‘The Plague of Fantasies’ by Slavoj Žižek

First published by Verso in 1997, includes two editions. Download link and description updated on 26. June 2021.

(2x .pdf)

Modern audiovisual media have spawned a ‘plague of fantasies’, electronically inspired phantasms that cloud the ability to reason and prevent a true understanding of a world increasingly dominated by abstractions—whether those of digital technology or the speculative market. Traditional critical thought would have sought to trace the roots of abstract notions in concrete social reality; but today, the correct procedure is the inverse—from pseudo-concrete imagery to the abstract process which structures our lives.

Slavoj Žižek’s peculiar blend of Lacan and Hegel is always endowed with insight and interwoven with amusing stories, anecdotes and jokes. In Plague of Fantasies he approaches examples from national differences in toilet design to cybersex, and from intellectuals’ responses to the Bosnian war to Robert Schumann’s music, explores the relations between fantasy and ideology, the way in which fantasy animates enjoyment while protecting against its excesses, the associations of the notion of fetishism with fantasized seduction, and the ways in which digitalization and cyberspace affect the status of subjectivity.

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