Henning Mankell, the Artist of the Parallax View

Henning Mankell’s recent series of police procedurals set in the southern Swedish town of Ystad, with the inspector Kurt Wallander as their hero, is the exemplary case of the fate of the detective novel in our era of global capitalism. The main effect of globalisation on the detective fiction is discernible in its dialectical counterpart: the powerful re-emergence of a specific locale as the story’s setting – a particular provincial environment. In a global world,[ …]

A Cup of Decaf Reality

The Real Cancun (2003), the first ever “reality movie,” follows sixteen people together for eight days in a beachfront Cancun villa for the ultimate Spring Break vacation. The movie which was advertised with “NO SCRIPTS. NO ACTORS. NO RULES. ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN ON SPRING BREAK, AND IT DID.”, fared rather poorly at the box-office (earning less than 4 million dollars). It is easy to see why, in contrast to the triumph of the TV reality[ …]

The Matrix, or, the two sides of perversion

[Delivered at the Inside the Matrix: International Symposium at the Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe, on October 28th 1999.] When I saw The Matrix at a local theatre in Slovenia, I had the unique opportunity of sitting close to the ideal spectator of the film – namely, to an idiot. A man in the late 20ies at my right was so immersed in the film that he all the time disturbed other spectators with loud exclamations,[ …]

From ‘Passionate Attachments’ to Dis-Identification

Is this gesture of intentionally and brutally dropping the spectral aura of the traditional femme fatale not another version of the act of une vraie femme? Is not the object which is to her partner “more than himself,” the treasure around which his life turns, the femme fatale herself? By brutally destroying the spectral aura of “feminine mystery,” by acting as a cold manipulating subject interested only in raw sex, reducing her partner to a[ …]

“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[ …]

“It Doesn’t Have to Be a Jew”, Interview with Josefina Ayerza

Zizek: Yes, in a way. To arrive at this, you need an enemy, you need a figure of an enemy. Question: The Jews or…. Zizek: It doesn’t have to be a Jew. It can be somebody who is constructed according to the same logic that is at work in anti-Semitism. It is very interesting to see how, even when the enemy is not the Jew, it is still constructed in the same way, as some[ …]

“I’m a Fighting Atheist”, Interview with Doug Henwood

Question: A lot of readers of American underground publications read Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn, and the stuff coming out of small anarchist presses. What would they get from reading your work that they might be missing? Zizek: Martin Heidegger said that philosophy doesn’t make things easier, it makes them harder and more complicated. What they can learn is the ambiguity of so many situations, in the sense that whenever we are presented by the[ …]

ISIS Is a Disgrace to True Fundamentalism

It has become a commonplace in recent months to observe that the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, is the latest chapter in the long story of the anticolonial awakening — the arbitrary borders drawn after World War I by the great powers being redrawn — and simultaneously a chapter in the struggle against the way global capital undermines the power of nation states. But what causes such fear and[ …]

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.[ …]

‘Ode to Joy,’ Followed by Chaos and Despair

LAST week, European Union leaders put an end to a decade of diplomatic wrangling and signed the Treaty of Lisbon, which outlined a complete overhaul of the organization, including the creation of a permanent post of European Union president to represent Europe on the world stage. During the ceremony at Lisbon’s grandiose Jerónimos Monastery, a choir performed Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” in the background. While the fourth movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, first performed in[ …]