Slavoj Zizek. Violence: Big Ideas/Small Books. Picador, 2008.
I’m not too sure about this book. I had hoped for a more perceptive analysis of the dynamics in our contemporary world and a stronger sense of opposition to violence and guidance on how to overcome its curse. Zizek, a superstar on the current public intellectual scene is supposedly a humanist and man of the Left. He certainly does not embrace revolutionary violence like some of his European contemporaries (e.g., Alain Badiou). And he does have moments of insight (I enjoyed his dismissal of Thomas Friedman).
However, he doesn’t really give us much of substance. He litters the text with references to popular culture, impressing with his breadth of awareness but not using these references to much effect. I did read this book very quickly, hoping to get a sense of whether I should pay more attention to Zizek. I’m afraid he didn’t catch my attention or pull me further into his orbit.
I agree although the emphasis on reflection in the face of subjective violence is an important corrective. Plus, I found I could understand Zizek’s argument which is not not be taken for granted with Zizek.
Thanks for showing me to this review, Ted. It seems that the issue for Zizek is not so much how to overcome violence, but how to overcome the wrong people doing it (namely, the elite, capitalist order). Lots to take in on this site.
Zizek is for revolutionary violence. He makes this clear in his book on Mao and Lenin.