Sex, ontology, subjectivity: In conversation with Alenka Zupančič

Abstract

In this wide-ranging conversation, Alenka Zupančič engages with a number of important themes that animate her current work. Randall Terada begins by asking her first to address the striking connections in her work between sexuality, ontology, and the unconscious. Zupančič then moves on to the Lacanian theme of subjective destitution and her differences with Alain Badiou’s theory of the subject. She highlights her most recent work on Kant and offers a subtle critique of Emmanuel Levinas and Jean Laplanche. Zupančič lightens up the discussion somewhat by detailing an Ernst Lubitsch joke to illustrate the significance of the with-without for her Lacanian inspired ontology and in doing so points out why the sexes are not two in any meaningful way. Finally, the discussion closes with a candid and accessible commentary on being, multiplicity, and the One and its importance for a politics that is emphatic in its emphasis that it not take “nothing” or “non-being” for granted.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Lacan Toronto is a diverse group of academics, students, analysts, therapists and counsellors who regularly meet in Toronto to study and discuss the work of Jacques Lacan. They frequently invite speakers to address contemporary theoretical and clinical issues from a Lacanian perspective.

  2. 2.

    For a lengthier discussion of both Laplanche and Levinas, see Zupančič (2008a, 2008b).

  3. 3.

    See Zupančič (2011b, 2012b) for a well argued and trenchant analysis of Freud’s Verneinung (negation).

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Acknowledgements

Randall Terada would like to thank Alenka Zupančič for responding graciously to repeated requests for her time, over and above the initial interview that took place in Toronto, and also Concetta Principe, Ines Anderson and Carlos Rivas for their help in the early draft stages, and to Dr. Judith Hamilton for locating and providing a crucial secondary source.

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Zupančič, A., Terada, R. Sex, ontology, subjectivity: In conversation with Alenka Zupančič. Psychoanal Cult Soc 20, 192–206 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1057/pcs.2015.16

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Keywords

  • Lacan
  • Žižek
  • ontology
  • real
  • subjectivity
  • sexuality