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Gentile, J. (2014). On Mattering, Materiality, and “Transitional Memory”: A Discussion of Jonathan H. Slavin's Essay. Psychoanal. Perspect., 11(1):35-43.

(2014). Psychoanalytic Perspectives, 11(1):35-43

On Mattering, Materiality, and “Transitional Memory”: A Discussion of Jonathan H. Slavin's Essay

Jill Gentile, PhD

Jonathan Slavin interprets agency as a matter of mattering to an Other, proposing that agency, rather than memory, is “the glue of psychic integrity.” I suggest that Slavin, in making this argument, restores the often obscured dimension of matter and physical reality to contemporary psychoanalytic thinking. He links the concept of agency to ideas of memory as inscribed in the body (“hysterical reminiscences”). This perspective, perhaps surprisingly, recasts memory in Winnicottian terms: Memory emerges as transitional phenomena, located between history and imagination, between discovery and creation, between subjectivity and reality. This recasting also elucidates the paradoxical nature of Freud's concept of nachträglichkeit. By linking agency to memory, we also link what is past (and remembered) to the creation of a future. By extension, I claim that memory and agency, past and future, are reciprocally constituted, and that each is fundamental to the experience of the other.

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