‘Event: Philosophy in Transit / A Philosophical Journey Through a Concept’ by Slavoj Žižek

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An event can be an occurrence that shatters ordinary life, a radical political rupture, a transformation of reality, a religious belief, the rise of a new art form, or an intense experience such as falling in love.

Taking us on a trip that stops at different definitions of event, Žižek addresses fundamental questions such as: are all things connected? How much are we agents of our own fates? Which conditions must be met for us to perceive something as really existing? In a world that’s constantly changing, is anything new really happening? Drawing on references from Plato to arthouse cinema, the Big Bang to Buddhism, Event is a journey into philosophy at its most exciting and elementary.

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Agatha Christie’s 4.50 from Paddington opens on a train from Scotland to London where Elspeth McGillicudy, on a way to visit her old friend Jane Marple, sees a woman strangled in a compartment of a passing train (the 4.50 from Paddington). It all happens very fast and in a blurred vision, so the police don’t take Elspeth’s report seriously as there is no evidence of wrongdoing; only Miss Marple believes her story and starts to investigate… This is an event at its purest and minimal: something shocking that happens all of a sudden and interrupts the usual flow of things; something that appears out of nowhere, without discernible causes, and whose ontological status is unclear – an appearance without solid being as its foundation. In Christie’s novel, the role of Miss Marple is precisely to de-eventalize the event, to explain it away as an occurrence which fits the coordinates of our normal reality.

A subject for which there is not yet an agreed-upon definition within philosophy, Slavoj Žižek explores the terrain of this contestable term in a series of short chapters that examine everything from the event as political revolution and the rise of a new art form to the event as religious belief and falling in love. Event is a mind-blowing, thrilling, accessible book from arguably our greatest living cultural theorist and philosopher.