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SECOND THOUGHTS FURTHER THOUGHTS

More, re Zizek.
Maybe my fear is that with Lacan and Derrida and others, you were forced to engage with it on its own terms - it was difficult, almost alien to begin with. You had to work through it, and that could take months, years, decades even; and in the process of doing this work, you would find changes in your self taking place, almsot imperceptibly, but gradually, until your whole way of looking at the world (not just Groovy Movies) changed. And what I fear or am suspicious of in Zizek is that it is Lite Age theory, Theory Lite (ironic, given what Zizek himself has said about such things in the past), where we are given the End Result, without having to do any of the work ourselves. See, look here, at this dizzying scene from a sexy dark movie like Mulholland Drive or The Matrix - "we can see clearly here" that this "illustrates" Lacan's notion that X = petit a. Or whatever. And new viewers or readers can go - 'Ah, great, that's that and that's that out of the way then...' Or, if they proceed to "do it themselves" then it just becomes an all too easy filter you stretch across The Next Groovy Movie, to produce an all too effortless 'Zizekian' or 'Lacanian' "reading" ...

I was thinking all this while/after reading this illuminating interview with Peter Lamborn Wilson from a few years back...

PLW: "I would say that I think there really does have to be a refusal of what's called "information" on behalf of what we might call "knowledge," or even "wisdom" if you wanted to use dangerous words. My personal response to this is to refuse the data. You know, how much more do I need to know? Do I really need to know over and over and over again that governments are bad and that human beings are made to suffer? Do I need to know a thousand new details about the ways in which poor humanity is being stepped on once again? Is that really news? It's also a psychological truth that information that you don't work for, that you don't go after, that you don't struggle to get, really doesn't mean very much to you on a deep level. So when you can press a button and get 6,000 hits -- and you saw the same thing happening after 09/11, it doesn't take any work at all, not the least bit of effort, not even physical effort -- so what is it going to mean ultimately, to the development of your higher consciousness shall we say? I don't think it means very much. In fact I think it can have a paradoxical counter effect, which is that the more of this information you take in, the darker things get. I call it the "lite age" as opposed to the dark ages. A situation where you have all the information all the time -- completely accessible -- where in other words there are no secrets, or there's a perception that there are no secrets, that there's no information that we can't get. This kind of false omnipotence, this superman of information. It's an image that we all have of ourselves now, in the age where nothing remains, well, secret, where there are no mysteries. In this way, there is also no knowledge: None of these data have any more value than any of the other data. It's never processed into knowledge. And knowledge is never processed into wisdom. So, yes, I think that you do actually have to refuse, or at least to a certain extent. Years ago a friend of mine called it "media fasting." The idea is that in order to overcome the difficulties that certainly the unconscious gets into when you just immerse yourself in this data flow night and day, you just have to stop, at least for some time. My solution in recent months was to limit myself to print, which is poisonous enough, believe me, really poisonous, and I can only imagine how awful the electronic media must be...."

posted by Ian 7/04/2006 01:41:00 PM

Comments:
this may in tself be a lazy supposition but couldn't the programme at least be seen as a gateway drug? i showed it to a few of my 16 year old students a few weeks back and it fits in quite well with the level of analysis that is expected from them at A level... none of them had previously heard of Zizek except from a few quotations I've put into their course booklets (Psychology) but some were very definitely interested in him as an intellectual (it helps that he fits their understanding of that term, right down to the lisping) and I find it hard to dismiss their interest out of hand just because it's making it too easy...

of course, perhaps they themselves have had their sights / expectations/ intellectual aspirations lowered by this kind of TV intellectualism but at least they're a little bit interested in something that's not immediately on their agenda / syllabus / specification...

i liked his hair, though not as nice as Derrida (who I think refused to be made accessible not because his work could not be prepared in that way but because it would break the carefully crafted illusion that there was any thought there at all; nothing will convince me that Derrida's theories and persona are anything other than a spectacularly elaborate and enduring piece of performance art (didn't Gilbert and George do a piece based on one of his books - ?)

(Deep Breath: P

Put keyboard down.

And Relax.
 
i'm fully prepared to admit that my reaction to Zizek is (over) emotional (or, better say temperamental maybe) rather than anything more 'rigorous'... whatever it is he 'has', it just misses me: i've been reading his stuff for years now and can't get over this base feeling that i'm being sold a pup. coincidentally, i have the same negative reaction to darian leader's books. temperamentally, i react badly to the constant - the *self confident* - reduction to simple formulae: 'So, we see cleearly here that this scene in Jane Austen / Batman / Alien' = X. Yeah, OK. And now?
 
wdn't be *quite so bad* if he had a stock of out-of-the-way films/auteurs (and of course he's an auteurist, right?) to run his script on, but all he's actually done is take already consecrated films, often by directors who were playing with psychoanalytic ideas in the first place (lynch, hitch). he adds exactly nothing.

i have asked this at different times and different places, but within the area of psychoanalysis/psychology/etc, does lacan have much in the way of chops? is it not worrying that this bulwark of the academic film studies sausage factory is never contested even on his own ground?
 
Zizeck's TV show was quite disappointing - standard stuff you'd do in media studies a-level back in the late 80's/early 90's. I - foolishly - went on to study this stuff as an undergrad, so I'm all Derrida-ed/Barthed/Lacan-ed out. I remember trying to relate 'texts' to socio-political REALITY (not 'phantasy'), or even Hollywood business practices, and being looked at as if I was the village idiot. Endless Lacanian garbage about Westerns and war movies - without once mentioning nationalism, economics or race. Well, duh - wars and genocides are about an incomplete 'mirror stage' apparently. The kind of academic 'vanguard' who played their part in handing academia over to corporate interests. Tossers.

Also using horror, sexual nightmares and surrealism to prove the point (and as said elsewhere, made by people who are very clued up on psychoano). Might even be an interesting parlour game if applied to 'Police Academy', 'Eastenders' or 'Fletch'.

Is there anything left to say about 'Blue Velvet' or 'Vertigo' that isn't concsiously displayed on the screen in all its conceptual obviousness? That's why the more pretentious critics love these films - they give 'em a chance to talk about how tewwibly well-read they are.

My love of cinema (as a substance, as a thing-in-the-world that can MOVE) comes from its 'magick', that somehow these unterfreudians have digested and burped out into a series of psychological cliches. Please never let them get their hands on music... AGUIRRE ANON
 
Yeah - it alays seems to be Vertigo or Blue Velvet or Peeping Tom - never Heathers or Caddyshack or whatever. Zizek et al say 'We are talking here about CINEMA!' - but it's a very specialist, fetishised little canonic sushi-slice menu of friendly-to-psychoanalytic-crib movies they seem to endlessly revisit, to mostly wring out observations of egregious obviousness. ('This scene in Blue Velvet is about The Gaze...' Well, DUH!) That they mostly pick on films that merely *illustrate* what they always knew they were going to say anyway (phallus, gaze, objet peit a, blah blah blah), is maybe no concidence. I.e., it's a bit harder to paint wicked, spectral "SINema" as a theatre of gaze and whisper and trapdoor and scintillation" if your raw material isn't Mulholland Drive, but, I don't know, the latest Jackie Chan or Drew Barrymore light comedy vehicle. (BTW: I *like* Drew.)
Something that started out as a destabilisation of all ontologies of certainty (Lacan, via Heidegger, Hegel and Kojeve) is now rolled out as THE TRUTH, Ths SAME Truth in all different situations, a Truth you must not challenge or doubt. "In this we see that X = Lacan's Y." Lego theory.
 
Some 'post'-derrida/lacan movies/tv made by the pomo film studies generation:
DONNIE DARKO
BATMAN BEGINS
ADAPTATION
BEING JOHN MALKOVICH
SIX FEET UNDER
ETERNAL SUNSHINE
MEMENTO
BAD EDUCATION
KISS KISS BANG BANG
LOST
THE MATRIX
SIN CITY
REQUIEM FOR A DREAM
HULK
KING KONG (2005)
IRREVERSIBLE
Some motifs:
HI-CONCEPT CONFUSION
DOUBLES/MASKS
'IS IT REALITY?' DREAM SEQUENCES
CHILDISH SOURCES (COMICS, VIDEOGAMES, DRUGS ETC.)
MONSTERS WITH 'ADULT' HANG-UPS
TOO-CUTE TOO-YOUNG ACTORS
GROOVY ELECTONIC GIZMOS
SHREK
ANYTHING BY PIXAR
ANYTHING BY COEN BROTHERS
Do they exist to confirm post-structuralist theory? Does anyone have other examples so we can concoct a handy list for film studies essays
 
My favourite module of film studies was 8o's cinema (a goldmine of trash with weird political clues). There was a helluva lot of fascinating anxieties back then.

Watched 'Cobra' and 'Ghostbusters' and 'Police Academy 2' and 'Trading Places' recently and they're full of all kinds of Reaganite contradictions; with a large dose of social anxiety (all those murderous sneering hispanics! Valkerie-ish women with huge tits! Nouveau riche clowns with too much power! Cops who clean their guns with sexual relish! Close-ups of oily men's muscles! The obsession with WINNING!).

Not paticularly Lacanian (or any 'good')- but much more theoretically interesting if we are to actually think about the place of production line crap in the world. Hey I love Polanski, but outside 'auteur' egos, society 'breathes' through its trashier products... remember PK Dick's concept of 'Kipple?' AGUIRRE ANON
 
on tonight's program he said that when women are having sex they are simultaneously making a narrative of it. Well, we've all done that!
 
"Yeah - it alays seems to be Vertigo or Blue Velvet or Peeping Tom - never Heathers or Caddyshack or whatever."

In all fairness, he did spend sometime on 'Groundhogs Day' in his book 'Looking Awry'and way too much time on 'The Graduate' in His latest. Its interesting to see how so many academics hate Zizek and Derrida, but both seem to come as such a breath of fresh air to many in the 'art community' to whom reading Kant and even Heidegger is like reading the Bible. I agree that Zizek's use of examples sometimes makes him sound like an absolutist, and i think its because even though he will deny it to his grave, deep down he wants to be a philosopher, which i dont consider him to be. It makes reading his books much easier when your not expecting anything monumental. They are like a much better written, less patronising Cliffsnotes.
 
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