The Sublime Object of Ideology
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Cover of the first edition
Žižek thematizes the Kantian notion of the sublime in order to liken ideology to the experience of something that is absolutely vast and powerful beyond all perception and objective intelligibility. Žižek provides an analysis of "How did Marx Invent the Symptom?", in which he compares the ways in which the notion of symptom runs through the work of Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud. Žižek opposes any simplistic reading of the two thinkers, who are shown to have discovered the "kernel" of meaning concealed within the apparently unconnected "forms" of commodities (Marx) and dreams (Freud). The kernel of a commodity's content is labour and its latent meaning is the dream. Žižek thinks it more important to ask why latent content takes a particular form. Žižek therefore argues that according to both Freud and Marx the dream-work and commodity-form itself require analysis.
Žižek believes The Sublime Object of Ideology to be one of his best books, while psychologist Ian Parker writes in the Encyclopædia Britannica that it is "is widely considered his masterpiece". Anthony Elliott writes that the work is "a provocative reconstruction of critical theory from Marx to Althusser, reinterpreted through the frame of Lacanian psychoanalysis".
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