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'FIGURES OF SURPLUS-ENJOYMENT': A masterclass with Slavoj Zizek

Starts:
Finishes:
Venue: Online

FIGURES OF SURPLUS-ENJOYMENT

 

(1)  SHAME AS A POLITICAL FACTOR: WHY DO WE ENJOY FEELING ASHASMED?

Shame is not simply external: I can feel ashamed also when I am alone. What we call “manners” or “tact” means that we learned to pretend that the big Other didn’t notice the disturbing element. This role of the innocent observer (the guardian of appearances) also accounts for the strange fact that I can feel shame for others who should be ashamed of themselves: when the “innocent observer” (a figure of big Other) registers the excess, we all who admit this agency of innocent observer feel equally ashamed since it became obvious that we all knew the reality and just discreetly ignored it. There is a clear link between shame and enjoyment: a subject can secretly enjoy feeling shame (especially when he is feeling shame for what another did or is). What is missing today is the reflexivity of shame: in our new culture of shame, we experience what Pfaller calls a “shame which became shameless”. The all-pervasiveness of shame thus at the same time signals its lack: we are not embarrassed by our shame, we shamelessly enjoy it.

 

 (2) DO WE STILL HAVE MASTERS, OR ARE THERE JUST SERVANTS SERVING OTHER SERVANTS?

The dissatisfaction with the hegemonic ideological coordinates expresses itself in the guise of its opposite, as a redoubled surplus-enjoyment: not the surplus-enjoyment and/or surplus-value which sets in motion the capitalist edifice but a surplus over this surplus itself, the surplus palpable in the obscenity of the populist discourse permeated by racist and sexist enjoyment. We are learning the hard way that the attempt of modernity to dispense with traditional forms of domination (father of the family, Master…) and install secular democracy failed: the dimension of the Master is returning with a vengeance in all its forms (patriarchal values, political authoritarianism, religious fundamentalism…). It was clear already to Freud that the decline of the paternal authority is an ambiguous process: father as a figure of moral authority enables the child to adopt a stance of moral autonomy resisting the pressure of his/her peers and of the corrupted social environment. The predominant way out of this deadlock is to present master as someone who serves his servants/subjects. Friedrich the Great defined himself as “the first servant of State”, and this is how, from the early Enlightenment onwards, a master justifies his rule. But there are different modalities of this position of “serving the servants”, from technocracy and religious fundamentalism to obscene master-clown, or even, as Mao Ze Dong can be characterized, to a “Lord of Misrule”, a master who periodically organizes rebellion against the order installed by himself.

The masterclass will take place remotely using Blackboard Collaborate web conferencing system. It will consist of two live events with Professor Zizek. The sessions will be moderated by the BIH Co-Director Prof Esther Leslie, with participants invited to submit questions and comments during the event itself.

Those who register will be given joining details.  Tickets can be purchased separately for each session of the two sessions which will run from 14:00-16:00 on both days. Each session costs £15 but there is also a combined ticket available to attend both days for £25.

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Speakers
  • Prof Esther Leslie
  • Prof Slavoj Zizek