David Schmid nominates Slavoj Žižek for Secretary of Culture.
Dear President-Elect Obama,
In the past few months, you’ve received a lot of advice, and doubtless you’ll receive a lot more in the months and years to come. Let me improve the ratio of useful to useless advice by recommending that you appoint Slavoj Žižek as the USA’s first ever Secretary of Culture.
Apart from dramatically improving America’s reputation with the rest of the world, this appointment has several other advantages, some of which are so obvious that they barely need commenting upon. Can’t sleep at night? Go down to the White House kitchen for milk and cookies and you’ll probably find Žižek at the table, writing and ready to talk about anything—and I do mean anything. Faced with someone asking you how your administration differs from previous administrations? Simply point out that Žižek is a member of your cabinet, and even the most hostile questioner will lapse into stunned, chastened silence.
In the remainder of this letter, however, I want to draw your attention to some other, less obvious benefits that come from Žižek’s presence in your administration, all of which have to do with his value as a symptom. A symptom of what, you ask? Of your desire to keep thinking, a desire that you will understandably feel a need to repress as soon as your inauguration is completed. Don’t get me wrong. You are obviously a thoughtful person, especially compared to the members of the House of Bush, where thought has been at its lowest ebb for many years. But the Presidency has been construed as the place of action par excellence, and sometimes you will instead need to follow Zizek’s advice: “Faced with a disaster over which we have no real influence, people will often say, stupidly, ‘Don’t just talk, do something!’ Perhaps, lately, we have been doing too much. Maybe it is time to step back, think and say the right thing.”