This post is an object lesson in how a) not to tell a joke, b) to come off as quite closed minded and sectarian and as something of a jerk, and c) to appear both awkward and pretentious all at once. I consider it thus a triple word score in the Scrabble game of life, and I hope a useful tool for anyone seeking to accomplish any of the above.

I just got a mass emailed invitation to a speaking event by the allegedly radical writer Slavoj Zizek. I’ve not really read his work, maybe like an essay or three and some op/ed pieces he’s had in the newspaper. I’ve checked several of his books out of the library, tried to start reading them and either gotten bored or annoyed. Now, some of my favorite books and the ones that have most shaped my ideas are ones that bored or annoyed me or otherwise undermined my motivation to read, so this is not an argument about whether or not anyone should read the guy. I will say that I’ve yet to see a use of his work or a quote or paraphrase of his work that makes him seem worth the trouble, and much of (the little) what I’ve encountered by/about him has bugged the shit out of me. The best argument I’ve heard for reading the guy is that a lot of people I know take him seriously, so if I want to understand these people better I ought to read this guy. Fair argument I suppose.

In a nutshell, I’m ignorant about Zizek, and, dwelling prejudiced in my ignorance, I find him offputting and suspect that he is a distraction at best. (There. I said it.)

As such, I thought this email I got was hilarious. The subject line, actually. It said “Zizek: First as Tragedy, Then as Farce.”

Sticking to my ignorance and prejudice, I wonder, is the temporal sequence here one of either/or or both/and? That is, is it Zizek as tragedy then as no longer tragedy but rather farce, or is it Zizek as tragedy then Zizek as both tragedy and farce? And I wonder if these might offer ways to sort Zizek(ian)’s works (you know, the ones I’ve not read but have still managed to dislike) – the tragic, the farcical, and the both tragic and farcical.