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
Alejandro Cerda Rueda
Carlos Gómez Camarena
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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