This moment pushes us to reconsider the real of nature against disorder in the real. Miller writes, “capitalism and science have combined to make nature disappear.” With the quieting of social chatter and abrupt downturn of our frantic, totalizing capitalistic activities, one notices the call of a bird. Last week, warmth of the first spring sun felt anew on my skin, interpreted less as a change of season than sensed as though the Earth momentarily stopped rotating. At a time when we could submerge ourselves in a flood of information, amidst this ever-urgent demand for data, what use is psychoanalysis? Perhaps if we remember to silence ourselves, we make a gap between the graphs and listen for the new life that this virus is.
Can we read this coronavirus as a delimiting of disorder in the real, as an attempted return of natural order? Certainly this period has not been without disorder—hospital systems are awash in lethal mismanagement—but our predominant response of distancing and staying home is an unprecedented ordering. The rule of the COVID-19 letter puts us in our place. Natural life re-asserts itself. We learn the air is clearing. Arial views of normally gridlocked freeways reveal untouched pavement shrinking to their pointal horizons. Nevertheless, still bodies must move. Urban parks are teeming and people traveling afoot now populate unfrequented suburban spaces that until recently were void of life.
Perhaps there has not been another time in history when the reality of a crisis was so pertinent to the radical singularity our practice demonstrates. Sexual non-rapport is no longer only a social impossibility, but manifest as an invisible viral barrier between bodies. The technological means we use to connect imaginarize this barrier while making the continuation of analyses possible. In my practice, analysands’ lives either remain fixated on their symptomatic ex-sistences without mention of this new context or concerns are newly cast in high definition, sensitized by pandemic anxiety.
Between fear for colleagues and loved ones on the front lines or stricken ill and a brief encounter with the sun, the coronavirus brings a profound ordering to life in its incredible range and diversity, as singularity. One subject’s proximity to death, as patient, practitioner, or postal worker, does not negate the safe distancing enacted by others. In fact the link between these positions and the impossibility of establishing an absolute barrier between organisms dispels safety for the semblance that it is. In our practice that essentializes the meeting of two bodies, we persist in connecting through cables and satellites, refusing to back away from a reckoning with the real that remains as necessary as it is vital.
Connecticut & New York / March 28, 2020