Occasionally, a book will catch my eye. I will feign resistance, but then it gets the better of me. This happened recently at the county library, where I came upon a book by Slavoj Žižek entitled “Less Than Nothing: Hegel and the Shadow of Dialectical Materialism”.
I could not resist checking it out. The book is massive – over 1000 pages. It’s a very nicely put together book (physically) and published by a “Verso” press. On the inside it says “Verso is the imprint of New Left Books”.
I had already suspected from a cursory examination of the book that I did not agree with the philosophical bent of the author. However, this is where it gets interesting. I had never heard of Slavoj Žižek so I looked him up online. What a cool dude! If I were ever to become an atheist Leftist Hegelian philosopher, this is who I would model myself after! The unkempt hair and beard is really what nails it for me.
The Wikipedia page is very well referenced. In the section on “Argumentative method” it talks a bit about his style. I found this extremely amusing because this is how I would describe my own argumentative method: “Žižek flouts standards of reasoned argument. Harpham calls Žižek’s style “a stream of nonconsecutive units arranged in arbitrary sequences that solicit a sporadic and discontinuous attention.” O’Neill concurs: “a dizzying array of wildly entertaining and often quite maddening rhetorical strategies are deployed in order to beguile, browbeat, dumbfound, dazzle, confuse, mislead, overwhelm, and generally subdue the reader into acceptance.”
Essentially, if I were to ever become a philosopher, I could be this man’s antipode with respect to beliefs but his clone with respect to style. I have some free time coming up very soon….perhaps I shall delve into the mind of a man who claims to be a “communist in a qualified sense”. This is not my typical reading, folks. Who knows what might happen with this. I do know that I enjoy “rhetorical strategies…to beguile, browbeat, dumbfound, dazzle, confuse, mislead, overwhelm, and generally subdue the reader into acceptance”.
I have no sympathy or predilection for communism in any of its forms. I have what seems to be genetic antipathy towards socialism. And I have never been tempted to even seriously consider atheism. I am about as far away from “radical Leftism” as you can be. Yet, I want to read this book. As I have gotten older, I’ve become more intellectually curious, less doctrinaire. Curiosity killed the cat, let’s see what happens with this.