Tuesday, 27 October 2015

A Ticklish Subject

Slavoj Žižek

The anxious researcher is unsure about placing the entry on philosophical humour between phallic ritual and physical comedy. Encyclopaedic collisions and incongruities abound.

Is this a breach of academic decorum?
Would it be safer simply to abandon the alphabetical approach to comedy and humour in this book on Aspects of Comedy?

Another anxiety: is this entry concerned with the philosophy of humour, or humour in philosophy?

How much space should be allocated to Slavoj Žižek? (A philosopher, a public intellectual, and a comedian).

In parenthesis ---

("there is a case to be made that Slavoj Žižek is really the Ken Dodd of post-Lacanian Hegelianism." --- Lindesay Irvine, Guardian, 6 January 2012, here) ---

And how funny is Žižek's The Ticklish Subject: the absent centre of political ontology (Verso, 1999)? I have my doubts.

I guess his work will always divide opinion. Take a look at his highly controversial review essay on Benigni's film Life Is Beautiful:

Laugh Yourself to Death: the new wave of Holocaust comedies! (15 December 1999)
And this judgment might benefit from further critical analysis of the relationship between humor and irresponsibility:

"The Muslim is thus the zero-point at which the very opposition between tragedy and comedy, between the sublime and the ridiculous, between dignity and derision, is suspended, the point at which one pole directly passes into its opposite. If we try to present his predicament as tragic, the result is comic, a mocking parody of the tragic dignity, and if we treat him as a comic character, tragedy emerges. We enter here the domain that is somehow outside or, rather, beneath the very elementary opposition of the dignified hierarchical structure of authority and its carnivalesque reversal, of the original and its parody, its mocking repetition. Can one imagine a film rendering THIS domain?"

Further reading:
Shaw, Joshua. "Philosophy of humor." Philosophy Compass 5.2 (2010): 112-126.
By the way, I'm collecting quotations that deal with comedy and humour. Here.

At the current rate of writing my book will be finished by April 2016.