The uniqueness of Žižek | PopMatters
Slavoj Žižekthe last book of Hegel in a wired brain, mixes insight and paradox in a captivating way that has become his signature style, but there is also novelty in this impactful addition to his work. The dialectic between past and present is the dynamic that drives his writing, but this time the subject is the future: the prospect of digitally connecting the human brain to a machine, a direct neural connection, heralding an era of our evolution that could be called, without hyperbole, the post-human.
We are not talking here about the intelligent human, able to activate the air conditioning of a house by thinking about it, but of the possibility of a digital sharing of thoughts and experiences between people via machines. This is the uniqueness and if you believe what people love inventor and futuristic
Ray kurzweil said, it goes beyond the weird sci-fi stuff: it’s doable and imminent.
What Marx said about the commodity – “full of metaphysical subtlety and theological perversities” – also applies to the singularity. It raises questions about what it means to be human and whether it keeps the promise of a collective space, of a pre-Apostolic nature, that we can all share.
Žižek does not accept this and to illustrate his reluctance comes back to him
Wachowski Brothers The matrix and repeats what he said about the film in his 2006 book The Parallax View. Neo’s (Keanu Reeves) success in causing systems failure The matrix it is not quite the liberation of humanity, it seems. The enlightenment it will produce will allow people to transcend physical laws and fly like ballet dancers in the air, but they will remain inside the virtual reality of the Matrix. The “desert of reality” to which it can offer a welcome is the digital universe which sustains the slave world of the Matrix; outside are the crumbling remains of a destroyed Chicago that Laurence Fishburne’s Morpheus offers a glimpse of.
The point is that there is no automatic escape from a symbolic order governing our sense of identity – the matrix which is Lacan’s “Big Other” – and it is an illusion to think that the Singularity redeems us from the Fall. In Žižek’s “Christian atheism”, the Fall refers to the presumption that humans are constitutively separate from other forms of life that cannot understand finitude. Our understanding creates a desire for some organic integrity and substantial oneness, a state of happiness which is the very dimension that traditional theology says we have fallen from. Our sense of loss creates a heavenly point of origin that has never been there, and Žižek turns to Hegel for a way of recognizing the illusion of ontological wholeness and of living with the fractured contingency that this implies.
Hegel in a wired brain does not deny the singularity but seeks to save it from simplification by applied philosophy. He wants to know how direct neural links will manipulate the Unconscious, a mode of subjectivity that also retroactively creates a point of origin (the unconscious as a psychic area of the mind). But that only happens after its effects on human behavior. To understand such a paradox, he reads Rupert Wyatt’s undervalued film Captive state (2019) as an example of how his familiar fiction – aliens conquering earth – can become a virtual point of reference for our lived experience, more “real” than our true distress at the mercy of corporate rule .
A central principle that runs through the seven chapters of this book is the void that defines the human subject and its consequences for the singularity. The fundamental failure at the core of our being as sexual and mortal creatures – separating us from ourselves as well as from other animals – is the obstacle to spiritual notions that this failure gives rise to. The libidinal energy and worry that feed the Matrix, enjoyment, has a parallel in the success of capitalism and the singularity will not be different unless self-alienation is recognized; a new type of fall fall is needed.
It’s tempting to read Žižek too quickly, seeing him as a hip iconoclast whose ideas can be easily digested. There is fun to be had in an intellectual cocktail that mixes a wealth of cultural knowledge, academic rigor, and risky jokes – but only before getting bogged down in the abstruse and shirking the need to wrestle with complex ideas that it initially seems to have. easy to understand. Byron’s description of Coleridge – “Explaining metaphysics to the nation – / I wish he would explain his explanation” in his poem, Don Juan: Dedication – has become a response shared by many after delving into his books. Such moments are not entirely absent from Hegel in a wired brain but the book rarely strays too long from its focus on the difficulties and opportunities that will emerge as Singularity forms part of our world.