The psychoanalysis of writers



The intellectual writer is, in fact, an inventor, as shown by the work of Pedro Nava

The psychoanalysis formulated by a writer is always more open, and curious, than the one enunciated by a psychoanalyst. In some way, the writer contributes to psychoanalysis by insisting on its sensitive pole, of astonishment or absurdity, the first moment of freedom – if taken to the statute of thought and discussion – in the face of what is difficult in human experience. If the psychoanalyst always has in mind the history of the discipline, its theory of very modern origin and central Europe, or structural linguistics of the 1950s, equally European, and therefore imagines having everything about the unconscious, the writer, with his significant prerogatives of creation, has the life of culture as its horizon, the very doubt about the broader life, greater or lesser, from where it receives its influxes and towards which its text directs itself. So he gives it all he has. With each invention he needs to build and rebuild what matters. Thus, while one is theoretical commitment, the other is vital processing.

The psychoanalyst is, then, perhaps a type of scientist, or intellectual, from a technical perspective, possessing strong human knowledge, but also something petty. Therefore, from time to time, there is a crisis between their theories and the progress of the world. While the writer, intellectual, is, in fact, an inventor: a thinker by principle without a priori map, closer to the fundamental key to the production of all real psychoanalysis, so to speak, free association. A speculator, as Freud himself said to be, in all letters, in face of his idea of ​​the death drive – an idea as rich in its construction mediated in the Freudian text as it is risky and dangerous due to its potential load of immediacy.

If the psychoanalyst represents the well-determined reflection in the inner sphere of the discipline, always marked by his epistemological formations and his theoretical history, the writer represents the mediated freedom, which preceded everything in the history of psychoanalysis. His spontaneous love for human life and direct knowledge of the thing, which sometimes revolves around the idea of ​​the Freudian unconscious, is what makes him envision something that corresponds to psychoanalysis. Circling the unconscious in a new way, crossing it, touching it and avoiding it, in the way of psychoanalysts, the writer is in it and outside it, writes for it and, in many ways, invents it anew, beyond it.

I do not think it is of little importance for psychoanalysis that Borges, for example, practicing that art, perceived the Freudian way of understanding the dream as relatively poor and constricted. That man dedicated to the visions of the universal library, the mirror, the labyrinth, the web of memory and concrete forms of the absolute and other existing worlds, as a mental and literary thing – who in one night in our lives reminded us of the time of the buddhist gods, the lime, of which a single day, which transcends our imagination, is equal to the time it takes for a continuous wall of iron sixteen miles high to disappear, by being touched by an angel with a fine silk from Benares, once in six hundred years. …[I] – that a man constituted in these spheres of the fabric of language and imagination as precision, memory – “this kind of fourth dimension” according to him – literary repertoire and astonishment, and who would also dedicate himself, with his incarnated library, to the sense of nightmare, indicates to us the significant reduction of what we think about our own objects, it is in fact a great wealth, which should awaken us.

After all, David Kopenawa, in another direction, but in the same, and in another world radically different from ours and Borges, also agrees with him, when he observes the structural poverty of our cultural dreaming: “you, who only dream of yourselves…”. It is also not irrelevant that Thomas Mann, coming from the world demanding about all aspects of Lessing, Novalis, Schlegel, Schiller, Goethe and even Brecht and Adorno, saw Freud as the ultimate romantic, without him being one. Or that even, a hundred years before Freud thought anything, Rameau's nephew, and Denis Diderot, who recorded him in an inaugural dialogue of the spirit of cynical reason in the life of advanced capitalism, described very precisely an obsessive neurotic symptom as a problem in the sexual life of a false Parisian prude... and who, in exactly the same passage, said that the child, left free to his own desires, would end up killing his father and sexually taking his mother...

In addition, visions of childhood at the limit of remembrance, inscribed in a very precise social, anthropological and historical reality, carefully evoked in works of literary art, such as those by Graciliano Ramos, Proust or Maksim Górki, and even Agostinho of Hippo, are so decisive for understanding the emotional life of a child as we can rarely reach the level of integrity between childhood life with adults and culture, correspondence between thought and affection, in the most difficult reports, usually blocked, of the psychoanalysts about the children they care for.

There is no doubt that complex psychoanalytical knowledge has always circulated freely through the universe of writers, and Freud was very amazed at this process, in which he discovered in another key, scientific, so to speak, what the poets already demonstrated to know in their works of another clinic. One day he even said that the epic poet was the first hero, precisely because he was the first, in his eyes, to transform unconscious psychic structures into works of art that spoke of them.

For all these reasons, in his work dedicated to the state of the clinic, Criticism and clinic, Deleuze will derive many formations from subjective, symptomatic ethics, projects of existence and fantasies of self, unconsciously or not, directly from modern literature. Clinic and criticism, in that imaginary book of becomings, are also clearly a problem of culture and literature: “It is a great moment when Ahab [Moby Dick, de Melville], invoking the fires of Saint Elmo, discovers that the father himself is a lost son, an orphan, while the son is the son of nothing, or of everyone, a brother. As Joyce will say, paternity does not exist, it is an emptiness, a nothingness, or rather a zone of uncertainty occupied by the brothers, the brother and the sister. The mask of the charitable father must fall so that first nature is pacified and Ahab and Bartebly, Claggart and Billy Budd are recognized, releasing in the violence of some and the stupor of others the fruit they were pregnant with, the pure and pure fraternal relationship. simple. Melville will always develop the fraternity's radical opposition to Christian 'charity' or paternal 'philanthropy'. Liberating man from the role of father, giving birth to the new man or the man without particularities, bringing together the original and humanity, constituting a society of brothers as a new universality.”[ii] Finally, an act of criticism, clinic, or revolution?

All these free views of psychoanalysis, which are true, remind analysts that their knowledge actually belongs to humans in a state of anguish, that it is not them, that they belong to intelligence and good language, to literature and to ordinary, uncommon life. experience and cinema. That his knowledge, even though it acquires an exoteric object in the farthest reaches of theory, comes from the world. The joke is at the same time an aesthetic solution, an act of thought, a flash of concrete jouissance, a political position and a Freudian formation of the unconscious, the furthest thing from its meanings. The free views of the “unconscious” by the writers remind us that it is in no way a property of the metapsychological territory of the psychoanalysts' theory, their treasure.

Even when his treasure is in fact a window into his dreams, this storytelling and poetry, cinema and life are paramount. That is why Freud constantly found himself again in Western writers, from Sophocles to Goethe, from Schiller to Schnitzler, passing through Shakespeare, Dostoevsky and Zola. Not to mention when writers think of other and true systems of subjectivation, unthinkable for psychoanalysis until then, as Deleuze saw in Melville, for example. Or, in our particular historical case, the real discovery and invention through writing of the volubility of the liberal Brazilian slave owner, not only in the XNUMXth century, but also today's financial merchant, cosmopolitan and Bolsonarist militiaman, for example. Subjective formation, that volubility of the multiple rules of the game operated with impunity, outside the idea of ​​the law as a subject, and therefore beyond the repressed Freudian unconscious, which took shape in the hyper-modern novel, out of place in place, by Machado de Assis, The Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas. and awareness of critical and clinical, such as Deleuze's, in Roberto Schwarz.

Thus, writers anticipate by tens of years problems that psychoanalysts, so dedicated in their lives to understanding Freud's and Lacan's terms, will only take into account somewhat later, such as the resentment expressed by Dostoevsky when Freud took his first theoretical steps , or normopathy, from Bartebly, from Melville, or Brazilian normopathy, from Amanuensis Belmiro, melancholy but resigned, by Ciro dos Anjos; or the volubility, sadistic, illustrated, political, of a Brazilian slave owner, from the XNUMXth or XNUMXst century. Andrade, Clarice Lispector, Pedro Nava and Raduan Nassar have a lot to say to psychoanalysis. Perhaps even more than certain psychoanalysis, with its territory so structured of its own illusions, alien to the movement of time and history, has to say about them.

Peter Nava

Pedro Nava is one of the greatest Brazilian writers of the XNUMXth century. There is no doubt about it. His memoirs, which emerge at a time when the great modern Brazilian literature is disappearing, keep it suspended in a living time to be permanently rediscovered, are driven by a certain poetic function, from the intelligence of the almost architected construction of periods that, however, flow while being exemplary concrete. Thought and event, language and history, balanced in a way typical of modern intelligence, found in Pedro Nava an accentuated balance.

Unlike Proust, his process of recollection is not fleeting, nor is it aestheticizing. Memories of him don't spill over, don't delve endlessly into detail, or mix with the music or the dream. He doesn't have a big belle époque Parisian bourgeois, elegant and ostentatious, rich and socially poisoned, on the eve of the end of the world of the 1914 world war, as a measure for the revival of personal time and the end of a great historical cycle in which she lived. Contrary to the clearly recognized model, the modern twentieth-century memoirist from Minas Gerais is always clear and his materialist reflexivity, disenchanted or intelligent, is confused with memory itself. His grace comes from the things themselves, you might say. He recalls the narrative richness of a long life, often with the precise brilliance of the historian's love for the document.

As when he reconstructs the life possibilities of the Italian great-great-grandfather who settled in Maranhão, Francisco Nava, of whom for contemporaries only the nickname remains, but “the name, because it is, exists; servant of the Lord, may be asked for him in the mass of the dead",[iii] and, thus, evoking the genealogical institution he visited in Rome in 1955, he manages to conceive of a certain Giuseppe, farthest from the origin of the obscure ancestor, Mattiolo figlio, not Quattrocento would have sworn oath to the Duke of Milan, Giovanni Maria Visconti... Accustomed to what happened and to the trace of truth of a character or a situation, his memories are drawn as a clear pen and ink on the paper, without impressions, unlike the watercolor half away from the endless sensory multiplicities of the chic Proustian literary world. Pedro Nava always wrote about what was, with a clear accent on the referent in history, the object, world and people respected because they happened.

For this reason, he spoke of his way of remembering, in one of the many times he comments on the meaning of the action of memory in the life and culture of those who remember, in fact the first time that he turns to his own practice and ethics: “Only the old man knows about that neighbor of his grandmother, there is a lot of mineral stuff from cemeteries, without memory in the others and without a trace on earth – but that he can suddenly awaken (like the magician who opens the box of mysteries) in the color of the mustaches, in the cut in the coat, in the drizzle of smoke, in the squeak of elastic boots, in walking, in clearing his throat, in his manner – for the boy who is listening, and who is going to prolong for another fifty, another seventy years the memory that comes to him, not how dead thing, but alive like a flower all scented and colorful, limpid and clear and flagrant as a fact of the present. And with what is evoked comes the mystery of associations, bringing the street, the old houses, other gardens, other men, past events, the whole layer of life of which the neighbor was an inseparable part and which is also reborn when he revives – because one and the other another are reciprocal conditions.”

Thus, in the construction of language, for Nava, memory was a living transmission of the past into the present, a “clear, clear and flagrant flower”, which returns with few remnants, shaped in the narrative itself. In a link between the living and generations, the living and the dead pursue mutual recognition in a desire for clear language in these terms, of life experience, of the other and of oneself, and of the world that is reborn with it. It is the “reciprocal conditions of existence”, in the dimension of memory, and its evident magical ethics for the present, Borges' fourth dimension. Something clear, but surprising like the object taken from the magician's box, which connects the lives of different generations in a permanent continuous thread, through the narrator, who, lives now, lives in the past. And the “boy who is listening, who will prolong the memory that comes to him for another fifty or seventy years”, lived human matter, which survives time like the works of civilization, is us, the reader.

Also, unlike the Frenchman, the presupposed background of his position as a narrator of himself was a true country under construction. Hence the generous offer of memory as a thing of the present, material to also make the present. Its great historical continent was Brazil in development, in which the commitment to intelligence and the new personal freedom, secular, modern and scientific, was the vanishing point of everything. Even more, in contact with the modernist restlessness of Belo Horizonte in the 1920s, without a trace of reactionary positivism that had rocked national modernity until then. A Brazil realized in the very realization of modern men in social development, of a wider world, which was woven into each act and each decision of each productive character of memories, citizen of the dream of that world, under construction. Already modern, Pedro Nava's Brazil was a great process of presenting all its possibilities, which he would summarize in his love and his particular fight for the new medicine that was practiced here.

the intellectual

Educated doctor, historian of medicine in the time of its first modernity among us, in works he sent to the university in the 1940s and in the pages of his own life clearly remembered in the memoirs, trained in a demanding intellectual tradition of language, perhaps extinct today, his paths existential through the cities where he lived since he was a boy, Rio de Janeiro, Juiz de Fora, Belo Horizonte, family, friends, masters, the encounter with modernist intellectuals, the acute worldly, political, scientific and professional experiences, in culture and in the sectors of hospitals, gain in him such a clear and constant shine, as he conceived the remembrance, of a literature of a life in critical construction, which, in fact, is confused with the spirit of the historical background of the country in structuring, as much as it is You can imagine the relevance of a modernist and modern journey, of the prototypical life of a miner who goes from the 1910s to the 1950s in Brazil, in autonomous contact with the true creators of the country who were there.

In 1972, Chest of Bones began to show the history of the Brazilian century in the body and life of an urban middle-class man, just a modern and cultured man, rich in concrete narratives of life in modernization, from the “mythical social” structure of Juiz de Fora from childhood; of the revolutionary and reactionary territories of the city and its inhabitants drawn by history; from the bloody serials and their politics, told as stories by any member of the family, in the living room of the petty bourgeois house, to the living portraits, with a few lines, of friends, and of many layers of relatives, such as the unforgettable strong-natured grandmother, still a slaveholder, Inhá Luiza – “with a detestable genius… admirable mother, execrable mother-in-law, hateful mistress for slaves and offspring, perfect friend of few, no less perfect enemy of many and courageous as a man” – or the exclusive aunt Marout, who came to pick him up one day in a dream for an intimate encounter in death; and also the portrait of the streets and bars, reflections parallel to Proust on the modes of being of his memory, and so many other things like that. The writer was able to look at all of them simultaneously from within what was experienced and also clearly through thought, outside what happened, thought of the surprising structured language in the elegant curves of the sentences, always relative to things, with little excess and a lot of variation, doing the thing old take on a new form in the modern way of the 1970s.

It was his “half demonic, half angelic ability to transform the world made of events into words”, according to Drummond. Or, one could say, the way of the historian and the doctor, writer, of transforming the world of his event into words. A monumental work of experience began, which we still don't have, unless I'm mistaken, a critique capable of embracing it in its entirety. Even its imaginative double, the slightly less grandiose series, also in search of lost time, also concrete and with dialectical, epigrammatic and episodic thinking, of poetic memories boitempo of his great friend Carlos Drummond de Andrade – described in Sea shore as a young man in the anarchic and bohemian night of Belo Horizonte in the 1920s – he had to wait until another day for José Miguel Wisnik to start giving us a more accurate critical map of his infantile, political and dialectical universe, in Machining the World: Drummond and Mining.

It is possible to say, with very current categories of thought, that this monumental work of a common life, of an intelligent, well-trained doctor from Brazil, which took place in the real time of the contemporary emergence of a country, provokes us with the force of the act itself. of its existence, in the way a modern self expresses itself, with history, when it permanently makes us measure something of the poverty of our lives in the increasingly scarce time of experience packaged in the market.

Double embodied and aware of the history of the Brazilian XNUMXth century imprinted like time on the retinas without tiredness – “its relentless memory (its future martyrdom) the fragments of a present that was never graspable, but that it sedimented and punched when they fell dead and face down in the past of each instant; ghosts that I raise as my own and docile, at the time I want”[iv] – of a modern man, at the same time common and exemplary, in the face of his wealth of one hundred thousand and one days and nights lived… we can intuit that we have nothing similar to offer. Nothing to offer to history and life itself and, perhaps because of that concrete measure, of a work that makes life visible, but not fantasy, because of that real hourglass of the end of the world of our experience, and of our yearnings, of the connection history of our beings in the world, let us leave, unaware of the loss, such a monument to time and life, sleeping, somewhat forgotten, on the shelves.

The boys have long since lost all contact with their grandparents.

the philosopher doctor

Pedro Nava – whose father, who died when he was still a boy, was a pharmacist and a doctor – loved medicine. He loved her and saw her practically, and philosophically, also without illusions. When asked, at the age of 17 at Colégio Pedro II in Rio de Janeiro, what he thought of life, he wrote: “life is like an anatomical amphitheater: there we study the wounds that are always open, we see the rot, the evil, the horror, the cancer and worst of all the 'hypocrisy of optimism', all in a heap of mud – society”… So, he didn't hesitate and, when answering what he wanted to pursue as a career in that society of mud, he introduced himself: “Medicine.” After all, “it is the one that offers me the most charm, because through it I will study this tangle of vessels, this gathering of muscles, this web of nerves, which make up this heap of rotten elements.”

Apart from the decadent and comic note highlighted in the responses, in the manner of Augusto dos Anjos seeking a real place in his own life, who knows the end well, of an adolescent tending to the bohemian dissolution of a few years later and of the boy who had already read everything that fell into his hands, including Arthur de Azevedo, Machado de Assis and Lima Barreto..., we observe in the responses the indicated strength of a subject, the positive rigor of a generally negative view of things. Medicine thus resolved, with its immense complexity – which he would multiply in a sense of the philosophy of medical history even broader than what he learned as a clinic – the firmness of the judgment without appeal of the young student.

Before arriving, belatedly, or at the right time in life, to the literature of memory, at the age of 69, Nava was in fact a very conscientious doctor, dedicated to building public service, and a historian and plural chronicler of medicine thought and happened in the Brazil, from colonial origins to its own modern time of training and practice, prior to penicillin. Interested in everything related to medicine, from its classical history and first civilizing images to the encounter of medical wisdom and civilizations that were strange to each other in colonial Brazil, in our developing world, he established his own plan of birth of the clinic, eclectic and open, guided by the new anthropology of life in Brazil, even before the advent of anatomopathological scientism. He thus created a personal territory of a medical philosopher and historian. A project of history and coexistence of several epistemes, from the origin of Western, Greek, Arab, classic images of the thing, to the encounter of different worlds of magic and science in Brazil, from the origin and in the future, a system of readings of science that it would certainly interest the epistemologist Foucault, also from medicine, who was writing in Paris at the same time that Nava was writing his memoirs in Rio.

Twenty-five years before Chest of Bones, Pedro Nava published by C. Mendes Jr. his first book, the set of historical studies, epistemology and medical anthropology in Portuguese, Brazilian and… French, Territory of Epidaurus. Shortly afterwards, the Chapters of the history of medicine in Brazil, published in reprints in “Revista Brasil Médico Surgical” in 1948 and 1949, and, in 1961, his conference, between criticism and medical history, Camões and medicine, was also published. All before the broader experience of memories. In these writings of great erudition and anthropological focus, a double of medical history in Brazil from Big house and slave quarters e Brazil roots, one can observe that cultural and philosophical, philological interest, as broad as possible for understanding the conceptual territory of medicine since the advent of colonial life in Brazil.

The thing went very far, and the historical, literary or scientific document was situated in the researcher's limitless theoretical imagination: “If medical chronology requires, historiologically, knowledge of philology, linguistics, general history, ethnography, anthropology and literature – the philosophical history of art requires all this and more the indispensable knowledge of anatomy, physiology, general pathology and practical medicine. Without this knowledge (not that of specialized detail, but comprehensive and doctrinal knowledge) the interpretative study of medical ideas is impossible because, before explaining them, it is necessary to have penetrated them, which is to say that, in order to learn to study the History of Medicine, it is first necessary to know a little about Medicine, which can only be achieved by 'seeing, treating, fighting'.” […] “The history of Medicine must be seen first as the history of General Pathology, as the history of medical ideas and as the history of doctors' thoughts. The chronology that comes later, not as a basis and system, but as an auxiliary process as a reference.” […] “Put in the philosophical or chronological plane, the History of Medicine has to be sought in the sources that we have already mentioned and that ask for what goes in search of it, in addition to the knowledge of the medicine of its time, those of classical medicine; knowledge of linguistics, ethnography, general history, literature, philosophy and the plastic arts, whose usefulness we are going to emphasize”.[v]

Thus, from a specific knowledge constituted in contact with the body, in the medical forms of the present, the understanding of the history of medicine was projected in all kinds of forms and formation of the idea of ​​medicine among men, in the past. The multiple views, keeping the mystery of their different foundations, coexist and circulate through time, transforming the doctor of today into a philosopher doctor, as were those of the origin: “The great medical ideas do not belong to this or that century, they do not they are successive rather than coexisting. There is both a Hippocratic naturism and a Galenic naturism; an Arabist naturism, as well as a contemporary naturism. At its side there was and will always be a dogmatism or an empiricism; a humorism or a solidism, a methodism or an eclecticism.”[vi]

A medicine of touch and sensitivity

Already the medicine of the doctor Nava in his own life, described in its corporeal bases and incarnated in experience in the faculty and in the infirmary in the fourth volume of the memoirs, Sea shore, was above all a medicine of touch and sensitivity, a practice of attention and reception, of a productive contemplation of the doctor, which did not lack a perspective of a true and almost poetic aesthetic dimension, of life and death. “My medicine is always figurative, never abstract. I observe, I don't experiment” he would say about his posture and philosophy of approaching the disease and the patient.

In fact, everything indicates that he was appreciated by the great clinicians for the richness of the signs, for the astonishing plasticity of the body's expression, between health and pathologies of all kinds, with their forms and effects on sensitivity, imagination and intelligence of those who receive them. Constantly trying to find his bearings in nature where “nothing is simple”, he specialized in paralyzing and humiliating rheumatism, he was an important physician in his time, whose training took pains to learn the links of colors, brightness, textures, tensions, shapes, smells , place of pain, bodies integral in their production, of life, illness or death. Finally, what was given to the doctor to know with the mediation of his own body.

Between contact and reason, astonishment and the classifying order of a permanently uncovered body, unique in the experience of a more general structure of life that was already known to be expressed in it, the curiosity of the inventor of the history and culture of medicine also unfolded in Brazil; arising, as we have seen, from all the classical, but also popular, sources and formations of the idea of ​​medicine that one can imagine. Contrary to what happens today, instruments, irons and thermometers, medicines, poisons and surgical entrances seemed infinitely less important in the formation of Nava than the exuberant richness of the human body, and its subject, the real producer of a thousand forms. between life and death, forms linked to life, permanent dynamics between living and dying: “Old shrews that cachexia had finished sculpting into forms of skeletons coated with skin, bodies monstrously altered by infection, by the rising tide of edemas and strokes cavitated or eaten in life until the last crumb by the fabulous work of cancers. Admirable blue faces of asphyxia, plasters of anaemias, rubin, flavinic and verdinic jaundice, grenás of hypertension, puffiness of hydrops anarsacs; uncertain eyes of uremics, porcelain sclera of verminotics, incandescent pupils of februcitants, squinting of meningitis, sardonic corners of the mouth of tetanus; arid skins from rising fevers, wet from bouts of fermentation… as I knew you and as I was amazed at the extreme complexity of your fabrication. Cequíl ya de beau dans La nature, c´est qu´il n´ya rien de simple – said my master Layani. Here and there, a remnant of beauty like the trace of the passing of a God, suggesting that there were not only patients there, but women as well”.[vii]

It seems evident to me that Nava's form and style of considering sick bodies, the history of medicine and practicing his clinic, has some correspondence with his own way, encyclopedic, fascinating and almost objective at the same time, of the memoirist treating the countless events and characters of a lifetime, always attentive to the concrete trace of memory. Thus: “But fantastic in the life of the future doctor is what he takes away from the experience acquired day by day in the exploration of this prodigious thing that is the human body. He is always admirable. Admirable in growth, in the miracle of adolescence, in full health and in the eurythmy of mature age, of life in its strength, its overflow in reproduction. Equally admirable in impotence, in the imbalances of old age, in senescence, in cacochemia, in illness, in disintegration and in death. All this has correlated harmonies and depends on such complex work to create, as to destroy, to make life and manufacture death. We have to recognize these forces of nature and draw from them our medical philosophy and our lesson in modesty. I soon understood that we doctors can, at most, alter and modify life by means of surgical iron and medicinal poison, trying to make the alteration introduced stand in the way of vix medica trix naturae.

In that sense we help and we only help when we row with the tide. Jepanse, Dieuxguerit – humbly said Ambroise Paré – the Father of Surgery. The great mistake of all – patients and doctors alike – is to believe that by prolonging life by changing conditions we are combating Death. Never. As much as unbeatable she is unbeatable. Proof: we only enlarge the life that exists. In its place we have no power to put anything else because as it retracts, diminishes and retreats, every millimeter is relentlessly conquered by Death Triumphant. It is useless to think otherwise. What we have to do is convince ourselves that man, by living so much, and the sick, by suffering so much – acquire the right to death, as respectable as the right to life on the part of those who were born. For myself, I penetrated these truths by seeing the terrible miracle yard of our infirmary”.[viii]

Pedro Nava understood that medicine is connected to life and is framing, approximation and respect for death. Middle line, signal decoding, sensitive to the spectacle, between the broad dynamics of the living body and its death, which also reveals the nature of the living. Exactly as Winnicott, a great English physician and psychoanalyst who was rigorously contemporary with Nava, said at the same time, it was the living body, the inscription of the powers of life, which in fact healed. Any other applied technique would only be valuable if supported by the very living dimension of the body, and the remedies were only articulated to the natural medical path. It is life that lives – the medicines accompany and reveal it. It was the naturalistic perception of modern doctors who formed before the pharmacological and biochemical revolution of the second half of the twentieth century to take the entire social experience of medicine in another direction. And death... was the ultimate reality that demanded secular respect, mystery and human rights.

The artist

I won't dwell too much on Nava's artist way of understanding medicine. At times, his essayistic intelligence about the disease and the sick person seemed to be closer to an Artaud, a Mário de Andrade, or a Levi-Strauss and even a Bataille, than any doctor we have come to know. Historian and modernist, constructive and anti-positivist, Nava is an example of a man of advanced modernity, of modern times in Brazil, which we quickly forget.

I only regret the fate of a country that, from the 1920s to the 1960s, relied on men like Nava to actively build its medical intelligence and its public and effective health system. And that today, a century after the young modernist entered college, there is a Bolsonarist doctor, criminal and anti-scientific, with no trace of what history or culture is, incapable of using the language for anything other than the propaganda of the bossal leader who responds to the desire, against all life in the country, the hard and clear truth of our historical destiny. What happened to Brazil, Pedro Nava's and ours?

Brazil became our own specific “heap of mud, society”, which it had always been, and which the young medical student of 1921 already knew, and the writer of the XNUMXth century, with care, intelligence and commitment to the life of all and the future of an impossible society, fought, in the very multiplication of the language that operated with life itself.

Nor am I going to comment on Pedro Nava's psychoanalysis in the chapter of Territory which returns here. It is self-evident and, as I said before, interesting in its own creative terms, its own open ways of knowing. I will only indicate here, for the interested reader, the following problem of Freudian epistemology with free production on the writer's unconscious, originating in the concrete from the distinctive experience of life itself, like all psychoanalysis, of Pedro Nava: if he felt obliged to ask about the origins, materialistic and corporeal, of the very long-lasting fantasies of refusing the introduction of injections and vaccines that he investigates, corporeal and magical fantasies, as he thought, if he asked himself: how is it a psychism that works and produces this kind of poetic force of minimal, but strong, unreason; if he displaced the idea of ​​magical thinking to the idea of ​​desire formation and asked himself about the possible body, subject and psychism, from childhood origin, which realizes this form of desire, which appears in life as a magic and personality formula, then, by all indications, he would be in the foundations to priori of Freudian metapsychology, his own metaphysics. Freud's psychoanalysis describes the poetic event from the force of irrationality, like the writer, and also asks what system of final reasons can sustain it.

It is very characteristic of informed and modern writers the free use of the imaginary sphere of perception of the images of thought and its magical, non-rational force, which has Freudian logic, without reaching the materialist background of the final, initial Freudian problem, that of trying to explain how and why these magical images of thought are given, what is their bodily nature, and what is their function in our common humanity. There the poetic and creative intuition of the writer ends, and psychoanalysis as knowledge in structuring begins.

As I said, thus psychoanalysts lose something of the mobility of the rich life of culture, while writers, who use psychoanalysis in the imaginary sphere of their dreaming, play with it, know and do not know something about their science.

*Tales Ab´Sáber is a psychoanalyst, member of the Department of Psychoanalysis at Instituto Sedes Sapientiae and professor of Philosophy at Unifesp. Author, among other books by Dreaming restored, forms of dreaming in Bion, Winnicott and Freud (Publisher 34).


[I] Jorge Luis Borges seven nights, São Paulo: Max Limonad, 1983, p.105.

[ii] Gilles Deleuze, Criticism and clinic, São Paulo: Editora 34, p. 97.

[iii] bone chest, Rio de Janeiro: Sabiá, 1972, p.17.

[iv] captive balloon, Rio de Janeiro: José Olympio, 1973, p. 217.

[v] “Introduction to the Study of the History of Medicine in Brazil”, in Chapters in the history of medicine in Brazil, Cotia: Ateliê Editorial, 2003.

[vi] Idem.

[vii] Sea shore, Rio de Janeiro: José Olympio, 1978, p. 333.

[viii] Idem, p.332.

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