S. Ronchey, Chalk Lines, in L. Preta (a cura di), Geographies of Psychoanalysis: Encounters Between Cultures in Teheran. Proceedings of the 3rd Conference on Geographies of Psychoanalysis (Tehran, 16-17 October 2014), Sesto San Giovanni, Mimesis, 2015, pp. 111-118.
“Chalk lines: geography and the history of conflict”
At the foundation of the baffling, reductive, and tranquilising interpretation of the traumatic beginning of the third millennium as “a clash of civilisations” is the denial of what Thucydides called “the primary causes” that unleash the multiple conflicts often described by this single phrase beginning, that is, with the idea or dialectical fantasy of a conflict ‘between two entities’: negation or collective denial of the complexity of conflicts between ethnicities, the transversality of coalitions and alliances, the multiplicity and complexity of opposing parties, of their resistance being reduced to dualistic opposition.
It seems as if it is almost to exorcise the seismic clustering of conflicts that have opened our century - the continual asymmetrical drawing of new fault lines - that the Western psyche tries to interpret it as ‘one, discrete’ head-on collision. It is as if Western memory were precluded from understanding the real, multiple nature of conflict and its initial causes by the re-emergence of old complexes or collective trauma: feelings of guilt over colonialism, earlier contradictions and violence inherent in the shaping of national identities, and even earlier than this, the ‘child-like’ memory of lost multi-ethnicity with its ancient taboos, frictions over complex and multiple tribal identities long buried.
Of course, multi-ethnicity is continuous conflict. But isn’t this also the case in a healthy psyche? Isn’t health perhaps tempered conflict? This is why investigating its ‘geographies’ leads psychoanalysis to explore horizontally and vertically. This is why a geography of psychoanalysis can only be achieved by historical, vertical reconstruction of the multiplicity of conflicts and coexistence with conflict. But digging into the past – of the individual as of civilisations – requires assistance and method: the vigilant attention of psychoanalysis.