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( Download Kindle ) ⚟ The Puppet and the Dwarf: The Perverse Core of Christianity ó One of our most daring intellectuals offers a Lacanian interpretation of religion, finding that early Christianity was the first revolutionary collectiveSlavoj Zizek has been called an academic rock star and the wild man of theory his writing mixes astonishing erudition and references to pop culture in order to dissect current intellectual pieties In The Puppet and the Dwarf he offers a close reading of today s religious constellation from the viewpoint of Lacanian psychoanalysis He critically confronts both predominant versions of today s spirituality New Age gnosticism and deconstructionist Levinasian Judaism and then tries to redeem the materialist kernel of Christianity His reading of Christianity is explicitly political, discerning in the Pauline community of believers the first version of a revolutionary collective Since today even advocates of Enlightenment like Jurgen Habermas acknowledge that a religious vision is needed to ground our ethical and political stance in a postsecular age, this book with a stance that is clearly materialist and at the same time indebted to the core of the Christian legacy is certain to stir controversy Mind melting philosophy Creative BetrayalIf confirmation of the merits of good philosophical thought were needed, this book isthan adequate to make the point conclusively I find much of Zizek s work somewhat tedious but his arguments in The Puppet and the Dwarf are the equivalent of rapid fire body blows to inane conservative pundits like Jordan Peterson he of 12 Rules of Life fame See and equally inane social theorists like Thomas Sowell Intellectuals and Society S Creative BetrayalIf confirmation of the merits of good philosophical thought were needed, this book isthan adequate to make the point conclusively I find much of Zizek s work somewhat tedious but his arguments in The Puppet and the Dwarf are the equivalent of rapid fire body blows to inane conservative pundits like Jordan Peterson he of 12 Rules of Life fame See and equally inane social theorists like Thomas Sowell Intellectuals and Society See who make a living by peddling non thought to non thinkers, ideology for idiots.Zizek calls his method short circuiting , that is, bringing areas of thought which are usually insulated from one another into contact and watching the sparks fly His stated intention is not to rubbish anyone s point of view but to reveal ainclusive picture of the world in which various points of view create something new, something bigger not just in the sense of explanation, but also in the sense of promoting human understanding and solidarity He makes this operational by allowing people to becomeaware of another disturbing side of something he or she knew all the timeThis is not tendentious indoctrination I think it is as close as one can get to supervised self education.So for example Zizek self identifies as an atheistic materialist But he also has a profoundly poetic appreciation of religion, particularly Christianity, that rivals most theologians By allowing these two currents of thought to touch, he transforms both His central thesis captures the resultMy claim here is not merely that I am a materialist through and through, and that the subversive kernel of Christianity is accessible also to a materialist approach my thesis is much stronger this kernel is accessible only to a materialist approach and vice versa to become a true dialectical materialist, one should go through the Christian experience His intention is not to relativise Christianity but to make it real For Zizek going through the Christian experience doesn t imply abandoning it as obsolete, but appreciating it for what it is How else is one to understand his explanation of Christian love, for example, as an exception to any universal ethic, even the ethic of Christian loveThe underlying paradox is that love, precisely as the Absolute, should not be posited as a direct goal it should retain the status of a byproduct, of something we get as an undeserved graceLove, or for that matter salvation, is not a reward it is a consequence of things like respect, and care, and dedication And not necessarily a consequence elicited from the direct object of our respect, care and dedication Karl Barth, arguably the most important theologian of the 20th century, would agree wholeheartedly So Zizek can cite G.K Chesterton approvingly at length and conclude thattrue love is precisely forsaking the promise of Eternity itself for an imperfect individualThe object of love cannot be an abstraction, even a divine abstraction it must be a concrete person and it must include flaws, deficiencies, and irritations Perfection cannot be loved The God of Chesterton knew this It is why even Christ loses his faith hanging on the cross And as Carl Jung noticed in his book on Job, Yahweh had to have an audience, an imperfect human audience, to complete himself Many theologians, as well as evangelical Christians could benefit immensely by contemplating this insight.Having recently read Reza Aslan s Zealot , I am struck by its coincidence with Zizek s identification of the central message of Christianity which he captures succinctly in his subtitlethe hidden perverse core of Christianity if it is prohibited to eat from the Tree of Knowledge in Paradise, why did God put it there in the first place Is it not that this was a part of His perverse strategy first to seduce Adam and Eve into the Fall, in order then to save them That is to say should one not apply Paul s insight into how the prohibitive law creates sin to this very first prohibition also Is Judas not therefore the ultimate hero of the New Testament, the one who was ready to lose his soul and accept eternal damnation so that the divine plan could be accomplished In all other religions, God demands that His followers remain faithful to Him only Christ asked his followers to betray him in order to fulfill his mission Zizek and Aslan agree This paradoxical undermining of itself, an almost Stalinist compulsion to destroy conventional culture, the things, that is, which we believe but don t take seriously, is the permanent messianism of Christianity It makes Christianity dangerous It created modernity by separating religion from politics Perhaps it is also implicitly creating post modernity by revealing the untenable consequences of that separation The critic Harold Bloom has made his reputation on the idea of creative misinterpretation as not just the motive for literary but also for political development Isn t this how Christianity and Judaism and Islam for that matter was created As Zizek claimsPaul also betrayed Christ by not caring about his idiosyncrasies, by ruthlessly reducing him to the fundamentals, with no patience for his wisdom, miracles, and similar paraphernaliaI think Zizek is following the same tradition of creative misinterpretation If he s not right, at least he s interesting This perhaps, is also the most important ethics lesson of the twentieth century we should abandon all ethical arrogance and humbly acknowledge how lucky we are to be able to act ethically.The Puppet and the Dwarf is dear i ek at his best I do favor his political and cultural projects Those other sorties into ontology and associated Hegelian Lacanian practices tend to baffle me The point of departure here is a stand against the vulgar and boring atheism of Richard Dawkins and Christopher This perhaps, is also the most important ethics lesson of the twentieth century we should abandon all ethical arrogance and humbly acknowledge how lucky we are to be able to act ethically.The Puppet and the Dwarf is dear i ek at his best I do favor his political and cultural projects Those other sorties into ontology and associated Hegelian Lacanian practices tend to baffle me The point of departure here is a stand against the vulgar and boring atheism of Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens I can see that Atheism remains self evident telling the believer that such is horseshit isn t very productive and not that interesting, not anyanyway.What proceeds is a series of approaches to the Epistles of St Paul and how the framing nature of Genesis and the Passion are necessary to further the narrative It is this anxiety between the Law especially of Christianity s Jewish predecessors and Love results in a sort of anxiety This allows its excesses, its forays, its forbidden indulgence in the Pagan i ek ties this in nicely with Tolkien s middle earth chronicles Somewhere down the road, through the fables of Job and the atheistic recriminations of Jesus on the cross, we arrive at the effective foible of Mutually Assured Doctrine it succeeded precisely because we are such irrational agents Here s to the holidays and merry matters left unsaid You d think an old leftist atheist writing on Christianity wouldn t have much to say beyond the tired old pseudo Nietzschean stuff we ve all heard before Think again Zizek attempts to understand Christianity on its own terms rather than find or poke holes in its edifice Zizek has an excellent take on what makes the Christian project so special and why New Age Western Buddhism and privileging of the Other by way of Levinasian Judaism fall short of truly radical thinking.Essentially, the t You d think an old leftist atheist writing on Christianity wouldn t have much to say beyond the tired old pseudo Nietzschean stuff we ve all heard before Think again Zizek attempts to understand Christianity on its own terms rather than find or poke holes in its edifice Zizek has an excellent take on what makes the Christian project so special and why New Age Western Buddhism and privileging of the Other by way of Levinasian Judaism fall short of truly radical thinking.Essentially, the thrust of his arguments hinge on Love and Christ that it was by introducing difference into the world that which causes so much antagonism that Love was is possible That, in Himself, God is incomplete Only by introducing temporality could eternity be realized if Adam had chosen obedience to God, there would have been no sin and no Law there also would have been no love Adam s sin is redeemed by Christ But what was the significance of the coming of Christ Had the material world changed Not so much It was the introduction of a revelatory perspective We rise from the Fall not by undoing its effects, but in recognizing the longed for liberation in the Fall itself The true event, that time in the future which we may jokingly refer to as revolution weather, will never come insofar as it is already here, waiting for its recognition In Christ, we realize our Salvation which has merely been misrecognized as the Fall of man This sort of revelation is what founds new schools of thought, which rejuvenates and reconfigures the idea of what is possible in society.Zizek makes the point in what other religions do we find God himself in self doubt It is preposterous to think that I can identify myself with the divine bliss only when I experience the infinite pain of separation from God do I share an experience with God Himself Christ on the Cross Thus, what was a pure God in Judaism becomes fractured in Christianity, a split in God Himself which provides an opening for Love The fact that Christ was the last Adam properly explains the infinite joy beneath the deceptive, caricaturesque surface of guilt and renunciation What follows is Zizek s reversal of Dostoyevsky s famous saying from Crime and Punishment, Without God everything is permitted No, rather, With God everything is permitted Without God, there is simple cause and effect, a menacing give and take This, of course, is a complicated idea On the one hand, the name of God allows for the justification of heinous crimes it also allows for divine interruptions in the lifeworld such as forgiveness and silence, among many of the finest things known to humankind.In Lacanian terms of course this fracturing that provides an opening for Love is analogous to the imagination, which tears into the fabric of the real Against Kant, the real is not some horrible nothingness behind the veil Through Hegel, it is the horror of speculation that the veil conceals something terrifying that is the true veil, that last veil to be cast aside we must pass through the night of the world in order to realize a different order Language does not name or designate noumenal objects as much as it digs a hole into the real opening up a space for the visible, creating a dimension of the seen and unseen In this light, the unity of the Trinity is the pain of the real, the permanent separation between Christ and God, the Holy Ghost.In the beginning of the book, Zizek promotes the Love through subtraction of Christianity against the popular Western Buddhist notion that to find Enlightenment, one turns inwardly to an all effacing nothingness, essentially a withdrawal This withdrawal actualizes as a rather pathetic acceptance that the world is what it is, that essentially nothing changes In such a state, one prefers the serenity of the void Could this ever be Love For Zizek, no, not properly speaking, as Love is that stubborn privileging of what one conditional thing over all other conditional things The Buddhist stance is one of indifference as a result of distancing yourself from passions, while Christian love introduces difference, articulating love through a violent imagination which privileges one object against others by tearing it out of its context.This has consequences for activism Truly radical thought can only be based on Love, this elevation of an idea which violently tears it from its context, its truth lying in its perspective As a result, true knowledge is only accessible from an interested partial position Truth is a perspective, provided its interested The truth is the truth of the perspectival distortion, not something pure which is sullied by a one sided argument.Apart from all this Zizek, by examining Bataille, has a great bit on transgression, that cuddly thing, is not longer effective when the Father tells you not only to enjoy yourself like a capitalist hedonist, but to tell you how it went afterwards such is the society we are living today The true way forward would involve escaping from the law of transgression or a romance of the moment of rupture, and realize the Law for what it is that which intervenes, destabilizes, and is essentially excessive This echoes what I have heard Zizek remind his readers time and time again sure, we know about revolution but what about the morning after I plead ignorant on matters of Theology, and on most things, as a matter of fact but this was an incredible journey, nevertheless