Lacan on Love: An Exploration of Lacan's Seminar VIII, Transference
October 2015, Polity
Quintessentially fascinating, love intrigues and perplexes us, and drives much of what we do in life. As wary as we may be of its illusions and disappointments, many of us fall blindly into its traps and become ensnared time and again. Deliriously mad excitement turns to disenchantment, if not deadening repetition, and we wonder how we shall ever break out of this vicious cycle.
Can psychoanalysis – with ample assistance from philosophers, poets, novelists, and songwriters – give us a new perspective on the wellsprings and course of love? Can it help us fathom how and why we are often looking for love in all the wrong places, and are fundamentally confused about “what love really is”?
In this lively and wide-ranging exploration of love throughout the ages, Fink argues that it can. Taking within his compass a vast array of traditions – from Antiquity to the courtly love poets, Christian love, and Romanticism – and providing an in-depth examination of Freud and Lacan on love and libido, Fink unpacks Lacan’s paradoxical claim that “love is giving what you don’t have.” He shows how the emptiness or lack we feel within ourselves gets covered over or entwined in love, and how it is possible and indeed vital to give something to another that we feel we ourselves don’t have.
This first-ever commentary on Lacan’s Seminar VIII, Transference, provides readers with a clear and systematic introduction to Lacan’s views on love. It will be of great value to students and scholars of psychology and of the humanities generally, and to analysts of all persuasions.
"Lacan on Love is not only an invaluable aid for those embarking on the study of Lacan's seminar on transference, but also essential reading for anyone interested in the question of love and human passion. Drawing on a wide range of literary and cultural references, Bruce Fink guides the reader with clarity, precision and insight in this perceptive and thought-provoking book."
Darian Leader, psycholanalyst
"Love, it turns out, has a history. And Lacan on Love beautifully traces that history through the lens of Lacan s seminar on transference, combining an adventurous cultural investigation of love in the western world with actual field notes concerning the way we love now. Bruce Fink takes on our most tired and our most treasured clichés about love and subjects them all to rigorous analysis, producing insights that are anything but expected."
Jessica Rosenfeld, Washington University in St. Louis