Slavoj Zizek, 59, was born in Ljubljana, Slovenia. He is a professor at the European Graduate School, international director of the Birkbeck Institute for Humanities in London and a senior researcher at the University of Ljubljana’s institute of sociology. He has written more than 30 books on subjects as diverse as Hitchcock, Lenin and 9/11, and also presented the TV series The Pervert’s Guide To Cinema.
When were you happiest?
A few times when I looked forward to a happy moment or remembered it – never when it was happening.
What is your greatest fear?
To awaken after death – that’s why I want to be burned immediately.
What is your earliest memory?
My mother naked. Disgusting.
Which living person do you most admire, and why?
Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the twice-deposed president of Haiti. He is a model of what can be done for the people even in a desperate situation.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
Indifference to the plights of others.
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Their sleazy readiness to offer me help when I don’t need or want it.
What was your most embarrassing moment?
Standing naked in front of a woman before making love.
Aside from a property, what’s the most expensive thing you’ve bought?
The new German edition of the collected works of Hegel.
What is your most treasured possession?
See the previous answer.
What makes you depressed?
Seeing stupid people happy.
What do you most dislike about your appearance?
That it makes me appear the way I really am.
What is your most unappealing habit?
The ridiculously excessive tics of my hands while I talk.
What would be your fancy dress costume of choice?
A mask of myself on my face, so people would think I am not myself but someone pretending to be me.
What is your guiltiest pleasure?
Watching embarrassingly pathetic movies such as The Sound Of Music.
What do you owe your parents?
Nothing, I hope. I didn’t spend a minute bemoaning their death.
To whom would you most like to say sorry, and why?
To my sons, for not being a good enough father.
What does love feel like?
Like a great misfortune, a monstrous parasite, a permanent state of emergency that ruins all small pleasures.
What or who is the love of your life?
Philosophy. I secretly think reality exists so we can speculate about it.
What is your favourite smell?
Nature in decay, like rotten trees.
Have you ever said ‘I love you’ and not meant it?
All the time. When I really love someone, I can only show it by making aggressive and bad-taste remarks.
Which living person do you most despise, and why?
Medical doctors who assist torturers.
What is the worst job you’ve done?
Teaching. I hate students, they are (as all people) mostly stupid and boring.
What has been your biggest disappointment?
What Alain Badiou calls the ‘obscure disaster’ of the 20th century: the catastrophic failure of communism.
If you could edit your past, what would you change?
My birth. I agree with Sophocles: the greatest luck is not to have been born – but, as the joke goes on, very few people succeed in it.
If you could go back in time, where would you go?
To Germany in the early 19th century, to follow a university course by Hegel.
How do you relax?
Listening again and again to Wagner.
How often do you have sex?
It depends what one means by sex. If it’s the usual masturbation with a living partner, I try not to have it at all.
What is the closest you’ve come to death?
When I had a mild heart attack. I started to hate my body: it refused to do its duty to serve me blindly.
What single thing would improve the quality of your life?
To avoid senility.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
The chapters where I develop what I think is a good interpretation of Hegel.
What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
That life is a stupid, meaningless thing that has nothing to teach you.
Tell us a secret.
Communism will win.