist Dennett would be good place to start, since Dennett is neither, in the absence-of-human-free-will sense that Zizek implies. (I may be some time – I have another “wisdom” book review to write first.)

As for my debate with Chris, well yes there is a great deal of cynical hypocritical merchandise trading on that 30/40 year old fashionable fascination with the eastern, mystical, holistic err … new age “crap”. But being “hyper-critical” calling it crap is missing the point. It only looks like a fashionable wave, but people have always peddled crap, 90% of everything is (always has been) crap.

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