slavoj zizek

Trauma, Liminality, Hope — The Ritual Function of Bowling for Columbine

Trauma, Liminality, Hope — The Ritual Function of Bowling for Columbine

Michael Moore’s 2002 Bowling for Columbine ambitiously seeks to explain what led to the massacre at Columbine High School in 1999, with numerous detours into related topics. Moore’s thesis is clear: a ubiquitous, uniquely-American climate of fear fostered Columbine. Despite "slippery logic, tendentious grandstanding, and outright demagoguery,” Bowling for Columbine’s “disquieting insights into the culture of violence in America should occasion sober reflection from those who would prefer to stop their ears" (Scott n.p.). Despite its failings, Bowling for Columbine may better be experienced as a ritual; the film may place the viewer in liminality, a non-rational state in initiatory rituals, meant to bring participants to a “threshold,” at which they are fundamentally changed (“Liminality”). Wielding facts and figures in service of its threshold, disregarding accuracy, Bowling for Columbine tears down the ideologies and kneejerk solutions behind which one may hide the senseless trauma of Columbine. At this threshold of powerlessness, with an as-yet unprocessed trauma in full view, the individual may achieve what philosopher Slavoj Zizek refers to as “the courage of hopelessness” (Courage).

The Puppeteer and His Insatiable Desire—Jacques Lacan, the Big Other, and Never-ending Obsession

The Puppeteer and His Insatiable Desire—Jacques Lacan, the Big Other, and Never-ending Obsession

Much can be said about Jacques Lacan, but as far as biographical notes, I’ll stick to the essentials here. Lacan was a French psychoanalyst, strongly influenced by the work of the late Sigmund Freud; and like Freud, Lacan managed to stir up a good deal of controversy in the course of his career. In Paris he delivered yearly lectures from 1953 to 1981, many of which have been translated into English—though not necessarily with great clarity. …

I’m not exactly an expert on Lacan, and truth be told the controversies that swirl around his scholarship are concerning, but he’s one of the primary influences of a philosopher I enjoy reading from time to time: Slavoj Zizek. Zizek is a Slovenian continental philosopher, and while I don’t see eye to eye with him in all things, it’s hard for me to find a moment when I didn’t enjoy reading his work. Like Lacan, Zizek too can be somewhat obscure, but never in an unrewarding way. And in order to more fully understand Zizek, I have recently attempted to understand Lacan—in so far as I can, of course.

On Being Max Demian—Notes on My Favorite Book

On Being Max Demian—Notes on My Favorite Book

I recently came across a useful bit of advice: in essence, to highlight often when reading an ebook, and then to revisit those highlights in order to gain not only the gist of a text, but perhaps to see what attracted your attention the most.

Nowadays I mostly read ebooks—PDF, epub, Kindle, etc.—partly because of visual impairments (I can read print books just fine, but I can enlarge ebooks to my heart’s content). But a happy byproduct of my preference for ebooks is that, as mentioned in the advice above, they make it easier to extract and compile notes taken and highlights made. I’ve been thinking about this bit of advice for some time, and, as an experiment, I ended up reaching back for one of my favorite novels, Hermann Hesse’s Demian: The Story of Emil Sinclair’s Youth.