On the occassion of the documentary, Zizek!, coming to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston this week, Boston Globe correspondent Damon Smith spoke with Slavoj Zizek about both his own documentary and his interest in film. Zizek, whose new book, The Parallax View, is just out, pontificates on nearly everything - from radical politics and German philosophy to Hitchcock, opera, and "The Matrix." But, "to analyze today's iedology," he says, "cinema is the best."
Q: Why'd you agree to let a camera crew trail you around at home and on the lecture circuit?
A: It was very traumatic for me. I don't know why I even said yes. Do you know I haven't seen the movie? I have presented it twice, but both times I insisted on arriving at the end. My only idea was the tasteless [mock] suicide scene at the skyscraper in Ljubljana. I hate public appearances. Except for my passport, I don't have any photos of myself. I'm totally phobic.
Q: I guess we shouldn't expect to see your sequel.
A: Now comes the big irony: After that film, I did two more. I did a multi-part series with Sophie Fiennes [sister of Ralph] called ''Pervert's Guide to Cinema." What I like is it's not about me. It's really about what psychoanalysis can tell us about cinema. And there are some wonderful, tasteless ideas. For instance, they reconstructed some of the sets of Hitchcock and David Lynch movies. Do you remember, toward the end of ''Psycho," where Lila, the sister, goes into the basement and sees Norman's mother, and Mrs. Bates turns around and you see it's only a mummy? We had this scene reconstructed, and somebody touches the mother, she turns around, and you see it's me. [Laughs] The comment was, ''This is much more horrible than Mrs. Bates!"
Q: What fascinates you about the cinema?
A: My big obsession is to make things clear. I can really explain a line of thought if I can somehow illustrate it in a scene from a film. So mostly it's exploiting cinema. On the other hand, to analyze today's ideology, cinema is the best. You have everything there, all the trends and so on. The best auteurs allow you to really think in images, and the best cinema can be a medium of thinking. I pretend to like ''The Matrix" and popular stuff, but privately I like more serious films.
Read more of Zizek's interview (including his thoughts on Spielberg) with Damon here. More information about Zizek! can be found here. And details and showtimes of the documentary at the Museum of Fine Arts can be found here.