Welcome to the Desert of the Real

Welcome to the Desert of the Real

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by Slavoj Zizek

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Liberals and conservatives proclaim the end of the American holiday from history. Now the easy games are over; one should take sides. Žižek argues this is precisely the temptation to be resisted. In such moments of apparently clear choices, the real alternatives are most hidden. Welcome to the Desert of the Real steps back, complicating the choices


Liberals and conservatives proclaim the end of the American holiday from history. Now the easy games are over; one should take sides. Žižek argues this is precisely the temptation to be resisted. In such moments of apparently clear choices, the real alternatives are most hidden. Welcome to the Desert of the Real steps back, complicating the choices imposed on us. It proposes that global capitalism is fundamentalist and that America was complicit in the rise of Muslim fundamentalism. It points to our dreaming about the catastrophe in numerous disaster movies before it happened, and explores the irony that the tragedy has been used to legitimize torture. Last but not least it analyzes the fiasco of the predominant leftist response to the events.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Fierce brilliance ... scintillating.”—Steven Poole, Guardian (in praise of Living in the End Times)

“Never ceases to dazzle.”—Brian Dillon, Daily Telegraph (in praise of Living in the End Times)

“Žižek is to today what Jacques Derrida was to the ’80s: the thinker of choice for Europe’s young intellectual vanguard.”—Observer (in praise of Living in the End Times)

Product Details

Verso Books
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Product dimensions:
4.33(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.46(d)

Meet the Author

Slavoj Žižek is a Slovenian philosopher and cultural critic. He is a professor at the European Graduate School, International Director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, Birkbeck College, University of London, and a senior researcher at the Institute of Sociology, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. His books include Living in the End Times, First as Tragedy, Then as Farce, In Defense of Lost Causes, four volumes of the Essential Žižek, and many more.

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Welcome to the Desert of the Real 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
duluoz_beat More than 1 year ago
(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?
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
bob_derwood More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.