Iraq: The Borrowed Kettle

If the task of a review is to boil down the book’s content to a series of discrete propositions and subject them to analysis and evaluation, then any book by Slavoj Žižek is strictly speaking unreviewable. Like Hegel, one of his key theoretical resources, Žižek is less interested in the statement than in the performance of a thesis. And unlike most psychoanalytic writers, Žižek takes seriously the Freudian insight into the irreducibly libidinal character of thinking and writing. Whether or not this accounts for his manic prolificity (a given month seems incomplete these days without the appearance of a new Žižek title), it certainly accounts for the delirious energy that infuses his work, its dizzying oscillations between dense theoretical speculation in the Continental mode, makeshift pop cultural analysis and political intervention. The incessant digressions into movies, reality TV, New Age ‘philosophies,’ pop psychology, obscene jokes and geopolitics which make Žižek so much more enjoyable (to pick up on one of his persistent Lacanian motifs) than the average contemporary theorist, far from being illustrative add-ons to the hightheoretical substance, are the high-theoretical substance. As he put it at the outset of one of his earliest books, it is these cultural and political concretions of theory that ‘render visible’ those aspects of it ‘that would otherwise remain unnoticed.’

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