Bernadette Vandenbroucke SFPA
Chalon sur Saône, France
Société Française de Psychologie Analytique
This essay is an account of an experience I had as part of a group at the International Workshop of Jungian child and adolescent analysts, in May, 2002, in Sussex, England. The theme of this Workshop was “Impasse and development in the psychotherapeutic process.” The guiding principle of these annual encounters is to emphasize the workshop dynamic. Our little group was made up of nine people: five Italian analysts (Marisa d’Arrigo, Wilma Bosio Blotto, Pier Claudio Devescovi, Daniela Testa, Caterina Vezzoli), a German analyst (Florence Wasmuth), and three French analysts (Brigitte Allain-Dupré, Suzanne Krakowiak, and myself). For two full days, we worked as a group on a clinical case presented by Pier Claudio Devescovi. It involved the treatment of a slightly retarded girl aged seven and a half, who had learning disabilities and was the offspring of a failing parental couple, a depressive mother and phobic father.
I say that there were nine of us, but the truth is that we were actually ten. An Italian colleague, Gianni Nagliero, who had been unable to attend the Workshop, had informed himself as to the clinical material about the girl, and asked Pier Claudio to present his ideas, and, in fact, his criticisms. Prior to the Workshop, the two of them had discussed the points on which they disagreed. Pier Claudio related this discussion to us following his clinical presentation. As a result, from the outset, our work took place within the context of a lively and contradictory debate. Moreover, this Jungian workshop welcomed a number of other virtual participants: Sigmund Freud, Melanie Klein, Michael Fordham, Wilfred Bion, Paul-Claude Racamier, César and Sàra Botella, Didier Anzieu, John Bowlby … and that’s only a partial list. I expressed my surprise to the group: why should we Jungians need to invite theoreticians from other schools, confronting ourselves with disparate analytical movements? Was Jungian theory inadequate in some way, requiring that we resort to other authors? Little explanation was given. We applied ourselves to considering our Jungian tools, evaluating and comparing them. The discussion moved ahead rapidly, and we quite naturally found ourselves talking about an article written by a colleague, who happened to be a Jungian, and turned out to be in a neighboring room. Another surprise, and a rather comical one …
Within this framework, the idea of a book soon emerged. Each participant in the small group would write a chapter, and a report would be presented at Barcelona. It took only minutes for each of us to name the theme he or she wished to go into further. The book did indeed become a reality, and is entitled L’enfant et le thérapeute: Maria, une écoute plurielle (Child and therapist: Maria, a plural attention). The paper I shall present today is an extension of our reflection. However, it also attests to our need to continually solicit others: other minds, other perceptions, like those of you who are listening to me now.
The recourse to a variety of bodies of knowledge, sometimes from realms entirely different from ours, also occurs in other psychoanalytic schools. It would be unworthy of our colleagues to assert that they lack this openness to different schools of thought. Unworthy, and false, besides, because for many years now, to the benefit and mutual enrichment of all, we have been pooling our ideas and working together productively, without losing our individual identities or obscuring our differences.
As we all know, the edification of a theory is, for its inventor, a compensation for a personal problem-complex: a reparation, an attempt to heal. The same is true of the theory’s users. There are personal reasons why we become Jungians, Freudians, Kleinians, Lacanians, or members of any other movement or group. It is thus easy to understand that a single theory never provides complete satisfaction. It is always being outgrown, prompting a desire to seek elsewhere. Indeed, the lack can never be filled and the compensation is never settled. This is actually fortunate, because the dissatisfaction is an inexhaustible source of curiosity, driving us to reach out to and learn from others.
The need for a theory can also be explained by its role as an outside mooring which organizes the emotional content of the therapeutic relationship. It is as though the theory provides a language, a vocabulary, a key to a code. As a result, at some point, the vocabulary fails to give a reliable and accurate account of the experience of the transference relationship. This forces us to seek other words and experiment with other keys to meaning. We might say that a theory is useful insofar as it is sufficiently in tune with the experience to “sound right” and help us find the words. This is true as long as we accept the idea that the theory will “sound right” only temporarily. It will not solve the issue of understanding, which will always elude us.
These two fragments of truth, i.e., the failure of the theory to heal either its author or its users, and its failure to express all of the emotional content of the therapy, do not suffice to explain the growing interest, in psychoanalytic circles, in contradictory confrontations. It is indeed a general trend today. Doubtless, the roots of our movements have something to do with this. The analysts working today belong to the second or third generation (at least) following that of the founding fathers (or mother, in the case of Melanie Klein). As a result, the act of challenging the master’s ideas and abandoning a form of orthodoxy which would be servile does not shock the community. After all, the desire to leave behind the comfort of a family of thought and the security of a canon is a sign of maturity. Some of us are bolder and less fearful of accusations of betrayal than others – just as the case is with a biological family.
My reflection could be applied to every school of psychoanalysis. Nevertheless, I have noted that it is particularly true that the reference to other epistemological fields is more manifest in Jungians than in other schools. Jungian discussions, lectures, and writings nearly always mention what other thinkers said or wrote about the subject. This has struck me for a long time – long enough for me to want to devote some attention to it. Is it due to C.G. Jung himself, and his personality? Is it related to the historical context of his time, which we have inherited? Is Jungian theory itself the cause? Already, I have cited three issues to be investigated: Jung as a person, European history, and Jungian theory. Let us examine them one by one.
We know of Jung’s interest for the inner world, its treasures, the images it produces, the perceptions, memories, and thoughts which combine in a complex alchemy, a complexity which is related to a vaster world than that of the personal economy. Jung was an introvert. Nevertheless, it would be inaccurate to say that this appeal to the other is a compensation driven by the introverted disposition. Instead, we could describe it as a dialectic which takes on a number of forms and defines his way of being: a dialectic between inner and outer, between self and other, between the individual and the collective. It corresponds to Jung’s personality. Jung recognized two types in himself: a sociable, worldly side, invested in his career, his research, and professional, friendly, and amorous relationships, and a secret, introverted, creative side. Jung’s approach was confrontational in many cases. There are confrontations between Personality Number One and Personality Number Two, as he called them in his autobiography, as well as confrontation with the unconscious, or other philosophical, religious, or scientific ways of thinking, with other cultural legacies collected from places which are distant geographically or chronologically. Rather than being an intellectual approach, it is a way of life, a way of communing not only with ideas, but with actual people. The considerable volume of Jung’s correspondence attests to the richness and diversity of his relations: multiple encounters blending in the absence of any barriers, work, learning, and pleasures – for which he has often enough been criticized. We need merely recall the festive, joyful mood he intended for the encounters at Eranos, which were not especially easy to accept for some of the women closest to him. There are times when confrontation takes on a certain perversity …
Likewise, Jung traveled widely, embarking upon quests in search of himself, in the encounter with foreign lands, confronting his own cultural heritage. In his autobiography, he writes that in Africa, he sought to focus on the European he was. Beyond himself, and in spite of all that might appear to be a form of individualism in some of his statements – at times, introversion can give others this impression – he is examining humankind as a phenomenon, beyond the bounds of space and time.
This biographical review shows that confrontation was knit into Jung’s life. It is also important to note that Jung’s type of thought makes confrontation necessary. Unlike the directed, rational thought of Freud, Jung’s thought is imaginative and symbolic. The fact that it is intuitive forces the thinker continually to be reconstructing and interpreting it. This unconscious thought directly yields its contents: it is then up to the consciousness to elaborate upon the raw material. The direct, outright delivery of the thought demands slow, laborious secondary elaboration, as Aimé Agnel so clearly
writes in his book Jung, la passion de l’Autre.1 Hence, the reason that Jungian concepts are so unwieldy to use is quite understandable.
It is important to note, however, that Jung did not value as absolute and definitive truth every idea or thought which sprang from the unconscious in this intuitive way. He encourages us to receive such thoughts as elements which, although true, are merely fragmentary. Likewise, Jung could be skeptical about the value of elaborate theoretical constructs. They are always relative, never absolute. Anything which approaches consciousness is by definition subjective, momentary, and relative. Jung’s acceptance of all sorts of hypotheses, even contradictory ones, is thus not at all surprising. In 1929, on the subject of Freud and Adler, he wrote: “I cannot accuse either of these authors of a fundamental error; on the contrary, I strive to make as much use as possible of both of their hypotheses, while clearly recognizing the relative exactitude.”2 And he adopted the same attitude towards his own theories, granting them the value of relative exactitude.
The “other” in Jung’s life is also the Other with a capital O, that is, the divine. I am not speaking of the preacherly atmosphere in which he bathed as a child in his family, because he was quick to challenge the religious dogma, subservience to which he felt had made his father a lesser man. The Other of which I speak is the objective reality of transcendence he himself experienced, and on the basis of which he founded his theory. We know that it is the main axis of his approach and thought. For Jung, it is not the other which leads to the divine, but rather the roots in the divine which make it possible to resist the pressures of the outer world. Although this observation is valid for Jung, I believe that, for other individuals, the assumption could be reversed: i.e., the relationship to the other would lead to the divine. This is probably a question of personality, of extroverted as opposed to introverted typology.
A recurrent tendency of Jungians to mention other theories and cite writers from other schools no doubt stems from historical reasons as well. The source is the history of the Freud-Jung conflict, an initially virulent, passionate feud which loses its bitterness with successive generations. This is the history of a rift between two men, and a collapse for Jung. And it is part of our legacy. Like any inheritance, it has left its mark, and evolves as time goes on. The traces of this conflict have not vanished completely; they are easy to spot. The immediate effect of the conflict between Freud and Jung was the marginalization of the Jungian movement. Freudian psychoanalysis prevailed as the dominant school, forcefully rejecting Jungian ideas and preventing them from spreading in academic institutions. As a result, our group has been and still is a marginal minority, even though our colleagues from other psychoanalytic schools are now more interested in learning about us and the tools we have to offer than in engaging in polemics. Hence, we find ourselves presenting ourselves, explaining ourselves, almost justifying ourselves. And I am barely exaggerating. This explanation to our psychoanalyst colleagues leads to a self-evaluation process, which, whether it takes place verbally or in print, is a thinly cloaked plea for recognition. Indeed, every step we accomplish towards institutional acceptance is pointed out, commented upon, and greeted with satisfaction and relief: we have come such a long way!
One must remember that the 1930s and the war had a tragic impact on the history of the Jungian movement. Jung’s awkward and ambiguous position contributed to undermining his credibility and that of his ideas. The horror of the Holocaust tended to be associated with the rift between the Jungians and other schools. While these events were taking place, the discoverer of archetypes was wondering whether archetypal schemes might not be transmitted racially – a vexing idea, especially at that moment in history – which Jung would later abandon. Each of us must personally integrate this shadow, like every other trans-generational inheritance: analyze and explain it in relation to ourselves and others. Let us hope that the dialogue with them promotes the integration of the shadow.
It is a natural part of the evolution of any group to become more open to outside influences and other fields of research, whether we are talking about psychoanalysis or the so-called “exact” sciences. But, in the case of Jungian theory, the theory itself leads to this openness.
According to Jung, the contents of the unconscious are organized into complexes with varying degrees of autonomy or inter-relatedness. Jung conceives of the conscious ego as the entity which calls upon these complexes, activating them and giving them a voice by personifying them. This practice of the unconscious is based on the animation of an inner theatre and a dialogue between the characters who make it up. The practice of dialogue characterizes a certain Jungian style. Personification again comes up in the Jungian theoretical vocabulary. Anima, animus, persona, and shadow are bizarre words and concepts which are difficult to define in any relatively stable way. As Christian Gaillard wrote in a collection of articles edited by Mony Elkaïm: “… these concepts, to the degree that they are concepts, are presented as figures which are alive, unpredictable, active: as if they were presences who can nearly speak for themselves, and by that token quite directly confrontational.”3 I would add that their value is relative and pliable, which is fairly disturbing if one tends to consider the concept as a thing in itself, fixed and definite. If it is a living and personified figure, the libido becomes involved, taking hold of it for itself, and the subject’s perception of it at any given moment modifies its contours. Concepts which channel libidinal flow become pliable.
Considered in this light, this psychology lends itself to comparative evaluations. Jung’s work on psychological types demonstrates the relative value of ideas and ways of being in relation to a typology, which has nothing to do with a character classification system. Thus, it comes as no surprise that this differential and comparative psychology is open to input from social, cultural, and anthropological fields of every sort. In the Jungian approach, the outer reality is quite naturally solicited, and the libidinal flow pours in. Jungian concepts are not especially suitable for autoerotic use. Worse yet, outside a contradictory debate, they lose their strength and become empty husks. Evidently, they are poor candidates for a smug, self-contained intellectual game, split off from the experience of life. Other theoretical canons, due to their greater structural elaboration, are much better adapted to such activities. They may momentarily give the analyst the impression they are easier to use and more satisfying for the mind. But I doubt this is an asset.
This brings me to examine the question of the father and the excluded third and the role these questions play in Jungian theory.
As we know, Jung was not concerned with founding a school or organizing his psychology. He does not suggest any developmental models or structured theory. True, the concepts, references, and moorings are powerful. However, they are not invoked to serve any ideology other than that of pure meaning. Jung assumes that meaning prevails over meaninglessness, and that the psyche has an ultimate purpose. It would be an error to conceive of this ultimate purpose as a pre-established meaning or predestination. Instead, it should be understood as a dynamic of the instant, a future being created in the here-and-now. Despite Jung’s decision to choose meaning, and the fundamental emphasis he places on process, Jungian concepts are not self-fulfilling: they require an external stimulus. This is paradoxical, because the concept of unconscious organizer could be the cornerstone of a metapsychological edifice. Yet we can observe that fundamental Jungian ideas like the natural tendency to differentiate in terms of opposites, the tension generated by opposites, and the creativity arising from this tension do not operate spontaneously. On its own, the transcendent function is stalled, and the expectation is sterile if no one is out there. The figure of the ouroboros with its opposites and energetic potential leads to confinement if nothing or no one bursts in and activates it.
If this is so, where can the necessary third be found?
If they are not to go mad – i.e., go around and around in circles – Jungians are forced to invent this third and bring it to life. Jungian thought does not proceed from the father. Perhaps this appeal to the other, to outer reality, so typical of Jungians, attests to this particularity of Jungian theory, its weakness and its paradox. There is a need to create the father, to bring flesh and life to the empty, or rather virtual, space. The great Other does not suffice if he is not relayed by a human being in the flesh. The concepts do not fit together; they remain scattered and useless without repeated interaction with the outside world. The ongoing activity of the unconscious organizer can be observed only in the encounter with the other on a daily basis, in the present experience of the individual human being.
You have no doubt remarked that I refer to the third and the father almost interchangeably, as if the two terms were equivalent. Indeed, this is what I think. I know that other Jungian analysts disagree, considering the third to be the unconscious, or perhaps the space opened by the encounter of two individuals, the space where psychic growth occurs. I believe that the third they speak of is more akin to an included third. An excluded third, able to spawn an identity, is characterized by a radical rupture, an outburst. At the SFPA seminar held in Paris last June, Aimé Agnel noted that Jung saw a structural discontinuity between the self and ego; that is, a gap or fracture. He pointed out that the concept of the ego-self axis, assumed to be continuous, is an aberration, and I share his opinion. Discontinuity is a defining characteristic of the structure. However, I believe that the break in continuity between the ego and self becomes dynamic and acquires the power to create symbols only if the paternal function is embodied. In the absence of this factor, it is impossible for transcendence to occur; instead, a flight into the imaginary animated by a multitude of illusory productions ensues, or, on the contrary, the psychic life flattens out. In any case, the result is the same: vitality fails to arise.
As for the space in which two psyches interact, we have known since Winnicott that it is initially transitional; that is, it lacks a means of continuity. In fact, this space is still on the order of an interface. It may announce the paternal order, but it is not yet strong enough to fulfill that role. It is as if it were a sort of included third anticipating the excluded third. When the paternal function is not embodied and does not play its role, there is the danger of withdrawal and confinement. The Jungian taste for marginality and introverted personalities tends to promote this undesirable effect. The confinement, quite justifiably, is quickly suspected of endogamy. When the paternal order takes its place, the continuity of the interface is broken. The perspective of the “one-on-one” dynamic in the space between two psyches is suddenly overturned. Symbolic life is activated. As far as my own thinking is concerned, then, I currently see the symbol not as a third, but as a third term. The symbol is a phenomenon which can happen only when the third is properly set up and effectively fulfilling its role. Because Jung did not place the father in the center of his theorization, the Jungian must go seeking it where he can, and bring it to life, out of sheer necessity.
The invocation of other thinkers and theories would thus be a characteristic of the Jungian approach: that of the encounter, the confrontation, the quest for otherness in order to bring about growth. Creation happens by us, through us, and sometimes in spite of us, upon contact with experience. As we know, Jung defined himself as an empirical thinker. Experimentation with other conceptual fields gives the subject the means to invent and create, in the context of a contradictory encounter.
Does this strong emphasis on experience and experiment introduce certain risks?
First, I must shed further light on the concept of experience. It can be considered in a number of ways.
In reference to the outer world, it is a case of giving an ineffable element a perceptible, living shape. The approach consists of finding, in an external space, the means to bring an unconscious part of the subject into the consciousness, thus externalizing this unconscious element, giving it a body and a contour, identifying it. The purpose of our work as analysts is to render experiences which have never been lived, felt, or spoken imaginable and perceptible by the senses. Sometimes, we must seek the traces of traumata which are too disturbing to be represented. This task solicits the ability to symbolize, whether the language is that of the body or that of words.
More commonly, in the case of the ego on a quotidian basis, dialogue with the other is a means of bringing experiences to light, fine-tuning ideas, identifying desires. This external field, the field of explanation, enables the subject to experience every degree of relationship to otherness, from agreement to controversy, from friendly exchange to conflict. Put quite simply, it is daily life, the events and incidents of which modify the consistency and texture of the ego. In these terms, the word “experience” is interpreted according to its simplest and most limited definition.
A broader vision would lead to considering the individual in his totality. In this case, experience is the self’s wholistic and unified perception or immediate grasp, in the here-and-now: the direct impression of an integrated state. “It is a phenomenon which is not thought, but sensed in the instant. It is the phenomenon of an experience which knows no limitations, inhibitions, or restraint … It may already have been sensed, but was then repressed. It is the experience of a new integration.”4 You may have recognized the voice of Carl Rogers. His way of conceptualizing experience is the theoretical basis of the person-centered psychotherapy he fathered. This therapeutic method aims to enable the client (in a peer-to-peer relationship with the therapist) to experience such moments of unification and unity. In this immediate connection, “experiencing,” nothing interferes. If you look for a third element, you will not find it. To my way of thinking, the Jungian approach differs significantly. For us, there is always a breaking point, a gap, which is the condition creating the tension between the elements activated by the experience. This tension is expected to have creative potential.
According to Elie Humbert’s5 interpretation in the text Jung et l’interrogation religieuse, the inner experience is the counterpart of the expansion of scientific knowledge. It is a means of lessening the powerful influence of the outer world. In a phenomenological perspective, it is qualified as “empiric-transcendent.” As Humbert notes, the accent is placed on the individual, subjective level, which raises a question. To quote: “By emphasizing sincerity, to the detriment of truth, or emphasizing the function within psychic balance at the expense of objectivity, Jung may be delivering each individual to his or her personal illusions.”6 When experience replaces belief, each individual indulges in his or her own personal certitudes. This involves risks. The illusions questioned thereby are a sign of the rule of the anima or animus. Our images, thoughts, and fantasies reflect our desire. The reign of the animus or anima can cause alienation if the ego does not confront the situation.
Where is the solution? The ordeal of truth entails the encounter with the shadow and the conflict which ensues. From this tension held by the ego, perhaps an unexpected solution will arise, a new configuration which Jung relates to God, the Thou, the Other. The religious experience of otherness is not the imaginary fulfillment of a desire, but the projection of the objective psyche. Belief yields to irrational and phenomenal – in the sense of phenomenology – experience, that of the transcendent fact, which Jung called the self. If belief holds it to be an external reality, in a Jungian perspective, the self is certainly an objective fact, although contingent upon the experience one may have of it as an individual. Elie Humbert wonders if, in this conception, the psychological trap door does not close on the religious via individuation, whereby the inner adventure would become a function, a means of receiving archetypal information, an adaptation to patterns.
It is quite interesting to note that, far from being a dead end, this question leads to a large field of exploration: that of the psychoid, that is, the articulation of the physical with the psychic. To what degree does matter, especially biological matter, contain principles of psychic information? In fact, we can observe that currently most psychoanalytic schools, and not only the Jungian one, are open to research exploring this field of the psychoid, and, in relation to human beings, are involved with studying the body. Could the body be the instrument of transcendence?
In The Psychology of Transference, Jung describes his conception of individuation more specifically, in relation to the two polarities. One cannot exclude the other without wreaking harm:
Individuation has two fundamental aspects: on the one hand, it is a subjective, inner integration process; on the other, it is an equally indispensable objective process of relationship to the other. The two things are inseparable, although sometimes one and sometimes the other is in the forefront. Two characteristic dangers correspond to this dual aspect: one is that the subject may use the possibilities of spiritual development offered by confrontation with the unconscious to dodge certain human obligations, affecting a “spirituality” which is not immune to moral criticism. The other is that the atavistic penchants will prevail too strongly, lowering the relationship to a primitive level.7
Between the two dangers Jung points out, that of false spirituality and that of primitive instinctuality, the relationship to the other, bearing all the plenitude of the sensual and emotional bond, can blossom, surprising us.
As child and adolescent therapists and analysts, what do we say to all of the foregoing?
An initial observation: Jungian tools are difficult to use. Following a session with a child patient, when we reflect immediately afterward upon what happened during the session, we are especially sensitive to this difficulty, especially aware of the effort we must make to reinvent our own tools, even though every day they prove their relevance to us. The process of the self, the emergence of consciousness and meaning from undifferentiated chaos, individuation, the actualization of unique forms of the archetype in the encounter with the other, the shadow, the anima, the animus, the ego complex: all of these concepts are well adapted to child development. Nevertheless, these concepts must be revisited and observed as if they were elements in gestation. The idea of a theory to be invented step by step, in the moment, is very much in tune with our practice, and the children we accompany through the process of becoming.
Without a metapsychological development model, a convenient theory, and an adequate vocabulary, our position as informed therapist- observer soon crumbles. Children, with their bodies, deeds, and solicitations of every kind, are continually provoking our surprise, appealing to the deepest parts of ourselves, contradicting whatever theoretical structures we have laboriously fabricated. The child, in a session, is wise enough to put us in a situation where we must immediately give an answer we do not know. It is out of the question to postpone our reply, or give ourselves time to think. The child expects us to have the right attitude. The characteristic particular to children and, even more, infants, is that they are the holders of significant archetypal potential, and at the same time imperiously need a response from outside reality. The child constitutes his imagos by a continual to-and-fro dynamic in which the archetypes are projected onto the people around them and then the projection is withdrawn and introjected, a process which animates inner figures. Insufficient embodiment produces an inner world populated by bizarre, idealized, or monstrous figures. The people who interact with the child are not fantasies. They are real people, ourselves included. By nature, children are experiencing confrontation, encounter, and conflict. They need strength from external objects, whether they are tangible or symbolic: objects, actions, people. And all of these components facilitate the archetypal animation.
As child therapists, we are called upon to straddle two axes, two dynamics. One accentuates the endogenous archetypal flow; the other, interactions in human relationships. Depending on their personal bent, analysts will emphasize one tendency rather than the other. Each option covers a specific field of research and practice. As you know, I am referring to the archetypal and developmental schools. To a somewhat exaggerated degree, within the archetypal school, people will think in terms of structure, organizing schemes, and collective unconscious, which does not mean that the consideration of the external world is superfluous. Let us simply say that it is not especially emphasized. The interpretation of transference is not the preferred method. As for the developmental school, the accent is placed on the process which corresponds to the maturation process. In fact, on the theoretical level, I believe that the separation between these two tendencies is in the process of being bridged by research on the psychoid and the finding that physical conditions and bodily sensations are intimately bound to the emergence of symbolic life.
Accustomed to the dynamic of externalization and dialectical confrontation typical of childhood, which we encounter daily in our clinical practice, child analysts are perhaps especially inclined to be open to other forms of thought, to allow themselves to be impregnated or perhaps even contaminated by other theories. Indeed, the variety of Jungian child practices attests to the integration of different analytical theories with Jungian concepts. Likewise, the fluctuation in the borders between the child’s inner and outer worlds, especially in very young children, might explain a certain permeability of child analysts to diverse currents. Perhaps it promotes a form of flexibility in both the way we think of theories and the way we are. In clinical practice, working with children teaches us how to listen, and, of course, how to engage in reverie, but it also familiarizes us with dialogue, both with the children and with the characters they introduce to us, and with whom we play. For those who engage in this type of interplay within that space, on that stage, there is no way that the dramatization and personification of complexes could be characterized as pretentious intellectual nonsense, or a dubious taste for the imaginary world. There, in that play space, “it” works, as long as the representatives of the various orders are present. I am referring to what I said earlier about the paternal third, which I will not go into further now.
Our Workshop group, a group of colleagues, true, but a mixture of languages, and thus a group of strangers – familiar strangers, let us say – experimented, sought, and encountered the “edges” of all sorts of theories to give form and meaning to all sorts of emotional proposals and thoughts. It was an experience, and, like every experience, it remains a fleeting creation. The experience cannot be owned; it cannot be kept intact in the memory like a beautiful possession. It simply leads to new beginnings, whether it is a case of confronting another field of thinking, another theory, a case of the encounter with the other, a case of considering outer reality or religious experience. Like the experience of the self. By definition and by virtue it is fleeting, discontinuous, current. The question is not to have it or possess it, even in a theoretical sense, but to live it and be it.
Incessantly, the child invites us to create with and for him, to invent our practice, to revisit a theory, to question a concept.
Translated from the French by Anita Conrade