Idiotology II

Some twat living in a barrel

Ideology has two main techniques, a bit like good cop and bad cop. One is mind-numbing abstraction and the transposition of unworkable mathematical formula into the fragile, malleable world of language and words. The second is analogy.

This is why the world's leading ideologue is Slavoj Zizek.

Although in Zizek's case his funny sounding name, disheveled appearance, and wonderful selection of nervous tics are also important in his pop-star appeal to the progressive snob classes of the West.

Zizek's books embody the first approach, while his public appearances and Youtube vids express the second.

The best way to think of this is in the words of the great English philosopher Super Hans: "There are two kinds of energy in the world: stress and relaxation."

The ideologue can't survive without his victims, just as the witchdoctor needs the rolling eyes and jabbering lips of his own excitable congregation. In both occupations, which are essentially the same, you have two stages – stress and relaxation.

In the first stage it is essential to create mystification, confusion, and even chaos. Something is happening, seemingly profound and beyond our ken. We stare into the mystic distance, straining to understand. Tension mounts. Then all of a sudden the merciful moment of release occurs: relaxation has followed stress and the witchdoctor lies panting having seemingly exorcised the demon he himself created through his performance. The chicken has been simplified by having its head cut off.

The human body is wired to follow this trajectory and all successful manipulators of our species follow this path. Zizek's whole career is built on it.

In his case there is the myth, aura, or stink (I much prefer the last word) of heavy, hard, philosophizing – years and years of ideological debate in abstruse European tongues, tomes on shelves, the rustling of beards, etc., etc. – then, almost like a comedy punch line, there is the great man on stage on Youtube talking about toilets or Kung-fu Panda, condensing the vast nebulae of his supposed wisdom into a cute analogy, or one that momentarily seems to sum up his audience's nebulous feelings of mild dissatisfaction.

Analogies are great. Something is like something, a shadow behind a shadow. When it falls apart in your hand, you can say it wasn't there, or was meant in some quite different way, and that anyway it was only an analogy. Deniability is the essence of obfuscation.


Colin Liddell
Caligula's Horse
30th December, 2012

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