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Frosh, S. Baraitser, L. (2003). Thinking, Recognition, and Otherness. Psychoanal. Rev., 90(6):771-789.

(2003). Psychoanalytic Review, 90(6):771-789

Thinking, Recognition, and Otherness

Stephen Frosh and Lisa Baraitser

There was her body, quiet, used, resting: there was her mind, free, clear, shining: there was the boy and his eyes, seeing what? And ecstasy. Things would hurt when this light dimmed. The boy would change. But now in the sun she recognised him, and recognised that she did not know, and had never seen him, and loved him, in the bright new air with a simplicity she had never expected to know. “You,” she said to him, skin for the first time on skin in the outside air, which was warm and shining, “you.”

-A.S. Byatt, Still Life

Stephanie Potter, in A.S. Byatt's great novel, emerges from giving birth to her first child and sees him there, unexpectedly other than her. In this moment there is both recognition and acknowledgment of unbridgeable difference: “she recognised him, and recognised that she did not know, and had never seen him”; clear-eyed, Stephanie knows what she does not know, and loves her son across the great divide. Slightly later, when her husband Daniel arrives to see the child (this is 1954, and he has not been present at his son's birth), the importance of the baby's otherness is again confirmed.

“It's funny,” he said. “I hadn't thought it. I hadn't thought he'd be somebody.”

“No. I hadn't either. I was so surprised when I saw his separate bed. But he is, isn't he?” (p.

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