Renata Salecl is a philosopher and sociologist. She is Senior Researcher at the Institute of Criminology, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, and Centennial Professor at the London School of Economics. Her previous books include The Spoils of Freedom and, edited with Slavoj Zizek, Gaze and Voice as Love Objects.
In an effort to examine why love and hate are often connected in literature, film and life, Salecl (The Spoils of Freedom) crafts an argument that draws heavily from Lacan and sparingly from her own thoughts. The book is flawed by academic language and frequent dips into the well of indigestible theory. According to Salecl, love and hate are forever interlinked because both emotional states contain elements of attraction and repulsion. She cites such novels as Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence and Kazuo Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day (both of which have been turned into films) to strengthen her argument. But she also veers into digressions on multiculturalism, hate speech, body mutilation and Oleg Kulik, a performance artist who acts like a dog and bites members of his audience. Salecl is such an avidly far-ranging cultural critic that she buries her original points in a quagmire of lit crit, obscure quotations and Freudian thought. Navigating from mythological sirens to Douglas Coupland's Microserfs, all on a raft of Lacanian philosophy, Salecl manages to address a dizzying number of topics, ultimately leading not to a clarifying insight but to a theory hangover. Readers interested in the pleasure of cultural criticism grounded in psychoanalytic theory would do much better by turning to Louise Kaplan's Female Perversions. (Dec.)
"The theme was Oscar Wilde's, that each of us kills the thing we love. Through forests of psychoanalytical theory, the East European author pursues it formidably ... this is challenging, moving and thought-provoking stuff." -- Mail On Sunday