When we fall in love, the effect exceeds the cause. Falling in love with someone completely changes how the subject views every aspect of their object of love. This is the basic insight of the philosophy of the Event from the profoundly profane Slovenian thinker Slavoj Žižek: “something shocking…out from nowhere” or an “effect which exceeds its cause.”
In his book Event: A Philosophical Journey Through a Concept, Žižek returns several times to Lars von Trier’s film Melancholia (2011). In the Danish director’s film, Justine (Kristen Dunst) realizes the apocalypse is coming when she looks through a telescope and sees an asteroid heading for the planet. The moment of apocalyptic destruction isn’t the Event but the moment she realizes the pending doom. The encounter with the Event fundamentally changes the subject, Justine. She can no longer interact the same way with the world. Her interactions with the world are essentially different after this moment. Žižek comments, “a new subject emerges which survives the death (erasure) of its symbolic identity.” The Event creates a new subject, a new person.
2022 is the Year of the Event. Day after day, week after week, the Western news cycle seems to find or manufacture a new Event: surpassing 6.28 million Covid deaths worldwide, the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation, and the targeted killing of Shireen Abu Akleh. Not all Events are of geopolitical nature, to be sure, though they are the easiest to identify. They are sudden interventions in the flow of present reality.
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