Hope and Shamelessness

It is a common error to assume that shamelessness is the absence of shame. The shameless person is anything but indifferent to the prospects of being compromised in public; it is rather a source of immense pleasure. The proper antonym of shame is not shamelessness but innocence. It is another common error to identify innocence with children; some adults are forever childlike (which is not the same as childish). This can be either charming or alarming, depending on the stakes.

We believe Slavoj Žižek would take it as a compliment if we pronounce his characteristically slapped-together and often half-baked “book” on the pandemic shameless. He himself uses this word only twice in Pandemic! but in strategic locations. In the beginning of the book, he “shamelessly but gratefully” quotes a lengthy passage from Wikipedia. On the very last page, he “shamelessly” calls a friend’s report from quarantine a description of “non-alienated, decent life.” Whether it is the scandal of using internet content as a source, or the provocation of finding Marxian liberation in the least likely places, Žižek is clearly having fun.

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