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Matthew Oyer Introduction

Division/Review Community Psychoanalysis Issue: Introduction

Matthew OYER

Dear reader,

Thank you for opening our special issue of Division/Review devoted to this enigmatic conjunction, “community psychoanalysis.” It is a home that feels appropriate: a division of an organization, a small community, and also a mark of that which divides me from you and both of us from ourselves, which we can, perhaps, review but never mend. Our measure in common.

It seems that in these days of distress—in this way, ordinary days—something has been given us in common, to which we also have to respond commonly…That something which one may call misfortune, but which one also has to leave nameless, can in a certain way, be common. Which is mysterious, maybe a delusion, maybe unutterably true. (Maurice Blanchot, letter to Georges Bataille, 1983/1988, p.xiii)

We live in the ruins of the names, find hiding places among their desiccated husks, ever waiting to be found, bracing for it. Will it yet come?

The lack of divine names—the suspension of prayer, or worship—would thus be a way for the sacred to keep itself in reserve, to withhold itself, and as a consequence, thereby to offer itself, to offer itself in reserve, both as its own reserve and as its own withdrawal. (Nancy, 1991, p.120)

I encounter you there, where the name withdraws. I am gutted, wordless. I cry out. I offer you my voice, these invocatory entrails. Is it a gift, this exposure? Is it an exposition, this potlatch? Is it a rock placed upon a pile of stones, here at the furthest edge of the known lands? It is almost winter now, foreshortened days of letters never written, never sent. No storyteller stands before the hearth. There is no hearth. We live on the other side of myth.

Interruption occurs at the edge, or rather it constitutes the edge where beings touch each other, expose themselves to each other and separate from one another, thus communicating and propagating their community. On this edge, destined to this edge and called forth by its interruption, there is a passion. This is, if you will, what remains of myth, or rather it is itself the interruption of myth.

(Nancy, 1991, p.61)

One of the contributors to this issue asked me once why I do it, this whatever-it-is of community psychoanalysis, and I was brought up short, embarrassed. It felt like I was being asked to place some object in the place of hope. I think beyond the superficies of my weekly to-do lists, I have little commerce with hope.

From this edge that is the interruption of myth, the absence of hope, I write this letter to you who would still dream of community, let pass this reserve from voice to voice, from body to body.

It is, somehow, to live on, at, and for the limit of death where what counts is not what, according to the discourses that regulate our lives, is essential (that I survive, that you survive) but what is the surplus (that I, that you endured the chilling touch of death against all odds). That moment may be fragile, lethal, but it is the only genuine contact we have. (Michaeli, 2020)

this is the region where those we’ve caught up with are resting . . . They pay off the debt that sparked their origin, they pay it off because of a word that exists unjustly, like summer. (Celan, 1955/2001)

I would wish to make known my gratitude to this small community—the ones we’ve caught up with and who are resting now and those who carry forth the task that has been left them. z


Blanchot, M. (1988). The unavowable community (P. Joris, Trans.). Station Hill Press. (Original work published 1983)

Celan, P. (2001). Nocturnally pursed. In J. Felstiner (Trans.), Selected poems and prose of Paul Celan (pp.68-69). Norton. (Original work published 1955)

Michaeli, L. (2020). Affording intimacy. The Philosophical Salon. https://thephilosophicalsalon. com/affording-intimacy/

Nancy, J. L. (1991). The inoperative community (P. Connor, Ed. & Trans.). University of Minnesota Press.