Slavoj Žižek Daily Routine

We sleep ’til one, then we go to breakfast, then we go to the city – no culture, just consumerism or some stupid things like this – then we go back for dinner, then we go to a movie theatre, then we play games ’til three in the morning.”

Slavoj Žižek at his home in Lubljana.

I have to laugh at this, because Žižek brings up his sex life within moments of our first meeting. On the way up in the lift he volunteers that a former girlfriend used to ask him for what he called “consensual rape”. I had imagined he would want to discuss his new book about Hegel, but what he really seems keen to talk about is sex.

“Yeah, because I’m extremely romantic here. You know what is my fear? This postmodern, permissive, pragmatic etiquette towards sex. It’s horrible. They claim sex is healthy; it’s good for the heart, for blood circulation, it relaxes you. They even go into how kissing is also good because it develops the muscles here – this is horrible, my God!” He’s appalled by the promise of dating agencies to “outsource” the risk of romance. “It’s no longer that absolute passion. I like this idea of sex as part of love, you know: ‘I’m ready to sell my mother into slavery just to fuck you for ever.’ There is something nice, transcendent, about it. I remain incurably romantic.”

I keep thinking I should try to intervene with a question, but he’s off again. “I have strange limits. I am very – OK, another detail, fuck it. I was never able to do – even if a woman wanted it – annal sex.” Annal sex? “Ah, anal sex. You know why not? Because I couldn’t convince myself that she really likes it. I always had this suspicion, what if she only pretends, to make herself more attractive to me? It’s the same thing for fellatio; I was never able to finish into the woman’s mouth, because again, my idea is, this is not exactly the most tasteful fluid. What if she’s only pretending?”

He can count the number of women he has slept with on his hands, because he finds the whole business so nerve-racking. “I cannot have one-night stands. I envy people who can do it; it would be wonderful. I feel nice, let’s go, bang-bang – yes! But for me, it’s something so ridiculously intimate – like, my God, it’s horrible to be naked in front of another person, you know? If the other one is evil with a remark – ‘Ha ha, your stomach,’ or whatever – everything can be ruined, you know?” Besides, he can’t sleep with anyone unless he believes they might stay together for ever. “All my relationships – this is why they are very few – were damned from the perspective of eternity. What I mean with this clumsy term is, maybe they will last.”

But Žižek has been divorced three times. How has he coped with that? “Ah, now I will tell you. You know the young Marx – I don’t idealise Marx, he was a nasty guy, personally – but he has a wonderful logic. He says: ‘You don’t simply dissolve marriage; divorce means that you retroactively establish that the love was not the true love.’ When love goes away, you retroactively establish that it wasn’t even true love.” Is that what he did? “Yes! I erase it totally. I don’t only believe that I’m no longer in love. I believe I never was.”

As if to illustrate this, he glances at his watch; his 12-year-old son, who lives nearby, will be arriving shortly. How is this going to work when he gets here? Don’t worry, Žižek says, he’s bound to be late – on account of the tardiness of his mother: “The bitch who claims to have been my wife.” But weren’t they married? “Unfortunately, yes.”

Žižek has two sons – the other is in his 30s – but never wanted to be a parent. “I will tell you the formula why I love my two sons. This is my liberal, compassionate side. I cannot resist it, when I see someone hurt, vulnerable and so on. So precisely when the son was not fully wanted, this made me want to love him even more.”

By now I can see we’re not going to get anywhere near Žižek’s new book about Hegel, Less Than Nothing: Hegel and the Shadow of Dialectical Materialism. Instead, he tells me about the holidays he takes with his young son. The last one was to the Burj Al Arab hotel, a grotesque temple to tacky ostentation in Dubai. “Why not? Why not? I like to do crazy things. But I did my Marxist duty. I got friendly with the Pakistani taxi driver who showed to me and my son reality. The whole structure of how the workers there live was explained, how it was controlled. My son was horrified.” This summer they are off to Singapore, to an artificial island with swimming pools built on top of 50-storey skyscrapers. “So we can swim there and look down on the city: ‘Ha ha, fuck you.’ That’s what I like to do – totally crazy things.” It wasn’t so much fun when his son was younger. “But now, we have a certain rhythm established. We sleep ’til one, then we go to breakfast, then we go to the city – no culture, just consumerism or some stupid things like this – then we go back for dinner, then we go to a movie theatre, then we play games ’til three in the morning.”