The Pervert's Guide to Ideology

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The Pervert's Guide to Ideology is a 2012 British documentary film written and presented by Slovene philosopher and psychoanalyst Slavoj Žižek.

Directed by Sophie Fiennes.

Slavoj Žižek[edit]

  • They Live from 1988 is definitely one of the forgotten masterpieces of the Hollywood left. [...] when he put one of them on walking along the L.A. Streets he discovers something weird; that these glasses function like critique of ideology glasses. They allow you to see the real message beneath all the propaganda, publicity, posters and so on. [...] When you put the glasses on you see dictatorship in democracy. It’s the invisible order, which sustains your apparent freedom.
  • We live, so we are told, in a post-ideological society. We are interpellated, that is to say, addressed by social authority not as subjects who should do their duty, sacrifice themselves, but subjects of pleasures. "Realise your true potential. Be yourself. Lead a satisfying life."
  • According to our common sense, we think that ideology is something blurring, confusing our straight view. Ideology should be glasses, which distort our view, and the critique of ideology should be the opposite like you take off the glasses so that you can finally see the way things really are. This precisely and here, the pessimism of the film, of They Live, is well justified, this precisely is the ultimate illusion: ideology is not simply imposed on ourselves. Ideology is our spontaneous relation to our social world, how we perceive each meaning and so on and so on. We, in a way, enjoy our ideology.
  • The basic insight of psychoanalysis is to distinguish between enjoyment and simple pleasures. They are not the same. Enjoyment is precisely enjoyment in disturbed pleasure. Even enjoyment in pain and this excessive factor disturbs the apparently simple relationship between duty and pleasures.
  • If you read intelligent catholic propagandists and if you really try to discern what deal are they offering you. It's not to prohibit, in this case, sexual pleasures. It's a much more cynical contact as it were, between the church as an institution and the believer troubled with, in this case, sexual desires. [...] Not only the explicit message: renounce, suffer and so on... but the true hidden message: pretend to renounce and you can get it all.
  • Enjoyment becomes a kind of a weird perverted duty. The paradox of Coke is that you are thirsty you drink it but as everyone knows the more you drink it the more thirsty you get.
  • A desire is never simple the desire for a certain thing. It’s always also a desire for desire itself; a desire to continue to desire. Perhaps the ultimate quarrel of a desire is to be fully filled in, met, so that I desire no longer. The ultimate melancholy experience is the experience of the loss of desire itself.
  • We are not talking about objective, factual properties of a commodity. We are talking only here about that illusive surplus.
  • Kinder Surprise egg, a quite astonishing commodity. The surprise of the Kinder Surprise egg is that this excessive object the cause of your desire is here materialised in the guise of an object, a plastic toy which fills in the inner void of the chocolate egg. The whole delicate balance is between these two dimensions. What you bought, the chocolate egg and the surplus probably made in some Chinese gulag or whatever, the surplus that you get for free. I don’t think that the chocolate frame is here just to send you on a deeper voyage towards the inner treasure, what Plato calls the agalma, which makes you a wealthy person, which makes a commodity the desirable commodity. I think it’s the other way around. We should aim at the higher goal, the goal in the middle of an object precisely to be able to enjoy the surface. This is what is the anti-metaphysical lesson, which is difficult to accept.
  • Taxi Driver is an unacknowledged remake of perhaps the greatest of John Ford’s westerns, his late classic The Searchers. In both films, the hero tries to save a young woman who is perceived as a victim of brutal abuse. [...] The task is always to save the perceived victim. But what really drives this violence of the hero is a deep suspicion that the victim is not simply a victim. That the victim, effectively in a perverted way, enjoys or participates in what appears as her victimhood, so that, to put it very simply, she doesn’t want to be redeemed, she resists it.
  • When he is there, barely alive, he symbolically with his fingers points a gun at his own head; clear sign that all this violence was basically suicidal. He was on the right path, in a way, Travis of the Taxi Driver. You should have the outburst of violence and you should direct it at yourself, but in a very specific way, it won’t in yourself change you, ties you to the ruling ideology.
  • [...] fascism is, at it’s most elementary, a conservative revolution. Revolution – economic development, modern industry, yes. But a revolution which would none the less maintain or even reassert a traditional hierarchal society. A society which is modern, efficient, but at the same time controlled by hierarchal values with no class or other antagonisms. Now, they have a problem here, the fascists, but antagonism, class struggle and other dangers is something inherent to capitalism. Modernisation, industrialisation, as we know from the history of capitalism, means disintegration of old stable relations. It means social conflicts. Instability is the way capitalism functions. So how to solve this problem? Simple. You need to generate an ideological narrative which explains how things went wrong in a society not as a result of the inherent tensions in the development of this society but as the result of a foreign intruder.

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