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Blind Boy Apollo
and the All-White Astronauts

New Age "Asiatic" thought ... is establishing itself as the
hegemonic ideology of global capitalism. (Zizek)

Monday, February 4

infested with ideology

I could never quite wrap my head around Slavoj Zizek. The first book I ever looked at by him was The Puppet and the Dwarf: The Perverse Core of Christianity. I initially picked it up because, having been raised Catholic, I could relate to the title. However, after about ten minutes I was all like "hand me those pliers!"

This state of affairs has changed with my discovery of the following clips. I think I might be in the verge of becoming a rabid fan.

The ultimate postmodern irony is today's strange exchange between the West and the East. At the very moment when, at the level of "economic infrastructure," Western technology and capitalism are triumphing worldwide, at the level of "ideological superstructure," the Judeo-Christian legacy is threatened in the West itself by the onslaught of New Age "Asiatic" thought. Such Eastern wisdom, from "Western Buddhism" to Taoism, is establishing itself as the hegemonic ideology of global capitalism. But while Western Buddhism presents itself as the remedy against the stress of capitalism's dynamics -- by allowing us to uncouple and retain some inner peace -- it actually functions as the perfect ideological supplement.

Revenge of Global Finance by Slavoj Zizek
In These Times, 21 May 21 2005

The following is from Zizek's Interrogating the Real (pp. 84-85) in a section titled "The 'Third Culture' as Ideology." Lest you wonder precisely which 'Third Culture' Zizek is referring to, scan this 1991 screed by John Brockman. Brockman's entire book is online here.
It is thus crucial to distinguish here between science itself and its inherent ideologization, its sometimes subtle transformation into a new holistic 'paradigm' (the new code name for 'world view'). A series of notions (complementarity, anthropic principle, and so on) are here doubly inscribed, functioning as scientific and ideological terms. It is difficult effectively to estimate the extent to which the third culture is infested with ideology. Among its obvious ideological appropriations (but are they merely secondary appropriations?), one should, again, note at least two obvious cases: first, the often present New Age inscription, in which the shift in paradigm is interpreted as an advance beyond the Cartesian mechanistic-materialist paradigm toward a new holistic approach that brings us back to the wisdom of ancient oriental thought (the Tao of physics, and so on). Sometimes, this is even radicalized into the assertion that the scientific shift in the predominant paradigm is an epiphenomenon of the fact that humanity is on the verge of the biggest spiritual shift in its entire history, that we are entering a new epoch in which egoistic individualism will be replaced by a transindividual cosmic awareness. The second case is the 'naturalization' of certain specific social phenomena, clearly discernible in so-called cyber-revolutionism, which relies on the notion of cyberspace (or the Internet) as a self-evolving 'natural' organism; the 'naturalization of culture' (market. society, and so on, as living organisms) overlaps here with the 'culturalization of nature' (life itself is conceived as a set of self-reproducing information -- 'genes are memes'). This new notion of life is thus neutral with respect to the distinction between natural and cultural (or 'artificial') processes -- the Earth (as Gaia) as well as the global market both appear as gigantic self-regulated living systems whose basic structure is defined in terms of the process, of coding and decoding, of passing information, and so on. So, while cyberspace ideologists can dream about the next step of evolution in which we will no longer be mechanically interacting 'Cartesian' individuals, in which individuals will cut their substantial links to their bodies and conceive of themselves as part of the new holistic mind that lives and acts through them, what is obfuscated in such a direct 'naturalization' of the Internet or market is the set of power relations -- of political decisions, of institutional conditions -- which 'organisms' like the Internet (or the market. or capitalism) require to thrive. We are dealing here with an all too fast metaphoric transposition of certain biological-evolutionist concepts to the study of the history of human civilization, like the jump from 'genes' to 'memes', that is, the idea that not only do human beings use language to reproduce themselves, multiply their power and knowledge, and so on, but also, at perhaps a more fundamental level, language itself uses human beings to replicate and expand itself, to gain a new wealth of meanings, and so on.
Mr. Dawkins... Mr. Richard Dawkins... Mr. Pinker... Mr. Steven Pinker... please come to a white paging telephone. In fact, why don't all-a y'all get yo lily white asses on over here!

btw, Mystic B also visited the Third Culture in Positively Fourth Street. And not in the good way.