I’m sharing some of my favorite reads of 2016. See them all here.
I sometimes think of Žižek’s books as a series of cultural readings in search of a thesis. It’s not that Žižek doesn’t have a thesis for each book, it’s more that he prefers to let it well up through the texture of his prose. The read attraction of his readings of the ever-evolving products of global capitalism. You come for the readings and the riffs, and somehow you end up getting a thesis by the end.
Which is to say, in my reading Žižek either succeeds or fails by the quality, freshness, and contemporaneity of his riffs, and by that standard Trouble in Paradise is a big hit. In the brief introduction alone we get compelling readings of Ernest Lubitsch’s classic films, the latest Batman reboot, South Korean culture vis a vis global capitalism, “Gangnam Style” (not to be missed), the hermaphroditism of North Korean dictators, and (of course) an old Jewish tale. That’s 20 pages.
By the end of the book, Žižek has wound many of the major political and cultural global developments of the past 5 years into a pretty compelling theory of where capitalism is, and where it is headed. He has even woven in a pretty good defense of Marxism, which Žižek still believes in and still holds out hope for.
Just in terms of sheer density of information, quotables, and educational value, this is a book well worth the time of anyone who cares to think about what are dominant systems governing our world and where they are headed. I completely recommend it.