Book Signings and Discussions with Alenka Zupančič and Samo Tomšič

February 19 & 20, 2020 | 7-9pm
Barzakh (برزخ), Hamra (1st floor, above Rossa Cafe), Beirut

Two book signings are happening in parallel to the to the “Extimacy: Authority, Anxiety and the Desire for Revolution in a Time of Austerity” conference at the American University of Beirut.

Alenka Zupančič: What is Sex?
Wednesday February 19th 7pm

Alenka Zupančič approaches the question of “What is sex?” from the perspective of asking what if, as Lacan claims, we can get exactly the same satisfaction that we get from sex from talking (or writing, painting, praying, or other activities)? Zupančič argues that sexuality is at the point of a “short circuit” between ontology and epistemology. Sexuality and knowledge are structured around a fundamental negativity, which unites them at the point of the unconscious.

Alenka Zupančič, a Slovenian psychoanalytic theorist and philosopher, teaches at the European Graduate School and is a researcher at the Institute of Philosophy at the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and the Arts.

Samo Tomšič: The Labour of Enjoyment. Towards a Critique of Libidinal Economy
Thursday February 20th 7pm

Samo Tomšic critiques the use of psychoanalysis to discuss political economy, focusing specifically on the concept of “libidinal economy,” the intersection between desire and capitalism most famously proposed by Jean-François Lyotard. Contrasting Marxist and Freudian thought with the philosophies of Aristotle and Adam Smith, Tomšic suggests that in the age of modernity, political and economic theory should reflect the driving force of alienation rather than narcissism.

Samo Tomšič obtained his PhD in philosophy and is currently research assistant in the interdisciplinary cluster “Image Knowledge Gestaltung” at the Humboldt University in Berlin.

Free and open to the public.

Extimacy: Authority, Anxiety and the Desire for Revolution

February 20 – 21, 2020
American University of Beirut, ACC Auditorium 1 – 2

Over a century ago, Freud surmised that the transformations of modernity, the age of neurosis par excellence, pave the way for the “psychological misery of the masses.” In the mid-twentieth century, Lacan reassessed this characterization by asking: What is the Other, if there really is an Other? How do signifiers structure a social link? How is the relation between subjectivity and otherness structured around desire, anxiety, and fantasy? It may be that modernity is not just the result of the retreat of the discourse of the master; yet it is only in modernity that the crisis in symbolic identification tout court comes to be analysed as a crisis of phallic representation, or perhaps more accurately, as the exposure of the inherent instability of the master signifier itself. The master has taken on different forms that cannot be reduced to a single formula: it is at once many, not-One, and not-All. All identification revolves around a lack; a constitutive lack structured around the question: What does the Other want of me? But psychoanalysis reveals the inconsistency of the Other.

The Other in modernity is propped up by regimes of enjoyment or libidinal modes of interpretation that are at work in constituting social reality. This shift appears to canalise anxiety: what do we do when the lack lacks, when incompleteness and excess are two sides of the same coin?

With the concept of “extimacy”, psychoanalysis proposes that unassimilable otherness is not something outside us but resides deep within us and makes us what we are. Psychoanalysis has always been political because its basic premise is that symptoms are never simply personal but rather expressions of the extimate link between the individual and the social. This conference investigates the concept of extimacy as a site in which the link between psychoanalysis and politics can be explored.

Nadia Bou Ali
Silvio Carneiro
Alejandro Cerda Rueda
Mladen Dolar
Carlos Gómez Camarena
Amanda Holmes
Anna Jovanovic
Sami Khatib
Alexi Kukuljevic
Vladimir Safatle
Surti Singh
Samo Tomšič
Goran Vranešević
Andreja Zevnik
Alenka Zupančič

This conference is organized with the generous support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation as part of the “Extimacies: Critical Theory from the Global South” early-career scholars program and Philosophy, Aesthetics, and Critical Theory (PACT).

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