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The Parallax View (Short Circuits) Hardcover – February 10, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. A Lacanian-Hegelian philosopher and pop culture critic who divides his time between America and Slovenia, Zizek is one of the few living writers to combine theoretical rigor with compulsive readability, and his new volume provides perhaps the clearest elaboration of his theoretical framework thus far. Expatiating on such subjects as Heidegger, neuroscience, the war on terror and The Matrix, he seeks to rehabilitate dialectical materialism by replacing the popular "yin-yang" interpretation (the struggle between opposites that ultimately form a whole) with a theory of the "gap which separates the One from itself." One example is a tribe whose two subgroups draw mutually exclusive plans of their village: their deadlock "implies a hidden reference to a constant... an imbalance in social relations that prevented the community from stabilizing itself into a harmonious whole." Discussing Abu Ghraib and pedophilia in the Catholic Church, Zizek explores how an ideological edifice is sustained by underground transgressions: "Law can be sustained only by a sovereign power which reserves for itself the right... to suspend the rule of law(s) on behalf of the Law itself." Based on his interpretation of Lacanian psychoanalysis, he envisions a society in which public law would no longer sustain itself through its own obscene breach. This challenging book takes us on a roller-coaster ride whose every loop is a Möbius strip. (Apr.)
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Review

"In this huge, thrilling book, Slavoj Žižek enacts a dazzling display of philosophy as performance art, delighting in upsetting readers' expectations, inserting sly jokes, and castigating the 'boring' political analyses of just about everyone.... Žižek is a thinker who regards nothing as outside his field: the result is deeply interesting and provocative." The Guardian



"A remarkable demonstration of continental philosophical and psychoanalytical pyrotechnics. More provocative ideas per page than normally found in whole books by the dull anglophone empiricists who find him so threatening." Paul A. Taylor Times Higher Education



"Frankly, a magnum opus is exactly what Žižekneeds right now.... The Parallax View consolidates Žižek's work as a whole and decisively moves it forward." In These Times



"No one demonstrates the continued philosophical vitality of Marxism better than Slavoj Žižek." Tikkun



"Žižek has only to clap eyes on a received truth to feel the intolerable itch to deface it.... Žižek is that rare breed of writer—one who is both lucid and esoteric. If he is sometimes hard to understand, it is because of the intricacy of his ideas, not because of a self-preening style." Terry Eagleton Artforum



"Žižek is one of the few living writers to combine theoretical rigor with compulsive readability, and his new volume provides perhaps the clearest elaboration of his theoretical framework thus far....This challenging book takes us on a roller-coaster ride whose every loop is a Möbius strip." Publishers Weekly



"Frankly, a magnum opus is exactly what Zizek needs right now.... The Parallax View consolidates Zizek's work as a whole and decisively moves it forward." In These Times



"Zizek is one of the few living writers to combine theoretical rigor with compulsive readability, and his new volume provides perhaps the clearest elaboration of his theoretical framework thus far....This challenging book takes us on a roller-coaster ride whose every loop is a Möbius strip." Publishers Weekly

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Product Details

  • Series: Short Circuits
  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press; First Edition edition (February 10, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262240513
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262240512
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,050,363 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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

97 of 104 people found the following review helpful By MK on April 9, 2006
Format: Hardcover
(Again, I feel guilty for such a short review, but aside from lack of time, who am I to say "what the text is saying"?)

Zizek refers to this work as his magnum opus. This is a curious remark for a few reasons. For one, the book does not come across as "climactic"; neither does one envisage a future decline in either productivity or quality in Zizek's writings. Just based on memory, this book is Zizek's longest and most sustained single engagement, but that fact in itself is not particularly relevant. It is undeniably one of Zizek's better books, but not an absolutely singular occurrence in his oevure (such an occurrence would have to be phenomenal).

Needless to say, the reader needs to come to this work with a background in Hegel and Lacan (as well as others, but these are the central presupposed figures). Zizek has been criticized for merely "regurgitating" Lacan or "applying" Lacanian ideas to various topics. This criticism is a little unfair, but it's also true that in this particular work, Zizek tends to string together a series of readings of various texts (which of course includes films, books, thinkers, novels, poems, and even Schumann's Humoresque). Zizek is usually insightful in his readings, even if he occasionally takes tendentious liberties and occasionally falls into obscurity; he is always provocative, however, even if one disagrees with his readings. Some reviews have faulted Zizek for making "too many" references. Although Zizek occasionally cites an obscure author (better known to Europeans than Americans), most of Zizek's texts are familiar to anyone reasonably versed enough in academic and popular culture at least to be able to get the point of a reading even if one has never seen Chaplin's City Lights.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Kingman on June 29, 2009
Format: Paperback
In the documentary Zizek!, the man claims that his three best and most theoretically significant books are (assuming, in true Hegelian fashion, that you can also count three as four): The Sublime Object of Ideology: (Second Edition) (The Essential Zizek), Tarrying with the Negative: Kant, Hegel, and the Critique of Ideology (Post-Contemporary Interventions), The Ticklish Subject: The Absent Centre of Political Ontology (Second Edition) (The Essential Zizek), and The Parallax View (Short Circuits). This then allows us to delineate the conceptual trajectory of Zizek's career so far: from the Object, through Negativity, to the Subject, and finally, Parallax. What justifies Zizek in claiming (on the dust jacket) that this is his "magnum opus"? If anything can legitimate this claim, it is that in this work Zizek finally lays claim to his distinctive ontology (although Zizek would not claim its distinctiveness, he would claim that it is Hegel's ontology, albeit Hegel read in a Lacanian vein)--the ontology of the barred S, the split-subject, the self-different One.Read more ›
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47 of 59 people found the following review helpful By Matheme on November 13, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Any supposed shortcomings or uneven passages in this brilliant book are more than made up for by the sustained, detailed analyses of Kierkegaard, Heidegger, and recent developments in brain and cognitive science. What do these things have to do with the phenomenon of parallax? Everything.

In other respects, this book covers familiar pop-cultural ground --- Lynch, cartoons, star wars episodes 1-3, etc --- but it does so with renewed vigor and further insights. I'm thinking particularly of the chapter entitled "a boy meets a lady." This chapter contains probably the most perverse --- and therefore most accurate --- interpretation of Hegel's "absolute knowledge" I have ever heard. Please read, you like.

As to the skepticism my fellow reviewers express over Zizek's appropriation of Bartleby, all I can say is "not the letter but the spirit." He is clearly NOT suggesting that you never leave your workplace and try to subsist only on pine nuts until the authorities cart you away. He's interested in the negativity of Bartleby's gesture/motto as a double retort to both the frenetic activity that the capitalist epoch compells in its subjects and to the obsessive half-measures of the "resistance" movements that are the inherent supplement of global capital.

What is to be done in 2k6? The answer is seinfeldian: "everybody's doing something; we'll do nothing." What does this mean in real terms? Take voting in America for instance, as Zizek pointed out years ago, the choice for us is between coke and diet coke. Sure diet coke won't start a war in Iraq; it's healthier than that. It'll will wage an economic one instead, i.e. nafta, ftaa, etc. As Kerry seemed to always be implying in his election bid: I can make this a even BETTER empire.
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