(Roughly) Daily

“Art at its most significant is a Distant Early Warning System that can always be relied on to tell the old culture what is beginning to happen to it”*…


Psychoanalyst and philosopher Slavoj Žižek has become potent public intellectual.  Variously called  “the Borat of philosophy,” “the Elvis of cultural theory,” and “the world’s hippest philosopher,” he’s published more than 50 books, countless articles, and starred in several documentaries. Indeed, there’s already a journal, The International Journal of Žižek Studies, devoted to his works.

As cultural theorists and critics go, Zižek is among the more accessible.  Still, he brings out the impenetrable in his followers; to wit, a typical quote from a book entitled (apparently un-ironically) Žižek: A Guide for the Perplexed: “Žižek finds the place for Lacan in Hegel by seeing the Real as the correlate of the self-division and self-doubling within phenomena.”

Žižek himself is a little more plain-spoken, as readers can see in this Dutch documentary…

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But it is as a film critic– indeed, a film fan– that (R)D invokes the Slavic Savant.  Žižek writes often about movies, and hosted a the three-part documentary series, The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema, directed by Sophie Fiennes (sister of Joseph and Ralph).  The Pervert’s Guide places Zizek in original locations and replica sets of several classic films—David Lynch’s Blue Velvet, Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut, and Hitchcock’s Vertigo, to name just a few.  Zizek’s scenes of commentary are edited with scenes from the films to give the impression that he is speaking from within the films themselves…  To what ends?  Well, readers can see for themselves in this clip on Vertigo:

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See the whole of Part One here.  And read more about The Pervert’s Guide at Open Culture.

* Marshall McLuhan


As we move closer to the screen, we might spare a thought for Virginia Katherine McMath (whom we knew better by her stage name, Ginger Rogers); she died on this date in 1995.  Rogers worked in vaudeville, then on Broadway, and made over 70 films; but she is surely best remembered for the nine RKO musicals she made with Fred Astaire between 1933 and 1939.  Starting with Flying Down to Rio, and including Top Hat, Swing Time, and Shall We Dance, they revolutionized the Hollywood musical.  Astaire was a grateful fan; in an interview with Raymond Rohauer, curator at the New York Gallery of Modern Art, he said, “Ginger was brilliantly effective. She made everything work for her. Actually she made things very fine for both of us and she deserves most of the credit for our success.”




Written by (Roughly) Daily

April 25, 2013 at 1:01 am

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