Well, Zizek has managed to fry my brain in ways that only G&D, and possibly Huyssen, have fried it. I like to think of myself as the everyman, capable of understand pretty much everything that is thrown my way. However, I feel lost, dazed, and confused by these past couple of readings. The lack of a coherent point or flow has driven me mad. One page will talk about capitalism, then skip to phalluses and anal, and then decide to jump to anti-Semitism and ideologies. I know this is postmodernism at its finest, but if people find it impossible to grasp the "sublime object of ideology", why write about it? I guess I am just admitting my defeat at the hands of postmodernism, but here goes my little blurb on what I found interesting in the first part of the reading.
The one point that remained consistent throughout part 1 was the reference to ideology. Drawing upon some of the earlier readings from this year, most notably Althusser, Zizek conducts an interesting study of ideologies as we have come to know them, or at least what we think we can know of them. The first line that struck me was on pages 30-31 when he states, "Ideology consists in the very fact that the people 'do not know what they are really doing', that they have a false representation of the social reality to which they belong." This has been a pretty common theme of all the writers that refer in some way to Marx. The worker is constantly exploited, yet revels in his exploitation. In this case, a person continues in his ideology because he thinks he understands it and has it working for him, but he actually has no idea what is going on. However, I don't associate a negative connotation with this definition of ideology the way I do with a Marxian critique of capitalism. He seems to be saying that because people can revel and be happy in their false representation, there is no need to change it. He just wants to make clear that people really do not know what their true ideology is; they only have slight idea of what it might be.
Zizek then moves from this background in ideology to his little discourse on anti-Semitism and the associated ideology behind it. This form of ideology is propaganda that over takes the previous ideology that we had. It's a paradigm shift. He states that this new "ideology is really 'holding us' only when we do not feel any opposition between it and reality â€“ that is, when the ideology succeeds in determining the mode of our everyday experience of reality itself." (49) When people become so racist that their beliefs mask any truth, then the ideology has officially taken over their minds. Reality becomes the ideology; nothing can tell us differently. This thought is scary when it comes down to it. Can't all forms of knowledge be considered an ideology? We can never grasp reality in its true sense because the ideology blinds us from any real "truth". "An ideology really succeeds when even the facts which at first sight contradict it start to function as arguments in its favor." (49) You can't escape something when you don't even know it's thereâ€¦
And here is a quote I just found amusing:
"So even if, tired from a hard day's stupid work, all evening we did nothing but gaze drowsily into the television screen, we can say afterwards that objectively, through the medium of the other, we had a really good time." (35)