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Wilgowicz, P. (1996). À L'aise Dans La Barbarie? [At Ease In Barbarity?]. : By M. Nacht. Paris: Grasset, 1994. Pp. 135.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 77:1257.

(1996). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 77:1257

À L'aise Dans La Barbarie? [At Ease In Barbarity?]. : By M. Nacht. Paris: Grasset, 1994. Pp. 135.

Review by:
Perel Wilgowicz

Three authors, Freud, Lacan and Leclaire, are quoted in the epigraph to this ambitious and highly topical book. The psychoanalyst and novelist Marc Nacht, with subtle and delicate strokes of his alert pen, delves deeper and deeper on every page in his investigation of the death drive and the explosion and violence of barbarity in contemporary societies. His approach to their subterranean workings is by way of the interlinking of the relevant social and individual factors. Trauma and its repetition are examined in the light of Freud's conviction of the existence of a transgenerational transmission of the terrors of mankind through a phylogenetic heritage.

In Julien Gracq's short story Une communication exquise, the junior officer Grange, called to the colours in 1939 after the Munich agreement, has the revelation when about to die that he is ‘dwelling like a tenant who does not know when his lease expires’. Pursuing a parallel between the Freudian death drive as an attempt to put an end to existential tensions and Lacan's ‘jouissance‘ [enjoyment], Nacht endeavours to track down in clinical practice the effects of the shadows of history on a subject's mind; these have ‘the hardness of a foreign body’, whose ‘density and invisibility call to mind the ancient stars known as black holes’. In this strange or even uncanny transmission of fantasies or behaviour, the author sees the emergence of the Lacanian real (defined as something that hinders psychic processes), expressing the tendency towards the inert and trauma, which has the two aspects of, firstly, a source of tension that gives rise to a greater complexity and, secondly, a weakening of the vital reactions and a progression towards death.

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