Today was more difficult; Hegel, with whom I am not familiar. It was very stimulating. I was particularly interested in the idea that you can’t say an idea got distorted in the execution. The idea is precisely how good it turns out to be in execution; in its distorted state. So if there is something wrong with the Church, for example, it is an inherent flaw, not a distortion. An interesting idea, because it encourages you to play with the idea that the Church may be doing what it is supposed to. What if it is fine as it is? Maybe we have unrealistic expectations? A good experiment perhaps, the philosophy may be flawed and the future may compensate for shortcomings in the church as it is today, but it feels good to try and look at the church and love it. Like God! We looked at negation of negation, which is like this joke:
A man goes to see the doctor. He tells him, I’ve got good news and bad news. The bad news is you have Alzheimers. But don’t get depressed thinking about it over and over. That’s the good news, you’ve got Alzheimers.
Or it is like when Brecht was asked about Stalin’s show trials and he said “If they are innocent, they definitely deserve to be shot”. You see he could have been saying ‘they should willingly sacrifice themselves to the Party. Pleading innocence merely proves they are vain and concerned only with their individual rights’. But it could also mean ‘These men had the chance to rid us of Stalin, hold a coup, but they didn’t. Instead they get caught up in a romantic sacrifice.’
I went and spoke to Zizek, to ask a ‘naive question’ as I put it. If you get the chance to ask a direct question of an author and put all showing-off aside I find it is almost always a blunt, stupid question. Anyway, I said, ‘why do you make out God killed himself when you could just say he was never there?’ He replied “I like these tough naive questions”. I’ll tell you his answer at my lecture.