Centre for Lacanian Psychoanalysis New Zealand
Centre for Lacanian Psychoanalysis New Zealand

Socrates’ Mistake: Lacan on Love
Presented by Dr Mari Ruti

24 July 2018     

This presentation outlines the ways in which Lacanian theorists—in this case Slavoj Žižek, Alain Badiou, and Todd McGowan—conceptualize the event of love (one of Badiou’s four truth events) as an experience in which transcendence meets with utter subjective derailment. In other words, Lacanian theorists recognize the traumatizing aspects of love even as they acknowledge its inspiring dimensions. While they shun romance as a capitalist plot that inducts the subject into a cycle of greedy commodification that extends to the desired other, they valorize love as the kind of rupture in the ordinary flow of life that forces the subject to reconfigure its entire existence. The talk also interprets Lacan’s seminar on transference (Seminar VIII), particularly the role of the agálmata—the gleaming gems—that Alcibiades locates in Socrates in Plato’s Symposium.
Drawing on Lacan, Ruti argues that the fantasmatic nature of the agálmata does not preclude their “real” impact, that they are why Alcibiades’s desire for Socrates is nonnegotiable.
Mari Ruti is Distinguished Professor of Critical Theory and of Gender and Sexuality Studies at the University of Toronto, where she teaches contemporary theory, psychoanalysis, continental philosophy, and feminist and queer theory. She is the author of twelve books, most recently “Penis Envy and Other Bad Feelings: The Emotional Costs of Everyday Life” (2018) and “Distillations: Theory, Ethics, Affect” (2018).
In August 2019 a 4-year training in clinical psychoanalysis in the Lacanian orientation was offered by the Centre. The training is thriving and there is now a CLA Clinic where those who have made the passage from Trainee to Analyst-in-Training work with analysands under the auspices of the CLA.
The Centre has a membership program which is composed of clinical practitioners, academic researchers, postgraduate research students, and individuals in professions, including those of visual arts and design, who have an ongoing commitment to engaging with the works of Lacan.