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Ruti, M. (2010). The Singularity of Being: Lacan and the Immortal Within. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 58(6):1113-1138.

(2010). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 58(6):1113-1138

The Singularity of Being: Lacan and the Immortal Within

Mari Ruti

Drawing on the work of Eric Santner, Slavoj Žižek, and Alenka Zupančič, this paper constructs a theory of subjective singularity from a Lacanian perspective. 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 summons the individual to a “character” beyond his or her social and intersubjective investments. Consequently, singularity expresses the individual's nonnegotiable distinctiveness, eccentricity, or idiosyncrasy at the same time as it prevents both symbolic and imaginary closure. It opens to layers of rebelliousness that indicate that there are components of human life that exceed the realm of normative sociality. Indeed, insofar as singularity articulates something about the “undead” pulse of jouissance, it connects the individual to a paradoxical kind of immortality. This does not mean that the individual will not die, but rather that he or she is capable of “transcendent” experiences, such as heightened states of creativity, that (always momentarily) reach “outside” the parameters of mortal life. Such experiences allow the individual to feel “real” in ways that fend off symbolic abduction and psychic death.

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