Tag Archives: Slavoj Zizek

The Parallax Gap…

‘… it is merely that viewed through the frame, reality turns into its own appearance

The Parallax View

‘… certainty is absurd’


The discovery of neurones around the heart and in the gut unsettles the recently adopted view that the brain is just slabs of meat and not the site of anything special, especially not consciousness. This absolute rejection is perhaps a little too sure of itself. Maybe even falling foul of exactly what it wishes most to avoid, statements of certainty… Slavoj Zizek’s book, quoted above, however entertaining, also seems rather anxious about ‘The Gap’ that metaphors are always apparently seeking to ‘close’.

‘MIND THE GAP’. Why? I do not want to ‘mind’ in any sense about the gap, I want to consider instead – THE FRAME. It is only the frame, the edges or margins, of the gap that helps us to understand that there is a gap in the first place. Also, sometimes, it is the very nature of the frame that prompts so-called reality to turn into a mere ‘appearance’ of itself; this notionally unseats what is ‘real’ because it creates a moment that is uncanny – everything is real but some things seem more real than others.

To depart slightly…

Take Alan Turing; on the one hand ‘now’ celebrated mathematician, on the other, criminalised in his ‘own’ time. Two contradictory, irresolvable perspectives, or ‘truths’, between which opens a gap, which means neither pole can become total. So, for example, the word ‘pardon’ is problematic because despite every positive intention it still enters into the original discourse of ‘wrongdoing’ at the very moment it attempts to kick it out. Also, beware the idolised, they are not ‘real’. Once vilified, Turing is now celebrated for his achievements; yet there is something reminiscent of past zeal in this movement to reclaim. Did he kill himself? Was it a ‘poisoned’ apple? These signs force the telling of a ‘single’ story about Turing’s life, his sexuality, his death – and the single story is always dangerous because it is so persuasively simple, like propaganda.

What remains is always already an effect of what is ‘left out’ of any chronology.

A thing is its own best mask…

The title of my post is taken from Slavoj Zizek’s book The Parallax View and is used (on page 28) to describe the escape of Cavallo, the Argentinian economy minister, during protests against the government in Buenos Aires in 2001. He apparently made his way through the crowds disguised in a mask of his own face – being sold so that people could mock him.

There is a clip from Louis Theroux’s interview with Jimmy Savile, which I will not include here but do wish to comment upon. It now seems blatant in its revelatory quality.

Bearing in mind that a thing is its own best mask, recently on Have I got news for you? there was a similar comment made about Savile’s disguise, i.e. that he made a smokescreen of himself. This is of course the ultimate insignia of power – to see without being seen – which is the retrospective implication of Theroux’s interview.

My second point is that Savile appears in the interview as twice the ghost; the figure on the screen is the ‘ghost’ of Savile, who is now dead, but he is also the ghost of a ghost because the interview was shot prior to what has only recently been recognised. There is just the trace of a mask that once fooled.

I write this post as a counteraction to the hysteria following the Savile scandal, which is certainly ‘vile’ and especially so for remaining hidden in plain sight – but what has happened in response cannot be taken for transparency. Plus, it bears an elliptical gait because the problem of Savile’s death prevents social or legal ‘conclusion’.

And there is no certain way to deal with abuse, either on a personal or societal level, despite all the media’s attempts at reduction to a single answer. We can only read carefully what has happened, listen and reflect. This means that the only ethical path remains to live without conclusions.