Quora answer: Why did Slavoj Žižek pick the title “The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema”?

Jul 06 2013

I heard an interview where he was asked if he did it just to sell more copies of it and he said that Perversion has to do with the gaze of the movie goer and the fact that the movie is really looking back at you as is done sometimes in pornography by the pornstar as if to say they are engaging with the audience, and it is the view of the audience that induces the pleasure. He said that there is no pleasure in pornography, but instead the viewer is constituted as a subject by being witness to someone else’s apparent pleasure. But that someone else could be anybody.

This reminds me of the scene in the Odyssey where Odysseus tells the Cyclops his name is “Nobody” so that the Cyclops says ultimately ‘”Nobody” is hurting me and thus does not get any help, but when Odysseus is leaving he cannot resist giving the Cyclops his name, and it is that name that he is then cursed with, and it is through that curse that Poseidon then comes into action against him thwarting his journey home. Exactly here we have precisely Odysseus as the witness who is no-body, but then he cannot resist giving his name and that is the beginning of his real troubles. Similarly even though I agree with Zizek that we are constituted as subjects by Film more than any other art, and that there are some strange things that happen when we are caught up in that illusion as if we are the prisoners in Plato’s cave, but then we also cannot resist giving our own name after the illusion is broken, like Odysseus did. In other words even though the viewer can be anyone and thus the viewer is constituted as such by the experience of the illusion, then after that illusion is broken we make it our own and break the spell by giving our own real names to that experience. We assert our subjectivity again, and no matter how many times Zizek tells us it is an illusion we do that anyway. We have bought the propaganda of our tradition that we are individuals with subjectivity. So even if that is still part of the movie, as in the Matrix for instance, it is not going to go away as part of our experience and so ultimately we have to deal with that.

I have not seen the movie so I cannot comment on it yet.

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