The other side of this interactivity is interpassivity. The obverse of interacting with the object (instead of just passively following the show) is the situation in which the object itself takes from me, deprives me of, my own passivity, so that it is the object itself which enjoys the show instead of me, relieving me of the duty to enjoy myself. Almost every VCR aficionado who compulsively records movies (myself among them), is well aware that the immediate effect of owning a VCR is that one effectively watches less films than in the good old days of a simple TV set. One never has time for TV, so, instead of losing a precious evening, one simply tapes the film and stores it for a future viewing (for which, of course, there is almost never time). Although I do not actually watch the films, the very awareness that the films I love are stored in my video library gives me a profound satisfaction and, occasionally, enables me to simply relax and indulge in the exquisite art of far’niente – as if the VCR is in a way watching them for me, in my place. VCR stands here for the big Other, the medium of symbolic registration. It seems that, today, even pornography functions more and more in an interpassive way: X-rated movies are no longer primarily the means destined to excite the user for his (or her) solitary masturbatory activity – just staring at the screen where “the action takes place” is sufficient, it is enough for me to observe how others enjoy in the place of me.
Slavoj Žižek in How to Read Lacan.
Slavoj Žižek on Alfred Hitchock’s film Vertigo. From The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema (2006).
The pressure to “do something” here is like the superstitious compulsion to make some gesture when we are observing a process over which we have no real influence. Are not our acts often such gestures? The old saying, “Don’t just talk, do something!” is one of the most stupid things one can say, even measured by the low standards of common sense. Perhaps, rather, the problem lately has been that we have been doing too much, such as intervening in nature, destroying the environment, and so forth . . . Perhaps it is time to step back, think and say the right thing. True we often talk about something instead of doing it; but sometimes we also do things in order to avoid talking and thinking about them.”
–From Slavoj Žižek’s First as Tragedy, Then as Farce
(Full interview audio here).
I ordered David Markson’s Reader’s Block from my local book shop, and intended to get it—and only it—this Saturday. Somehow I took a detour through the film section and picked up the Žižek and didn’t put it back; in the same section I also picked up McCarthy’s screenplay The Gardener’s Son, which is the only thing I haven’t read by him to date, so I picked it up too. So there you go.