The Fright of Real Tears (Introduction)

The Strange Case of the Missing Lacanians If this book had been published twenty-five years ago, in the heyday of ‘structuralist Marxism’, its subtitle, undoubtedly, would have been ‘On Class Struggle in Cinema’. Let me begin by stating the obvious, with what in France they call une vérité de la Police’. to put it in good old Maoist terms, the principal contradiction of today’s cinema studies is the one between the deconstructionist/feminist/post-Marxist/psychoanalytic/sociocritical/cultural studies etc. approach,[ …]

A Soft Focus on War

When Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker won all the big Oscars over James Cameron’s Avatar, the victory was perceived as a good sign of the state of things in Hollywood: A modest production meant for independent festivals clearly overran a superproduction whose technical brilliance cannot cover up the flat simplicity of its story. Did this mean that Hollywood is not just a blockbuster machine, but still knows how to appreciate marginal creative efforts? Maybe–but that’s a[ …]

Attempts to Escape the Logic of Capitalism; On the Political Tragedy of Vaclav Havel

[Review of Václav Havel: A Political Tragedy in Six Acts by John Keane] In 1974, Paul Theroux visited Vietnam, after the peace agreement and the withdrawal of the US Army, but before the Communist takeover. He writes about it in The Great Railway Bazaar. A couple of hundred US soldiers were still there – deserters, officially and legally non-existent, living in slum shacks with their Vietnamese wives, earning a living by smuggling or other crimes.[ …]

The Iraqi Borrowed Kettle (2)

In order to illustrate the weird logic of dreams, Freud evoked a joke about the borrowed kettle: when accused by a friend that you returned him a borrowed kettle broken, your reply is: (1) I never borrowed a kettle from you; (2) I returned it to you unbroken; (3) the kettle was already broken when I got it from you. Such an enumeration of inconsistent arguments, of course, confirms per negationem what it endeavours to[ …]