Who gate-keeps the gate-keepers?

Zizek has an article up about Islam over at ABC Religion and Ethics, which is obviously one of the Official News Sources of AUFS. It makes some interesting points, but I was disappointed to see an obvious error:

But let me now move to a further key distinction between Judaism (along with its Christian continuation) and Islam. As is apparent from the account of Abraham’s two sons, Judaism chooses Abraham as the symbolic father; Islam, on the contrary, opts for the lineage of Hagar, for Abraham as the biological father, thereby maintaining the distance between “the father” and God, and retaining God in the domain of the un-symbolisable.

It is nonetheless significant that both Judaism and Islam repress their founding gestures. According to Freud’s hypothesis, repression in Judaism stems from the fact that Abraham was not a Jew at all, but an Egyptian – it is thus the founding paternal figure, the one who brings revelation and establishes the covenant with God, that has to come from the outside.

Emphasis mine. Given that Freud’s book is entitled Moses and Monotheism, it seems hard to explain how this error could have arisen — aside from an over-hasty desire to draw a neat parallel between Judaism and Islam. Such over-hastiness is all too common in Zizek’s writing, leaving him vulnerable to perpetual petty sniping from his critics.

Certainly we can all agree that Zizek should be more careful. What I’d like to focus on here, however, is the issue of editing. When I submit an article to a publication, I generally get some kind of feedback in the form of corrections or suggested changes — as far as I understand, this is considered standard practice. Now ABC Religion and Ethics has an editor who is theologically educated. It seems that it was his responsibility to notice the error and insist that Zizek correct it, perhaps providing advice for how he could make his basic point in a more accurate way. In short, he should be doing more than simply copying and pasting the article from Zizek’s e-mail to the web publishing system.

If editors continue to publish Zizek’s sloppy first drafts, then we will never get anything but Zizek’s sloppy first drafts. If they don’t, you know, edit anything, it’s hard to understand what value an editor adds.

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6 Responses to “Who gate-keeps the gate-keepers?”

  1. Jeremy Says:

    This really quite pathetic, especially considering that Zizek refers to Moses (not Abraham) multiple times in The Fragile Absolute.

  2. Adam Kotsko Says:

    He refers to Freud’s bold gesture in Moses and Monotheism at many, many points throughout his oeuvre.

  3. Jeremy Says:

    So was this a slip-of-the-pen?

    Perhaps the biggest shame is that the editors at ABC religion aren’t familiar with Freud’s Moses.

  4. Adam Kotsko Says:

    I think it was just an over-hasty attempt to make a neat parallel. I’m sure that if an editor had pointed out the error, he would’ve changed it. (I’ve e-mailed him a couple times about little issues like this, and he’s always very receptive.)

  5. zjb Says:

    why do you think it’s just the drafts that are sloppy? the sloppiness is systemic, i think.

  6. Adam Kotsko Says:

    We can never know for sure until editors start pushing back.


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