An Enquiry into the Sublime Nature of Slavoj Zizek’s Nervous Tics

Touches nose. Left hand, right hand. Right hand again.

Sniffs.

‘And so on, and so on!’

Squeezes nose.

Wipes side of head.

‘Capital-iz-um!’

Rubs fingertips together.

Rasps ‘r’ with guttural élan.

‘Haff-crrrazy marrrginalzzz.’

Loosens T-shirt.

‘Hegel this, Lacan that.’

He goes for the nose again, obscuring the mouth.

Sniff, sniff.

And so, and so on. Zizekisms. The touched nose. Its squeezed protuberance. This compulsive fondling, these ceaseless manipulation of its bulbous end, what do they signify? The nostrils are pinched, checked. Checked for what? For the Other? The alien crusting of snot? Perhaps. But I think not. No, here is a sublime anti-discourse. What can be said at all, can be said clearly, wrote Wittgenstein. Zizek proves him false. What can be said at all cannot, in fact, be said, but must be shown in its inability to be told by its ceaseless self-censorship. Freudian auto-castration fantasies are enacted within the framework of the capitalist system into which we are born and cannot escape. These nervous tics become physical forms of punctuation – commas, full stops, exclamation marks – which obfuscate the discursive flow. They are biological manifestations of the capitalist paradigm and its perverse inability to critique itself.

Zizek’s tics overwhelm the spectator: a sublime of nose squeezes and T-shirt loosening. They become the spectacle. We are drawn to the hands as they flutter about his person, a magician’s misdirection. We may ponder The Theory of Theory but the brute fact of the theorist fills our screens with beard, T-shirt (as an ideological, non-conformist, Marxist uniform), fluttering hands, and nose. Always the nose. The nose becomes the ideological phallus of the face of the theorist, as if the Unconscious would draw us to its mythological resonance: Pinocchio. Thus, the theorist unconsciously acknowledges the true Untruths he disseminates and which we participate in, for theory only exists with an audience. He must be heard and read. And so on, and so on. Welcome to the Desert of the Theorealist.