Lecture by Slavoj Žižek: On Samuel Beckett’s Art of Abstraction


Philosophy Seminar Series – presented by the Scottish Centre for Continental Philosophy

‘Samuel Beckett’s Art of Abstraction’ by Slavoj Žižek (The Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities).

All are welcome, but please book tickets in advance. The first 350 tickets will be for the main room. Any extra will be seated in the overspill theatre, where the event will be screened.

If you have any queries, please contact Dr Oisín Keohane (o.keohane@dundee.ac.uk)

Event Abstract

The “empty” Cartesian subject is an abstraction: it emerges as the result of the process of abstraction, of self-withdrawal from its real-life context. This is why the “materialist” demands to localize a subject into the texture of its “concrete” historical situation misses the key point: what disappears if we do this is the subject itself. This does not mean that subject is a kind of user’s illusion which persists only insofar as it doesn’t know fully its concrete material conditions: the network of “concrete material conditions” is in itself incomplete, it contains cracks and inconsistencies which are the points of the rise of subjects.
The great writer of abstraction is Samuel Beckett. When he depicts the subjective experience of terror, loss, suffering and persecution, he does not endeavor to locate it into a concrete historical context (say, making it clear that it is a moment of Fascist terror in an occupied country, or of the Stalinist terror against dissident intellectuals). Beckett does (almost – not quite, of course) the exact contrary: he puts particular forms of terror and persecution which belong to different contexts and levels (Fascist terror, the “terror” of anti-Fascist revenge, administrative “terror” of regulating the repatriation of refugees and prisoners) into a series and blurs their distinctions, constructing an abstract form of de-contextualized terror, one can even say: a Platonic Idea of terror.



Thu 8 November 201818:30 – 20:00 GMT


Dalhousie Building, Lecture Theatre 3, University of Dundee, Dundee, DD1 5EN


Event sponsored by the Scot Philosophical association