Slavoj Žižek Criticism - Essay

Edith Kurzweil (review date May 1992)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Kurzweil, Edith. Review of Looking Awry: An Introduction to Jacques Lacan through Popular Culture, by Slavoj Žižek. American Journal of Sociology 97, no. 6 (May 1992): 1786-88.

[In the following review, Kurzweil asserts that Looking Awry is a work of postmodern theory and faults Žižek for assuming that his readers are already familiar with the theories and concepts of Jacques Lacan.]

Slavoj Zizek is gifted and versatile: he was a researcher at the Institute of Sociology in Ljubjana, and had run as a proreform candidate for the presidency of the republic of Slovenia, before writing Looking Awry—a book he “conceived as a kind of...

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Slavoj Žižek and Peter Canning (interview date March 1993)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Žižek, Slavoj, and Peter Canning. “The Sublime Theorist of Slovenia.” Artforum International 31, no. 7 (March 1993): 84-9.

[In the following interview, Žižek discusses his political philosophy in relation to the political situation in the former Yugoslavia.]

Jacques Lacan is responsible for saying, “there is no sexual relation.” This should not make lovers too upset, for in fact, Love is what we have to make up for the Relation that is missing. Eros would be the potential of supreme Good, for harmony uniting men and women, women and women, men and men. But why did Sigmund Freud have to ruin everything by saying, It is always possible to bond...

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Paul Thomas (review date fall 1993)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Thomas, Paul. Review of Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Lacan (But Were Afraid to Ask Hitchcock), edited by Slavoj Žižek. Film Quarterly 47, no. 1 (fall 1993): 46-7.

[In the following review, Thomas argues that the quality of the essays in Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Lacan (But Were Afraid to Ask Hitchcock) varies greatly and that the collection as a whole should have been edited more carefully.]

In Slavoj Žižek's words [in Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Lacan (But Were Afraid to Ask Hitchcock)], “Hitchcock as the theoretical phenomenon we have witnessed in recent decades—the endless flow of...

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Doug Aoki (review date winter 1995)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Aoki, Doug. “Readings Awry.” Canadian Literature, no. 147 (winter 1995): 136-37.

[In the following review, Aoki offers a critical comparison of Looking Awry: An Introduction to Jacques Lacan through Popular Culture and Christopher Johnson's System and Writing in the Philosophy of Jacques Derrida, noting that Looking Awry presents “the freshest and most radical reading of Lacan in decades.”]

A glance over these titles [Christopher Johnson's System and Writing in the Philosophy of Jacques Derrida and Slavoj Žižek's Looking Awry: An Introduction to Jacques Lacan through Popular Culture] would likely light upon the two...

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Sarah Herbold (essay date autumn 1995)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Herbold, Sarah. “Well-Placed Reflections: (Post)modern Woman as Symptom of (Post)modern Man.” Signs 21, no. 1 (autumn 1995): 83-115.

[In the following essay, Herbold examines Žižek's theory of “woman-as-the-postmodern” from the perspective of feminist cultural theory. Herbold compares the representations of gender and subjectivity in Žižek's essay “Rossellini: Woman as Symptom of Man” with Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Confessions.]

Zanetto, lascia le donne, e studia la matematica. (Johnny, leave women alone and go study mathematics.)

(Zulietta [in Rousseau (1782) 1959, 322])


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Denise Gigante (essay date winter 1998)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Gigante, Denise. “Toward a Notion of Critical Self-Creation: Slavoj Žižek and the ‘Vortex of Madness.’” New Literary History 29, no. 1 (winter 1998): 153-68.

[In the following essay, Gigante examines Žižek's theories of identity and subjectivity, contrasting them with the critical theories of F. W. J. von Schelling.]

To examine the process of critical self-creation illustrated by Slavoj Žižek, I am content to begin where he begins: with the problem of Beginning itself. As he observes in The Indivisible Remainder—a reading of F. W. J. von Schelling's unfinished masterpiece on the Creation, The Ages of the World [Die...

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Robert Miklitsch (essay date spring 1998)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Miklitsch, Robert. “‘Going through the Fantasy’: Screening Slavoj Žižek.” South Atlantic Quarterly 97, no. 2 (spring 1998): 475-507.

[In the following essay, Miklitsch discusses Žižek's scholarship in the cultural and political context of Slovenian culture after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.]

Far from being the Other of Europe, former Yugoslavia was rather Europe itself in its Otherness, the screen onto which Europe projected its own repressed reverse.

—Slavoj Žižek, “Caught in Another's Dream in Bosnia”

The Giant of Ljubljana? The Casanova of Slovenia? The...

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Robert S. Boynton (essay date October 1998)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Boynton, Robert S. “Enjoy Your Žižek.” Lingua Franca 8, no. 7 (October 1998): 41-50.

[In the following essay, Boynton provides an overview of Žižek's life and career along with interview material gathered during the course of Žižek's lecture series at the British Film Institute.]

Amid the Bustle of Tony Blair's Britain, the tradition of the afternoon tea is one of the last remaining traces of the country's genteel past. There are few places that conjure up that past better than the oak-paneled King's Bar Lounge at the Hotel Russell, a fading Victorian pile that sits on the edge of Bloomsbury, only a few short blocks from the British Museum. On a...

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Lois McNay (review date 31 December 1999)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: McNay, Lois. “Unstable in Slovenia.” Times Literary Supplement, no. 5048 (31 December 1999): 23.

[In the following review, McNay provides an overview of Žižek's theories of subjectivity, ideology, and psychoanalysis in The Ticklish Subject, asserting that the work is “the most systematic exposition of Žižek's theories so far.”]

Slavoj Žižek is a Slovenian academic, political activist and one of the leading members of the Lacanian “Ljubljana group”, which uses the work of the French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan to interpret a range of philosophical and cultural texts, from Hegel and Heidegger through to Hitchcock and Hollywood. An...

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Gustavo Guerra (essay date spring 2000)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Guerra, Gustavo. “Psychoanalysis and Presuppositions.” Style 34, no. 1 (spring 2000): 144-48.

[In the following essay, Guerra finds basic inconsistencies in Žižek's theoretical framework in Cogito and the Unconscious that ultimately undermine the volume as a whole.]

I start from the obviously basic premise that most readers of this review would like to get some information about Cogito and the Unconscious. That being the case, it follows that my title here may be somewhat misleading, if not blatantly confusing, and perhaps even irrelevant. But readers even vaguely familiar with pragmatist philosophy will notice, in my title, the echo of...

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Mena Mitrano (essay date spring 2000)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Mitrano, Mena. “Psychoanalysis and the Moth.” College Literature 27, no. 2 (spring 2000): 201-06.

[In the following essay, Mitrano compares Cogito and the Unconscious with Tobin Siebers's The Subject and Other Subjects, emphasizing how each work addresses theories of philosophy and politics.]

In a recent seminar, philosopher Maurizio Ferraris remarked that our epoch is thoroughly aestheticized. Cogito and the Unconscious, the new collection of essays on Lacanian psychoanalysis edited by Slavoj Zizek, speaks to this aestheticization with the image of a subject beating like a moth against the windowpane of a social code s/he seeks to...

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Slavoj Žižek and Christopher Hanlon (interview date winter 2001)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Žižek, Slavoj, and Christopher Hanlon. “Psychoanalysis and the Post-Political: An Interview with Slavoj Žižek.” New Literary History 32, no. 1 (winter 2001): 1-21.

[In the following interview, Žižek discusses his later critical works, the criticism surrounding his use of Lacanian theory, and the developing political situation in the former Yugoslavia.]

For many, Jacques Lacan represents postmodern theory at its height—that is, at its worst. Lacan, so say his detractors, made a career out of obscurantism, and may not even have believed very much of what he said. Noam Chomsky once indicated such a hypothesis when he explained that “my frank opinion...

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Stephen H. Webb (review date 1 August 2001)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Webb, Stephen H. Review of The Fragile Absolute, or, Why Is the Christian Legacy Worth Fighting For?, by Slavoj Žižek. Christian Century 118, no. 22 (1 August 2001): 31-2.

[In the following review, Webb assesses Žižek's theoretical approach to Christian doctrine in The Fragile Absolute from the perspective of a practicing Christian.]

The rumor swept through my circle of friends like wildfire: Bob Dylan had been converted to Christianity (by Larry Norman, no less) and was going to release a religious album! This was many years before Christian rock became mainstream, with mega-hit bands like Creed. In the '70s, contemporary Christian music...

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Alex Callinicos (review date 17 August 2001)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Callinicos, Alex. “Changing the Possible.” Times Literary Supplement, no. 5133 (17 August 2001): 30.

[In the following review, Callinicos observes that Žižek's dominant thematic focus in Did Somebody Say Totalitarianism? is “the conditions of authentic political action.”]

How does Slavoj Z̆ĭZ̆ek do it? Since The Sublime Object of Ideology, his first book in English, appeared in 1989, the Slovene cultural theorist and Lacanian analyst has bombarded us with so many erudite, witty and challenging works that even his publishers must have lost count. Perhaps it is a mistake to think of these as separate books rather than chapters in a...

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David Wheatley (review date 7 September 2001)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Wheatley, David. Review of On Belief, by Slavoj Žižek. Times Literary Supplement, no. 5136 (7 September 2001): 33.

[In the following review, Wheatley offers a positive assessment of On Belief, calling the work “an honest and admirable meditation on what belief may mean today.”]

Slavoj Zizek takes the question of belief very seriously. On Belief begins with a description of a recent episode of the Larry King Show in which a rabbi, a Catholic priest and a Southern Baptist are discussing ecumenism. The rabbi and the priest agree that, irrespective of creed, a truly good person can rely on divine grace and redemption. The Baptist...

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Kevin A. Morrison (review date December 2001)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Morrison, Kevin A. Review of Did Somebody Say Totalitarianism?: Five Interventions in the Mis(use) of a Notion, by Slavoj Žižek. Theoria, no. 98 (December 2001): 118-20.

[In the following review, Morrison argues that Žižek fails to introduce any significantly new concepts in Did Somebody Say Totalitarianism? and faults Žižek for simply presenting theories already put forth in his many previous publications.]

On receiving Slavoj Žižek's latest book, Did Somebody Say Totalitarianism?: Five Interventions on the (Mis)use of a Notion, one might recall that familiar saying, “How can I miss you if you won't go away?” Virtually no...

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Sabah A. Salih (review date spring 2002)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Salih, Sabah A. Review of Did Somebody Say Totalitarianism?: Five Interventions in the Mis(use) of a Notion, by Slavoj Žižek. World Literature Today 76, no. 2 (spring 2002): 252.

[In the following review, Salih describes Did Somebody Say Totalitarianism? as Žižek's effort to rescue academic thinking from the restrictions of literary theory and cultural studies.]

A few years back, Frank Lentricchia, then one of the biggest names around in Literary Theory, created quite a stir by announcing in the now defunct Lingua Franca why he had decided not to have anything to do any more with Theory. Theory, he complained, had robbed thinking of its...

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Clayton Crockett (review date June 2002)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Crockett, Clayton. Review of The Fragile Absolute, or, Why Is the Christian Legacy Worth Fighting For?, by Slavoj Žižek. Theoria, no. 99 (June 2002): 141-43.

[In the following review, Crockett lauds Žižek's unique cultural perspective in The Fragile Absolute and recommends the volume to “scholars and thinkers working at the intersections of philosophy, cultural and political theory, and religious thought.”]

Slavoj Žižek is one of the most creative and original thinkers on the contemporary scene. His philosophical juxtaposition of Hegel and Lacan, his political commitment to a certain Marxism which has affinities with Althusser and the...

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Matthew Bullimore (review date August 2002)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Bullimore, Matthew. Review of The Ticklish Subject: The Absent Centre of Political Ontology and Did Somebody Say Totalitarianism?: Five Interventions in the Mis(use) of a Notion, by Slavoj Žižek. Literature and Theology 16, no. 3 (August 2002): 342-45.

[In the following review, Bullimore compliments Žižek's skill with constructing coherent political arguments in The Ticklish Subject and Did Somebody Say Totalitarianism?, commenting that “Žižek's work provides valuable insight into the mechanisms of our contemporary universe.”]

The Ticklish Subject and Did Somebody Say Totalitarianism? are two of Slavoj...

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Andrew Hussey (review date 9 September 2002)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Hussey, Andrew. “The Game of War.” New Statesman 131, no. 4604 (9 September 2002): 50-1.

[In the following review, Hussey discusses books by three different cultural theorists examining the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States—Žižek's Welcome to the Desert of the Real, Paul Virillio's Ground Zero, and Jean Baudrillard's The Spirit of Terrorism and Requiem for the Twin Towers Hussey concludes that all three works lack a sense of compassion for the victims of the attacks.]

The tradition of French apologists for terror is as long as it is undistinguished. From the fall of the Girondins in 1793 to Michel Foucault's...

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Derek Hook (review date June 2003)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Hook, Derek. Review of On Belief, Revolution at the Gates: Selected Writings of Lenin from 1917, and Welcome to the Desert of the Real, by Slavoj Žižek. Theoria, no. 101 (June 2003): 148-52.

[In the following review, Hook discusses several of Žižek's recent publications—including On Belief, Revolution at the Gates: Selected Writings of Lenin from 1917, and Welcome to the Desert of the Real—noting that all three texts explore similar subject material.]

In three titles, published over a short period of time, Slavoj Žižek has spread out the arguments and concerns of a single book, not to mention a series of similar...

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