The Concept of Reality and the Role of the Media in Different Theoretical Perspectives of Terrorism After 9-11.

Topics: Jacques Lacan, September 11 attacks, World Trade Center / Pages: 8 (2994 words) / Published: Oct 9th, 2008
On 11th September 2001, the whole world seemed to come to a standstill when the horrifying image of the attack on the World Trade Centre in New York blared across our screens. The event itself shook the foundations of modern society, with an impact that seemed to shatter what we know as reality. At first commentators focused on how this tragedy came about, on external factors, but not on why. Looking closely at the event and its aftermath reveals more meanings. Because it felt as though reality had been invaded, theorists questioned the very nature of reality. This essay explores the notions of various theorists on the subject of terrorism on September 11, with a focus on the concept of reality, and the role and effect of the media on that day. Through the use of theoretical frameworks social theory can provide an honest analysis. For the topic of 9-11, three theorists that have stood out and emerged most strongly are Slavoj Zizek, Jean Baudrillard, and Jacques Derrida. This essay will concentrate on and explore their theoretical perspectives to bring out both their similarities and the important differences between them.
Slavoj Zizek is a Lacanian-Marxist who uses the psychoanalyst theories of Lacan combined with a Marxist critique of capitalist society to form his own unique social theories. Lacan’s distinction between ‘the Real’, the Symbolic, and the Imaginary, are fundamental to Zizek’s work, especially on the issue of terrorism. Understanding these terms is essential if one is to grasp Zizek’s theories. The three terms each relate to a significant way that we experience the world. The Symbolic (or ‘the big Other’) is the realm of language, and in linguistic terms it is represented by the ‘signifier’. What this means is that the world operates on mostly a symbolic level, because life, our reality, is constructed by words. The Symbolic can be seen as the world of words that creates the world of things. Yet these words, as signifiers, have no

Cited: Baudrillard, Jean. ‘The Spirit of Terrorism’ in The Spirit of Terrorism and Other Essays. London: Verso, 2002. Derrida, Jacques. ‘Autoimmunity: Real and Symbolic Suicides (A Dialogue with Jacques Derrida)’ in Giovanna Borradori, Philosophy in a Time of Terror. Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2003. Zizek, Slavoj. Welcome to the Desert of the Real. London: Verso, 2002. ---------------- The Sublime Object of Ideology. London; New York: Verso, 1989. Online sources: ‘Slavoj Zizek’ in The Internet Encyclopaedia on Philosophy <> [accessed 13 June 2008]

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