“Yeah, because I'm extremely romantic here. You know what is my fear? This postmodern, permissive, pragmatic etiquette towards sex. It's horrible. They claim sex is healthy; it's good for the heart, for blood circulation, it relaxes you. They even go into how kissing is also good because it develops the muscles here –this is horrible, my God! It's no longer that absolute passion. I like this idea of sex as part of love, you know: 'I'm ready to sell my mother into slavery just to fuck you for ever.' There is something nice, transcendent, about it. I remain incurably romantic.”
Regardless of how updated we are with discoveries and technological advances, when most of us think of science we hark back to the concepts we learned in grade school; we don’t see it as something that is constantly changing and evolving. This can also be said of philosophy, since we don’t hear about new theories through social media or news outlets. But this is another discipline that keeps changing. There’s plenty of quotes from Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Descartes, and Sartre floating around. However, still most of us ignore the fact that there are plenty of figures out there leaving their mark on history. Slavoj Žižek is a controversial philosopher who has become a favorite of our generation.
Despite being a man full of contradictions, he has changed the study of philosophy by mixing classic concepts, such as Hegel’s, with pop culture elements, like Star Wars. Born in Slovenia, both Žižek and his ideology are hard to describe. He’s not only a philosopher, but also a critic of modern culture. Unlike other academics, he does not limit his analysis of people by referring to ancient authors, but he uses pop culture references to further ground his ideas.
Žižek constantly mixes high and low culture in such an offbeat way that makes purists offended as it peeks the interest of film buffs.
Some in the elite academia worry about the philosopher’s Marxist beliefs. He analyzes the socioeconomic relationships between different social classes based on materialist interpretations within the development of social history, all this through the perspective of communal evolution.
His most controversial trait seems to be how he targets political correctness and Capitalism. The way he explains his political stance in terms that are easy to understand makes him stand out of his contemporaries. Žižek does not exclude filmmakers or television producers from being major players in the development of cultural ideology, and he often uses them as shorthand examples to link with his theories. The problem, according to his critics, is that he does not offer clear solutions. He’s great at pointing out problems and judging, but not at finding answers. However, if we further analyze his mindset, we’ll see there’s no clear way of fixing an already messed-up society. Žižek is aware that philosophy cannot sway the masses, only the individual.
The philosopher is no ordinary critic nor does he pretend to be. In the cinematic arena there are figures, such as Robert Ebert, who seek to create a commentary on all of the presented elements, yet Žižek is only interested in studying the characters, interactions, changes, motives, and history, as he would do with individuals.
He explains that there is a significant connection between audiences and movies, and these works turn us into philosophers. What we see on the screen would have no meaning if we did not look at it through our own reality. This is why he uses Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight to talk about moral struggles or the Wachowski’s Matrix trilogy when referring to mental control.
Having written over forty titles, Žižek has gained notoriety through his films. The Reality of the Virtual, Zizek!, The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema, and The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology are the perfect creations to understand his ideas and why philosophy will never be the same.
Film is not the only contemporary art that can help us understand philosophy. There are several anime shows that are based on ideological studies. There’s also a musical genre that came from the Nietzschean philosophy.
Translated by María Suárez