There is a “deep and somber unity” when the different impressions of our senses enter into “correspondence.” So writes the French philosopher Gaston Bachelard in his seminal book The Poetics of Space. It is this “correspondence” that allows us to receive and transform the immensity of the world into the intensity of our intimate beings. There is an intimate “everydayness” that runs through all the essays in ROOM 10.22. And much as residual impressions from the day are transformed nightly into dreams, the synergy of these writers forms an unsettling social dreamscape.
…It has a space to lie down. Other than that, the room is bare. I am tempted to use the word “barren,” which I think captures a fear I cannot articulate. All I can feel is how afraid I am. What am I wearing—a surgical gown? Perhaps just a slip and underwear. I remember already feeling shame and fear. I don’t or can’t really take in the specifics of my surroundings. I am terrified, shame-ridden, more singularly alone than ever in my life, though my life is not very long at this moment.
I am sitting on the windowsill in my living room. It’s five in the morning of the 181st day of the war. The night was sleepless, sirens after sirens, when the valley with the river canyon amplifying the sounds give it such volume that the city landscape alone never does, as it swallows the city steers, activating dogs and most certainly birds much earlier than their time. After a short while of peaceful rest, after the sirens stopped, my town, covered with a thick layer of fog, is slowly awakening: the curfew is over. Everything here is now immersed in a complete silence that you can only encounter in a small town like mine and in that rare moment when the choir of morning birds is quiet already but the people are still not out on the streets. This silence is so surreal and overwhelming amid the war.
…I never walk in the city in order to make friends, although every encounter, for the most part, is a friendly one in the city. I am an old woman now, and the city has been ravaged even more than I have been, by death and sickness, by neglect and violent desperation, so I have the sudden realization that it has always been the city itself I have loved, the city itself that has been my friend.
It begins when any one of us living abroad confirms dates for a visit. My mother starts asking weeks in advance for our favorite foods so that she can core, stuff, mince, chop, and knead her way into neatly packed pans, ready to be thrown into the oven at a moment’s notice. On too many occasions, I’ve objected to this cheerful affirmation of the assumption that as expats we must be living in a state of food deprivation, possibly surviving on caloric stores between one visit and the next—to no avail. But it turns out that my younger sisters do have their favorite foods. It also turns out that I’ve had them—vociferously—in the mid-2000s.
What is, or was, the End of History? The political scientist Francis Fukuyama claimed that the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 signaled the victory of the “Western world” in the Cold War and ended, definitively, the struggle between competing ideological grand narratives. Fukuyama’s theory asserted that the basic formula of human government had been settled once and for all in favor of liberal democracy and market capitalism.
…The work on transgenerational transmission and healing of trauma has been focused on familial ties and attachment experiences. In the case of gay men, the generations are linked through an identity that isn’t familial. Thirty years beyond the worst of the AIDS epidemic, gay men who did not directly experience those years are still haunted by the history. In these cases, we aren’t able to speculate about transmission through attachment experience, so how do we think about the way this trauma has been transmitted to and worked through by subsequent generations?
Mr. Stevens, an elderly man who stands a head shorter than me, is helping me to cross the street. “It’s safer to cross here,” he says, placing his hand gently on my elbow. “You have to be careful when there’s construction.” I follow his lead as he steers us across an empty portion of the street just before it turns into a busy intersection, a visual confusion of traffic cones, temporary road markings, and piles of tarmac and gravel. I do not look left or right for oncoming traffic, my body implicitly trusting his judgment, his hand a reassuring pressure upon my arm.
The following vignette attempts to illustrate how the culture of fake news seemed to have invaded the sanctity of the therapeutic setting. One may argue that the underlying motivations for this invasion are multi-determined. No single interpretation could embrace what at first glance may be viewed as an acting out or an enactment. The case of E highlights the indestructibility of wishes underlying fake news, coupled with the permeability of the therapeutic frame.
The following is an excerpt from a session with a man who had been hospitalized several times and found his way into therapy. We have been working for five years in ways that have begun to touch places that were inaccessible or, rather, accessible mainly as threats that would periodically flood him.