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Zizek's Jokes: (Did You Hear the One About Hegel and Negation?) Hardcover – 4 Apr 2014

3.8 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 168 pages
  • Publisher: MIT Press (4 April 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262026716
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262026710
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1.1 x 19 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 338,179 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Slavoj Zizek 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.


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3.8 out of 5 stars
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is a collection of jokes by Slovenian Marxist philosopher, psychoanalyst and cultural critic Slavoj Zizek.

Zizek is fond of upsetting people (he keeps a picture of Stalin in his house just to annoy visitors) and has no problems making jokes about taboo subjects. I think the book is best summed up with some example jokes but unfortunately Amazon does not allow controversial content so I am limited to the non offensive material.

1)
THE MEANING OF A SCENE can change entirely with the shift in the subjective point, as in a classic Soviet joke in which Brezhnev dies and is taken to Hell; however , since he was a great leader, he is given the privilege to be taken on a tour and select his room there. The guide opens a door and Brezhnev sees Khruschev sitting on a sofa, passionately kissing Marilyn Monroe in his lap; he joyously exclaims: "I wouldn't mind being in this room!" The guide snaps back: 'Don't be too eager, comrade! This is not the room in hell for Khruschev , but for Marilyn Monroe!'

2)
A JOKE FROM THE EARLY 1960S nicely renders the paradox of the presupposed belief. After Yuri Gagarin, the first cosmonaut, made his visit to space, he was received by Nikita Khruschev, the general secretary of the Communist Party, and told him confidentially: "You know, comrade, that up there in the sky, I saw heaven with God and angels-- Christianity is right!" Khruschev whispers back to him: "I know, I know, but keep quiet, don't tell this to anyone!" Next week, Gagarin visited the Vatican and was received by the pope, to whom he confides: "You know, holy father, I was up there in the sky and I saw there is no God or angels ..." "I know, I know," interrupts the pope, "but keep quiet, don't tell this to anyone!
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By Rough Diamond TOP 500 REVIEWER on 24 Oct. 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Anyone familiar with Zizek's books, films and teaching knows that jokes and joking are central to his practice - and usually the smuttier and the more politically incorrect the joke the better. This trait stems from something much deeper than an 'enfant terrible' desire to shock. Zizek understands that the things that make jokes funny - that is, the paradoxes, reversals, blind spots and petty humiliations of our lives - are the very stuff of the human condition; the very stuff, in fact, that his two great gurus, Lacan and Hegel, once sought to codify into brain-shreddingly abstract theory.

And this is where Zizek's twin gifts for analogy and for breezy Yugoslav coarseness come into play. How better to make tangible an idea as elusively abstract as, say, Hegelian double-negation, than by using a string of corny, smutty, soviet-era jokes to illustrate exactly how it works? This, clearly, is the concept behind 'Zizek's Jokes', which comes closer than any previous book to fulfilling Wittgenstein's prediction that one day a serious work of philosophy could be written consisting entirely of jokes.

Hardcore Zizek-spotters will be familiar with much of this material already. Almost all the quips and anecdotes in this fairly slim volume have been extracted from previously-published work. I have to say that, stripped of their original context as small islands of crude levity in a vast churning sea of dense theory, they actually lose some of their power to jolt the reader awake with a sudden flash of guilty understanding. And you certainly wouldn't buy this book for the jokes themselves, very few of which are all that funny, and many of which are grossly misogynistic and/or anti-semitic.

For all that, and against all odds, this still an oddly appealing curio.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The sociologist Slavoj Žižek is a critic worth listening to and he is not afraid of truth however embarrassing this might be.
Most of the jokes are about sex, religion or politics. Some of the jokes are ‘nicely vulgar’ and others are coarse, low or accompanied by a philosophical explanation of the humor.

Some of the jokes we have heard before:

The pope and Bill Clinton die at the same time. By mistake the pope goes to hell and Clinton to heaven. After a few days the mistake is discovered and the two meet when switching places.
The pope says: I can’t wait to meet the holy virgin.
Clinton. She’s not a virgin anymore.

Religion frequently appears in the jokes. The young girl prays to Virgin Mary:

O, thou who conceived without having sinned, let me sin without having to conceive.

In other jokes Žižek explains the expression ‘politically correctness’ when for instance the word torture is replaced by enhanced interrogation technique, an expression that approaches something almost acceptable.
Something like this may have happened with the vocabulary when the Western countries were looking for imaginary mass destruction weapons in the Iraq of Sadam Hussein, and the American invitation to the European countries to join the hunt is compared to the joke about the man who is accompanying a young woman to her home:

She: Would you like to come up and have a cup of coffee?
He: Thank you, but I don’t like coffee.
She: That’s ok. I don’t have any.

As usual Žižek refers to several philosophers: Hegel, Heidegger, Kierkegaard, and we also hear about Freud, Monty Python and
Marx Brothers:

This man may look like an idiot and act like an idiot, but don’t let that fool you – he really is an idiot!
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