Lacanian Review Online: NYC Nightmare

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When they poured across the border
I was cautioned to surrender
This I could not do

(Leonard Cohen, The Partisan)

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LRO – COVID-19 2020 #24
28th March 2020

 




The City that Never Sleeps…
Maria Cristina Aguirre
 

New York City has fallen into a deep slumber. Broadway is asleep, the lights are out, and the show is not going on.  Likewise, the museums, the houses of worship are closed; all sports events, all social gatherings are cancelled. Schools are closed, children and college students are sent home, people are working from home. Restaurants, bars and gyms are closed.

Only a few are still going out of their houses, those with essential health-related jobs. Buses and subways are almost empty. Supermarkets are being overwhelmed by the demand.

The paradox is that you know we are in crisis when New Yorkers begin to be kind to one another, perfect strangers.

New York is not alone in this. It has been said before, it sounds like a war situation. But what is unique is that this time around, it affects the whole human race independent of ethnicity, culture, language, nationality, gender or sex orientation, rich and poor alike.

What happens when we go into a deep slumber? Do we dream? Do we have nightmares? Do we wake up? It seems that in this nightmare we are touching the real, but we are not waking up.

New signifiers are entering into circulation. The new Master signifier is social distancing. Avoid physical contact, no touching, keep a safe distance, no gatherings more than 10 people. What consequences does this have for our social bonding? In the era of the virtual is it still necessary to meet in person, and if so, why? Will the virtual, online connection be enough?

What teachings can we extract from the work done in the Papers in preparation for the now postponed WAP Congress? The dream, now more than ever, is important, as interpretable and as interpreter. That it is always going to point out to that hole in the real, covering it with the semblants in order to make life more tolerable. Thus, if we can make a wish, let’s hope that from this nightmare, we will wake up to keep on dreaming, in a humane way and maybe, just maybe, we will invent a new way to make a social bond.

 


Image@Eduardo Munoz/Reuters
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