Where others seeking the political import of psychoanalysis have looked to Freud?s early work on sexuality, McGowan focuses on Freud?s discovery of the death drive and Jacques Lacan?s elaboration of this concept. He argues that the self-destruction occurring as a result of the death drive is the foundational act of emancipation around which we should construct our political philosophy. Psychoanalysis offers the possibility for thinking about emancipation not as an act of overcoming loss but as the embrace of loss. It is only through the embrace of loss, McGowan suggests, that we find the path to enjoyment, and enjoyment is the determinative factor in all political struggles?and only in a political project that embraces the centrality of loss will we find a viable alternative to global capitalism.
The Fictional Christopher Nolan discovers in Nolan's films an exploration of the role that fiction plays in leading to truth. Through close readings of all the films through Inception, Todd McGowan demonstrates that the fiction or the lie comes before the truth, and this priority forces us to reassess our ways of thinking about the nature of truth. Indeed, McGowan argues that Nolan's films reveal the ethical and political importance of creating fictions and even of lying. While other filmmakers have tried to discover truth through the cinema, Nolan is the first filmmaker to devote himself entirely to the fictionality of the medium, and McGowan discloses how Nolan uses its tendency to deceive as the basis for a new kind of philosophical filmmaking. He shows how Nolan's insistence on the priority of the fiction aligns his films with Hegel's philosophy and understands Nolan as a thoroughly Hegelian filmmaker.