Zizek: A Critical Introduction

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Wiley, Apr 29, 2003 - Social Science - 208 pages
Zizek is hailed as the most significant interdisciplinary thinker of modern times. His work is a powerful, often explosive combination of Lacanian psychoanalysis and philosophy which tests key psychoanalytical concepts against the ideas of major European thinkers, especially Hegel. It has ignited enthusiasm and stimulated new approaches across a vast range of disciplines, and seems to be attracting an ever-growing readership. In part, this is because Zizek himself has a panoramic range of interests encompassing film studies, literature, cyber culture, ethics, theology and, above all, politics. It is also because he is a highly entertaining writer, having a flair for anecdote, a smutty sense of humour and the knack of capturing complex ideas in concrete form.

Sarah Kay's book provides a lucid and comprehensive introduction to Zizek's work. His writings to date are presented and evaluated here for the first time, together with an outline of their development and explanations of his key premises, themes and terms. This book will be essential reading for students of cultural studies, literary studies, philosophy and social and political theory.

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I have to admit that I was only able to get as far as the end of the second chapter of this book because I found it to be largely unintelligible.Unless you have a good grasp of Lacan I wouldn't advise anyone to attempt to read it-unless of course they enjow reading books that they can't understand,in which case be my guest with this one.
One thing I noted in the second chapter was that Kay misquotes Hegel as saying the 'The real is actual and the actual is real'.Hegel in fact said 'The real is rational and the rational real'.Hegel,as anyone who ever studied him would know,sharply distinguishes the real from the existant or actual.Given that Kay's focus in the second chapter is mainly the relationship between Lacan's 'real',Hegel's 'real' and Freud's 'reality principle' it is important to be clear about one's definitions.If one of these 'reals' is incorrectly defined then the whole argument of the chapter has to be reviewed.
Hegel makes clear what his categories mean in his 'Encyclopaedia of Philosophical Sciences'.W T Stace's book 'The Philosophy of Hegel' published back in 1924 (when they knew how to write properly) gives an excellent review of Hegel's categories and the distinction I am writing about.
I found Kay to be incomprehensible not just because I wasn't well up enough on Lacan but because I suspect she has a poor grasp of what she is writing about herself,and this is due to Zizek having a poor grasp of Hegel (even though he writes books about Hegel) and the intellectuals who rave about Zizek also have a poor understanding of Hegel.I recommend they go over Hegel's 'Encyclopaedia' and check out his categories -As if.

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About the author (2003)

Professor of French and Occitan Literature, Department of French, University of Cambridge

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