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The

Ticklish

Subject

The Absent Centre of Political Ontology

SLAVO J

ZIZE K

V

VERS O

London

• New York

First published

bv Verso 199 9

© Slavoj Ziiek 199 9

Paperbac k editio n

first

publishe d b v \'ers o 200 0

©

Slavoj Zizek

200 0

All

rights

reserved

T h e

moral rights o f th e author have been

asserted

US:

Verso UK: 0 Meard Street, Londo n WTV 3H R 180 Varick Street, Ne w York, N Y 10014-460 6

Verso

is th e imprint o f Ne w Left

ISBN

1-85984-291- 7

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W O

E S WA R

 
 

A

series fro m

Vers o edite d

by Slavoj

Zizek

 

Wo

es war,

soil

ich

werden

-

Where

it

was,

I shall

come

into

being

— is Freud' s

version o f the

Enlightenmen t

goal

o f

knowledg e

that

is

in

itself

a n

ac t

o

f

liberation . Is it still possible to pursu e

this

goa l

today,

in

th e

condition s

o f

late capitalism ? I f 'it' today is th e twin rule o f pragmatic-relativist

Ne w

Sophists an d

Ne w

Ag e

obscurantists,

what

'shall

com e

int o

being '

in its

place ? Th e

premiss

o f

th e

series

is

that

th e

explosive

combinatio n

o f

Lacania n

psychoanalysis

an d

Marxis t

tradition

detonate s a dynami c

free­

d o m

that

enable s

us to questio n

th e

very presupposition s

o f

th e

circuit o f

Capital.

 
 

In

the same

series:

Slavo j Zizek ,

The

Metastases

of Enjoyment:

Six

Essays

on

Woman

and

Causality

Jerem y

Bentham ,

The

Panopticon

Writings.

Edite d

an d

introduce d

b y

Mira n

Bozovi c

 

Slavo j

Zizek ,

The

Indivisible

Remainder:

An

Essay

on

Schelling

and

Related

Matters

 

Alai n

Grosrichard ,

The

Sultan's

Court:

Fantasies

of the East.

Trans ­

late d

by Liz Hero n

an d

introduce d

European by Mlade n

Dola r

 

Slavo j Zizek ,

The

Plague

of

Fantasies

Renat a

Salecl , (Per)Versions

of Love

and.

Hate

 

Forthcoming:

Alenk a

Zupancic , Ethics

of the Real:

Kant,

Lacan

Alai n

Badiou ,

Ethics

Contents

 

Introduction :

A Spectr e Is Hauntin g Wester n

Academi a

 

1

Par t

I

Th e

'Nigh t

o f

th e

World '

7

1

The

Deadlock

of Transcendental

Imagination,

or, Martin

Heidegger

as

a Reader

of Kant

 

9

Heideggeria n Politica l (Dis)Engagemen t - Wh y Di d Being and Time Remai n Unfinished ? - Th e Troubl e wit h Transcendenta l Imaginatio n - Th e Passage throug h Madnes s - Th e Violenc e

o

f

Imaginatio n

-

Th e

Monstrou s

-

Kan t with David

Lync h

-

Kant' s Acosmis m

 

2

The

Hegelian

Ticklish

Subject

 

7 0

Wha t

Anamorphosi s

Is 'Negatio n -

3 ,

o f Negation' ?

-

Th e

4 ,

5

-

Th e

Speculative

Dialectica l

Identit y

o f Substanc e

a

n d

Subjec t -

Th e

Hegelia n

Force d Choic e -

 

'Concret e

 

Universality'

-

'Rathe r

tha n wan t nothin g

.

.

.'

-

'Includ e

m e

out!'

-

Toward s

a Materialist Theor y o f

Grac e

 

Par t

II

Th e

Spli t

Universalit y

 

12 5

3

The

Politics

of Truth,

or, Alain

Badiou

as a Reader

of St Paul

 

12 7

T

h e

Truth-Even t

an d

Its Undecidabilit y

-

Trut h

an d

Ideolog y -

St Paul with Badio u -

Betwee n

th e

Tw o

Death s

-

T h e

Lacania n

Subjec t -

Th e

Maste r

o r

th e

Analyst?

4

Political

Subjectivization

and

Its

Vicissitudes

17 1

Badiou , Balibar , Rancier e - Hegemon y an d Its Symptom s -

 

Ente r the Subjec t - Wh y

Ar e

Rulin g Idea s

No t

th e

Idea s

o f

Thos e Wh o

Rule ? -

Th e

Its Disavowals -

Th e

 

(Mis) Use s o f Appearanc e

Political an d -

Post-Politics -

Is Ther e

a

Progressive Eurocentrism ? - Th e Thre e Universals - Multiculturalism - Fo r a Leftist Suspensio n o f th e La w - Th e Ambiguit y o f Excrementa l Identificatio n - Embracin g th e Ac t

 

Par t

II I

Fro m

Subjectio n

t o

Subjectiv e Destitutio n

 

24 5

5

Passionate

(Dis)Attachments,

or, Judith

Butler

as

a Reader

of Freud

 

24 7

W h y Perversio n

Is No t

Subversio n

-

Ideologica l

Interpellatio n

- Fro m

Resistanc e to th e

Ac t

-

'Traversin g

th e

Fantasy ' -

Th

e

Melancholi c Double-Bin d - -

Masochistic Deceptio n

Th e

Rea l o f Sexua l Differenc e

Desir e

to Drive

an d

Bac k

Fro m

-

6

Whither

Oedipus?

31 3

T

h e

Thre e Father s -

Th e

Demis e o f Symboli c Efficienc y -

Th e

Ris k Societ y an d

Its Enemie s -

Th e

Unbehagen

i n

th e

Ris k

 

Societ y -

Rea l

Goo d

It' s

th e

PoliticalEconomy,

Fro m

Th e

Empt y La w -

Stupid !

Phallus

to

-

Return s

i n

th

e

-

th e

Ac t

-

Beyon d

 

th e

Inde x

4 0 1

Introduction: A Spectre Is Haunting Western Academia

. th e spectr e o f th e Cartesia n subject . All academi c powers have entere d

int o a holy allianc e to exorciz e this spectre : th e New Ag e obscurantis t (wh o wants to supersed e th e 'Cartesia n paradigm ' towards a ne w holistic

approach ) an d th e postmoder n deconstructionis t (for who m th e Carte ­ sia n subjec t is a discursiv e fiction, a n effec t o f decentre d textua l mechan ­ isms) ; the Habermasia n theoris t o f communicatio n (who insists o n a shift fro m Cartesia n monologica l subjectivity to discursive intersubjectivity) an d

t h e Heideggeria n proponen t o f th e though t o f Bein g (wh o stresses th e

in

cognitiv e scientist (wh o endeavour s to

nee d to 'traverse' th e horizo n curren t ravaging nihilism) ; th e

prov e empiricall y that ther e is n o uniqu e scen e o f th e Self, jus t a pandemoniu m o f competin g forces) an d th e Dee p Ecologis t (who blame s

fo r

Cartesia n mechanicis t materialis m

datio n for th e ruthless exploitatio n o f

(wh o insists tha t th e illusory freedo m o f th e bourgeoi s thinkin g subjec t is

providin g th e philosophica l foun­ nature) ; th e critical (post-)Marxis t

o f moder n subjectivity culminatin g

roote d in class division) an d th e feminis t (who emphasize s tha t th e allegedl y sexles s cogito is i n fac t a mal e patriarcha l formation) . Wher e is

t h e academi c orientatio n whic h has no t bee n accuse d by its opponent s o f

n o t yet properl y disownin g th e Cartesia n heritage ? An d whic h has no t

hurle d bac k th e brandin g reproac h o f Cartesia n subjectivity against its mor e 'radical' critics, as well as its 'reactionary ' adversaries?

 

T w o

things

result fro m

this:

1.

Cartesia n

subjectivity

continue s

to

b e

acknowledge d

by

all

academi c

powers

as a powerful

an d

still active intellectua l

tradition.

2.

•J

It

face

cies, an d

with

is hig h

tim e

that

th e

world,

partisans

publish

tale

o f Cartesia n

their

th e

o f

subjectivity should ,

aims,

thei r

th e

tenden ­

subjectivity

in

of

th e

th e

whol e

mee t

views, thei r

Spectr e

this nursery-

o f Cartesia n

philosophica l

manifest o

o f Cartesia n

subjectivity itself.

Thi s boo k thus endeavour s to reassert th e Cartesia n subject, whos e rejectio n form s th e silent pac t o f all th e struggling parties o f today's

academia : althoug h all thes e battle (Habermasian s versus

orientation s are officially involved in a deadly deconstrucdonists ; cognitive scientists versus

N

e w

Ag e

obscurantists

.

.

.)

, they

ar e

all

unite d

in

their

rejectio n

o f

th e

Cartesia

n

subject . Th e

point

,

o f course ,

is no

t

t o retur n

t o

th e

cogito

i n

th e

guise

transparen t thinkin g subject) , bu t to brin g

t h e excessive , unacknowledge d kerne l o f th e cogito, whic h is fa r fro m th e pacifying imag e o f th e transparen t Self. Th e thre e parts o f th e boo k focus

moder n though t (th e self- to light its forgotte n obverse ,

in

whic h

this

notio n

has

dominate d

o

n today's thre e mai n fields in which subjectivity is at stake: th e tradition

o

f

Germa n

Idealism ;

post-Althusserian

political philosophy ; th e 'decon -

structionist' shift fro m Subjec t to th e

problemati c o f multipl e subject-

positions an d

subjectivizations. 1

Eac h

par t starts with a chapte r o n a

crucial autho r whos e wor k represent s an exemplar y critiqu e o f Cartesia n

d chapte r the n deals with th e vicissitudes o f th e

fundamenta l notio n that underlie s th e precedin g chapte r (subjectivity in Germa n Idealism ; political subjectivization; th e 'Oedipu s complex ' as th e

psychoanalytic accoun t o f th e

subjectivity;

a

secon

emergenc e

o f

th e

subject). -

Par t

I

begin s

wit h

a

detaile d

confrontation

with

Heidegger's

endeavour

to

traverse

the

horizon

of

modern

Cartesian

subjectivity.

Agai n

an d

again ,

th e

inheren t

logic

o f

thei r

philosophica l

projec t

compelle d

th e

authenti c

philosopher s

o f

subjectivity

to

articulate

a

certain

excessive

momen t

o f

'madness '

inheren t

t o

cogito,

whic h

the y the n

immediatel y endeavoure d

t o

'renormalizc '

(th e

diabolica l

Evil

in

Kant ,

th e

nigh t

o

f

th e

world '

in

Hegel ,

etc.).

An d

th e

proble m

with

Heidegge r

is

that

his

notio n

o f

moder n

subjectivity doe s

no t

accoun t

for

this

inheren t

excess

-

it

simply

doe s

no t

'cover '

tha t

aspec t

o f

cogi.to

o n

accoun t

o f whic h

Laca n

claim s

tha t

cogilo

is

th e

subjec t

o

f

th e

Unconscious

.

Heidegger' s

fata l

fla w

is

clearly

discernibl e

in

th e

failure

o f

his

readin g

o

f Kant:

in

his

focu s

o n

transcendenta l

imagination ,

Heidegge r

misses

th e

key

dimensio n

o f

imagination :

its

disruptive,

 

anti-synthetic

aspect,

whic h

is

anothe r

nam e

for

th e

abyss

o f

freedom ;

this

failure

also

casts

ne w

light

o n

th e

ol d

questio n

o f

Heidegger' s

Nazi

engagement .

So ,

after

this

confrontation ,

t h e

secon d

chapte r

endeavour s

to

elaborat e

the

status

o f

subjectivity

in

Ii\lKUJL»U<-IHJ . N

3

Hegel , focusin g o n th e link betwee n th e philosophica l notio n o f reflexivity

a n d th e reflexive turn tha t characterize s th e (hysterical) subjec t o f th e Unconscious .

philosopher s

bu t

later, via a criticism o f Althusser, develope d thei r ow n theor y o f political

subjectivity : Laclau' s theor y o f hegemony , Balibar' s theor y o f egaliberte,

Ranciere' s theor y o f mesentente, Badiou' s theor y o f subjectivit y as fidelit y t o

t h e Truth-Event . Th e first chapte r focuse s o n Badiou' s attemp t to formu ­ late a 'politics o f truth ' tha t coul d undermin e today's deconstructionis t and/o r postmodernis t stance , with a special emphasi s o n his pathbreakin g

who , in on e way o r another , too k Althusse r

Par t

II

contain s

a

systematic confrontatio n

with

as

th e

fou r

thei r

starting

point ,

readin g

o f S t Paul. Althoug h

I a m in solidarity with Badiou' s attemp t to

reassert

th e dimensio n o f universality as th e tru e opposit e o f capitalist

globalism , I reject his criticism o f Laca n - that is, his thesis tha t psychoa ­ nalysis is no t abl e to provid e th e foundatio n o f a ne w political practice .

T h e

politi­

f today's globa l capitalism , eac h o f the m deployin g his ow n

version o f political subjectivization. Par t II I deals with thos e tendencie s o f today's 'postmodern ' political though t which , against the spectr e o f th e (transcendental ) Subject ,

endeavou r to assert th e liberatin g proliferatio n o f th e multipl e form s o f

Accordin g to this orientation , on e

shoul d abando n the impossibl e goal o f globa l social transformatio n and ,

instead , focus attentio n o n th e diverse form s o f assertin g one' s particula r subjectivity in ou r comple x an d disperse d postmoder n universe, in whic h cultura l recognitio n matter s mor e tha n socioeconomi c struggle — tha t is to say, in whic h cultural studies have replace d th e critiqu e o f political

economy . Th e mos t representativ e an d persuasive versio n o f

subjectivity - feminine , gay, ethnic

th e

predominan t 'post-political' liberal-democrati c stanc e

cal mod e o

nex t

chapte r

analyses

th e

ways

in

whic h

th e

fou r

author s

whic h

is

tackle

th e

thes e the­

ories, whos e practica l expressio n is multiculturalis t 'identity polities', is Judit h Butler' s performativ e theor y o f gende r formation . S o th e first ^chapte r o f this par t engage s in a detaile d confrontatio n with Butler' s

whic h mak e possible a productiv e

notion s o f 'passionate attach ­

ments ' an d th e reflexive turn constitutive o f subjectivity). Th e last chapte r the n directly confront s th e key issue o f 'Oedipu s today'', is th e so-called Oedipa l mod e o f subjectivization (th e emergenc e o f th e subjec t throug h

paterna l

Law) today really in decline ? An d if so, wha t is replacin g it? In a con ­ frontatio n with the proponent s o f th e 'secon d modernization ' (Giddens ,

work, focusin g o n thos e o f its aspects

dialogu e with Lacania n psychoanalysis (he r

t h e integratio n o f th e symboli c prohibitio n

embodie d

in

th e

4

THE

TICKLIS H

SUBJEC T

 

Beck) , it enment' :

argue s fo r th e continuou s actuality o f th e 'dialecti c o f Enlight ­ far fro m simply liberatin g us fro m th e constraint s o f patriarcha l

tradition,

th e

unprecedente d

shift

in

th e

mod e

o f

functionin g

o f

th e

symbolic

orde r

tha t

we

ar e

witnessing

today

engender s

its ow n

ne w

risks

a n d

dangers .

 

Whil e this boo k is philosophica l in its basic tenor , it is first an d foremos t

a n engage d political

we ar e to reformulat e a leftist, anti-capitalist political projec t in ou r er a o f globa l capitalism andik s ideologica l supplement , liberal-democrati c multi- culturalism . On e o f the photo s o f 199 7 wa s undoubtedl y tha t o f member s

o f som e indigenou s trib e fro m Borne o carrying wate r in plastic bag s to

p u t ou t gigantic fires whic h wer e destroyin g their habitat, th e ridiculou s

inadequac y o f thei r modes t effort matche d by th e horro r o f seein g thei r

entir e life-world disappear.

clou d o f smok e coverin g th e entir e are a o f norther n Indonesia , Malaysia

a n d the souther n Philippine s deraile d natur e itself, its norma l cycle

(becaus e o f th e continuou s darkness , bee s were unabl e to accomplis h

thei r par t in th e biologica l reproductio n o f plants) . Her e we exampl e o f th e unconditiona l Rea l o f globa l Capita l perturbin g

reality o f natur e - th e referenc e to globa l Capital is necessar y here , sinc e

t h e fires wer e no t simpl y th e resul t o f th e 'greed ' o f loca l woo d merchant s

bu t

also o f th e fact tha t becaus e o f th e E l Nin o effect, th e extraordinar y

drough t did no t en d in th e rains whic h regularily quenc h suc h fires, an d

t h e

o f

Capital whic h ruthlessly disregards an d destroys particula r life-worlds, threatenin g th e very survival o f humanity . What , however , ar e th e impli­ cation s o f this catastrophe ? Ar e we dealin g merel y with th e logic o f Capital, o r is this logic jus t th e predominan t thrus t o f th e moder n productivist attitud e o f technologica l dominatio n ove r an d exploitatio n o f nature ? O r furthermore , is this very technologica l exploitatio n th e ulti­ mat e expression , th e realizatio n o f th e deepes t potentia l o f moder n Cartesia n subjectivity itself? Th e author' s answe r to this dilemm a is th e emphati c ple a o f 'No t guilty!' fo r th e Cartesia n subject .

to

a n d farmer s (an d o f corrup t Indonesia n state

have a n th e very

intervention , addressin g th e burnin g questio n o f ho w

Accordin g to newspape r reports , th e giganti c

officials

allowing

it) ,

E l Nin o

Thi s

effec t

is

global.

catastroph e

thu s

gives bod y

th e

Rea l

o f

ou r

time :

th e

thrus t

I

n

he r

careful

editin g

o f

m

y

manuscript s

fo r

Verso ,

Gillian

Beaumon t

regularly

catche s m e

with

m y

(intellectual )

pant s

down :

he r

gaze

unerr ­

ingly discern s

repetition s

in

th e

lin e

o f thought ,

moroni c

inconsistencie s

 

INTRODUCTIO N

 

5

o f

th e

argumentation ,

false

attribution s

an d

reference s

tha t

display

m y

lac k

o f genera l

education ,

no t

to

mentio n

th e

awkwardnes s

o f

style

h

o w

ca n

I

no t

fee l

ashamed ,

an d

thu s

hate

her ?

O n

th e

othe r

hand ,

sh e

ha s ever y reaso n

t o

hat e

me.

I constantl y bombar d

he r wit h

lat e

insertion s

a

n d

change s o f th e

manuscript ,

s o

tha t

I

ca n

easily imagin e

he r

possessin g

a

voodo o

doll

o f

m e

an d

piercin g it in

th e

evening s with

a giganti c

needle .

Thi s

mutua l

hatred ,

as

the y

woul d

hav e

pu t

it

in

th e

goo d

ol d

days

o f

classic Hollywood , signals th e beginnin g

o f

a

beautifu l

friendship ,

so

I

dedicat e

this boo k

to

her .

 

Note s

Fo r a detailed confrontation with the critical rejection of the Cartesian subjectivity in

cognitive sciences, see Slavoj Zizek, 'The Cartesian Subject versus the Cartesian Theatre', in Cogito and the. Unroturious, eel. Slavoj Ziiek , Durham , NC : Duk e University Press 1998 .

2. Interestingly enough, the three parts also correspond to th e geographic triad of German/French/Anglo-American tradition: Gorman Idealism, French political philosophy, Anglo-American cultural studies.

1.

The 'Night of the World'

1

The Deadlock of Transcendental Imagination, or, Martin Heidegger as a Reader of Kant

O n e

fro m Derrid a to Fredri c Jameson ,

Heidegger' s philosophy . Heidegge r is

referre d to in a noncommitta l way, th e way on e refers to an undispute d

treate d with du e respect , often

lies in its ambiguou s relationshi p to

'progressive ' postmodernis t thought ,

o f

the

enigmati c

features

o f

authority; yet, simultaneously , a n unease , neve r fully explicated , prevents

full endorsemen t o f his position , as i f a kin d o f invisible prohibitio n tells

us that somethin g mus t b e fundamentall y wron g with Heidegger , althoug h

we ar e

full confrontatio n with Heidegge r (a s Derrid a doe s i n On the

Spirit 1 ), th e resul t is , a s a rule , ambiguous ; on e endeavour s t o gai n a

d o

no t (yet) in a positio n to determin e wha t this is. Eve n whe n author s

a

ris k

distanc e fro m Heidegge r while someho w staying o n his pat h (Heidegge r

still remain s a philosophe r o f Origin s an d authenti c Presence , althoug h

h

e did th e mos t to 'deconstruct ' th e metaphysica l logic o f Origin s

.) .

O

n th e othe r hand , thos e wh o adop t on e o f th e two extrem e positions,

a n d eithe r engag e in a desperat e attemp t at a politically 'progressive '

appropriatio n o f Heidegge r (like Reine r Schumann' s 'anarchic ' read ­

ing 2 ) o r propos e a thoroug h rejectio n o f his though t (like Adorno 3 o r

Lyotard 4 ) , ca n b e convincingl y dismissed as dealin g with a simplified

imag e o f Heidegge r tha t doe s no t live u p t o his ow n philosophica l

stringency . Th e ethico-politica l root s o f this deadloc k o f th e deconstruc -

tionist referenc e to Heidegge r wer e

in his interview with Jean-Lu c Nancy :

formulate d by Dcrrid a

perhap s

bes t

I believe in the force and

of the act by which Heidegge r substitutes a certain concep t o f Dasein for a concep t o f subjec t still to o marke d by th e traits o f the bein g as vorhanden. an d

the necessity (and therefore in a certain irreversibility)

10

T H E

TICKLIS H

SUBJEC T

henc e by an interpretation o f time, and insufficiently questioned in its ontolog-

Th e time and space o f this displacement opened up a gap,

marked a gap, they left fragile, or recalled the essential ontological fragility of,

the ethical, juridical, and political foundations o f democracy and o f every discourse that one can oppose to National Socialism in all its forms (the 'worst' ones, or those that Heidegger and others might have thought o f opposing). These foundations were and remain essentially sealed within a philosophy of the subject. On e can quickly perceive the question, which might also be the

ical structure

task: can one take into account the necessity of the existential analytic and what it shatters in the subject and fcan onel turn towards an ethics, a politics (are these words still appropriate?), indeed an 'other' democracy (would it still be a

democracy?), in any case towards another type o f responsibility that safeguards

against

that

there arc a certain number o f us who are working for just this, and it can only take place byway o f a long and slow trajectory/'

what

a

moment

ago

I very quickly called the

'worst'?

1 think

Tha t is th e terrible deadlock : if on e endorse s Heidegger' s 'deconstruc -

tion ' o f

very possibility o f a philosophicall y grounde d democrati c resistance to the

totalitarian horror s o f th e twentieth century ? Habermas' s answe r to this

questio n is a definitive an d patheti c 'Yes!', and , for that reason , h e also

oppose d Adorno' s an d Horkheimcr' s Dialectic of Enlightenment, a boo k

whic h - in a way not totally dissimilar to Heidegge r - locate s th e roots o f

th e basic projec t o f Wester n Enlightenment .

Heideggerians , o f course , would retor t that on e canno t simply oppos e

democrati c subjectivity to its 'totalitarian ' excess, sinc e th e latter is th e

'truth ' o f th e forme r - that is to say, sinc e phenomen a like 'totalitarianism '

the 'totalitarian' horror s in

th e metaphysic s o f subjectivity, doe s on e no t thu s undermin e the

are effectively grounde d in moder n subjectivity. (Thi s is ho w - to put it in

a somewha t simplified way - Heidegge r himsel f explain s his brie f Nazi

engagement : b y th e Tact tha t th e projec t o f Being and Time wa s no t ye t

wholly free d o f th e transcendenta l approach. )

T h e sam e ambiguity also seem s to determin e Lacan' s ow n (often

inconsistent ) referenc e to Heidegger , oscillatin g betwee n appropriatio n

o f som e key Heidegge r term s as providin g th e sought-after foundatio n for

psychoanalysis, an d a series o f dismissive passing remark s in his last years

(like th e on e qualifying his earlie r reference s to Heidegge r as purely

externa l an d didactic) . Against th e backgroun d o f this imbroglio , ou r

thesis will b e that Laca n succeed s wher e Haberma s an d othe r 'defender s

Henrich , fail: th e Lacania n (re)readin g

o f th e subject', includin g Diete r

o f

th e

problemati c o f subjectivity in Germa n Idealis m enable s us no t only

t o

delineat e contour s o f a notio n o f subjectivit y tha t doe s no t fit th e fram e

THE

DEADLOCK

o f Heidegger' s

notio n

o f

OF TRANSCENDENTA L

IMAGINATIO N

11

th e

nihilism inheren t

to moder n

subjectivity, bu t

also

to locat e th e

poin t

o f

th e

inheren t

failure

o f

Heidegger' s

philosophi ­

cal

edifice , up

to

die

often-discussed

questio n

o f

th e

eventua l

philosophi ­

cal

root s

o f his Nazi

engagement .

 

Heideggeria n Political (Dis) Engagemen t

this

critiqu e

all

subjectivity (say, o f th e liberal-democrati c criticism s o f th e 'totalitarian ' excess o f subjectivity). Nietzsch e possesse d an unerrin g instinc t that enable d hi m to discern , behin d th e sage wh o preache s th e denia l o f the

L e t

as th e paradigmati c rejectio n o f within th e horizo n o f Cartesia n

us

take

was

as

ou r

starting

poin t

Nietzsche' s

critiqu e

o f

Wagner :

appropriate d by Heidegge r

o f subjectivism

that

remai n

critique s

Wil l t o Life , th e resseritiment o f th e thwarte d will : Schopenhaue r an d hi s

lik e ar e comica l figures wh o converte d an d elevate d thei r impoten t envy ,

their lack o f life-asserting creativity, int o th e pos e o f resigne d wisdom . (Doe s no t Nietzsche' s diagnosis also hol d for today's attempt s to 'over­

come ' th e Cartesia n paradig m o f dominatio n by mean s o f a ne w holistic attitud e o f renouncin g anthropocentrism , o f humbl y learnin g fro m ancien t cultures, etc.?)

In his projec t o f 'overcoming ' metaphysics , Heidegge r fully endorse s

this Nietzschea n dismissal o f quic k an d easy exits

fro m metaphysics : th e

onl y real way to brea k th e metaphysica l closur e is

to

'pass

throug h

it'

in

its

mos t

dangerou s

form ,

to

endur e

th e

pai n

o f metaphysica l

nihilis m

at

its

mos t extreme , whic h mean s that on e shoul d rejec t as futile all false

sedatives, all direc t attempt s to suspen d th e ma d vicious cycle o f moder n

technolog y by mean s o f a retur n to premodcr n traditiona l Wisdo m (fro m Christianity to Orienta l thought) , all attempt s to reduc e the threa t o f moder n technolog y to th e effect o f som e onli c social wron g (capitalist

exploitation , patriarcha l domination , 'mechanicis t paradigm '

.) . Thes e

attempt s are no t only ineffectual: th e tru e proble m with the m

is that, o n

a deepe

r

level,

they

incit e

th e

evil

they

ar e

fighting

even

further.

A

n

excellen t exampl e her e is th e ecologica l crisis: th e momen t we reduc e it

to disturbance s provoke d by ou r excessiv e technologica l exploitatio n o f nature , we silently already surmise tha t th e solutio n is to rely again o n

global

in its control of natural processes and, human

ecologica l concer n an d projec t to chang e technolog y in orde r to improv e

technologica l innovations : ne w

Every-" concret e

'green '

technology ,

more

efficient

and

12

T H E

TICKLIS H

SUBJECT

t h e state o f ou r natural surrounding s is thu s devalue d as relying o n th e very sourc e o f th e trouble . F o r Heidegger , th e tru e proble m is no t ecologica l crisis in its onti c dimension , includin g a possibl e globa l catastroph e (hol e in th e ozon e

layer, meltin g o f th e ice caps , etc.) , bu t th e technologica l mod e o f relatin g to entities aroun d us - this tru e crisis will confron t us eve n mor e radically if th e expecte d catastroph e doe s not occur ; tha t is, i f humankin d doe s

succee d in technologicall y 'mastering ' th e critical reason , Heidegge r also denie s philosophica l relevanc e to th e

liberal problemati c o f th e tensio n betwee n 'open ' an d 'closed ' societies , betwee n th e 'normal ' functionin g o f th e democrati c capitalist system, with its respec t fo r huma n rights an d freedoms , an d its (Fascist o r Communist ) totalitarian 'excesses'. Implicitly , at least, Heidegge r devalues th e effort to constrai n th e system - to maintai n its 'huma n face', to compe l it to respec t

th e basic rules o f democrac y an d freedom , to provid e fo r huma n solidar­

ity,

inne r truth o f th e system tha t become s perceptibl e in suc h excesses; suc h

its sliding int o totalitarian exces s — as an escap e fro m th e

Fo r tha t standar d

to

preven t

half-hearte d efforts to kee p th e system in chec

remai n within its horizon . On e shoul d recall her e th e key strategic role o f th e signifier 'hysteria' in th e moder n 'radical' political discourse , u p to th e Bolsheviks , wh o dismisse d as 'hysterics' thei r opponent s wh o groane d abou t th e nee d fo r democrati c values, th e totalitarian threa t to humanity ,

a n d

humanitaria n demand s fo r 'capitalis m with a huma n

k ar e th e worst way to

so

on .

Alon g

th e

sam e

lines,

Heidegge r

also

denounce s liberal- face ' as th e unwill­

ingnes s

to confron t th e epocha l truth in all its unbearabl e radicality. Th e

parallel

with th e Bolshevik s is absolutely pertinent : wha t Heidegge r share s

with revolutionar y Marxists is th e notio n tha t th e system's truth emerge s in its exces s - that is to say, fo r Heidegger , as well as fo r Marxists, Fascis m is no t a simpl e aberratio n o f th e 'normal ' developmen t o f capitalism bu t

t h e

Here , however, complication s arise: o n close r inspection , it soo n

th e

o n e

purely onti c affair unworth y o f prope r philosophica l ontologica l question ­ ing - democracy , Fascism , Communism , they all amoun t to th e sam e with regar d to th e epocha l Destin y o f th e West ; o n th e othe r hand , his insistence tha t h e is no t convince d tha t democrac y is th e political for m

a

become s clea r that Heidegger' s argumentativ e strategy

necessar y outcom e

o f its inne r

dynamics .

is twofold.

huma n

O n

hand , h e

reject s every

concer n fo r

democrac y an d

right s

as

0 non e th e less suggests tha t

ther e is another politica l for m whic h suits thi s ecological essenc e bette r -

for som e time , Heidegge r though t h e ha d foun d it in th e Fascist 'total

whic h bes t suits th e essenc e o f technology

THE

DEADLOCK

OF TRANSCENDENTA L IMAGINATIO N

13

mobilization ' (but, significantly, neve r in Communism , whic h always

.) . Heidegger , o f

remain s for hi m epochall y th e sam e as Americanis m

course , emphasize s again an d again ho w th e ontologica l dimensio n o f

Nazism is no t to b e equate d with

Nazis m

as

an

onti c ideologico-politica l

order ; i n th e well-know n passag e

fro m

An

Introduction

to

Metaphysics,

fo r

example , h e repudiate s th e Nazi biologis t rac e ideolog y as

somethin g

that

totally misses th e 'inne r greatness ' o f th e Nazi movement , whic h lies in

t h e

of ,

say, liberal democrac y - as i f liberal democrac y is jus t that, a superficial world-view with n o underlyin g dimensio n o f assumin g one' s epocha l "

Destiny.

th e

fac t remain s tha t Heidegge r never speak

encounte r

betwee n

moder n

ma n

an d

technology. 7 Non e

s

o f

th e

'inne r

th e

less,

greatness '

Apropo s o f this precis e point , I mysel f ru n int o m y first troubl e with -

Heidegge r

o n

t h e

ment , they left m e rathe r cold ; I was definitely mor e o n th e side o f th e

Yugoslav Heideggerians . All o f a sudden , however, I becam e aware o f

h o w

with

himsel f did with respec t to Nazism : in ex-Yugoslavia, Heideggerian s enter ­

taine d th e sam e ambiguousl y assertive relationshi p towards Socialist self- management , the official ideolog y o f th e Communis t regim e - in their eyes, th e essenc e o f self-managemen t was th e very essenc e o f moder n

th e philosophica l notio n o f self-managemen t suits th e

ontologica l essenc e o f ou r epoch , while th e standar d political ideolog y o f

Heideg ­

gerian s are

woul d com e closest to th e epocha l ontologica l truth , a strategy whic h inevitably leads to erro r (which , o f course , is always acknowledge d onl y retroactively , post factum, afte r th e disastrou s outcom e o f one' s engagement) . As Heidegge r himsel f pu t it, thos e wh o cam e closes t to th e ontologica l

Trut h ar e

th e

thu s eternally in searc h o f a positive, onti c political systenTtEat

man , whic h is why

self-managemen t as Heidegge r

thes e Yugoslav Heideggerian s wer e doin g exactl y th e sam e thin g

youth , I was bombarde d by o f Heidegger' s Nazi engage ­

(sinc e I bega n

an d

as a Heideggeria n

in

m y

stories

my first

publishe d boo k was

Heidegge r

official

language) . When ,

philosophers '

Communis t

respec t

to

th e

Yugosla v ideolog y

o f

regim e

misses this

'inne r

greatness '

o f self L managemen t

er r abou t what? Precisely

abou t th e lin e o f separatio n betwee n onti c an d ontological . Th e parado x

n o t to b e underestimate d is tha t th e very philosophe r wh o focuse d his

ontologica l differenc e - wh o warne d again an d

again against th e metaphysica l mistak e o f conferrin g ontologica l dignity

Qji som e onti c conten t (Go d as th e

th e trap o f conferrin g o n Nazis m th e ontologica l dignity o f suiting th e

essenc e o f moder n man . Th e standar d defenc e o f Heidegge r against the

highes t Entity, fo r example ) - fell int o

interes t o n th e enigm a o

condemne d to er r at th e onti c level

f

1 4

T H E

TICKLIS H

SUBJECT

reproac h o f

his Nazi past consists o f two points: no t onl y was his Nazi

engagemen t a simpl e persona l erro r ( a 'stupidit y [Dummheit]', a s Heideg ­

g e r

project; th e mai n counter-argumen t is that it is Heidegger' s ow n philos­

oph y that enable s us to discer n th e tru e epocha l roots totalitariarnsm . However , what remain s unthough t her e is

complicit y betwee n th e ontologica l indifferenc e towards concret e social systems (capitalism , Fascism , Communism) , in so far as they all belon g to

t h e sam e horizo n o f moder n technology , an d th e secre t privileging o f a

with

som e 'Heideggeria n Marxists' ) as close r to the ontologica l truth o f ou r epoch .

e on e shoul d avoid th e tra p that caugh t Heidegger' s defenders ,

w h o dismissed Heidegger' s Nazi engagemen t as a simpl e anomaly , a fall

int o

us no t

already seen , Heidegge r is at his stronges t whe n h e demonstrate s how, o n

a deepe r structural level, ecological , conservative, an d so on , opposition s

moder n universe o f technolog y are already embedde d in th e

horizo n o f wha t the y purpor t to reject: th e ecologica l critiqu e o f th e technologica l exploitatio n o f natur e ultimately leads to a mor e 'environ ­ mentall y sound ' technology , etc.) . Heidegge r did no t engag e in th e Nazi

to th e

to confus e ontologica l horizo n with onti c choice s (as we have

th e onti c level, in blatan t contradictio n to his thought , whic h teache s

himsel f

pu t it) in n o way inherentl y relate d to his philosophica l

o f moder n th e hidde n

concret e sociopolitica l mode l (Nazis m with Heidegger , Communis m

Her

political projec t 'in spite o f his ontologica l philosophica l approach , bu t

wa s no t 'beneath ' hi s philosophica l leve l -

o n th e contrary , i f on e is to understan d Heidegger , th e key poin t is to

grasp th e complicit y elevation abov e onti c engagement .

O n e ca n now se e th e ideologica l tra p that caugh t Heidegger : whe n h e

criticizes Nazi racism o n behal f o f th e tru e 'inne r greatness ' o

movement , h e repeat s th e elementar y ideologica l gestur e o f maintainin g

a n inne r distanc e towards the ideologica l tex t - o f claimin g tha t ther e is somethin g mor e beneat h it, a non-ideologica l kernel : ideolog y exert s its hol d over us by mean s o f this very insistenc e that th e Caus e we adher e to

is no t 'merely ' ideological . S o wher e is th e trap? Whe n the disappointe d

Nazi

because of it; thi s engagemen t

(in Hegelese : 'speculative identity') betwee n the concern s an d th e passionat e 'ontic ' Nazi political

f

th e

Heidegge r turn s away fro m active engagemen t in th e Nazi movement , h e doe s so becaus e th e Nazi movemen t did no t maintai n th e level o f its

'inne r greatness' , bu t legitimized itself with inadequat e (racial) ideology .

d fro m it was that it shoul d legitimiz e

In othe r words, what h e expecte

itself throug h direc t awareness o f its 'inne r greatness' . An d th e proble m

|

|

T H E

DEADLOCK

OF TRANSCENDENTA L

IMAGINATIO N

15

lies

refer to its historico-ontologica l foundatio n is possible. Thi s expectation ,

libwever ,

to

recogniz e that th e ga p separatin g th e direc t ideologica l legitimizatio n o f

a

directly

in

this

very

is

in

fro m

expectatio n

itself

its

that

a

political

movemen t

in

so

tha t

far

as

will

it

profoundl y

'inne r

metaphysical ,

fails

movemen t

greatness '

(its historico-ontologica l

essence )

f

, th e late r Heidegger , ontologica l insigh t necessarily entails onti c blindnes s

a n d

onti c level, on e mus t disregar d th e ontologica l horizo n o f one' s activity. ( I n this sense , Heidegge r emphasize s tha t 'scienc e doesn' t think ' an d

that,

to

endors e is a concret e

as separatin g the awarenes s o f ment , an y onti c engagemen t

Anothe r aspec t o f th e sam e proble m is the passag e fro m ready-at-hand

t o present-at-han d i n Being and Time. Heidegge r take s as th e startin g poin t

surrounding s o f a finite engage d agen t wh o as to somethingready-at-hand ; th e impassive

perceptio n o f objects as present-at-han d arises gradually fro m this engage ­

men t whe n things 'malfunction ' in different ways, an d is therefor e a derivative mod e o f presence . Heidegger' s point , o f course , is tha t the

prope r ontologica l descriptio n o f th e wa y Dasein is i n th e worl d ha s t o abando n th e moder n Cartesia n duality o f values an d facts: th e notio n tha t

t h e

projects his aims, an d exploits the m accordingly , falsifies th e prope r state

o f things: th e fact tha t engage d immersio n in th e world is primordial , an d tha t all othe r mode s o f th e presenc e o f object s are derive d fro m it. O n close r examination , however, the pictur e become s somewha t blurre d an d mor e complex . Th e proble m wit h Being and Time is ho w t o

co-ordinat e th e series o f pairs o f oppositions : authenti c existenc e versus

the n

th

e relates to object s aroun d it

gap

constitutive

o f

scientific

politica l engagemen t tha t woul d accept its necessary , -

th e ontologica l horizo n fro m onti c engage ­

is depreciated ,

is

constitutive,

error ,

a positiv e conditio n

vice versa -

that

is

o f its 'functioning' .

to

say, in

orde r

to

T o

b e

us e

th e

term s

at

o

th e

an d

'effective'

far

fro m

bein g

its

I n

limitation ,

othe r

if

words,

th e

this

inability

is

th e

very

moto r

unabl e

th e

dignity.

progress.)

wha t

momen t

Heidegge r

we

seem s

blindnes s

acknowledg e

loses its authenti c

active

immersio n

in

its

subjec t

encounter s

present-at-han d

objects

o n

to

whic h

h e

activity ; tru e philosophica l moder n society versus th e

Th e pairs in this series d o no t

simply overlap : whe n a premoder n artisan o r farmer , followin g his tra­

ditiona l way o f life,

involvemen t with ready-at-

Peopl e assumin g its historic

das Man; anxiet y versu s immersio n i n worldl y though t versus traditional ontology ; disperse d

is

immerse d

in

his

daily

han d object s that are include d in his world, this immersio n is definitely

n o t th e sam e as th e das Man o f th e moder n city-dweller . (Thi s is why, in his notoriou s 'Wh y shoul d we remai n in th e province?' , Heidegge r himsel f

1 6

T H E

TICKLIS H

SUBJEC T

report s

that whe n

h e

was uncertai n

whethe r

to accep t th e

invitation

to

g o

to

teac h

in

Berlin ,

h e

aske d

his friend ,

a

hard-workin g

local

farmer ,

wh o

jus t

silently shoo k

his

hea d

-

Heidegge r

immediatel y

accepte d

this

as

th e

authenti c answe r to his predicament. ) Is it not , therefore , that, in contras t -

with

th e

fro m

to

f

das

o f immersio n

involvemen t

thes e

th e

Man

two

oppose d

mode s

an d

als o

th e

authenti c

ready-at-hand

-

ther e

ar e

th e

moder n

tw o

oppose d

o f

lettin g onesel f g o with

mode s

anxiety ,

o f acquirin g

whic h

an d

th e

outside ,

'authentic '

th e

flow o

a distance :

us

th e

betwee n

worl d

shatterin g

t

o

'representations' ?

immersio n

ble d

ontology .

twee n

betwee n

o f

existentia l experienc e

immersio n

in

observe r

It

who ,

seem s

ou r

as

as

i f

extraneate s

theoretica l

h e

f

traditional

th e

neutra l

way o f life,

i f fro m

this

distanc e

in

th e

redou ­

l

be ­

tensio n

ru n

meta ­

perceive s

tensio n

traditiona l

in

as

fro m

th e

o f 'being-in-the-world'

b y

th e

S o

'inauthentic '

pai r

we

have

fou r

authenti c

th e

things,

two

o f

an d

das

its suspensio n

Man

in

anxiet y is

everyday

well

th e

th e

an d

tensio n

metaphysica

as

life

positions :

an d

extractin g

th e

das

'being-in-the-world '

mode s

o f

existentia l

Man,

ourselves

an d

everyday

authenti c

resolutenes s

traditiona l

physical ontolog y -

doe s

no t

this

give us

a

kin d

o f Heideggcria n

semioti c

square ?

intereste d in th e (Hegelian ) proble m o f legitimizin g ou r immersio n in th e everyday life-world: h e oscillate s

norm s tha t regulate

betwee n direc t (pre-reflexive ) immersio n in daily life an d th e abyss o f th e

disintegratio n o f this framewor k (his versio n o f encounterin g 'absolut e negativity'). 9 H e is acutel y aware o f ho w ou r everyday life is grounde d o n som e fragile decisio n - how , althoug h we are irreducibl y throw n int o a contingen t situation, this doe s no t mea n tha t we are simply determine d

a n animal : th e origina l huma n conditio n is tha t o f

bein g ou t o f joint , o f abyss an d excess, an d an y involvemen t in th e daily

life habita t relies o n an ac t o f resolut e acceptanc e o f it. Daily habita t an d

no t simply opposed: , th e habita t itself is 'chosen ' in an 'exces ­

sive' gestur e o f groundles s decision . Thi s ac t o f violen t impositio n is th e

'third term ' tha t undermine s th e alternativ e o

world contex t an d o f abstrac t decontextualize d Reason : it consists in th e

th e finite context , th e gestur e whic h is

n o t

characteristi c o f

t h e observin g Reason , bu t remain s a kin d o f 'universality-in-becoming', to

p u t it in Kierkegaardese . Th e 'specifically human ' dimensio n is thu s

neithe r tha t o f th e engage d agen t caugh t i n

n o r

very

discord , th e 'vanishin g mediator' , betwee n th e two.

Heidegge r

is

no t

by it, caugh t in it like

exces s ar e

f fully fitting int o a life-

violen t gestur e o f breakin g ou t o f

yet

'stabilized'

in

th e

positio n

o f neutra l

universality

th e finite life-worl d context ,

th e

life-world,

but

th e

that

o f universal

Reaso n

exempte d

fro m

THE

DEADLOCK

OF TRANSCENDENTA L IMAGINATIO N

17

Heidegger' s

th e fundamenta l

acquire s

[geworfen],

nam e

fo r

thi s ac t o f violen t imposition ! Ent-Wurfi

o f whic h

th e

situation

indicate s

-

throw n

is

fantasy by mean s

o f

-

subjec t 'make s sense o f

int o

whic h

an d

h e

is

lost. 1 0

Wha t

th e

i n

co-ordinate s

whic h

h e

th e

finds

himself ,

disorientate d

problemati c

her e

is

tha t

Heidegge r

use s

th e

notio n

o f

Geuiorfeniieit,

'thrownness' ,

int o

a

finit e

contingen t

situation ,

an d

the n

o f Entwurf,

th e

acTof authenticall y

choosin g one' s way,

o n

two

levels whos e

relationshi p

is not

though t out: th e individual

an d

th e collectiv e one . O n

the

individual

level,

th e

authenti c

encounte r

with

death ,

whic h

is

'always

only

mine' ,

'enable s m

e

in

a n

authenti c

ac t

o

f choice ; bu t

then ,

a

communit y

to projec t m y future is also determine d

as bein g throw n int o a contingen t situation

'within

whic h

it

mus t

choose-assum e

its

destiny.

Heidegge r

passes

fro m

th e

individua l

t o

th

e

societa l

leve l

b y

mean s

o f

th e

notio n

o f

repetition::.

'Th e

authenti c

repetitio n

o f

a

possibility o f existenc e that

has bee n - the

i n

anticipatory resoluteness.' 1 1 Th e backgroun d her e is unmistakabl y Kierke -

gaardian :

its member s thei r hero .

o f

possibilit y

tha t

a tru e ha s

Dasein

ma y

choos e

it s her o

-

is

grounde d

in

th e

existentiall y

fact that

eac h

Christia n t o repea t

communit y is grounde d

th e mod e

o f existenc e freel y assume d

b y Christ ,

Thi s passag e fro m

th e

'throw n projection '

o f

th e individua l Dasein who ,

e o f being ,

'freely choose s his fate,' to a huma n communit y o f a Peopl e whic h also, in a collectiv e ac t o f anticipator y decisio n qua repetitio n o f a pas t possibility, authenticall y assume s its historial Destiny, is no t phenomeno -

logicall y grounde d i n a n adequat e way . Th e medium o f collectiv e (societal ) being-ther e is no t properl y deployed : wha t Heidegge r seem s to b e missing is simply that whic h Hege l designate d as 'objectiv e Spirit', th e symboli c big Other , th e 'objectified ' domai n o f symboli c mandates , an d s o on , ""winch is not yet th e 'impersonal ' das Man, bu t als o no longer th e premoder n immersio n in a traditiona l way o f life. Thi s illegitimate shor t circuit

is at th e roo t o f Heidegger' s 'Fascist politicizatio n o f Being and Time is a t

t its strongest : doe s no t th e oppositio n betwee n th e moder n anonymou s

'j temptation' ; a t thi s point , th e implici t

\ Betwee n individual an d collectiv e level

in a n ac t o f anticipator y decision , achieve s a n authenti c mod

disperse d societ y

preoccupations , an d

ate with th e oppositio n betwee n th e civilization o f freneti c false activity respons e to it?

o f das Man, wit h peopl e bus y followin g thei r everyda y

reson ­

decaden t moder n 'Americanized ' an d th e conservative 'authentic '

th e

Peopl e

authenticall y assumin g

its Destiny,

as

coincidin g with authenti c anticipator y projectio n is no t an exemplar y case

Thi s

is

no t

to

clai m

that

Heidegger' s

notio n

o f historical repetitio n

18

T H E

TICKLIS H

SUBJEC T

o f

o f

time:

that a finite agen t finds itself in a situation

the n

condition ,

fo r

th e

historicity prope r

analysis.

whe n

Th e

h e

analyses

key

is

poin t

no t

to

b e

misse d

th e

o f

extase s o f

mea n

that limits its options ; tha t it

its

assume s

by

in

Heidegger' s

thre e

tempora l

this

doe s

no t

this

finite

analysis

simply

by

interconnectio n

o f

'throw n

speak s

th e

projection' ,

potentialitie s

allowed

possibility whic h

situation,

an d

choose s th e

bes t fits its interests

it

as

its

project . Th e

poin t

is that

th e

future

has

a primacy :

to

b e

abl e

to

discer n

th e

possibilities opene d

u p

by th e

tradition

int o whic h

an

agen t

is

thrown,

on e

mus t

already

acknowledg e

one' s

engagemen t

in

a

projec t

-

that

is

to

say,(the movemen t

o f repetition j

as

it were ,

retroactively

reveals

(an d

thus fully actualizes) tha t whic h it

repeats .

 

For this reason , Heidegger' s 'decision' , in th e precis e sens e o f anticipa­

f a forced choice, th e

tor y

Hcideggeria n decisio n qua repetition , is no t a 'fre e

sens e o f the term . (Suc h a

possibilities is utterly foreig n to Heidegger ; h e dismisses it as belongin g to

superficial Americanize d liberal individualism.) Rather , it is fundamentall y

th e choic e o f 'freely assuming ' one' s impose d destiny. Thi s paradox ,

necessary i f on e

indicate s th e theologica l problemati c o f predestination an d Grace: a tru e decision/choic e (no t a choic e betwee n a series o f object s leaving m y subjective positio n intact, bu t th e fundamenta l choic e by mean s o f whic h

I 'choos e myself ) presuppose s tha t 1 assum e a passive attitud e o f 'letting

mysel f b

as Deleuz e pu t it, w e reall y choos e onl y whe n w e ar e chosen: 'N e choisi t

bien , n e choisit effectivemen t qu e celu i qui est choisi.' 1 2 T o dispel th e notio n tha t we ar e dealin g her e with an obscurantist-

theologica l problematic , le t us evok e a

proletaria n class interpellation : whe n a

revolutionary, whe n h e freely assume s an d identifies with th e

chose n by History to

accomplis h this task. I n general , th e Althusseria n notio n o f ideologica l

whic h

th

is, in whic h she/h e is given th e freedo m o f

h e make s th e righ t choice : whe n an individual is addresse d by an interpellation , she/h e is 'invited to play a rol e in suc h a way tha t th e invitation appear s to have already bee n answere d by th e subjec t befor e it was proposed , but at th e sam e tim e the invitation coul d b e refused'. 1 1 Therei n lies the ideologica l ac t o f recognition , in whic h I recogniz e myself

interpellatio n involves the situation o f 'force d choice ' by mean s o f

task o f revolution , h e recognize s

proletaria n

mor e telling leftist exampl e o f subjec t recognize s himsel f as a

resolutenes s

[Ent-Schlossenheit],

ha s

th e

statu s

o

choice '

in

th e

usua l

notio n o f freely choosin g betwee n alternative

is to avoid

th e vulgar liberal notio n

o f freedo m

o f choice ,

e chosen ' - i n short , free choice and Grace are strictly equivalent, or ,

himsel f as

bein g

e

subjec t emerge s

ou t

o f

th e

act o f freely

choosin g th e inevitable - that choic e o n conditio n that she /

THE

DEADLOCK

OF TRANSCENDENTAL

IMAGINATIO N

19

as 'always-already' that as whic h I a m interpellated : in recognizin g mysel f

as X , I freely assume/choos e th e fact that I always-already was X . When ,

say, I a m accuse d o f a crim e an d agre e t o defen d myself , I presuppose myself

as a free agen t legally

responsibl e

for m y acts.

a

taken

in a n absolut e void, that every decisio n is contextualized , is a decision-in-

context , bu t context s ihemsejyes :

nic e Hegelia n poin t abou t decision : it is no t only that n o decisio n

I n

he r

Interne t

discussion

widi

Ernest o

Laclau , Judit h

Butle r

mad e

is

•'

are in som e ways decision-making.

produced by decisions, that is, there is a certain redoubling o f Ther e is first the decision to mark or delimit the context

in which a decision [on what kinds of differences ought

not to be included

in

a

given polity] will be made, and then there is the marking off o f certain kinds o f differences as inadmissible.

T

h e

undecidabilit y

her e

is radical:

on e

ca n

neve r

reac h

a

'pure '

contex t

prio r

to

a

decision ;

every

contex t

is

'always-already'

retroactively

consti­

tute d

by a decisio n