Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, Ideology

In the midst of the current presidential race here in the U.S., with all the rhetoric about who’s out and who’s in (whether the framework in question regards presidential contenders or who has access to the citizenship that would allow a person to vote for them), I thought it might be time to share one of my favorite clips from A Pervert’s Guide to Ideology, one that I use in my classes quite a bit, in which Slavoj Žižek discusses the seeming universality of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony and, in particular, the “Ode to Joy”. “Unity” is always manufactured by exercising certain exclusions. A good thing to keep in mind during this presidential cycle as more candidates start dropping out and more political ads keep rolling in.

Setting a Limit

stalker

[Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1979 movie] “Stalker” is a film about a zone, a prohibited space where there are debris, remainders of aliens visiting us. And stalkers are people who specialized in smuggling foreigners who want to visit into this space where you get many magical objects. But the main among them is the room in the middle of this space, where it is claimed your desires will be realized…. [But] there is nothing specific about the zone. It’s purely a place where a certain limit is set. You set a limit, you put a certain zone off-limit, and although things remain exactly the way they were, it’s perceived as another place. Precisely as the place onto which you can project your beliefs, your fears,things from your inner space. In other words, the zone is ultimately the very whiteness of the cinematic screen.

– Slavoj Žižek, “The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema” (2006)

on Vimeo.

Whose (and Who) Rules?

preservingthepastGains in Iraq, over the past several weeks, made by members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have resulted in some news stories concerning their desecration and/or destruction of a variety of historic artifacts (click the above graphic for one example or here or even here and here for the latest). These stories bring to mind the outrage in the media in Europe and North America over the Taliban destroying the large statues of the Buddha carved into the mountains of the Bamiyan province of central Afghanistan, back in March of 2001 (see the below before/after photo, or click the image below for more information).

Bamiyan_before_and_after Continue reading “Whose (and Who) Rules?”

You Are What You Do

yogaHave you heard the latest in the “is yoga really religious?” debates?

One answer to the question of whether yoga really is a religious activity will soon be given by the Supreme Court in the country of its birth, India.

Last month, a pro-yoga group petitioned the court to make it a compulsory part of the school syllabus on health grounds — but state schools in India are avowedly secular. The court said it was uncomfortable with the idea, and will gather the views of minority groups in the coming weeks.

Continue reading “You Are What You Do”