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For They Know Not What They Do: Enjoyment as a Political Factor

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With the disintegration of state socialism, we are witnessing this eruption of enjoymnet in the re-emergence of aggressive nationalism and racism. With the lid of repression lifted, the desires that have emerged are from from democratic. To explain this apparent paradox, says Slavoj Žižek, socialist critical thought must turn to psychoanalysis. For They Know Not What They D With the disintegration of state socialism, we are witnessing this eruption of enjoymnet in the re-emergence of aggressive nationalism and racism. With the lid of repression lifted, the desires that have emerged are from from democratic. To explain this apparent paradox, says Slavoj Žižek, socialist critical thought must turn to psychoanalysis. For They Know Not What They Do seeks to understand the status of enjoyment within ideological discourse, from Hegel through Lacan to these political and ideological deadlocks. The author’s own enjoyment of “popular culture” makes this an engaging and lucid exposition, in which Hegel joins hands with Rossellini, Marx with Hitchcock, Lacan with Frankenstein, high theory with Hollywood melodrama.


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With the disintegration of state socialism, we are witnessing this eruption of enjoymnet in the re-emergence of aggressive nationalism and racism. With the lid of repression lifted, the desires that have emerged are from from democratic. To explain this apparent paradox, says Slavoj Žižek, socialist critical thought must turn to psychoanalysis. For They Know Not What They D With the disintegration of state socialism, we are witnessing this eruption of enjoymnet in the re-emergence of aggressive nationalism and racism. With the lid of repression lifted, the desires that have emerged are from from democratic. To explain this apparent paradox, says Slavoj Žižek, socialist critical thought must turn to psychoanalysis. For They Know Not What They Do seeks to understand the status of enjoyment within ideological discourse, from Hegel through Lacan to these political and ideological deadlocks. The author’s own enjoyment of “popular culture” makes this an engaging and lucid exposition, in which Hegel joins hands with Rossellini, Marx with Hitchcock, Lacan with Frankenstein, high theory with Hollywood melodrama.

30 review for For They Know Not What They Do: Enjoyment as a Political Factor

  1. 4 out of 5

    Bimbo

    Following several attempts to get through this book which I have been abandoning after only a couple or a full dozen pages I finally decided to give up for some time. Nomen est omen: I didn't know exactly what I was doing (reading) and didn't enjoy it either. Although it is not very comforting to accept your own intellectual (or even mental) mediocrity I felt more comfortable with that than with reading any further. Obviously I do not reach the heights necessary to read Žižek and/or to do that in Following several attempts to get through this book which I have been abandoning after only a couple or a full dozen pages I finally decided to give up for some time. Nomen est omen: I didn't know exactly what I was doing (reading) and didn't enjoy it either. Although it is not very comforting to accept your own intellectual (or even mental) mediocrity I felt more comfortable with that than with reading any further. Obviously I do not reach the heights necessary to read Žižek and/or to do that in a foreign language (English). I guess I shall stick to some of his pop-appearances on YouTube for some time until I gather the mental power for something more. :-)

  2. 5 out of 5

    Eric Phetteplace

    probably should've stopped short instead of wasting so much time on this (reading Zizek half-awake on the subway is not a good place to be), but at least the last 3 pages are radically divergent from the rest in that there's some irrational rhetoric and political analysis. he also disses Deleuze implicitly, which intrigued me. but really, I liked Zizek for his random references and because the Lacanian lexicon is very appealing, but all the Hegel and Kant comes across as near-gibberish, and I can probably should've stopped short instead of wasting so much time on this (reading Zizek half-awake on the subway is not a good place to be), but at least the last 3 pages are radically divergent from the rest in that there's some irrational rhetoric and political analysis. he also disses Deleuze implicitly, which intrigued me. but really, I liked Zizek for his random references and because the Lacanian lexicon is very appealing, but all the Hegel and Kant comes across as near-gibberish, and I can't for the life of me figure out why reconciling them with Lacan is at all important except to philosophy students. The fact that these are lectures reformatted into a book (much as everything he writes is essays recombined) makes it more pedantic than usual as well. Sublime Object of Ideology is a much, much better work, as is Did Somebody Say Totalitarianism, both of which have interesting things to say about politics, while this only has pseudo-math and paradoxes.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Geoff

    So, according to the man himself, if I am to believe his forward to the second edition, "those who do not want to talk about For they know not what they do should remain silent about The Sublime Object." Also, "For they know not what they do... establishes a critical distance towards some of the key positions of The Sublime Object. Although I still stand by the basic insights of The Sublime Object, it is clear to me, with hindsight, that it contains a series of intertwined weaknesses." He then g So, according to the man himself, if I am to believe his forward to the second edition, "those who do not want to talk about For they know not what they do should remain silent about The Sublime Object." Also, "For they know not what they do... establishes a critical distance towards some of the key positions of The Sublime Object. Although I still stand by the basic insights of The Sublime Object, it is clear to me, with hindsight, that it contains a series of intertwined weaknesses." He then goes on to elaborate these weaknesses and how he hopes to correct them in this book. I suppose then this will be my next Žižek...

  4. 4 out of 5

    Joseph Sverker

    This was an incredibly enlightening read. It is certainlyl a slow read and very very complex at times so much that I found myself browsing past some pages. But other times I was caught by his new perspectives. I really was convinced by his argument of the "vanishing mediator" and I must think further about that. All in all a book well worth reading, but give it time, it both needs it and deserves it. This was an incredibly enlightening read. It is certainlyl a slow read and very very complex at times so much that I found myself browsing past some pages. But other times I was caught by his new perspectives. I really was convinced by his argument of the "vanishing mediator" and I must think further about that. All in all a book well worth reading, but give it time, it both needs it and deserves it.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Katrinka

    I never know how to rate anything by Zizek, so I tend to fall back on how enjoyable it was to read any particular project. The problem with that system of rating is that most of his things end up as fives. As ever, though, I'm sometimes unsure about how/why he organizes his books the way he does-- but for sheer intellectual challenge and insight provided into Lacanian thought, I'll give this one high marks. I never know how to rate anything by Zizek, so I tend to fall back on how enjoyable it was to read any particular project. The problem with that system of rating is that most of his things end up as fives. As ever, though, I'm sometimes unsure about how/why he organizes his books the way he does-- but for sheer intellectual challenge and insight provided into Lacanian thought, I'll give this one high marks.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Vikas Lather

    It's always fun to read Zizek; how much useful, one cannot really tell except who is a Lacanian. It's always fun to read Zizek; how much useful, one cannot really tell except who is a Lacanian.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Allison Perzinski

    It's great for reference and a comfort during troubling times but came across as little scattered (particularly the forward). Funny contextual examples! It's great for reference and a comfort during troubling times but came across as little scattered (particularly the forward). Funny contextual examples!

  8. 5 out of 5

    нєνєℓ ¢ανα

    Interesting at some point...

  9. 5 out of 5

    TofurkyVectrex64

    Didn't like it. I feel like I could write a python script that can produce Zizek essays. He goes on wordy tangents that over complicate sentences that do not need that level of complexity. He'll name drop somebody mid tangent as to anchor some sort of social proof to what he is saying. It's a shame because I really like his youtube talks but his writing style is so hard to follow you cringe because you know it is merely to appear academic. He reads like a polisci student fan zine. Better on vide Didn't like it. I feel like I could write a python script that can produce Zizek essays. He goes on wordy tangents that over complicate sentences that do not need that level of complexity. He'll name drop somebody mid tangent as to anchor some sort of social proof to what he is saying. It's a shame because I really like his youtube talks but his writing style is so hard to follow you cringe because you know it is merely to appear academic. He reads like a polisci student fan zine. Better on video than on paper.

  10. 5 out of 5

    〇rlando Gοdhand〇

    A little hard–going, but as always with Žižek some extremely thought–provoking viewpoints. More when I make more headway with it!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Cheyanne

    still reading, but he's awesome still reading, but he's awesome

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Browsing through it, more useful as references to external topics even though (more often than not) self-referential.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Zane Chleboun

    There really aren't any great new ideas in this book that weren't already in Žižek's Sublime Object of Ideology. Not a bad read but unnecessary as a separate book in itself. There really aren't any great new ideas in this book that weren't already in Žižek's Sublime Object of Ideology. Not a bad read but unnecessary as a separate book in itself.

  14. 5 out of 5

    ryan bears

    a decent critique ideology and liberal pomo's... if you can handle all the damn hegel. he claims the sublime object is more popular but im having trouble getting into it. a decent critique ideology and liberal pomo's... if you can handle all the damn hegel. he claims the sublime object is more popular but im having trouble getting into it.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Whittyfh

    Is it possible to not understand most of a book but still really enjoy it? I find that is most of my experience with Zizek

  16. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    lotsa hegel and political theory... denser

  17. 4 out of 5

    Hamid

  18. 5 out of 5

    Mick Harvey

  19. 5 out of 5

    Casey Holston

  20. 5 out of 5

    Rick

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ryan David

  22. 5 out of 5

    John Brown

  23. 5 out of 5

    Giuliano

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mark Babcock

  25. 4 out of 5

    David

  26. 4 out of 5

    Rustlem

  27. 5 out of 5

    Matt Bellinger

  28. 5 out of 5

    Larry Baker

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kimberly

  30. 5 out of 5

    Cecil Lawson

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