The Singularity of Being: Lacan and the Immortal Within

Overview

The Singularity of Being presents a Lacanian vision of what makes each of us an inimitable and irreplaceable creature. It argues that, unlike the "subject" (who comes into existence as a result of symbolic prohibition) or the "person" (who is aligned with the narcissistic conceits of the imaginary), the singular self emerges in response to a galvanizing directive arising from the real. This directive carries the force of an obligation that cannot be resisted and that summons the individual to a "character" beyond...

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Overview

The Singularity of Being presents a Lacanian vision of what makes each of us an inimitable and irreplaceable creature. It argues that, unlike the "subject" (who comes into existence as a result of symbolic prohibition) or the "person" (who is aligned with the narcissistic conceits of the imaginary), the singular self emerges in response to a galvanizing directive arising from the real. This directive carries the force of an obligation that cannot be resisted and that summons the individual to a "character" beyond his or her social investments. Consequently, singularity expresses something about the individual's non-negotiable distinctiveness, eccentricity, or idiosyncrasy at the same time it prevents both symbolic and imaginary closure. It opens to layers of rebelliousness, indicating that there are components of human life exceeding the realm of normative sociality.

Written with an unusual blend of rigor and clarity, The Singularity of Being combines incisive readings of Lacan with the best insights of recent Lacanian theory to reach beyond the dogmas of the field. Moving from what, thanks in part to Slavoj Zizek, has come to be known as the "ethics of the act" to a nuanced interpretation of Lacan's "ethics of sublimation," the book offers a sweeping overview of Lacan's thought while making an original contribution to contemporary theory and ethics. Aimed at specialists and nonspecialists alike, the book manages to educate at the same time as it intervenes in current debates about subjectivity, agency, resistance, creativity, the self-other relationship, and effective political and ethical action. By focusing on the Lacanian real, Ruti honors the uniqueness of subjective experience without losing sight of the social and intersubjective components of human life.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"In her breathtaking new work, Mari Ruti completely transforms our understanding of ambivalence, revealing the role that art plays in the expression of singularity and the role that commodities play in its destruction."-TODD McGOWAN, University of Vermont

"Draws on the French psychoanalyst in a discussion of the self distinct from the' subject' or the 'person.' " -The Chronicle Review

". . . thought-provoking reading." -The Midwest Book Review

"In this passionate, innovative book, Mari Ruti brings Lacanian psychoanalysis into the twenty-first century. She argues brilliantly for the creativity and fragility of singular beings who are in constant transformation while also changing the social orders in which they are embedded from the inside. Erudite and enjoyable, this book is a must read for all those interested in the future of psychoanalysis as well as in cultural and critical theory." -Verena Andermatt Conley

"In a work of truly impressive post-Lacanian scholarship, Mari Ruti has made The Singularity of Being into a unique reading event. Verve and passion mark every page and instantiate in action the contents on the page. One learns, almost experientially, about key Lacanian concepts such as Das Ding, the sublime-in-sublimation, and jouissance. Most importantly, in her brilliant chapter on Love, we learn that we are always in an ethical position relative to the complexities of our desire. There are many books on Lacan. Few offer as rich an experience as The Singularity of Being." -Mitchell Wilson

"... The Singularity of Being never surrenders its distinctly humanist commitment to real lives. In doing so, Ruti reminds us that the opacity of the other, just like the potential opacity of philosophical and psychoanalytic ideas, cannot—and should not—entirely be conjured away."-Los Angeles Review of Books

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780823243150
  • Publisher: Fordham University Press
  • Publication date: 8/14/2012
  • Series: Psychoanalytic Interventions Series
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 987,822
  • Product dimensions: 8.80 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

MARI RUTI is Associate Professor of Critical Theory at the University of Toronto, where she teaches contemporary theory, psychoanalysis, and continental philosophy. She is the author of Reinventing the Soul: Posthumanist Theory and Psychic Life; A World of Fragile Things: Psychoanalysis and the Art of Living; and The Summons of Love.

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Table of Contents

Author's Note ix

Introduction 1

Part I The Call of the Immortal

1 The Singularity of Being 13

2 The Rewriting of Destiny 36

3 The Ethics of the Act 59

4 The Possibility of the Impossible 83

Part II The Echo of the Thing

5 The Jouissance of the Signifier 105

6 The Dignity of the Thing 127

7 The Ethics of Sublimation 148

8 The Sublimity of Love 168

Conclusion: The Other as Face 189

Notes 217

Works Cited 245

Index 249

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