Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Introducing Zizek's Mule

Nott read an article entitled "VITAL STATISTICS OF NEGROES AND MULATTOES" which appeared in 1842 in the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal. The author, writing under the pseudonym "Philanthropist," showed that according to the mortality statistics in the 1840 census, there were twice as many deaths for the free group than for the enslaved. Inasmuch as there were a great many free mulattoes among the "Free Colored," Nott developed a mulatto frailty theory to explain the reason this group appeared to be dying at a much faster rate than the "Slaves." He also developed a mulatto sterility theory in order to explain his "observation" that mulattoes were less prolific than either whites or blacks. These theories were first published in 1843 in an article for the American Journal of the Medical Sciences entitled, "The Mulatto a Hybrid--probable extermination of the two races if the Whites and Blacks are allowed to intermarry." A reprint appeared shortly after in the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal. Dr. Nott may have been knowledgeable in the field of medicine, but he was certainly no ethnologist. Ridiculous as it seems today, Nott conceived of the mulatto as a hybrid different than either white or black. He reasoned that just as the horse and donkey are different species and produce a sterile mule as hybrid offspring, so too white and black are different species and produce a sterile mulatto.
- Multiracial Activist

Below, from Living in the End Times, is a masterpiece of alibi construction. Zizek makes it easy for his fans to lap up this delicious vintage racist fantasy of the most lurid and prurient kind by supplying flimsy but adequate means with which they can pretend to be enjoying the imagery only to denounce the loathesome Sarah Palin who is somehow held responsible for it:

Earlier generations of women politicians (Golda Meir, Indira Gandhi, Margaret Thatcher, up to a point even Hillary Clinton) were what is usually referred to as “phallic” women: they acted as “iron ladies” who imitated and tried to outdo male authority, to be “more men than men themselves.” In a recent comment in Le Point, Jacques-Alain Miller pointed out how Sarah Palin, on the contrary, proudly displays her femininity and motherhood. She has a “castrating” effect on her male opponents not by way of being more manly than them [sic], but by using the ultimate feminine weapon, the sarcastic put-down of a puffed-up male authority – she knows that male “phallic” authority is a posture, a semblance to be exploited and mocked. Recall how she mocked Obama as a “community organizer,” exploiting the fact that there was something sterile in Obama’s physical appearance, with his diluted black skin, slender features, and big ears.

Palin is described exploiting that fact and this therefore, we can assure ourselves, is why we have this fact of the President's look of sterility here before us at all, requiring our attention. Zizek delivers the "sterility" of "Obama's physical appearance" due to the "dilution" of some supposed earlier blackness and "big ears" as fact to his fans for their delight equipped with the excuse that they are only savouring it in their righteous effort to deplore the always deplorable Sarah Palin's unscrupulous exploitation of it and expose her emasculating machinations.

Zizek frequently images Obama as the victim of his "big black guy" taming tale (he has stolen his magic penis, and more recently coerced him to beg to be called the n-word, but also fantasised that he was white underneath all along, never really the undiluted threat with the prehensible membre virile) and here appoints Palin the surrogate assailant of his own fantasies, whom he can then chastise and rebuke for carrying out his wishes. Her cruel castrating use of the fact of Obama's mule/mulatto sterility is slipped clumsily (but deftly enough to satisfy the fanatical devotees of the sage) into an implication that Palin, not Zizek, is really the author of the fact illustrated by the imagery. In Zizek's account now, it is she, Palin, not he, who is engaged in the production a spectacle of castration and conquest of Obama. (Palin - the devil - made him do it!) It is she, Palin, not he, Zizek, who is disturbed to frenzy and mental breakdown by the fact that Obama is the child of a white woman and a black African man, evidence of that relationship, and that it is she, the seductress witch Palin, and not he, Zizek, who envisions this couple as mare and donkey and has emasculated Obama symbolically and made him into the sterile mule of Zizek's racist phantasmagoria.

With the very hamhandedness of his non-sequitur (asking his audience to accept that Palin's "community organizer" plainly signifies Obama's "diluted black skin" and "big ears" as signs of sterility, but simultaneously to deny with the shrill outrage of repression that "mule" and "mulatto" and their historical association in white supremacist mythology are evoked by Zizek's terms "big ears", "diluted black skin" and "sterile" applied to the appearance of the President whose mother was white and father black) Zizek winks at his droolingly adoring followers as he tosses them this little dripping nibble, sealing an agreement to insist that this vision of Obama's "sterile" physical appearance - his "diluted" blackness, his big ears, his equine slenderness- is not the putrid ooze of Zizek's own diseased mind but has imposed itself on Zizek's text from outside - a Palin figure has plucked it from "reality" and left it on his doorstep - and he has only stepped in it. He poses as, and his audience pretends to believe him, inconvenienced by this imposition, asking the audience to accept that the fact of the sterile appearance of an emasculated Obama is something for Zizek to scrape off his shoes, matter to be righteously rejected, in the vein of his brave and righteous rejection of the identification of the soldiers defending against the seige of Crete à Pierrot as "half-apes whose grandparents jumped in trees like apes in Africa". He asks to be applauded for chastising the inexcuseable Palin for taking advantage of the President's misfortune.

There won't be an open letter to Verso about Zizek's mule even though many more unsuspecting eyes will be violated by it than by his competitor Johnson's baboons, attacked to ensure above all that Zizek can continue to derive legitimacy and leftist cred from his appearance in a publication that his devotees among the signatories all confide "is progressive" - it is this reputation that is safeguarded and burnished by the caper - and wouldn't publish racism, reaction or revisionism. If there are one or two Zizek devotees who find the use of this imagery ever so slightly distasteful, their main concern will not be the alarming, obviously successful beginnings of a revival of another deeply offensive and until now really forgotten trope (it was evoked to shocking effect in the mouth of Harold Pinter's vicious Antigua planter/English Baronet in Patricia Rozema's film of Mansfield Park), and the whole until recently utterly unfashionable, utterly universally deplored [1] discourse of "miscegenation" [2] and "diluted" races, in which it is embedded. Their concern will be only how to defend the passage as leftist, as sloppy, as trivial, as wholesome provocation, as ironic, as brave rebuttal to all the hordes of leftists, liberals and progressives who believe the children of one white and one black parent cannot reproduce, as an important "critique" of Palin's persona (or rather, of her vagina) and of liberalism. Their self-imposed duty will only be to not interfere with the hardcore ZizneyCorp's efforts to protect from criticism this precious ground occupied - to establish this fact on the ground - contributing to the full scale reconquest of the ideological territory of the mainstream by neoHegelian race theory and the restoration of its vocabulary, its abstractions, to intelligibility and currency. The breakdown of rationality and logic, the promotion of sophistry in place of argument, the discrediting of historiography, evidence, documentation and proof, and the legitimization of self-serving, convenient, cartoonish revisionist fables, (most often relating stories of uppity black men put back in their subordinate place through a display of the omnipotence of European Mind (P.114)) is necessary to imperial ruling class revanchism and requires painstaking long- term labours.

White supremacy is a praxis.

[1]Some cocaculture, for example David Lynch's films, deploy allusions to this discourse and its terms of course, but as "dream imagery" and "metaphor" muffled by many layers of disavowal, irony, reflexivity etc..
[2] a concept also recently granted the first hesitant step toward reassertion in theNew Left Review where it is evoked as the horrifying consequence courted by cultural "creolisation"


  1. Do you think Sarah Palin and Slavoj Zizek could get together to form a new Alhezbolosevic Party, so that the Arpege Kleins could feel less 'left out of the democratic process?'

    wordverification: 'subversi'. Oh sssswittttteeeee! Yer jus' sooooo subversi!

  2. Patrick you seem to have misread the post. You are also really being rude and unsivileyzed. But you did say you were praying for a republican landslide, so I would have thought you'd be popping the SHAM PAIN.

  3. But you did say you were praying for a republican landslide, so I would have thought you'd be popping the SHAM PAIN.

    I was lying about that, of course-I'm not the one that sees the Dems and Republicans (I love it that both you Commies and the Republicans are referred to as 'reds') as purely elite-serving corporatists EXACTLY the same way. Why, no, although it's clear Obama sucked too much Wall Street ass. Hell, are you kidding? The evening was so dangerous in my book, I watched it all night on the computer, terrified mainly of Ms. Angle, and I'd given her up. I know you don't care, but given the predictions, you don't think the Republicans and Tea Partyers think they didn't fail? They think they failed by losing the Senate (and that IS Sarah Palin's fault, because of Delaware and the other one.) The Dems think they failed because the most moderate predictions came true, but there was all during the evening the possibility that Liebermann 'might caucus' if there are just 51, etc., everything would be a total return to Bush/Cheney with that. And Liebermann would do goddam anything, he even screamed that Clinton had been "IMMORAL!!!"

    Otherwise, I hate our Edwina Koch/Carol Bellamy style relationship, cos he's so ugly, unlike me, but you might be kind of bony-assed and masculized like Miss Bellamy. My ex-gf. and I practised shaking hands like they did in an exclusive NYTimes candid photo, after one of their fights!

    I just did that because, Miss Klein, baby, YOU and YOU ALONE can call me a MULE NOW!


    That Giuliani really is such an old lecher, that's what he meant by the qualifications...he'll cheat on Judy in a second (and probably already has.) Recently, he ordered poor people 'GET A COMPUTER. WE ARE NOT LIVING IN THE SAME WORLD WE USED TO!' Then he told the same audience that they could avoid the perils of the Information Age by "READ BOOKS!"
    He really is such a bastard, and knows it. I like some of what he was up to, but not all of it, and he destroyed Far Rockaway Beach, just because of a publicity thing for Irish Rockaway, where a plane crashed right after 9/11. Instead of rebuilding where the plane crashed, he destroyed this glorious mile of beach abandoned for some 80 years after old hotels had been there, and everything had grown up and naturalized, wild roses, and even rabbits and pheasants, and of course, people forgot that that was a mile away from even where the plane crashed, and that the plain just 'Rockaway', which is mostly 'Irish mafia', didn't even need 'improving'. The Far Rockaway towns of Arverne and Edgemere were depressed, but I practically lived out there during the summer, even though there were wild dogs. I was startled when I went out there in June, 2005, and the whole place had been razed.

  5. " I watched it all night on the computer, terrified mainly of Ms. Angle, and I'd given her up. I know you don't care, but given the predictions, you don't think the Republicans and Tea Partyers think they didn't fail?"

    I do care and it's frankly very very scary; I have seen this coming at least since Katrina as you know and you just mocked and ridiculed me for worrying. On the old blog I said the housing bubble was being inflated and I linked everything Dr. Doom and the rest who wrote about what was happening were writing and saying, and also knowing that when the bubbles were popped there would be a terrible depression and a real opportunity to shift the whole spectrum in the US to the extreme right, where Nixon will seem like a fringe leftist. And today he does.

    You denounced it all as "conspiracy theory" then. For years! And now you are angry that I don't care? I care - I have been caring and trying to discuss this for a long time - you are the one who has to actually have a Nazi on your doorstep with a pink triangle for your coat before you think there is anything to worry about.

    This is not something that happens overnight you know, you go to sleep in Weimar and wake up of a sudden in Hitlerlia. It takes time to arrange, to build - read Chris Hedges, he's very good chronicler of the praxis of the right in the US, and certainly can't be accused of lack of sympathy for the popular base. He is a christian, he is not antichristian, he "loves America" and all that.

    BTW it is scary here too with these policies of persecution of Roms and all kinds of turbocharged harrassments of sans papiers but it is scarier there. At least it was a little heartening to see large crowds out here opposing Sarkozy and his pogroms, but I think there are also large majoritieis in the US who oppose the immigrant-baiting and the red-baiting and this whole right wing insanity but they are very disillusioned about elections. This doesn't mean threy are necessarily not ready for political action of other kinds. But the election fantasy is finished - Obama finished it really. It will take at least another ten or fifteen minutes before people forget their disappointment and get caught up in another election based hopefest.

    If I were you I would think about moving to Canada, seriously.

  6. "If I were you I would think about moving to Canada, seriously."

    Oh, you're such an alarmist. Ahhhhhhh....heart New yaaawwwwrrrrrkkk...

    Canada way too dull for the likes of me, although they are definitely more enlightened about health care, and even Hilary got that started, don't disparage everybody who's not 3rd party, goddam it.

    "This doesn't mean threy are necessarily not ready for political action of other kinds. But the election fantasy is finished - Obama finished it really. It will take at least another ten or fifteen minutes before people forget their disappointment and get caught up in another election based hopefest."

    I don't think I quite agree. The Dems were PREDICTABLY disappointed. If you don't think the Reps are just 'putting on a happy face', you're wrong. This was NOT a landslide if they couldn't throw out the Senate majority. And that was pointed out by one of the Times blogger people last night, that this is a very unusual thing: When there's this huge 'tidal wave thing' with all sorts of fury, it's usually both houses that get taken, as with Gingrich, and then Bush/Cheney seemed as though they had everything tied up forever. And I was even convinced. They lied every day about everything they could. But slowly, in 2006, things started to change a bit, even though you were right early on about the probability of financial collapse. But the bailout was necessary--but that's beside the point: The Tea Party people are so fucking purposely stupid they blame that on Obama too, even though that happened in the last 3 months of Bush's reign. And that a HUGE number of Americans have decided that Obama is a Muslim. I don't know quite what's caused the lack of halfway decent facts, but the internet and TV have a lot to do with the bimboisme...there's no question that even cashiers are dumber now that they don't even have to know how to make change.

    And yet...I like some of the shit, because CVS Pharmacy offers me 20% off on cereals every few months, and I get these shipped to my doorstep. In between, they try to sell me beauty products, thinking I'm a 'coupon addict', but I just wait till I can buy more Tuna Helper and Hearts of Palm.

    I can't believe you think I'd move from the West Village, are you kidding? It's not dangerous here. But I HAVE had to realize that it is dangerous almost everywhere else in this country, and my sister first woke me up to this about 8 months ago, when the Tea Party was really gaining strength; I hadn't known they were going to get this much brawn going. Impressive, BUT...they did not succeed anywhere near as much as they are saying they did.

  7. In 2008, in particular, female voters handed Barack Obama the election, giving him 56% of their vote – compared to his share of only 49% of the male vote.

    ...Much of the response from Republicans has been to play a crude game of identity politics, running more female candidates than they traditionally do, even though research shows that women tend to favour policy over candidate gender when making their choices.

    But the problem with all this talk about women and how they vote is that it obscures the larger reality that women aren't a unitary population. When you're talking about married women or white women or "red state" women, it's wrong to say that "women" as a collective category vote for Democrats. In 2008, for instance, white women broke for McCain, albeit by 4 percentage points less than white men.

    White people are your problem, face it!

  8. "Single mothers, women of colour and single childless women, it's true, did give Obama his victory."

  9. "White people are your problem, face it!"

    Well, I admit that two out of three bank assholes who just harassed me were white, I almost thought the cancer had spread to the West Village. I was just going up to deposit some cash at the teller (I still don't like to do cash at the ATM's), and the Up Escalator wasn't working, but big deal, I 'got over it' quicklike, and at the top, they have this jerk that says 'Sorry about the escalator, sir, what brings you here today?' To the fucking BANK? you gotta be asked that? I just stared and walked on, but remembered they had one of these do this before. Then I went over to the deposit slips, and was filling it out, and the fucker had gone and REPORTED me for giving him a dirty look for not answering what I was doing (or saying anything at all), and then as I was filling that out, a black one comes over, and gets very in-my-face with 'how are you, sir', goes out of his way to talk to me at one of those tables. Then as I'm standing in the line for the tellers, another WHITE one fucking WATCHES me while I'm in the goddam line, and then, as I'm leaving for the Down escalator, the black one tries to force me to talk to him about 'Take care' etc., and I still won't. Now this fucking pissed me off. I wasn't quite shaved closely enough, but I was even well-dressed, and this asking people 'what brings you here?' is out of order. I had a goddam VHS of Roland Petit's 'The Blue Angel' in a plastic bag, so maybe they thought it was a 'suspicious package; hell, I didn't even know Petit made a ballet of it, I wanted to see if they'd recorded the May Britt remake of the movie. This was pure shit, but I hated the whites and blacks equally, although I know it was all the white people's faults, because of their PRAXIS. I will admit the black one looked more like he might re-inspire the Zizek story more than the puny homely white schmucks. But even he was too mealy-mouthed and smarmy, just taller and not so squat.

    On the other hand, it's about equal, because one time I deposited cash to the same black woman I did today, and she tried to steal $90 by pretending that the counter didn't work and she put the money in the drawer without counting, but I also hate white people, yes. I jes' waunted you know you izz allus awn mah mahnd...lawdee, my sister rilly was warning me, and I thought she was just pretending when she first brought it up, I mean, doesn't read anything but smalltown papers and watch CNN shit.