Slavoj Žižek celebrating 70th birthday
Ljubljana, 21 March - One of the world's best-known living philosophers Slavoj Žižek is celebrating his 70th birthday today. A prolific expert on German idealism, psychoanalysis, political theory and cultural studies, Žižek is one of the most cited authors of our time, whose idiosyncratic style has also won him a substantial audience outside of academia.
Žižek, who draws heavily on Lacan and through him on Hegel and Marx, has written dozens of books, which range from dense theoretical works to accessible introductory books.
A self-described "communist in a qualified sense" and "radical leftist", Žižek has regularly contributed politically engaged commentaries for major global newspapers.
His eclectic thought has also been presented in several documentaries, while the internet and above all his humour-laced lectures on YouTube have arguably played a major role in the philosopher attaining star-like status, in particular in the US, South America and Japan.
"Approaching critical theory and psychoanalysis in a recklessly entertaining fashion, Žižek's critical eye alights upon a bewildering and exhilarating range of subjects, from the political apathy of contemporary life, to a joke about the man who thinks he's a chicken, from the ethical heroism of Keanu Reeves in Speed, to what toilet designs reveal about the national psyche," reads the introduction to Routlege's book on Žižek by Tony Myers.
Žižek's path to over 15 monographs and a journal, the International Journal of Žižek Studies, dedicated to his work, began in Ljubljana, where he grew up studied philosophy and sociology at the Faculty of Arts.
While he soon started working as an assistant professor at the faculty, his academic career was undermined by the Yugoslav communist regime.
He completed his doctoral degree in philosophy in Ljubljana in 1981 and added another one at University of Paris VIII five years later.
After becoming a familiar name in Slovenia as a columnist for the dissident magazine Mladina, Žižek was actively involved at the end of the 1980s in civil society efforts for the democratisation of Slovenia.
He also ran in 1990 as the Liberal Democratic Party's (LDS) candidate for the collective Slovenian presidency to nearly get elected.
Žižek, who has for some time now been reluctant to comment on political developments in Slovenia, is officially still a professor at the Ljubljana Faculty of Arts, but the title is mostly honorary, as he has pursued his academic career abroad.
He has lectured at faculties in Paris, Berlin, London, New York, Buenos Aires, Moscow etc. He is presently visiting professor at several universities in the US, at the European Graduate School for Media & Communications and international director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities of the University of London.