Zizek on the Deleuzian Viritual

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Starting Monday, AUFS is hosting a book event on Gabriel and Zizek’s work Mythology, Madness and Laughter. It’ll span a little over three weeks, and I’ll be contributing at the tail end of the event. I’m just about finished, and I have to say that the work is really solid and lucid, despite the rather difficult topic of subjectivity in German Idealism. Gabriel’s part of the book is especially impressive. Here’s a quote from Zizek that I liked about Deleuze’s concept of the virtual.

“The solution of this dilemma is precisely the notion of virtuality in the strict Deleuzian sense, as the actuality of the possible, as a paradoxical entity the very possibility of which already produces/has actual effects. One should oppose Deleuze’s notion of the virtual to the all-pervasive topic of virtual reality: what matters to Deleuze is not is not virtual reality, but the reality of the virtual (which in Lacanian terms, is the Real). Virtual reality in itself is a rather miserable idea: that of imitating reality, of reproducing its experience in an artificial medium. The reality of the virtual, on the other hand, stands for the reality of the virtual as such, for its real effects and consequences. Let us take an attractor in mathematics: all positive lines or points in its sphere of attraction only approach it endless fashion never reaching its form – the existence of the form is purely virtual, being nothing more than the shape towards which lines and points tend. However, precisely as such, the virtual is the Real of this field: the immovable focal point around which all elements circulate. Is the not the Virtual ultimately the Symbolic as such? Let us take symbolic authority, in order to function as an effective authority, it has to remain not-fully-actualized, an eternal threat” (Mythology, Madness and Laughter: Subjectivity in German Idealism, 109).

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