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Looking Awry: An Introduction to Jacques Lacan through Popular Culture (October Books) Paperback – September 8, 1992

4.1 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Looking Awry is a wonderful introduction to dialectical psychoanalysis; to a fresh approach to the subjectivities of mass culture, and to an extraordinary new voice we will hear often in the coming years.

(Fredric R. Jameson, Duke University)

Žižek is a one-person culture mulcher. Flinging out readings of film noir or Hitchcock's The Birds, drawing maps of the unconscious, analyzing the commodity form, Stephen King, or Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit, be plays the philosopher as standup comic...The elusive Lacan, who cultivated an aura of indecipherability with the care of a diva becomes a field guide to life in an age of media.

(Edward Ball Voice Literary Supplement)

From the Back Cover

In this book Slavoj Zizek, a leading intellectual in the new social movements that are sweeping Eastern Europe, provides a virtuoso reading of Jacques Lacan. Zizek inverts current pedagogical strategies to explain the difficult philosophical underpinnings of the French theoretician and practician who revolutionized our view of psychoanalysis.
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Product Details

  • Series: October Books
  • Paperback: 188 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press; Revised ed. edition (September 8, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 026274015X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262740159
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #475,843 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

"The most dangerous philosopher in the West," (says Adam Kirsch of The New Republic) Slavoj Zizek is a Slovenian philosopher and cultural critic. He is a professor at the European Graduate School, International Director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, Birkbeck College, University of London, and a senior researcher at the Institute of Sociology, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. His books include "First as Tragedy, Then as Farce;" "Iraq: The Borrowed Kettle;" "In Defense of Lost Causes;" "Living in the End Times;" and many more.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Jacques Lacan's theories are completely, utterly undecipherable. The only way to begin to understand the fundamentals of psychoanalytic theory is to read somebody else writing on Lacan. And thank God Zizek does that for us. To understand Lacan, I've always had to turn to film theory critism--Laura Mulvey--but none of that ever goes beyond theories of the gaze, neglecting to dispell the mystery around some of the most basic concepts of Lacan. Zizek rolls through these various terms and ideas, always providing an exemplification of the idea in popular culture, usually in Hitchcock or within Sci-Fi genres, and then a clear-to-understand definition. So if you're confused as to what desire, drive, lack, objet a, other, Other, the Real, or the Thing are in terms of Lacanian jargon, this might be your book.
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Format: Paperback
That's what I wanted, at least: An illustration of the key Lacanian concepts. What Zizek'bokk gives you, in fact, is the key to reading Lacan.
Lacan's seminar is an unreadable text - if that's your first/second/third etc. time. Lacan, you see, does not make conclusions. To illustrate that:
- You are writing a paper on, let's say, "Gaze". You would like to know what's Lacan's take on gaze. You open "On Gaze as Object a" chapter from "Four Fundamentals".
- you read a paragraph. You do not quite understand what you have read.
- you read the following paragraph. Now, understanding this one is even more difficult, because Lacan is assuming that you have fully understood the previous one. Ok, third paragragh ... Should I continue?
- You either think that this book is non-sense or that you are stupid. Both conclusions are wrong.
As soon as you get the background - Lacan's non-sense makes perfect sense. Zizek give this background in a highly entertaining manner (his writing is a jewel - keeps you thinking "If only I could write like that!"). I am currently doing a PhD in literature, and I have to go through plenty of academic rubbish - dry and actually, useless critical books, that make use of Lacan, Foucault and others to get published and never be read. Zizec is a breath of fresh air.
Please believe me - do not give up on Lacan, do not call him bad names, (like "idiotic nonsense, nobody ever understood him, they were all pretending to understand him because they were afraid to look stupid in the 60s") - before you read Zizec.
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Format: Paperback
I am struck by the negative reviews that caution readers: "Zizek is not an orthodox Lacanian! Read him only if you have already understood Lacan!" This is, of course, the typically cultish--really Catholic--approach to Lacan that treats him as a holy text, pre-supposes a series of high priests who have been properly anoited and through whom one must receive the officially sanctioned interpretation. I don't read Zizek for Lacan--I read him for Zizek, and I encourage others to do likewise. *Looking Awry* and *Enjoy Your Symptom* are prehaps the easiest approaches to Zizek and his brand of cultural criticism, as they rely almost entirely on popular culture, especially film. Zizek's perverse (and often dirty) sense of humor and tendency to read against the grain at all costs are apparent on nearly every page, which makes this a very engaging read, indeed. Intellectually, there are some problems with his approach, of course--but Zizek's voice is such a refreshing change of pace, and his constant turn to a reading that you thought was impossible (but turns out to be preversely appealing) makes them all worthwhile.
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Format: Paperback
This book is very interesting but I think it would have been better to call it "An Introduction to Popular Culture trhough Jaques Lacan". This would be a proper title because Zizek dedicates more space to tell us what some products of popular culture are about (i.e. Stephen King's novel "Pet Sematary"; Robert Sheckley's short story "The Store of the Worlds") than to explain, or even outline, the theories of Jaques Lacan. This in itself is not a critique, I just want to say that the title can be misleading. You will not find here an explanation or an introduction to Lacan, but rather a Lacanian reading or interpretation of some products of popular culture (novels, short stories and films.) If you are looking for an easy or brief rendering of Lacan, this book will not be of much help. Moreover, I would say that the readers who will profit the most are those who are already familiar with, or at least know something about, Lacanian thought. This said, I think that Zizek's Lacanian reading of popular works is very good in some cases, and somewhat poor in others. For example, he recalls the novel "Pet Sematary" but he explains almost nothing about it. The good cases, however, make it worth the effort to read the book (Zizek's writing is complicated, but so is Lacan's), and even if you do not agree with some of his points, they are still useful to encourage thought and discussion. If you are interested in the study of popular culture, the interpretation of film and literature, or in the application of Lacanian theory to social analysis, this book will certainly be of use.
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