Book Review: Fabio Vighi – On Žižek’s Dialectics: Surplus, Subtraction, Sublimation
Reviewed by Adrian Johnston, University of New Mexico
With his On Žižek’s Dialectics: Surplus, Subtraction, Sublimation, Fabio Vighi provides an interesting and suggestive addition to the rapidly growing body of literature on the internationally renowned Slovenian philosopher and psychoanalytic theorist Slavoj Žižek. Although Vighi’s title might lead a potential reader initially approaching this book to expect a sustained discussion of Žižek’s Hegelianism specifically — Hegel is a crucial source of inspiration for Žižekian thought in all its various dimensions (along with Kant, Schelling, Marx, Lacan, and Badiou) — Vighi devotes the bulk of his attention to critical analyses of the Lacan-inflected facets of Žižek’s reflections on matters political. What distinguishes Vighi’s intervention from other available treatments of politics à la Žižek is his main thesis that the purported lack of a practical program corresponding to Žižekian theorizations of various recent and contemporary political phenomena is a virtue rather than a vice.
More precisely, Vighi, by his own admission in the spirit if not always the letter of Žižek’s writings, argues that the key agenda to be pursued in light of the goal of reviving a demoralized and exhausted radical Left isn’t the immediate leap into yet another round of frenzied praxis (what Žižek, inverting a well-known phrase from popular psychology, dubs “aggressive passivity”) as impotent outbursts striving in vain to bridge perceived gaps between theory and practice.