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Slavoj Zizek - Biography

Slavoj Žižek, Ph.D., is a senior researcher at the Institute of Sociology, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, and a visiting professor at a number of American Universities (Columbia, Princeton, New School for Social Research, New York University, University of Michigan). Slavoj Žižek recieved his Ph.D. in Philosophy in Ljubljana studying Psychoanalysis. He also studied at the University of Paris. Slavoj Žižek is a cultural critic and philosopher who is internationally known for his innovative interpretations of Jacques Lacan. Slavoj Žižek has been called the ‘Elvis Presley’ of philosophy as well as an 'academic rock star'. He is author of The Indivisible Remainder; The Sublime Object of Ideology; The Metastases of Enjoyment; Looking Awry: Jacques Lacan through Popular Culture; The Plague of Fantasies; and The Ticklish Subject. Slavoj Žižek's work can be characterized as vibrant, full of humor, blatant disregard for distinctions between high and low forms of culture and his work and presence has gathered him critical acclaim as a superstar in the world of contemporary theory.

Slavoj Žižek was born into a family of average wealth, his father Jože Žižek grew up in eastern Slovenia and worked in economics. Slavoj Žižek's mother Vesna was an accountant. It was in Ljubljana, the capital of modern day Slovenia, that Vesna gave birth to Slavoj on March 21, 1949. Both of Slavoj Žižek's parents were atheists. Most of young Slavoj's childhood took place in Portorož, a small seaside community. Slavoj Žižek states in an interview with Helen Brown of the Telegraph, "at 15, I wanted to be a movie director. But I saw some really good European films and I accepted that I couldn’t do that. Then, at 17, I decided to become a philosopher." When Slavoj Žižek became a teenager the family returned to Ljubljana where he attended Bežigrad High School. Slavoj Žižek when to the University of Ljubljana in 1967 to study sociology and philosophy, receiving a Doctorate in the Arts in Philosophy. During this period in what was then Yugoslavia was a tumultuous political environment. It was at this time that the Communist regime began a series of liberalization policies. Later Slavoj Žižek went on to study psychoanalysis at the University of Paris VIII with François Regnault and Jacques-Alain Miller (Jacques Lacan’s son-in-law).

The Marxist Slovenian philosopher Božidar Debenjak was an early influence on Slavoj Žižek. It was from Debenjak that Slavoj began to turn to German idealism and Slavoj Žižek began to be influenced by the Frankfurt School. It was in Božidar Debenjak's course at the University of Ljubljana that Slavoj Žižek read Karl Marx's Das Kapital through the lens of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel's Phenomenology of the Mind. The perspective formed through this interrogation of Karl Marx and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel has heavily influenced Slavoj Žižek's contemporary works. Slavoj Žižek has associated with Tine Hribar and Ivo Urbančič, both Heideggerian philosophers.

Slavoj Žižek was hired at the University of Ljubljana in 1971 where he worked as an assistant researcher. His master's thesis was controversial due to the Marxist tendency of the reformist Slovenian regime in 1973 and therefore he lost his position at the university. After this period he worked for the Yugoslav army in Karlovac. Slavoj Žižek later began to work as a clerk for the Slovenian Marxist Center where he became acquainted with Mladen Dolar and Rastko Močnik. Both of these scholars were focused on the works of Jacques Lacan. Slavoj Žižek began working for the Institute of Sociology for the University of Ljubljana in 1979. Shortly after in the 1980's he began to publish books which examined Heglian and Marxist theories from the point of view of Lacanian psychoanalytic theory. Slavoj Žižek has two sons from two different marriages.

Slavoj Žižek wrote the introduction to John Lee Carre and G.K. Chesterston's Slovenian translated novels. Slavoj Žižek edited a number of translations of Louis Althusser, Jacques Lacan and Sigmund Freud to Slovenian. It was not until the late 1980s when Slavoj Žižek came under the scrutiny of public attention. During this period he was a columnist from his work for Maldina, a magazine aimed at youth which criticized the Titoist regime. The magazine gained notoriety for its stance against certain aspects of the times Yugoslavian politics, in particular the increasing militarization policies aimed towards society. Up until October of 1988 Slavoj Žižek was an active member of the Communist Party of Slovenia. He quit during the protest against the JBZ-trial. He was not alone in this protest, he quit along with thirty two other public intellectuals with origins in Slovenia. Slavoj Žižek was involved with the Committee for the Defense of Human Rights a social movement fighting for democracy in Slovenia. In 1990 the first free elections were held in Slovenia. At this time Slavoj Žižek ran for President aligned with the Liberal Democratic Party.

Slavoj Žižek became widely recognized as an important theorist of contemporary times with the publication of The Sublime Object of Ideology, his first book to be written in English, in 1989. Since this time Slavoj Žižek has taken the contemporary philosophical world by storm, never afraid of confrontation he is a dangerous theorist. Slavoj Žižek's work cannot be categorized easily. He calls for a return to the the Cartesian subject. Slavoj Žižek also calls for a return to The German Ideology, in particular the works of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Immanuel Kant and Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling. Slavoj Žižek's work draws on the works of Jacques Lacan, moving his theory towards modern political and philosophical issues, finding the potential for liberatory politics within his work. But in all his turns to these thinkers and strands of thought, he hopes to call forth new potentials in thinking and self-reflexivity. Slavoj Žižek also calls for a return to the spirit of the revolutionary potential of Lenin and Karl Marx.

Slavoj Žižek is an atheist and often his theories go against analytical philosophical currents. He tends to be politically incorrect and has therefore caused quite a disruption within intellectual circles. It is his unique brand of political and philosophical bravery that has created a name for himself as the foremost thinker of our times. Slavoj Žižek puts forth that for one to understand today’s politics we need a different notion of ideology.

Slavoj Žižek was a visiting professor at the Department of Psychoanalysis, Université Paris-VIII in 1982–83 and 1985–86, at the Centre for the Study of Psychoanalysis and Art, SUNY Buffalo, 1991–92, at the Department of Comparative Literature, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, 1992, at the Tulane University, New Orleans, 1993, at the Cardozo Law School, New York, 1994, at the Columbia University, New York, 1995, at the Princeton University (1996), at the New School for Social Research, New York, 1997, at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 1998, and at the Georgetown University, Washington, 1999. He is a returning faculty member of the European Graduate School. In the last 20 years Žižek has participated in over 350 international philosophical, psychoanalytical and cultural-criticism symposiums in the USA, France, United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Austria, Australia, Switzerland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Spain, Brasil, Mexico, Israel, Romania, Hungary and Japan. He is the founder and president of the Society for Theoretical Psychoanalysis, Ljubljana.

Slavoj Žižek's published books include: Začeti od začetka, Ljubljana: Cankarjeva založba (2011), Hegel and the Infinite: Religion, Politics, and Dialectic (2011), Paul's New Moment: Continental Philosophy and the Future of Christian Theology (2010), The Idea of Communism (2010), Living in the End Times (2010), Philosophy in the Present Polity (with Alain Badiou, 2010), Badiou & Žižek: Hvalnica Ljubezni (Love and Terror) (2010), Društvo za teoretsko psihoanalizo (2010), Mythology, Madness and Laughter: Subjectivity in German Idealism (2009), First As Tragedy, Then As Farce (2009), In Search of Wagner (2009), Monstrosity of Christ: Paradox or Dialectic? (2009), Violence: Big Ideas/Small Books (2008), In Defense of Lost Causes (2008), En defensa de la intolerancia (2007), On Practice and Contradiction (2007), Terrorism and Communism (2007), Virtue and Terror (2007), How to Read Lacan (2006), The Parallax View (2006), Lacan: The Silent Partners (2006), Neighbors and Other Monsters (in The Neighbor: Three Inquiries in Political Theology) (2006), The Universal Exception (2006), Interrogating the Real (2005), Kako biti nihče (2005), Iraq: The Borrowed Kettle (2004), Paralaksa: za politični suspenz etičnega (2004), The Puppet and the Dwarf: The Perverse Core of Christianity (2003), Organs Without Bodies (2003), Kuga Fantazem (2003), Revolution at the Gates: Žižek on Lenin, the 1917 Writings (2002), Welcome to the Desert of the Real (2002), Repeating Lenin (2001), Opera's Second Death (2001), On Belief (2001), The Fright of Real Tears (2001), Did Somebody Say Totalitarianism? (2001), Strah pred pravimi solzami: Krzysztof Kieslowski in šiv (2001), Krhki absolut: Enajst tez o krščanstvu in marksizmu danes (2000), The Fragile Absolute: Or, Why is the Christian Legacy Worth Fighting For? (2000), The Art of the Ridiculous Sublime: On David Lynch's Lost Highway (2000), Contingency, Hegemony, Universality (2000), The Ticklish Subject (1999), Alain Badiou, Sveti Pavel: Utemeljitev Univerzalnosti (1998), The Plague of Fantasies (1997), The Abyss of Freedom (1997), Argument za strpnost (1997), The Indivisible Remainder: Essays on Schelling and Related Matters (1997), Slovenska smer (1996), The Metastases of Enjoyment (1994), Problemi: Eseji 4-5 (1994), Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Lacan... But Were Afraid to Ask Hitchcock (1993), Tarrying With the Negative (1993), Filozofija skoz psihoanalizo VII (1993), Enjoy Your Symptom! (1992), Looking Awry (1991), For They Know Not What They Do (1991), Hitchcock II. (1991), Beyond Discourse Analysis (a part in Ernesto Laclau's New Reflections on the Revolution of Our Time) (1990), Beseda, dejanje svoboda: Filozofija skoz psihoanalizo V (1990), The Sublime Object of Ideology (1989), Druga smrt Josipa Broza Tita (1989), Pogled s strani (1988), Jezik, ideologija, Slovenci (1987), Hegel in objekt (1985), Problemi teorije fetišizma: Filozofija skoz psihoanalizo II (1985), Filozofija skozi psihoanalizo (1984), Birokratija i uživanje (1984), Zgodovina in nezavedno (1982), Gospostvo, Vzgoja, Analiza: Zbornik tekstov Lacanove šole psihoanalize (editor, translator) (1982), Hegel in označevalec (1980), Znak, označitelj, pismo (1976) and Bolečina razlike (1972).

Slavoj Zizek is a professor of philosophy and psychoanalysis at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland, where he conducts an Intensive Summer Seminar.