The wild Seinfeldian philosopher

Carlin Romano in the Philadelphia Inquirer:

23zizekTo English literary theorist Terry Eagleton, [Slavoj] Zizek stands as “the most formidably brilliant exponent of psychoanalysis, indeed of cultural theory in general, to have emerged in Europe in some decades.”

To Rebecca Mead of the New Yorker, however, “always to take Slavoj Zizek seriously would be to make a category mistake.” His appeal, she wrote, is “accessible absurdity,” a Seinfeldian attention to the “minutiae of popular culture.”

Zizek’s style is to juxtapose highly theoretical notions like Marx’s surplus value or Jacques Lacan’s “big Other” with the down-and-dirty “readings” of pop culture familiar from cultural studies. As critic Scott McLemee, a close Zizek observer, has noted, the famously verbose lecturer once explained “the distinctions between German philosophy, English political economy, and the French Revolution by reference to each nation’s toilet design.”

When people speak (and they do) of Zizek’s reputation preceding him, much of that rep – or rap – comes from articles on him by three American journalists over the years: Robert Boynton’s astute 1998 Lingua Franca profile, Mead’s 2003 New Yorker portrait (headlined “The Marx Brother”), and the “Zizek Watch” conducted a while back by McLemee, now a columnist for Inside Higher Education.

More here.