21 October 2008

Zizek!

It's such a joyful experience to watch Zizek! At first, I expected it to be a very difficult film with Slavoj Zizek talking non-stop from beginning to end. Of course, the Slovenian theorist talks a lot and you will not be disappointed if you want to hear him talk. In fact, his talk will cover about 98% of the whole film, while 1% sees him fidgeting and the other 1% is spent on the landscapes of various places, including Buenos Aires and New York, where this globetrotting theorist makes a visit.

This is not a difficult film and somehow I can understand his thoughts here better than reading his dense books, which of course are entertaining. Throughout the 71 minutes we can catch a glimpse of the witty man, whose mental stamina never flags and sometimes viewers just wonder whether this guy ever feels tired, thinking or just surviving. Of course, my feeling for Zizek is more of respect as I'm absolutely in awe of his dedication to philosophy at the expense of other aspects of life as a human being. Of course, what can I say when he claims that even being 'human' is one of the most well-hidden ideologies of all times! That's why he has no qualms about being a 'monster', one whose interest is in the rather insular sphere of modern-day intellectual theory. (I think this really sounds familiar!)

However, it's exactly this point that I beg to differ. Throughout the film, we begin to see that there's something behind his beautiful (some would say obscene) mind and his rather gauche personality. There's this need to be recognised, a strong, passionate determination to get his opinions across. (Once he even ran for a presidential election in his home country!) This is what perhaps becomes a paradox of the film: while Zizek himself declares that being human is just an ideology, he can't help but reveal, though inadvertently, this human side himself in the film. Or perhaps is this just 'my parallax view' of his image? Or perhaps does Zizek himself allow some space for this self-contradiction? Or should we take what he says seriously? There's a sense of joviality that belies seriousness, and at the same time there's a sense of gravity that belies play. We can never be sure how to deal with what he says. This is Zizek's style that blends humour with intellect, perhaps to show the absurdity of our search for the impossible real.

There's one scene you should not miss: Zizek (half-) naked in bed philosophizing about something I can't even remember. Perhaps I was too shocked at the time, never expecting to see him in such an intimate setting. Perhaps he tries to blur the private and public spheres, symbolizing his use of psychoanalysis (a tool for the private sphere of human mind) to analyse the public sphere of global capitalism. If so, this scene is really ingenious.

For me, this film is good. How can I evaluate the success? I don't really know how to explain, but after watching it I just want to read his books. Perhaps less to find fault than to see how he 'enjoys' life through his verbal performance.

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