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The Puppet and the Dwarf: The Perverse Core of Christianity (Short Circuits) Paperback – August 29, 2003


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Product Details

  • Series: Short Circuits
  • Paperback: 196 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press (August 29, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262740257
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262740258
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #411,436 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"With this book Zizek consolidates his reputation as the foremost intellectual gadfly of the postmodern cosmopolis. For anyone interested in the contemporary vogue of the 'theological turn' or theories of 'religion without God,' *The Puppet and the Dwarf* is indispensable reading.... If Socrates underwent a ten-year analysis with Jacques Lacan, the result would be Slavoj Zizek."--Richard Wolin, Distinguished Professor of History and Comparative Literature, the Graduate Center, City University of New York



"A witty, informative trip... both erudite and accessible...." Rick Mitchell Leonardo Reviews



"His writing is bold, confident and contentious." Julian Baggini The Philosopher's Magazine



" The Puppet and the Dwarf is Zizek"s most compelling and passionate writing on Christianity to date." Erik Davis Bookforum



"Quite possibly the most entertaining philosopher working today. Zizek knows how to think the unthinkable." Jori Finkel Village Voice



"Slavoj Zizek may have the strongest 'brand identity'... of any cultural theorist now in the marketplace of ideas." Scott McLemee The Chronicle of Higher Education



"Zizek is the first Marxist to write theology in a post-marxist, post-secular age." Eugene McCarraher In These Times



"... Zizek mixes Pauline speculations with analyses of everything from G. K. Chesterton to chocolate eggs." Terry Eagleton TLS



"Zizek rarely fails to entertain...." Charles Seymour Library Journal

About the Author

Slavoj Žižek is a philosopher and cultural critic. He is the author of more than thirty books, including Looking Awry: An Introduction to Jacques Lacan through Popular Culture, The Puppet and the Dwarf: The Perverse Core of Christianity, The Parallax View, and (with John Milbank) The Monstrosity of Christ: Paradox or Dialect, these four published by the MIT Press.

Customer Reviews

The puppet and the Dwarf is one of my favorite books by Zizek.
JLR
I don't necessarily trust Zizek's epistemology with regards to his interpretation of scripture, however his observations give one pause.
Soren K.
Zizek's enlistment of G.K.Chesterton -- who was, himself, perverse enough to speak (and very convincingly too!)
Saul Boulschett

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

84 of 87 people found the following review helpful By Saul Boulschett on November 30, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
You're either gonna read Zizek -- because you have to or because you just love this guy -- or you are not, regardless of any review. So I'll keep it brief: Yes, the rambling style can be distracting as well as entertaining when he gets it right.

The book is not so much about Christianity as it is about what Zizek claims to be the very core of it, where there is another dimension. And in discussing the core as such, the book takes off as a reading of the symbolic structure (Lacanian) that made it possible for the transition from Judaic Law to Christian Love; and St. Paul's role in it. Jesus' "Father why hast thou forsaken me?" is one of the loci of Zizek's defense of the "ex-timate" kernel of Christianity: 'Imitatio Christi' as sharing Jesus' own doubt -- not of God's existence but rather of His Impotence. And after taking some very general swipes at Buddhism for (supposedly) aiming for that state (Nirvana) in which all differences are leveled, Zizek presents the genius of Christianity as the religion of Difference in which the very separation between God and Man is God-as-Man. Zizek argues against the idea that the Fall and Redemption are polarities but that the Fall IS Redemption, the Opening of the very space of Redemption.

The crux of Zizek's "argument" boils down to what he says in the last page: "...It is possible today to redeem this core of Christianity only in the gesture of abandoning the shell of its institutional organization (and even more so, of its specific religious experience). The gap here is irreducible: either one drops the religious form, or one maintains the form but lose the essence.
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67 of 83 people found the following review helpful By P. Gunderson on December 5, 2003
Format: Paperback
Zizek is a remarkable Lacanian cultural theorist, and his work deserves to be taken seriously; unfortunately, it is beginning to appear as if Zizek doesn't even take his own project seriously. How else can one explain the poor organization and endless series of digressions that constitute this book?
Most of Zizek's earlier books (The Sublime Object of Ideology, Looking Awry, etc.) give strong accounts how how Lacanian psychoanalysis can be used to analyze contemporary culture; in these works Zizek is never at a loss to show how pop culture can illustrate difficult concepts. The end result was usually a witty, incisive demystification of conservative capitalist ideology.
Unfortunately, "The Puppet and the Dwarf" falls far short of Zizek's past accomplishments. The anecdotes are still there, but they are piled up in a heap with no coherent thread of argument. There are interesting ideas in here about critical negativity in Christianity, but it is far too difficult to discern how Zizek's scattered insights hang together. In the end the reader winds up feeling more like s/he is the object of an intellectual confidence game than anything else.
Readers who don't already know Zizek's work are advised to start with earlier texts. Readers who do know Zizek's work should wait for something worthwhile.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Lost Lacanian on February 6, 2005
Format: Paperback
Okay, so what can one say about Zizek?--at times brilliant, infuriating, outrageous...yes, all of the above. If you are looking for the secrets that unfold time and space itself, then, this is not the book for you. But, if you are looking for a fantastic read of applied Lacanian theory on religion and other cultural arenas, then, by all means this book is worth the buy. It is almost getting trite to hear people complain about Zizek's style, analysis, originality, etc...After all, he is only a man. Rather, to focus on the strengths of this book: it does a good job of introducing one to some interesting Lacanian issues, such as the the super-ego, the idea that the Other does not exist, Lacan's interesting thesis that God is not dead but unconscious, just to name a few. Also, many of the jokes that Zizek loves to tell are put into footnotes instead of the body of the text which gives the text more focus. Also, if one has been keeping up with Zizek's interventions into Christianity versus Judaism, then, one may be interested in this book because he does change some of his positions. All in all, this book represents some of Zizek's best work since "Ticklish Subject."
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Soren K. on November 4, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm not a stranger to philosophy. I grew up reading Kierkegaard. I read Barthes, Althusser, and Baudrillard in college. This was my first attempt at Zizek's work. I recall an interview where Zizek went on a late night talk show to discuss this book and told the host that he wrote it specifically for clarity. I do not know whether this was one of his ironic attempts at humor or whether all of his work is as generally impenetrable to the layman as this.

The only thing that allowed me to muddle through was a small familiarity with Nancy's Dis-Enclosure (which I've also been muddling through) and some of the thankful redundancies that appeared in their evaluations. The problem was that most of the language used in the book is hedged in stark psychoanalytic terms. Virtually nobody knows or understands these terms. Not even psychology majors are taught them anymore (although one could ostensibly argue that psychology majors aren't really taught anything anymore).

I came from an English Criticism background and had a very difficult time with everything and made markedly slow progress in the book. I'm not sure if Zizek's aim was to make Derrida seem like beach-reading, however this almost seems to be the case.

What you most likely will be able to take from this book if you are a layman is a grasp of some of the fundamental ironies of Christianity coupled with some poignent anecdotes to flush them out. I don't necessarily trust Zizek's epistemology with regards to his interpretation of scripture, however his observations give one pause.

I with I was more equipped to give a better reading and therefore elaborate on whether his psychoanalysis is accurate and bullet-proof or whether it is indeed bunk. HIs tendency to lampoon Derrida and pick petty fights along with his wholesale dismissal of Deconsructionism leads me to believe that he might be shooting from the hip with a few of his claims.
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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.

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