11 Jun 2012, 7:09am


Quitting Smoking with Slavoj Zizek

From my quit smoking notebook, 6/6/12

Quit again today and on my way to work, instead of smoking, I’ve stopped of at Peet’s with the big Hegel book in tow. When the barista who gave me a latte saw my book he called for his colleague who turned out to be a Zizek fan and clone. Zizek’s clone looks as Zizek would if he were a 20 something and had the long thick, and black hair of a Pacific NW coffeehouse hipster. This Zizek clone was excited to see the big book. I tell him I do a podcast about philosophy and give him my business card. These business cards are Klout perks and feature pictures from my Facebook wall. Each card is different and this one features a picture of Quality Pie circa 1992. A UFO has been photoshopped in, and hovers over the QP sign.

Peet’s coffee, with its pseudo-Navajo decor, is the perfect setting for a nonsmoker writing a blog entry with pen and paper.

A preppy girl in a rainbow sweater is sitting on a tall chair across the room from me. She’s in front of a framed dark brown blanket and she’s looking at her smartphone and typing away on it, texting. In the time that it takes me to write down that she’s there she disappears. She’s left while my head was down. Her tight sweater was what made her noteworthy, but that’s not to say that the girl was particularly busty. She appeared quite practical and clean, and gave the impression that to know her would mean that one was someone after all.

Peet’s coffee reminds me of the clean and well lit spaces inside the Palmer mansion or the Alice Bemus Taylor Art museum restaurant. Of course, my longing for a sophisticated and realized adulthood are rooted in my childhood. I’m 41 and quitting smoking is setting me hunting for another way out of these old childhood spaces, or another way to fit myself into the world as I find it.

Zizek says: Democritus’ den is not nothing without ‘no,’ not a thing but an othing, a something but still within the domain of nothing, like an ontological living dead, a spectral nothing appearing as something.
After drinking my latte I want a cigarette, but I don’t have one. What I really want is this desire for a cigarette and I can have my fill.

Quitting smoking is like quitting death. Without death life destroys you. But good luck, as a smoker myself I can vouch that I feel like death warmed over right now, but then again, as a writer tobacco is like that best friend who gives you all your great ideas even as he steals your typewriter to buy crack.

11 Jun 2012, 7:32pm
by douglaslain


Erich: What I’m trying to do is redirect death, to move nothing over into a new space. Wish me luck with it. Boy I’d like a smoke because that would be easier I think. (although, honestly, cigarettes aren’t really enjoyable, they just seem necessary)


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