Sunday, April 6, 2008

Other Conversations

I had the pleasure of conducting two public conversations about psychoanalysis this week. On Friday, Ricardo Ainslie (, an Austin psychoanalyst, filmmaker and professor of educational psychology at the University of Texas, visited with SFCP candidates as part of an intersession series on the politics of the other. Ainslie’s focus was immigration, and we talked about anti-immigrant sentiment and the complex psychological dynamics underlying it, as well as the social imaginary (a la Castoriadis) of Mexican immigrants moving across political and psychological borders into the United States. I was intrigued by Ainslie’s unique career, his moving work on racial and ethnic conflict in selected Texan communities, and especially his discussion of culture as “a series of sociopsychological enclosures.” He used this Winnicottian idea to elaborate the ways in which immigrants from Mexico recreate such enclosures in public and private spaces so as to negotiate the necessity of cultural mourning as well as engage with the challenges of migrating. For immigrants and non-immigrants alike—the distinction probably more fluid than either is inclined to think—the creation of enclosures also involves the creation of what is excluded, a matter we humans find sometimes impossibly challenging when we perceive ourselves as threatened and feel uneasy.

On Sunday, I interviewed devorah major as part of our Poetry and Psychoanalysis series. Her poetry stresses the performance as much as the written aspects of the art, and she discussed how her development as a dancer shapes still the poems she makes. I was enthralled with her voice—both in the enunciation of her poems and in the musics of her distinctive style. She also spoke of her conviction that poets must engage themselves and their art with the world, offering to be shaped sometimes in ways they would not imagine beforehand. I often think this is true also of psychoanalysts!

No comments: