Monday, August 07, 2006

Žižek!

I saw this film yesterday as part of the Film Festival. It exceeded my expectations by far.

Valuable lessons - Žižek's statement on what philosophy provides, that it is not playing with discussion of absolutes that we know we can never reach, some search for 'Truth'. Rather, to his mind, it is a re-staging of questions. (So - to pose a question pertinent to my own present situation: 'what does it mean to be politically engaged?')

Žižek stated himself that he considers his most interesting or important work to be the first few 'big books' that he put out - I forget the exact list, but they included The Ticklish Subject, The Parallax View - whereas all the rest is just 'little bits'. This statement gives some perspective to the perception that I have often heard in web discussions about Žižek's work, that he 'increasingly disappoints' by putting out fluff and re-workings / cut-and-pastings of his own jokes. But just as telling is his statement that he wishes to perform some sort of academic suicide in the public eye. I wonder to what extent his in-your-face rehash tendencies could be considered in this light.

Žižek stated that he sees his role as that of a sort of analyst, thwarting the expectations of those who would approach him as a political sage with all the answers. He seeks to prompt his audiences to re-examine the assumptions and desires with which they went to him.

I must admit that a personal highlight of the film for me was the analysis/interpretation that Zizek performed upon the toy-town that his son had left set up in his apartment. Specifically, Žižek pointing to the feminine power that had been established: there was female Lego sentinel set up on a tower, watching over the other toys. His son had given this female sentinel a companion to keep her company, as he didn't want her to be lonely. There was a "natural lesbian progression" at work in this, Žižek observed.

This produced the best sort of laughter in me - one in which the tone of the joke is not merely personal, merely intellectual, but both at once - laughter at the joyful recognition of truth. I wanted to hug Žižek! But of course, I would never dream of doing this really. At one of the conferences, a fan really did give Žižek a hug, and it was this - more than Žižek's monstrous, sweaty appearance, more than any reference to shit - that was the most abject part of the film, and the only part in which I cringed.

The other most valuable lesson of the film was, of course, the violence of love. A favourite topic of mine.

3 Comments:

Blogger Amy said...

Hey Catherine, I saw you there last night, but when I looked afterwards you had disappeared. Anyway hi, glad you enjoyed it as much as I did.

9:30 pm  
Blogger Catherine said...

I spotted you too, but you also vanished when I looked away. Almost a tree-falling-in-the-woods situation.

I was most happy to see that all the people I thought would be in attendance were there. Whether this means that I am friends with the right people, or just very predictable people, I do not know.

9:36 pm  
Blogger Tim said...

Yeah Zizek on the role of philosophy is really good.

If you want a book which is like the conversations in the film but with a bit more detail, Conversations with Zizek is very good. In that he talks about how scientists think they're very scrupulous and meticulous, but when it comes to anything vaguely extra-empirical they become very naive and metaphysical (he doesn't say this but it struck me while reading it that perhaps scientists think like The X-Files: the only thing beyond science is science fiction). Whereas philosphers are the scrupulous ones in these areas: they're always asking the question before the question - "what allows me to ask this question?"

Random download recommendation: Lawrence - Along The Wire (Superpitcher Mix) - beautiful!

9:43 pm  

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