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Welcome to the Desert of the Real

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  • Posted November 22, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Living in Agestic CA, U.S.A

    (This book is tricky to review because it was written one year after 911 so the context it was composed in and the realities we have since experienced are 8 years and millions of incidents apart. But to leave his arguments alone because of time would be just wrong.) Agrestic is a fictional town in California from the TV show "Weeds". Although that show was not around when Mr. Zizek wrote "Welcome to the Desert of the Real" he has crammed every American citizen into that little town and it is his model of U.S. Capitalism- where everyone lives in similar houses, drives similar cars and leads similar boring, meaningless, unfulfilled materialistic-driven lives. Yes, all 300 million of us exactly the same. (This sentiment is expressed throughout the essays.) It makes one long for Alexis de Tocqueville and his embedded analysis of America and its faults. "The Desert of the Real" refers to Iraq where U.S. soldiers (under Colin Powell's strategy) would never have to facing the enemy on the battlefield due to high tech wizardry. Of course all wars are ultimately fought in sight of the enemy hence the "Desert of the Real". Ironically it was the Iraqi soldiers who fought using Powell's strategy by planting "IEDs" and running before the carnage ensured. Zizek kept coming back to Powell just like he did "Agrestic" as if the entire US military had bought in which it never did. So jaded is Mr. Zizek's view that it detracts from many interesting observations and well researched Muslim-fundamentalist excuses for the 911 tragedy (my term, not his). He blames Hollywood (for somehow predicting the twin towers collapsing) and the U.S. news media (for replaying sanitized portions) for the collective glee expressed by other parts of the world and still felt strongly by those who live in the "real desert". One has to wonder why he always reverts to Powell's unrealized strategy or Agrestic's commonality and never expands his arguments' beyond what become tiresome clichés. Alas, the world hates the United States and its democratic capitalism and fundamentalist Christianity for the same reasons it embraces the rest of world's unrealized democratic socialized capitalism and fundamentalist Muslim activism. Okay, I get it- I get it even living in Agrestic, America. And using Mr. Zizek's broad brush logic, all Americans get it. Got it?

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2007

    A reviewer

    I can't recommend this more. Zizek does tend to meander off on tangents it's part of his style, and it works quite well. If you expect a concise thesis that is clearly and carefully developed, you will be let down. If you expect a variety of interesting views and concepts, touching on a wide range of subjects from a common starting point and making you think about each one, you will get exactly what you're looking for. Oh, and I'm not sure what the previous reviewer expected. This is an accessible book, but if you have absolutely no knowledge of Zizek or Lacan and a vocabulary that lacks even common words like apropos, you probably have no business reading this.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2006

    Interesting But Confused

    This books brings up a lot of interesting topics and gives opinions not commonly heard in American discussion, but ultimately, it folds under it's pretentiousness and unfocused nature. The thing I most liked about this book was that it brought forth many controversial and interesting views on 9/11 and the Isral/Palestine conflict, which I didn't always agree with, but thought were thought provoking. Where he fails however is his use of pretentious, literatti vocabulary and confusing and unfocused wandering. He uses the words 'apropos' and 'jouissance' over and over as well as entire sentences in foreign languages. His arrogance and lack of vision overshadowed the intersting views he presented, leaving me frustrated at the end of the book. Not recommended.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 25, 2012

    A must for Zizek fans

    Why did I want to read these essays written in response to, and shortly after, 9/11? Well, Zizek is always worth reading, and the book is inexpensive. Those are the simple answers. Zizek stimulates my thinking as few writers do. He stirs up everything, making me doubt where once I was certain, making me see where once I was blind. Zizek is at the cutting edge of philosophy, especially where it holds the promise of helping us penetrate the illusions of ideology to find what is truly real. He is at his most accessible when illustrating points with movies like The Matrix or 3:10 to Yuma or when discussing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. However, I find him most difficult to grasp when he deals only in abstractions that I only partially understand, like the Lacanian concepts of The Big Other and jouissance. Anyone who already likes Zizek will want to read these essays. In addition, these essays are also historical documents that capture one thinker’s early responses to the events that shaped so much of what has happened since.

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