In this provocative and original work, Slavoj _i_ek takes a look at the question of human agency in a postmodern world. From the sinking of the Titanic to Hitchcock’s Rear Window, from the operas of Wagner to science fiction, from Alien to the Jewish Joke, the author’s acute analyses explore the ideological fantasies of wholeness and exclusion which make up human society. _i_ek takes issue with analysts of the postmodern condition from Habermas to Sloterdijk, showing that the idea of a ‘post-ideological’ world ignores the fact that ‘even if we do not take things seriously, we are still doing them’. Rejecting postmodernism’s unified world of surfaces, he traces a line of thought from Hegel to Althusser and Lacan, in which the human subject is split, divided by a deep antagonism which determines social reality and through which ideology operates. Linking key psychoanalytical and philosophical concepts to social phenomena such as totalitarianism and racism, the book explores the political significance of these fantasies of control. In so doing, The Sublime Object of Ideology represents a powerful contribution to a psychoanalytical theory of ideology, as well as offering persuasive interpretations of a number of contemporary cultural formations.
The rise of populism, cynicism, fanaticism and fundamentalism challenges us to reconsider the problem of ressentiment. Characterized by Nietzsche as the self-poisoning of the will through internalising trauma in the form of a postponed and imaginary revenge, the concept of ressentiment is making a comeback in political discourse. Unlike resentment, the feeling of injustice, ressentiment is an intrinsically polemical notion. It implies a political drama in which there is no inherent good sense in its application and no universal criterion. Drawing on psychoanalysis, political theory, media theory and philosophy, this book examines a wide variety of ideological contexts, offering an examination of the divergent senses in which the concept of ressentiment is used today.
Often labelled as 'indescribable', the sublime is a term that has been debated for centuries amongst writers, artists, philosophers and theorists. Usually related to ideas of the great, the awe-inspiring and the overpowering, the sublime has become a complex yet crucial concept in many disciplines. Offering historical overviews and explanations, Philip Shaw looks at: the legacy of the earliest, classical theories of the sublime through the romantic to the postmodern and avant-garde sublimity the major theorists of the sublime such as Kant, Burke, Lyotard, Derrida, Lacan and Zizek, offering critical introductions to each the significance of the concept through a range of literary readings including the Old and New testaments, Homer, Milton and writing from the romantic era how the concept of the sublime has affected other art forms such as painting and film, from abstract expressionism to David Lynch's neo-noir. This remarkably clear study of what is, in essence, a term which evades definition, is essential reading for students of literature, critical and cultural theory.
Returning to questions about ideology and subjectivity, Flisfeder argues that Slavoj Žižek's theory of film aims to re-politicize film studies and film theory, bringing cinema into the fold of twenty-first century politics.
Let us revive the true sense of fine arts: enchantment! In the conceptualised, commercialised, artificial approach to fine arts, we forgot its authentic experiential sense. It lies at the imaginative heart of all arts there to be retrieved by the creative recipient as the very 'truth of it all'.
Literary Criticism from Plato to the Present provides a concise and authoritative overview of the development of Western literary criticism and theory from the Classical period to the present day An indispensable and intellectually stimulating introduction to the history of literary criticism and theory Introduces the major movements, figures, and texts of literary criticism Provides historical context and shows the interconnections between various theories An ideal text for all students of literature and criticism
Patrick Brantlinger here examines the commonly held nineteenth-century view that all "primitive" or "savage" races around the world were doomed sooner or later to extinction. Warlike propensities and presumed cannibalism were regarded as simultaneously noble and suicidal, accelerants of the downfall of other races after contact with white civilization. Brantlinger finds at the heart of this belief the stereotype of the self-exterminating savage, or the view that "savagery" is a sufficient explanation for the ultimate disappearance of "savages" from the grand theater of world history. Humanitarians, according to Brantlinger, saw the problem in the same terms of inevitability (or doom) as did scientists such as Charles Darwin and Thomas Henry Huxley as well as propagandists for empire such as Charles Wentworth Dilke and James Anthony Froude. Brantlinger analyzes the Irish Famine in the context of ideas and theories about primitive races in North America, Australia, New Zealand, and elsewhere. He shows that by the end of the nineteenth century, especially through the influence of the eugenics movement, extinction discourse was ironically applied to "the great white race" in various apocalyptic formulations. With the rise of fascism and Nazism, and with the gradual renewal of aboriginal populations in some parts of the world, by the 1930s the stereotypic idea of "fatal impact" began to unravel, as did also various more general forms of race-based thinking and of social Darwinism.
Slavoj Zizek is, without doubt, one of the most stimulating and vibrant thinkers of our time, and his idiosyncratic blend of Lacan and Hegel is always sparkling with insight and studded with amusing stories, anecdotes and jokes. In The Plague of Fantasies Zizek approaches another enormous subject with characteristic brio and provocativeness. The current epoch is plagued by fantasms: there is an ever intensifying antagonism between the process of ever greater abstraction of our lives—whether in the form of digitalization or market relations—and the deluge of pseudo-concrete images which surround us. Traditional critical thought would have sought to trace the roots of abstract notions in concrete social reality; but today, the correct procedure is the inverse—from pseudo-concrete imagery to the abstract process which structures our lives. Ranging in his examples from national differences in toilet design to cybersex, and from intellectuals' responses to the Bosnian war to Robert Schumann's music, Zizek explores the relations between fantasy and ideology, the way in which fantasy animates enjoy-ment while protecting against its excesses, the associations of the notion of fetishism with fantasized seduction, and the ways in which digitalization and cyberspace affect the status of subjectivity. To the already initiated, The Plague of Fantasies will be a welcome reminder of why they enjoy Zizek's writing so much. For new readers, it will be the beginning of a long and meaningful relationship.