What Would Socrates Write?

by John Holbo on December 15, 2004

Adam Kotsko has an extremely funny post up. The First Letter of Slavoj Zizek to the Corinthians. "To the academic community that is in Corinth and to all those who are called to get off on knowledge and to enjoy their symptom." It’s part of a St. Paul week series, run to rather good effect.

Adam Anthony Smith also links to this Atrios post from a couple days back which I somehow missed. "A life of plenty, of simple pleasures." The school where the booklet in question is being taught claims to teach as well "the writings of Plato and Socrates." Indeed. WWSW?



bad Jim 12.15.04 at 10:22 am

Since the link to Atrios evokes the antebellum paradise enjoyed by our original immigrant workforce, allow me to note that the Confederate battle flag was originally pink:

The first 120 silk battle flags were issued in November, 1861. They had 12 gold painted stars on blue bars edged with white on fields of pink or rose. … The materials used were dress silk bolts purchased from Richmond area merchants in bulk. Since these colors were popular for ladies’ dresses (the latter red color of these flags would not be available in silk since that color was for the “ladies of the evening”) they were what the later issues of this famous flag were to be. Some CS officers did not care for the colors and were told by Beauregard, in no uncertain terms to, “dye it red sir, dye it with your blood!”

For some reason it’s hard to find pink Confederate flags now. Doesn’t anyone care about authenticity?


Vance Maverick 12.15.04 at 12:18 pm

Somehow I doubt Socrates would write precisely that.


jholbo 12.15.04 at 12:55 pm

I’ve deleted the comments in question. But vance maverick makes a valid point, you may be sure.


des von bladet 12.15.04 at 1:17 pm

I have been given to doubt that Socrates would write at all, so a redacted comment is in fact an elegant refutation of Vance’s claim.


jpe 12.15.04 at 5:18 pm

The letter to the Corinthians is fucking brilliant. That man gets a gold star for that post.


bob mcmanus 12.15.04 at 6:45 pm

Made me laugh out loud, tho I did not understand a word of it. But a lot of people seem to be channeling Irwin Corey.

Just kidding. I understood enough to know that the more I understood, the funnier it would get. We request exegesis of the Epistle.


nick 12.15.04 at 9:56 pm

Is it not so that Žižek’s prose style is eminently open to parody?


Adam Kotsko 12.15.04 at 11:07 pm

Just read the first chapter to 1 Corinthians, then read, say, the first three essays on the “Zizek links” page on my site. It’s basically a cobbling together of various Zizekian cliches based on the structure of Paul’s letter — it’s one of the Bible passages with which I happen to be most familiar and, I would argue, the one that fits most closely with Zizek’s style.

But if you want to truly understand it, do “Bible Quizzing” over 1 + 2 Corinthians in eighth grade, then eight years later begin the hard work of reading virtually all of Zizek’s writings, then read Badiou’s book on Paul, then take a course on Romans that inspires you to rewrite Romans for today’s world — and before you know it, you’ll just be writing your own letter of Zizek to the Corinthians and won’t need to interpret mine after all.

It goes without saying that this conversation should probably be taking place at the page of the person who actually wrote the post under discussion, but I’ll grant you an indulgence just this once.

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