At first, I did not know why I was weeping inconsolably upon seeing the image of George Floyd’s naked face as his neck was crushed by the knee of a man fully armed with police gear and, more strikingly, a look of total nonchalance. I did not know why I could not bear watching the video of one human, so unmoved, with such ease, squeezing the life out of another human being who was squirming, pleading, begging, calling for his momma.
In explicating the thought of Socrates, Nietzsche wrote that philosophy was an effort “to harm stupidity” (The Gay Science, §328). According to Nietzsche, humanism teaches us that it is our egotism that is to blame for our misery. Socrates taught the youth of Athens that it is our thoughtlessness that is to blame.
There is a psychic fissure in America’s exceedingly fragile democratic body politic. In the face of political tribalism and an awakened and reinvigorated far-right white nationalist movement in America, civil servants (nonelected career public servants) from the Departments of State, Defense, NSC, and elsewhere have come forward to testify truth to congressional power, attesting to the impeachable actions of the Trump administration—actions that depict a criminal and amoral public enterprise. These nonpartisan officials are bearing witness and speaking truth to power, regardless of whether siloed Republican representatives of the House and their counterparts in the Senate are willing to hear the critical testimony of federal bureaucrats.
Crossing borders in the recent past was probably less confusing and demanding than it is now. Institutions, social norms, and rituals made borders more rigid, and prior to the digital revolution and hyperglobalization, borders were more stable.
I am sitting in my office, thinking about rooms. Writing for Room has prompted this state of reverie, during which one of my favorite works, A Room of One’s Own, passes through my mind. In her essay, Virginia Woolf writes of the necessity for women to have money and a room of their own in order to write fiction.
A young man came to see me suffering from what he described as an “identity crisis.” He felt lost and didn’t know who he was or what he wanted. His family had fled from their country of origin during a time of war and could no longer return without the threat of imprisonment or death.
The day in April that Ivanka Trump appeared on the dais with Angela Merkel at the Women’s Summit in Berlin, I was in my office. I was listening to a vibrant and astute young woman in her twenties as she confessed, a little sheepishly, that her new shirt had “trendy” sleeves…
For the previous issue of ROOM, I contributed a piece that argued against the idealization of tolerance, diversity and understanding that I see so many in the psychoanalytic community currently engaged in. I’m aware that some readers…
I try to rise up each time the pits of Trump fears and anger draw me down. Many people speak of the tangle of old fears…
Ani Buk is a Training Analyst and on Faculty at the Contemporary Freudian Society and the Graduate Art Therapy Program of New York University, as well as the Kint Institute, a post-graduate program focused on the use of the creative arts therapies to treat traumatized populations.