TIDBITS – Dora Pertesi – Towards the NLS Congress 2019

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The Fires of Greece and Social Urgency

Dora Pertesi

The impetus for this piece was the death of 25 people in a field while the fire raged. Everything seems to indicate that they fled to the field following the decision of one of the people in charge of the post.
This summer in Greece was marked by 100 deaths caused by the fire in Mati [1], very near Athens. The information that circulated everywhere: “The eye cannot see itself.”
A fire, like an earthquake or a terrorist act such as those in Paris or Brussels, or even the mass murder carried out by the Norwegian killer, constitutes a social urgency that affects the lives of citizens.
In psychoanalytic terms one speaks of the real, of something unsayable, of something that makes a hole in discourse.
It is not by chance that the etymology of the word epigon (urgent) in Greek comes from the verb epigo (something that presses in the sense of making a decision quickly / to act quickly) which comes from the ancient verb ignimi meaning to open, to make a hole.
How then to situate the subject before the encounter with this hole, with the real of the fire that resulted in the death of so many people?
In the face of a fire, the subject must make decisions quickly. So there is something urgent that propels us to act, that pushes to a passage to the act. What pushes is the drive.
Either the subject makes a decision in urgency, one precipitated without doubt – to leave, to stay, or something else – or the subject is prevented from making a decision.
In both cases, faced with the urgency of the fire, in front of this rupture of time, in front of what cannot wait, escape can constitute a solution.
In the first case, the escape, as a decision, obeys a logic of contingency that includes risk taking; it is an attempt.
In the second case, on the other hand, the subject is prevented from making a decision and reacts in the panic by fleeing. This routed flight is a passage to the act.
In this case the subject follows the leader, according to the psychology of the group that Freud described, namely that the subject obeys the voice of someone who decides in his place and says, for example, “Let’s go this way”. Freud does not hesitate to compare group psychology to the hypnotist / hypnotised couple, or to the state of being in love. Furthermore, he distinguishes two types of crowds: by identification to, or by the substitution of an external object for, the ego ideal.
We can tentatively conclude: if the subject identifies with the leader, he does not think. He submits, without taking any risk, to the decision of the leader. On the contrary if he thinks, he takes the risk of making a mistake, but in this case, he acts as a subject responsible for his act.
Translated by Joanne Conway     


1 Mati in Greek means the eye.


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