05 Jul 2018

Žižek on Houellebecq

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Michel Houellebecq

Slawomir Sierakowski interviewing Slavoj Žižek back in 2015 after the Charlie Hebdo murders.

Do you see common ground between you and Michel Houellebecq, with his critique of Western liberal societies, combined with no justification for reactionary alternatives like Islamist or Russian ones?

Yes, definitely. Crazy as it may sound, I have much respect for the honest liberal conservatives like Houellebecq, Finkielkraut, or Sloterdijk in Germany. One can learn from them much more than from progressive liberal like Habermas: honest conservatives are not afraid to admit the deadlock we are in. Houellebecq’s Atomised is for me the most devastating portrait of the sexual revolution of the 1960s. He shows how permissive hedonism turns into the obscene superego universe of the obligation to enjoy. Even his anti-Islamism is more refined than it may appear: he is well aware how the true problem is not the Muslim threat from the outside, but our own decadence. Long ago Friedrich Nietzsche perceived how Western civilization was moving in the direction of the Last Man, an apathetic creature with no great passion or commitment. Unable to dream, tired of life, he takes no risks, seeking only comfort and security, an expression of tolerance with one another:

    A little poison now and then: that makes for pleasant dreams. And much poison at the end, for a pleasant death. They have their little pleasures for the day, and their little pleasures for the night, but they have a regard for health. “We have discovered happiness,” — say the Last Men, and they blink.

RTWT

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