[Lacan] has more respect for Buddhism than you or Slavoj. Your attempt to go meta has also been noted. “Anything you can do I can do meta” is indeed classic Zizek. “Engagement and generosity”? I think not. Classic nihilist one-upsmanship? Why yes. Here's a thought: les non-dupes errent.
In any case, the attempt to go meta fails as you only produce synonyms for letting go of clinging (or whatever)—ding! Correct!
There's a very good reason why Buddhists tell you that it's not desire they are getting rid of—desire in that blurry Zizekian sense is not on their cognitive map. They're not evading your cleverness. They are simply pointing out that they're talking about apples and you are talking about oranges. Or bad photocopies of apples.
You could easily argue that “never give up on your desire” is quintessentially Buddhist. Theravada Buddhism included, Buddhism is not about “getting rid of desire”—that may be Schopenhauer (a classic orientalist misprision) but it's not Buddhism.
All forms of Buddhism are about letting go of ego clinging. It's an elementary fact of Buddhism, the Third Noble Truth. Not the same thing as “getting rid of desire.”
If you want to be Theravadin about it, “desire” is way back on the Nidana chain from grasping—dig? You can desire all you want, as long as you don't cling. An action becomes karmic when you grasp. Not when you desire. This is first grade Buddhist logic. You want to drink that bottle of whiskey but you refrain? Great. You created zero karma. Those who don't understand the difference have simply not examined their minds closely enough. From a meditator's point of view “desire” a la Zizek is a blurry, vague concept.
All Buddhists agree on this. Check the Vajrayana version: “It's not perceptions that bind us, but clinging to perceptions—so cut your clinging, Naropa.”
The burden of proof is on your good selves to convince me that you know anything about Buddhism worth arguing with. I have studied all forms of Buddhism for thirty years. I've known Slavoj for about twenty and I've read all his books.
But none of this is why you are arguing. The reality is that you think that Buddhists are “inscrutable” faceless robots. If you don't, say so. Or perhaps they are too touchy-feely (rather than not enough)—provoking you with subtle phenomenological distinctions between states of mind you color uniformly as “desire.” And heaven knows we've all been trained that phenomenology is bunk...
Buddhists, in short, are queer.
I'm more convinced than ever that Buddhaphobia is a timely project.
Saturday, November 27, 2010
Response to a Badiouian
My response to some comments on this are worth repeating here. Check the comments then come back here.