Work out the absence

Of all the words in the French language, among my favorites there is this one: absence. Nothing trivial, therefore, in the fact of having opened the adventure of To have to from the heart by this invitation to tell me what you had lost since the beginnings of this pandemic.

Why so much attention turned to what is missing, escapes us and is accompanied by such great pain, you will say to me? Well, because working out the absence is the basis of psychic life, in a way.

Surviving in the absence of what seems to us to be intertwined with our survival indeed pushes us to develop, very early in our life, a whole bunch of strategies which are specific to us, strategies which will become the bases of what we could. dare to name “culture”, “creativity” or even “language”.

According to the thought of the pediatrician and psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott, the transitional psychic space arranged by the toddler to “survive” the absence of the mother (or the invested parent) gives rise to the start of the creative process in the child. ‘human. Like a formidable “machine to endure the worst”, the child’s imagination takes over in the face of this cruel and unbearable absence.

“This doggie or even this slobbering piece of fabric that follows me everywhere, well, that will be it, my mom!” And now he has just placed in the place of absence, an illusion, a wonderful chimera, a form of creation that will allow him to tolerate what, otherwise, would have shattered him into a thousand pieces. Beautiful, isn’t it?

Thus, in a way more and more elaborate over the course of psychoaffective maturation, the child who will become an adult will place meaning where there is none at the start, where there is only nothingness, torture or a fragment of that great mystery that swallows us up.

The clinic of childhood makes us witness a thousand times this sublime of the meaning found, sometimes in a flash that moves us for days on end.

A thousand times, in our human lives, we will take up, in a certain way, “the principle of the blanket”, which will consist of digging downwind left by all those absent from our lives, in order to develop a world in which it will be possible for us to live a little longer, another day, sometimes a microsecond: a “habitable life”, to use the beautiful title of Véronique Côté’s powerful essay.

In each sense found at the bottom of oneself also lodges a possibility of choosing to live again, to push in existence one more step, in this path which sometimes leads us much more than one walks.

This is why the “game” to which I invite you, that of daring to tell what you lack, has no other pretensions than that of placing yourselves back in this place of signifiance, which you all have in potentiality, just because you are human.

The game of narration, “without avoiding any pain”, to use the expression of the poet Hélène Dorion, does not even relieve us of the weight of absence. He does not promise us any practical advice on how to achieve happiness and yet, many of you thank me for the liberation felt after having given yourself to the thing.

It is I who thank you. Thank you for this beautiful symbolization. You make me cry, laugh, smile and rage with you. Reading you, I feel in the theater, in the museum, in the cinema, immersed in your literature as in a real work of art that has the power to transform us.

You use full language, far from the “stuffed words” so well designated by Véronique Côté, always in the same essay. And in these post-election times, picking up words which are not emptied of their living substance, which designate things for what they are, which open up worlds of meaning, instead of closing them by trying to sell us “concepts” turnkey ”, gives me the impression of a cool rain in a heatwave.

You also allow me to retouch this precious material that I encountered in the clinic, that of human truth and all the tension it carries. Between the delicate and the powerful, there is, yes, in your words, something of the courage that it takes to endure being yourself.

And to close this first month, I will return to you, next Monday, some of the pearls of poetry that you have given me * before moving on to another theme for the following month. Perhaps your stories will echo some illiterate suffering that still lurks in this reader.

Who knows ? Are we in the process of repairing, on our very small and humble scale, a piece of “social” fabric remaining, with great blows of significance, between us, only daring to say that we are suffering, in a world that does not know what to do? of everything that breaks?

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