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In an old joke from the defunct German Democratic Republic, a German worker gets a job in Siberia; aware of how all mail will be read by censors, he tells his friends: “Let’s establish a code: if a letter you will get from me is written in ordinary blue ink, it is true; if it is written in red ink, it is false.” After a month, his friends get the first letter, written in blue ink: “Everything is wonderful here: stores are full, food is abundant, apartments are large and properly heated, movie theaters show films from the West, there are many beautiful girls ready for an affair - the only thing unavailable is red ink.”

And is this not our situation till now? We have all the freedoms one wants - the only thing missing is the “red ink”: we “feel free” because we lack the very language to articulate our unfreedom. What this lack of red ink means is that, today, all the main terms we use to designate the present conflict - “war on terror,” “democracy and freedom,” “human rights,” etc. - are false terms, mystifying our perception of the situation instead of allowing us to think it. The task today is to give the protestors red ink. (95)


Žižek, Slavoj.  Žižek's jokes: (did you hear the one about Hegel and negation?).  Ed. Audun Mortensen.  The MIT Press. 2014. 

See Also

Lexicon Entries

Diplomatic Situation; Discourse; Efficacious Transference; If Photography Tends to the Literary; Parrhesia; Quest for the Invariant; Reflective Understanding; Relations of Power; Semiotics; Socratic Midwifery; The 'Claro, Pero' Paradox; The Act of Naming; The Central Attitude; The Intention to Speak; The Lesson Reduction Teaches; The Most Blameworthy Ignorance; The Notion of Liberation; The Philosopher; The Place I Have Come To; The Public; This Permanent Dissonance; A Fundamental Quality of an Act; The Most Basic Sphere of Concern is Schooling; Standing Toe to Toe 

Works and Days



pdf CPE : Signifier, Signified (94 KB)  

pdf Mariu Palacios (Len Luterbach), Lima Peru (43 KB)



Tags: slavoj žižek

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