I am still a bit dazed. Not really knowing what to think about the fact that just this NLS Congress had to be cancelled. Its theme was interpretation. Not for the first time. But more explicitly than on other occasions the theme was oriented by the question of the body: the body the analysant brings to the session, the encounter of bodies in the session, the interpretation with the body, the interpretation that ‘touches’ the body.
And was it not exactly this embodied presence that constituted an insurmountable problem in times of corona? What a strange coincidence?!? Having no meaning at all, this coincidence cannot preclude an uncanny feeling.
In recent times yet another Congress had been cancelled. In November 2015, just after the terror attacks, the Journées de l’ECF, Paris were cancelled at the very last moment, because of the lasting threat of terror. Twice in just a few years. I was struck by the fact. As far as I know, such a thing hadn’t happened for decades.
Although the threats are very different in nature, they still have some striking correspondences. Whether terrorist or viral in nature, the threat hits the body. Under the threat, any assembly of living bodies, any incarnated social bond, becomes a perfect target. Instant of the glance. The first answer was a lockdown, the closing of the borders, life coming to a standstill, being reduced to the so-called essential services. Living becomes merely surviving.
During this time of surviving, it begins to dawn on me: there is no solution, we will have to ‘learn’ to live with the threat. Time for comprehending. This was the message after the terror attacks, this remains the message today. The Other does not exist, safety and certainty are illusions, knowledge is semblant, prevention is a farce, albeit one that ends with a laugh on the wrong side of one’s face. These days, ethical and expert commissions incarnate less a knowledge (savoir) than a knowing how to do (savoir faire). A solution? They don’t have one. Antiviral medication? A vaccine? All this is not for tomorrow or the day after, and probably not for next year either. So we cannot wait until we have them in order to get on with life. Moment of concluding. There is no (quick) way back to pre-corona-times. It’s all a matter of trying to handle the threat, of limiting the spread of the virus, of handling statistical models to calculate risks. Offering a certain freedom, paying a price to create a zone for live and desire as a kind of modern version of castration?
Experts try to prepare us for what comes. No, travelling won’t be possible the coming times. No, borders will probably remain closed for a longer time. And yes, if we hold on for just a little longer in quarantine, ‘normal’ life will be possible again in the not too long term, at least up to a certain level. And it will be crucial to control new infections by tracing recent contacts of new patients. ‘Tracing new contacts.’ I couldn’t help thinking, all of a sudden, of terrorists again. Infected patients as potential virus terrorists. Will everyone kindly be asked to pass on his whereabouts? Is privacy in post-corona-times becoming ‘a luxury we can’t afford?’
The analytic session needs the presence of the body, it needs strict confidentiality. At the beginning of the 21st century it seems both can no longer be taken for granted. The answer to this ‘evidence’ is not evident at all, it does not go without saying. And it will probably be less a matter of dogmatic knowledge (savoir) than of a pragmatic knowing how to do (savoir faire).