Peter Klepec

Institute of Philosophy, ZRC SAZU

Peter Klepec works as Research Adviser at the Institute of Philosophy ZRC SAZU, Ljubljana, Slovenia. Main areas of research: contemporary French philosophy, German Idealism and Lacanian psychoanalysis. Author of numerous articles and essays, as well as three books (in Slovenian): Vznik subjekta, ZRC, Ljubljana 2004 (On the Emergence of the Subject), Dobičkonosne strasti. Kapitalizem in perverzija 1, DTP, Ljubljana 2008 (Profitable Passions. Capitalism and Perversion 1; translated in Serbian as Kapitalizam i perverzija. 1, Profitabilne strasti, Sremski Karlovci: Izdavačka knjižarnica Zorana Stojanovića, 2016), and Matrice podrejanja. Kapitalizem in perverzija 2, DTP, Ljubljana 2019 (Matrices of Subjection. Capitalism and Perversion 2).

Speaking at the conference

Thursday, 22 September, 5pm, Kosovel Hall

Ridicoulous Master

The paper raises the question of the connection between the master and ridicule. The new masters of today appear ridiculous in two ways: either they are unchallenged, absolute masters who revive old forms of despotism, or they fail completely to do so. The paradox, then, is that today’s masters are ridiculous for two completely opposite reasons: either because they are in fact true masters, or because they are in fact poor substitutes for them, nothing more than clowns, buffoons, idiots (nincompoops, as Roger Waters recently put it). This connection between the masters and ridiculousness must be contextualised. It must be seen as the culmination of a long process that Lacan, in his Ethics of Psychoanalysis, succinctly defines as “a radical decline of the function of the master, a function that obviously governs all of Aristotle’s thought and determines its persistence over the centuries. It is Hegel in Hegel, that we find expressed an extreme devaluation of the position of the master is expressed, since Hegel turns him into the great dupe, the magnificent cuckold of historical development”. (Lacan 1992: 11) Despite numerous attempts to revive Aristotle’s political thought today, and despite the rise of a new conservatism, even the attempt to return to the traditional, Aristotelian figure of the master proves ridiculous. The American success story of a dog whisperer named Cesar Milan is presented. Cesar was not only a successful dog trainer for the lost and impossible cases, but also a media celebrity. Why, actually? In our opinion, among other things, because with his unique way of training dogs, he taught us humans how to become Aristotelian masters of our homes, “true pack leaders” of our households. In the end, Cesar’s case ended dishonorably, ingloriously, even ridiculously, because he obviously cheated. Why does such a fate of a master seem appropriate for our modern masters?

More about Peter Klepec