Friday, 7 September 2012

...believing might not be so dangerous after all...

I said it would be dangerous to believe as Zizek would have us believe. But perhaps it would not. Perhaps, we ought to take the risk...

Zizek urges us to do as Kant urged us to do at the end of the 18th century: to act as if. In his third critique, Kant's argument is that, while we cannot ever know that there is a great purpose to human existence, we must act as if there is for progress to ensue, and make the most of those occasions (experiences of the beautiful and the sublime) on which it feels as if there is a great purpose to human existence. Furthermore, if we act as if there is a great purpose to human existence, progress will ensue! That is the beauty of the experiment. Belief transforms reality by reconstituting it.

It is a risky business, of course. Progress, as Kant conceived of it (the advance of scientistic thinking and acting), certainly did ensue from the belief that it would ensue, but it was not, in the end, as Kant conceived of it, arguably having given rise to precisely the problems - of social, political, economic and environmental collapse - that have left us without a future...

Now that I think of it, The Art Kettle ends with a Zizekian call to belief. How ridiculous it is, in this age of endlessly available and replaceable everything, to, as the children's programmes used to call it, make and do. How ridiculous to start an organic farm! To have a child! To write a word! But, inefficacy can be efficacious - that is where Clarke can learn from Zizek, I think; doing the pointless thing may even catch on. But only so long as you act as if it has caught on, not as if it will. That is where Zizek can learn from Clarke, I think.

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