Talk and Book Launch /
The Tyranny of Choice, with Renata Salecl

Date: Wednesday, 15 February 2012, 7–9 pm
Location: Cabinet, 300 Nevins Street, Brooklyn (map and directions here)
FREE. No RSVP necessary

Listen to an audio recording of this program, or download here.
00:00 / 00:00

Please join us (or not) for the launch of Renata Salecl’s new book The Tyranny of Choice (Profile Books), featuring a presentation by Salecl and responses by Patricia Gherovichi, Peter Goodrich, and Ben Kafka.

The Tyranny of Choice examines the way in which we are encouraged to view our lives as being full of choices. Like products on a supermarket shelf, our careers, relationships, bodies, and very identities seem to be there for the choosing. Paradoxically, however, this seeming freedom to choose can create extreme anxiety and feelings of inadequacy and guilt. Salecl explores how capitalism’s shrill exhortations to “be oneself” can be a tyranny that leads to ever-greater dissatisfaction, and how the insistence that choice is a purely individual matter in fact obstructs social change.

Drawing on diverse examples from popular culture—from dating sites and self-help books to our obsession with imitating celebrities’ lifestyles—and fusing sociology, psychoanalysis, and philosophy, Salecl shows that choice is rarely based on a simple rational decision with a predictable outcome, and examines the way in which the complexity of the essential human capacity to choose has become mired in consumerist ironies.

For the launch of the book, this late-capitalist notion of freedom will be examined in theory and subverted in practice by oscillating between too much and too little choice. For example, the audience and not the author will determine the course of the presentation, and random choice will dictate both the length of the respondents’ comments and who is allowed to ask questions, making choice even more tyrannical than it already is.

Books will be available for sale at the event courtesy of Mobile Libris.

About the Participants
Renata Salecl, a philosopher and sociologist, is senior researcher at the Institute of Criminology at the Faculty of Law in Ljubljana, Slovenia, and visiting professor at the Cardozo School of Law. Her other books include The Spoils of Freedom: Psychoanalysis and Feminism After the Fall of Socialism (Routledge, 1994), (Per)versions of Love and Hate (Verso, 1998), and On Anxiety (Routledge, 2004).

Patricia Gherovichi is a Lacanian psychoanalyst in Philadelphia. Her books include Please Select Your Gender: From the Invention of Hysteria to the Democratizing of Transgenderism (Routledge, 2010) and The Puerto Rican Syndrome (Other Press, 2003), which won the Gradiva Award and the Boyer Prize of the American Anthropological Association.

Peter Goodrich is professor at the Cardozo School of Law in New York. He has authored ten books, including Laws of Love: A Brief Historical and Practical Manual (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006) and, with Mariana Valverde, Nietzsche and Legal Theory: Half-Written Laws (Routledge, 2006).

Ben Kafka is a cultural and intellectual historian at New York University and a candidate at the Institute for Psychoanalytic Training and Research. His book, The Demon of Writing: Powers and Failures of Paperwork, will be published by Zone Books in 2012.

Beer for this event has been lovingly provided by Brooklyn Brewery.