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Secret - Page 58

honest and straightforward with himself. His soul "squints;" his spirit loves hiding places, secret paths and back doors, everything covert entices him as "his" world, "his" security, "his" refreshment; he understands how to keep silent, how to forget, how to wait, how to be provisionally self-deprecating and humble."36

For Zizek, too, this overt obedience and covert refusal is the mark of a cynical reason that is the proper product of enlightenment reason itself. Kant's opening of free liberal argument conceals a deeper obedience to the law, one that is not so much reversed as extended by the cynic: "we know there is no truth in authority, yet we continue to play its game and to obey it in order not to disturb the usual run of things."37  This, for us as for Zizek, is in fact the normative model of criticism, and it is found most of all in the very place where Kant situated it: faculties of liberal arts, philosophy departments, and so on. Critical distance is belied by the deep obedience epitomized in the discursive economy itself, in the consistent material forms by which intellectual commodities are produced and exchanged whatever their ideological claims to difference; at the level of the intellectual product, there is clearly no difference between the strictest radical and the wooliest conservative. The stupid underground is attractive to criticism because it is a mirror in which criticism can see itself as it is, as a secret order of cynics, even if it does not always recognize itself there, even if the convenience of its denials drowns out its truth, shining through like the truth of the analysand.

[44] It is noteworthy that even as Nietzsche challenges the secrecy of "ressentiment," he also sees the philosopher as a "subterranean tunneler, a mole, one who has returned almost from the dead."38  And it is this other secrecy that finally concerns us here: not the one that scarcely hides and serves merely as a weak alibi for perfect collusion, but one past "ressentiment," a forgetting of culture. The stupid fascination with cults, networks, and conspiracies is a horizonal phenomenon, a coded desire that gestures toward another disappearance in which--"it is our duty to propose"--one is always about to become, and may finally achieve the empty lucidity of, a transparent fish.39  If the stupid underground is the indeterminate boundary, the blurred and therefore uncritical liminality of the cultural subject and the social world--of critique,

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