Notes from Ettinger 2012 ‘Maternal Subjectivity and the Matrixial Subject’ EGS video

[Same old same old, but with more about art.  A right co/(me)dy of (h)(err)or/s in my view]

[The lecture begins with her showing some paintings, including the two versions of Maddona of the Rocks.  She says it is realism, but not like a camera—fancy!  And it is clearly transubjective]

Artistic experience is interesting.  Art is both autistic and emergent copoiesis.  We find a similar co emergence in an ‘implicated critique’ [implicated critique is when we are able to see and participate, or where our wonder and concern allow beauty to inform us about the world, and we can translate this into language later via com/posing].  Pregnancy is a sight of borderlinking and the emergence of strings within a feminine eros.  It is ‘resonating transubjectively’, it shows the origin of life in nonlife., the enigma of non life This concept of non life origins should not be mistaken for death, and yearning for it is another version of what Freudians have taken to be a death instinct.  This can be shown through art including Plath’s and Pisanik (?)’s poetry.  This is a particular feature of feminine subjectivity.

There is an aesthetic origin to ethics.  There are a number of becomings mixed together, including the transubjective.  We do not turn others into us or into objects.  The aesthetic is transferred to the subject as ethics.  The ethics can also help us grasp the passage of non life to life.

Fascinance here involves an aesthetic of reattunement, the affective in all its attitudes or modes, which include wonder, anxiety, concern, compassion and responsibility as well as revolt [as in feeling revolted?], abjection and anxiety.  Only the last few tend to be emphasized by psychoanalysis, as not primary but reactive, symptoms of anger.  The good ones are just as important, and all should be taken as signals of happenings.  The capacity for fascinance involves a state of wondering, which activates affects.

Art can be transubjective, aspiring to the human.  And so it is proto ethical.  It also offers us a ‘freedom fissure’ which means it can act as the guardian of the potential values of the human.  Paintings can therefore be seen as both love and critique.  They have the potential for resistance and rebellion [Adorno really]

The feminine eros is not the sexual eros nor the matrixial, which is about love, caring and communi/caring.  This involves self fragilization which can lead to resistance.  Such resistance can emerge from contraction and solitude, becoming aware of the strings [as in counteractualization in Deleuze].

We can experience a yearning for non life, an awareness of our trembling in the world.  We are also aware of the non human.  Human perceptions are not necessary for beauty, art is affective and affected by the transensual [she seems to be covering as many trendy Deleuzian topics as possible].  When beauty meets com/passion, we encounter the sublime.  Beauty arises from truth not from any particular qualities of the image [classic example of the high aesthetic really].

Death is anxiety provoking but it also provides an access and connection to something bigger, which can be grasped even if not actually thought.  Beauty is the same: it is of course commercialised but it also offers access to something non commercial [the aura?].  Human yearning accesses the virtual as well.  We see in a supplementary way, beyond senses, we are aware of resonations in the ‘light’, becoming conscious of being joined in time and space.  The experience of music is an even better illustration of time.  Pulsations and strings traverse us.  If we fragilise ourselves, we can increase our access [high aesthetic yet again] this is a necessary stage, although it cannot guarantee results.

Ettinger practices as an artist and psychoanalyst, and we can see her views in her online essay.  Respect is important in psychoanalysis and a bit rejected.  We possess maternal subjectivity from the start and we are attuned or vibrated to the female.  We’re talking here about femaleness not masculinity or femininity.  Encounter-events are shaped through inspiration [in the womb] and these are never lost although they can be ignored.  We have the capacity to transconnect and to share affects.  Our early experiences in the womb provide a unique encounter event [the event bit indicates that these take place over time]. This provides us with several elements to our unconscious.  Important separations among us, such as those arising from social class take place outside the matrixial [so we can ignore them? They seem FAR more important than this imagined matrixial stuff that we had in our first 9 months].

The matrixial offers a kind of jointness and difference, not the same as separation and split in Freudian psychoanalysis.  That [Lacanian?] account is only a model and we can relativize it, placing it amidst endless transconnections.  Jointness produces traces of trauma, and fantasy.  Something that shocked me can be collected by the other.  This should make us rethink politics, which is usually conceived as a matter of full identities, for example of nations: what is really at stake are circulating traces in a matrixial eros [can’t think why we have wars really].

Psychoanalysis needs more respect and compassion towards the subject, who should be treated as a non I.  This would involve more than empathy with the individual subject, because we were then miss the non I s [fancy justification for group therapy involving the family?].  Excessive individualism involves a split introduced into the matrixial.  This cuts us off from our own resources.  Empathy together with compassion is crucial, to preserve the primordial matrix.

We find the same phantasies in every analysis, for example: the mother, usually the mother, is devouring or abandoning me, or not concerned enough with me.  It is easy for the therapist to feel empathy with the subject, but they are really primary mother phantasies, universal and even necessary.  People need to phantasise and play with them, and their capacity to do this is stopped if they are treated as real.  Of course, some mothers really are devouring, and we can usually tell this by the inability of the subject to play with the phantasy of the missing mother.  The blockage can return over time as a source of hate and also as an inability to deal with one’s own capacity as a parent, which includes the need to be inadequate now and then.  Playing with the phantasy is required to overcome those future anxieties as well, and an inability to do so can lead to depression.  No one can be perfect and abandonment is a constant source of anxiety: phantasies help.

Poetry, like Plath’s and Pisanik’s can be analyzed.  Plath reports in her diaries how she asks her analyst about mother love.  The analyst empathises and strengthens her feelings of hate rather than love and compassion.  Plath is clearly looking for peace in terms of her mother’s love.  Aggression in the patient is acceptable, but the therapist needs compassion, otherwise they reproduce the uncaring mother.  There are lots of mother figures in Plath, including the Moon, and she clearly has a fear of becoming a horrible mother herself.  We can call this a Demeter and Persephone Complex, requiring us to openly play as parents and children, especially those of the same sex.  If we play using different positions of parents and children, old and young and so on, we can generate a stream of knowledge.

Both poets show the desire to contact a non I, the quest for the matrixial.  Plath’s suicide has been much discussed, but can be seen as her longing to be able to enjoy that non life out of which life comes, to be a pre-mother.  This was confused with death and the death instinct.  Other poems also ‘speak for the matrixial’ by appearing to be about death.

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