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on 1 December 2012
After watching Slavoj Zizek on you tube like all modern humans are want to do ... I found seeing his magnificence in print exhilarating . I could hear his voice in my head , with all his affectations screaming at me loud and clear, and followed his trains of thought with as much ease as I enjoyed recognising all the filmic references in Skyfall. Zizek is the man of the moment . This latest tome confirms his brilliance without reinforcing my ignorance. Truly wonderful .
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on 27 July 2010
Negative reviews of Zizek's work unimaginatively tend to rehash tired old cliches about his personal mannerisms and his failure to provide neat answers, and consist of plain-English-campaign type moans about a lack of intelligibility etc. etc. Such responses illustrate the image-obsessed, ends-orientated mentality of the bovine mass culture that Zizek consistently undermines.

If your idea of philosophy is Alain de Botton/Roger Scruton you will not like this book, if you fail to appreciate that the role of philosophy is to ask questions not to provide pat answers, again, you will not like this book.

It isn't Zizek's best - but it still provides more than enough challenging ideas and fascinating interpretations(e.g. the notion that the biblical injunction to "turn the other cheek" is actually much more ambiguous than is standardly understood) to justify purchasing it and enjoying the intellectual equivalent of whitewater rafting.
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More years ago than I care to remember I did a political philosophy course at University with a lecturer who would delight in spinning out names which sounded terribly glamorous and obscure. Many of these people seemed to reside in Paris while others seemed quite partial to Frankfurt. They included thinkers like Theodor Adorno, Louis Althusser and Jacques Lacan. The trick with said lecturer was to try and find quotes from books by these "great men" and in turn quote them back at him in your coursework. The slight problem with this theory was that as it turned out much of the stuff that they wrote was unreadable bilge and fashionable nonsense. There wasn't a decent idea to be found and thankfully brighter thinkers and better writers like our own E P Thompson had the gumption to argue against this "poverty of theory". The whole deck of cards came crashing down when Monsieur Althusser decided to kill Madame Althusser by strangling her, while Lacan's works have since been described as an "incoherent system of pseudo-scientific gibberish," and the equally controversial Noam Chomsky described him as an "amusing charlatan". This may or may not be a useful description of Slavoj Zizek who works in the traditions of Mr Lacan albeit with a sense of humour. Some of you may have seen him recently on Newsnight with his manic arm movements, ill-fitting clothes, wayward hair, strange lisp and a mind that can draw upon anything from Marx to Mickey Mouse. He is by any standards that rare beast an entertaining Marxist and in his new book "Living in the end times" you will find his views on "Avatar", "Big Brother" and "Gonzo porn" sat next to impenetrable reflections on obscure heavyweights like Hegel and Alain Badiou

One of Zizek's best-known sound-bytes of a few years ago was that today it was easier to imagine the end of the world rather than an end to capitalism. In his new book "The end of times," he has however mustered a range of questions which whether you are on the right or the left require debate and most importantly require answering. The collapse of the global economy in the past three years, the rise of Market economies in Communist states, the impact of climate change, the rise of religious fundamentalism and in Zizek's case the key issue of film criticism!

He is often berated for his preoccupation with cultural and psychoanalytic gymnastics and his failure to get to grips with politics. There is no shortage of it in "Living in the End times" since Slavoj Zizek concentrates upon what he sees as the four horsemen of this coming apocalypse: the worldwide ecological crisis; imbalances within the economic system; the biogenetic revolution; and exploding social divisions and ruptures. This reviewer would be economical with the truth if I said that I devoured every page of this book since some of it is deeply unreadable and other bits come across like sections lifted from Private Eyes "pseuds corner". If truth be told the whole book is the political equivalent of a high-speed chase with moments of exhilaration combined with the brakes being slammed on while Zizek once again goes wandering off into to some baffling analysis of the post-Cartesian constellation, the cerebral unconscious or the impact of revolutionary love. Some of it is also fascinatingly useless and hilarious. Did you know that "Quantum of Solace" was the first film where Bond didn't have sex with the Bond Girl? Had you noticed the James Cameron's "Avator" was an exercise in "Hollywood Marxism" despite the fact that "idyllic portrait of the blue aborigines totally binds us to their own oppressive hierarchies"? Of course, you didn't.

People have asked whether Zizek is just a pretentious poser, an anti-Semitic left wing zealot or the rightful heir to Karl Marx? Whether he is a philosopher or fool what cannot be denied is that the central propositions in this book require examination. "No one asks the big questions" is his constant refrain, similarly we are "approaching a zero point, with a formula which does not work...and the welfare state dream has come to an end". The experience of the last period suggests that someone had better answer this critique since it was clear that we tottered on the edge of the abyss when Lehman's collapsed and the current sovereign debt crisis with countries verging on bankruptcy sees dangerous times ahead. To be fair to Zizek he is also an arch critic of former communist regimes but his argument is very weak on alternatives where again he lapses into to psychoanalytic thought and ends the book with a very lame joke. Zizek also tries unconvincingly to address the predicament of the deeply defeated progressives of today whose ideological confusion has been brilliantly captured by Nick Cohen in "What's left". Consequently, I think I can recommend "Living in the end times" or at least half of it. Perhaps it is worth checking out Zizek on the net before you buy since you find a thinker who is certainly hugely entertaining, thought provoking but completely maddening in equal parts.
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on 15 June 2012
There are few books that I have read which, on reading them, have made me reconsider what I know and how I frame my epistemological position in research. However, Slavoj Zizek's Living in End Times did exactly that when I picked it up. I found it an engaging read which balances pinpoint psychoanalysis and reference to Lacanian theory with bold statements about the current crisis which the world faces. Completely eye opening...
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on 23 May 2015
Excellently written, very informative & enlightening if your looking for no nonsense answers to many of modern day trickery
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on 6 August 2010
Unfortunatley, i don't have the time to finish this review but i hope what follows will give a flavour of how the book works. And also, i wouldn't want to give the game away before its been read. Iwouldn't give this 5 stars as in 'epoch changing' but considering the elevation of stars on amazon reviews 5 stars is given, with the note its far more important than that...

To paraphrase Foucault's comment on Deleuze with regards to the twenty-first century; 'one day, perhaps, this century will be called Zizekian'. Although given current form this doesn't seem entirely unlikely for Slavoj Zizek (Living in the end times is a work of considerable substance) one does wander how future generations will label and relate to Zizek's work apropos of his esoteric style. The Marxist/Lacanian/Anti Post-Structuralist (to happen upon but a few of the labels attached) philosopher defies such classifications at each and every turn, as he investigates the symptoms of capitalism against the back drop of what one might call 'liberal global capitalism'. As anyone with even a passing interest in the work of Zizek might expect, this process is achieved through analysis of any number of high and low cultural reference points. Along the way we find mentions of Proust, Dan Brown, Kafka, World of Warcraft, Wagner, Avatar and Rammstein interspersed with the usual Marxist/Hegelian method of criticism revealing the 'symptoms' of our capitalist society. The structure is a little different form the usual six topics-six chapters formula, here we have five topics (in the style of the Kubler-Ross stages of grief model) linked together by four interludes. As stated in the introduction (xi; 'One can discern the same five figures in the way our social consciousness attempts to deal with the forthcoming apocalypse'. The four riders of the apocalypse are (x); 'comprised by the ecological crisis, the consequences of the biogenetic revolution, imbalances within the system itself and the explosive growth of social divisions and exclusions'. Each chapter seeks to discuss the problems and possible solutions therein.

1. Denial; the Liberal Utopia

In this chapter Zizek outlines what he believes are the problems with the form of 'liberal global capitalism', the idea that 'tolerance' automatically excludes certain parts of the population (here he refers to Agamben's notion of Homo Sacer) in order to universalize such notions. Here, the example is given of human rights juxtaposed with the illegal torture of those in Guantanamo Bay echoing Kant's ideas on 'organizing the conflict of the hostile impressions present in people in such a way that they must compel themselves to submit' (p36) A familiar topic for Zizek readers, this largely being covered under the name 'subjective violence' in the book, 'Violence'. From this is drawn 'the basic paradox of liberalism. An anti-ideological and anti-utopian stance is inscribed into the very core of the liberal vision...the principle of the new global order, gradually replicates the very features of the enemy it claims to right' (p38). Herein lies the charge that it is liberalism itself which is utopian. The solution? 'The thing to do is change the entire field, introducing a totally different Universal...'trans-cultural' shared struggle'. (p53)

(i) Interlude 1. Hollywood Today; Report from an ideological battlefield

`When even products of an allegedly `liberal' Hollywood display the most blatant ideological regression, is any further proof required that ideology is alive and kicking in our post-ideological world?' (p66). This interlude shares a similar task as that of Zizek's first book `the sublime object of ideology', that is, demonstrating ideology (and its influence) where we think there is none (pop-culture, customs etc). Specifically this chapter focuses on Hollywood remakes such as `3:10 to Yuma' and `I am Legend' and how the change between versions demonstrates the ideological underpinnings of our society. Re-using the example of Kung-Fu Panda (Also present in `First as Tragedy...') Zizek employs the Lacanian formula of `objet a' (that which is in the object more than itself) to state the position of ideology today `I know very well there is no special ingredient, but I nonetheless believe in it' (p70); that of fetishistic disavowal. The solution resides in psychoanalysis' ability to `help us include in the freedom to enjoy also the freedom not to enjoy, the freedom from enjoyment' (p74). In other words `we should resist the urge to fill the void with the rich texture of what makes us a person' (p76) because `if we change reality only in order to realize our dreams, without changing these dreams themselves, then sooner or later we will regress to the former reality' (p79).

2. Anger: The actuality of the Theologico-Political

Using the model of Christ `turning the other cheek', this chapter discusses what action we can take with regards to culture, accepting the fall of the big other (think Nietzsche's `God is dead') as a means to create an actual political act in today's society. If culture consists largely of `pretend[ing] not to know and act[ing] as if something which has happened did not in fact happen' (p133) then it is our task to `avoid the confusion between individual convictions and beliefs inscribed into the very logic of the system in which we participate' (p131) . Our task is to think backwards; `we have to leap back in time before the fateful decisions were made or before the accidents occurred that generated the state which now seems normal to us' (p88) in order to `render palpable this open moment of decision' (ibid). But what then should we do upon reaching this point of free-choice? We should identify with `The Name (of the leader); it is this Name which pushes us towards an engagement that goes beyond the limits of pragmatic-strategic "politics of the possible"' (p128). The point here is to identify with a cause rather than `truth' (for example the role of science within a capitalist society against a cause and science as separate entities.) Yet not to blindly follow the leader `I fully assume the belief in myself, accepting that there is no Other to believe for me, in my place.'(p134)

(II) Interlude 2. Reverberations of the crisis in a Multi-Centric

This passage centres on the premise that `Jews are effectively the objet petit a of the Gentiles' (p135) and that this is the form of anti-Semitism today with regards to the Israel-Palestine situation. Israel ` Is busy creating a situation on the ground which will render such a solution impossible' (p143), whilst Palestinians are forced to live in an undemocratic state as a result of the democratic states of Israel and The U.S.A. which endeavour to `weaken the Palestinians by undermining the position of Al-Fatah' (p148) . Zizek draws the parallel between Hamas and Taliban with regards to U.S. funding. The passage moves through an analysis of China's growing economic power, alongside that of Europe ultimately suggesting that capitalism is opposed to true democracy. China's growth stands out as a concern precisely because it has achieved success within a capitalist framework without a democratic system. Europe, Zizek fears, could well end up on the same path as China with the example of the Irish referendum of Europe serving as a key example `therein resides the lesson in the way the Brussels bureaucracy reacted to the Irish `no'...we are quite literally required to vote on (that is, confirm) complex texts which are beyond our reach'. (p179) According to Zizek, The problem facing Europe is its lack of principle, the lack of a simple constitution a la the United States thus disenfranchising the population.
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on 20 August 2012
There is a lot not to understand about existence, but, in favour of 'the public use of reason', Zizek does actually intend for you to understand him.

Let us see: he casts aspersions upon the contemporary life and culture of us all. This appeals to adolescents, and is fun in itself; the deeper reason for this is that he believes that Communism is the sole alternative to Capitalism.

He understands that ours is a capitalist culture; he explains, in this book, why capitalism is almost unchallengeable; he explains why it must be challenged: it must be challenged because it is the main cause of all the ways in which the human race is going to destroy itself.

We live at the moment when the world is going to collapse. We also live at a time when everyone really knows that Capitalism is the cause of this collapse; but, at a time when there is no obvious way out of it.

First we deny this coming doom; then we grow angry; then we bargain with it; then we will grow despairing; and finally we will accept it - the destruction of our life world, and the end of Capitalism.

I mention only three things, finally.. 1. What the causes of the collapse will most likely be; 2. What Zizek's medicine is; 3. Why this book is so strange.

1. The causes of the collapse will be rogue states with nukes, or, ecological disaster, or, man made superbug, and things of that kind.

2. Zizek proposes a return to revolutionary thinking, politics, totalitarian style thinking - based however on having learned lessons from the mistakes of the past - without however, giving up on the risk and the 'violence'. Zizek also calls upon the Christian religion in a certain register as the religion in which the God is dead, the big Other is dead - and that the religion's true message is precisely that: we are now alone with each other, and that this can be divine. This alone-togetherness in divinity can bind us together in the difficult things we have to do.

3. The book is not a treatise or a consistent work. It is obviously a collection of notes stuck together. One cannot help noticing that, though everything is interesting in it, the book is only tangentially following an 'argument'.
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on 11 April 2014
Some very weak theory but in some instances a good attempt to rationalise current trends. There is a lot of beating about the bush.
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on 10 August 2010
"Living in the end times" is heavy stuff, but easy to read and rather entertaining at times. Zizek knows exactly what he is doing with a book like this, namely to inform us about the truth and background of the times we live in.
This book should be shortened down a bit and made digestible for more people!
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on 2 April 2012
Zizek is a man who sees. He has an instinct that the pall of foreboding which hangs over western life is a bereavement waiting to happen or which has already occurred but has not been recognised. This is about right in my view. He points ahead to the buffers which our runaway train of reckless consumption and exploitation is destined to meet.

As a Christian with an interest in the current relevance of the Apocalypse I found some of his insights into scripture interesting (but somewhat crippled by his "Death of God" atheism).

Many reviewers accuse him of being "post-modern" but that is not quite fair. He seems to believe his synthesis of Lacan, Hegel, Marx and textual analysis forms a powerful glue with which he can paste together his disparate flashes of insight - so producing a collage which becomes a coherent view of our current state. I wanted to be convinced but by the end of the book it was the centrifugal flashes of brilliance which remained in my memory while the structure of his thinking crumpled and crumbled.

The collage remains a collection of parts.

Does this matter to someone wondering whether to read this book? For myself, I am glad I read it. But be prepared to slog through some of the opaque passages. It seems to me that the mood of this book is more convincing than its reasoning. There is a sickness in our late capitalist culture, the skeletons in our overstuffed closets are rattling and trumpets are sounding in the distance. Zizek hears them even if his interpretation of their message may not convince. And the paperback is great value.
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