Rasmussen: I want to return to your earlier allusion to Kierkegaard. When I read The Puppet and the Dwarf, I was struck by your appeals to a sort of passionate commitment. For example, when you ask, “What if we are `really alive’ only if and when we engage ourselves with an excessive intensity which puts us beyond `mere life?” (94) you seem to be advocating a sort of Kierkegaardian passionate commitment. 13 For Kierkegaard, of course, this commitment entailed developing one’s relationship with God, and he stressed that such an inward, existential, relationship should not and could not be externally visible to others. As Derrida stresses, the gift must remain secret.
Žižek: It’s very complex with Kierkegaard. It’s inward, but this inwardness is externalized in that it’s a traumatic inwardness. People usually only take one side of Kierkegaard - that he’s against Christendom as institution. Yes, but, at the same time, Kierkegaard was the most ferocious opponent of liberal Christianity, which asserted that external institutions don’t matter and that what matters is the sincerity of one’s inner belief. Let’s take the ultimate case, Abraham. His faith is inner in that he’s unable to communicate his predicament, that he must sacrifice Isaac, his son. He cannot turn to the community to explain why he must do it. At the same time, it’s a totally crazy order that Abraham must obey. It’s not that Abraham in his insight knows why he must kill his son. It’s not a New Age narrative; it’s not an inner enlightenment. With Kierkegaard, things are more ambiguous. If you read Kierkegaard’s most wonderful, enigmatic text, Works of Love (I don’t like big Kierkegaard, Either/Or) you find the wonderful formula - that to love your neighbor means you must love him as you love death; a good neighbor is a dead neighbor, and all these paradoxes. Or, that wonderful short text on the difference between an apostle and a genius, in which he has wonderful formulas on authority. If there is anything totally strange to Kierkegaard it is this simple opposition - external, institutional authority versus inner.
Here, Kierkegaard is effectively close to Kafka. For Kafka, bureaucracy is an innermost, metaphysical phenomenon, and I tend to agree with him. This is the theological dimension today. A year ago, the wife of a friend of mine, living in France, was informed by the local authorities that her carte d’identit», her ID card, was stolen. So, she went to the authorities and told them, “I have my card here; it hasn’t been stolen. There’s been a mistake.” The authorities told her that, “You may have it there, but officially, it’s stolen. So, what you have there, is officially a fake, a forged ID card. You should destroy it and then request a new one.” This is, for me, everyday life theology, metaphysics.
from Liberation Hurts: An Interview with Slavoj Žižek