Towards the European Forum of Milan – Openingthe Debate – Marco Focchi

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The European space: its articulation, its passions

Marco Focchi

Philosophical, historical, literary or artistic thought can wonder about what Europe is, where it comes from, what are the myths and the narratives on which it is based. On the basis of the experience of psychoanalysis we ask ourselves about passions, love and hate for Europe. We know that these two affects, like a thread woven of two different colors, are never separate and are never reduced to a single line. Love and hate refer to each other, evoke each other, imply each other. We have to face up to this hainamoration. We want Europe, we think that nations are historically outdated, we wish to expand our space beyond languages and borders. But what is the implication of our aggregative drive? What is hidden, as a secondary color, in the visible color of our desires? Where does our thread get caught? Up to what point can we approach the otherness of the other? How much can we really bear it? Is there not a threshold at which the Europeanist inspiration that makes us want the same thing turns into contention? To what degree do we want the same thing in order to share it and how much in order to tear it from each other?

Or we are sovereignists? We want our borders well defined, we feel secure only in the enclosure of an identity uncontaminated by the barbarian, the beggar whose gesture of reaching out his hand appears to us as the intrusion of a dangerous invader. To what degree, however, are we not fascinated, magnetized at the same time as intimidated, by something we do not know but which absorbs our attention until it becomes an obsession?

Let us not forget that the third passion mentioned by Lacan, that of ignorance, is part of the transference. It puts us in the disposition of wanting to know, or not wanting to know, and turns out to be fundamental in the movements of the other two passions: I seek you out because I want absorb your mystery (but how much will I tolerate it?); I reject you because I do not know who you are (but while rejecting you my being reaches out towards you, even though I'm afraid of knowing you).

In the articulation of the topics of the Forum we will explore the extension of these themes. Will we put Europe in confrontation with its Other (the Orient? The impermanence of Chinese thought against the solidity of the logos? The interior Other that emerges in the very divisions of Europe, from the Visegrad Group to Brexit?). From which dialectic, from which comparisons, from which divisions and from which solidarity does the idea of Europe emerge?

What space does it constitute? What are the forms of its law, the different cultures by which it is animated? How does its multilingualism work? But above all, what is the relationship between borders and languages? Which are the languages and which are the dialects? We can no longer say, like Max Weinreich, that a language is a dialect with an army and a navy. We are too aware of the implication of subjectivity in language to reduce it to a question of mere institutional representation. We know well that for the parlêtre vital issues are at stake in the language that cannot be exported in a purely formal dimension.

It is not by chance that through the themes of borders, languages and rights, political issues come into play, with passions and even drives in conflict among themselves. Sovereignism and globalization are the poles of a historical contest where the space in which we live is at stake, where the places of speech and desire are made. Psychoanalysis has plenty to say about this. Its contribution is essential.

The identities and the differences that will be constructed in this space will define a Europe different from the one in which we now live, on the threshold of a reversal in which the eras are transformed. What is Europe after the Second World War? After September 11th? After the Arab spring? After, or rather, in the middle of the struggle between the forces that want to build it up and those who want to break it down?

Psychoanalysis has something to say about the overwhelming passions that these topics trigger. For us it is time to make our voices heard in the debate with all those who care about the possibility of a policy oriented in such a way as to keep the opening of the unconscious alive.

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Address: Aula Magna, Università Statale via Festa del Perdono 7, Milan

Date: Saturday, February 16th 2019

Hours: from 9.00 to 18.30


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