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‘There are more of you than there are of us’: Forced Entertainment and the Critique of the Neoliberal Subject

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Abstract

There are striking similarities between some of the work produced by Sheffield based performance ensemble Forced Entertainment and the revolutionary theories of Slavoj Žižek. On the surface this comparison may seem unlikely and unsupported by the two jokes below, which appear, at first glance, to be aiming for entirely different effects. The first, revolving around the anti-Semitic stereotype of the greedy Jew, is expansive and incident driven in the tradition of the shaggy dog story, with Žižek drawing the listener in to circular incidents leading exactly nowhere.

At the beginning of this century, a Pole and a Jew were sitting in a train, facing each other. The Pole was shifting nervously, watching the Jew all the time, something was irritating him; finally, unable to restrain himself any longer, he exploded: ‘Tell me, how do you Jews succeed in extracting from people the last small coin and in this way accumulate all your wealth?’ The Jew replied: ‘Ok, I will tell you, but not for nothing; first, you give me five zloty [Polish money].’ After receiving the required amount, the Jew began: ‘First, you take a dead fish; you cut off her head and put her entrails in a glass of water. Then around midnight, when the moon is full, you must bury this glass in a churchyard ….’ ‘And’, the Pole interrupted him greedily, ‘if I do all this, will I also become rich?’

Keywords

  • Individual Freedom
  • Direct Address
  • Plural Pronoun
  • Circular Incident
  • Symbolic Identification

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. Slavoj Žižek, The Sublime Object of Ideology (London: Verso, 2008), 68.

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  2. Slavoj Žižek, Less than Nothing: Hegel and the Shadow of Dialectical Materialism (London: Verso, 2010), 686.

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  3. Slavoj Žižek, Living in the End Times (London: Verso, 2010), 136.

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  4. David Harvey, A Brief History of Neoliberalism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), 5.

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  5. Elizabeth Wright, Postmodern Brecht: A Representation (London: Routledge, 1989), 39.

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  6. Žižek, For They Know Not What They Do (London: Verso, 2008), 171.

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  7. Michael Stanley, Andrew Wilson and Tim Etchells, Elizabeth Magill: Exhibition Catalogue (Birmingham: Ikon Gallery, 2004), 48.

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  8. Slavoj Žižek, How to Read Lacan (London: Granta Books, 2011), Kindle edition.

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  9. Tim Etchells, ‘“Confess to Everything”: A Note on Speak Bitterness (2008) and Speak Bitterness (1994–)’ In Maggie B. Gale, and John F. Deeney, The Routledge Drama Anthology and Sourcebook: From Modernism to Contemporary Performance (Oxon: Routledge, 2010), 741, 735.

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  10. Slavoj Žižek, Interrogating the Real (London: Continuum, 2006), 131.

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  11. Slavoj Žižek, The Metastases of Enjoyment 2nd edition (London: Verso, 2005), 60–61.

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  12. Sophie Calle, Exquisite Pain (London: Thames and Hudson, 2004).

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  13. Slavoj Žižek, First as Tragedy, then as Farce (London: Verso, 2009), 61.

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© 2014 Linda Taylor

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Taylor, L. (2014). ‘There are more of you than there are of us’: Forced Entertainment and the Critique of the Neoliberal Subject. In: Chow, B., Mangold, A. (eds) Žižek and Performance. Performance Philosophy. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137403193_9

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