12 Pages

WHY ZˇIZˇEK? When Zˇizˇek shudders (we don’t have to): popular culture

Slavoj Zˇizˇek is a philosopher. He is, however, no ordinary philosopher, for he thinks and writes in such a recklessly entertaining fashion, he constantly risks making philosophy enjoyable. With a happy disregard for the typically cloistered atmosphere of critical thought, Zˇizˇek’s approach is frenetic and explosive. Swivelling on his heels, he berates the political apathy of contemporary life in one moment, jokes about the man who thinks he will be eaten by a chicken in the next, then explains the ethical heroism of Keanu Reeves in Speed, exposes the philosophical basis of Viagra, and finishes up with a disclosure of the paradoxical value of Christianity to Marxism. In doing so, Zˇizˇek takes psychoanalysis and philosophy by the scruff of their necks and forces them to confront everyday life. All of which has compelled the British critic Terry Eagleton (b. 1943) to describe Zˇizˇek ‘as the most formidably brilliant exponent of psychoanalysis, indeed of cultural theory in general, to have emerged in Europe for some decades’ (Eagleton 1997: 4).