Zizek has a knack for mining pop culture, the arts, philosophy and religion and melding bold reinterpretations of them together to form a seemingly scattered yet strangely seamless argument. The following exerpt is no exception. Though I am intrigued by a lot this passage has to say regarding sociology and even theology, there's one nugget I've put in bold because it does something I've never seen before: It pits art and science against each other and suggests that art (ideally) is a more reliable gateway to understanding. Check it all out and see what you think. Zizek writes:
"Today, we seem effectively to be at the opposite point of the ideology of the 1960s: the mottos of spontaneity, creative self-expression, and so on, are taken over by the System; in other words, the old logic of the system reproducing itself through repressing and rigidly channeling the subject's spontaneous impulses is left behind.
Nonalienated spontaneity, self-expression, self-realization, they all directly serve the system [which Zizek has just argued thrives on the white noise of our 'unconstrained permissiveness'], which is why pitiless self-censorship is a sine qua non of emancipatory politics.
Especially in the domain of poetic art, this means that one should totally reject any attitude of self-expression, of displaying one's innermost turmoil, desires, and dreams. True art has nothing whatsoever to do with disgusting emotional exhibitionism . . . . If there is a thing that provokes disgust in a true poet, it is the scene of a close friend opening up his heart, spilling out all the dirt of his inner life.
Consequently, one should totally reject the standard opposition of 'objective' science focused on reality and 'subjective' art focused on emotional reaction to it and self-expression: if anything, true art is more asubjective than science. In science, I remain a person with my pathological features, I just assert objectivity outside it, while in true art, the artist has to undergo a radical self-objectivization, he has to die in and for himself, turn into a kind of living dead. . . .
In contrast to the New Age attitude which ultimately reduces my Other/Neighbor to my mirror-image or to the means in the path of my self-realization . . . , Judaism opens up a tradition in which an alien traumatic kernel forever persists in my Neighbor---the Neighbor remains an inert, impenetrable, enigmatic presence that hystericizes me. . . .
The radical conclusion to be drawn from this is that one should renounce striving for one's own (spiritual) salvation as the highest form of egotism. According to Lean Brunschvicg: 'The pre-occupation with our salvation is a remnant of self-love, a trace of natural egocentrism from which we must be torn by the religious life. As long as you think only salvation, you turn your back on God. God is God, only for the person who overcomes the temptation to degrade Him and use Him for his own ends.'"
- Excerpted from chapter 3, "Neighbors and Other Monsters: A Plea for Ethical Violence", p. 134-142