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"Zizek's playful writing style presents the reader with apposite and amusing examples, from Franz Kafka to Jane Austen, which clarify and enliven his arguments. Zizek's book bursts with reflection, observation, wit and raw iconoclastic conclusions. Zizek's magnetic style and radical ideas are a welcome and inspiring breath of fresh air. It is possible that through revealing how we make sense of our past The Most Sublime Hysteric may help us to cultivate a better future."
Morning Star
"The Most Sublime Hysteric clearly outlines the logic at the basis of the thought of the most important philosopher of our time. With care and precision, Zizek conjoins Hegel and Lacan, building the components of his own unique and powerful philosophical system. This long-awaited translation of Zizek's doctoral dissertation provides a valuable new point of entry to his work, appropriate for experts and newcomers alike."
Jodi Dean, Hobart and William Smith Colleges
"Slavoj Zizek's doctoral thesis on Hegel, Lacan, and the impasses of post-Hegelianism is as fresh today as it was in 1982. Written with his characteristic wit and exceptional lucidity, this book will clarify the foundational ideas of one of the greatest thinkers of our time."
Kenneth Reinhard, University of California, Los Angeles
"What a fascinating document it is."
Irish Left Review

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

Slavoj Zizek is Professor at the Institute of Sociology, Ljubljana, Slovenia.

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Zizek revises his thesis to produce another interesting book, but probably not for newcomers 8. Februar 2015
Von Robert Moore - Veröffentlicht auf
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Slavoj Zizek has quickly become one of my favorite philosophers. When I was a graduate student in philosophy, my greatest regret was that philosophy, which had previously been at the center of intellectual life of society, had drifted to the perimeter. In the 18th century, if you could read and took part of the social and political life, you probably had read John Locke's ESSAY ON HUMAN UNDERSTANDING and Machiavelli's DISCOURSES ON LIVY (THE PRINCE only transcended the DISCOURSES as the most widely read work of Machiavelli in the past century; the Founders of the U.S. were all deeply steeped in Machiavelli's reflections over Livy's account of the founding of the Roman Republic, since a republic was what they were striving to erect in the New World). Today you will find few everyday people who have read anything by the three most prominent philosophers of the 20th Century, Wittgenstein, Heidegger, and Foucault. So I love that Zizek has striven to connect philosophically with the masses. What is amazing is that he has been amazingly consistent through all of the books of his that I have read. It seems as if he found his message early on and has since then been concerned with altering the ways he could articulate it. With some risk of simplification, Zizek has argued for founding a philosophical structure on four undergirding intellectual sources: 1) a revised form of Marxism or Dialectical Materialism, 2) the revision of Freud that was undertaken by Jacques Lacan, 3) the dialectical system of Hegel, and 4) the central message of Christianity. On the last point Zizek is quite heterodox, both to Christians and Marxists. For Christians the crucial essence of the faith is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ; for Zizek, as it is for so many others, the central essence of Christianity can be expressed in its teaching without reference to the death and resurrection of Jesus. Nonetheless, these are the four features of his thought that reemerge in most of his books, even when he writes about other figures, such as Schelling or Alfred Hitchcock (Zizek writes frequently about movies, especially Hollywood movies). He'll even give book titles lines from movies, such as THE MATRIX's "Welcome to the desert of the real," which in turn is derived from Lacan, just as the rest of the film could be said to be an attempt to make a SF movie out of Guy Debord's Marxist masterpiece THE SOCIETY OF THE SPECTACLE (Experiment: read Debord but substitue "Matrix" for "spectacle" and then rewatch THE MATRIX and substitute "spectacle" for "Matrix", and you will see how fully each expresses the ideas of the other, just as the movie makes endless other philosophical references, such as Neo hiding his software in a fake copy of Jean Baudrillard, author of the famous SIMULATION AND SIMULACRA, which is appropriate since "The Matrix" is a complex simulacra.

So, I love Zizek's attempt to make philosophy relevant again, something that few have had much success with since Jean-Paul Sartre and Bertrand Russell, the last two philosophers who were widely read in the English speaking world. I often agree with Zizek, just as I very often disagree. I have even come to see much of value in the work of Lacan, and am currently engaged in reading him for the first time.

The problem with Zizek has always been "What book of his do I read?" Because Zizek is an unbelievably prolific writer. He is apt to turn out 3 or 4 books some years, along with many essays and articles, along with the occasional motion picture (THE PERVERT'S GUIDE TO CINEMA and THE PERVERT'S GUIDE TO IDEOLOGY are among the first attempts, and are certainly the most successful ones, to make movies that try to teach philosophy). I generally tell people to follow three rules of thumb in selecting books to read, and after that to explore on their own. First, the books in Verso's The Essential Zizek series is pretty appropriately named. Books like THE FRAGILE ABSOLUTE and DID SOMEONE SAY TOTALITARIANISM? really are among his most important books. Second, read LOOKING AWRY, an attempt to look at major philosophical issues by using Lacan to analysis a string of Hollywood movies. It is Zizek at his best and most entertaining. Third, read THE PARALLAX VIEW, another book deeply influenced by Lacan but taking its title from American cinema. If Zizek can be said to have a major work, this would be it. After that, it really doesn't matter, since he has written so prolifically and approached his central subjects from so many angles. And this does not include his more topical titles that react to such events as 9/11, the invasion of Iraq, and the financial meltdown in 2008.

Which group does THE MOST SUBLIME HYSTERIC fall into? Definitely the third group. There really is nothing here that a seasoned reader of Zizek will not have encountered before. I won't deny that this is an interesting read. It is a revision of his doctoral dissertation, and that actually is the way it contributes the most to the study of Zizek. It shows that the fourfold structure that I mentioned above was already in place, What has changed most since this is primarily style of exposition rather than content. Still, I have trouble recommending this to anyone except someone who has already read many of his books. It isn't as fun as his other books, but has a somewhat more formal tone. Like I said, the best thing about the book is showing that Zizek found his message early on, and has since struggled mainly with finding his voice, which he has managed to do largely through applying the ideas of Marx, Hegel, Lacan, and Christianity (keeping in mind that Zizek is an atheist) to all kinds of problems. I still think LOOKING AWRY might be the best first book by Zizek, followed by just about any of the Verso books in the Essential Zizek series. But by all means read him. He can quite rightfully be said the first philosopher to worry about how to communicate philosophical ideas in the age of the Internet, and by and large I think he has been quite successful.
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A Fun House for Philosophers 27. Dezember 2014
Von FatChickDancing - Veröffentlicht auf
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This book is not for the uninitiated in philosophy. Even if you comprehend these pages, (and originally I majored in philosopy at Boston College) it's a bit chewy to work your way through. There's more humor and lightness to the comparitives towards the end, as though the author felt he had to impress the reader with severity and ponderous words early on - ironic the seeming insecurity.
What's appealing to me is that Zizek set up a sort of hall of mirrors, to my mind, where one philosopher's worldview bounces off another, seems to ricochet through the crowd, and the mirrors are kept turning by Zizek to enlighten us to a truer reflection. It was rather fun for me, more so than humorous, per se.
I wouldn't have purchased this for my daughter in her first class of philosophy at uni, but now she's anxious to come home to visit and perhaps have her turn with it.
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Non-essential for all but the most ardent Zizek scholars 16. Januar 2015
Von Steward Willons - Veröffentlicht auf
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Lacan formed a significant part of the theoretical background of my dissertation, and I have always found the work of Zizek interesting, especially insofar as he is probably the most prominent (if not necessarily the most important) theorist to use Lacan’s work. The way Zizek uses pop culture to explain Lacanian concepts has certainly amused pseudo-intellectuals and precocious undergrads for quite a while now. I don’t dispute that Zizek has a number of very important ideas, but I do think that he tends to rehash these same ideas in endless configurations across his many, many books. Specifics notwithstanding, if you read “The Sublime Object of Ideology,” “Looking Awry,” “Enjoy Your Symptom,” and perhaps one or two others, you will discover his thought without needing to read the other 50 books he’s put out by the time you finish reading this sentence. The man is nothing if not prolific!

Who should read “The Most Sublime Hysteric”? It’s an edited version of his 1982 doctoral dissertation, so, interestingly, it’s very, very early Zizek. Ideas that we find in “Sublime Object” are inchoate in this book, although his philosophical style of forceful assertion is already evident. Having read plenty of Zizek, I found it to be an interesting read, albeit a non-essential one. Since these same ideas would be developed more fully and convincingly in his subsequent publications, I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone who isn’t a die-hard, must-read-everything Zizek fan. While I don’t think publishing the juvenilia of a famous intellectual is a bad thing, I don’t think it’s incredibly useful for most readers who are not Zizek scholars.

If you have any familiarity with Zizek, then you know what to expect in terms of style and content, although there are fewer jokes and pop culture references—this is, after all, a doctoral dissertation. If you’re new to Zizek, this is certainly a terrible place to start. I would recommend either “The Sublime Object of Ideology” or “Looking Awry.” They’re more interesting and engaging, their ideas are more fully developed, and they’re also more fun. For all but the most dedicated scholars, this is one of the last Zizek books that I would recommend.
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Curious about Zizek? 12. Januar 2015
Von Mike Byrne - Veröffentlicht auf
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Curious about Zizek, I had read the free samples of his recent books available on Amazon. I found the free samples interesting but not sufficiently interesting to make me buy his books.

Then along came “Zizek…The Most Sublime Hysteric…Hegel with Lacan” as an offering through Amazon Vine. I had also been curious about Lacan because Lacan was unabashedly a Freudian. When I mention Freud in conversations with my friends they give me that “look” which implies that Freud is no longer considered seriously by people of intelligence, so I should really mend my ways, or at least be quiet on the subject. So, of course, I grabbed Zizek’s book.

The book is much better than the samples of Zizek which you will find on Amazon. It is the English translation of his doctoral thesis from 1982. It sends my mind reeling in twenty or thirty different directions at the same time, which is precisely what I expect from a good piece of philosophical writing.

If you have been considering reading Zizek but have put it off, I recommend this book as the place to begin satisfying your curiosity.
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You don't have to be a comparative philosophy major to enjoy this book 7. Januar 2015
Von J. Al-hashimi - Veröffentlicht auf
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I think it is one thing to be an expert on philosophy and read a book like this and very different for other people to read it. I'm in the latter category. Zizek expertly plays musical chairs on the X, Y, Z axes culminating on the tip of his writing pen. While the areas on the axes are history and politics and comparative philosophy, for me this is a slightly indirect discussion of the existential drama within our psychology. The language of comparative philosophy is both a brain tease and slightly pompous but there is the author's wit and Freudian-type insights here.

This book is not so esoteric that it should be reserved for classroom assignments. The comparisons between historical characters real-enough, but it seems to me that the most important thing he does is model for us the tension between the points of view on a range of subjects (such as utopia and totalitarianism). But the tension-held, not compromise or muting, is what's needed for optimal function in our mental positioning.
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