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How to Read Lacan (How to Read)
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How to Read Lacan (How to Read...)

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  781 ratings  ·  62 reviews
The How to Read series provides a context and an explanation that will facilitate and enrich your understanding of texts vital to the canon. These books use excerpts from the major texts to explain essential topics, such as Jacques Lacan's core ideas about enjoyment, which re-created our concept of psychoanalysis.
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Published (first published 2006)
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Jonathan Widell
A terrific summary of Zizek's reading of Lacan. It could be more appropriately called "How to Read Zizek's Reading of Lacan" than simply "How to Read Lacan". An impressive number of his examples are familiar from his other works, especially The Parallax View. Having Zizek's Lacan illustrations published in one book makes it a lot easier to make sense of his reading of Lacan.

There is just this one "but". Zizek does not really read Lacan. Rather, he uses his reading of Lacan to read something els
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Tanuj Solanki
The book is divided in seven chapters each of which start with a text from Lacan and then dwell upon the concept it contains. We are given the notions (in no particular order here) of the big Other, the small Other, fantasy, perversity, the unconsciousness of God, intersubjectivity, the other as an unknown behind the wall of language, et cetera. Zizek's extrapolation of Lacan's view of psychoanalysis as a method of reading ends at finding a Lacanian method of reading everything. Zizek also menti ...more
The Awdude
What's great about Zizek is also the answer to the question people always ask about critical theory ("that's interesting and all but what do I do with it?"). Zizek is the master of practical illustration and application of theory. He doesn't stop at showing you where the water is or what conditions of epistemic knowledge make it possible for said water to be constituted as such, or whatever; rather, he points to the water, leads you to the water, helps you understand the possible consequences of ...more
matt


The great Slavoj Zizek, the sage of Lubjana, writing about something he knows inside and out. It's illuminating, engaging, vibrant and complex.

A lot of what's in here has really made sense of some of my own observations about life and human psychology come into clearer focus. I'm going to refer back to it again and again.

Part of what I really appreciate about Zizek's writing is that he is master of the accessible, anecdotal pop culture reference to illustrate what term or insight Lacan has to
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Rebecca
Is there anyone smarmier and more annoying that Zizek?

Oh wait, possibly the professor for whom I have to read Zizek.
Georgia gray
a better intro to zizek i think
Juan-Pablo
A useful but limited introduction to Lacan
Zizek is such a sui generis intellectual that it is inevitable that any “How to read” manual will be tainted by his worldview. In this book, he doesn’t even try to be objective, and uses most of his “library” of examples to illustrate Lacan. A lot of these illustrations are also found in his movie “The Pervert's Guide to Cinema”, for instance. At the same time, Zizek favorites strategies—dialectic reversals, paradoxes and outright provocation—are inconsp
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Goodacre
The French philosopher of psychoanalysis Lacan is famously difficult and arguably bonkers. How to Read Lacan brims with personality. Our guide Zizek is peculiarly and exceptionally contrary and always wants to one-up your intuition; paired with Lacan, the result would be too combustible to print if it weren't for Zizek's very friendly habit of explaining himself with movies. This really works. Each chapter begins with roughly a paragraph of seemingly incoherent text followed by Zizek's trademark ...more
Tom Syverson
This is a pleasurable book to read about Lacan, but it does not even begin to give the reader what it purports to offer, namely instruction on how to read (or understand) Lacan. Like all of Zizek's writing on Lacan, it does not actually do a very good job communicating what Lacan is really all about. Rather, we're getting Zizek-on-Lacan with a pretty heavy emphasis on Zizek. For readers new to Lacan, the book as a whole should be taken with a grain of salt.

This can function as a great first boo
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Kane
Parts of this book are absolutely excellent. Despite this, I continually found examples taken from novels and films to be more contrived than actually demonstrating the underlying concepts.

It is definitely worth the read, and is easy to get into and to understand. I couldn't help feeling that the part about God being unconscious rather than dead purposefully brushed over Nietzsche's statement that although God is dead, "his shadow still looms."

I found myself oscillating between agreeing and disa
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Ioanna-Violet
Great book! I would highly recommend it to those who like Zizek and want to read Lacan's main ideas in a concise and interesting way.
Jack Lindgren
As I'm sure others have mentioned, this book isn't exactly a Lacan primer, per se, but rather a collection of Žižekian explications of Lacanian concepts using examples from pop culture. Although I'm pretty sure that all of the material in this book can be found elsewhere (in Žižek's various other books that use pop culture to illustrate Lacan, in youtube lectures by Žižek, etc.), this volume was handy.
(aside: I have a theory that Žižek's incredibly large oeuvre can be condensed into maybe a doz
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Ana
Who am I kidding? I can't really write a review about this book. It's still destroying my brain. I can't compete with Zizek, whose name I can't even write properly because I don't know where the symbols that should be above the "z"s are on my keyboard. It is a BRUTAL book about philosophy. It analyzes the ideas proposed by Lacan, who, as far as I understand was a psychologist. I will admit I had never heard of him before reading this book, and obviously I hadn't read anything written by him. I d ...more
Chris
To start, I'm am not in any way sufficiently familiar with Lacan's own work to offer any judgment on whether Zizek offers any sort of fair or accurate analysis. Those in the post-structuralist/post-modern/psychoanalytic know may or may not consider Zizek to be a rogue Lacanian, but beyond knowing that, I have little to offer.

Insofar as Zizek being Zizek, this book fits right in with the rest of his rapidly expanding corpus, with its strange kaleidoscope of revolutionary politics, cultural criti
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Mitchell
This book is one in a series of, How to Read . . . “great thinkers and writers” produced by the New School of Social Research. The intention of the series is to bring the reader “face-to-face with the writing itself in the company of an expert guide.” While I don’t question the expertise of the author/guide, in this instance, I do believe the title, "How to Read Lacan" is misleading. In my opinion, a more appropriate title might be: "A Condensed Reading of Žižek: Lacan Unplugged."

Just as a come
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Matt
This was my follow-up to reading those essays I read from _Ecrits_, and I thought it was pretty helpful.... Zizek's primary interest here seems to be in exploring what Lacan means by the symbolic. And I think Zizek does a really good job with that-- I certainly think I get it a lot more than I did before, and in lots of places, Zizek's examples are very clear and mostly current, so that's all good.

My quibble here, then, is one of focus. I might just be idiosyncratic in my interests or my reading
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Anja Weber
Basically it is introduction in Lacan's philosophy and his thought about Psychiatry..On first sight it of great help for reading Lacan but however in second it is just inner personal view of Slavoj Zizek. But most of us who has been very distanced from Lacan's writings and teachings would be now interested to read his original thoughts. His own theory about psycho analysis and Lacan's very hard in some sense teachings..but absolutely good for the future of patient..in life..So this is real side ...more
Oliver Ho
The best introduction to Lacan I've read so far (meaning two books), and also a pretty good primer on Zizek. I can't say I get it (I think I get some of it, but I'm probably wrong), but I figure if I keep reading books about and/or by these folks, some of it might start to make sense.
Eileen
Apart from the moments of blatant sexism, this was a really great read.
Phillip
I really love Zizek's style, which is a sort of rambling journey through a set of pop culutre and historical examples of the concept he is trying to illustrate. As far as reading this as an intro to Lacan's thought, it is probably best to come at it with at least a little bit of prior knowledge about the major concepts, even if your understanding isn't clear. One of the drawbacks to Zizek's style is that on can sometimes get caught up in the examples and in how interesting his observations about ...more
Sjhyde
Film theory is always laced with Lacan's language and usually I'm left thinking - what the fuck? To clear up the confusion,I turned to this book looking for a phrase book with some definitions and discovered it has more to offer than that. Lots of empirical examples supporting Lacan's four principles of psychoanalysis. I like the subtitle "how to read". Zizek posits the idea that Lacan's method is not just for clinical psychoanalytical studies, it is also a useful method for reading. - for going ...more
Mariano Hdz
Good in Zizek's terms.
Katja
Not sure whether I've learned more about Lacan or Zizek. In any case, the book provided me with a new and refreshing view on psychoanalysis and cinema. To quote from the introduction: "for Lacan, the goal of psychoanalytic treatment is not the patient's well-being, successful social life or personal fulfillment, but to bring the patient to confront the elementary coordinates and deadlocks of his or her desire." This is the perspective from which Zizek comments on Dostoevsky, Casablanca, Eyes Wid ...more
Lura

Zizek is a great as a commentary. I cannot say I did not enjoy the book, it was good. It's not so much of an introduction to Lacan, passingly Zizek does introduce his main concepts - but it's really not satisfying.

If you're a Zizek follower, or if at least you've ever attended a lecture by him - do not read it, since it's such a repetition of whatever he's saying all the time.

I would not recommend it to people who actually want to start with something on psychoanalysis. This book is definitely n
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April
"Issues in Criticism" -University of Saint Thomas, required text. Master's in English.

I read about half of this and skimmed the rest. Zizek does an AWESOME job making Lacan readable. He uses TONS of examples per chapter that really break down the ideas really well. There is a little bit of a danger in his style, though, of oversimplifying. Sometimes I think Zizek was a bit too simplistic and that I wasn't getting the full understanding of the complex Lacanian theory.
David
Difficult to read, but full of thought provoking ideas, like most of Zizek's writing. I struggled to get the point, but I'm not sure there was one.
Simon Lee
I agree with other reviewers that this book may be exploring more Zizekian ideas than Lacanian, but nonetheless it is a fantastic book and certainly does demonstrate Lacanian thinking. If you liked this book, I would highly recommend that you read "Looking Awry" by Zizek for fuller exploration of Lacan's thought via popular culture. Also recommended are "Why do women write more letters than they post?" by Darian Leader and "Enjoy Your Symptom!" by Zizek.
Dave
This book has helped me look at the psychological dimension of politics and the workplace. The idea of The Thing (that humans are naturally disgusted by others and must create a fantasy in order to have normal relations) left me more confused than any of the other ideas. The idea of The Other is fascinating. I notice it often in lies people tell that they know everyone sees through, so whom are they lying to? The Other.
Harry
Zizek's arguments are riddled with logical inconsistencies that require huge leaps of gullibility to keep them from breaking down. His is an idiotic worldview, in which drawing stretched parallels between apples and oranges is considered adequate proof of the truth of his -or Lacan's- statements. However, if this is a good introduction to Lacan's writing, it definitely saved me a lot of time and anguish.
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Slavoj Žižek is a Slovene sociologist, philosopher, and cultural critic.

He was born in Ljubljana, Slovenia (then part of SFR Yugoslavia). He received a Doctor of Arts in Philosophy from the University of Ljubljana and studied psychoanalysis at the University of Paris VIII with Jacques-Alain Miller and François Regnault. In 1990 he was a candidate with the party Liberal Democracy of Slovenia for P
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More about Slavoj Žižek...
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“Jenny Holzer’s famous truism “Protect me from what I want” renders in a very precise way the fundamental ambiguity of the hysterical position. It can either be read as an ironic reference to the standard male chauvinist wisdom that a woman, when left to herself, gets caught in the self-destructive fury, so that she must be protected from herself by the benevolent male domination: “Protect me from the excessive self-destructive desire in me that I myself am not able to dominate.” Or it can be read in a more radical way, as pointing towards the fact that in today’s patriarchal society, woman’s desire is radically alienated, that she desires what men expect her to desire, that she desires to be desired by men. In this case, “Protect me from what I want” means “What I want, precisely when I seem to formulate my authentic innermost longing, is already imposed on me by the patriarchal order that tells me what to desire, so the first condition of my liberation is that I break up the vicious cycle of my alienated desire and learn to formulate my desire in an autonomous way.” 0 likes
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