Somewhere Zizek quips that Hollywood has an element of the soft left in it. I think two recent examples are The International with Clive Owen and Peter Jackson’s latest offering District 9. Both suffer from liberal individualism. In The International this translates into fatalism and in District 9 this translates into an escape into the “big Other.” In the former, Clive Owen confronts a once-idealistic East-German Communist about his aiding and abetting a global bank that directly invests in war mongering. (Another weakness of the film is that in it capital’s evils are reduced to its military investments and actions, rather than seeing that the system itself is exploitation and destruction.) The communist momentarily revives his past idealism and tells Owen that he will help him bring down the bank, but that he (Owen) will have to step outside legal limits in order to make real change.

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The Death-Driven Penguin

March 18, 2009

Here’s a link to a written version of Zizek’s comments on Children of Men.

New Book…

September 21, 2008

Here’s another book to look out for…  but I think the release has been delayed.

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Slavoj Zizek (But Were Afraid to Ask Alfred Hitchcock) by Laurence Simmons.

Does anyone know anything about the author?

This is a comic strip called Garfield Minus Garfield, where the artist takes the little orange piece of shit out of the frame. The comic above reminds me of Robert DeNiro’s “You talkin’ to me” routine. The difference is that DeNiro does this with reference to his mirror-rival and the absent voice, and Jon is talking to the missing object. In place of DeNiro’s impotence appearing as anger and the gun from his sleeve, Jon is embarrassed and “hides his shame.”

Here Jon meets DeNiro as a woman; it’s the ‘object’ that speaks, rather than the subject – You lookin’ at me? This is the object as embodiment of gaze, rather than a missing voice. Jon doesn’t know what to do – “Che Vuoi??” What do you want, object? He needs the other to teach him how to desire… only after the ‘object’ is lost does he figure out what to do.

Something instead of nothing…

Here is a link to the google pages version of Michel Chion’s The Voice in Cinema.  Zizek often refers to this book when discussing Voice as objet petit a, particularly when he’s talking about it in cinema.  Another good book is Todd McGowan’s recent work The Real Gaze:  Film Theory After Lacan, where he focuses on gaze as objet petit a.

Speaking of movies….

Both Charlton Heston & Frank Sinatra were arguing with me over a picture this morning in a dream. Seems we were involved in a discussion of sorts surrounding the meaning of some image & there was a sense that a more true meaning could be had if we could just round the corner of whatever it was that prevented us from grasping it.

Last night I watched Bowling for Columbine by Michael Moore & some of the images evidently carried over into this morning’s dreamscape (I noted thatTony Rome was simultaneously broadcast on another channel).

The former film as you know culminates in Moore’s confrontation with Heston, the then president of the NRA, in the latter’s home. The interview could be read with the Lacanian discourses in mind. Here’s the hysteric Moore ($) addressing the Heston’s phallic power (S1), trying to get the Master to produce something. What? Knowledge (S2). Or at least a desire to know.

What the hysteric accomplishes of course is an exposure of the master for what he really is (& thru this, the repressed truth of the hysteric’s discourse). For us, Heston’s impotence shows thru via Moore’s questioning. You start to see indications that the former is not all that masterful, perhaps never was. He gives some silly answers. Speaks of ‘wise old dead white guys’ & ‘ethnicity.’ And you see behind him a poster/print of his younger self (or is it of a young gun-slinging Clint Eastwood, someone who even in his old age never seems to lose his phallic power? they look so similar) that focuses in/out of the scene & pops in/out from behind Heston’s head – indications of the mastery he once had but now has been lost.

Heston eventually cuts the discussion short, we see his short-stepped, fragile, old-man walk & Moore takes a final stab at him. Heston turns, Moore has this picture held up in front of him with both hands. A picture of a 6 yr old girl shot by a 6 yr old boy.

Here we see the repressed truth of Moore’s discourse. An ambivalent image: much too small to cover over the man holding the image ($>a), yet somehow doing just that, momentarily making us forget the obesity that is Moore’s subjective position ($<a). What we end up with is the fantasy framework: ($<>a)

He exposes this (unknowingly) for himself & for us, the viewer. This object, this photo, this truth of the film. And what does he do with his/our truth? He tries one last time to leave it with the castrated master. Props it up outside the house against a pillar, unsuccessfully at first, the object won’t stay in its designated place for long (a breeze moments later will surely knock it over), and walks away back into ‘the real world,’ as he comments in a voice-over.

Is this not an illustration of the complete failure to effectively move into a determinate reflective position on the part of the liberal left? Here we have the truth of its subjective position, of how it needs these external images of violence, of dead children, held away from one’s body, in order to maintain its fantasy framework that allows it to continuously point the finger to the castrated master for producing these objects, overlooking how it is only thru the production of this non-sublated immediacy that allows the left its sublating power? That this immediate object that Moore holds in his hands is the very same object that fills out the empty framework of Moore’s fantasy of exposing the true reasons of gun violence behind those very images of violence that he & his viewers are positing all around themselves?

But here we also have a success, a point where Moore might be seen to meet Heston on potentially another level. It is not when Moore, in his mimicking satire of a gun-loving Heston, comes out of a bank with his new rifle held high above his head because he opened a new account there; but rather it’s at this moment when we see Moore holding the picture of the 6 yr old girl up for Heston. This is where we should hear Heston’s NRA rally-words in a voice-over: “From my cold, dead hands!” That is, the last thing Moore & the viewers, who have invested themselves in this film for the last 2 hours, will let go of is this fanatasy object that gives such wonderful, emotionally-laden form to their own rally-cry that allows them to produce/view such a film with such obvious enjoyment.

So there is nothing for Moore to do than to go back into his ‘real world’ fantasy & pick up where he left off just prior to the Heston exchange. Just before the closing credits, we see him interviewing a young man with a hat that says ‘F___ Everyone’ & then going into a bowling alley for some more sound clips & images on a recent shooting. Moore nevers arrives at the speculative identity: Moore is that picture (Spirit is a bone). In short, he fails to identify with his fundamental fantasy.

Movie Time

May 19, 2008

Seriously, I always thought this globe represented the objet a: You eat the fruit of knowledge and slip away from your mission, you enter into fantasy-romance land, the impossible hour hits, and then you destroy your fantasy to fall into a black nothingness… Yes?