Vice Meets Up with Superstar Communist Cultural Theorist Slavoj Žižek

I can pop open a copy of Slavoj Žižek’s Inter­ro­gat­ing the Real to a ran­dom page and I am sud­den­ly ping-pong­ing from cri­tique of Kant, to a high-five for the “vul­gar sen­ti­men­tal” lit­er­ary kitsch of today, to “the tra­di­tion of amour cour­tois,” to “a com­plete­ly unread­able” nov­el called Inde­cent Obses­sion, all with­in the space of four sen­tences. I may not have any earth­ly idea what to make of this con­nect-the-dots, but I want to know what it means. I can look over at the shelf and see on it a vol­ume called The Mon­stros­i­ty of Christ, a respect­ful yet tena­cious dia­logue-slash-debate on Chris­tian­i­ty between dialec­ti­cal mate­ri­al­ist Žižek and “rad­i­cal ortho­dox” the­olo­gian John Mil­bank. Just in this casu­al, cur­so­ry glance, I might con­clude: this is no cranky vil­lage athe­ist (or Marx­ist as the case may be). This is a psy­cho­an­a­lyt­ic Marx­ist the­o­rist of breadth. And I haven’t even touched on his exten­sive engage­ment with Hol­ly­wood film.

It is this mag­nan­i­mous, play­ful, and hyper-engaged side of Žižek—that and his unflag­ging sense of humor and high­ly vis­i­ble pub­lic persona—that makes him seem approach­able. Even if, as the inter­view­er in the Vice encounter with Žižek above says, “most of [his books] remain impen­e­tra­ble” to many read­ers, he is undoubt­ed­ly “the most broad­ly pop­u­lar anti-cap­i­tal­ist philoso­pher work­ing today.” The occa­sion for the inter­view: a 2012 doc­u­men­tary film star­ring Žižek called The Pervert’s Guide to Ide­ol­o­gywhich opens Novem­ber 1st in the U.S.. Direct­ed by Sophie Fiennes and a fol­low-up to 2006’s The Pervert’s Guide to Cin­e­ma, the film has Žižek deploy his rapid-fire ref­er­enc­ing abil­i­ty to “explain why the bulk of us remain enslaved to cap­i­tal­ist pow­er struc­tures.” His mate­r­i­al, as with The Pervert’s Guide to Cin­e­ma, is once again clas­sic Hol­ly­wood films like Full Met­al Jack­et, The Searchers, Taxi Dri­ver, The Sound of Music, and The Last Temp­ta­tion of Christ. Žižek even takes on such recent, less clas­sic, block­busters as I Am Leg­end and The Dark Knight. (Some­thing cov­ered in our recent post.) In the inter­view above, staged in Žižek’s cozy Sloven­ian flat, see the philoso­pher in typ­i­cal­ly ani­mat­ed style poke fun at him­self as he dis­cuss­es the newest film’s inten­tions, expands on his rev­o­lu­tion­ary analy­ses, and ges­tures mani­a­cal­ly about the apart­ment while offer­ing his guest a “f*cking fruit juice.”

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Slavoj Žižek’s Pervert’s Guide to Ide­ol­o­gy Decodes The Dark Knight and They Live

Philoso­pher Slavoj Zizek Inter­prets Hitchcock’s Ver­ti­go in The Pervert’s Guide to Cin­e­ma (2006)

A Shirt­less Slavoj Žižek Explains the Pur­pose of Phi­los­o­phy from the Com­fort of His Bed

Žižek!: 2005 Doc­u­men­tary Reveals the “Aca­d­e­m­ic Rock Star” and “Mon­ster” of a Man

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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Comments (6)
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  • Christopher Taylor says:

    I refer you to Sokal and Bric­mon­t’s “Fash­ion­able Non­sense”. That is all.

    • Josh Jones says:

      I’m com­plete­ly famil­iar with their work, but thanks!

    • shayneo says:

      Not even remote­ly rel­e­vant. Oth­er than the fact that Sokal’s qual­i­fi­ca­tion in the field is about as on-tar­get as Zizeck would have writ­ing about physics , Sokal demon­strates a fun­da­men­tal mis­un­der­stand­ing of poet­ics and lit­er­ary the­o­ry (the field he was try­ing to knife) and any­way thats got noth­ing to do with what Zizeck engages in any­way. nnWhy bring it up. Its like crit­i­ciz­ing phy­ics using a book that crit­i­cizes chem­istry based on the writ­ings of alchemists.

      • Christopher Taylor says:

        Sokal’s most inter­est­ing cri­tique is that the left has aban­doned sci­ence and its meth­ods for pomo dri­v­el and non-sense. Zizeck is one of the worst offend­ers of this… nnI kind of despise that Zizeck is viewed as a fig­ure rep­re­sent­ing the left and he needs to take basic class­es on writ­ing and com­po­si­tion.

  • Vitruvius says:

    Is “Slavoj u017diu017eeku2019s Pervertu2019s Guide to Ide­ol­o­gy” an auto­bi­og­ra­phy?

  • Renato Santis says:

    I’m not Marx­ist, but I agree with Zizek: no sense is the way to go, seri­ous­ly.

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