About

I write about technology, psychoanalysis, philosophy, design, ideology & Slavoj Žižek.

Appreciation

September 30, 2011

The Excess of Exaggeration

Žižek in The Plague of Fantasies:

One thus has to abandon the textbook notion of the Hegelian dialectical process in which the first exaggeration is supplanted by the opposite one until, finally, the proper balance between the two is established, and each is reduced to its proper limited place, as in politics: one needs neither organic links that are too strong (which give us an inflexible corporate state unable to accommodate individual freedom, that is, the infinite right of subjectivity) nor a too-strong unilateral emphasis on abstract individual freedom (which leads to liberal anarchy and the disintegration of concrete social links, and as such gives rise to the mechanical state which is again experienced as an external power limiting the subjects’ freedom), but the proper synthesis of the two…

Hegel’s point is not a new version of the yin/yang balance, but its exact opposite: ‘truth’ resides in the excess of exaggeration as such. That is to say: here one has to apply the fundamental Hegelian logical principles according to which the two species of the genus are the genus itself and its one species, so that we do not have the two exaggerations (finally reunited in a synthesis), but the balance as such and the disruptive ‘exaggeration’ which disturbs its poise. And of course, Hegel’s point is the exact opposite of the standard wisdom: the harmonious balanced totality is not the ‘truth’ within which particular exaggerations, deprived of their excess, must find their proper place; on the contrary, the the excess of ‘exaggeration’ is the truth which undermines the falsity of the balanced totality. In other words, in the choice between the Whole and its Part, one has to choose the Part and elevate it to the Principle of the Whole - this ‘crazy’ reveral introduces the dynamics of the process. One can also put it in terms of the opposition between ‘being’ and ‘event’, of the subject qua event, articulated by Alain Badiou: the subject emerges in the event of ‘exaggeration’, when a part exceeds its limited place and explodes the constraints of the balanced totality.

Is not the whole point of Hegel, however, that one should pass from one position to the next through the self-resolution of its constrained character? Yes, but Hegel’s point is that this passage occurs only and precisely when we fully assume the ‘unilateral’ reductionist gesture: Hegelian totality is not an organic Whole within which each elements sticks to its limited place, but a ‘crazy’ totality in which a position reverts to its Other in the very moment of its excessive exaggeration - the dialectical ‘link’ of partial elements emerges only through their ‘exaggeration’.

Colloqium

Related Posts

August 5, 2014

The Cult of Sharing

The sharing economy's marquee startup Airbnb recently unveiled a new brand identity and positioning to help propel its international expansion. Airbnb's new wordmark and logo nicknamed "the Bélo" is said to have been the culmination of a year-long process, including a cross-cultural analysis to ensure their identity would be understood around

Read more →
January 6, 2014

The Agile Labor Union

In 2001, seventeen American, British and Canadian software engineers and IT managers met at a ski resort in Snowbird, Utah, to start a movement to remake the way software is built. Over the previous decade, the attendees had independently created similar processes for organizing and managing software engineering projects that broke

Read more →
December 18, 2012

Left Self-Sabotage

Caution: 3,100 words and too many generalizations. The Left is losing. Not everyone believes this of course, and admittedly there are reasons for optimism: gay marriage is slowly being legalized, we elected a black president twice, and our society is making modest gains in gender parity. But it's a bit like

Read more →

Recent Popular Posts

February 13, 2014

Left Activism Goes Corporate: A Detour Through the Raw Food Underground

One of the most tedious features of the Silicon Valley Hype Machine is its endless repetition of progressive sounding marketing slogans about democracy and freedom, all while promoting a pro-business agenda. But it's too easy to read this as a sinister corporate ploy to co-opt the language of activists and twisting

Read more →
December 20, 2013

Civility: A Distance That Brings Us Together

Just in time for the holidays, Apple's marketing department released *[Misunderstood][1]*, an ad about a surly teenager absorbed in his iPhone in the midst of scenes of his family's idyllic Christmas togetherness. But he surprises everyone when he reveals that the whole time he was making a touching video for everyone

Read more →
January 26, 2014

Ten Parenting Lessons I Learned from Franz Kafka

Here's an adage which I think is true: every theory of parenting is implicitly a theory of society. It follows that even if you aren't a parent now, nor ever intend to be one, if you're interested in society and culture, you ought to be interested in the topic because the

Read more →