Slavoj Žižek

I am fascinated by this guy, but a huge mass of shifting, pudding-like terminology defeats me.

Is there an introduction to his thought in baby talk for those of us who haven’t spent years reading Hegelian, Marxist, and especially Lacanian texts? I’ve always had a difficult relationship with philosophical and sociological jargon. The kind of writing where words like “motion” and “face” and “violence” turn out to mean “black walnut ice cream,” “Terry and the Pirates,” and “egg.” Until the next page, where they all mean something else.

If it’s worth it to nail down enough terminology in advance to read the Zizzer, what’s a good prep?

I’d really like to read more serious intellectual stuff. The jargon factor just stops me and leaves me flailing in the pudding.

13 thoughts on “Slavoj Žižek

  1. I’d say the best introduction to him is stuff he’s also written – if you’re starting with “The Paralax View” or “Tarrying with the Negative” or that incomprehensible thing he wrote with Judith Butler, the jargon factor is going to be high, but with, say, “Violence,” not quite so much, if you ask me. Another possibility is to listen to some of his lectures. If you can decipher his accent, which I find becomes easy after a while, and the speed at which he tends to speak (the coke does that to you, I hear), they can be quite rewarding. I have a few on my pseudoipod – I’ll try to remember which I think are particularly good, and accessible, and see if I can’t find a link.
    For all his claims to systematicity and of having produced a magnum opus that explains his “thing”, I’m not convinced he is, in fact, a systematic thinker at all. It’s perfectly possible to approach him as a fox, and not a hedgehog.


      1. I’m not sure who he is, or what he’s done… but he did something with Judith Butler and I kind of adore her so I now have to find it and read it. And My favorite professor was very much influenced by Hegelian, Marxist, and Lacanian texts. Well, and Freud.
        I’ve been looking for new stuff to read! Thanks!


    1. I started on this thought train with some lectures on “Violence” on youtube that Doug Lain linked me to, so I’ll look at those again. Thanks for the recommendations!


  2. The Structure of Every Slavoj Zizek Essay:
    1. Remember this Looney Tunes bit?
    2. It’s a bit like this obscure event from revolutionary history, isn’t it?
    3. It’s all because of this thing out of Freud (Lacan).
    4. But not the stupid, obvious interpretation, which stupid left-wing activists believe because they are stupid children.
    5. You can also see the same thing at work in this current event that everybody’s talking about.
    6. Surprisingly, the most revolutionary position to take vis-a-vis this current event is basically the same as the mainstream liberal position.
    7. This is because of dialectics.


  3. At least half of it is sophistry
    …but maybe that’s ok in a world where so is everything else?? And maybe that’s what poetry is now, so that’s not such a bad thing??
    Also, what Bobby Isosceles said above.
    BUT: in my own jargon-infested gradual school career, I found this quite helpful in understanding the basic gist of this kind of writing, what it comes out of, what assumptions are being made, etc. etc.:



  4. i just went through reading him and getting bored by him. if you want to bullshit about THE O R Y i would be totally stoked to talk about this shit.
    i would not really categorize critical theory as “serious intellectual stuff” but that is like a long, long, dumb, dumb series of thoughts.


  5. I’m a big fan of the low-resolution first reading, where you skip footnotes, gloss over the parts you don’t understand (you can come back to them later), and just get to the end. That way you have at least a vague idea what it’s about, and can pick up more meaning on a second reading. This method has its critics, though.


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