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Green, A. (1998). The Primordial Mind and the Work of the Negative. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 79:649-665.

(1998). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 79:649-665

The Primordial Mind and the Work of the Negative

André Green

This paper was given at the celebration of Bion's centennial in 1997. At the request of the organisers of this conference, the work of Bion has been brought into perspective with the author's. The author has chosen to illumine Bion's concept of the primordial mind and considers the transformation of the beta-elements into the alpha ones. He also refers to Bion's distinction of thoughts without thinker and thinking as needing thoughts to be thought by a thinker (thinking apparatus). The main point of the paper is Bion's opposition of ‘nothing’ and ‘no thing’. The author refers to Freud's paper on ‘Negation’. He recalls his own model of the double limit. He tries to show how Freud's conception of representation has a much wider field than is usually stated. He emphasises differences between Freud's and Bion's ‘basic assumptions’. After having tried to clarify Bion's ideas on ‘O’, ‘K and -K’, he recalls Bion's reference to Keats's negative capability. The author then gives a short account of his own concept of the ‘work of the negative’, finding correspondences with Bion's own concepts. As a conclusion two Indian myths are recalled for their great symbolic value.

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