20th-century philosophy, 21st-century philosophy
|Birth:||Template:Birth date and age |
Template:Flagicon Ljubljana, Slovenia, then Yugoslavia
|School/tradition:||Postmodern philosophy, post-Marxism|
|Influences:||René Descartes, Georg Hegel, Jacques Lacan, Karl Marx|
Žižek is well-known for his employing Lacanian psychoanalytic theory in his readings of popular culture (from the films of Alfred Hitchcock and David Lynch, to the literature of Kafka or Shakespeare). In addition, he writes on a great range of topics, such as fundamentalism, tolerance, multiculturalism, political correctness, globalization, human rights, political subjectivity, cyberspace, post-modernism, Leninism, etc.
A highly prolific and entertaining writer, Z•iz•ek is probably one of the most astute observers of postmodern culture, both high and low. In breathtaking analyses of such diverse authors as Lacan, Hegel, Marx, Schelling, and Hitchcock, Wagner, Raymond Chandler and Ridley Scott, Z•iz•ek traces the structure of fantasy as it is produced by and resists late capitalist forms of power. What defines these structures of power is the demise of a formally neutral Law (the Lacanian Master Signifier) in favor of Z•iz•ek’s articular appropriation of the Freudian superego; a structure of power that demands a transgression of the Law, its suspension, and the identification with perverse enjoyment or jouissance. God has, as Z•iz•ek puts it, left the symbolic order and reverted to the Real. The rise of the Super-ego bespeaks the decline of traditional paternal authority and finds its expression in two ‘‘figures’’: the maternal superego who blocks man’s access to normal enjoyment (this, according to Z•iz•ek, is what defines the Hitchcockian universe) and the anal-sadistic father who is not the agent of the symbolic Law, of repression, but he who is too alive, who ‘‘knows too much,’’ who commands his own enjoyment at the expense of the now destitute subject. Such super-egoic power produces the postmodern subject and object, and it is these that are the focus of •iz•ek’s analysis. The subject is the ‘pathological Narcissus,’’ the successor to both the Oedipal, autonomous individual of liberalism and the heteronomous organization man of imperial capitalism. The narcissistic subject has abandoned the integration into the symbolic order and instead plays a multiplicity of roles according to rules of a game. Conformism viewed as being beyond the law exacts, however, greater pressures from an ever more punitive super-ego. Z•iz•ek’s most important contributions are to post-Marxist theory, in particular to the theory of ideology and fantasy, as well as to the interpretation of popular and mass culture. In the latter area, his readings of Hitchcock’s films are of special interest.