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Hot chocolate with Zizek

(Original write-up by Stuart Jeffries at The Guardian...)

""There is an anarchist leftist group here in London who hate me," says Slavoj Žižek with a giggle as we settle into a dilapidated leather sofa in the bar of his Bloomsbury hotel. He is wearing freebie airline socks, an Italian T-shirt someone gave him and jeans that could easily have been made decades earlier in an unsuccessful Soviet tractor factory. "But fuck it, let's speak frankly, no bullshit, most of the left hates me even though I am supposed to be one of the world's leading communist intellectuals."

"Žižek summons the waiter and orders hot chocolate, Diet Coke and lots of sugar ("I am diabetic"). He is disappointed, he tells me parenthetically, that we didn't do the interview in the hotel's adjacent Virginia Woolf burger bar. "What would the Virginia Woolf burger be like?" he asks. "Dried out, topped with parsley, totally overrated. I always preferred Daphne du Maurier." He then launches into a denunciation of the pretensions of James Joyce, arguing that his literary career went downhill after Dubliners, and then into a eulogy to the radical minimalism of Beckett's Not I. Within minutes we're on to German philosopher Peter Sloterdijk's views on the Malaysian economic miracle, the prospects for Žižek's film theory course in Ramallah and Katarina Wagner's production of Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, in which Hans Sachs is depicted as a Heil Hitler-ing Nazi. One's task as a reader or interviewer of Žižek is rapidly to build a network of mental pontoon bridges to unite his seemingly autonomous intellectual territories...

"Politics," he reflects, "has always been shitty. It is something I am involved in often against my will. My first interest is theory. I am a Hegelian looking for facts to fit the theory."

Really now? A rather odd conception of the relationship between phenomena, experience, and theory.

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