01 July 2006

Fourth of July + Zizek

Looking for some light reading for the Fourth of July weekend, I picked up today Zizek's slim book, On Belief. I thought maybe it would compliment my ongoing studies on On Certainty. I mean, Wittgenstein seems to be writing in that latter book more about beliefs than certainty. (I'm not far into it.)

Well, I was sitting outside in our poco plaza reading the beginning of On Belief. I wish Zizek would wind it up a little bit. Oh well. It's still entertaining. The Lacanian/Heideggerian aspects are a bit de rigueur, but illuminating as well. I'm not certain at all what Zizek believes, but this little passage about fetish sounds as an alarmingly accurate description of Santa Fe's cultural climate.
One is almost tempted to resuscitate here the old infamous Marxist cliché of religion as the "opium of the people," as the imaginary supplement of the terrestrial misery: the "Western Buddhist" meditative stance is arguably the most efficient way, for us, to fully participate in the capitalist dynamic while retaining the appearance of mental sanity. [...] where is the fetish which enables you to (pretend to) accept reality "the way it is"? "Western Buddhism" is such a fetish: it enables you to fully participate in the frantic pace of the capitalist game while sustaining the perception that you are not really in it, that you anew well aware how worthless this spectacle is--what really matters to you is the pace of the inner Self to which you know you can always withdraw... (pp. 13-15)

I've never seen anywhere else so spectacular a collision of wealth and enlightenment as I've seen here in Santa Fe, NM. Dreadlocked, blue-eyed trustafarians mingle with Hummer-driving profiteers, each on their way to yoga class. Gurus make a killing. There's something to do with chakras: I'm sure there's money to be made from that. The demand seems to outstrip the supply of bullshit eastern posturing. There are probably as many masseurs and masseuses as janitors in this city. And as many alternative doctors as so-called real doctors. But those people aren't rich.

It's the unwashed, vegan-eating masses, bearing on their bony hips the $200 jeans. Those True Religion jeans are the perfect fetish-object for this whole culture of entitlement-enlightenment.