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In the opening chapter of his famous seminar on the ethics of psychoanalysis, Lacan draws a contrast between Aristotle’s “science of character” and psychoanalysis. He explains that while Aristotle’s method of self-fashioning is centered on the cultivation of habits, psychoanalysis deﬁnes itself “in terms of traumas and their persistence" (1959, 10). At ﬁrst glance, this distinction may appear misleading, for what could be more habitual than the persistence of trauma? What Lacan is getting at, however, is the distinction between habits that are intentionally cultivated and others that motivate the subject’s life choices without its conscious awareness. He stresses that psychoanalysis is interested in how the involuntary repetition of trauma shapes the subject's destiny independently of its willful efforts either to develop a character or to arrive at particular existential outcomes. If the habits that Aristotle talks about arise from the subject's deliberate attempt to manipulate the contours of its being, the “habits” of trauma determine its actions and overall life-direction in ways that are neither logically explainable nor rationally containable. They give rise to repetition compulsions that unfailingly guide the subject to speciﬁc goals, hopes, and modes of meeting the world at the expense of others, thereby ushering it onto the trajectory of its distinctive “fate,” “fortune,” or “destiny.” ---p. 13, The Singularity of Being
Even though the subject's affective trajectory (or destiny) may appear largely accidental, it is in fact driven by its characteristic way of experiencing and coping with trauma. In a way, nothing distinguishes one subject from another more decisively than the particularity of is approach to suffering. Trauma, as it were, resides at the loot of the subject’s and more or less inimitable character—what I have in this book chosen to call “the singularity of being.” ---p. 14, The Singularity of Being
I started reading this novel, `` The Driver ,'' by Hart Hanson , and I did not like it much and decided to stop. But then I came ba...