“If you see only one documentary about a Slovene philosopher this year, it will most likely be Astra Taylor’s “Zizek!,” A.O. Scott wrote in his review of “Zizek!” in Friday’s New York Times. "Zizek!" is a film about Slavoj Zizek, author of The Puppet and the Dwarf: the Perverse Core of Christianity and The Parallax View (forthcoming). Scott calls it:
A brisk little film whose title character, Slavoj Zizek, is surely the most famous Slovene philosopher in the world. This is not a joke, even though it sounds like one, and even though Mr. Zizek is funnier, in person and on the page, than anyone whose mission is to fuse Hegelian dialectics with Lacanian psychoanalysis has any right to be.
"Zizek!," however, is not so much an introduction to his thought as an advertisement for it. His books (including "Enjoy Your Symptom!," "The Sublime Object of Ideology," "Tarrying With the Negative" and many others), while difficult, are notable for the clarity with which they present the central contradictions of life in the post-Communist, late capitalist world, where social and psychic control is exercised not by the repression of desires, but rather by their creation and partial fulfillment. While Karl Marx and the French Freudian Jacques Lacan are his main influences, his intellectual toolkit also includes Alfred Hitchcock and Saint Paul. The bravura with which he mixes them all up - along with Soviet-era jokes and observations on restaurant behavior and bathroom design - has made him an intellectual superstar, a curious mixture of guru and buffoon.
It is clear from "Zizek!" that this role bothers him a little, and also that he enjoys it. He possesses the kind of mind that never stops churning, and his compulsive thinking is both thrilling and exhausting. His books bristle with political implication and provocation, while his celebrity is evidence of the tendency among academics, especially in the United States, to form cults of personality around theorists from foreign lands.