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The Call of Character: Living a Life Worth Living [Hardcover]

Mari Rutti

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Book Description

31 Dec 2013
Should we feel inadequate when we fail to be healthy, balanced, and well-adjusted? Is it realistic or even desirable to strive for such an existential equilibrium? Condemning our current cultural obsession with cheerfulness and "positive thinking," Mari Ruti calls for a resurrection of character that honors our more eccentric frequencies and argues that sometimes a tormented and anxiety-ridden life can also be rewarding. Ruti critiques the search for personal meaning and pragmatic attempts to normalize human beings' unruly and idiosyncratic natures. Exposing the tragic banality of a happy life commonly lived, she instead emphasizes the advantages of a lopsided life rich in passion and fortitude. She also shows what matters is not our ability to evade existential uncertainty but our courage to meet adversity in such a way that we do not become irrevocably broken. We are in danger of losing the capacity to cope with complexity, ambiguity, melancholia, disorientation, and disappointment, Ruti warns, leaving us feeling less "real" and less connected and unable to process a full range of emotions. Heeding the call of our character means acknowledging the marginalized, chaotic aspects of our being, and it is precisely these creative qualities that make us inimitable and irreplaceable.

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The Call of Character engages questions of perennial interest to philosophers, theorists, and all individuals, and Mari Ruti is perhaps uniquely qualified to write it. She has an uncanny ability to translate complex theoretical issues into clear and readable -- yet not the least bit dumbed-down -- prose. Her treatment of the timeless question (what makes for a good life?) is both original and insightful. I wholeheartedly recommend this book. -- Amy Allen, Dartmouth College This book will contribute powerfully to discussions of the self from a position both inside and outside the critical psychoanalytic discourse. -- Gail Newman, Williams College The Call of Character is expansively erudite yet plain-spoken, honest with a dazzling self-consciousness that situates itself historically in our present moment. Ruti's singular voice gives words to those necessary though often disavowed tensions of human life. I have already used insights from this book in my work with patients, to whom I have directly recommended Ruti's works before. She helps us to understand our private impediments that inherently obscure our relation to our own desires. The Call of Character should be read by academics, clinicians, and students, but most importantly by those who want to live with authentic vitality in a world that makes it seem difficult to do so. -- Joseph S. Reynoso, Ph.D., book review editor, Psychoanalytic Psychology Ruti's fabulous new book revels in the unanswerable mystery of the call of character -- that aspect of ourselves that makes each of us unique, passionate, yet also perpetually dissatisfied and longing for more. In Ruti's hands, dissatisfaction at our incompleteness becomes not a reason for despair but a source of fascination and political possibility: a summons to pursue an erotics of being in the most mundane aspects of our everyday lives. -- Lynne Huffer, Emory University

About the Author

Mari Ruti was educated at Brown University and Harvard University and is professor of critical theory at the University of Toronto. She is also the author of Reinventing the Soul: Posthumanist Theory and Psychic Life, A World of Fragile Things: Psychoanalysis and the Art of Living, The Summons of Love, and The Singularity of Being: Lacan and the Immortal Within.

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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully Written and Insightful 28 Dec 2013
By Lurline M. Morrow - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I've read 40 years worth of books in this general genre (philosophical psychology). Most of them, while being interesting, have not been particularly original. The insights I've discovered in this book are fresh, at least to me. However, beyond just being "new," they are powerful enough to challenge the emotions and inform a more positive direction of thought and action. Ruti's words have that unique healing power, the power of understanding.
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