“From now on, even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way; everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!“
Saint Paul's militant declaration from Corinthians asserts for the first time in human history the revolutionary logic of a radical break with the past — with it, the age of Cosmic Balance and similar pagan babble is over. What does it mean to return to this stance today?
One of the most deplorable aspects of our postmodern era is the re-emergence of the “sacred” in all its different guises, from New Age paganism to the emerging religious sensitivity within deconstructionism itself. How is a Marxist to counter this massive onslaught of obscurantism? The wager of Zizek’s The Fragile Absolute is that Christianity and Marxism should fight together against the onslaught of new spiritualism. The subversive core of the Christian legacy is much too precious to be left to the fundamentalists. Here is a fitting contribution from a Marxist to the 2000th anniversary of one who was well aware that to practice love in our world is to bring in the sword and fire.
“The most formidably brilliant exponent of psychoanalysis, indeed of cultural theory in general, to have emerged from Europe in some decades.” — Terry Eagleton
Žižek, S. (2000) The Fragile Absolute, or Why the Christian Legacy is Worth
Fighting For, London and New York: Verso.
As Žižek himself confesses, it might seem strange for a Marxist to
defend the legacy of Christianity in an age which has seen the re-emer-
gence of obscurantist religious thought. However, part of the broad
remit of this compact book is an attempt to resuscitate the subversive
core of Christianity, the act of 'shooting at oneself' (or of radical nega-
tivity) which forms the centrepiece of Žižek's analysis of Schelling in
The Abyss of Freedom and of Descartes in Cogito and the Unconscious.
Proposing that the only way to liberate oneself from the grip of existing
social reality is to renounce the fantasmatic supplement that attaches
us to it, he cites any number of examples from Sethe's act of infanti-
cide in Toni Morrison's Beloved, through Keyser Soeze's massacre
of his own family in The Usual Suspects, up to the supreme instance of
such a gesture in the Crucifixion. This is an accessible work which
underscores the utopian aspect of his discussion of the 'night of the
world' in previous books.