‘Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Lacan (But Were Afraid to Ask Hitchcock)’ by Slavoj Žižek


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(.pdf, first & second edition)


A modernist work of art is by definition ‘incomprehensible’; it functions as a shock, as the irruption of a trauma which undermines the complacency of our daily routine and resists being integrated. What postmodernism does, however, is the very opposite: it objects par excellence are products with mass appeal; the aim of the postmodernist treatment is to estrange their initial homeliness.

Hitchcock is placed on the analyst’s couch in this extraordinary volume of case studies, as its contributors bring to bear an unrivalled enthusiasm and theoretical sweep of the entire Hitchcock oeuvre, from Rear Window to Psycho, as the exemplar of the ‘postmodern’ procedure of defamiliarization.

Starting from the premise that ‘everything in the films has meaning’, the ostensible narrative content and formal procedures are analysed to reveal a rich proliferation of ideological and psychic mechanisms at work. But Alfred Hitchcock is here also a bait to lure the reader into a more ‘serious’ Marxian and Lacanian considerations on the construction of meaning in general. Already published in its second edition, ‘Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Lacan (But Were Afraid to Ask Hitchcock)’ has without a doubt by now become a long-standing landmark of Hitchcock studies.

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