Friday, October 01, 2010

a glance into the archives of islam

It was a little over a month ago that I "discovered" cultural critic, Slavoj Zizek. The Huffington Post did a brief article echoing some harsh things he had to say about Western Buddhism from a Marxist perspective and it made me curious about what such a person would say about Islam. As a consequence I found A Glance into the Archives of Islam where Zizek compares and contrasts Islam, Judaism and Christianity using an eclectic approach invoking Levi-Strauss, Hegel, Nietzsche, St. Paul, along with Freud and others.

Some highlights: He claims that the Muslim world effectively cock-blocked the West which was trying get with the Buddhist East. Jews and Muslims have so much trouble getting along because Judaism and Islam are "substantially one and the same thing." He also goes through some odd intellectual gymnastics in order to psychoanalyze the Muslim world by unpacking the stories of Hagar and Ishmael, Muhammad and Khadija, and even Amina and Abdullah.

Even though I was a psych major, my basic response to Freudian psychoanalysis is that most of the time "a cigar is only a cigar". And when it comes to post-modernism I mainly think that the Emperor has no clothes. (see the Sokol Affair) So I would argue that much of what Zizek said about Islam in his "Glance..." is worthless. (Although to be fair, the piece he wrote in the wake of 9/11, The Desert of the Real wasn't bad. In fact, the more articles I'm finding by him, the more I like him when he sticks to current events and popular culture). But his leaps of fantasy when it comes to Abrahamic religious history make me want to throw away Freud, and makes me wary of Lacan. I think I should reread my Frantz Fanon.

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