‘Looking Awry: An Introduction to Jacques Lacan through Popular Culture’ by Slavoj Žižek

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Slavoj Žižek provides a virtuoso reading of Jacques Lacan. Žižek inverts current pedagogical strategies to explain the difficult philosophical underpinnings of the French theoretician and practician who revolutionized our view of psychoanalysis. He approaches Lacan through the motifs and works of contemporary popular culture, from Hitchcock’s Vertigo to Stephen King’s Pet Sematary, from McCullough’s An Indecent Obsession to Romero’s Return of the Living Dead—a strategy of “looking awry” that recalls the exhilarating and vital experience of Lacan.

Žižek discovers fundamental Lacanian categories the triad Imaginary/Symbolic/Real, the object small a, the opposition of drive and desire, the split subject—at work in horror fiction, in detective thrillers, in romances, in the mass media’s perception of ecological crisis, and, above all, in Alfred Hitchcock’s films. The playfulness of Žižek’s text, however, is entirely different from that associated with the deconstructive approach made famous by Derrida. By clarifying what Lacan is saying as well as what he is not saying, Žižek is uniquely able to distinguish Lacan from the poststructuralists who so often claim him.