Film Review: Astra Taylor’s Zizek

I saw Astra Taylor’s documentary Zizek! last night. It was a lot of fun.* I think Taylor does a good job of allowing the hilarious nature of Zizek’s public performance to take center stage without totally forgetting about the serious parts of his work.

There’s a bunch of wonderful bits in the movie, including classic Zizek riffs on the difference between the way shit is represented in Germany, France and the US, an excellent dig at Judith Butler and a lot of talk about Stalin. Its worth seeing if you have any interest in the Zizek.

The talk of Stalin continued into the discussion after the film with Zizek and Taylor.The first part of the talk was a sort of disclaimer on the film, and that while it portends to give us an insight into his personal life, it does not. He claims to a great extent that it is all performance, and I think it probably is, but I think it is a performance he cannot completely control. There is a lot to be said about the introduction of capitalism into the Eastern Bloc, nerosis and parody when thinking about Zizek’s public preformance. But I think I’ll save that for another day.

After the bit about the film, Zizek went into a fairly serious bit about what a Lacanian ethics would be. After much back and forth and couching and blah blah blah, as Zizek would say, he came to the example of one of the woman caught up in the famous “doctors plot” in Russia who though it was almost  pointless exercise, and she was doomed to be executed refused to confess. Zizek see this commitment to continuing, even when it is not rational, as a form of ethic. He quoted the classic Beckett line, “I cannot go on, I’ll go on” as a summation of what a Lacanian ethics might begin with, and I liked that very much.

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