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fig.36—fore­-course Vichian soirée: cold soup to dry bones


 The rotation suggested by Žižek’s model evokes Santayana’s aphorism, that “those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it”—but can we not learn from even our most recent history? The basic fourfold of the Semiotic Square in fig.34 is a bit too neat; by convoking X and Y­-axis metaterms in figs.36­-37, we can seek the basis, or substructure of Žižek’s further rationale: “it was already Hegel who, apropos of the medieval culture of alienation, spoke of the ‘barbarism of pure culture’ (Kulturbarbarismus). The fact that the greatest barbarism of our century (Nazism) took place within the nation which glorified its culture against the superficial civilization of its neighbours (Germany) is by no means accidental: there is ultimately no contradiction between Heinrich Heydrich, who directed the Nazi terror in Bohemia and planned the ‘final solution’ of the Jewish question, and the same Heydrich who, in the evening after the hard day’s work, played with friends Beethoven’s string quartets, perhaps the supreme achievement of German culture.”

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fig.37—Boxen 101 mit Prof. Hegel: the figure­-four deadfall


 To revolve Žižek’s static schema, we seek pairs of dynamic contraries, from within his text or otherwise. To the apex, his choice superlative, “glorification”?—or better, his more general “achievement”; and to the nadir? In an urban war ‘theater,’ barbarism falls to post­-war primitivism by regression (e.g., mothers, clutching babies, foraging through the rubble.) The vertical ‘rise and fall’ of the Y­-axis is driven by way of the horizontal X­-axis: the rise from primitivism to civilization suggests explication (‘out­-folding’), from which culture falls to barbarism by implication (‘in­-folding’). To try another tack, we set aside the concept of repetition-by-rotation; as we comb his text for more subtle qualifiers, we note that glorification as opposed to superficiality makes a more fitting X­-axis—for to glorify violence it must be stylized and coded as entertainment; and for the Y­-axis? Hegel, as Žižek’s referent, directs us to the point of alienation at which ‘high’ culture breaks free from civilization ‘as such’ to hover, momentarily, casting a shadow of the savagery to come.

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