Tag Archives: philosophy

Entanglement in the Alps: Di Nicola’s “Trauma and Event” and the Third

img_3514-4Descending from the Steinmatte at European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, from left to right: Isaac Linder, Alain Badiou and Vincenzo Di Nicola. According to Di Nicola, he is explaining to his mentor: “my announcement of ‘BADIOU’S SICKLE’ to the man himself! He had a good chuckle, and when we got a little lower in front of some large wild flowers, I said, sometimes shears will do, sometimes a scythe…and sometimes, in the case of the overgrown weeds in the garden of psychiatry, we need ‘Badiou’s Sickle’ to do the job of separating philosophy from its conditions.”

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).

Alain Badiou lecturing on the “Event as Transcendent from the local origin into the World” in a seminar attended by Lisa Streitfeld. The French philosopher’s August evening lecture on the topic catalyzed the author’s observation of the convergence of the Humanities into the Third.

In other words, proactivity remains essential for a declaration of 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 (Hart/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, protege 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.

In Memoriam 2017: Dianne Bowen, Anne Dufourmantelle and Kate Millett



Three amazing women summing up the re-emergence of the feminine archetype passed away in 2017, leaving a crucial legacy of the 21st century journey — to internally embody the hieros gamos. Their collective contribution is lauded here as the essential crossing of boundaries between word/image for the collective goal of the physical embodiment of the Aquarian icon of gender equality.

Dianne Bowen’s poem “REVOLUTION” with her spiral painting in a transitory New York studio space.  Photo by Dianne Bowen.


Read Kofi Forson’s “Dianne Bowen: Remembering a New York Artist”

Dianne Bowen started a (R)evolution right in her tiny East Village apartment building, distinguished on Second Avenue with a plaque proclaiming a former poet resident: Alan Ginsburg.

The irrepressible spirit of Dianne Bowen was dedicated to the resurgence of the empowering feminine icon which she heralded in the creation of her spirals as a living art of embodiment of past/present/future in whatever venue was open to it…


Dianne drawing her signature spiral, symbol of the continuity of the cycle of life/death/rebirth.  Photo by Nikki Johnson.


Dianne Bowen concluding “(R)EVOLTUION: EROSion Flow at the Gershwin Hotel” on February 2, 2011 with the tearing of the spirals she made at the entrance ritual.  Photo by Nikki Johnson.


Dianne Bowen “annoiting” Lisa Paul Streitfeld in the hieros gamos (heaven & earth) by drawing her footprint at the opening to “(R)EVOLUTION: EROSion Flow at the Gershwin Hotel” on February 2, 2011.  Photo by Nikki Johnson.

My dialogue with Dianne Bowen began the night we met at a Williamsburg performance party hosted by Heide Hatry and John Wronoski, who would introduce me to Kate Millett. Indeed, my conversation that began in Brooklyn with Dianne was about a new movement in feminism that I was to discover she was hard at work in the embodiment in her character, her art and her “sacred marriage” partner I captured in image.

Dianne Bowen and her Sacred Marriage partner/husband Rein beside her “Cherry Blossom” at the opening of “Woman in the 21st Century: Margaret Fuller & the Sacred Marriage” at HP Garcia Gallery in Manhattan, 2010.  Photo by LPS.


I was thrilled to discover Kate Millett’s erotic paintings and showed them in my “Woman of the 21st Century: Margaret Fuller and the Sacred Marriage”, developed at Wronoski’s Pierre Menard Gallery in connection with the Margaret Fuller Bicentennial in 20

Presenting Kate Millett at Pierre Menard Gallery for a gallery talk about her word/image capturing the ancient Sky Goddess, the underlying theme of “Woman in the 21st Century: Margaret Fuller and the Sacred Marriage”.  Photo by LPS.

During our discussion, in which she aptly wore her “Flying” T-shirt, the title of her 1974 autobiography in which she attempted to throw off the projections resulting from her overnight fame, I asked her how she had conscious knowledge of Inanna, the Sky Goddess, which was barely known in the sixties, and a surprising discovery of an ancient bisexual icon for women today.
“We had libraries in Minnesota,” she replied her characteristic sardonic tone. And as I queried her about the influence of this archetype on “Flying” and in her life, she repeatedly said: “Read the texts.” So I did. I purchased every one of the texts she brought to sell in the gallery and read them in sequence. It was an astounding discovery: Kate Millett, in her early propulsion to global fame after being distinguished as the only woman to be awarded with a degree with first class honors at Oxford, was to live the descent by way of her commitment to putting out revolutionary images in her art that undermined her academic influence.
In all of her mediums of expression — writing, sculpture, painting — Kate Millett was committed to the life of the unconscious, and her devotion to the internal journey got her committed to a lunatic asylum in Ireland at one point and a descent during the academisation of feminism in the eighties.

Kate Millett with the artist Aldo Tambellini at the “Woman in the 21st Century: Margaret Fuller and the Sacred Marriage” celebrating the passage of their “underground” art into the mainstream with the Cambridge celebration of the Margaret Full Bicentennial art. Margaret Fuller, the mother of American literature is Millett’s authentic predecessor as an American female intellectual grounded in the ever-present icon.  Photo by LPS.

My experience of spending a few intense days with Kate Millett stream of non sequitur from made sense as her manifestoMy , like a jigsaw puzzle for the simultaneity of the left/right brain marriage. I found her to be the living prototype of the artist as a Third space between opposites. Her resentment at being cast by the media as the lesbian feminist icon resulted in her refusal to sit for a portrait for the cover of TIME magazine, which resulted in an Alice Neel painted portrait instead. She was married to the Japanese sculptor Fumio Yoshimura at the time of the 1970 publication of Sexual Politics, that made her an icon in the Woman’s Movement.


In order to change, recognize your desire, and then something will happen. If you consent to where you are, then you begin to change. 

— Anne Dufourmantelle, 2012 EGS Seminar lecture


Anne Dufourmantelle (left) with Avital Ronell and Kleist in a single utterance.  Photo by LPS

A new breed of philosopher could only emerge in France, where even the male philosophers attuned to the feminine, even if they don’t consciously acknowledge the polarity in their theories except to denigrate the overflow as “excess” (Lacan) . Dr. Anne Dufourmantelle immediately struck me as a new reality — a French woman thinker not bound by “think feel” and therefore in complete command of both her mind and emotions.
This could only take place through the inner marriage, a (R)evolution that I was devoted to instigating in France through my work with a French shaman trained by the son of Black Elk in the “underground” conversion through the native American church, the inipi, or sweat lodge. Steeped in Latin American literature, Ann Dufourmantelle had her emotions, chiefly her compassion, right on the surface.
A practicing psychoanalyst, as well as professor, novelist and theorist, Professor Dufourmantelle conceived of the name of a new Saas Fee collaborative philosophy arising out of the Schirmacher media in philosophy laboratory: the Conversion. She placed this new philosophy within a new continental apparatus, the Mobius strip, by way of a historical analysis regarding the integration of the subjective experience into philosophy:
You have a position of subjectivity, beginning with Nietzsche; his Ecco Homo text goes directly back to the Augustine moment. So, this is what I want to point out: how come the thinkers on these subjects towards this debt are those who explore what it is to lose oneself ––what is it to lose the hospitality of experience that drives you to the edge of what is no longer related to the subject? Nietzsche’s Ecco Homo is sharp-edged and provocative in the way he returns the possibility of knowing himself and the delusions – to obtain a moment where the opening to the REAL is possible.  (Dufourmantelle, classroom lecture, August 2014.)
The word/image connotation of “conversion” suits a new continental philosophy grounded in a transformation process. The word suggests the religious or the mystical, and yet is rooted in science, chemistry originating in the ancient art of alchemy. Conversion is the process by which the nigredo, or shadow, transforms through the four elemental stages, (Calcinatio, Solutio, Coagulatio and Sublimatio), into the quintessential, the hieros gamos. This final stage had many names, including: the holy wedding, infans solaris and the philosopher’s stone.
Dufourmantelle explained her choice of the word “conversion” was about sameness going into difference, an interpretation which echoed Deleuze’s interpretation of the “eternal return with difference” as a 21st century evolution from Nietzsche’s pre-psychological eternal return of the same. Haven’t we come far enough in self-knowledge techniques to be able to reverse our fate? Indeed, the psychoanalyst instructs us to look closely at the process, emphasising the paradox: it is from the place of sameness that conversion becomes a radical difference. This philosophical language for what physics is calling entanglement so intrigued me that I starting digging into lesser-known Greek myths for a story of conversion. There was indeed to be found a tension of sameness versus radical difference in the centaur Pholus;
Pholus was gifted in a way that made him, like the healer Chiron, stand out from the tribe of wildly unstable bodies fusing hunter with the beast hunted. One day he had a visitor, the son of Zeus. Heracles had just finished his fourth labor, the capture of the Erymanthian Boar, and entered the centaur’s cave with a wicked thirst. His host was keeper of a cask of wine given to him by Dionysius. This was, in fact, the holiday spirit passed down through three generations. The popping of the cork created chaos. The other centaurs became intoxicated by the smell and rushed up to the cave where Heracles shot them with poisoned arrows. Chiron got wounded in the foot. Pholus died in his attempt to save him.  (Streitfeld, Hermeneutics of New Modernism, Atropos, 2014)
The asteroid Pholus was transiting the Galactic Center at 27 degrees Sagittarius, the sign of the philosopher, in a conjunction to Saturn at Anne Dufourmantelle’s tragic death by drowning;  she was tragically swept into a current while trying to rescue two boys on July 27, 2017.
The Mayans viewed the Black Hole at the Galactic Center as the World Tree symbolizing Life/Death/Rebirth.  These three women will live on, and on, through their feminine wisdom in a time of transition out of the patriarchy.