Zizek at Tiff Special Event October 1st

I’m not sure if these will be of interest to anyone, but I typed up my notes anyway. There are some interesting ideas in here, it’s not only repetition. 

Introductory remarks:

Whenever a man idealizes a woman, (illusory love), the dream from the standpoint of the observer (as in the viewer of a film) is that the woman is really a man. The horror at the realization is not the surprise that this is not a woman but a man, but the shock of coming to close to his fantasy – that the woman, who is really a man, is a reflection of himself, he sees himself as the producer of the fantasy there as the falsely loved other.


Zizek’s dream would be to show, instead of part 3 of the pervert’s guide  to cinema, instead a “lost masterpiece” – something which only happens in film. With authors we know who the great authors are and their great works, etc, but it seems that in film there is always another masterpiece to discover. This is especially true in “film noire”, but might it also be true of hollywood cinema – are there lost masterpieces in the history of hollywood?


Does theory ruin the experience of watching a film? No, in fact theoretical analysis is the condition of enjoying the film – the theory tells you what to look for, and what was a fairly boring story becomes enjoyable and interesting through the perspective of theory.


Multiplex cinema: are we now approaching the time when multiplexes are full not of American trash, but of new Chinese cinema that is taking hollywood even beyond hollywood. Will we liberal progressives in the future take on a nativist position, demanding that we spend money not to promote marginal international cinema, but marginal national cinema which is taken over by international blockbusters.


Talk after the film:


Why “pervert”?


To answer: what is the distinction between perversion and hysteria?



-nowhere is the unconscious more inaccessible than in the pervert

-perverts never ask questions, pervert knows but does not question

-pratically impossible to psycho analyze a pervert

-pervert’s game is “I know what you want and I will give it to you even if you don’t want it”

-political perverts: Stalin – “We are not subjects but objects of historical necessity”

-perverts are not masters, subject to a higher necessity



-questioning, subversive

-can psycho analyze

-feminist (questioning patriarchal authority)

-unconscious is exposed

-rejecting identity, relentless questioning (pathological)


Zizek: is clearly not a pervert but a hysteric. He does not like this, critical of how it is hyper fashionable in academia to display the false modesty of self-criticism, masks an extreme arrogance. Would prefer to be dogmatic, not enough dogma today. Who wants to live in a society where that rape is wrong must be constantly argued, not asserted as a dogma? And for dialogue, must better to brutally state what you think and expose it to criticism than constantly play this game of questioning yourself and relentlessly questioning your own ability to say something firm.


Titanic: a typical bourgeois story – why the iceberg? So that the upper class person can learn from the experience with the lower class person and re integrate into their own class. And to prevent the horrible end of the love between the two decaying and becoming boring. Standard bourgeois hollywood story involves a class distinction in which class essentialism is not overcome, but the lower is sacrificed for the well being of the upper.


Hollywood “left”: liberal apologists, films like “All the Presidents men” are feel-good stories which redeem unredeemable US politics.


Spielburg: classical bourgeois, same pretty boring fantasy structure in nearly all his movies. Jurrasic park is the same as Schindler’s list: a boy in search of a good father. Even E.T. – the alien can go home when the  nuclear family is re constituted. A.I. doesn’t fit into this standard story… Shindler’s list very offensive to Z’s Jewish friends because Jews are portrayed only as children.


What is the real left in hollywood today? Last 2 seasons of “24”. No need to watch – Zizek checks wikipedia for the story. Depiction of a deadlock, no way out, much more progressive than all the president’s men.


Wish the film could have included an analysis of “Dark Knight Rises”. The film tries to lie but cannot really lie (the reverse of the standard logic). Love relation with Bane cannot help be authentic.


In hard core pornography – who, if you are a man watching do you identify with? The man? No, the woman – only the woman can look into the camera, the man is just an appendage. She must prove she enjoys. Study shows faces of women in porn are of 4 standard expressions, matches Habermasean theory of communication. Ecstasy, Hard work, Boredom, Sly grin.


Freud: the only emotion that doesn’t lie is anxiety.


Heidegger: when he dropped Arendt to write BT he was dishonest, and copied his love letters for Arendt and sent them to another mistress-student. [Heidegger/political/impure love?]


Hollywood – code for prostitutes “new orleans”, code for gay “perfume”.


True power in Hollywood is encoded subterranean terrain of all perverse drives, all ideology needs this perverse supplement. 


Zizek served in army – no order. Homosexuality brutally banned, homosexual innuendos everywhere sustained by brutal anti-gay violence. Other examples: fraternities, whorerorities/sororirities (slip of the tongue), abu grabe


Abu Grabe: American soldiers staged obscene underground of military life itself, always have this secret obscene rituals.


Pedophilia: strictly part of Catholic Church’s identity – the unconscious of the institution itself


Hollwyood is most conformist when it appears progressive, and sometimes vice-versa.



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