I think I’ve fallen a bit in love with Slavoj Žižek. Older Slovenian men who tend to do that “slisph” thing by sucking spit back through their teeth during breath intake are generally not my cup of tea but just this once I’ll make an exception.
Reading Zižek was a bit cumbersome at first, however, recently I’ve found that the more you read Zižek, the easier it becomes to understand the concepts that are being explored. I think one of the things that’s difficult when approaching Zižek for the first time is the almost rant-like investigations into seemingly random topics – everything from The Matrix to Shakespeare.
It can be a bit disconcerting when you don’t know what he’s actually trying to get at. Despite the learning curve, once I discovered what he’s really discussing I found myself a bit awe-struck with how such complex psychological issues are intertwined with contemporary references in a very navigable way. Now I’m a bit obsessed. That’s not to say I agree with everything he says though – it’s just highly addictive.
I’ve pretty much lived with my hands glued to the keyboard the past few days and part of this was because I’ve been reading The Parallex View through our campus library’s online eLibrary. I read a couple of chapters a while back but wasn’t convinced I actually comprehended the text.
After finishing Hegel’s Philosophy of Mind last week (well, that’s not entirely true, I read about 60% of the massive tome and skimmed the rest) I suppose the lingo/jargon of these sorts of minds felt a little more approachable.
I feel like my ability to really hear what Zižek was saying (both figuratively and literally) began by watching a lecture given by Zižek called The Reality of the Virtual on Netflix; however, when I began reading Zižek’s book about Lacan, Looking Awry, I found that many of the central themes and ideas in Zižek’s personal work started to click together.
Zižek is clearly influenced by Jacques Lacan, who I’ve only just briefly come to grasp through the writings of others like Zižek, Derrida, and also James Elkins (who is undoubtedly the most easy to read Lacanian I’ve encountered thus far). A deeper awareness of Lacanian theory is quite beneficial when reading Zižek.
I’ve been compiling all my sources for my thesis (hence the previous keyboard comment) and am somewhat astounded by just how much I’ve actually been taking in over the past year. While in the studio it’s easy to slip into a certain head-space and coast intuitively through my work and although I’m aware of how much I expand myself beyond the studio it’s somewhat overwhelming to see it all physically accumulated. (I once had a professor advise me to not read anything art related for a month – it was sound advice at the time but I’m kind of thankful for this habit as I am now faced with my thesis – I’m of the mind that it’s better to have more, and edit well, than make up shit to achieve the length.)
I’ve decided that the best way to get the rough draft of my thesis done is to deal with this final assembly process a bit like I would tackle a research paper. I love research papers – I love the research aspect and I love writing them too – I’ve found that this is odd for a studio artist but it’s true. (I would have happily been an art historian if I hadn’t felt so heartsick without a studio life.)
Thankfully, this approach seems to be working because my time isn’t filled with as much anxiety and vacant staring. The actual writing of any paper is the easiest part for me once I’ve transcribed my citations and laid them out according to my outline – I’m swiftly approaching that point. I’m hopeful that by the end of the week my rough draft will be ready to go.
And thank you Slavoj Zižek, for the perfect quote to start my first chapter – I am eternally grateful.