Ruti's fabulous new book revels in the unanswerable mystery of the call of character--that aspect of ourselves that makes each of us unique, passionate, yet also perpetually dissatisfied and longing for more. In Ruti's hands, dissatisfaction at our incompleteness becomes not a reason for despair but a source of fascination and political possibility: a summons to pursue an erotics of being in the most mundane aspects of our everyday lives.
The Call of Character: Living a Life Worth Livingby Mari Ruti
Should we feel inadequate for failing to be healthy, balanced, and well-adjusted? Is such an existential equilibrium realistic or even desirable? Condemning our cultural obsession with cheerfulness and positive thinking,” Mari Ruti calls for a resurrection of character that honors our more eccentric frequencies, arguing that sometimes the most tormented… See more details below
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Should we feel inadequate for failing to be healthy, balanced, and well-adjusted? Is such an existential equilibrium realistic or even desirable? Condemning our cultural obsession with cheerfulness and positive thinking,” Mari Ruti calls for a resurrection of character that honors our more eccentric frequencies, arguing that sometimes the most tormented and anxiety-ridden life can also be the most rewarding.Ruti critiques our current search for personal meaning and the pragmatic attempt to normalize human beings’ unruly and idiosyncratic natures. Exposing the tragic banality of a happy life commonly lived, she instead emphasizes the advantages of a lopsided life rich in passion and fortitude. Ruti shows what counts is not our ability to evade existential uncertainty but to meet adversity in such a way that we do not become irrevocably broken. We are in danger of losing the capacity to cope with complexity, ambiguity, melancholia, disorientation, and disappointment, leaving us feeling less real,” less connected, and unable to metabolize a full range of emotions. Heeding the call of our character may mean acknowledging the marginalized, chaotic aspects of our being, for they carry a great deal of creative energy. Ruti shows it is precisely this energy that makes us inimitable and irreplaceable.
The Call of Character engages questions of perennial interest to philosophers, theorists, and all individuals, and Mari Ruti is perhaps uniquely qualified to write it. She has an uncanny ability to translate complex theoretical issues into clear and readable--yet not the least bit dumbed-down--prose. Her treatment of the timeless question (what makes for a good life?) is both original and insightful. I wholeheartedly recommend this book.
This book will contribute powerfully to discussions of the self from a position both inside and outside the critical psychoanalytic discourse.
The Call of Character is expansively erudite yet plain-spoken, honest with a dazzling self-consciousness that situates itself historically in our present moment. Ruti's singular voice gives words to those necessary though often disavowed tensions of human life. I have already used insights from this book in my work with patients, to whom I have directly recommended Ruti's works before. She helps us to understand our private impediments that inherently obscure our relation to our own desires. The Call of Character should be read by academics, clinicians, and students, but most importantly by those who want to live with authentic vitality in a world that makes it seem difficult to do so.
- Columbia University Press
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