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The Art of the Ridiculous Sublime: On David LynchÕs Lost Highway (Occasional Papers) Paperback – January 1, 2000

ISBN-13: 978-0295979250 ISBN-10: 0295979259 Edition: First Edition

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Product Details

  • Series: Occasional Papers (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 56 pages
  • Publisher: Walter Chapin Simpson Center for the Humanities, University of Washington; First Edition edition (January 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0295979259
  • ISBN-13: 978-0295979250
  • Product Dimensions: 9.8 x 7.1 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,178,501 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

FILCRIT

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

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Steffan Ziegler on January 12, 2001
Format: Paperback
When I first saw "Lost Highway," I almost immediately dismissed it as far too unhinged and complex to analyize. It was at turns fascinating and familiar, then frustrating and detached. I was simply amazed at the ability of Lynch to create a narrative that seemed so disjointed, and yet oddly and strangely complete.
Slavoj Zizek however, has no trouble distilling the tale to what he believes are its basic elements. He views the tale through the lens of Jacques Lacan, (A Freudian revisionist.) He exhaustively discusses the implications of Fred's impotence and (possible) fantasy of violence and escape, and the construction of a fantasy that includes a virile version of himself, and a disjointededly evil "Father" figure in Mr. Eddy. He boils the tale down to the implications of such contructions and their inherent and necessary failure, because the very fears that call them into play tear them apart. (As seen by the re-introduction of dark haired Renee and Fred's Physical form in the second half of the film.)
He also addresses other aspects of the work, first, as the title suggests, he discusses this work as a film that addresses both a "known" reality, (the convoluted plot) and an ineffable, yet unconsciously addressable sort of hyper reality (the "Real" meaning behind the work.) He does this by exploring many themes, reducing them often to cliche's drawn from popular culture.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Spunk Monkey on February 29, 2008
Format: Paperback
Stand forewarned! Are you familiar with Lacanian psychoanalysis? If not, then what you are going to get out of this tome will be limited. Unfortunately, I think Zizek's exegesis of Lynch's film is one of the best and most interesting- so you may have to study up to get anything out of this...

For instance, Zizek talks frequently about The Real, The Imaginary, The Symbolic, The Fantasy, Transversing the Fantasy, Perversion, The Name of the Father, etc. If you don't know what these terms are, you will not be able to just "figure it out" on the fly, because even "pervert" and "fantasy" are being used in technical ways which are different from their popular uses. For instance, a "pervert" is not someone who is horny all the time (though they may be, but that's beside the point), they are people who went through the stage of "alientation" but did not fully complete "seperation," and therefore have to supplement their lack of a fully completed "symbolic castration" by a bolstered "Imaginary." When this Imaginary loses its cohesion and begins to fail, the subject resorts to other strategies such as fetishism, masochism, or sadism.

The point here is this is really a book for Lacanians, and not for people who are just interested in Lynch. If you are the latter, you will probably just going to get disgusted and frustrated because Zizek is assuming a basic knowledege in this field. That being said, Zizek is still one of the most entertaining and popular writers of Non-Essentialist Hegelian Lacanian Post-Marxism, and I found this book typical of his output.

To use a warfare simile (I am an American, after all), I would suggest that Zizek is less like a surgical strike, and more like a cluster bomb.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Boy on December 18, 2012
Format: Paperback
At the risk of courting redundancy, I hereby feel it is my duty to warn prospective prospective buyers that ART OF THE RIDICULOUS SUBLIME is a book for pseudo-intellectuals and hardore Zizek enthusiasts only. This is a book about Slavoj Zizek and his interest in Lacan, not a book about David Lynch or LOST HIGHWAY.

True to form, Zizek's interpretation here is highly energetic, creative, and self-assured, but almost hilariously off the mark. His long winded explications amount to little more than tiresome, self-obsessed psycho-blather. It's just a pity that all of his inspired meanderings lead nowhere, ironically and unintentionally leading us down a lost highway of wasted time, ink, and paper.

So what then is the actual key to understanding LOST HIGHWAY? Simple: concentrate on understanding the work of David Lynch, or at least some of his major works leading up to the film. The only school of philisophical thought that will help you decipher this sublimely complex and fascinating film is not Jungian, not Freudian, certainly not Lacanian or Zizekian, but - did you guess it? - Lynchian.

Understand Lynch's work and you understand Lynch's idiosyncratic, yet surprisingly consistent, system of thought. My best advice is to go back and watch ERASERHEAD, BLUE VELVET, the final episode of TWIN PEAKS, and TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME - especially the latter two with a rigorous critical ear and eye, and preferably with notebook in hand. Note the ubiquitous recurring themes and Lynch's specific way of telling stories and treating the material.

Pay special attention to the character called The Mystery Man (aka "the fence"), because he is at the very epicenter of the story.
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