with FAINTING SPELLS
a video by SKY HOPINKA
The souls of poets [like the soul of the dreamers] … have this peculiar ministration in the world; … these souls, flying like bees from flower to flower and wandering over the gardens and the meadows and the honey-flowing fountains of the Muses, return to us laden with the sweetness of melody.
Community is the means by which we gather and share what is common. Psychoanalysis, in its destabilization of subjectivity as belonging to the individual, must embrace those poets, mystics, and philosophers who have thought of the common as unrelated to the proper, to property, and to appropriation. On the contrary: the common is what is most improper.
This thinking inaugurates the possibility of a community-to-come where what we share and gather pertains to more than one: what is public or general in contrast to what is private and individual, says Roberto Esposito. That which is common, public, and general is, following him, not private property but rather a debt, an obligation, or a gift to the other, all of which “establish a lack”: “‘I owe you something’ but not ‘you owe me something.’ This is what makes [the subjects of a community-to-come] less than a master of themselves, and that more precisely expropriates them of their initial property (in part or completely), of the most proper property, namely, their very subjectivity.” Jean-Luc Nancy adds that what we put in common is the voiding of one’s own subjectivity and its exposure to become other, to become improper, to be outside itself: a state of ecstasy. This is one lesson from the mystics.
We say with psychoanalysis: in a community-to-come, what we share is the constitutive lack that prevents our subjectivity from being sutured, from fully appropriating itself, from being “master in its house,” as Freud famously said. Under this condition, Esposito writes, the community produces “a dizziness, a syncope, a spasm in the continuity of the subject.” This disarray is the realm of the unconscious.
Freud says dreams are the royal road to the unconscious. The dream shatters the illusion of subjectivity as a private space, isolated from the common. In dreams, we reach for the other and the other reaches for us. Dreams are a site of community. Dreaming is a collective act. To enter into the community of the unconscious, we must be like honey bees. Everything that honey bees do is for the collective, for the hive: gathering nectar, making honey, protecting the queen.
We propose to imagine a community-to-come of the unconscious, of dreamers who dream awake, where, in the words of Rainer Maria Rilke, “we are the bees of the invisible. We wildly collect the honey of the visible, to store it in the great golden hive of the invisible.”
Those who are too awake don’t dream. The way of the dream is the royal way to being awake. Wakefulness is on the side of the status quo, ideology, the universality of money, and the spectacle, any commodification of experience. Freud says that the dream is an attempt at satisfying a wish. As an attempt, the dream is an essay, a form of playful writing, a fort-da, a back and forth, perhaps a way of circling a satisfaction that is never touched, or better: touched in its fugue. Like trying to grab an oily object by grabbing it harder.
This gap created by the attempt that is the dream is the space of desire. It opposes the literality, the concreteness, of wakeful actuality. The dream adds something else to our reality that is not a repetition of our ordinary waking lives. This something else is a pure potentiality that is contained in a tense that is not past, present, or future.
According to ancient Toltec wisdom, even the awake mind is created from a dream. For psychoanalysis, our experience of reality, in being mediated by fantasy, is also dream-like. Psychoanalysis is the only form of therapy that gives all power to the imagination and allows us to speak the dream. It is a space of illusion, from the Latin ludere, to play. The psychoanalytic process opens up a space where we can play and be in touch with, or recover when lost, an originary aliveness that Winnicott calls “creativity.” “Presumably,” he says, “it belongs to the aliveness of some animals as well as of human beings.” This originary aliveness, or creative impulse, is present in the artist who produces a work of art, but it is also present when anyone “looks in a healthy way at anything or does anything deliberately, such as making a mess with feces or prolonging the act of crying to enjoy a musical sound or enjoying breathing, etc.”
In inviting us to dream through free association, psychoanalysis taps into an aliveness that, paradoxically, can typically only be found in sleep. The collapse of our capacity to dream stems from being unable to tolerate that a totally unbroken world is an impossibility. What psychoanalysis calls “concreteness”—the inability to symbolize—is therefore intensified by losing hope in meaning-making and world-making. Psychoanalysis makes explicit the interconnection between our dreaming and waking lives, an intertwinement which, as Thea Ballard says, makes possible the creation of new forms of life, art, and, we might add, community. Psychoanalysis is a praxis of poiesis, the coming into being of the new. It is a deliberate mess, a controlled chaos, a jazz-like improvisation through which the unexpected can emerge.
The title to this essay is taken from the song of the same name by The Electric Prunes (1966).
KARA KOHN-GARDNER writer
Kara Kohn-Gardner is a social worker from the Silberman School of Social Work, a psychotherapist, and a candidate in psychoanalytic training at The Institute for Psychoanalytic Training and Research in NYC. She has a background in educational policy, research, and writing (MA, Teachers College). She is interested in religious themes and fantasies in psychoanalysis. She also loves honeybees. You can follow her on Instagram: @karadoe.
CARLOS PADRÓN writer
Carlos Padrón is a psychoanalyst with a background in philosophy and literature practicing and supervising in NYC. He has written and presented on the relations between philosophy, politics, and psychoanalysis, on community psychoanalysis, and on clinical issues related to difference: race, ethnicity, gender, immigration, etc. Carlos has taught at different academic and psychoanalytic institutions, and is a clinical associate of the New School Psychotherapy Program. He appeared in the documentaries Psychoanalysis in El Barrio and Psychoanalysts on the Couch: Notes from a Pandemic. He believes psychoanalysts should get their asses out of the consulting room and into the world. You can follow him on Instagram: @carlospadron_psychoanalysis.
SKY HOPINKA artist
Sky Hopinka (Ho-Chunk Nation/Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians) was born and raised in Ferndale, Washington and spent a number of years in Palm Springs and Riverside, CA; Portland, OR; and Milwaukee, WI. In Portland, he studied and taught Chinuk Wawa, a language indigenous to the Lower Columbia River Basin. His video, photo, and text work centers around personal positions of Indigenous homeland and landscape, designs of language as containers of culture expressed through personal and non-fictional forms of media.
FAINTING SPELLS (2018): 10:45min video, color, stereo
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