Magazine article Foreign Policy
92 Slavoj Zizek: For Giving Voice to an Era of Absurdity
Philosopher | Slovenia
With intellectual influences ranging from Karl Marx to French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan to the films of Alfred Hitchcock and the Matrix trilogy, Slavoj Zizek has emerged over the past two decades as a modern rarity: a celebrity philosopher, appearing everywhere from op-ed pages to cable-news debates to your local art-house movie theater. At a time of capitalism in crisis, Zizek has proved that the hard left can still offer valuable critiques of current events and contemporary culture--even as the left itself has often been the subject of his withering criticism.
Zizek, who holds professorships at the University of Ljubljana and the European Graduate School in Switzerland, is an almost absurdly prolific writer of dozens of books, including four just this year on subjects ranging from the global financial crisis to Hegel. He's perhaps better known, however, for his agitated, rapid-fire public speeches. He's a favorite on the university speaking circuit, not to mention the star of several feature-length documentaries, including Zizek! and The Pervert's Guide to Cinema. It doesn't hurt that he laces his arguments with frequent allusions to pop culture. Zizek is a self-described communist but is probably a bit too misanthropic ("Humanity? …