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Introduction

Žižek and Media Studies, Beyond Lacan
  • Matthew Flisfeder
  • Louis-Paul Willis
Chapter

Abstract

At the beginning of The Metastases of Enjoyment (1994), Slavoj Žižek recounts a story of presenting a lecture on Hitchcock at an American university in 1992. At the end of his lecture, an outraged member of the audience stood up and asked: “How can you talk about such a trifling subject when your ex-country [Yugoslavia] is dying in flames?” To this indignant admonishment, Žižek responded with the following: “How is it that you in the USA can talk about Hitchcock?” His point, of course, was that there would be nothing “traumatic” for him to have behaved in a manner that was more befitting of a victim of violence, “testifying to the horrible events in [his] own country.” However, for his interlocutor, it was, according to Žižek, almost as if he had violated some kind of invisible prohibition simply by behaving like an average American cultural studies intellectual who wants to do nothing more than simply talk about Hitchcock and popular culture. Nevertheless, perhaps there is something significant about Žižek’s presentation on Hitchcock: in a way, doesn’t the interest in Hitchcock—a master of the image—touch upon the very ground of the Real in a world that gathers its sense of “reality” by way of mass mediated images?

Keywords

Popular Culture Symbolic Order Master Narrative Media Scholar Film Theory 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Slavoj Žižek, The Metastases of Enjoyment: Six Essays on Women and Causality (New York: Verso, 1994), 1–2.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    For a more thorough discussion of the debate between “film Theory” and “post-Theory,” and between Žižek and David Bordwell more specifically, see Matthew Flisfeder, The Symbolic, The Sublime, and Slavoj Žižek’s Theory of Film (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), especially chapter 3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Žižek, “The Undergrowth of Enjoyment,” New Formations 9: 7–29, 1989, 7.Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    Indeed, Copjec’s “The Orthopsychic Subject: Film Theory and the Reception of Lacan” examines a different aspect of Screen theory’s conceptual shortcomings. Focusing on the role of the mirror-stage essay within 1970s psychoanalytic film studies, she states that the notion of a cinematic gaze derived from the analogy between screen and mirror “operates in ignorance of, and at the expense of, Lacan’s more radical insight, whereby the mirror is conceived as screen” (Joan Copjec, Read My Desire: Lacan Against the Historicists, Cambridge, MA: MIT, 1994, 54). Describing how this initial (mis)conception of the cinematic gaze leads to a “‘Foucauldization’ of Lacanian theory” (56), Copjec aptly notes how the over-reliance on the mirror-stage essay led to the theorization of a cinematic gaze that shared very little with Lacan’s ideas, specifying how the essay in question does not address the concept of the gaze—a concept that is rather deployed in Lacan’s Seminar XI (66).Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    Todd McGowan, The Real Gaze: Film Theory After Lacan (Albany, NY: SUNY, 2007), 28.Google Scholar
  6. 7.
    Žižek, The Parallax View (Cambridge, MA: MIT, 2006), 3.Google Scholar
  7. 9.
    Žižek, The Sublime Object of Ideology (New York: Verso, 1989), 53.Google Scholar
  8. 10.
    Elizabeth Cowie, Representing the Woman, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997, 288.Google Scholar
  9. 16.
    Castanet, Didier, “Fantasme et réel,” L’en-Je lacanien, vol. 2, no. 9 (2007), 102.Google Scholar
  10. 18.
    Chemama, Roland and Bernard Vandermersch, Dictionnaire de la psychoanalyse, Paris: Larousse, 1993, 131, our translation.Google Scholar
  11. 19.
    Žižek, The Plague of Fantasies (New York: Verso, 1997), 123.Google Scholar
  12. 20.
    Paul A. Taylor, Žižek and the Media (Maiden, MA: Polity, 2010), 15.Google Scholar
  13. 22.
    McGowan, The End of Dissatisfaction? Jacques Lacan and the Emerging Society of Enjoyment (Albany, NY: SUNY, 2003), 18.Google Scholar
  14. 27.
    One of the most notorious examples of such a model of resistance remains Peter Wollen’s Readings and Writings: Semiotic Counter Strategies (1982), as well as Wollen’s and Laura Mulvey’s filmic endeavour Riddles of the Sphynx (1977).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Matthew Flisfeder and Louis-Paul Willis 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matthew Flisfeder
  • Louis-Paul Willis

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