on June 24, 1998
For those who enjoy the challenge of reading high theory but are put off by the dry, abstract, pretentious ramblings that more often than not constitute theoretical writing, Zizek is the theorist for you. Is there another theorist alive who can on one page explicate the finer points of Lacan, Hegel and Kant, while on the next page tie it all in with the three most popular female pubic hair styles, homosexual ; and subtle distinctions among toilet designs in Germany, France, and the United States? Perhaps. But Zizek makes these seemingly awkward transitions and uncommon examples quite smoothly; the outrageous examples aren't forced, nor are they merely for "shock" value. In short, they work to clarify the difficult concepts he is discussing. Although Zizek is not what I'd call an easy read - not by a long shot - he certainly knows how to make a challenge a bit less stressful and - gasp! - fun. END
on February 17, 2003
Zizek's claim to fame is his rapacious wit, keen insights, and his profound, hilarious and shocking use of anecdotes. Here, Zizek focuses on the relation between fantasy and desire, and the latter he sees as rooted fully in the former. Fantasy, he argues, is the foundation for political and social action. As a Marxist, he makes an interesting some interesting arguments along a line that is seemingly contradictory to his ideological convictions employing Lacan heavily but also drawing upon and offering some interesting interpretations of Hegel. He ends the book with insights on how the digitization of our universe--overly fantasized--as alienated us from our corporeality. This he views negatively as a plague--finally suggesting that the task of critical theory is the inverse of the traditional one starting with concrete social reality and then moving to abstract notions. Rather, the pseudo-concrete and virtual which now structure our lives must be debunked. His writing is erratic but intrepid and certainly worth the effort.