Thursday, July 7, 2011

Zizek's Iraq: The Borrowed Kettle

My first publication, in 2005, was a book review of Zizek's Iraq: The Borrowed Kettle (Verso, 2004), entitled "The Step Outside: The Act, Democracy, and Its Discontents." It was published in Critical Sense (a graduate student journal at UC Berkeley that seems to have been discontinued), Volume 8, number 1. I've decided to try something new and post the PDF directly to this blog HERE.

Like any first publication, perhaps, this one has a story. I don't know why exactly I chose to review a book by Zizek first, although its topicality was probably the impetus. I started writing it in summer 2004, which is around the same time I moved to Ottawa. This move ended up interrupting the review in more than one way; somehow I managed to save the file incorrectly (or it was corrupted at some point), meaning I had to rewrite the entire thing. After some searching, I found a printed draft, which I could use to recover about 70% of the document, but the printed draft ended up in my book bag next to a container of Indian food that leaked, producing a review curry (which, for some reason, I stored in the refrigerator in case I absolutely had to reference it--otherwise, it just sat in there on one of the shelves). I ended up rewriting the entire the end producing about two and a half reviews (there's also an original ending that is much more strident, but it wouldn't work for a review).

The reader will see a few things of note. It starts with a bang. The first few sentences read:
Zizek’s Iraq: The Borrowed Kettle picks up the thread from his previous book focused on the war on terror, Welcome to the Desert of the Real!, somewhere between the months leading up to the war in Iraq and the exposure of torture at Abu Ghraib.  So, while we miss an encounter between Zizek and the torture scandal—which unfortunately, in the minds of many Americans, is just another scandal—he has nonetheless been constant in criticizing all “musings” about whether torture should be used in the war on terror as a soft step to its legitimation.  And who knew— legitimate torture and you too could become Attorney General!
The reader will also note that I don't stray far from Lacanian reference points. At the time, I was trying to work out a kind of account of those who I called 'event theorists,' Zizek, Badiou, and others, and it shows. Today, of course, I'm doing something very different.

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