Why I read Slavoj Zizek
This piece is written as a supplement to the series of introducing the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek by my friend Alwyn Lau. It is not my intention here to reiterate who is he or what is he all about. Rather, it is about why I enjoy (in the plain sense of the word) reading him.
So why do I read Zizek? Firstly, for his writing style. Unlike the standard academic, who often writes in opaque and ponderous style (I dare anyone to read Kant who is the epitome of academicese), our friend likes with references to low-brow culture peppered with crude humour. Reading him can be liberating from a stylistic point of view.
Secondly, Zizek ask probing questions to contemporary issues rather than just glossing over the problem at hand with a superficial analysis and here is what you need to do solution. What I appreciate about him is the face he forces me to think deeper and come up with my analysis and solution. For me, he is Socrates incarnate.
Nonetheless, I would be the first to admit that reading Zizek is not exactly a walk in the park. This is because he employs an eclectic perspective that combined Hegelian philosophy, Marxist analysis and Lacanian psychoanalysis to the problem at hand. What I mean to say is this … trying to understand Hegel takes a lifetime! How much more Marxism and Lacanian psychoanalysis!
So does that mean that Zizek is for “academician”? Absolutely not! I admit it is difficult to read Zizek but not impossible. One must begin by learning the language and style which he employs in order to understand what he is all about. So where should one begin?
I recommend that we should begin not by reading but by watching him. Yes, watching him! He is a master performer on stage. Look him up at youtube. Here is a good video to start you off (Living in the End Times). After you are comfortable with him, then move on to his books. Begin with books that deals with concrete issues rather than philosophy. My recommendations would be:
- Violence: Six Sideways Reflections
- Living in the End Times
- Looking Awry: An introduction to Jacques Lacan through Popular Culture
Of course, you can’t go wrong following Alwyn Lau’s series as well. Now you are set to appreciate Zizek. Go ahead, enjoy Zizek!