A Fetish For Zizek
3:55 PM, Jul 30, 2014 • By CHARLOTTE ALLEN
Uh, what? Not surprisingly, Zizek’s critics—and there are many of them—have accused the master of deliberate obscurantism and misinterpretation of his sources—if not outright leg-pulling.
This leads to Sailer. In a tongue-in-cheek July 8 blog post for the Unz Review, an eclectic online collection of far-left and far-right commentary published by California businessman and sometime political activist Ron Unz, Sailer noted that in a 2006 article for a postmodernist journal, Critical Inquiry, Zizek had uncharacteristically deviated from his usual jargon-laden unreadability into a clear and lucid description of a 1998 book by Kevin MacDonald titled The Culture of Critique: An Evolutionary Analysis of Jewish Involvement in Twentieth-Century Intellectual and Political Movements. MacDonald, a retired psychology professor at California State University Long Beach, is a hero among the American Renaissance set because of his beliefs, expressed in a never-ending series of books and articles, that Jews, consciously or unconsciously, have engaged in a centuries-long project to undermine Western civilization. (Blaming Jews for everything that has gone wrong in the modern world is a preoccupation of many paleocons, including readers of the Unz Review.)
Zizek’s article was titled “A Plea for a Return to Différance (with a Minor Pro Domo Sua.)” (Note to non-postmodernists: the word différance is not a French misspelling; it’s a word invented by Derrida.) In a denunciatory summary of the ideas of MacDonald, whom he called “[t]he main academic proponent of this new barbarism,” Zizek wrote (or “wrote”):
Sailer commented: “[T]he superstar professor achieves a higher degree of clarity while expounding MacDonald’s message than in any other passage I’ve read by Zizek.”
The next day, July 9, a blogger who called himself “Deogolwulf” (“deogol” means “secret” in Old English) connected Sailer’s dots. He pointed out that the Zizek passage had been lifted nearly word for word from a laudatory 1999 review of MacDonald’s book in American Renaissance written by a regular there named Stanley Hornbeck. Deogolwulf lined up in parallel fashion several passages from Zizek and Hornbeck that matched nearly exactly. Deogolwulf also pointed out that a quotation that both Hornbeck and Zizek attributed to Derrida actually came from John D. Caputo, a now-retired religion professor at Syracuse University who specializes in looking for religious themes in postmodernist theory.
It all makes one wonder how much Zizek actually knows about Derrida.
In a July 12 email to Critical Theory, a go-to website for all things postmodernist, Zizek issued what he called a “clarification”—written in a style so characteristically Zizekian that no one could accuse him of lifting it from anywhere:
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