Zizek, For they know not what they do, page xxix:
And is not this shift [from religion to atheism] also the shift from Kant to Hegel? From tension between phenomena and Thing to an inconsistency/gap between phenomena themselves? The standard notion of reality is that of a hard kernel which resists the conceptual grasp; what Hegel does is simply to take this notion of reality more literally: non-conceptual reality is something which emerges when notional self-development gets caught in an inconsistency, and becomes non-transparent to itself. In short, the limit is transposed from exterior to interior: there is Reality because, and in so far as, the Notion is inconsistent, does not coincide with itself....[Zizek's elipses] In short, the multiple perspectival inconsistencies between phenomena are not an effect of the impact of the transcendent Thing -- on the contrary, the Thing is nothing but the ontologization of the inconsistency between phenomena.
A thesis: Zizek is J.G. Fichte. This is easy to miss; Zizek isn't Kant, but he looks kinda like Kant, so he must (by process of elimination) be Hegel. Except he's Fichte.
Does not the striving of Fichte's Ego begin because of the non-identity between the Ego and the Non-Ego (though both are posits of the Ego)? Is the Ego's striving not endless because of the "shock" (Anstoss) which is the occasion (not the cause!) for the Ego's self-positing both of itself and of its other? Is the "shock" not denied to be an object of any sort, either phenomenal or noumenal? Is not the very act of the double-positing of Ego and Non-Ego unintelligible without the "shock"? Would the Ego not cease to posit both Ego and Non-Ego if not for the "shock", and thus itself cease to exist? Is Fichte's idealism not explicitly engineered to avoid the problem of positing a "thing in itself" as the unknowable cause of the Ego's representations? Does Fichte not fail at this, in part because of his demand for endless striving to (impossibly) reconcile the empirical and transcendental Egos? Is Fichte not the definitive philosopher of the Twosome? Is Hegel not a trenchant critic of Fichte's residual "thing-in-itself", the shock?
Initially, the principle that thinking determines itself from within was established in a merely formal way in the Kantian philosophy; Kant did not demonstrate the manner and extent of this self-determination of thinking. On the contrary, it was Fichte who recognized this defect; and when he made his demand for a deduction of the categories, he also tried at the same time to furnish an actual deduction too. Fichte's philosophy makes the Ego the starting point for the development of philosophical thinking; and the categories are supposed to result from its activity. But the Ego does not genuinely appear as free, spontaneous activity here, since it is regarded as having been aroused only by a shock from outside; the Ego is then supposed to react to this shock, and to achieve consciousness of itself through this reaction.And now I will stop with the rhetorical questions. Back to the passage in question. Zizek thinks Hegel sees a "gap" between phenomena themselves ("between a thing and its place"), and that this is analogous to Kant's ding-an-sich (and identical to Lacan's Real --"the Real is a grimace of reality"). This is not a bad way to characterize Fichte's position -- phenomenal objects are not "really" things in themselves, nor are they "grounded" in things in themselves; they appear to be, and are, representations. And yet just because they are representations they are always already transcendentally ideal; they are the Ego's posits, and a reminder that the Ego is not as it ought to be, has not realized its identity with the Non-Ego, has not rendered all reality as its autonomous product. Fichte's position is not Hegel's; Hegel repeatedly lambastes Kant and Fichte for their notion of an "endless striving" by which moral progress might be made (and yet is never made, for there is always endless striving remaining). Hegel himself has no truck with the notion; reconciliation is, for Hegel, something which is possible here-and-now, in the experience of forgiveness by and reconciliation into one's community. Hegel does not replace one conflict with another, but replaces a conflict with an atonement.
On this view, the nature of the shock remains something outside of cognition, and the Ego is always something conditioned which is confronted by an other. So, in this way Fichte, too, comes to a halt at Kant's conclusion that there is cognition only of the finite, and the infinite transcends thinking. What Kant calls "the thing-in-itself" is for Fichte the shock from outside, this abstraction of something other than the Ego, which has no determination other than that it is negative; it is the Non-Ego in general. So the Ego is regarded as standing in relation to the Non-Ego. It is only the Non-Ego that arouses its self-determining activity, and it does this in such a way that the Ego is only the continuous activity of self-liberation from the shock. But it never achieves actual liberation, since the cessation of the shock would mean the cessation of the Ego, whose being is simply its activity. Moreover, the content that the activity of the Ego brings forth is nothing else but the usual content of experience, with the added proviso that this content is merely appearance. (Encyclopedia Logic, §60, Addition 2.)
For Hegel, "non-conceptual reality" would be a square circle. Nature itself is a moment of the self-development of the Idea, as is Spirit, as is "God as He is in Eternity". Hegel does not maintain the idea of a "reality which escapes the Concept" in a queer fashion, but jettisons it entirely, as a confusion. The Thing-in-itself which would escape our concepts "is already something subjectively thought", and therefore Kant's restriction of knowledge to "appearances" as opposed to "things in themselves" was straightforwardly wrong. It was not a deep insight, nor does not find its proper fulfillment in Hegel's system; it was an error which Kant didn't catch, and Hegel abandons it to the rubbish bin. To maintain a role for a "Thing" is to fail to advance to an Hegelian position.
"In short, the multiple perspectival inconsistencies between phenomena are not an effect of the impact of the transcendent Thing -- on the contrary, the Thing is nothing but the ontologization of the inconsistency between phenomena." On the contrary, the in-itself is nothing but the phenomena themselves as they appear; the shining-forth of Essence in Appearance is the self-development of the Concept; the object of knowledge is the object as it is in its truth. The duckrabbit isn't something between the duck and the rabbit; the duckrabbit drawing is what appears as a duck, and it is also what appears as a rabbit. That one stays stuck fast on a contradiction, on an inconsistency, shows that one has not moved on from the standpoint of the Understanding; Reason knows the conflicts of the Understanding as aufgehoben.
And now to read the next 200 pages or so of the book. Or at least finish the introduction. Really, this post was an excuse to remind people that Fichte exists. He is easy to forget about! Zizek doesn't mention him at all in For they know not what they do, if the index is to be trusted. (Kant, Schelling, and Hegel all get repeated mentions. Poor Fichte! I thought "The Vocation of Man" was a fun read, at least. And short! God bless ye, Fichte, for being one of the few German Idealists who could write worth a fig.)