Literature and Box-checking


How could one really say what of the real is commensurate with a foreshadowing of dreadful destinies? Can writing – the act of writing – be offset against the mark of destiny whereby one has accepted being next in line?

Literature provides us with various means to respond; this is exactly what is attested to by Céline Aulit and Nathalie Georges Lambrichts with regard to encounters with reading.

The former takes us through paths which L. Slimani traces in his novel “Une chanson douce”, of the logic which brings the subject to a passage à l’acte, there where, structurally, the subjective dimension disappears. The later brings resonance to a point of confluence for M. Cohen with regard to the real he is up against, in terms of the necessity of writing, as much as not doing so, in order that only “what matters” gets written.

Contrary to this however, the use of language can also be the site of a programmed active destitution of any subjective dimension, thereby contributing to the exclusion of the subject. Language is thus reduced to a functional vehicle for the numeric logic of the contemporary master, who at the same time puts it into action.

The testimonies of Martine Revel and Catherine Kempf furnish us with certain illustrations of that which falters in the child’s response to the school curriculum, as well as of the efforts of clinicians to support a clinical approach to suffering, when these efforts are reduced to box-checking, list making, and record keeping. Nothing there which would attempt to absorb through language the manifestations of the real with which each one in confronted.

In this the thirteenth instalment of My Way you will also find an etymological excursion where we are led by Jean-Claude Encalado, passing through the semantic fields of the word “way”, offering us a breath of fresh air, reawakening for us this wonderful word “guise”, that guise which is proper to the subject and does not quite fit into any programme.


Translated by Raphael Montague

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