I remember my first time being at The Brotherhood/Sister Sol (Bro/Sis) and participating in their writing program, The Lyrical Circle. It was held in the space where we would be sharing and creating art for years to come. We met in a small room on the second floor of a beautiful brownstone in the Hamilton Heights neighborhood of Harlem. The walls were radiant with bright yellows, and beautiful West African art decorated the room.
All of us work at the boundary. In fact, we work and live at multiple boundaries. We belong to numerous systems and relational networks. The idea of boundary is a metaphor for where and when we come into contact with each other as human subjects and objects —what Thomas Ogden calls “the primitive edge of experience.”
Anna Fishzon navigates one of the most recent groups of work by Patrick Webb: Intimacies. Placing us in the hands of Punchinello — the main character in Webb’s scenes — Fishzon guides the conversation through the communion of two souls: the artist’s and his alter ego’s.
Punchinello cautiously becomes the thread linking the evolution of two worlds, neither absolute nor separate, between the realities of the artist and his character.
From 1999 through 2010, I lived in Caracas, Venezuela. I arrived just after Hugo Chávez began his presidency, so I saw a rather vibrant Venezuela for several years before its subsequent deterioration under Chávez’s Bolivarian Revolution. As an immigrant, I saw Venezuela as an outsider, and at the same time, I could reflect on the United States from outside its borders.
As a magazine at the intersection of the psychological and the political, Room has published a number of articles that aim to explore the cultural divides in the US and beyond. In this vein, Jacob Smith has written a piece about being an Evangelical Christian in 2019, who cares deeply about humanitarian as well as spiritual issues.
As we approach another long election cycle in the United States, news outlets will be reporting on the political trends of evangelicals. It is often reported that 81 percent of white evangelicals voted for Donald Trump in 2016, and they continue to remain faithful to him almost three years into the completion of his first term in office.
The 9/11 terrorist attack punctured America’s innocence, inflicting massive trauma on people across the country. Almost without delay, psychoanalysts felt compelled to shed their mantle of neutrality to better assist survivors, first responders, and those who were vicariously affected by the tragedy.
The Analyst stares into the steam of his green tea. Some of the more proactive flakes escape a tear in the frail nylon sachet, wending to the surface, a morning Rorschach for no one to interpret.
The first of his five patients for the day is out in the waiting room, flicking through one of the old copies of the LRB fanned out on the scuffed coffee table with splintered legs. After all, the Analyst wanted to make and maintain the right impression — urbane, intellectual, and playful were three adjectives he hoped crossed some folks’ minds some of the time.
Democracy, psychoanalysis, and Room share a powerful connection. They were created to contain and facilitate the many voices that comprise (and conflict with) our polities, ourselves, and, in the case of Room, the space between ourselves and our societies. This is not coincidental. As Jill Gentile explains in her book Feminine Law, Free Speech, and the Voice of Desire, there is a resonance between the method of free association underlying the work of psychoanalysis and the right of free speech which is the bedrock of democracy.
From my very first contact with psychoanalysis, a fascination in the theory and practice took hold of me. But becoming a psychoanalyst was a bit unimaginable. How would a lower-middle-class Palestinian immigrant navigate such a life goal? How could I possibly pay for years of analysis and navigate an environment I perceived as potentially hostile to me? I really did not know, but the calling did not subside.