Slavoj Žižek (/ˈslɑːvɔɪ ˈʒɪʒɛk/ SLAH-voy ZHIZH-ek; Slovene pronunciation: [ˈslaʋɔj ˈʒiʒɛk]; born 21 March 1949) is a Slovenian psychoanalytic philosopher, cultural critic, and Hegelian Marxist.
His work is located at the intersection of a range of subjects, including continental philosophy, political theory, cultural studies, psychoanalysis, film criticism, and theology.
Born in Slovenia and educated in Ljubljana and later Paris, Žižek in 1989 published his first English text, The Sublime Object of Ideology, in which he departed from traditional Marxist theory to develop a materialist conception of ideology that drew heavily on Lacanian psychoanalysis and Hegelian idealism. His early theoretical work became increasingly eclectic and political in the 1990s, dealing frequently in the critical analysis of disparate forms of popular culture and making him a popular figure of the academic left.
A critic of capitalism, neoliberalism and political correctness, Žižek identifies as a political radical, and his work has been characterized as challenging orthodoxies of both the political right and the left-liberal academy. His body of writing spans dense theoretical polemics, academic tomes, and accessible introductory books; in addition, he has taken part in various film projects, including two documentary collaborations with director Sophie Fiennes, The Pervert's Guide to Cinema (2006) and The Pervert's Guide to Ideology (2012).
- Introducing Slavoj Zizek: A Graphic Guide deftly explains Zizek's virtuoso ability to transform apparently outworn ideologies - Communism, Marxism and psychoanalysis - into a new theory of freedom and enjoyment.
- Slavoj Zizek: Routledge Critical Thinkers Tony Myers provides a clear and engaging guide to Zizek's key ideas, explaining the main influences on Zizek's thought (most crucially his engagement with Lacanian psychoanalysis) using examples drawn from popular culture and everyday life. Myers outlines the key issues that Zizek's work has tackled, including: * What is a Subject and why is it so important? * The Imaginary, the Symbolic and the Real * What is so terrible about Postmodernity? * How can we distinguish reality from ideology? * What is the relationship between men and women? * Why is Racism always a fantasy?
- Glyn Daly: Conversations With Žižek In this book, Slavoj Žižek and Glyn Daly engage in a series of entertaining conversations which illustrate the originality of Žižek’s thinking on psychoanalysis, philosophy, multiculturalism, popular/cyber culture, totalitarianism, ethics and politics.
- Žižek’s Ontology This book focuses on the generally neglected and often overshadowed philosophical core of Zizek's work - an essential component in any true appreciation of this unique thinker's accomplishment. His central concern, Zizek has proclaimed, is to use psychoanalysis (especially the teachings of Jacques Lacan) to redeploy the insights of late-modern German philosophy, in particular, the thought of Kant, Schelling, and Hegel. By taking this avowal seriously, Adrian Johnston finally clarifies the philosophical project underlying Zizek's efforts. His book charts the interlinked ontology and theory of subjectivity constructed by Zizek at the intersection of German idealism and Lacanian theory.
- The Žižek Dictionary - brings together leading Zizek commentators from across the world to present a companion and guide to Zizekian thought. Each of the 60 short essays examines a key term and, crucially, explores its development across Zizek's work and how it fits in with other concepts and concerns. The dictionary will prove invaluable both to readers coming to Zizek for the first time and to those already embarked on the Zizekian journey.
- More introductory books in the Secondary Literature section.
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The Essential Zizek:
- The Fragile Absolute: Or, Why is the Christian Legacy Worth Fighting For? Argues that the subversive core of the Christian legacy forms the foundation of a politics of universal emancipation.
- The Plague of Fantasies The relations between fantasy and ideology, and the deluge of digital phantasms surrounding us.
- The Sublime Object of Ideology Exploring the ideologies fantasies of wholeness and exclusion which make up human society.
- The Ticklish Subject A specter is haunting Western thought, the specter of the Cartesian subject.
- Did Somebody Say Totalitarianism? Undermining the liberal-democratic consensus that enables the designation of totalitarianism.
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a 1,000 page examination of the German idealist G.W.F. Hegel, remains the most exhaustive thing Žižek has ever written.
In Less Than Nothing, the product of a career-long focus on the part of its author, Slavoj Žižek argues it is imperative we not simply return to Hegel but that we repeat and exceed his triumphs, overcoming his limitations by being even more Hegelian than the master himself. Such an approach not only enables Žižek to diagnose our present condition, but also to engage in a critical dialogue with the key strands of contemporary thought—Heidegger, Badiou, speculative realism, quantum physics, and cognitive sciences. Modernity will begin and end with Hegel.
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- 2016 Antigone Zizek's rewriting of this classic play confronts these issues in a practical way: not by theorizing about them, but by imagining an Antigone in which, at a crucial moment, the action takes a different turn, an Antigone along the lines of Run, Lola, Run or of Brecht's learning plays.
- 2016 Disparities The concept of disparity has long been a topic of obsession and argument for philosophers but Slavoj Zizek would argue that what disparity and negativity could mean, might mean and should mean for us and our lives has never been more hotly debated. Disparities explores contemporary 'negative' philosophies from Catherine Malabou's plasticity, Julia Kristeva's abjection and Robert Pippin's self-consciousness to the God of negative theology, new realisms and post-humanism and draws a radical line under them. Instead of establishing a dialogue with these other ideas of disparity, Slavoj Zizek wants to establish a definite departure, a totally different idea of disparity based on an imaginative dialectical materialism. This notion of rupturing what has gone before is based on a provocative reading of how philosophers can, if they're honest, engage with each other. Slavoj Zizek borrows Alain Badiou's notion that a true idea is the one that divides. Radically departing from previous formulations of negativity and disparity, Zizek employs a new kind of negativity: namely positing that when a philosopher deals with another philosopher, his or her stance is never one of dialogue, but one of division, of drawing a line that separates truth from falsity.
- 2016 Against the Double Blackmail: Refugees, Terror and Other Troubles with the Neighbours Today, hundreds of thousands of people, desperate to escape war, violence and poverty, are crossing the Mediterranean to seek refuge in Europe. Our response from our protected European standpoint, argues Slavoj Zizek, offers two versions of ideological blackmail: either we open our doors as widely as possible; or we try to pull up the drawbridge. Both solutions are bad, states Zizek. They merely prolong the problem, rather than tackling it. The refugee crisis also presents an opportunity, a unique chance for Europe to redefine itself: but, if we are to do so, we have to start raising unpleasant and difficult questions. We must also acknowledge that large migrations are our future: only then can we commit to a carefully prepared process of change, one founded not on a community that see the excluded as a threat, but one that takes as its basis the shared substance of our social being. The only way, in other words, to get to the heart of one of the greatest issues confronting Europe today is to insist on the global solidarity of the exploited and oppressed. Maybe such solidarity is a utopia. But, warns Zizek, if we don't engage in it, then we are really lost. And we will deserve to be lost.
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- 2017 The Courage of Hopelessness: Chronicles of a Year of Acting Dangerously In these troubled times, even the most pessimistic diagnosis of our future ends with an uplifting hint that things might not be as bad as all that, that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Yet, argues Slavoj Zizek, it is only when we have admit to ourselves that our situation is completely hopeless - that the light at the end of the tunnel is in fact the headlight of a train approaching us from the opposite direction - that fundamental change can be brought about. Surveying the various challenges in the world today, from mass migration and geopolitical tensions to terrorism, the explosion of rightist populism and the emergence of new radical politics - all of which, in their own way, express the impasses of global capitalism - Zizek explores whether there still remains the possibility for genuine change. Today, he proposes, the only true question is, or should be, this: do we endorse the predominant acceptance of capitalism as a fact of human nature, or does today's capitalism contain strong enough antagonisms to prevent its infinite reproduction? Can we, he asks, move beyond the failure of socialism, and beyond the current wave of populist rage, and initiate radical change before the train hits?
- 2017 Lenin 2017: Remembering, Repeating, and Working Through
One hundred years after the Russian Revolution, Žižek shows why Lenin’s thought is still important today
- 2017 Incontinence of the Void: Economico-Philosophical Spandrels If the most interesting theoretical interventions emerge today from the interspaces between fields, then the foremost interspaceman is Slavoj Žižek. In Incontinence of the Void (the title is inspired by a sentence in Samuel Beckett's late masterpiece Ill Seen Ill Said), Žižek explores the empty spaces between philosophy, psychoanalysis, and the critique of political economy. He proceeds from the universal dimension of philosophy to the particular dimension of sexuality to the singular dimension of the critique of political economy. The passage from one dimension to another is immanent: the ontological void is accessible only through the impasses of sexuation and the ongoing prospect of the abolition of sexuality, which is itself opened up by the technoscientific progress of global capitalism, in turn leading to the critique of political economy.
- Responding to his colleague and fellow Short Circuits author Alenka Zupančič's What Is Sex?, Žižek examines the notion of an excessive element in ontology that gives body to radical negativity, which becomes the antagonism of sexual difference. From the economico-philosophical perspective, Žižek extrapolates from ontological excess to Marxian surplus value to Lacan's surplus enjoyment. In true Žižekian fashion, Incontinence of the Void focuses on eternal topics while detouring freely into contemporary issuesfrom the Internet of Things to Danish TV series.
We are regularly updating our quotes, videos and events sections with the latest Zizek’s news, lectures and wisdoms:
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- Mapping Ideology, Edited by Slavoj Žižek
- Ideology: An Introduction by Terry Eagleton
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So what and how to read? Écrits or seminars? The only proper answer is a variation on the old “tea or coffee” joke: yes, please! One should read both. If you go directly to the Écrits, you will not get anything, so you should start – but not stop – with seminars, since, if you read only seminars, you will also not get it. The impression that the seminars are clearer and more transparent than the Écrits is deeply misleading: they often oscillate, experiment with different approaches. The proper way is to read a seminar and then go on to read the corresponding écrit to “get the point” of the seminar. We are dealing here with a temporality of Nachtraeglichkeit (clumsily translated as “deferred action”) which is proper to the analytic treatment itself: the Écrits are clear, they provide precise formulas, but we can only understand them after reading seminars which provide their background. Two outstanding cases are the Seminar VII on The Ethics of Psychoanalysis and the corresponding écrit “Kant avec Sade,” as well as the Seminar XI on The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psycho-Analysis and “The Position of the Unconscious.” Also significant is Lacan’s opening essay in Écrits, “The Seminar on The Purloined Letter.”
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- Phenomenology of Spirit by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
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❥ ❥ Zizek's favourite books on Hegel - Stop the Owl of Minerva!
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Ｆｏｒ ｄｅｃａｄｅｓ， ａ ｃｌａｓｓｉｃ ｊｏｋｅ ｈａｓ ｂｅｅｎ ｃｉｒｃｕｌａｔｉｎｇ ａｍｏｎｇ Ｌａｃａｎｉａｎｓ…
to exemplify the key role of the Other’s knowledge: a man who believes himself to be a kernel of grain is taken to a mental institution where the doctors do their best to convince him that he is not a kernel of grain but a man; however, when he is cured (convinced that he is not a kernel of grain but a man) and allowed to leave the hospital, he immediately comes back, trembling and very scared—there is a chicken outside the door, and he is afraid it will eat him. “My dear fellow,” says his doctor, “you know very well that you are not a kernel of grain but a man.” “Of course I know,” replies the patient, “but does the chicken?”
Therein resides the true stake of psychoanalytic treatment: it is not enough to convince the patient about the unconscious truth of his symptoms; the unconscious itself must be brought to assume this truth. The same holds true for the Marxian theory of commodity fetishism: we can imagine a bourgeois subject attending a Marxism course where he is taught about commodity fetishism. After the course, he comes back to his teacher, complaining that he is still the victim of commodity fetishism. The teacher tells him “But you know now how things stand, that commodities are only expressions of social relations, that there is nothing magic about them!” to which the pupil replies: “Of course I know all that, but the commodities I am dealing with seem not to know it!” This is what Lacan aimed at in his claim that the true formula of materialism is not “God doesn’t exist,” but “God is unconscious.