11 January 2016

the infinite tweet

'As concepts such as "good enough" mothering suggest, Winnicott is a fairly sanguine soul. But he also takes pains to remind us what a baby will experience should the holding environment not be good enough:
The primitive agonies

Falling for ever
All kinds of disintegration
Things that disunite the psyche and the body

the fruits of privation
going to pieces
falling for ever
dying and dying and dying
losing all vestige of hope of the renewal of contacts

One could argue that Winnicott is speaking metaphorically here – as Michael Snediker has said in a more adult context: "One doesn't really shatter when one is fucked, despite Bersani's accounts of it as such." But while a baby may not die when its holding environment fails, it may indeed die and die and die. The question of what a psyche or a soul can experience depends, in large part, on what you believe it's made of: Spirit is matter reduced to an extreme thinness: 0 so thin!

In any case, Winnicott notably describes "the primitive agonies" not as lacks or voids, but as substantives: "fruits."'

—Maggie Nelson, The Argonauts

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