The Call of Character: Living a Life Worth Living

Hardcover | December 3, 2013

byMari Ruti

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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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From the Publisher

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 frequenc...

Mari Ruti is professor of critical theory at the University of Toronto and visiting professor and director of graduate studies in the Program for Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality at Harvard University. Her Columbia University Press books are Between Levinas and Lacan: Self, Other, Ethics (2015) and The Call of Character: Living...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:224 pages, 8.25 × 5.5 × 0.98 inPublished:December 3, 2013Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231164084

ISBN - 13:9780231164085

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Table of Contents

PrefaceAcknowledgmentsPart I. The Art of Self-Fashioning1. The Call of Character2. The Process of Becoming3. The Specificity of DesirePart II. The Art of Self-Responsibility4. The Blueprints of Behavior5. The Alchemy of Relationality6. The Ethics of ResponsibilityPart III. The Art of Self-Surrender7. The Swerve of Passion8. The Upside of Anxiety9. The Erotics of BeingNotesIndex

Editorial Reviews

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.