HE.S.T.A.F.T.A. - Scientific Society of Mental Health Professionals


  • Marcelo Pakman

*A version of this paper was published with the same title as a chapter in I.Mc Carthy y G.Simon (eds.), Systemic Therapy as Transformative Practice (2016), chapter 24, Everything is Connected, Farnhill, United Kingdom, pages 386-400. It has been expanded with comments  with appropriate references

Being prepared for an event consist in being in a state of mind where one is aware that the order of the world or the prevailing powers don't have absolute control of the possibilities (Badiou with Tardy 2013, p.13).

Robert tells me he fears that his productivity will not be up to the standards of the business he works for. The job promotion he expected may not happen, and he even fears loosing his job. Robert describes the situation in a sober and somewhat guarded way but similar situations brought by members of different types of organizations come to my mind. These include people tormented by physical symptoms of stress, compounded with the use of street drugs as a way out of those tensions; those with relational problems with their spouses and/or conflicts with their children; people dealing with a lack of communication with friends frequently immersed in similar crises, among others difficulties. Robert says: "It would be unfair to be seen and exposed as incompetent." He appears concerned, but I have an unclear sense of the way this is affecting him. When I ask him to elaborate more specifically, he remains vague. He has volunteered to present a situation to work on our during a workshop I am conducting concerning conflicting situations in everyday life. I respect his vagueness trying to remain within the boundaries of this setting. When I ask Robert: "Who knows about your concerns?," he says: "I talk with my wife... We joke about it with friends... some people working with me... but we do not discuss it much really". I ask about the jokes and he says: "Oh, those jokes, you know, about bosses... and allusions to getting the one way ticket out.... But I have not believed I needed a therapist for this. It is a job problem basically... Not personal." While I listen to him, I think that, although these situations seemed to be more frequent among men, I have heard women involved in business organizations in different capacities talking about similar struggles and fears while focusing on the "invisible ceiling" restricting them to compensation inferior to men in comparable positions. But women seemed able to discuss more easily these situations with friends (mostly women as well) in ways other than jokes about peers and bosses that men more typically make. This includes the difficulty in addressing what their males colleagues refer to as "human factors". Robert stresses that his fear is not unfounded. He has been part of performance evaluation meetings in front of peers that were typically the stage for the public exposure of the employees' inability to deal with the so called "challenges" of their jobs. He says, talking about his coworkers: "I wouldn't like to be in their shoes...I don't know...it's humiliating". I feel closer to him when he says this, and I remember being touched at other times by people's voices shaking in anticipation of similar meetings.

Change and power

I invite you to read Robert's situation that follows in light of my previous developments on systemic therapy as a critical social practice (1998, 2005). While sharing Gregory Bateson's misgivings about the anti-ecological role of conscious purpose leading human interventions (1968a and b), I have further elaborated about the way unexpected openings in given situations can initiate events of discontinuous change. Attention to these types of openings requires a sensibility for events on the part of those working within those problematic situations. This sensibility is accompanied subjectively by what Badiou in our epigraph calls “states of mind”, a receptivity that goes beyond the “conscious purposes” for change of those intervening. Aware that this attention to events of discontinuous change enriches the systemic field as long as it is both practically and theoretically legitimized, I have been working toward this legitimization. Thus  critical-poetic  position I have developed, having as starting point a practice in psychotherapy and mental health institutional work, articulates two elements. The first element is a  critical  (and necessarily self-critical) approach that works to effectively reduce the repetition of social cliches by therapist, thus trying to support the maintenance of their usual professional identities and of the power relations they adopt willingly or unwillingly, amounting to a process of subjectivation/subjection. The second element is the promotion of poetic events that amplify points of resistance that operate as cores for discontinuous change to happen (Pakman, 2017).

This  critical-poetic position  follows on the steps of different traditions of argumentation that overtly introduced a political lens in systemic therapy. The concept of power, already central for strategic therapy, became central, related to politics, in narrative therapy (Michel White and David Epston, 1989, 1990, 1992) and also in the feminist perspectives of Marianne Walters, Betty Carter, Peggy Papp and Olga Silverstein (1988) who took a critical stance and addressed at times everyday personal experiences within couple and family therapy. Other narrative perspectives stressed also the concept of points of resistance to power (Todd and Wade 2004; Wade 2007), Shotter and Katz (1996) developed one of the variants of a dialogical perspective conceived as a social poetics, and Elkaim (1983) stressed singularity as a core for processes of therapeutic change. The critical-poetic position while following on the steps of these developments deviates however from both the empirical and the linguistic paradigms of structuralism and poststructuralism, bringing instead a rethinking of materiality, the concrete, the mundane, the real, events and the apparition of the world tackled by a post-poststructural current from the 70's on (Pakman, 2017) in the field of family therapy, and in philosophy not only in the oeuvre of Michel Foucault but also in approaches less known within family therapy such as those of Alain Badiou, Jean Luc Nancy, Jacques Rancière and Giorgio Agamben whose readings I have integrated in my own perspective.

This critical-poetic perspective also brings to attention and challenges what Hubert Dreyfus and Charles Taylor call the process of  disenchantment  of the world (2015) that accompanied the emergence and dominance of the Cartesian dualist paradigm (2010) between body as an extended substance ( Res extensa ) and mind as a thinking substance ( Res cogitans ) that was a constant preoccupation of Gregory Bateson. The constitutive processes of  abstraction  linked to this dualism survived its apparent decline up to the present and underlie the approaches based on scientific empiricism as well as those centered on the linguistic turn that became progressively dominant in social sciences and practices like psychotherapy over the last decade. Both dominant projects left behind, in spite of its apparent opposition, the  sensual singularity of   vivid experience . On the side of scientific projects, they intend to understand the abstract patternsbeyond the individual cases, being mostly oblivious to the processes of linguistic mediation of social, cultural and political origin. When language became the successor of mind or spirit — with the "death of God", the expression that became widespread with Nietzsche (2001, 2006) — the versions of linguistics that became dominant reduced language to processes of meaning making (Deleuze 2005, 2013). With the linguistic turn, these signifying processes, based on processes of  abstraction,  became increasingly foregrounded, leaving behind the extralinguistic world in spite of both the attempts to capture life with narratives and the warnings many authors, such as Jacques Derrida (in Kearney 1995, p.173), and Jean Baudrillard (2010), paradoxically quoted as promoters of the linguistic turn (Pakman, 2014). An idealistic form of linguistic hegemony (Badiou 2013) could then become a hallmark of a dominant trend in the social sciences and psychotherapy. As an important consequence of this movement, the concept of historical truth was unjustly devalued as a sign of univocal dogmatism and an expression of a now  passé  medieval theory of correspondence between words and things named by them.

The development of the critical-poetic position led me to assume certain concepts that widen our systemic understanding and deviate from their everyday definitions, inviting us to abandon not only some taken for granted meanings, but also assumed dominant subjective positions.


The meaning of the term  image  is usually linked to the classical philosophical polarity between essence and existence. If essence is in that dominant reading the ultimate reality of transcendent being, usually attributed to Plato (1991) and his Idea, existence would be the everyday impure copy or image of that ideal form. Furthermore, if existing objects are mere images of the Ideas it copies, everyday “images”, commonly understood as representations, would be  appearances  of those appearances of ultimate reality of the Idea, and thus doubly degraded forms of that reality. This mimetic conception of the image is also present in the productive view of everyday images as fictions because, even when they are not defined as copies, they are still considered unreal compared to what is actually present to our senses. Thus, this concept of the image as appearance, either as a copy of reality or as a fictive production without a mimetic goal but a creative one, has been naturalized as a common sense meaning.

Immanuel Kant was the first (1998) to abandon this classical polarity between essence and existence, reality and appearance, and to oppose instead phenomenal life, the only territory of the knowable, to the unknowable  noumenon  of things in themselves, thus, as Gilles Deleuze remarked (2006), founding phenomenology, in a broad sense of the term, understood as a critique of knowledge avoiding transcendental essences. This shift implied a momentous change in the conception of images that became  apparitions  of the world instead of being mere  appearances . With Jean-Luc Nancy (1997, 2008, 2012) we can understand that Kant'sconception of the image, that was linked still to a transcendental subject, becomes an ontology of worlds or realities making themselves present without assuming any transcendent place of origin or ultimate being, either divine or metaphysical, ideal or material, subjective or objective, conscious or unconscious. However, for Nancy (2005), this is not "the ordinary presence of the real" that would provide data directly to our sense perception, as a basis for an empirical scientific approach. In my reading of Nancy images, in all their modes, are discontinuously coming into existence as pulses of reality putting themselves forward, distinguishing themselves from a background created in the very act of presentation, and affirming the material exteriority of a world while always having, in principle, as they appear, a vivid textural quality (Pakman 2014, p.120). Thus, an image would be the  apparitionthe coming to presence or the birth to   _presence of the real of a world. _ Images would then be _poetic _ givens because the term _poiesis _ (Chateau 2014; Goyet 2014) also means coming to presence or appearing as existent.


A consequence of the adoption of the conception of the  image as apparition  is that  images , in their simultaneously sensual and material quality, belong to a dimension of  _sense _ (Nancy (1997, 2000, 2003, 2013). This conception breaks with the processes of abstraction that underly both scientific and linguistic turn projects. If, as we said, we conceive images as apparitions of worlds or realities, we legitimate that they offer themselves as vivid presences, and we participate in them in ways that are not limited to words or language. This does not represent a return to a naive realism, but it does deviate from the primacy of language as a meaning making process. As we will see, in this conception  sense is not a synonym of meaning  and then it does not follow those forms of linguistics that became a dominant discipline centering mostly on signifying processes and the signifier/signified distinction, stressing either of these two aspects (Deleuze 2005). This position aligns with many author's search for a dimension of language that could not be reduced to meaning. Thus I follow on the footsteps, within the systemic field, of the search for a dimension of communication distinct from meaning that was central to Gregory Bateson's ecology of mind. In this ecology ideas as units of communications are immanent to materiality and this allows for the logic of sacrament as opposed to that of the symbol (1979) as wells as for an idiosyncratic view of metaphor embodied in nature beyond language (1972).

The  sense  of the world is what we inhabit well before we learn to speak and we are taken by language into what Lacan would refer to as a symbolic order (2007), or in what Giorgio Agamben (1993, 1995) called the inaugural moment of disjunction between the living subject and the speaking subject. Systemic biologist Francisco Varela (2010) also showed how, with the acquisition of language, a discontinuity occurs that amounts to a lack of the primordial body within this more evolved sociolinguistic forms of meaning making, allowing us to speak about discrete objects in an abstract and detached way. For Nancy (2001), this preverbal dimension of language precipitates around the term  sense  and becomes part of an ontology that reaches the extra linguistic world. The mind cannot be the origin of images because they belong to the dimension of sense that precedes and exceeds the constitution of the speaking subject; there is no world to which we add a meaning from outside but  a world that is already sense . Sense is then a dimension that precedes and exceeds the dimension of representation or meaning and becomes constitutive of our being in the world.

_Sense _ thus becomes the center of the continuity between life and language that GregoryBateson and Francisco Varela (1991, et al. 2011) had already stressed within the systemic field. It precedes it because it is the dimension of what I have called,  the ecology of the lap  in which we all live before we acquire language as signifying processes to talk, for instance, about this or that object of the world. However, it exceeds the meaning of speech because, no matter how hidden that language before speech may appear, once meaningful speech acquires primacy, the complex processes of the sensory-motor  ecology of the lap  are still present within the world of representations without being reducible to them (Pakman, 2014). The dance of intuited directions in a given interaction, the sense of fear or comfort, the many subtle although blurry channels of communication between or within people, even the communication between people and domestic animals, the insinuated understandings in a culture whose language we do not know at all, the ethos of a people, the everyday poetic expertise of an artisan, among other phenomena, all bear witness to a language that is not based on meaning and that is prior to speech while it persists as a testimony of the ecology of the lap.


Going back to our clinical situation, we encounter first and image of an institution in which Robert feels fearful and fragile. Sensitive to this image, I let other images to inhabit the situation as memories of other people, institutions, and fears. I am touched by the simultaneous vagueness of the presentation. Still other images appear as thoughts — men, women, friendships, "human factors," psychotherapies — all come forward in a rapid succession of fragmentary presentations of a complex situation, always pertinent to the  sense  of this situation, not of its meanings, multiple and unclear, unknown or even unknowable. I feel then touched by Robert's fear anticipating a meeting to evaluate his performance. Also, images touch each other in a "contagious" way (Nancy 2005) such as when I present images to you as readers and you put them together with your own images of the world, be they memories, perceptions, thoughts, and/or emotions.  Imagination  can be conceived as the work one creates with these images, a composition putting them next to the each other, one with the other, one through the other, instead of being, as in academic psychology, a mental function of the individual mind along the lines of perception, memory, thought, emotion, attention, whatever definition of it were given (Pakman 2014). Instead of being this productive function of images understood as fictive, i magination is an experiment of making images composible with each other.  Perceptions, rational thoughts, fictionalizations, memories, emotions would be only modes of these images or apparitions, and the boundaries among them could vary according to how these images are composed in the work of imagination that puts them together. But this attempt at "composing" images, to use a term of long philosophical tradition (Deleuze 2006, 2008), without the composition destroying any of them but holding them together, is not for the sake of a unity, but of a continuous navigation within a life whose sense we sustain, despite the fragmentary quality of its coming to presence, without a thorough comprehension of the meanings at play.

Robert's initial presentation of his predicament was vague and could easily escape our attention and pass by as a superficial allusion. However, I persisted in order to secure a place for these images of fluctuating intensity, responding sympathetically to Robert account of his fear of performance meetings, which he qualified himself, although in passing, as humiliating. I asked: "Do you know Robert why the organization sets up a ritual that risks publicly humiliating people?" He appears surprised and says, "Well...no... I know these people.. don't get me wrong...I appreciate them.. They know their stuff..." and then he tries to rapidly change the subject saying, "Every job has its difficult moments... I don't know. Any advice?" I continued trying to put together both images displayed before me that we now inhabited — not only Robert's fear about his performance evaluation and of potential humiliation his supervisors could inflict, but also his reluctance to share his fears, his vagueness while doing it, and then his retreat and his quasi excuse of the organization. So I said, "I am thinking that as much as you extend your understanding and your appreciation of your organization, you feel you are in a difficult position and you fear what can happen and also going through some of the bad things your colleagues went through." But suddenly and surprisingly, a new person appeared in Robert, who increased even further his support for the organization, stating, "It is a mandate of good business: you shall not have emotional considerations based on friendship interfering with the principles of efficiency. And  our  enterprise is one of the leading ones in our field". The anguished person with difficulties with the organization was gone, and now I felt I was with one of his employers. His use of the plural signaled my exclusion of an organization he was actively supporting. I thought he also wanted to emulate his bosses with the thought that, if successful, he could be the one doing those performance evaluations to others in public meetings. But after a pause he said, "You have to be confidential when you discipline people..." At first I wondered if he was returning to a critical position of the organization, but he added, "It is tough out there. People can take advantage of knowing that someone is in trouble." So I said: "So, do you mean there are public meetings that could make you feel humiliated if you don't fare well but there are also confidential meetings, still difficult if they are disciplining you, but at least protective of people from colleagues taking advantage of them?" He confirmed, "That is exactly right." He didn't take my cue about humiliation still being present and problematic, nor my stressing that both situations were difficult and the organization only protecting against people taking advantage in terms of business but not from humiliation. I thought that, in that Hobbesian world, the fear of colleagues taking advantage combined with the fear of public humiliation, as well as the "protection" the organization employed was ensuring that collegiality would not be a source of resistance to the rules of the game, so typical of the macropolitics of "free" market organizations. I asked, "Does all this functioning affect friendships?" He said: "It helps actually.  They  are very ethical in this regard. They would not protect people based on personal reasons, sympathies or friendships. We are all equal over there."

Presence and intensities of existence

The sequence shows how images, although being all in principle apparitions of realities, do not always have the same value as materials for imagination to work with because, as Alain Badiou conceptualizes it (2009, 2013), realities do not have a digital quality as if they either exist or they do not, but have instead different  intensities of existence  that can go between a maximum and a minimum. In Robert's situation the rules of the organization he works for maintain certain realities at a low level of existence: his fears of potential humiliation, of loosing his job, of not having a place to talk about this, the impact this may have on his friendships, his family and emotional life in general, his assumption of a different ethics that may conflict with some of the practices of the organization (as shown by his vagueness to talk about these issues), his oscillating identification and distancing from those he works for, etc. For Badiou (2005) what is presented in a situation could count more or less in terms of how it becomes represented. Besides, the movement from being to existence, thus starting to count for a given situation, amounts to a p resentation . Although what has been already represented makes for the official  _state of the situation _ (Badiou 2007), realities are made also of what is already presented but not represented in language or inscriptions . Thus Badiou brakes with the concept that existencenecessarily requires signifying language. Reading Badiou with Nancy, we could say that the realities of everyday life come to presence in a way similar to my reading of Nancy's concept of images as apparitions to existence (Pakman 2014). There is then what is present without existing at a significant level or without counting as an element of the situation, be it idea, emotion, perception, fiction. And in terms of the dimension of poetic sense, there is also what is present in speech as an expression, which is not ineffable, although it doesn't have a clear and distinct meaning. Between what is signified and what is ineffable there is the  dimension of presentation,   sense, images that imagination works with . Coming to existence is a process of localization ofbeing in a situation in which some realities acquire different intensities according to the rules of the situation in which they appear (Badiou 2009).

Macropolitics and micropolitics

The ideology Robert is presenting with his volte-face from his initial concerns is part of the standard macropolitical  statu quo  of a capitalist enterprise. But macropolitics at the social level is not conveyed automatically to the level of lived experience without micropolitical processes where the social and the mental become intertwined. At this level the social is embodied in lived experience, and the mental shows its social constitution. I call  micropolitics of   _a given situation to the creation, maintenance and regulation, both explicit and implicit, of objectifying mechanisms of subjectivation/subjection of the human experience _ (Pakman 2011).Micropolitics, adopted by explicit or implicit consent, makes lives to be caught in a repetition of prescribed emotions and of ways of relating to each other, of criteria of normalcy and of pathology, of sexual mores and of linguistic fashions, of opinions and of intimate behaviors, of tastes and distastes; in sum, the whole human gamut of ways of being, behaving and relating to each other. We are equally exposed to these dominant micropolitical forces not only as individual citizens but also as practitioners and members of professionals groups, risking to add our actions and the therapeutic models guiding us to those repetitive scripts. Politics is a concept linked originally to the rationality and logical government of the Greek  polis , the city and, by extension, of entire populations, instrumented by the monarch and later on by the state, political parties and socio-cultural sectors. Micropolítics is a different, supplementary level of the local government of self and others, which has been variously conceived in relation to everyday power relations and discourses (Foucault, 2011), the productivity of human desire (Deleuze & Guattari, 1983) and the transversal or horizontal relations among socio-cultural and political aspects of our societies (Pakman, 2017).

Within a critical-poetic position micropolitics is then the creation, maintenance and regulation, both explicit and implicit, of mechanisms that objectify human experiences (Pakman 2017).  Micropolitics  is articulated by  four  elements that were explored by Michel Foucault (2000):

  • 1 - P ower relations  that operate as  dividing practices , separating, for instance, normals from abnormals (2003) or dividing people internally between aspects, like body and soul, or consciousness and the unconscious. This is a distributed, local, positive and horizontal  power , unlike the sovereign or state, the repressive and vertical power at work inmacropolitics (Foucault 1980, 2000).

  • 2 -  Knowledge  includes both what is  said  and what is  seen  at a given social moment within historical formations (Foucault 1985, 1994; Deleuze 2013). Power/knowledge is articulated in  apparatuses  that, in Agamben's reading of Foucault are: "Anything that has in some way the capacity to capture, orient, determine, intercept, model, control, or secure the gestures, behaviors, opinions, or discourses of living beings" (2009, p.14).

  • 3 -  Subjectivities  are both the  identities  and the  subjective positions of enunciation  that we assume as micropolitical subjects, acting as agents who create, support and maintain the apparatuses while, at the same time, being shaped by them. Thus they become objects of knowledge and points of origin and application of power relations (Foucault 1985, 2008; Pakman 2011).

  • 4 - The  social imaginary  made of images that instead of being marginalized to a low level of existence, as in Robert's case, acquire a high level of intensity, but only as a sensual everyday illustration of certain dominant meanings, as it happens when Robert displays the preferred emotions, ideas, ways of talking, attitudes, clothing, gestures, etc. that come with being part of, for instance, his successful organization. Images either marginalized or incorporated into the social imaginary find difficult to enter into the work of imagination. Thus, the social imaginary becomes central to the configuration of micropolitics as life scripts guiding our whole life in what Jacques Rancière considers a  partition of the sensible : what to say and not to say, what to perceive and not to perceive, etc. (2000).


Unlike the concepts of  image  and of  imagination , both of which have been largely unexplored in the systemic context or taken in their everyday meaning without further elaboration or the concept of  sense  whose territory has been only signaled under other names, the concept of power as related to politics has occupied center stage in the systemic field. This is seen in the work of, for instance, Michel White and David Epston (1989, 1990, 1992), Imelda McCarthy (2010) from a narrative, dialogical and feminist perspective, John Shotter from a dialogical perspective (1993), and the already mentioned feminist authors (Marianne Walters, Betty Carter, Peggy Papp and Olga Silverstein 1988), among others.

Our conception of power adds and important element, not only distinguishing macro from micropolitics, but also stressing the way that micropolitical forces  do not  dominate, coerce or control us as it is especially apparent in dictatorial systems. Instead, micropolitics works by  _consent _ in what Antonio Gramsci elaborated as processes of _hegemony _ (1991, 1996, 2007). Butconsent, unlike the coercion exercised by regimes of domination, is never totally granted and requires the consideration of the autonomy of those giving consent either explicitly or implicitly (Pakman 2017) . Although the boundaries and the balance between coercion and consent are always mobile and at the macropolitical level the more resistance a system encounters the more its tendency to slide towards coercion, the hegemonic everyday element is secured by a subject able to govern him/herself in freedom, what has also been stressed by Foucault (2011). We witness  hegemony  at work when all of a sudden Robert switches to speak as one of his feared employers and praises their ethical stance while going against his own emotional expression and collegiality. Hegemonic freedom in not simply a mechanism of co-optation, and it is always open to being reversed and put at the service of what can actually oppose the rules of the system. As Foucault insisted, wherever there are mechanisms of power relations there are  points of   _resistance _ (2000), a concept that Alan Wade (2007) with Linda Coates (2005) and Nick Todd(2004) have used in the systemic field from a narrative perspective without the incorporation of the micropolitical distinction or this hegemonic element.

Poetic events

With the work of imagination starting from these points of resistance within the micropolitically shaped situations, certain images can be either amplified to increase its intensity of existence or rescued from the social imaginary. In this way they can be put to the service of what can become a  poetic singular event , deviating in a transformative way from the life scripts adopted thus far and going beyond assumed identities and subjective positions, including our own usual positions concomitant to our assumed models of therapy.

While dominant micropolitics tends to favor repetition, through the daily management of preferred and abstract meanings,  poiesis , usually translated as production but meaning also birth, coming to presence or apparition, is the always latent instrument of resistance to micropolitics, with the potentiality to configure transformative singular events (Pakman 2017). In Robert's case his initial anguish, his sharing of his fears of loosing his job, his sense of humiliation about the public performance meetings, his varied attachment to the use of the plural to talk about the organization he works for, can operate as  points of resistance . Unpredictably, even to myself, I present him with this image, "I remembered, while is was listening to you, of the Moscow trials during the Stalinist era. Have you heard about them?" When he says he knows about Stalin but not about the trials, I tell him, "For a few years in the 30's several trials happened in Moscow against people accused of conspiring against the soviet state, although they have been companions during the Revolution and close friends in some cases. Most people, against their own interest, confessed and were punished with death or imprisonment. Although they were partly coerced by threats to their families and torture, many scholars who studied these processes agree that many self accusations were genuine and that these really believed they deserved to be punished for deviating from the behavior of good citizens, they felt they were guilty in spirit if not in fact. "Robert leans forward and takes a breath indicating he wants to say something. I wait while he makes a long pause and then says, "They had been friends, that's killing me." "Why so?" I ask him and he tells me that "it doesn't have to happen within communism only, right? Because this is capitalism all right... And yet, you just touched something that is tearing me apart." So I tell him, "It is not me, it is our old visitors from Moscow who are bringing us news." He smiles and says, "I am sacrificing a lot, even friendships." "What do you mean?" I ask him. And he says with teary eyes: "I stopped talking even to people that were friends more than just colleagues and all because it was not good to share business and ... It is mistrust. People can be promoted or fall behind and ... Friendship is difficult then... Even if they are not my only friends, they could understand better what we deal with over there..." When I give room to the fleeting appearance of the Moscow trials, an exercise of  poetic sensibility  to potential events prompted by the points of resistance to the dominant micropolitics of the situation, we are not just making an analogy or using a metaphor. In spite of the shortcomings of this uninvited presence in terms of its meanings, we are taking an image from the social imaginary where they illustrate the wrongs of a regime and we put it to use in imagination to become a vivid enhancer of what was otherwise marginal to the hegemonic micropolitics Robert was sustaining. Thus, a poetic event takes shape that carries both of us beyond our subjectivities, and a new agency appears around this unique singular presence in the micro community we configure at that moment, and I invite you to participate in right now. Driven by this poetic event Robert has a dilemma both pragmatical and ethical more than a solution or a dissociated conflict within a dominant micropolitical conflict. A careful exploration of this enhanced presence of otherwise devalued friendships can now be experimented within imagination, putting it together with all the complex aspects of the situation at hand. This is not an abstract condemnation of capitalistic logic but a vivid engagement with a limited human situation. I say, "Now you have a dilemma Robert: can you have this type of job that you value and need, within this or another organization, without sacrificing something you feel central to your life as well?" He says, "It is a tough one. I cannot afford loosing the job, nor [sic] I probably want to but there are other people feeling this way... I have to think and talk about this but at least I don't really have to be more of a papist than the Pope!"

Between the impotence felt from hard realities and the elusive pseudo transformation of abstract words of good intention, it is possible for a different conception of imagination to carry forward singular presences against the commonplace and the clichés plaguing both human problems and human solutions, therapeutic or otherwise. Thus it can foster poetic events that do not have to be earth shattering to be transformative of lived experience within the local communities of social interventions. To affirm a critical position of the dominant micropolitics makes room for a poetics and to affirm a poetics amounts to exercising a critical practice as an effective distancing of that otherwise acritical micropolitics that tend to be adopted and repeated. Through poetic events born from singular occurrences of perceptions, emotions, fictions or thoughts usually marginalized or limited to a narrow meaning functional to the structure of the dominant micropolitics of concrete and specific life situations, the singular potentiality of human beings becomes efficacious at the specific locus of concrete therapeutic encounters (Pakman 2017).

If, as Badiou has Socrates say in his version of  Plato's Republic , "the proper virtue of the human species is justice!"(2012 p.12), the critical poetic perspective I have outlined embodies an ethics of truth that, far from enforcing it dogmatically or bringing back a correspondence between signs and realities, opens us up to unique events in the flesh of life and beyond the known (2018). Critical social practice meets then a poetics of change.


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ARTICLE 4/ ISSUE 14, April 2019

The Persians: The Tragedy by Aeschylus and the Individual and Collective Therapeutic Extentions that Rise from it

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