Organizational Research Methods: Storytelling in Action

David M. Boje

Book being prepared for Routledge, due March 2018

To cite this document: Boje, David M. (2018) "Organizational Resarch Methods: Storytelling In Action", (March 15), URL = <>


Chapter - RPO8 - Žižek’s Revival of Hegelian Dialectics

- Description: Žižek, Slavoj seminal text, LESS THAN NOTHING (2012)- see last chapter of his dialectic systems extension of Karen Barad's work Žižek in the later part of his book, raises a number of questions about Barad's work on intra-activity. Žižek suggests that Hegel dialectics is at work in the intra-activity of materiality with human discourse.

Main point of the book: "With Hegel, we begin with the obvious historical question: "in what meaningful sense can one still be a Hegelian today, bearing in mind the radically changed historical constellation?" (Žižek, 2012: 5).

STUDENT FACILITATOR - PLEASE START HERE What is the Žižek-dialectical process?

Summary: Slavoj Žižek begins with insights into Plato dialectic, challenging contemporary conclusions that Plato is an Idealist, and reminds us that Platonic dialectics had an originary move, rooted in Parmenides, and a reading of Parmenides that is ontological. This re-reading of Plato ond Parmenides gets to an insight about the nature of Hegel's dialectic. It is way beyond the simplistic thesis-antithesis-synthesis. The Hegelian dialectic is rooted in the contradiction, between epistemic and ontologic, that drives the movement of dialectical process. Žižek see a contemporary struggle between what I ahve been calling the relativity of recent versions of social constructivism (post Berger and Luckmann, 1966) that have turned relativistic (e.g. Gergen). Here Žižek would be in agreement with Latour (1997) ANT dialectics and with Barad (2007) that the materiality must come back in. However, there is more too it. The completing version of materialism is dialectic, dialectical materialsim. Žižek is addressing the 'negation of the negation', kind of dialectical materialism, and wants to trace how epistemico transmutes with ontologico. Note just how close this is to Barad (2007) epistemico-ontological agential realism, intra-active entanglement of materiality with discourse in the movement of iterative re-configuring. But Žižek in the last chapter of his 2012 book, Less that Nothing is looking back into Plato, through Hegel, into Barad's work on quantum physics, to resituate a dialectic in the intra-activity, the 'dash' (or '-') in rendered dialectic.

Žižek does his "detailed explication of Hegel's basic thesis on the Absolute as not only Substance, but also Subject" and the limits of that thesis in today's historical moment (p. 5). Žižek wants to invoke Hegel, but set some limits.

"Yes, antagonism is 'reconciled', but not in the sense that it magically disappears-what Hegel calls 'reconciliation' is, at its most basic, a reconciliation with the antagonism. Yes, in the course of a dialectical process, its ground (starting point) is retroactively posited by its result, but this retroactive positing never closes in a full circle, a discontinuity always persists between a ground and what the ground grounds, and so on" (Žižek, 2012: 951).

For example, system-wholeness is retrospectively-positied, as an organic-system-unity, but what if this System One-ness never existed, and is only a product of retrospective sensemaking? Instead the organizational system is a pure multiplicity, its antenarrative Being-ness before narrative cohereness into an original organic-system-unity. The original organic-system-unity alienates itself from itself, since system-wholeness-Oneness never existed in the first place, and is a "retrspective-fantasy" (Žižek, 2012: 952). This relates to Boje's (2008, 2014) premise that systemicity is the unfinalizedness and unmergedness of system-parts, whole-system is a retrospective sensemaking fantasy. In quantum storytelling, for example, Democritus, the pre-ontological would be "multiplisity of less-than-Ones" (Žižek, 2012: 957).

FACILITATOR - WHAT IS HEGELIAN DIALECTICS? Answer: not thesis-antithesis-synthesis, rather its the negation of the negation. In Hegel dialectics according to Žižek (p. 957), the "epistemological obstacle becomes an -ontological freature of the Thing itself." "'Thing-in-itself' from a dialectical-materialist standpoint" is illusory appearance that arises out of the void "only if something less than nothing" emerges (Žižek, 2012: 957), which is the title of the book. System Real-in-itself is irreducibly inconsistent, antinomic, multiplicity, becuase the System-Thing-in-itself is not exteral to the Real, "the Real is nothing but the gap or antagonism that thwarts the symbolic from within --- the symbolic touches the Real in a totally immanent way" (p. 957).

"The transition, or becoming, sublates itself in its passage; the other that in this transition comes to be, is not the non-being of a being, but the nothingness of a nothing, and this, to be the negation of a nothing, constitutes being. Being only is as the movement of nothing to nothing, and as such it is essence; and the latter does not have this movement within it, but is this movement as a being that is itself absolutely illusory, pure negativity, outside of which there is nothing for it to negate but which negates only its own negative, and this negative, which latter is only in this negating" (G. W. F. Hegel, The Science of Logic. trans. A. V. Miller, Atlantic Highlands: Humanities Press 1969: 400., as cited in Žižek, 2012: 38).

Some examples of Žižek dialectical relational process. It does not only matter what a Thing is, as a positive feature it matters what a Thing is not. It does not matter what you say as an Organizational Behavior instructor, it also matters what you don't say, while saying what you say. The curious Thing is what you are not teaching in Organizational Behavior: Being against racism, sexism, slavery. Do you teach OB ideological distortions? Do you teach OB without race deconstruction or without slavery deconstruction? Sorry, we are the university that does neither.

"Desire has reserved to itself the pure negating of the object and thereby unalloyed feeling of self. This satisfaction, however, just for that reason is itself only a state of evanescence, for it lacks objectivity or subsistence. Labour, on the other hand, is desire restrained and checked, evanescence delayed and postponed; in other words, labour shapes and fashions the thing" (Hegel, Phenomenology of Mind, p. 111, as cited in Žižek, 2012: 203).

For example, the University is the All and its parts (socially, the faculty, students, staff, workers, and administration) which encounteres itself as subordinate to the hierarchical order of State power in New Mexico, and confronts the hierarchical order of market economy forces, and the still higher hierarchical order of quantum physics. This is an example of dialectics in suspense (a concept from Walter Benjamin, see Žižek, 2012: 964). There is a dead-point in the dialectic in suspense, a case of the pure contradiction between the level of quantum and level of State power and level of University and us on the lower level. There is no dialectical mediation in this series of dead-points until some form of meantipatory engagement is enacted, such as when Legislature attempted to counter the Governor's budget veto, and the Chancellor confronted the governor, and then was fired. The politics of the Monarch has position power, but does not legitimate any form of democratic leadership. The conflicts are played out, not to the death, but in a civilility, so the dialectical process does not come to a grinding halt. NMSU budget politics is not a fight to the death, without restraint. It is an implied conflict with convivial restraints. At the heart of Being, is a "self-relating negativity" and understanding that faculty-student-and-even-chancellor or vulnerable and fagile in the face of State power. Political conservative ideology-narrative exerts material power in making free market ideology power-over higher education. A friend of me works in an OB department that is being restructured out of existence. Similar things are happening in our university. In the dialectical process, we know what is happening, but we are in university and college meetings and do not saying anthing about the pending catastrophe. Others, know and see very well what is happening, but choose to ignore what we see and know. People see to rationally deal with it, as if, its not happening, and go about their teaching. Ideology resides in this underlying sensemaking selection, knowing you know, but acting as if you do not know. This is the fettish dialectic of ideology. Life based on a lie, but repress it in what you do. The illusion is the difference between espoused theory, and theory-in-action.

Negation of the Negation Negatiion in Hegel. We dont' really know what negation is. Žižek agrees with Heidegger, that Hegel fails to bring out the fundamental dialectical operation of negativity. In our blind reactivity to exploitation, is a way we are getting by, making the minimum waves. Non-productivity repetition, just strives for more of the same, but Hegel dialectic transforms contingent real through repetition to a passage from In-Itself to For-Itself.

"We do not have, first, some particular proposition, and subsequent to this the negation of it, and, then, a further negation of the negation that might give us back the proposition" (Žižek, 2012: 292)

In a contradiction, Thing destroys itself.

An intelligent critique of Hegel is in Deleuze, 'Difference and Repetition. The repitition has difference, but is not radically different, and it is how the new emerges, difference by difference, that is not radically new. A few repeitions, a course, can no longer be the same, and a few repeitions and a department is no longer the same, it spirals into difference. For Hegel repetition is a radical contradiction (See Žižek, Negativity in Hegel and Freud video). Soon by repetition with small difference, a course or a department or a college or a university, does not fit its own concept. It is a process of the negation of the negation, introducing a gap between what people say and what people want to say (or mean to say).

What is happening dialectically? There is minimal resistance, but enact a distance, not taking it very seriously. For example, most faculty do nto believe that outcome assessment is efficacious, yet we perform hundreds of hours in annual, monthly, weekly meetings, enacting outcome assessment protocols in core courses of the college. OB has become a fettish, in that we can teach about it, even as we don't implement it in our university life. We can pretend we accept the lie the way it is, in order to create a distance emotionally, from what we intellectually know. It is just a game of appearance to receive reaccreditation, so the fettish of outcome assessments, digital measures, and so on, is reenacted. We know very much what we are doing it, and that its ridiculous, but we act as if its the truth, and efficacious practice. The belief materializes in our university activity. We enact commodity fetishism. We can be realist in what we think and see, but the illusion is in what we are doing, going along with, pretending. One repetition with difference disappears and another different repetition, emerges. This is how cyclic antenarratives become spiral antenarratives that in turn turn aymmetrical one repetition of a whorl at a time, and turn rhizomatic, without symmetry, without centering, and moving in every direction until blocked. And its possible to move a system the opposite way, toward symmetry, cyclic repetition, and linear process. Production is doubly enscribed (reflexively redouble reflexivity; A influences B, and B influences back to A), in Hegelian dialectic that Marx continues. The Hegelian dialectical process always deals with clearcut resolutions, but misses the pragmatic compromises (see Žižek Negativity in Hegel and Freud).

The relation of thesis and antithesis in the dialectical process always explodes into radical resolution. Corruption of mast and slave goes on into self-negating subjectivity. Hegel's notion of society remains at the pre-capitalist stage (with some manufacturing).

Žižek is arguing that the "resistance to a dispositif" can be in reflectivity on network of Self's activity, but to disrupt the dispositf of various system mechanisms of administraiton, physical, institutional, knowledge strctures that engance the exercise of power wtihin the social body of State-University-Quantum the social body is in a dialectic of Hegel's amster and servant (master & slave), and the slave discovers her own fragile, vulnerable Being, of "self-relating negativity" (Žižek, 2012: 994). People play the game of power, at the level of capitalism, for fear the disrupitons of the market mechanism will result in a return to slavery, person-to-person explotation, returning with a vegence. Slaves can confront their own irrational unconscious forces, in what Žižek calls a dialectical twist "exploitation includes its own negation" (p. 1003). The capitalist circuit creates both surblus value and a reserve army of unemployed professors, in this university case. THe unemployed professors, the unfunded graduate assistants, are not employed at the university, are not working. The is grounded in the centrality of exploitation. The fight against exploitation of the poor to stay uneducated in the fight of wealth concentration, confronting that center, would mean a change to direct democracy from what Follett calls power-over. But in New Mexico there is a radical asymmetry, the power must apboligh itself as a calss, in the struggle with capitalism.

FACILITATOR --> In the example of modern day slavery, the slave wants to abooligsh itself as a class in the struggle with brands and growers. The modern slave wants to negate itself as a less than in late modern capitalism.

Žižek argues we are dealing with a third way, that is neither slave nor capitalist, because the slave itself tries to abolish its exploitative conditions, by enacting Fair Food, worker-driven monitoring of work conditions, and so on. The surplus value and the reserve army of unemployed farm workers is excluded from wealth accumulation, and this must be grounded in the centrality of exploitation, by enacting direct democacy power-with (in Follett's term). The third way of capitalism, is a capitalism with more social responsibility (Žižek, 2012: 1009), which is also what Savall and Peron (2016) and Follett (The New State) are advocating. It is a capitalism that denounces oligarchy (as Plato presents in The Republic), and "denounces plutocratic exploitation" and yet maintains capitalism (Žižek, 2012L 1009). Žižek is arguing against Aristotle's Law of the Excluded Middle, in this third way capitalism of direct democracy and social responsible capitalism. In the Law of Excluded Middle, given two contradictory propositions, one the neatagion of the other, one proposition must be true and the other false. There is not middle position of neither true nor false. It is also called the Law of Non-Contradiction. In storytelling, if one story is the negation of the other story, one story must be true and the other false. But if we take a third way, another story lies inside the negation dialectic. A story of the middle, can be both true and untrue at the same time (a violation of the Law of Excluded Middle), a story can Be and not Be.

"Hegel calls "reconciliation" is, at its most basic, a reconciliation with the antagonism. Yes, in the course of a dialectical process, its ground (starting point) is retroactively posited by its result, but this retroactive positing never closes in a full circle, a discontinuity always persists between a ground and what the ground grounds, and so on" (Žižek, 2012: 950).

If we look at the undialectic hierarchy of Quantum-Market-State-University-Administrative power-oven, then Kant has revenge over Hegel "that is, yet another name for a fundamental antinomy which can never be dialectically mediated or sublated. Hegelian reconciliation is a reconciliation with the irreducibility of the antinomy, and it is in this way that the antinomy loses its antagonistic character" (Žižek, 2012: 951). Žižek calls it the parallax gap of the undialectical.

" Take, for example, the impossibility of reconciling relativity theory and quantum physics in a consistent Theory of Everything: there is no way to resolve the tension between the two by means of an "immanent" dialectical reflection in which the problem itself becomes its own solution. All we can do is wait for a contingent scientific breakthrough-only then will it be possible to retroactively reconstruct the logic of the process" (Žižek, 2012: 909).

xxxx has this critique of Heidegger's revisions to Hegel dialectic process:

"... why Heidegger's criticism regarding Hegel's "machination" misses the point. According to Heidegger, the Hegelian process of experience moves at two levels, that of lived experience (Erlebnis) and that of conceptual machination (Machenschaft): at the level oflived experience, consciousness sees its world collapse and a new figure of the world appear, and experiences this passage as a pure leap with no logical bridge uniting the two positions. 'For us:'"however, the dialectical analysis makes visible how the new world emerged as the "determinate negation" of the old one, as the necessary outcome of its crisis. Authentic lived experience, the opening to the New, is thus revealed as being underpinned by notional work: what the subject experiences as the inexplicable rise of a new world is actually the result of its own conceptual work taking place behind its back and can thus ultimately be read as having been produced by the subject's uwn conceptual machination... Which brings us back to Heidegger's claim that Hegel fails to include the pheuomenal experience of negativity: what if negativity names precisely the gap in the order of phenomenality, something which does not (and can never) appear? " (Žižek, 2012: 868-869).

Hegelian dialectics presupposes the occultation of two ontologies: the hierarchic undialectic with the emergent contradictions in negation of the negation.


"The reason Barad does not take into account this more radical ontological cut lies in her implicit naturalism. Fully versed in Butler's and Foucault's discourse theories, Barad emphaSizes how the apparatuses which provide the frame for agential cuts are not just material, in the immediate sense of being part of nature, but are also Socially conditioned, always reliant on a complex network of social and ideological practices. Her critical point against Butler, Foucault, and other historicist discourse-theorists is that, although they critically reject the Cartesian humanist position, they continue to privilege the human standpoint ..." (Žižek, 2012: 935).

"Barad rejects the notion of reflexivity as a tool for conceiving the inclusion of the observer in the observed content, with the argument that 'reflexivity is founded on representationalism'" (Žižek, 2012: 932 footnote).

"The problem here is the implied continuity of the line leading trom the natural correlation between organism and its environment to the structure of meaning proper to the symbolic order" (Žižek, 2012: 936).

Žižek (2012: 935), critique, "The reason Barad does not take into account this more radical ontological cut lies in her implicit naturalism."


Žižek is making a different moves than Plato's concept-dialectic, or Heidegger's disclosability of 'will'-dialectic. In terms of antenarrative process, there is a series of befores and afters, I would like you and I to understand as re-configuring (in Barad's term).


What does Žižek see in Plato's dialectical process (applied to modern-day slavery?

" Accordingly, apart from the Hegelian Thing, Less Than Nothing also deals with a series of befores (Plato, Christianity, Fichte) and afters (Badiou, Heidegger, quantum physics). Plato's Parmenides deserves a close reading as the first exercise in dialectics proper, celebrated by Hegel and Lacan" (Žižek, 2012: 6).

Plato's dialectic begins with Socratic dialogue, and introducing movement into Ideas, works to collapse definitions of "the big Other, revealing its cracks and inconsistencies" (Žižek, 2012: 48). Žižek (2012: 39) defines Plato's dialectic (rooted also in Parmenides), "the thesis that thre is only Nothing, that all processes take place 'from Nothing through Nothing to Nothing.'" As we saw in our earlier chapter, Plato's dialectic of concept clarification is about divisions of a genus into species should be made at their propoer joints, so that each of the subspecies has its own material positivity. The other way to do this move is by negativity, dividing human beings into Americans and not-Americans. For example immigrants do not fit the form of 'American' and therefore can become modern-day slaves, in coyote slavery practices of debt-contracting (you owe Coyote for your transport, food, lodging, etc.). In positivity, the identity of the immigrant, as Mexican, Guatamalan, Haitian, Dominican, etc. has its dialectic specieis. The coyote way, uses negative pseudospecies (immigrants are 'no-part' of the genus, and those who belong to 'immigrant' stereotype, are not covered. This is a 'contradcition' between what constitutes a Plato genus and its species, and something is embodied in an excessive group, such as 'immigrant' whose consistency is only the purely 'negative'. Žižek (2012: 39) says, this "is what sets a dialectical process in motion", to resolve that contraction, and " the surface of an Event that shines through a unique physical constellation" (Žižek, 2012: 39). Here we get at a profound insight into Plato, its true storytelling, a hidden fiminine material principle in Plato that radically changes our interpreation of Platonic dialectic to something in plain sight:

"One often hears talk of Plato's 'esoteric teaching' which runs counter to his official idealism-the two main candidates are, for New Agers, a Gnostic dualism positing the feminine material principle as a counterpoint to idealism, and, for Leo Strauss, a ruthless and cynical realism, downgrading the theory of Ideas to the status of a 'noble lie: 'What if it is Parmenides that delivers Plato's true teaching-not as something hidden, but in plain view' The trick is to take seriously (literally), as true ontology, what is usually seen as a playful dialectical exercise in following all possible hypotheses ad absurdum. The truth is not hidden behind the logical exercises, it is not the negative-theological message that the ineffable One is beyond the grasp of logic; it is simply that Plato really means what he says" (Žižek, 2012: 49).

In other words, there is a momentum for a shift from epistemico (immigrants as subjective) transforms into ontological challenge (hey, wait a minute, immigrants have material identity in their birthrite in a nation or in whatever nationalization has happended). A 'crack' a 'contradiction' happens in the dialectical process, and is what I call antenarrative. "This 'contradiction' between a genus and its species, embodied in an excessive group whose consistency is purely 'negative' is what sets a dialectical process in motion" (Žižek, 2012: 39). The antenarrative contraction cracks its way, embodied in advance, in the befores (forehaving, in Heidegger, 1962).

"By Heaven, can we be ready to believe that the absolutely real has no share in movement, life, soul or wisdom? That it does not live or think, but in solemn holiness, unpossessed of mind, stands entirely at rest? That would be a dreadful thing to admit.(248e)" (From Plato, as cited in Žižek, 2012: 49-50).

Why does Žižek (2012: 41) return to Platonic dialectics? Plato has an ontological analytic in which the real in this world has ontological structures to discern. Plato (as Badiou claims" has a founding gesture of "materialist dialecics" (nothing but bodies and discourses, "with the exception of truths") (p. 41). So for Badiou, matierlaity is not all there is, because there is another level of incorporeal truths. For Badiou this level of incorporeal truths is an 'immaterial' order of Truth, a transcendent Truth. "Plato's assertion of the meta-physical dimension of 'eternal Ideas'" (Žižek, 2012: 42). The alternative to Plato, "the postmodern universe of 'democratic materialist' historicist relativism, caught in the vicious cycle of the eternal struggle with ;premodern' fundamentalisms" (IBID). Žižek's conclusion is the two forms of materialism, democratic-relativism and Platonic-dialectica-Eternal-Truth, are in conflict in today's world. In other words, social constructivist-relativism (its all discoursive-historicism) is in conflict woth a Platonic-dialectic of Eternal Truth in transcendent level of real.

What does Žižek see in Hegel's dialectical analysis?

Hegel is able to "treat the 'contradictions' not as signs of the limitation of our reason, but as belonging to the 'thing itself'" in the dialectical process as well as the dialectical analysis (Žižek, 2012: 50-51).

"... the point of dialectical analysis is to demonstrate how every phenomenon, everything that happens, fails in its own way, implies a crack, antagonism, imbalance, in its very heart. Hegel's gaze upon reality is that of a Roentgen apparatus which sees in everything that is alive the traces of its future death..." (p. 8).

What does Žižek find most unique in Hegel's dialectical process?

What makes Hegel unique? One of the ways to circumscribe this uniqueness of Hegel is to use the Lacanian notion of the 'lack in the Other' which, in Hegel's case, points towards the unique epistemologico-ontological mediation absent in all three other [German] Idealists: the most elementary figure of dialectical reversal resides in transposing an epistemological obstacle into the thing itself, as its ontological failure (what appears to us as our inability to know the thing indicates a crack in the thing itself, so that our very failure to reach the full truth is the indicator of truth). It is the premise of the present book that this 'fundamental insight' of Hegel has lost none of its power today; that it is far more radical (and a far greater threat to metaphysical thinking) than all the combined anti-totality topics of contingency-alterity-heterogeneity" (Žižek, 2012: 17, bracketed addition, mine).

Alterity means 'otherness'. The otherness in Hegel, is a epistemologico-ontological [dialectical] mediation, a transposing of epistemic obstacle into thing itself, as its ontological failure, actually cracks the thing itself as a failure to reach what in this book we call 'true storytelling.'


In the series of afters, in particular, the last chapter, is a Hegeleian and Lacanian re-read of Barad.

Slavoj ZiZek - How are we embedded in ideology? - Part 1, in Grand Narratives with ideology systemicities? Part 2, Part 3 (known unknowns), Part 4 (implicit rules & explicit ones of ideology), Part 5 (obscene underside of institutions), Part 6 (ideology of protecting the Big Other), Part 7 (learn, learn, learn joke), Part 8 (ideology of charity is lowest of them all; critique of ideology New Age ecology; i.e. harmonious balance systemicity ideology critique for Zizek its not lost eco balance, we are in one eco catastrophe crisis after another and ideology mystifies it). Discuss1, Discuss2, Discuss3 (critique of liberal & fundamentalist ideologies), Discuss4 (critique of Stalinist ideology).


By answering Žižek's Hegelian challenges to Baradian ontology, we can make contributions to organizaiton studies. What is it that he sees in Hegel?


" today's biological language starts to resemble, quite uncannily, the language of Hegel" (Žižek,, p. 910).

citing Barad, "The search for interpretations different from the Copenhagen interpretation very often is motivated by trying to evade its radical consequences, that is, an act of cognitive repression on the part of the proposers:" ; Formulated by Evelyn Fox Keller, this notion of "cognitive repression" refers to the "unwillingness to let go of the basic tenets of classical physics: the objectiVity and knowability of nature:'" (Žižek,, p. 916).

"Although Hegel's context is totally different from that of Bohr (if nothing else, Hegel was writing about the philosophical knowledge of the Absolute, while Bohr was struggling with the epistemological implications of measuring atomic particles), the underlying line of argumentation is strictly homologous: they both reject a position which first posits a gap between the knowing subject and the object-to-be-known, and then deals with the (self-created) problem of how to bridge this gap" (Žižek,, p. 931).


"The exteriority implied by the notion of reflexivity is precisely what Barad calls an "exteriority within:' subjective material practices of intra-acting within and as part of the world,... its basic ontological unit is the phenomenon in which both sides are irreducibly and inextricably entangled: phenomena display "the ontological inseparability of objects and apparatuses:' ... The subjectivist or idealist reading of quantum physics ("the mind creates reality, there is no reality independent of our minds") is thus patently false: the true implication of quantum physics is the opposite, compelling us to conceive how our knowing of reality is included in reality itself The lesson of Bohr is thus not that reality is subjective, but that we-the obserVing subjects-are part of the reality we observe" (Žižek,, p. 931-2).

"The boundary between the ''object of observation" and the agencies of observation" is indeterminate in the sense of the absence of a specific physical arrangement of the apparatus. What constitutes the object of observation and what constitutes the agencies of observation are determinable only on the condition that the measurement apparatus is specified. The apparatus enacts a cut delineating the object from the agencies of observation. Clearly, then, as we have noted, observations do not refer to properties of observation-independent objects (since they don't preexist as such)" (Žižek,, p. 933, citing Barad, 2007: 114).


"intelligibility is an ontological performance of the world in its ongoing articulation. It is not a human-dependent characteristic, but a feature of the world in its differential becoming ... Knowing entails specific practices through which the world is differentially articulated and accounted for. In some instances, "nonhumans" (even beings without brains) emerge as partaking in the world's active engagement in practices of knowing" (Žižek,, p. 936, citing Barad, 2007: 149).

"Barad's radical ontological conclusion is thus that "matter and meaning are mutually articulated" : "Discursive practices are the material conditions for making meaning. In my post humanist account, Ineaning is not a human-based notion; rather, meaning is an ongoing performance of the world in its differential intelligibility:'" (Žižek,, p. 936).



Žižek says, "The problem here is the implied continuity of the line leading trom the natural correlation between organism and its environment to the structure of meaning proper to the symbolic order. In nature, differences make differences: there are agential cuts which establish a difference between the series of "causes" and the series of "effects;' an organism measures its environment and reacts accordingly; nonetheless, what is missing is a short-circuit between the two series of difterences, a mark belonging to the series of "effects" which retroactively inscribes itself into the series of "causes:' Deleuze's nanle for this paradoxical mark is "dark precursor;' a term he introduces in Difference and Repetition: "Thunderbolts explode between different intensities, but they are preceded by an imperceptible dark precursor [precurseur sombre], which determines their path in advance, but in reverse, as though intagliated'" (Žižek, p. 936,citing Deleuze 1993, :119).


"Here we arrive at the crux of the problem: the aim of our critique of Bm'ad's conclusions is not to propose a new version of the classical gap that separates humans hom animals by claiming that the short -circuit which "makes sense" out of nonsense is specifically human. The insight that, in quantum mechanics, we encounter in nature (in, as it were, a lower power/potency) a weird proto-version of what we usually perceive as the speciflcally human symbolic dimension should be maintained; our thesis is that a proto-version of the differential short -circuit ignored by Barad can be found at work in the quantum field. To establish this, we must first repeat the fundamental Hegelian reversal: the problem is not "how can we pass from the classical universe to the universe of quantum waves?" but exactly the opposite-"why and how does the quantum universe itself immanently require the collapse of the wave function, its 'decoherence' into the classical universe?" Why and how is the collapse inherent to the quantum universe? In other words, it is not only that there is no classical reality which is not sustained by fuzzy quantum fluctuations; it is also that there is no quantum universe which is not always already hooked onto some bit of classical reality" (Žižek, p. 936).


"...the collapse of the wave function occupies an anomalous position within quantum mechanics. It is required by the fact that observations occur, but it is not predicted by quantum theory. It is an additional postulate, which must be made in order that quantum mechanics be consistent" Žižek, p. 939, citing Barad, 285)

Žižek's challenge: "Barad ... already concedes too much to classical ontology, since it implies that separated parts somehow interact), that a cut is enacted and the object is fixed as observed... But we should also not read this fact as the result of an empirical disturbance of particles by the process of measurement (it is not that a wave changes into a collection of particles when it is disturbed by photons measuring its path). What changes is the entire phenomenal dispositifwhich enacts a different agential cut, one which allows measur,ing.. In short, each phenomenon encompasses its own ('past" and "future" which are created once the coordinates of this phenomenon are set by an agential cut" Žižek, p. 939-940).

"This is why a mere possibility of measuring suffices: the interference pattern disappears with the mere possibility of distinguishing paths, even in the absence of any empirical measurement, not because individual particles somehow "know" their path is observed, but because the possibility of measuring is transcendentally constitutive of their field of intelligibility" (Žižek, p. 940).



"Barad offers many variations on the motif that "details matter": in every experimental set-up, aIle Inust be very attentive to material details which can lead to enormons differences in the final result (the "butterfly effect"); in other words, the experiment can never be reduced to its abstract-ideal coordinates. However, is not the opposite fact mnch more interesting, namely, that the same global form persists through all the variations of the details? What should surprise us is that this ideal form exerts its own efficacy, that it generates the same material effects" (Žižek, p. 948).