“The world’s hippest philosopher” Slavoj Žižek talks to Helen Brown for the Daily Telegraph, giving “an opinion on every subject, from decaffeinated coffee to sex, from seagulls and swearing to the end of the world.”
Slavoj Žižek came into independent existence in March 1949, in the then-Yugoslav republic of Slovenia. His father was an economist and civil servant and his mother was an accountant.
“My life is straightforward,” he says. “Nothing happened. At 15, I wanted to be a movie director. But I saw some really good European films and I accepted that I couldn’t do that. Then, at 17, I decided to become a philosopher.”
Žižek started out as a Heideggerian, but changed his position as soon as he found a way to get more irritatingly under the skin of the authorities. “In Slovenia the ‘official’ philosophy was a kind of Frankfurt School Marxism,” he explains. “Heideggerians were the dissidents. But in the late Sixties there was an explosion of so-called structuralism in France – Foucault, Lacan, you know? – and both the Heideggarians and the Frankfurt School Marxists brutally attacked it. Rejected it in the same terms. And this was the enigma to me. It is always interesting when old enemies unite. So I decided to become Lacanian.”
He had been in line for a professorship at Ljubljana University until there was “an Indian summer of communist oppression”. His masters thesis was rejected for being “non-Marxist” and he was thrown out in the cold.
“And this was a blessing in disguise. After a period of unemployment I got a post at an out-of-the-way university. I was able to survive and I had the freedom to develop my own ideas. Without that communist oppression I honestly believe I would be a stupid professor in Ljubljana. I am very lucky!”
Read the full interview here.