Slavoj Žižek Quotes

Who the Hell is Slavoj Žižek?

Slavoj Žižek is a Slovenian philosopher and self-described radical leftist and communist.

Born March 21, 1949

Books by Slavoj Žižek


Best 58 Quotes by Slavoj Žižek

“Cinema is the ultimate pervert art. It doesn't give you what you desire - it tells you how to desire.”

Slavoj Žižek

“Do not blame people and their attitudes: the problem is not corruption or greed, the problem is the system that pushes you to be corrupt. The solution is not, Main Street, not Wall Street, but to change the system where Main Street cannot function without Wall Street.”

Slavoj Žižek

“Fantasy is a means for an ideology to take its own failure into account in advance.”

Slavoj Žižek

“Friends told me that the latest trend, at least in Europe, is public sex. They showed me some clips, and they're terrifying. A couple enters a streetcar, half-full, simply takes a seat, undresses, and starts to do it. You can see from surprised faces that it's not staged. It's pure working-class suburb. But what's fascinating is that the people all look, and then they politely ignore it. The message is that even if you're together in public with people, it still counts as private space.”

Slavoj Žižek

“Happiness was never important. The problem is that we don't know what we really want. What makes us happy is not to get what we want. But to dream about it. Happiness is for opportunists. So I think that the only life of deep satisfaction is a life of eternal struggle, especially struggle with oneself. If you want to remain happy, just remain stupid. Authentic masters are never happy; happiness is a category of slaves.”

Slavoj Žižek

“Humanity is OK, but 99% of people are boring idiots.”

Slavoj Žižek

“I already am eating from the trash can all the time. The name of this trash can is ideology. The material force of ideology makes me not see what I am effectively eating.”

Slavoj Žižek

“I am a good Hegelian. If you have a good theory, forget about the reality.”

Slavoj Žižek

“I despise the kind of book which tells you how to live, how to make yourself happy! Philosophers have no good news for you at this level! I believe the first duty of philosophy is making you understand what deep shit you are in!”

Slavoj Žižek

“I think boredom is the beginning of every authentic act. Boredom opens up the space, for new engagements. Without boredom, no creativity. If you are not bored, you just stupidly enjoy the situation in which you are.”

Slavoj Žižek

“I think that the task of philosophy is not to provide answers, but to show how the way we perceive a problem can be itself part of a problem.”

Slavoj Žižek

“Ideology today is unfreedom which you sincerely personally experience as freedom.”

Slavoj Žižek

“If you have reasons to love someone, you don’t love them.”

Slavoj Žižek

“It is more satisfying to sacrifice oneself for the poor victim than to enable the other to overcome their victim status and perhaps become even more successful than ourselves.”

Slavoj Žižek

“It's bad if we are controlled, but if we're not, it can be even worse.”

Slavoj Žižek

“It's not the same thing: coffee without cream or coffee without milk.
What you don't get is part of the identity of what you get.”

Slavoj Žižek

“Love feels like a great misfortune, a monstrous parasite, a permanent state of emergency that ruins all small pleasures.”

Slavoj Žižek

“Love is what makes sex more than masturbation. If there is no love even if you are really with a partner you masturbate with a partner.”

Slavoj Žižek

“My big fear is that if I act the way I am, people will notice that there is nothing to see. So I have to be active all the time, covering up.”

Slavoj Žižek

“Nowadays, you can do anything that you want—anal, oral, fisting—but you need to be wearing gloves, condoms, protection.”

Slavoj Žižek

“The fact that a cloud from a minor volcanic eruption in Iceland—a small disturbance in the complex mechanism of life on the Earth—can bring to a standstill the aerial traffic over an entire continent is a reminder of how, with all its power to transform nature, humankind remains just another species on the planet Earth.”

Slavoj Žižek

Products by Slavoj Žižek

“The horror of Communism, Stalinism, is not that bad people do bad things — they always do. It's that good people do horrible things thinking they are doing something great.”

Slavoj Žižek

“The liberal idea of tolerance is more and more a kind of intolerance. What it means is 'Leave me alone; don't harass me; I'm intolerant towards your over-proximity.”

Slavoj Žižek

“The minimum necessary structuring ingredient of every ideology is to distance itself from another ideology, to denounce its other as ideology.”

Slavoj Žižek

“The more opera is dead, the more it flourishes.”

Slavoj Žižek

“The one measure of true love is: you can insult the other.”

Slavoj Žižek

“The problem for us is not are our desires satisfied or not. The problem is how do we know what we desire.”

Slavoj Žižek

“The threat today is not passivity, but pseudo-activity, the urge to 'be active', to 'participate', to mask the nothingness of what goes on.”

Slavoj Žižek

“The true ethical test is not only the readiness to save the victims, but also - even more, perhaps - the ruthless dedication to annihilating those who made them victims.”

Slavoj Žižek

“The way we, everyday people are addressed by social authority, whatever we call it - it's no longer telling us to 'sacrifice your life' for the British empire, for socialism, whatever. It's not. It's some kind of permissive bullshit basically. Society is telling us to be true to yourself, authentic, develop your potential, be kind to others. It's kind of what I ironically call a slightly enlightened Buddhist hedonism.”

Slavoj Žižek

“Thinking begins when you ask really difficult questions.”

Slavoj Žižek

“This readiness to assume the guilt for the threats to our environment is deceptively reassuring: We like to be guilty since, if we are guilty, it all depends on us. We pull the strings of the catastrophe, so we can also save ourselves simply by changing our lives. What is really hard for us (at least in the West) to accept is that we are reduced to the role of a passive observer who sits and watches what our fate will be. To avoid this impotence, we engage in frantic, obsessive activities. We recycle old paper, we buy organic food, we install long-lasting light bulbs—whatever—just so we can be sure that we are doing something. We make our individual contribution like the soccer fan who supports his team in front of a TV screen at home, shouting and jumping from his seat, in the belief that this will somehow influence the game's outcome.”

Slavoj Žižek

“True power does not need arrogance, a long beard and a barking voice. True power strangles you with silk ribbons, charm, and intelligence.”

Slavoj Žižek

“We need useless theory more than ever today.”

Slavoj Žižek

“We Slovenians are even better misers than you Scottish. You know how Scotland began? One of us Slovenians was spending too much money, so we put him on a boat and he landed in Scotland.”

Slavoj Žižek

“What if culture itself is nothing but a halt, a break, a respite, in the pursuit of barbarity?”

Slavoj Žižek

“When authority is backed up by an immediate physical compulsion, what we are dealing with is not authority proper (i.e. symbolic authority), but simply an agency of brute force.”

Slavoj Žižek

“When I really love someone, I can only show it by making aggressive and bad-taste remarks.”

Slavoj Žižek

“When we are shown scenes of starving children in Africa, with a call for us to do something to help them, the underlying ideological message is something like: "Don't think, don't politicize, forget about the true causes of their poverty, just act, contribute money, so that you will not have to think!”

Slavoj Žižek

“Who dares to strike today, when having the security of a permanent job is itself becoming a privilege?”

Slavoj Žižek

“Words are never 'only words'; they matter because they define the contours of what we can do.”

Slavoj Žižek

“You cannot change people but you can change the system so that people are not pushed into doing evil things.”

Slavoj Žižek

Products by Slavoj Žižek

“You know what is my fear? This postmodern, permissive, pragmatic etiquette towards sex. It's horrible. They claim sex is healthy; it's good for the heart, for blood circulation, it relaxes you. They even go into how kissing is also good because it develops the muscles here – this is horrible, my God! It's no longer that absolute passion. I like this idea of sex as part of love, you know: 'I'm ready to sell my mother into slavery just to fuck you for ever.' There is something nice, transcendent, about it. I remain incurably romantic.”

Slavoj Žižek

"Against Human Rights" Quotes

“Liberal attitudes towards the other are characterized both by respect for otherness, openness to it, and an obsessive fear of harassment. In short, the other is welcomed insofar as its presence is not intrusive, insofar as it is not really the other. Tolerance thus coincides with its opposite. My duty to be tolerant towards the other effectively means that I should not get too close to him or her, not intrude into his space—in short, that I should respect his intolerance towards my over-proximity. This is increasingly emerging as the central human right of advanced capitalist society: the right not to be ‘harassed’, that is, to be kept at a safe distance from others.”

Slavoj Žižek
Against Human Rights

"First as Tragedy, Then as Farce" Quotes

“On the information sheet in a New York hotel, I recently read: 'Dear guest! To guarantee that you will fully enjoy your stay with us, this hotel is totally smoke-free. For any infringement of this regulation, you will be charged $200.' The beauty of this formulation, taken literally, is that you are to be punished for refusing to fully enjoy your stay.”

Slavoj Žižek
First as Tragedy, Then as Farce

"In Defense of Lost Causes" Quotes

“Crazy, tasteless even, as it may sound, the problem with Hitler was that he was not violent enough, that his violence was not 'essential' enough...”

Slavoj Žižek
In Defense of Lost Causes

“Heidegger is great not in spite of, but because of his Nazi engagement...”

Slavoj Žižek
In Defense of Lost Causes

“Ideology is strong exactly because it is no longer experienced as ideology. We feel free because we lack the very language to articulate our unfreedom.”

Slavoj Žižek
In Defense of Lost Causes

“There is never a right moment for the revolutionary act - the act is always, by definition, 'premature'.”

Slavoj Žižek
In Defense of Lost Causes

"Living in the End Times" Quotes

“Our biological body itself is a form of hardware that needs re-programming through tantra like a new spiritual software which can release or unblock its potential.”

Slavoj Žižek
Living in the End Times

"On being asked what makes him depressed." Quotes

“Seeing stupid people happy.”

Slavoj Žižek
On being asked what makes him depressed.

"The Plague of Fantasies" Quotes

“In a traditional German toilet, the hole into which shit disappears after we flush is right at the front, so that shit is first laid out for us to sniff and inspect for traces of illness. In the typical French toilet, on the contrary, the hole is at the back, i.e. shit is supposed to disappear as quickly as possible. Finally, the American (Anglo-Saxon) toilet presents a synthesis, a mediation between these opposites: the toilet basin is full of water, so that the shit floats in it, visible, but not to be inspected. [...] It is clear that none of these versions can be accounted for in purely utilitarian terms: each involves a certain ideological perception of how the subject should relate to excrement. Hegel was among the first to see in the geographical triad of Germany, France and England an expression of three different existential attitudes: reflective thoroughness (German), revolutionary hastiness (French), utilitarian pragmatism (English). In political terms, this triad can be read as German conservatism, French revolutionary radicalism and English liberalism. [...] The point about toilets is that they enable us not only to discern this triad in the most intimate domain, but also to identify its underlying mechanism in the three different attitudes towards excremental excess: an ambiguous contemplative fascination; a wish to get rid of it as fast as possible; a pragmatic decision to treat it as ordinary and dispose of it in an appropriate way. It is easy for an academic at a round table to claim that we live in a post-ideological universe, but the moment he visits the lavatory after the heated discussion, he is again knee-deep in ideology.”

Slavoj Žižek
The Plague of Fantasies

"The Year of Dreaming Dangerously" Quotes

“There is a wonderful expression in Persian, war nam nihadan, which means "to murder somebody, bury his body, then grow flowers over the body to conceal it.”

Slavoj Žižek
The Year of Dreaming Dangerously

"Violence" Quotes

“A German officer visited Picasso in his Paris studio during the Second World War. There he saw Guernica and, shocked at the modernist 'chaos' of the painting, asked Picasso: 'Did you do this?' Picasso calmly replied: 'No, you did this!'”

Slavoj Žižek
Violence

“An enemy is someone whose story you have not heard.”

Slavoj Žižek
Violence

“There is an old story about a worker suspected of stealing: every evening, as he leaves the factory, the wheelbarrow he rolls in front of him is carefully inspected. The guards can find nothing. It is always empty. Finally, the penny drops: what the worker is stealing are the wheelbarrows themselves...”

Slavoj Žižek
Violence

“What about animals slaughtered for our consumption? who among us would be able to continue eating pork chops after visiting a factory farm in which pigs are half-blind and cannot even properly walk, but are just fattened to be killed? And what about, say, torture and suffering of millions we know about, but choose to ignore? Imagine the effect of having to watch a snuff movie portraying what goes on thousands of times a day around the world: brutal acts of torture, the picking out of eyes, the crushing of testicles -the list cannot bear recounting. Would the watcher be able to continue going on as usual? Yes, but only if he or she were able somehow to forget -in an act which suspended symbolic efficiency -what had been witnessed. This forgetting entails a gesture of what is called fetishist disavowal: "I know it, but I don't want to know that I know, so I don't know." I know it, but I refuse to fully assume the consequences of this knowledge, so that I can continue acting as if I don't know it.”

Slavoj Žižek
Violence

"Welcome to the Desert of the Real" Quotes

“We feel free because we lack the very language to articulate our unfreedom.”

Slavoj Žižek
Welcome to the Desert of the Real