Event Date: 5 November 2018
Birkbeck, University of London
London WC1E 7HX
The Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities presents:
Sex and the Failed Absolute
A masterclass with Slavoj Žižek
Masterclass I: Modalities of the Absolute
We will tackle straight on the old metaphysical topic: is it possible for us, finite and mortal humans, to achieve some kind of contact with the Absolute? After a brief overview of the traditional and modern answers (ecstatic religious union with the Absolute, immersion into the primordial Void, identification with the destructiveness of nature, intellectual intuition, transcendental-historical reflection, etc.), we will propose the Lacanian answer: sexuality is our primordial brush with the Absolute – sexuality as our basic experience of failure, of impossibility. This becomes palpably clear in our historical moment when this status of sexuality is under threat. In deploying this thesis, we will pass through many particular topic: Beckett’s art of abstraction; neurotheology; sexbots; fake news; quantum physics; posthumanity.
The Masterclass will be spread over two sessions:
Modalities of the Absolute – Monday 5 November, 2-4pm
Figures of Post-Humanity – Wednesday 7 November, 2-4pm
Slavoj Žižek, INCONTINENCE OF THE VOID, Cambridge: MIT Press 2017, Chapters 1,2,4.
Samuel Beckett, CATASTROPHE (available online)
World-renowned public intellectual Professor Slavoj Zizek has published over 50 books (translated into 20 languages) on topics ranging from philosophy and Freudian and Lacanian psychoanalysis, to theology, film, opera and politics, including Lacan in Hollywood and The Fragile Absolute. He was a candidate for, and nearly won, the Presidency of his native Slovenia in the first democratic elections after the break-up of Yugoslavia in 1990. Although courted by many universities in the US, he resisted offers until the International Directorship of Birkbeck’s Centre came up. Believing that ‘Political issues are too serious to be left only to politicians’, Zizek aims to promote the role of the public intellectual, to be intellectually active and to address the larger public.
Introduction by Professor Esther Leslie (Co-director, BIH):