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on 20 June 2008
This book is short, readable, interesting, truthful to Lacan, funny etc.

But if you want a serious introduction to Lacan which will lead you to understand sentences like "the subject is what a signifier represent for another signifier" or "desire is the desire of the Other" and other kind of Lacanian slogans, you have to know that THERE IS NO EASY WAY INTO LACAN.

I'm saying that because I started with Zizek's Looking Awry which is supposedly an introduction to Lacan as well, then I tried this one but, although you can get what Zizek is getting at, Lacan's thought remains in the background.

Although those books might give an exemple of what can be done with Lacanian theory, I really advice anyone to start with Bruce Fink's Clinical Introduction, and then to get to his Lacanian Subject. I really made a breakthrough in my understanding of Lacan with those two books (which are clear but demanding and rewarding). Another book you might want to consider is Reading Seminars I & II - an excellent collection of essays.

Zizek is perhaps one of the most witty thinkers at the moment, but you will get more out of him once you know more about Lacan, Hegel, Marx and Kant. When you have a good grasp of those thinkers, you'll see Zizek under a totally different light.

I also advice you to read Lacan's Seminar VII which is not really complicated if you have already some knowledge and that you take the time to read. Indeed, this seminar is the one from which Zizek seems to draw most of his material (about Sade, the sublime, the Real and the second death)
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on 26 May 2014
Zizek is a blast to read. You love him or hate him. If you want a straight-forward, comprehensive introduction to Lacan get the Sean Homer book (Zizek recommends it here himself and I got the book on his recommendation - and its very good). Here, Zizek does what he does, which is to take films and use them to illustrate certain of Lacan's concepts in a way that is intriguing and sometimes very illuminating. Even if you don't previously have much idea about Lacan already, you could find yourself being pulled in to both Lacan and Zizek - you have been warned!
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It raises some interesting ideas around Lacan - take the big other - 'we' act as if we are acting in front of someone else. We therefore put on a performance in relation to the other and they also inhabit who we are. All very simple, but not great for the personality. In Langian terms this is called disassociation and the role of therapy is to ground some authenticity and self awareness.

For the philosopher the actualities get in the way of paratactic distortions - the notion that the philosopher gazes outwardly to make presumptions of the world based upon their own phenomenology. We - the rest who make up the rabble - then become cyphers within this will to power. We are inhabited by these thoughts and programmed by them - a part of the hidden agenda of this book. He almost spells it out clearly enough when he talks about the neighbour and the notion of affecting the individual. The rest of it is speculation minus a sense of phenomenology.

The clearest piece of the camouflage is when it comes to rape and how a woman with fantasies experiences being raped. Zizek who knows? Firstly you would have to work therapeutically to comprehend and making a meaning where these ideas stem from. Or are you saying ultimately it is biological and therefore you are a reductionist along the lines of Dawkins - the rape gene - then you are not a philosopher but someone locked in your own psyche desperately trying to impose it.

Or is it Bandura and social learning theory? Perhaps they saw a TV programme and thought I wondered what it is like to be raped? In this case no need for philosophy just cover up the nude statues and censor the programmes.

Is it for for example something to do with being overpowered in earlier years? Perhaps even then it was the only piece of comfort in a barren sterile dry upbringing? At least this brought a sense of closeness or aliveness? Then it is nothing more than fantasy, a sense of disassociation wrapped up in a fantasy. It is a mirage of the self. Therefore when the rape occurs there is a sense of horror and Zizek may well have got this right, but what about the individual who goes to act out their fantasy and enjoys it - chem sex parties anyone? Someone who initiates it and has control - but is this any more authentic than having one sexual partner at a time or being involved in a spontaneous sexual encounter?

Zizek is lost within himself and the corridors of Lacan's mind, wandering around with his metaphors culled from films and books where he is trying to make sense of the world for himself and instead does the conjuring trick where he attempts to make sense of the world on behalf of me. It is always interesting to gain an insight into another world view - but your thoughts are not my thoughts - the first error of Wittgenstein.
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on 10 March 2007
Very useful introduction to Lacan as well as Zizek himself.

I have read the Bowie book (Fontana Masters)which is more comprhensive but I found I have learned more from this book.

Zizek covers Lacan's 'Triad' concepts of the Symbolic, Imaginary and the Real, with a colourful and highly intelligent prose, but never straying from the objective.
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on 13 October 2008
To put it down in the simplest of forms, this book provides what's written on the tin.
It serves to introduce readers (including a layman such as myself) to the dense thought of Lacan, but it's not a mere overview of that - for it would be quite incomplete if it was.

Instead what the book does offer is interpretation and many clear -but never shallow- applications to a wide range of fields of experience and intellectual production: from the "unknown unknowns" in the Iraq's war to Shakespeare's Richard II monologues.
Lacan's concepts are not easy to grasp and this book isn't either, but the pickings are worth it.
Particularly as you'll get an introduction as well to an eclectic thinker, which is Zizek (the "big Other" here, and not a much concealed one!).
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on 8 December 2010
This is probably the best and most accessible introduction to Lacan's way of thinking. It does not cover all the central concepts in Lacan's thought, but it does cover those which are most used by Slavoj Zizek himself. Hence it serves also as a good introduction to Zizek's philosophy. From this book one could progress to Zizek's 'The Sublime Object of Ideology', which also has illuminating discussions of Lacan's theories.
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on 24 December 2012
The book is simplified for a broader audience, but it is very analytical.
Zizek combines his passion for movies with a true mastery on psychoanalysis, his major subject of study.
It is a brilliant solution for those who wish to read something technical but also intriguing, spotting in films what's hidden beneath the surface of the simple plot.
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on 15 September 2014
Buy it, read it. If you're interested in psychology/philosophy Zizek is a must. He's utterly fascinating. This book is a mixture of high brow theory, and popular culture analysis. It's a very enjoyable read.
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on 9 October 2015
Short...funny...readable and interesting. I'd definitely recommend.
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on 10 April 2016
Pretentious and perhaps a tad overindulgent. Good read though.
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