The Null Device

Posts matching tags 'freudian'


In 2003, US mass-market clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch approached Slovenian Marxist philosopher Slavoj Žižek to write some ad copy for them; he took them up on the offer, and the result (NSFW) consists of goldenly sunlit vintage-soft-porn-style photographs of naked good-looking young people, with Žižek's unique brand of macaronic Freudian-Lacanian theorising superimposed over a proportion of the pages, in bold sans-serif face. A representative example of the text:

Žižek reportedly said that the assignment took him 10 minutes of free associating, and that he found it less demeaning than the US academic sector:

But Zizek bristled at the suggestion that there was anything unseemly about an internationally renowned intellectual writing copy for a clothing catalog. ''If I were asked to choose between doing things like this to earn money and becoming fully employed as an American academic, kissing [EXPLETIVE] to get a tenured post,'' he growled, ''I would with pleasure choose writing for such journals!''
Which sounds like a Marxist take on the “punk rock” philosophy mentioned in an earlier post: if the bourgeois-capitalist system is (a) bullshit and (b) inescapable, and the supposedly “credible” parts of it are the worst by their pretence of being something other than bullshit, why not show the lie of the system by shunning its serious institutions and engaging solely with the most honestly base and tawdry aspects of it: populist cinema and mass-market clothing chains?

(via MeFi) détournement freudian marketing marxism punk slavoj žižek 1


Salon asks whether "geek chic" will kill off innovation; the thesis is that now that "nerds" are no longer persecuted and ostracised, they won't have impetus (or time, between all the parties and dates in their social PalmPilots) to invent, create or otherwise contribute to society. Or, to put it in other words, that innovation required two components: individuals with technical intelligence or other skills (these would include artists and musicians), and the ostracism/persecution of said individuals. Which is an interesting theory. (via TechDirt)

(If one wants to get Freudian, one could argue that said individuals' lack of a sex life resulted in them sublimating their libidos into creative enterprises. If that holds true then, given the rise of "nerverts", Heinleinian polyamorists, netsex, webcams and the like, we're, well, fucked. Though hasn't polymorphous perversity been a feature of the fringes of society since the 1960s at least, if not the days of the Hellfire Club?)

Another criticism of the theory is that the "nerd" stereotype doesn't hold for most IT people, and hasn't done so for much of the 1990s. From what I remember, many of the people who did computer science when I went to university were well-rounded individuals, with social lives, girlfriends (they were predominantly male; computer science is almost a monastic environment, but that's another post) and non-computer interests. Many played sports in their spare time; and many were quite good programmers. Whether these people fall into the "nerd" category is debatable.

But yes; if innovation depends on talented outsiders, the "nerd" bar will just be raised higher, and there always will be some who don't want to go to the numerous parties they keep getting invited to but would rather sequester themselves and follow some intellectual passion. And if that fails, there are always autistic savants.

alienation computer science culture freudian geek society sublimation 2

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