How to Read Lacan Paperback – 4 Sep 2006
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Slavoj Zizek was named in Prospect as one of the top 100 public intellectuals of our day
'Zizek's books [are so] erudite and witty, [that] they're quite moreish. the range and scope of his analogies are tremendous' --Artist Mark Wallinger, On My Radar, Observer
About the Author
Slavoj Zizek, philosopher and psychoanalyst, heads the International Center of Humanities at Birkbeck College. His numerous books, translated into more than 30 languages, include The Parallax View and Lacan: the Silent Partners
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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)
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!).
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.
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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