Not School In May: Levinas, Zizek, Heidegger, Murakami, Auslander


It looks like May will be another active month in Not School. We already have groups set to read Levinas, Heidegger, Murakami, Auslander, and the ever popular Zizek. Remember, PEL Citizens can propose groups on whatever philosophical content they’re interested in, set their own schedules, and choose how to communicate. If you haven't joined up yet, take a look at what you’re … [Read more...]

Not School Offerings In March


We have several Not School groups running this month, but before I tell you about them, a word to the unfamiliar: If you've enjoyed the podcast episodes, becoming a PEL Citizen is an easy and inexpensive way to get involved firsthand in similarly stimulating conversations. I can vouch that these study groups are rewarding, relaxed, and very helpful in getting a grip on … [Read more...]

Not School in January


Have you resolved to become a PEL Citizen in 2015? What's this, you ask? It's an easy and affordable way to get access to all kinds of bonus content on the site. Plus, you get the chance to do some first hand philosophizing in one of our Not School study groups. We have two groups running this month so far, and you can still propose a new one if you hurry. Come join up! Our … [Read more...]

Not School Group Proposal: Zizek!

PEL Not School

For March I'm proposing a Not School reading group on Zizek. The group will read a 25-page transcript of a talk he gave at the International Journal of Zizek Studies 2012 conference. It is, I think, a very nice summary of some of his key philosophical positions and where his current theoretical interests lie. The added advantage of this reading is that a recording of Zizek … [Read more...]

Not School Digest #4: Sartre, Heidegger, Zizek, Marx, and Theater

Not School

Excerpts from PEL podcaster & listener discussions on Sartre's Nausea, Heidegger's "The Question Concerning Technology," Slavoj Zizek's Year of Dreaming Dangerously, Marx and Engels's "Communist Manifesto," Peter Schaffer's play Equus, and Cormac McCarthy's The Sunset Limited: A Novel in Dramatic Form. Plus an interview with Hillary Sydlowski, leader of the Not School … [Read more...]

The Existentialist Self in the World: Doubt, Being and Caring

If from continental philosophy you throw out transcendental phenomenology and older idealist trappings–transcendental subjects and so on–you are left with a system which still has two components: the world and the self.  It was the relationship between these two that took hold as the major problem for 20th C. continental philosophy. The upshot of the first phase of the … [Read more...]

Not School Discussion of Zizek Now Available

I and four Citizens took a first crack at discussing The Year of Dreaming Dangerously yesterday (read more about our Not School group here). Since Freud and Jung, psychotherapy has been used to try to make sense of group behavior, and Lacan himself applied his insights to the political realm (among other places). Zizek follows in that tradition, doing a Marxist analysis of … [Read more...]

More October Not School Groups: Zizek, Heidegger, Metzinger, Octavia Butler

Now that the government of the United States has finally shut down, the time is ripe for some revolutionary ideology.  October's Not School activities offer at least two reading groups that should aid in that concern.  One is a brand new group which will be reading The Year of Dreaming Dangerously by none other than that superstar philosopher whose nose hairs tickle him oh so … [Read more...]

The Digitization of the Real

“Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action comes, stop thinking and go in.” ― Napoleon Bonaparte   [From Sotiris Triantis]   In a previous article here on the PEL blog 'Don’t Act. Just Think’: A Short Comment on Slavoj Zizek’s Critique of Activism, I argued that thinking is not enough in order to effect radical change in collective problems such … [Read more...]

‘Don’t Act. Just Think’: A short comment on Slavoj Zizek’s critique of Activism

[From Sotiris Triantis]   Slavoj Zizek - in a video titled ‘Don’t Act. Just Think’ - suggests that in the social and political realm we should not act but think. It's an odd, somewhat counter-revolutionary thesis.  Historical change has always been brought about by collective action. A more useful model might be: ‘First Think, Then Act’.  When Noam Chomsky was asked by … [Read more...]

Chomsky vs. Zizek

Editor's Note: We feel the need to provide some coverage of one of the few big news stories in philosophy, which is the ongoing hostile exchange between two giants of the philosophical left, Noam Chomsky and Slavoj Žižek. Since none of us podcasters has read much by either fellow or has much patience for following this story, I've asked PEL Citizen Michael Burgess to fill in … [Read more...]

Zizek! – The Elvis of Cultural Theory [Review]

zizek poster

Zizek! is one of those documentaries centered around one really, really interesting person. For that reason it's more like Crumb or Bukowski - Born Into This than more famously philosophical movies like Waking Life. Zizek!'s structure is simple: The director and a small crew simply follow Slavoj Zizek as he goes about his daily business, which pretty much amounts to him walking … [Read more...]

Marxist Thought Today

marxist thought

The fall of the Berlin Wall (1989) seemed to herald the victory of capitalism over socialism, what Francis Fukuyama declared the "End of History;" the failure and death of both Marxist thought and political movements. Fukuyama, an eloquent Hegelian political philosopher and one-time neoconservative (and continued anti-Marxist) asserts uncompromisingly in his "End of History" … [Read more...]

Zizek and Pop Culture in Philosophy Today


PEL's last episode focused on Karl Marx via The German Ideology. Possibly one of the most famous/infamous Marxists of our time is Slavoj Zizek. Some have called him too extreme to be taken seriously, while others have praised him for his brilliance.  A recent article in U.K. based paper The Guardian sheds some light on this interesting character and also discusses an upcoming … [Read more...]

Film Review: Examined Life

As my first Not School group, I led some folks in discussing two Netflix philosophy documentaries, i.e. things that have been on my instant queue forever, and which I feel culturally, given my position here, I should watch, but always seemed too boring. Examined Life (2008) (Netflix link) was the best of the two that we picked, and the well of that sort of thing is dry enough … [Read more...]

Zizek and Adorno: The Function of the Popular?

[Editor's Note: We welcome Derick from our semiotics episode You can read more of him on his blog.] Watch on YouTube. With Slavoj Zizek's Lacanized form of Hegelian Marxism being all the rage these days, it is interesting to look at the Frankfurt School's earlier Freudian version of the … [Read more...]

Žižek on Hegel on Identity

One public intellectual who has made much hay of Hegel's continued relevance is Slavoj Žižek, who begins one of his jazz-session-like lectures on Hegel’s concept of identity here: Watch on youtube. It’s not clear to me whether Žižek is properly interpreting Hegel, mostly because I find both Žižek and early Hegel incomprehensible. Z's been accused of mis-reading Hegel, and … [Read more...]

Slavoj Zizek on Applying Psychotherapy to Culture

Here is a somewhat startling video of Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek talking briefly about trying to apply the insights of psychotherapy (which deals with individuals) to cultures: Watch on youtube. His remarks about being able to relate an "anonymous social field" reflect Heidegger's conception of "Das Man," i.e. our tendency to conform to social norms, seeing … [Read more...]