compressing big ideas …

… and retrieving them within an everyday Hollywood reality – is a talent Zizek stands for.

Not at all necleglecting the pros and cons inherent to the method the documentation of filmmaker Ben Wright is at the same time attempting to rethink the effects of materialist filmmaking practice in considering his filmic Žižek interview ‘The Reality of the Virtual‘ – a work obviously really worth watching.

… this hour-long foray into things Zizekian, though ostensibly a lecture about belief, is also a nice way to ease yourself into the complex multiverse of Slavoj Zizek. Here the bearded, sweaty one sits in a library and works his way through the “virtual real”, a
thoughtful, though complicated, canter through how we structure our world or how to understand what we believe. What is charismatic about the man is his ability to compress big ideas into an everyday Hollywood reality. Pay attention and you will find that his idea of “practising utopia” arrived via a Lacanian critique of Capitalism with heaps of Marxist and Hegelian “overturns” thrown-in.
(this short review comes via an older announcement at KF, includes embedded links)

.. despite this quote’s display of an elder screening date, the film is still shown from time to time .. next upcoming in NYC

The following is an excerpt from an interesting exchange between Daniel Berchenko and Ben Wright about the importance of Žižek’s work in understanding materialist filmmaking practice, and about the relationship between film and philosophy in general:

D.B.: The principle thrust of Zizek’s lecture is that the real is a formal, rather than a material category. The real, the primordial, the essential, is virtual in its being, and only actual in its effects. He therefore argues for a purely formal materialism – one which takes into account the primacy of “pure difference” or what he calls the “structural gap” that inheres in every situation. Do you think that this concept of formal materialism is of any use to materialist filmmaking practice, which in some sense has always given primacy to filmic form as opposed to narrative or representational content?

B.W.: … Perhaps the challenge for materialist film today (if you don’t mind me carrying on using this Lacanian terminology) is thus to move from the masculine logic of exception to the feminine logic of not-all: to reintroduce the imaginary and symbolic dimensions without losing sight of the commitment to the real – in other words to locate the real according to a process of subtraction rather than purification. In more concrete terms this would mean locating the minimal difference between representation and itself as form, rather than purifying the image of all representational content and destroying meaning in favour of form. To put it another way, to formally render the difference inherent to representation as such, rather than purify representation of that which it is the difference between. To use the Maoist logic it is a question of the essence of dialectics – whether One divides into two (the real of pure difference divides into imaginary and symbolic dimensions of representation), or two fuse into One (the symbolic and imaginary dimensions of reality collapse in an impossible attempt to present pure form). The artistic operation of materialist film would therefore be to act upon or purify representational meaning or non-art content, rather than trying to eradicate it. Without taking this step, materialist film will remain confined to the psychotic or mystical domain of purified (or modern) aesthetics and the mindless satisfaction of the drive – has materialist film thus ended up doing precisely the thing it set out to avoid? …


.. and beside that, via a 2001 article from spiked-culture, something to think on related obsessional ties between the visual and the authentic as becoming obvious in contemporary definitions …

s-c.: Do you think that is what we are seeing now?

Slavoj Žižek: I think this may be what defined the twentieth century, which really began with the First World War. We all remember the war reports by Ernst Jünger, in which he praises this eye-to-eye combat experience as the authentic one. Or at the level of sex, the archetypal film of the twentieth century would be Nagisa Oshima’s Ai No Corrida (In The Realm Of The Senses), where the idea again is that you become truly radical, and go to the end in a sexual encounter, when you practically torture each other to death. There must be extreme violence for that encounter to be authentic.

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