Schopenhauer had it easy; he simply had to write his elegant prose to make philosophy and science indistinguishable with literary insights drawn from an inkwell. This is perhaps the reason why he was unknown in his time but had everlasting fame as the philosopher of genius.
Today, reviving the humanities means connecting these separate disciplines to form a holistic human model capable of meeting the challenges of the 21st century. A 30-year correspondence between C.G. Jung and Wolfgang Pauli, the father of modern science, resulted in a mutual prophecy of the 21st century icon, the Hieros Gamos, revealing an emergent holism of the psyche. Yet their joint project failed to meet the stated mission of marrying psychology and science (Roth, 2012).
Now this vision finds success in Jung’s Switzerland. Vincenzo Di Nicola, a Canadian psychiatrist, had a breakthrough while working on his Ph.D. with the French philosopher Alain Badiou in the final years of the Schirmacher laboratory European Graduate School in Saas-Fee.
Di Nicola’s entanglement with Badiou was sourced in the merging of their separate notions of event (philosophy) and trauma (psychiatry). “I decided to examine nothing less than the history of modern psychiatry and its relationship to philosophy by investigating trauma,” he writes in a two-part paper in the American Philosophical Association blog. “During my seminars with Alain Badiou (2005, 2009a), I was struck by the symmetry between his description of the event as an opening and my emerging understanding of trauma as a rupture. When I consulted him, Badiou immediately recognized trauma/event as a fresh and innovative pairing” (Di Nicola, 2017).
Di Nicola’s Trauma and Event throws the symptom-based DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) and methodological EBM (Evidence-Based Medicine) out the window. It essentially flattens the patriarchal hierarchical model of psychotherapy, which he sums up as hermetically sealed, into mutual observation, a collaboration between patient and healer. “The face-to-face encounter that Levinas described can never be altogether symmetrical but we identify the asymmetry as much as possible and negotiate the differences,” Di Nicola explains. “Psychoanalysis is being conceived more and more as a ‘bipersonal field’ and so much work is going on in this field that Werner Bohleber (2010) refers to an intersubjective turn (Di Nicola, 2017).
This new practice identifies the Di Nicola “orphan” in-between diagnostic categories signaling an unexpected “event” by means of the rupture preceding trauma. The psychiatrist explains the process as one of psychic reorganization following profound insight, or what physicists qualify as a quantum leap. Di Nicola writes about how James Joyce, who was influenced by Freud through the first Italian psychoanalyst, Edoardo Weiss, called this an epiphany: “Joyce’s epiphany is Freud’s insight and may be understood as something that occurs in the eventual site, which I call a predicament. The epiphany or insight is a response to the predicament. We could go so far as to say that the predicament, the eventual site, is a necessary condition for insight. Only a cut, a tear in the world can create the acute sense of a rupture that requires a response. Once the analysand has her epiphany, thoughts, actions and feelings are at first interpreted, and later experienced, differently. For this translation from interpretation to insight to new experience to occur, a deep fidelity must accompany the procedure” (Di Nicola, 2017).
Fidelity fits with the French philosopher’s view of psychoanalysis as love, which means interrelationship, energy flowing from the heart, as opposed to solely from mind. Crossing the border from psychoanalysis to philosophy, we pick up on Badiou’s language for the Event through the psychiatrist’s interpretation: “In my reading of Badiou, the three conditions for an event are: to encounter an event (which is a purely contingent encounter), to give it a name, and to be faithful to it. The subject emerges through the event. By naming it and maintaining fidelity to the event, the subject emerges as a subject to its truth…‘Being there,’ as subjective phenomenology would have it, is not enough” (Di Nicola, 2017).
In other words, pro-activity remains essential for an event to sustain itself as a self-contained entity. This suggests that a quantum leap culminating with Di Nicola receiving his doctorate in 2012 set the stage for an Event in Saas-Fee two years later, when four philosophers (Hardt/Negri, Harman and Lovink) followed the French philosopher’s Monday evening talk on the Event (“An Arrow into the world”) by announcing a quantum leap into the Third in their respective fields (Streitfeld, 2014).
Marie-Louise von Franz, disciple of Carl Jung and collaborator with the Nobel Laurette physicist Wolfgang Pauli, interpreted the triad moving towards the quaternity as the pursuit of the Self, made evident in divination techniques and synchronicities:
The great question is whether the field of the collective unconscious is such an arbitrary random pattern of archetypes, a field in which the excited points are archetypes or does it have some order? Jung has already pointed out that among the different archetypes, there is one which encompasses and regulates all the others and that is the archetype of the Self….Let us say it is an active ordering centre which regulates the relationships of all other archetypes and gives to the field of the collective unconscious a definite mathematical order….In China the dynamic processes are represented by groups of threes and the result is represented by a quaternio….The triads always point to dynamism and therefore to action in a situation, while the quaternios always point to, or describe, the whole situation….So we can now go on with our definition and say the collective unconscious is a field of psychic energy, the excited points of which are the archetypes, and that field has an ordered aspect which is dominated by the number rhythms of the Self, which as you will see are triads and quaternios. With the number oracles and divination techniques one tries to define the process of the Self archetype….Jung points out that the Self is in an eternal process of constant rejuvenation. He compares it to the carbon-nitrogen cycle of the sun, where certain particles are split off and others attracted, giving finally a rejuvenated atom of the same form. It is as though the atom split off particles and attracted others, thus restoring its own form in constant self-renewal (Von Franz, 1980, pp. 65-66).
Synchronicities leading to self-generating perpetual renewal originating in a holistic mathematics of autonomous number (Streitfeld, 2018) point the way to a new modernism in which the Self is a central organizing principle. For Badiouean philosophy originating in mathematics to recognize Jungian psychology culminating with mathematics by way of a cluster of breakthroughs in the humanities reflects a history of scientific inventions arising in clusters:
In honest histories of science one may find such an observation, namely that strangely enough there is a tendency for certain ideas and inventions to crop up in different places at the same time. From a psychological point of view that is not such a miraculous thing. In the spirit of time, so to speak, certain questions and psychological problems are constellated. Then several intelligent people have the same question in mind, chase along the same alley and come to the same results, and that is due to the constellation of an archetype in the collective unconscious (Von Franz, 1980, pp. 71-72).
Di Nicola maintains his consistency with the triad by listing his Saas Fee influences as a triumvirate: Badiou, Foucault and Agamben (Di Nicola, 2017). Badiou’s predilection for organising thoughts in thirds as a phenomenology was made evident in his paper on Marcel Duchamp and the number three (Streitfeld 2018); Di Nicola follows this creative path by declaring that Badiou “offers three profound things to psychiatry: a theory of the subject; a theory of how philosophy works; and a theory of change based on the event.” Furthermore, he clarifies psychiatry’s central task in thirds: a general psychology as a science of human being; a coherent theory of psychiatry as a discipline; and because it proposes to help people, it needs a theory of change (Di Nicola, 2017).
Within the Third space, the in-between realm of Di Nicola’s “orphan,” a correct diagnosis may be made from the 360-perspective of Kairos, or the Aha Moment. With entanglement, the phenomenon of two physically separate particles sharing the same existence and time is revealed through the process of observation of the quantum state for the whole system. In this manner, the new science marrying philosophy and psychiatry catalyzing the 2012-2014 culmination of the Saas-Fee laboratory may also be evident in a therapist/patient observation making a simultaneous quantum leap from the “bipersonal field” to the Third.
Von Franz presents the Chinese method of writing history to “obtain a real picture of the archetypal situation existing at that time” (Von Franz, 1980 p. 71) which she noted “gives the idea of a field”:
The events, one could say, are shown in an ordered time field, and that is the way in which the Chinese use number. Number gives information about the time-bound ensemble of events. In each moment there is another ensemble, and number gives information as to the qualitative structure of the time-bound clusters of events…number is an archetypal representation or idea which contains a quantitative and a qualitative aspect. Therefore, before we can touch the whole problem of divination, we have to revise our view of number and of mathematics. From there we can probably approach certain other factors, which until now we could only confess we could not measure but could only approach with the feeling function (Von Franz, 1980, pp. 71-72).
Di Nicola, familiar with how the quantum leap changes one’s life course, reveals the process through his own experience integrating thought and feeling. This integration was made evident in this analysis of the synchronistic use of the triad in his writing with his mentor, who brought mathematics into continental philosophy: “Deep into my philosophical investigations, Badiou offered this crucial assessment and challenge: ‘You are at a crossroads, either you will abandon psychiatry as such or announce a new, perhaps, evental psychiatry.’ It was an accurate philosophical diagnosis!” (Di Nicola, 2017)
Bringing exiled Jungian post binary thinking into the fold of continental theory, Von Franz’s exploration of synchronicity through ancient methods of divination underscores Di Nicola’s declaration sourced in his infans solaris birthed out of the Third with the great living French philosopher: “What could be more critically relevant to a 21st century science of the mind and of human relations than a return to metaphysics?” (Di Nicola, 2017).
Badiou, Alain (2008). “Some Remarks on Marcel Duchamp”. The Symptom 9. Retrieved from: http://www.lacan.com/symptom/?p=39. June 10, 2008. Accessed February 3, 2013.
Di Nicola, Vincenzo (2012). Trauma and Event: A Philosophical Archaeology. Doctoral dissertation, Saas-Fee, Switzerland/European Graduate School.
Di Nicola, Vincenzo (2017). “Badiou, the Event and Psychiatry”. Blog of the APA (American Philosophical Association), https://blog.apaonline.org/2017/11/23/badiou-the-event-and-psychiatry-part-1-trauma-and-event/. Accessed March 1, 2018.
Streitfeld, Lisa (2014). “Schirmacher Revolution in Saas-Fee: The Badiouan EVENT Takes For(u)m with Michael Hardt, Antonio Negri, Graham Harman and Geert Lovink”, Huffington Post, https://www.huffingtonpost.com/lisa-paul-streitfeld/the-event-in-saas-fee-bad_b_5737080.html
Streitfeld, Lisa (2014). Hermeneutics of New Modernism. New York/Leipzig: Atropos Press.
Streitfeld, Lisa (2018). “The Third Mind: Badiou, Duchamp and the Autonomy of Number as the Phenomenology of a New Modernism”. Hermeneutics of New Modernism. http:hermeneuticsofnewmodernism.wordpress.com.
Roth, Remo (2012). The Return of the World Soul: Wolfgang Pauli, C.G. Jung and the Challenge of Psychophysical Reality. Pari, Italy/Pari Publishing.
Von Franz, Marie Louise (1980). On Divination and Synchronicity: The Psychology of Meaningful Chance Studies in Jungian Psychology. Toronto/Inner City Books.
Eclipses have powerful effects that can take years to manifest. So experiencing a life-altering Red Moon Lunar Eclipse conjunct Mars Retrograde on my Aquarian Sun in an Algarve campground wasn’t to be illuminated until a quarter turn of the annual solar cycle…at least!
I was still on crutches recovering from my injury in s hammock and overwhelmed by the feeling of having no idea where the cosmos would carry me under such precipitous connections…
I only know that I could never have imagined Helio de Jesus Perera Maestre, who approached me in full ritual regalia complete with his seed bag dangling from the belt of his skin colored shorts just before dawn. He startled me as he made a beeline towards me with an intensity I had only known…in myself!
I was sitting on a bench at the port of Faro where I spent the night before my plane to Berlin. He charmed me with his physical grace and Scottish rogue accent. It didn’t take long to recognize a soulmate in him and I accepted his invitation to breakfast at his family home.
The final Solar Eclipse in Leo on August 11 found me in Faro, Portugal, invited by my soul brother, Helio de Jesus (yes that is his given name!) the most unexpected and breathtaking manifestation of a Hieros Gamos partner that has manifested in full-physical form under my cosmic and world travels circumnavigating the globe and the galactic center.
Due to Helio’s invitation, I missed my flight to Berlin in August 6. He found me an apartment and I fell in love with Faro. I just knew that I wanted to live there when I first arrived.
But fate drew me away from my heart’s desire, for I suddenly received funds to return to NYC, which I did on September 20, after spending exactly three months in Spain and Portugal.
But how could I have anticipated that a new love would draw me to Montreal on September 26 where I did a seed planting ritual in Little Portugal with the seeds from my pear and his bag…
The self-reflective event examining the role of the critic taking place in Museo Nacional de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid was meant to happen in Spain.
The glorious structure of the museum itself was a proclamation of Spain’s official passage into a modernism when it opened in 1992.
…But where were the movers and shakers of “la movida” which made Spain politically and culturally one of the most liberated and exciting places in Europe? I learned this in Argentina in 1984, which was attempting to emulate the Spanish freedom in breaking out of their military dictatorship with a transgender aesthetic I struggled to capture as literature in my first novel, Champagne Tango.
I decided to begin my Spanish paper from a subjective view, of my teenage experience with the late night transgender scene revealed in Madrid’s hot spot — le Drugstore in 1978. A decade later, this 360 perspective progressed to my meeting the Spanish auteur Pedro Almavador on the occasion of presenting his first film, the black comedy, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Mujeres al borde de in ataque nervios) at UCLA that would propel him to the global stage upon winning the 1988 Oscar for Best Foreign Film. I remember Pedro telling the audience that he was so involved in his creative process that he never thought about the reaction.
Pedro Almavador was the first artist I heard referencing the Third. It was a flippant response to a didactic question from the audience that provided three speculative ideas regarding Almadovar’s aesthetic strategy. While I can’t remember what the question was, his response still resonates: “All three!”
He got that right! Transgender is the Third which is why I recreate the word as construction/deconstruction: Trans/Gender sourced in a crucial and hidden icon unearthed in a formerly Turkish village, the oldest in Cyprus…
Surely this was an impulse of a new modernism sourced in the Aquarian transgender icon that we see in the Almavador film, yet where was such an aesthetic to be found in a Spanish art dominated by past masters: Picasso, Dali, Goya and El Greco?
Could the problem be — not in the art — but the critical reception by the gatekeepers torn between upholding the Spanish legacy of art and the art intent on smashing that tradition?
I seized the moment through the gap of the Third state of critical self-reflection to declare two progenitors of the hermeneutics of a New Modernism, the timing at 11:11
Among the great deal of self-reflection on the two and a half days of panels with collectors, institutional directors and even critics, along with papers addressing the topic of criticism in crisis and renewal, there was a representative from the U.K. AICA who neatly summed up the problem of criticism in the last fifty years as that of Conceptualism!
A lone contribution that actually depicted art renovation in bricks and mortar was by the architect representing the Spanish innovations in the field.
Criticism and poetry frequently blend in the Spanish language.
The ghosts of the critical giants of the 20th century were summoned…
Then there was the demonstration of the bounty of living a life in arts: the sheer pleasure of being a critic who collects poets and artists as amistades along with works of art.
The two and a half days of reflection and discussion coming to a close, a 12:30 Roundtable on Saturday was devoted to critics: “Necessita la critica renovacion?”
This set the stage for an authentic renewal of art criticism, in Spain and across the globe.
Now, finally we may be able to appreciate such erotically charged art as this:
Lisa Paul Streitfeld, a member of AICA since 2000, is a roving critic and media philosopher.
Following a tense week in which cops killed blacks and blacks killed cops, Devon Bray’s “The Law” went viral. It also has staying power; not only does the video beautifully capture the mood of a unique EVENT spreading across the hinterland, but his art speaks on multiple levels…
…the law as protectors of order in society…
…and the universal law of karma: honor your neighbor and they will honor you.
What this means in a tense moment: if a cop recognizes your face, and you recognize his, there is more potential for creative CONVERSION into the THIRD rather than the destruction of warring opposites.
Devon Bray is a multimedia artist commited to the principle that change begins at home, in the human heart. He demonstrates this both in his stunning talent and his commitment as a youth councilor.
Bray has a new message as a means of reconciling the warring opposition: “I like to say #AllLivesMatter rather than #BlackLivesMatter. We have to stop complaining and pointing fingers and change the way we think and feel about each other. Love Conquers All.”
The filmmaker’s signature is imbedded in his images: “Love Peace and Unity – No more killing on both sides.” He explains how this creative prototype for an EVENT sweeping America got started and will continue:
The BLM activists were gonna protest on Sunday, but the Wichita police chief sat down with them. Everyone agreed to come together for a community cookout and Q & A. I filmed the event and created a song and video in 24 hours. When I released it, it went viral. We called it the 1st step to progress and plan on keeping it going, getting bigger and better. We are endeavoring to show the world how it’s supposed to be done.
Dr. Lisa Paul Streitfeld is a philosopher and critic based in Berlin and New York City.
All images copyright the artist Devon Bray and published with his permission.