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    When straight means weird and psychosis is normal

    Zizek, Slavoj (2008) When straight means weird and psychosis is normal. ,

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    The very beginning of David Lynch's The Straight Story, the words that introduce the credits, "Walt Disney Presents - A David Lynch Film," provides what is perhaps the best resume of the ethical paradox that marks the end of century: the overlapping of the transgression with the norm. Walt Disney, the brand of the conservative family values, takes under its umbrella David Lynch, the author who epitomizes transgression, bringing to the light the obscene underworld of perverted sex and violence that lurks beneath the respectable surface of our lives. Today, more and more, the cultural-economic apparatus itself, in order to reproduce itself in the market competition conditions, has not only to tolerate, but directly to incite stronger and stronger shocking effects and products. Suffice it to recall recent trends in visual arts: gone are the days when we had simple statues or enframed paintings - what we get now are expositions of frames themselves without paintings, expositions of dead cows and their excrements, videos of the inside of the human body (gastroscopy and colonoscopy), inclusion of smell into the exposition, etc.etc. (This tendency often leads to the comic confusion, when a work of art is mistaken for an everyday object or vice versa. Recently, in Potsdamer Platz, the largest construction site in Berlin, the coordinated movement of dozens of gigantic cranes was staged as an art performance - doubtlessly perceived by a lot of uninformed bypassers as part of an intense construction activity... I myself made the opposite blunder during a trip to Berlin: I noticed at the sides and above all the main streets numerous large blue tube and pipes, as if the intricate cobweb of water, phone, electricity, etc., was no longer hidden beneath the earth, but displayed in public. My reaction to it was, of course, that this is probably another of the postmodern art performances whose aim is, this time, to render visible the intestines of the town, its hidden inner machinery, in a kind of equivalent to displaying on video the palpitation of our stomach or lungs - however, I was soon proved wrong, when friends pointed out to me that what I see is merely part of the standard maintenance and repair of the city's underground services network.) Here, again, as in the domain of sexuality, perversion is no longer subversive: the shocking excesses are part of the system itself, the system feeds on them in order to reproduce itself. Perhaps, this is one of the possible definitions of postmodern art as opposed to modernist art: in postmodernism, the transgressive excess loses its shocking value and is fully integrated into the established artistic market.


    Item Type: Article
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Historical Studies
    Research Centres and Institutes: Humanities, Birkbeck Institute for the (BIH)
    Depositing User: Administrator
    Date Deposited: 17 May 2011 09:47
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 16:52


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