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February 17, 2012 2:56 PM   Subscribe

Slavoj Žižek hates tulips. [SLYT]
posted by Fizz (37 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
For the life of me, I can't tell if this is a parody or not. Is that really him?
posted by Rory Marinich at 3:00 PM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


That's from the Pervert's Guide to Cinema, methinks. He's recreating the opening scene from Blue Velvet.
posted by doublesix at 3:01 PM on February 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


It is. It's from The Pervert's Guide to Cinema.
posted by Fizz at 3:02 PM on February 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Love him. Love The Pervert's Guide to Cinema. Love tulips. Love screwing.

So, no complaints here.
posted by hermitosis at 3:03 PM on February 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


I figured Herzog hates chickens. It's only fair that people learn about Zizek hating tulips.
posted by Fizz at 3:04 PM on February 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


One more European thinker talking about home and garden and we'll have ourselves a trend. Anyone have a have a video of Habermas on a tractor?
posted by 2bucksplus at 3:06 PM on February 17, 2012 [14 favorites]


What must he think of orchids?
posted by Anitanola at 3:06 PM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Love him. Love The Pervert's Guide to Cinema. Love tulips. Love screwing.

So, no complaints here.
posted by hermitosis at 3:03 PM on February 17 [+] [!]


Why do people like him? I'm being serious. I started watching The Pervert's Guide... and it sounded like a lot of Freudian mumbo-jumbo from a guy who has never come near a comb in his life.
posted by basicchannel at 3:11 PM on February 17, 2012


I've watched the Pervert's Guide and while at first I wanted to hate it. It seems so very superficial and obvious the way he tells it. But there's something compelling about the way he tells his story about these seminal films. They're something we can all approach and understand. And whether your believe his critical analysis or not, it does make you think and reflect on the power of cinema.
posted by Fizz at 3:17 PM on February 17, 2012


I'm also willing to accept I'm an ignorant person unable to comprehend this man's singular genius. Thus the question.
posted by basicchannel at 3:17 PM on February 17, 2012


Has anyone inquired how he feels about chickens?
posted by eugenen at 3:24 PM on February 17, 2012


Has anyone inquired how he feels about chickens?

"Maybe we just need a different chicken."
posted by Fizz at 3:26 PM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


If someone could get Žižek and Herzog to do a talk show together, I would be eternally grateful.
posted by grapesaresour at 3:36 PM on February 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


Freudian mumbo-jumbo

It's Lacanian mumbo-jumbo. Let's keep our psychoanalysis straight, people!
posted by mek at 4:08 PM on February 17, 2012 [11 favorites]


basicchannel, I can only speak to why *I* like him.

I really think it's impossible to overthink nearly anything ("Hello, my name is hermitosis, and I'm a MeFite.") Sure, it's inconvenient and frustrating if we all do it all the time, but ultimately we do each have a personal relationship with the ideas and symbols we encounter, and we each have our own background and associations to draw from.

Watching a film like TPGTC is awe-inspiring because for most of it, you don't even have to look too deeply below the surface. It's just that all these movies are so famous now that when we watch them, we don't really see them -- they are smothered in context, they are part of a ritualized human experience. Watching films through Zizek's eyes is like seeing what the filmmaker saw has he was making the movie -- before it was turned loose into our culture and became an entity of its own. Before we all got our grubby mitts on it and decided what everything meant to us (as a culture, or as an individual).

I am a big movie re-watcher. At times I feel bad that I've spent so many years doing this when I could have watched all sorts of fresh movies instead. But it's true that the more you look, the more you see. And sometimes they're things that are right under your nose.

To prepare for a recent tribute I hosted to the amazing character actress Beth Grant, I watched the film "To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar" for like the 200th time. But this time I saw that a very specific shot of Patrick Swayze primping before a drag ball in the opening credits was repeated later on with Beth's character when she receives a life-changing makeover. I can't believe I never saw that before, it was so clearly meant to emphasize the impact that the drag queens had on these sad small-town women -- and Swayze and Grant were good friends in real life, and there is a lovely symmetry in connecting their characters this way. ESPECIALLY based on what she's said about the way he helped her personally come to terms with her own unique "look."

So at the show I presented this clip mash-up to her, half assuming she'd say "Yeah, I mean, of course. That is totally obvious -- I mean, that's the point of the shot, right?" After all, she was there. But instead when she saw it she just burst into tears, right in front of the audience. She was IN the movie, and has seen it countless times, and had never noticed that herself.

Zizek's film does that for dozens of movies simultaneously. It makes you realize how much is right there on the surface: if you divorce yourself from your expectations as a film-watcher you can actually see all the gears grinding right there in front of you -- and if the film is really good, this doesn't even obstruct your ability to relate to the material emotionally. Quite the opposite!
posted by hermitosis at 4:38 PM on February 17, 2012 [15 favorites]


I have a sex ed book that has flowers plastered all throughout it. You don't have to use psychoanalysis to determine flowers = sex.
posted by P.o.B. at 4:40 PM on February 17, 2012


Žižek is much more personable as a loving, neurotic father.
posted by clarknova at 4:42 PM on February 17, 2012


I can't help being slightly confused by Slavoj; for some reason his analsys often seems to be on the verge of "explaining" something.
posted by elpapacito at 4:56 PM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think in this context one should mention Herzogs rant on the obscenity of the jungle...
posted by ts;dr at 5:03 PM on February 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


It also happened to me to wonder: is Slavoj "projecting" a lot of his own unconscious in his interpretation of the "symbols" or of the sequences he finds in movies, or is he is detached enough from his own unconscious to discriminate between a objectively collective unconscious depicted in a movie and his own "projections" he sees in the movie, as in a mirror? Can he tell wheter the cigar he is seeing is just a cigar?
posted by elpapacito at 5:54 PM on February 17, 2012


I was under the impression that critical analysis always required reading into the text.
posted by P.o.B. at 6:01 PM on February 17, 2012


Right, and in Lacanian psychoanalysis the notion of an "objective collective unconscious" is a non-starter. Maybe for Jung, but maybe not even there. The question you're trying to ask about Zizek's interpretation of movies is really "what is the relation of the subject to the symbolic order" which is umm, pretty much The Question for Lacan. It all gives me a headache, that's why I stick to Foucault, subjects are so last century.
posted by mek at 6:07 PM on February 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I can't help being slightly confused by Slavoj; for some reason his analsys often seems to be on the verge of "explaining" something.

He's kind of like the Issac Asimov of critical theory: his verbiage signals you should anticipate the point while he's actually making it.
posted by clarknova at 6:08 PM on February 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


P.o.B.: "I have a sex ed book that has flowers plastered all throughout it. You don't have to use psychoanalysis to determine flowers = sex."

I figured this out by observing how much my 7th grade science teacher seemed to enjoy say pistil and stamen.
posted by Apropos of Something at 6:13 PM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I find Zizek to be a fascinating individual, with the unfortunate qualification that he believes himself to be far more fascinating than he is. Slow down the whirlwind of references a bit, have some knowledge of the other thinkers he cites, especially the ones he cites disparagingly, and think through the practical consequences of much of his conclusions, and he loses (for me) most of his allure.

I find that he routinely misreads, either because he didn't read the original closely, or because he's doing it because he thinks he can get away with it (I prefer the latter explanation), and he too often goes for the ostensibly scandalous interpretation or reveal or juxtaposition, as if he's really trying to cultivate that "bad boy" thinker-aura. After a while, it seems shtick-like.

He wasn't always like this, imo. Back in the early days, when he was still proving himself as a thinker, instead of marketing/differentiating himself from other intellectuals, he wrote some pretty intriguing things. Sublime Object of Ideology, for example, is really, really good. But around the mid 90s, when Plague of Fantasies came out, it all started going down hill for me. It's possible he's returned to his earlier form with the book on Parallax, which I hear Zizek fans celebrate as his Magnum Opus, but I gave up reading him shortly before that book hit the shelves.

That being said, he's nowhere more entertaining than when he's discussing film, so I think it's possible to not like him, to not respect his work, or to find his explanations confusing or elusive, and still enjoy watching him wax manic about cinema.
posted by hank_14 at 6:32 PM on February 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


is Slavoj "projecting" a lot of his own unconscious in his interpretation of the "symbols" or of the sequences he finds in movies

I believe he would say to this, Aah, but you see, the subject is not what as you regard yourself, but as you regard yourself through these symbols, is it not, that in this century with the loss of the subject, the decay of the Cartesian subject, and so on, you know, is it not now that we face a moment in which us as subjects are now defined by symbols? But no no, this is not so far off from what it is perhaps the case, that you as a subject is a side effect, a side effect you see, of the symbols themselves. Not as, one would now say, that in the usual sense, that one is but a mere effect of socialization, and that you are what one is because of your parents and so on, but no! Instead, the question is, what if, what if it is the opposite. That your parents, your upbringing, is a side effect of these symbols, a side effect of a relation to these symbols, that we as subjects, are not subjects in and of ourselves, but instead, no, not so, but an absence, a hole in the symbolic order itself. That we, as subjects, understand ourselves, through these symbols, but are in fact, and can not, can not capture our meaning, who we are, in this way. Only instead, we, as subjects, try, but cannot, because these symbols fail. Fail in a fundamental way. In a way that we, we cannot find ourselves in these symbols, but try nonetheless. It is this failure in which we find ourselves. It reminds me of a funny story told in my country, of a joke . . .
posted by TwelveTwo at 7:17 PM on February 17, 2012 [16 favorites]


But in all sincerity: Read Sublime Object of Ideology, Plague of Fantasies, Ticklish Subject and then Parallax View, then if you find yourself enjoying, then read Metastases of Enjoyment, Fragile Absolute, and the excellent commentary by Adrian Johnston. If you still find yourself hungry, then go read his inspirations, his silent partners: Mladen Dolar, Darian Leader, Renata Salecl, Joan Copjec, Alenka Zupančič, Ernesto Laclau, Roberto Harari, Peter Sloterdijk, Wendy Brown, and, last but not so silent: Alain Badiou.
posted by TwelveTwo at 7:26 PM on February 17, 2012 [14 favorites]


Oh oh oh, and definitely Kojin Karatani. Without him there would be no Parallax View.
posted by TwelveTwo at 7:29 PM on February 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


It also happened to me to wonder: is Slavoj "projecting" a lot of his own unconscious in his interpretation of the "symbols"...

Lacan used literature to illustrate different aspects of his theories, and to some degree, Zizek does this with movies in Pervert's Guide and in his books. So the question of whether the movies really are about what he says they're about is beside the point.

But I also see it in the following way: Zizek is the psychoanalyst, and the movie is the client (the analysand) - he is showing you how to think like a psychoanalyst, how to provide an interpretation. This isn't supposed to be the "truth" of what the movie is really about, it's mostly about looking at things differently or seeing things in a different light, and in some cases, in the opposite way that they are normally seen. The point is to stop you from taking meaning for granted, so you can start to see how things can have multiple and even contradictory meanings.

Obviously, this bothers people who think academics should be knowledgeable authorities. Zizek undoes established meanings without putting anything more convincing in it's place, leaving the field disheveled like his outward appearance.
posted by AlsoMike at 10:24 PM on February 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


TwelveTwo, that's the second funniest impression of Zizek I've ever read.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:49 AM on February 18, 2012


“NOTED POST-MARXIST SOCIOLOGIST, PHILOSOPHER, AND CULTURAL CRITIC SLAVOJ ŽIŽEK WELCOMES YOU TO THE GYM”
posted by LMGM at 11:26 AM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


But I also see it in the following way: Zizek is the psychoanalyst, and the movie is the client (the analysand)

Actually, you have it "precisely backwards," as he would say, which means only partly backwards. The film is the analyst, and the audience the analysand. The point of film (more important than books because they require less from us, and because many of the images go uncriticized) is that it doesn't tell you "what you desire, but rather, how to desire." The important idea here is that you don't desire things in a vacuum, others inform you what you should desire.

Here's a bad example but concrete enough for those who want an introduction. Say you watch a TV commercial for an Acura, and some beautiful woman gazes longingly at it as it passes. You know the commercial is selling Acuras, and you know that they pair the car with her for that reason. So you resist this, a little, you know getting an Acura isn't going to make you a beautiful woman or get you a beautiful woman.

What you don't realize is that the commercial is telling you what a beautiful woman looks like, it is telling you that she is the kind of woman that is desirable.
posted by TheLastPsychiatrist at 1:04 PM on February 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Ah, Ziz iz just a loveable big lunk with a cute lisp. Like a lot of pundits, he can be wrong half of the time, but unlike a lot of pundits, his outrageous pronouncements sound like the introduction to an interesting discussion...



(I was going to link to Pervert's Guide to Cinema on Ingmar Bergman's Persona, but the YT link look like it's down.)
posted by ovvl at 2:21 PM on February 18, 2012


The film is the analyst, and the audience the analysand. The point of film... is that it doesn't tell you "what you desire, but rather, how to desire."

The correct quote is "Cinema doesn't give you what you desire, it tells you how to desire." But still, your formulation makes psychoanalysis into a Master discourse that brings us into being as desiring subjects. Arguably this is accurate for most of what is commonly called psychoanalysis -- it brings people into conformity with how they are supposed to desire -- but for Lacan, the Discourse of the Analyst subverts the ideological Discourse of the Master.
posted by AlsoMike at 3:09 PM on February 18, 2012


The Discourse of the Hysteric is a lot more fun. You just yell at the screen until it answers you, and if it answers you sensibly then you've moved on to the Discourse of the Master. But if it makes sense to you only in relation to some semiotic structure then you are in the Discourse of the University. You are not taking the film on its own. But if it still doesn't answer you, and in fact doesn't make much sense. Indeed, if it begins to make quite a fascinatingly unique non-sense, then you are in the Discourse of the Analyst. You are in its Discourse. You are following the film to the letter, so to speak. It is then that you are taking what it says seriously. As strange as it may sound, you are paying the least attention to a film when you believe it to be providing you answers. You are only paying attention to a film when it is providing you questions in return. This should not be very surprising to those with significant others or if you have any habit of interrupting other people. It is exactly when you think you know what they are about to say that signals that you have not been listening.

For Zizek, the idea is to keep this in mind. For nonsense is quite precise, and its relation to the popular sense, the popular reading, is a matter of a precise transformation and veiling. Without getting into the details, the case is that if you can pay attention to it, follow it to the letter, then you can grab your ruler, trace a line from each point of nonsense, and discover a point in which they converge. There you may find the vantage point from where one can reconstitute the film into a sensible whole, and it is this discovery, always unique, that provides insight. Imagine those 3D Chalk Drawings, it is just like that. But in reverse.

And the very act of doing this is the political equivalent of shoving someone out of the appropriate vantage point.
posted by TwelveTwo at 4:52 PM on February 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


What I find most amusing about this video is the fact that he's applying the same critical method he applies to politics, philosophy, art, etc. to tulpis: movie + contrarian insight + humorous (or is it?) stalinist tendency.
posted by anewnadir at 9:19 PM on February 18, 2012


Humorous Stalinist Tendency was actually the name of my progrock band.
posted by Apropos of Something at 11:16 AM on February 20, 2012


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