Slavoj Zizek: The Pervert's Guide to Ideology - Sophie Fiennes

Fiennes presents Zizek lecturing about philosophical meanings behind concepts of ideology from (often literally) the backdrop of popular culture (where we see Zizek speaking within reproductions of sets from the films he discusses). While it is quite fascinating and hilarious this is only for a few who are specifically interested in such a subject matters, and even still they might be frustrated over Zizek's halting English. I thought it rather fascinating, but I warn people to take what he says with several grains of salt. For example, Zizek claims that consumers used to feel guilty and donate to charity, but now that, again for example, Starbucks tells us that they donate a percentage of their coffee money helping poor farmers blah blah, and so we no longer feel guilty, consumed with confidence, and don't bother feeling guilty or donating any longer. However, where is his evidence to suggest this? Were consumers feeling guilty? Did they then go out and do something? Do they now no longer feel guilty? And do they now no longer do something--because, after all, they are doing something by consuming? We do have evidence that strongly right-wing consumers will shop at Chick Fillet because of their political stance, and they won't buy products labeled "green" even if it is cheaper and more efficient, so that's something (something he doesn't talk about), but Zizek is big on making sweeping statements without providing hard (or even soft) evidence, and complaining that others are making false generalization. Still, very interesting. Pervert's guide to ideology


If you are interested in the Slovenian philosopher, Zizek, then this documentary is only sort of for you. While it attempts to enlighten viewers about the personality, ideas, and background about this contemporary thinker, the end result is a rather boring collection of clips, including such pointless ones of him appearing to be naked under the covers in bed (is this the director's way of saying they had sex?). It does little for those with any knowledge of Zizek, and will not interest those who know nothing. zizek!

Introducing Slavoj Zizek: A Graphic Guide - Christopher Kul-Want & Piero

Part of a series of books on deep topics that the publisher tries to make easy by calling it "introduction" and adding graphics. Often these titles are less informative or interesting than a regular text, but this one isn't too bad with clear topic headings and not too much text. Zizek is not always the easiest philosopher to grasp (like all those other "easy" ones) and mainly draws from Lacan (who is next to impossible to understand), so it is nice to have some basics to help one understand. Didn't care for the art; I'm not sure what the style was trying to add.

Plato and a Platypus

It can be difficult to take complex ideas and make them accessible, but in Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar Cathcart and Klein walk the reader through a first year philosophy course using an easy-breezy style and lots of humor. Okay, the humor isn't that funny (most of it is pretty groan-worthy, in fact), but it does serve to reinforce their basic thesis: philosophy may be a bit nutty, but it shouldn't be intimidating. Anyone can understand the basics---in fact, if you have a sense of humor, you already understand the most important concepts.

I'm always a little skeptical whether these types of books are better as a primer or as a refresher course, but Plato is an easy (and comprehensive) enough read that I'd recommend it to anyone who was interested in philosophy but had no idea where to begin.

Cathcart, Thomas, and Klein, Daniel. Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar: Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes. New York: Abrams Image, 2007.

Philosophy: A Discovery in Comics - Margreet de Heer

So there is something other than pot bars in the Netherlands, and it is this comic. De Heer attempts to give an introduction to Western philosophy and throw in some modern ideas as well, but it does not really work and she admits to getting lost as to what to do next a couple of time in the comic. Nicely illustrated and well colored by her husband, Yiri, the comic falls short as to really presenting much as to the history of philosophy or how/why it might be useful (great first draft, though).  

How I Became Stupid - Martin Page

Originally a French novel, it is the tale of Antoine, a young, eclectic scholar, who seeks to quiet his mind and finally become happy. To do so he attempts alcoholism, considers suicide, takes antidepressants, starts body-building, makes money, and generally engages in the typical things people suggest you do when you're down. Needless to say (but I will) the results are both comical and disastrous.  I like this short book, but it hit a little too close to home. Take a look at a scene from a play version of the tale.