Beneath the Veil: On the Truth of Islam

What is Islam – this disturbing, radical excess that represents the East to the West, and the West to the East? Let me begin with the relationship of Islam to Judaism and Christianity, the two other religions of the book. As the religion of genealogy, of the succession of generations, Judaism is the patriarchal religion par excellence. In Christianity, when the Son dies on the cross, the Father also dies (as Hegel maintained) – which[ …]

“The Big Other Doesn’t Exist”

In the “Oedipus complex,” parricide (and incest with the mother) is the unconscious desire of all ordinary (male) subjects, since the paternal figure prevents access to the maternal object, disturbs our symbiosis with it, while Oedipus himself is the exceptional figure, the One who effectively did it. In T&T [Freud’s Totem and Taboo], on the contrary, parricide is not the goal of our unconscious wish, but, as Freud emphasizes again and again, a prehistoric fact[ …]

Redefining family values on film

Ideology in Hollywood? You don’t have to look for it, because it always finds you. In The King’s Speech the cause of the king-to-be’s stuttering is precisely his inability to assume his symbolic function and identify with his title. He displays little common sense, seriously accepting that one is a king by divine will; and the task of the Australian coach is to render him stupid enough to accept his sovereignty as natural property. In[ …]

The power of the woman and the truth of Islam

What is Islam – this disturbing, radical excess that represents the East to the West, and the West to the East? Let me begin with the relationship of Islam to Judaism and Christianity, the two other religions of the book. As the religion of genealogy, of the succession of generations, Judaism is the patriarchal religion par excellence. In Christianity, when the Son dies on the cross, the Father also dies (as Hegel maintained) – which[ …]

How to read Lacan – “God is dead, but he doesn’t know it”: Lacan plays with Bobok

The true formula of atheism is not God is dead – even by basing the origin of the function of the father upon his murder, Freud protects the father – the true formula of atheism is God is unconscious In order to properly understand this passage, one has to read it together with another thesis of Lacan. These two dispersed statements should be treated as the pieces of a puzzle to be combined into one[ …]

A Letter Which Did Arrive at its Destination

It was already Franz Kafka who articulated this crisis of paternal authority in all its ambiguity; no wonder that the first impression one gets in reading Kafka’s letter to his father is that there is something missing in it – the final twist along the lines of the parable on the Door of the Law (“This door was here only for you…”): the father’s display of terror and rage is here only for you, you[ …]

The Act and Its Vicissitudes

What is an act in the strict Lacanian sense of the term? Recall C.S. Lewis’ description of his religious choice from his Surprised by Joy—what makes it so irresistibly delicious is the author’s matter-of-fact “English” skeptical style, far from the usual pathetic narratives of the mystical rapture. C.S. Lewis’ description of the act thus deftly avoids any ecstatic pathos in the usual style of Saint Theresa, any multiple-orgasmic penetrations by angels or God: it is[ …]

Laugh Yourself to Death: the new wave of Holocaust comedies!

[Delivered at Lunds University on 15th 1999.] The success of Benigni’s Life Is Beautiful seems to mark the beginning of a new sub-genre or at least a new trend: the holocaust comedies. It was followed by Jacob the Liar with Robin Williams, the remake of the old GDR classic about the owner of a small shop in the ghetto who pretends to have a hidden radio-receiver and regularly tells his terrified fellows uplifting news about[ …]

The Thing from Inner Space, on Tarkovsky

Jacques Lacan defines art itself with regard to the Thing: in his seminar on the ethics of psychoanalysis, he claims that art as such is always organized around the central void of the impossible/real Thing – a statement which, perhaps, should be read as a variation on Rilke’s old thesis that beauty is the last veil that covers the horrible. Lacan gives some hints about how this surrounding of the void functions in the visual arts[ …]