Beloved by his many followers, but does anyone really understand what he's talking about?by Alex Christofi / June 19, 2012 / Leave a comment
6pm. It is Friday night, and in a café down a little side street in Dalston, the hipster capital of London, a strange event is taking place. Intellectuals, radicals and assorted others are gathering for the launch of Slavoj Žižek’s magnum opus, Less Than Nothing, a 1200-page tome on Hegel and the long shadow of dialectical materialism.
My hand is stamped, so that I am permitted to re-enter, because this event will last for 24 hours. There will be an introductory talk on Hegel for beginners at 6.30pm, followed by a talk by Žižek at 8pm, and then a non-stop reading of Less Than Nothing will begin at 11pm, starting from the first page, with volunteer readers taking the microphone in 15 minute slots throughout the night. Broken only by a couple of related film screenings, the readings will continue through to 6pm the next day. The barstaff are working three sets of eight-hour shifts, and the doorman is only paid until 7am, after which any pugnacious cultural theorists will have to sort out their own differences. Only the book’s publicist is booked in for the full 24 hours, but I am determined to last the night at least.
I find a seat where my view is not obstructed by a pillar and sit down next to a pretty young woman, who tells me her name is Anna. She has taken two degrees since moving from Brazil, one in fashion, the other in psychoanalysis. I ask her whether she is one of the Žižek faithful, and she says that she’s never read any of his books, but she did see him on a panel about Greece. And he was so good you had to see him again?