be punished for not obeying the master-slave ideological structure. Cecilia has also betrayed the ideological power structure and is voluntarily banished from the house and treated like a lower-class person. The scheme continues even at war. The Marshals, Leon and Briony all remain alive, while the people belonging to the lower-class society as well as Cecilia are sacrificed at war.
The idea of Communication ISA (press, television, radio etc.) is remarkable in Atonement. The novel does not bear many inclinations about the communication ISA. But, the Oscar-winning 2007 film based on the novel uses the Television interview in a remarkable way. In the 106th minute of the movie, by the same name, directed by Joe Wright (in which McEwan himself was an executive producer), old Briony appears in a televised interview on her birthday to talk about her latest novel called Atonement (McAvoy, Knightley and Redgrave). There, she reveals the truth about the death of her sister and her lover, and it is presented as if Briony has published the whole truth in her novel. This happens despite the fact that in the novel, Briony mentions “so various editors have told me over the years, my forensic memoirs could never be published while my fellow criminals were alive” (McEwan, Atonement 370) and that “you may only libel yourself and the dead” (ibid).
Among all the differences between the movie and the novel, there is one crucial difference worth pointing here. In the movie, Briony’s novel called Atonement is published as her last novel. This is while the last segment of the novel is Briony’s soliloquy declaring that she cannot publish the true account of her story at least until she the Marshals are alive (McEwan, Atonement 351-72). Moreover, in the last pages of the novel, Briony just thinks of the realities about the deaths of her loved ones and does not declare it, while in the movie she declares the truth in an interview. Apart from the difficulty of finding a way of adaptation to frame Briony’s thought into the movie, one might brutally state that at both levels the movie tends to present a much more free press away from the social restrictions.
Censorship happens in the novel on two levels. Briony’s does not disclose the deaths of Cecilia and Robbie in the last version of the novel and the social constraints do not let her express the true account of the rape story. At both levels, culturally and socio-politically the dominant class with the help of its ISAs represses the truth about the subordinate ones. This happens at what Althusser calls the Cultural ISA (literature, theatre, etc.) (Luke 84-5). Accordingly, in Žižekian view, what the young Briony was doing by authoring The Trials of Arabella can also be considered an ideological ritual and a means of cultural ISA.
A glance at Solar also provides us with the very aspects of Žižekian ideology. The novel tries to avoid the Religious ISA by taking a distance from it. Here, the third person narrator narrates but Michael’s actions are different from the narrators’ views. For instance, in case of the belief in an apocalyptic world, it is mentioned that:
“There was an Old Testament ring to the forewarnings, an air of plague-of-boils and deluge-of-frogs…the end of the world was never pitched in the present, where it could be seen for the fantasy it was, but just around the corner, and when it did not happen, a new issue, an new date would soon emerge.” (McEwan, Solar 16)
The reference to the Holy Bible is the only noticeable sign of the awareness of the narrator from the Religious ISA about the issue of apocalyptism. The quote points to the ritualistic aspect of the issue as something that should exist without any materialistic reason behind it. Something which is always around the corner, that never happens and is always postponed to a new date, something which only works at the level of fantasy. Žižek calls this ‘cheap apocalyptism’ and traces the causes behind it (Žižek, “Are We Living in the End Times?”).
On the other hand, Michael seems to be trying to take a cynical distance from the issue while indeed pursuing it seriously. Žižek writes:
Religious belief, for example, is not merely or even primarily an inner conviction, but the Church as an institution and its rituals (prayer, baptism, confirmation, confession … ) which, far from being a mere secondary externalisation of the inner belief, stand for the very mechanisms that generate it. (Žižek, Mapping Ideology 12)
Consequently, the ritualistic aspect of the issue of apocalyptic belief makes Michael delve deeper in the issue and believe in it gravely in the end. And Žižek’s words work well if only one omit the voice of the narrator and look solely at the account of Michael’s conduct. This way the whole story could appear as an account of Michael’s deeds in pursuit of his commitment to a strict belief in the theory of an apocalyptic world.
Tony Myers commenting on Žižek’s ideas on the ritualistic aspect of belief writes:
When we actually believe we believe, all we are doing is recognizing the fact that’ our belief has already been decided and pre-exists our knowledge of it. Our belief was there objectively all along in the rituals. When we realize this we will believe that when we began to subscribe to these rituals, we began to subscribe to these rituals because of our belief. In other words, the ritual of belief retroactively produces a belief in the ritual. (Myers 69)
Moreover, according to Žižek, the ritualistic aspect of the ideology gives the subjects some kind of pleasure. “This Jouissance is gained through performance of the institutional rituals that this ideology justifies” (Sharpe and Boucher 11). This is indirectly obvious in the underlying tone of the novel. Michael enjoys sticking to the ritualistic aspect of saving the world and also the heroic tone in it. He has felt the weakness in his aging body. He is getting older and fatter. He has been dumped by his object of desire and now has found an ideological means to be called a hero.
He is simply going after the cause with little consciousness, when he and his fellows are wishing that the UN report would say of a disaster happening to the earth. They are wishing for the apocalypse when in the novel they say: “If the place isn’t hotting up, we’re fucked” (McEwan, Solar 216) and that “here’s the good news. The UN estimates that already a third of a million people a year are dying from climate change” (ibid). Only the pleasure in the issue can make “good news” (McEwan, Solar 216) out of the death of more than 330,000 people in just one year.
The Educational ISA (schools and universities) is of immense importance in Solar. The universities and cultural centers are the first places to concern about and act upon the issue of global warming. Michael, as a man of letters and intellect, gives most of his speeches at universities and scientific institutes. The Center can be considered as an educational ISA in service of the apocalyptic ideology. The Center which Michael heads is one in many centers working on the issue of global warming. These centers are in close relationship with each other. The media massively broadcasts the findings of these centers. The governmental web consisting of these centers plus the media could make the very ideological web to propagate the ideological aspect of the ecological disasters.
In the novel and on the same web which advertises the issue, Tom Aldous says: “The government just needs to make it attractive to people – it’s stroke-of-the-pen stuff, the market will do the rest” (McEwan, Solar 28). The quote can demonstrate many aspects of the issue. First, the government should use the above-mentioned web of cultural and educational institutions to put a scientific weight behind the ideological issue in the way it wishes. It must use the media and the Communication ISA to advertise the academic findings and to make the ideological issue attractive to people. Also, the issue must be of benefit for the market and therefore the trade union ISA must be considered too. In case these aspects are met, the ideological issue would be successfully implemented in the society.
Considering the fact that government itself is the Political ISA and many of the educational and cultural institutions are in close alliance with the governmental sectors, in fact by this sentence, Tom is planning to use five levels of ritualistic political, cultural, educational, communication and the trade union ISAs in order to propagate his scientific theories. Here, there might be the question posed that so what is wrong with doing all these? One must note here that being ideological does not necessarily means that some issue is wrong or in the old Marxist terms to abuse the proletariat. For Žižek, the ideological manipulations can be useful and have positive effects on the society. This is discussed in the second chapter of the dissertation.
The family in Solar is a modern one and of a weak structure. So, in this novel the family ISA works very differently. The loosely-based modern family, unlike the traditional and patriarchal one in Atonement, causes the subject his modern kinds of lack. Being unable to sooth his desire for Patrice, Michael tries to alleviate his passion by sticking to his job and the social problems. Likewise, when the family institution is weakened and is not functioning powerfully to convey the ideologies, it is the communication and cultural ISAs that should substitute the lack of it. That is why Michael has heard about scientific and social causes from the media and the news. The Center can be considered as a political as well as cultural ISA in this respect.
The Legal ISA is almost absent until the end of the novel, when Michael is completely drowned into the ideological sphere of the issue. Believing