Publish Date: 14.02.2019

Category: News from the University

The summer school, which is to take place at the end of August 2019, is part of the celebrations around the 100th anniversary of the founding of the University of Ljubljana. The celebrations provide a very good occasion for the University to present its achievements and its current activities, and in this framework the Faculty of Arts of the University of Ljubljana will provide an international platform for three prominent and internationally renowned scholars who will fully engage themselves in presenting their new work - Mladen Dolar, Slavoj Žižek and Alenka Zupančič.

Over five days, the school will offer two sessions per day, each session consisting of a lecture with ample time for discussion. Each of the lecturers will give three extensive lectures, with one common session to conclude the program, thus ten sessions in all. The number of participants is limited to 120.

The title is taken from Samuel Beckett famous line from Worstward Ho: “Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” The title points to the stark sense of the failure of critical thought and of emancipatory politics – a sense of failure stemming from the rise of new populism, the emergence of previously unthinkable leader figures, the looming social and economic contradictions, the apocalyptic perspectives of global and ecological catastrophes, etc. Such failure, however, is a starting point that instigates new intellectual engagement.

The three lecturers have long been part of a group which has become internationally known as “the Ljubljana School,” and the program will start by revisiting some of the basic assets that have constituted the presuppositions of the group, before bringing these assets into line with the tumultuous present day.

  • Given that psychoanalysis, especially the work of Freud and Lacan, has been the background of this school of thought, the present task is to address the crisis of psychoanalysis within the decline of critical thought. What future is there for psychoanalysis?
  • The legacy of German idealism, particularly of Hegel, has formed the other major source of the group. This legacy requires a constant re-examination, since insisting on its crucial critical importance is largely at odds with both the postmodern ways of thinking and with cognitivism and analytical philosophy.
  • Becausee it has been largely overshadowed by cultural issues and identity politics in leftist politics, the legacy of Marx and Marxism demands a new engagement with the critique of political economy.
  • Is there a “sexual politics” implied by psychoanalysis? Such a question requires a new elaboration in the times of the “me-too” movement and the vast discussions and battles of LGBT+.
  • Psychoanalysis was largely inscribed into the framework of the rise and decline of modernism. What are its relations with modernist art and its political implications? Has the insistence on some basic modernist assets become conservative?
  • The pressing task at hand is the reflection on the current rise of populism, the alt-right and the new type of political authority, all of which can be seen against the backdrop of the failure of emancipatory politics.

These broad questions and themes will provide the general framework of the summer school where Mladen Dolar, Slavoj Žižek and Alenka Zupančič will present their latest as well as new work and will try to come up with some proposals as to how to “fail better.”

Fail better