.

After giving one of the more impressive papers at the event, Žižek attempted to get the audience as a whole to put their mouths where their money was (the conference fee was £100 for the employed) and join together in a rendition of a song whose title, he said, had more than ten letters, started with an “I” and ended with an “E.” He wanted us to sing, in short, the “Internationale.” The idea, as I saw it, was refreshing, designed to remind everyone that this was more than simply an academic conference, and that we were more than simply academics. Still, while a few diehards in the audience snapped out of their seats, most of us, myself included, looked to our neighbors a bit nervously. Did we even know the words? Would we sing it in English or French? Was he kidding? But just at the crucial moment, just as we began, ever so sheepishly, to rise to our feet, Costas Douzinas, director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, grabbed the microphone away to say that time was up, we absolutely had to leave now, the conference was over and that, comrades, was that.

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