The Parallax View

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The Parallax View is Slavoj Zizek's most substantial theoretical work to appear in many years; Zizek himself describes it as his magnum opus. Parallax can be defined as the apparent displacement of an object, caused by a change in observational position. Zizek is interested in the"parallax gap" separating two points between which no synthesis or mediation is possible, linked by an "impossible short circuit" of levels that can never meet. From this consideration of parallax,Zizek begins a rehabilitation of dialectical materialism.Modes of parallax can be seen in different domains of today's theory, from the wave-particle duality in quantum physics to the parallax of the unconscious in Freudian psychoanalysis between interpretations of the formation of the unconscious and theories of drives. In The Parallax View, Zizek, with his usual astonishing erudition, focuses on three main modes of parallax: the ontological difference, the ultimate parallax that conditions our very access to reality; the scientific parallax, the irreducible gap between the phenomenal experience of reality and its scientific explanation, which reaches its apogee in today's brain sciences (according to which "nobody is home" in the skull, just stacks of brain meat—a conditionZizek calls "the unbearable lightness of being no one"); and the political parallax, the social antagonism that allows for no common ground. Between his discussions of these three modes, Zizek offers interludes that deal with more specific topics—including an ethical act in a novel by HenryJames and anti-anti-Semitism.The Parallax View not only expands Zizek's Lacanian-Hegelian approach to new domains (notably cognitive brain sciences) but also provides the systematic exposition of the conceptual framework that underlies his entire work. Philosophical and theological analysis,detailed readings of literature, cinema, and music coexist with lively anecdotes and obscene jokes.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"In this huge, thrilling book, Slavoj Žižek enacts a dazzling display of philosophy as performance art, delighting in upsetting readers' expectations, inserting sly jokes,and castigating the 'boring' political analyses of just about everyone.... Žižek is a thinker who regards nothing as outside his field: the result is deeply interesting and provocative."The Guardian

"A remarkable demonstration of continental philosophical and psychoanalytical pyrotechnics. More provocative ideas per page than normally found in whole books by the dull anglophone empiricists who find him so threatening." Paul A. Taylor Times Higher Education

"Frankly, a magnum opus is exactly what Žižekneeds right now....

The Parallax View consolidates Žižek's work as a whole and decisively moves it forward." In These Times

"No one demonstrates the continued philosophical vitality of Marxism better thanSlavoj Žižek." Tikkun

"Žižek has only to clap eyes on a received truth to feel the intolerable itch to deface it.... Žižek is that rare breed of writer—one who is both lucid and esoteric. If he is sometimes hard to understand, it is because of the intricacy of his ideas,not because of a self-preening style." Terry Eagleton Artforum

"Žižek is one of the few living writers to combine theoretical rigor with compulsive readability, and his new volume provides perhaps the clearest elaboration of his theoretical framework thus far....This challenging book takes us on a roller-coaster ride whose every loop is a Möbius strip." Publishers Weekly

"Frankly, a magnum opus is exactly what Zizek needs right now.... TheParallax View consolidates Zizek's work as a whole and decisively moves it forward." InThese Times

"Zizek is one of the few living writers to combine theoretical rigor with compulsive readability, and his new volume provides perhaps the clearest elaboration of his theoretical framework thus far....This challenging book takes us on a roller-coaster ride whose every loop is aMöbius strip." Publishers Weekly

Publishers Weekly
A Lacanian-Hegelian philosopher and pop culture critic who divides his time between America and Slovenia, Zizek is one of the few living writers to combine theoretical rigor with compulsive readability, and his new volume provides perhaps the clearest elaboration of his theoretical framework thus far. Expatiating on such subjects as Heidegger, neuroscience, the war on terror and The Matrix, he seeks to rehabilitate dialectical materialism by replacing the popular "yin-yang" interpretation (the struggle between opposites that ultimately form a whole) with a theory of the "gap which separates the One from itself." One example is a tribe whose two subgroups draw mutually exclusive plans of their village: their deadlock "implies a hidden reference to a constant... an imbalance in social relations that prevented the community from stabilizing itself into a harmonious whole." Discussing Abu Ghraib and pedophilia in the Catholic Church, Zizek explores how an ideological edifice is sustained by underground transgressions: "Law can be sustained only by a sovereign power which reserves for itself the right... to suspend the rule of law(s) on behalf of the Law itself." Based on his interpretation of Lacanian psychoanalysis, he envisions a society in which public law would no longer sustain itself through its own obscene breach. This challenging book takes us on a roller-coaster ride whose every loop is a Mobius strip. (Apr.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780262512688
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • Publication date: 2/13/2009
  • Series: Short Circuits
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 448
  • Sales rank: 628,816
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.80 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Slavoj Žižek is a philosopher and cultural critic. He is the author of more than thirty books, including Looking Awry: An Introduction to Jacques Lacan through PopularCulture, The Puppet and the Dwarf: The Perverse Core of Christianity,The Parallax View, and (with John Milbank) The Monstrosity of Christ: Paradox or Dialect, these four published by the MIT Press.

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Table of Contents

Introduction : dialectical materialism at the gates 2
I The stellar parallax : the traps of ontological difference 15
1 The subject, this "inwardly circumcised Jew" 16
2 Building blocks for a materialist theology 68
Interlude 1 : Kate's choice, or, the materialism of Henry James 124
II The solar parallax : the unbearable lightness of being no one 145
3 The unbearable heaviness of being divine shit 146
4 The loop of freedom 200
Interlude 2 : objet petit a in social links, or, the impasses of anti-anti-Semitism 252
III The lunar parallax : toward a politics of subtraction 271
5 From surplus-value to surplus-power 272
6 The obscene knot of ideology, and how to untie it 330
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