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Himes, M. (2012). The Weight of the Proper Name: La Force du Nom: Leur nom, ils l'ont changé (The strength of the name: their name, they changed it), under the direction of Celine Masson and Gad Wolkowicz Editions Desclee de Brouwer, 484 pp., E25, 2010. DIVISION/Rev., 4:15-18.
(2012). DIVISION/Review, 4:15-18
The Weight of the Proper Name: La Force du Nom: Leur nom, ils l'ont changé (The strength of the name: their name, they changed it), under the direction of Celine Masson and Gad Wolkowicz Editions Desclee de Brouwer, 484 pp., E25, 2010
Review by: Mavis Himes, Ph.D.
Being fortunate enough to be able to read psychoanalytic texts in a second language, especially the mother tongue of the Lacanian field, it has been with pleasure that I read La Force du Nom, a book on the proper name and its impact on human subjectivity. The breadth and scope of the content, the quality of the writing, and the sensitivity of the authors make it a book that I hope will be translated one day for the English-speaking audience. It is a book that addresses the psychoanalytic, as well as sociopolitical, significance of the proper name, while challenging a certain complacency toward those whose name has been altered, either voluntarily or involuntarily.
A birth, a breath of life, a name. From the first moments of the creation of human life, we are, each of us, granted a name-both a given name, or first name, and a family name, or surname. This name becomes another birthplace in which we live. It is our own personal and unique residence. To be without a name is to be without form or qualities, without shadows, without dreams, without imagination, without a soul. For it is only through an act of nomination that we become an “I,” and to say “I” is to occupy a space in the world.
To live without a name is to live on the margins of life. It is to belong to the kingdom of animals that roam through their world nameless and anonymous. To remain without a name is to live on the periphery of life without access to an Other. As the king of the Phoenicians says to Ulysses, “Tell me the name you go by at home-what your mother and father and countrymen call you.
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