Slavoj Žižek continues his idiosyncratic critique of global capitalism, democratic culture, and neoliberal ideology in his latest 400+ page tome, Absolute Recoil: Towards a New Foundation of dialectical Materialism, which promises to provide, much like his Less than Nothing: Hegel and the Shadow of Dialectical Materialism (Verso, 2012), a resolutely idealist “new foundation” for dialectical materialism. This is a promise that Žižek has made for some years now, since what we might call his “system” turn became manifest in the publication of a series of major books (In Defense of Lost Causes [Verso, 2008]; Living in the End Times, Less than Nothing [Verso, 2010]; and now Absolute Recoil) that at once synthesize, repeat, elaborate, and interconnect diverse reflections on a bewildering variety of philosophical themes, cultural events, and political debates. These reflections often first appear in online journal publications or op-ed pieces, and in shorter, more coherent, pamphlet-book form (First as Tragedy, Then as Farce [Verso, 2009], Violence: Six Sideways Reflections [Picador, 2008], and Event: A Philosophical Journey through a Concept [Penguin, 2014]). As readers of Žižek will know, there is a shameless recycling, reiterating, and recasting of ideas from these shorter pieces within the longer books, which have what we might describe as musical “theme and variation” structure, with recurring themes that return in different contexts, subtly altered or reintegrated into different lines of thought. This is rather different from the more traditional model of a sequentially organized, teleologically directed, logical argument. It is one of the reasons for the perplexity many critics feel when confronted by his books, as compared with the more conventional “essayistic” style of his shorter works.
"Absolute Recoil: Towards a New Foundation of Dialectical Materialism,"
International Dialogue: Vol. 5, Article 26.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.unomaha.edu/id-journal/vol5/iss1/26