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Nosek, L. (2015). Variations on a Theme by Antonino Ferro: Alphabetizing the Emotions. Psychoanal. Inq., 35(5):526-554.

(2015). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 35(5):526-554

Variations on a Theme by Antonino Ferro: Alphabetizing the Emotions

Leopold Nosek

So all my best is dressing old words new

Spending again what is already spent: . . . [Shakespeare, Sonnets, 1609, Sonnet LXXXVI]


How does one learn psychoanalysis? How does one arrive at an author? Who speaks to one intimately? How do they do it? How does one transform them upon closer contact? How is one’s store of knowledge modified by this contact? Dialog takes place, and so it has been with psychoanalysis for over a century. In isolation analysts are sterile and otherness is unattainable. Which alternatives enable them to converse? Every once in a while, they are fertile and something new emerges. The great Biblical novelty is reintroduced: The word is born in one testament or a child in another, a new accord with nature is established. Analysts live off the narratives that are the continuation of this primordial gesture. This is what the Biblical testaments are. This is Homer’s Helenic rap, not to mention the torrents of Saint Augustine, Shakespeare, Freud, and so many others.

Figure 1

So many are the truths [São tantas as verdades], 1988, acrylic and stones on canvas, 213 × 106 cm.

Figure 2

The fisher of words [O pescador de palavras], 1986, acrylic on canvas, 105 × 95 cm.

Figure 3

Dangerous games [Jogos perigosos], 1989/1990, acrylic on canvas, 60 × 50 cm.

Figure 4

Leo cannot change the world [Leo não consegue mudar o mundo], acrylic paint on canvas, 156 × 95 cm.

Figure 5

The Island [O Ilha], 1990, embroidery on canvas, 37 × 25 cm.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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