27 July 2006

Stuffed By An Obsessional

Lacan argues that neurosis is characterized by the confusion of demand with desire. That is, the neurotic relates to demand in such a way as to avoid having to confront the anxiety producing enigma of the Other's desire. In the case of hysteria this occurs by evoking and then frustrating the Other's demand (hence all the famous charges of being a tease), while in the case of the obsessional this occurs by striving to satisfy all the Other's demands so as to preclude any encounter with desire. Often the obsessional takes this to absurd extremes, as if to signal the aggression or desire to negate the Other behind their activities.

Along these lines, is anyone else feeling "stuffed" by Zizek's The Parallax View. Early in this text Zizek talks about directors whose work eventually failed because they began to imitate themselves. Likewise, I'm beginning to feel that Zizek is here imitating himself. I find that there is page after page of endless interpretations pertaining to art, philosophy, cinema, literature, and poetry, but not nearly as much theory as I might like. I've always valued Zizek for his illuminating examples, but it seems as if he's become nothing but examples with moments, here and there, of shining clarity. To me it ends up becoming irritating and I find myself throwing my hands up in the air saying "make your damned point already!" I also find myself frustrated with the cuteness of it all, as if every interpretation has to carry a surprising twist contrary to the "standard reading".

Granted, I'm in a frustrated, anxious, and aggressive mood today pertaining to operations elsewhere in the country, so I'm perhaps taking it out on Zizek. But for Christ's sake, one example will do! I feel myself being negated and made to disappear in response to his endless interpretations and cleverness. Is anyone else experiencing a similar exasperation?


Anonymous Kimmo Kallio said...


I must confess, that you just explicated my main feeling concerning Zizek's rhetorics in PV when I first started reading it. And to be honest, the feeling hasn't changed since really that much.

(I also have to confess that I have "really read" only the first 80 pages of the book and only browsed through the rest of it.)

July 28, 2006 12:11 AM  
Anonymous pebird said...

I'm the same as Kimmo, I got through the first 50 - 100 pages and haven't picked it up for 3 weeks.

You've motivated me to try again this weekend.

July 28, 2006 10:06 AM  
Blogger Jodi said...

Hi Levi--I'm thinking about your post here in connection with the one on transference. And, what's interesting to me is that my reactions are quite different from yours--but I'm not sure what that means with respect to transference. So, I read Zizek with the idea that he knows what he's talking about (transferentially, that is). Yet, I think of him as not presenting his views systematically and so that I can fill things in by presenting them more systematically. So, faced with a large messy text like PV, I'm pretty content because then I can go about my little systematicizing tasks. I feel like the text gives me something to do, something to work on or work out.

August 01, 2006 9:04 AM  
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