Wednesday, November 01, 2006


The Giant of Ljubljana was giving a talk on campus today.

In advance, some lack of coordination was obvious, in that his lecture clashed with one by Simon Schaffer. The two events were organized by people who one would otherwise have thought should have been in some kind of communication with each other.

I went to the first thirty minutes of Schaffer's talk. Entitled "Single Vision and Newton's Sleep," it was good: on the politics of optics, Blake, Newton, Hobbes, and so on. The argument revolved around scientific and political attempts to make one appear many, and many to appear one. Sadly, I had to miss his conclusion, as I sloped off, making my way to the theatre where Zizek was to be speaking.

On arriving, ten minutes early, I find a group of disgruntled intellectual types milling around. Apparently the place is already full, and nobody more is to be admitted. I chat to a couple that I know.

Then, seeing a fairly dissolute figure in the middle distance jog up to the building and start peering into the windows, seeking access, I comment "Actually we seem to be in the right place, as Zizek is also shut out." "Who? Where?" they ask. And I point to the man himself, trying to catch the attention of somebody inside so that he can enter and give his talk.

A minute or so later, from another door, nearer us, one of the so-called organizers emerges and asks if anyone has seen Slavoj. "Yes," I say, "he's over there." "Where?" I am asked, again. "Which one is he?" "The guy at the end there," I reply, "who's trying to get in."

So the so-called organizer goes up somewhat nervously and asks "Slavoj?" With this interpellation presumably successful, the two head back in to the theatre.

And still the rest of us remained outside, unhailed.

Zizek in happier times. He's the one in white.

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