Daily Archives: October 23, 2015

The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology (HUM415)

All of this is posted to a forum on ilearn as well. What follows is a model for the assignment and further instructions.

The opening moments of TPGI remain the clearest in my memory, in part because I’ve screened Carpenter’s They Live so many times. There are a few key phrases Zizek offers that really resonate with me, especially in light of the work we’ve done with Hawkes’s Ideology. They Live, Zizek argues, explores the constitutive presence of “dictatorship in democracy”– the compulsions that underlie our apparently free system– a subject that the Frankfurt School also analyzes with a “sustained tone of horrified fascination” (Hawkes 131). Recall that Adorno locates the source of our unfreedom– what he provocatively terms the “‘totalitarian'” power of capitalist democracy– in commodity fetishism. The fetishization of the products of human labor– their transformation into powers dominating humanity– not only distorts external social relations but is internalized, deforming our subjectivity such that the most intimate aspects of our psychology are subsumed into exchange value (Hawkes 131). Other people thus become interchangeable with objects. This is the principle of equivalence that characterizes our fully reified world, and it is so pervasive it has effectively become invisible. There is no escape because no escape seems necessary, or in Adorno’s phrasing, “‘the prisoner… loves his cell because he has been left nothing else to love'” (qtd. in Hawkes 131).

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