Text of the Excerpt from “The Philosophical Hack” from the previous post.

The computer reading does not phrase the excerpt very well, and makes it a little difficult to understand. So for those who are interested in what Alice the Computer was reading, here is the text:

“The speech act becomes a symbolic Event if and when its occurrence restructures the entire field; although there is no new content, everything is somehow thoroughly different.”[1] Zizek goes on to say that Gilles Deleuze talked about this through his idea of the pure past; in short, his elaboration is determined and contingent, fixed and yet changing. What are we to make of this apparent nonsense? First of all, we need to ask if indeed I am allowed to call this nonsense. If the answer is no, then my question would be whether or not philosophy is occurring through that response.

Aside from an exegesis of Deleuze’s work, what is Zizek really saying here? Let’s take a moment to unpack it. What is the speech act? It is talking. Why didn’t he say “Talking becomes…” then? I do not think Zizek places his words carelessly so I think he uses very precise language to tell us something very particular while he knows that his precision will be overlooked and the meaning generalized. Is he saying that someone can restructure the entire field by enacting a symbolic Event when they talk? I really think that is how many readers will take it, but no, I do not think that is what he is really saying. What is a “speech act”? Regardless of the vast research into Zizek and the potential of the myriad of other authors’ definitions, we will do well to take it for face value in what Zizek has presented for us here; perhaps a tiny hermeneutical approach, but not overstated. First we should note that he is speaking about the Event, and not saying anything about a speech act. He is presenting the conditions necessary for an Event, in this case a particular type or kind of Event, a manner of speaking about the Event. This manner of speaking about the Event he frames as a symbolic Event, and the condition for this kind of Event is the speech act. We move forward and find that he qualifies this ‘act’ further, as an “occurrence”. Why would he do this? But not only this; he says its occurrence. Again; why would he not just say it simply; why all the qualifiers? I submit that it because he must speak in a certain manner if he is to remain true to the Event that has already restructured the entire field. Hence I might take a liberty with his phrase: His speech act, this occasion of discourse, is an Event because it not only restructured the entire field, but also because in the act of this discourse the field is already restructured, it is already a Symbolic Event. As this may be the case, then, there is no new content, yet everything is somehow different.

The “pure past” he mentions of Deleuze concerns the form of the Imagined world of Symbols that at one time pertained to a certain presentation of world, a world which, due to the Event of the active function of discourse or speech, has been restructured such that, what I will call the real past or the past in reality appears the same. Two views thus arise due to the Event; in this case, this particular analogue of the Event that is the Symbolic Event, the conditions are presented as such, able to be described in this manner. Likewise, due to this speech act involved with the restructuring of the entire field, it is an Event. The entire restructuring, indeed, can appear in reality through ironic analogy, through a bias of reason which automatically reads the discourse (speech act) and not actually communicating what it appears to be communicating; reason, or the methodology of conventional philosophy, here views the text (discourse) as meaning that the restructuring must occur through the same method which is restructuring the meaning of the text to not mean what it is saying; namely, that reason is upheld to be the substrate upon which all possible structure must be grounded. Zizek relies upon this conventional mistaken apprehension of his words because the nature of the Evental speech act has brought an occasion where by these two routes upon the text are readily viewable; it is a skill of sorts. He can see generally how it will be misunderstood and so compensates for this bias to write squarely down the middle of the suspended ethical polemic, which is to say, the universal “either/or”[2]. Hence, in this one instance or analogue, his description thus yields a communication of a “pure past” which does not change, a circumstance which is not dissimilar to the Contemporary Prophet which Kierkegaard considers in his “Philosophical Crumbs”, while at the same time allowing for a bias of a ‘present past’ which opens a space for real discussion.


The difference noted, then, can be accounted for not by different manners of thinking about various things, but by different strategies of how to present (which is a more significant definition of) the parallax view. Zizek is in the middle but he leans to the conventional side by his ontology. Also, some authors deny this middle ground by their very activity; they take the conventional side not so much as they might argue an ontology due to the avenue presented by the real limit, but more because that they see what the limit might mean and this position themselves in a position of plausible denial. This position can be described as gained through the philosophical pocket veto. The pocket veto is not as much a chosen strategy than it is a manner of describing what must be the case given the understanding of the Event and the two routes. The inference of the pocket veto can be drawn out from the reduction of respective salient conditions: Zizek, and Deleuze, must say that the ‘pure past’ must be “amenable to change through the occurrence of any new present” because they are intending an ontology, they are attempting to make an argument for why things must be this way given the conditions. It sounds quite logical: The Deleuzian pure past posits that there is a fixed past that must nevertheless change with the contingencies of the present. This gives me pause, though. What does that even mean? The only thing one can say about what it means pretty much must say exactly the same thing, that there is an unchanging state available to knowledge that changes. The question must arise again: Can you see it?

The usual definition of a pocket veto is where the president or governor effectively veto’s a bill by never signing it until it is too late. My philosophical version of the pocket veto is that the philosopher holds the bill and signs it too early for the legislative body to do anything about it; it becomes a ‘law’ because the philosopher decides to speak about it (sign it) before they have all the knowledge about a situation. They nevertheless speak about the situation as if it is true, and thus grant a picture of the situation that is necessarily askew of its truth, to say the least. This is similar to what we have said earlier about the proletariat always moving too soon but with the caveat that the philosopher who uses the pocket veto is making a choice in full confidence that what he shall ‘sign into law’ will contribute beneficially to his identity. He does not move too soon, but only feigns to feign whatever philosophical conditions must be met for the proposal upon the situation to appear true enough. We can call this the implicit justification of sufficient philosophy because this manner of behaving toward truth is institutionalized, such that philosophers are taught that one should always move when the truth is in sight, and that the description of the Event is thus sufficient; this seems to be so overwhelmingly the case that the institution now has moved so far out in front of the truth so as to say that there is no truth, that everything exists in a negotiation of inspired agents involved in a common cause. We might see this as a picture, one could say, of a sort of the philosophical double agent; the conventional agent of reality, the non-philosopher of truth, and the double agent which sees just enough to spill the non-philosophical content out as a reduced conventional argument without ever really understanding how what is non-philosophical is not philosophical.”

[1] Zizek. “Event” . Pg 124

[2] The general misunderstood view is thus that, then, by which further discussion upon the matter remains inexhaustible.


Excerpt from the book “The Philosophical Hack” c.2018 Lance A. Kair.  Release date late 2018.

3 thoughts on “Text of the Excerpt from “The Philosophical Hack” from the previous post.

  1. Hi Lance. I hope you are doing well!

    Are you familiar with a book called “How To Do Things With Words” by J.L Austin? If not, it might be helpful to you — especially the concepts of illocution and perlocution — as you deal with something like a “speech act involved with the restructuring of the entire field.”

    1. Are you sayin something about my actual ‘speech act’ of writing. (Like It need editing? Or just conceptually/theoretically? Or both. ? 😄

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