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The Sublime Object of Ideology (Essential Zizek) [Paperback]

Slavoj Zizek
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 Jan 2009 Essential Zizek
Slavoj Zizek, the maverick philosopher, author of over 30 books, acclaimed as the "Elvis of cultural theory," and today's most controversial public intellectual. His work traverses the fields of philosophy, psychoanalysis, theology, history and political theory, taking in film, popular culture, literature and jokes all to provide acute analyses of the complexities of contemporary ideology as well as a serious and sophisticated philosophy. His recent films The Pervert's Guide to the Cinema and Zizek! reveal a theorist at the peak of his powers and a skilled communicator. Now Verso is making his classic titles, each of which stand as a core of his ever-expanding life's work, available as new editions. Each is beautifully re-packaged, including new introductions from Zizek himself. Simply put, they are the essential texts for understanding Zizek's thought and thus cornerstones of contemporary philosophy.

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The Sublime Object of Ideology (Essential Zizek) + How to Read Lacan + First As Tragedy, Then As Farce
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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Verso Books; New Ed edition (1 Jan 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844673006
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844673001
  • Product Dimensions: 19.7 x 13.8 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 10,040 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"Zizek leaves no social or cultural phenomenon untheorized, and is master of the counterintuitive observation" New Yorker "The giant of Ljubljana provides the best intellectual high since Anti-Oedipus." The Village Voice "The Elvis of cultural theory." Chronicle of Higher Education "Unafraid of confrontation and with a near limitless grasp of pop symbolism" The Times "Zizek is a thinker who regards nothing as outside his field: the result is deeply interesting and provocative." Guardian "The most formidably brilliant exponent of psychoanalysis, indeed of cultural theory in general, to have emerged in many decades." Terry Eagleton "Zizek is one of the few living writers to combine theoretical rigor with compulsive readability." Publishers Weekly"

About the Author

Slavoj Zizek is the maverick philosopher, author of over 30 books and acclaimed as the 'Elvis of cultural theory', is today's most controversial public intellectual.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ideology for Perverts? 18 Oct 2013
By Rough Diamond TOP 1000 REVIEWER
I bought this having been intrigued by Zizek's latest movie 'The Pervert's Guide to Ideology'. As a non-specialist and a non-academic, I have to say I found it a very challenging read. Zizek takes for granted that his audience will have a thorough and detailed understanding of Kant, Hegel, Marx, Freud, Lacan, Foucauld and Althusser. I don't, and as an occasional and dilettantish dabbler in philosophy and critical theory, I found myself having to backtrack and re-read passage after passage to grasp the thread of Zizek's thought.

I'm glad I persevered. Zizek's attempt to synthethise Freudian / Lacanian psychoanalysis with Marx's theories of commodity-values and capital is truly heroic in its ambition. By orchestrating arguments from both sides of the tracks, I think Zizek comes up with something genuinely original, and disturbing, about how ideology operates in (post-)modern Western society. In doing so, he give us some properly mind-boggling, perception-warping nuggets of insight. I should however warn any non-academic reader that they will need to fight hard for them, through many dense thickets of (for me at least) complex and difficult theory. If only it were a little easier to understand I might have given this the five stars it probably deserves!

Congratulations to Verso Books, not just for re-issuing this book at all, but for the exceptionally high quality of the printing and binding. This is a book that has been built to withstand multiple re-readings, and which looks and feels absolutely beautiful.
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The lighter side of nihilism 17 Jun 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Zizek's first book is a journey into the vacuum at the heart of ideology and 'the subject' himself. He reaches Hegel via a long journey exploring the thinking of Lacan - the Hegel that opposed Kant's idea of a more concrete, transcendant 'thing in itself' lying behind mere appearance. Hegel, rather, saw that behind appearance lies nothing other than our own subjectivity, a subjectivity which is based on an illusory, formal construct. Ideology itself is presented as another construct of this type, at the heart of which is the empty space of 'the real'. Zizek also presents Lacan's themes of 'che vuoi?', in which the limitations of ideology are seen in relation to human nature, and the psychoanalytic perpective on the 'symptom'. According to Lacan it was Marx who invented the symptom and, in the context of this book, can be seen as a motivation for ideological thought. Zizek is however more than just a barrow-boy for these 2 influential thinkers, and offers his own insights and a welcome entertainment value in the form of many references to works of art and cultural icons.
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10 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent book 3 April 2010
this is one of the best books. I bought this book, and I also intend to translate it into arabic so that other people who do not spak english can read it.
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0 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars for what they have suffered 30 Sep 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Good book. Now I would like reading the version for the Jews.
In this version WE would be the others and the Jews would be the centre of the world
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An early masterpiece of Zizek's 30 Mar 2011
By C. B. Murphey - Published on Amazon.com
In typical Zizekian fashion, this book (his first published in English) is all over the place, from Shakespeare to Kafka, from Hitchcock to strange sexual practices. But don't get caught up in the distractions; Zizek works through some major theoretical points.

This was a major point in the book for me, and gives you an idea of where you're heading:

"But the case of so-called 'totalitarianism' demonstrates what applies to every ideology, to ideology as such: the last support of the ideological effect (of the way an ideological network of signifiers 'holds' us) is the non-sensical, pre-ideological kernel of enjoyment. In ideology 'all is not ideology (that is, ideological meaning)', but it is this very surplus which is the last support of ideology. That is why we could say that there are also two complementary procedures of the 'criticism of ideology':
- one is discursive, the 'symptomal reading' of the ideological text bringing about the 'deconstruction' of the spontaneous experience of its meaning - that is, demonstrating how a given ideological field is a result of a montage of heterogeneous 'floating signifiers', of their totalization through the intervention of certain 'nodal points';
- the other aims at extracting the kernel of enjoyment, at articulating the way in which - beyond the field of meaning but at the same time internal to it - an ideology implies, manipulates, produces a pre-ideological enjoyment structured in fantasy." (140)

The first procedure operates at the level of the imaginary and symbolic, while the second operates in the real. It is at this second level that we find the sublime object of ideology.

This book is for philosophers and others inaugurated into critical theory. As someone said in a recent review: just as you wouldn't buy a race car and complain that it goes too fast, don't get this book if you're going to complain that it's too 'dense.' If you have any grounding in Lacan, though, you should be able to get through it. Might take a reread.
29 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Sublime Object Of Ideology 13 Oct 2009
By Nin Chan - Published on Amazon.com
This is where it all began for Zizek, and I would say that this really remains his best book. It is certainly the most useful of all of his texts, alongside The Ticklish Subject, as well as being the most organized of them all. It is here that Zizek provides his fullest exposition of his method, demystifying in the process a series of misconceptions regarding Marx and Freud. Central to this text is his reclamation of Freud from the devastating critique of Deleuze & Guattari (Capitalism & Schizophrenia). If you remember, Deleuze & Guattari's objection to Freud lay in his fetishization of the dream's `latent (Oedipal) content' over its formal, machinic assemblage- what results is an occlusion of the dream's subversive socio-political content, foreclosing the productive power of the unconscious by quarantining it in the familial triangle. Hence the persistent opposition of asignifying `desiring-production' to mythological `expression'. Zizek, in his reading of The Interpretation Of Dreams, reveals the structural homology of Freud and Marx- Marx, in his conception of `commodity fetish', is close to the Freudian problematic of the dream. In both, the question is a strictly formalist one: why does the dream/commodity assume this determinate form and not another? This is the guiding question of Zizek's materialist critique- how do specific ideologies `quilt' and constitute themselves? How does a symbolic field mask its Real (the immanent gap that prevents it from closing in on itself) through fantasmatic (Imaginary) displacements? Why are such displacements necessary, if an ideology is to hide the irrepressible antagonism that lies at its core? Is the postmodern annunciation of the `end of ideology' the consummate expression of ideology, its ultimate historical realization? Take it from me, this is worth your time.
16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Real Deal 17 Jun 2010
By Theodor Adorno - Published on Amazon.com
This was his breakthrough book that led to him becoming an internationally recognised thinker who consistently brings complex philosophical/psychoanalytical concepts into the spotlight.

Anyone with any pretensions to being philosphically inclined should welcome the legions of new readers Zizek has attracted to such difficult writers such as Kant, Hegel, Schelling etc.

I think knee-jerk reactions that use phrases such as "charlatan" reveal more about the accuser than the accused. It's also rather surprising that such an allegedly "obfuscatory" writer should sell books in such large quantities to non-specialists who somehow manage to engage with his ideas with gusto.

There are plenty of reasons to disagree with Zizek, but to claim there is nothing behind his work can perhaps best be explained by the concept of negative transference???
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is an intellectual look at the currently wreckage of American and European economics and politics, and offers solutions. 18 Feb 2014
By gary j pile - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Zizek is the philosopher and political thinker of our age. He is well known in Europe for his opposition to austerity. Zizek realizes that current capitalism is on the ropes, and ripe to be replaced by a new economic system. He has the answers for what can evolve. Its a great book, but the readers needs a ready knowledge of historical political and philosophical thought.
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars echoes of our confederacy 3 Mar 2013
By Bruce P. Barten - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I read Zizek with the same kind of openness to trauma that I experience with the Adam Phillips book Terrors and Experts. When Zizek calls Rosa Luxemburg hysterical, I feel the hysteria of history repeating itself because the first time for anything is always a premature time, and only failed attempts can establish how furious people become when the things they expected as children become impossible for their own children and grandchildren. To quote the choice I found in the second chapter:

Here, in the opposition between Bernstein
and Luxemburg, we have the opposition
between the obsessional (man)
and the hysterical (woman) :
the obsessional is delaying,
putting off the act,
waiting for the right moment,
while the hysterical (so to speak)
overtakes herself in her act and
thus unmasks the falsity of the obsessional's position. (p. 63).

The only way things are different now is that government as a numbers racket has gone on far too long, making an ideology of wealth that is a fantasy for the false identities of institutions which continue to draw down electronic transactions they can treat as money like transference takes over the thoughts of people in an analysis in which Truth arises from misrecognition (p. 62).

The pages which follow, about Julius Caesar being assassinated to protect the Republic in Rome, only to have Augustus become a Caesar because the Republic had not gathered power as effectively as an individual ruler could, is the kind of information that is already a few thousand years old for a society that has higher swindle fanatics crushing individual intentions as diverse as pleasure addictions and money laundering. People who hope that anything intentional is individual are only talking to nobodies until millions of people know who they are. We can't be ruled by any sublime object of ideology because we don't go that way.

This book is like a Marx brothers joke about the American Civil War if you shift back 150 years and change some of the names.
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