This essay explores the poetics of surplus in relationship to reproducibility, theatricality, and presentness by analyzing Sophie Fiennes’s documentary film The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema (2006). The film restages moments from cinema history with Slavoj Žižek acting as performer, guide, philosopher, and Lacanian analyst. When Žižek embeds himself within reproductions of the sets of the films he discusses (ranging from Chaplin and Hitchcock to the Marx Brothers and David Lynch) he creates a surplus by, as Samuel Weber has explored, “installing” a theatricality that is in excess to reproducibility. Fiennes and Žižek frame these theatrical interruptions in such a way that they establish “screened stages”—moments when theatre appears within cinema. Žižek’s performance creates within the reproducible universe a sense of presence: the surplus that screened stages produce. These instances of surplus offer a glimpse of the Lacanian Real, that aspect of reality that eludes comprehension and the symbolic order.


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pp. 442-463
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