In the Time of a Pandemic: Psychoanalysis and Risk
Seminar with Jamieson Webster
- At capacity -
This is an online seminar and will take place on Zoom.
Date: June 6, 2020
Time: 2-4pm EST (2 hours)
Capacity: 15 participants
Cost: $25-75 (Sliding scale, discounted from $40-90)
Note: This workshop is free for mental health and frontline health workers. Please make a note of this in your registration.
In the time of a pandemic we re-evaluate the question of life and death—and how it applies to our own our life and has been rendered by our respective societies. We don’t just reconsider what risks we are willing to take as individuals facing the prospect of an unseeable enemy, but we also ask what risks society takes, or doesn’t take, on behalf of its citizens. The psychoanalyst Anne Defourmantelle opens her book, In Praise of Risk with these words: "Life is an unacknowledged risk taken by us, the living.” She goes on to ask how we can think of risk in terms of life, rather than just death, and moves through a series of meditations on risk. Tragically, and prophetically, Anne Defourmantelle died recently while saving the life of a child who was drowning.
In this seminar, psychoanalyst and writer Jamieson Webster takes up the question of the pandemic through the lens of risk, thinking about what psychoanalysis tells us about the exigency of action in life and death situations. We will look at two sides of a coin that belong together: one on side, there are symptoms, anxiety, inhibition, panic, and fear, and on the other, there is courage, risk, action, creation, and decision. Furthermore, this seminar asks what kind of writing can come from assessing these questions, in a moment of risk, first on an internal scale, and only then moving toward questions we must ask collectively, as highlighted by the coronavirus.
Participants will discuss readings done in advance of the seminar, including Jamieson Webster’s “Psychoanalysis in Time of Plague” and “End Notes: What Palliative Care Looks Like in a Pandemic” both published in April 2020 in the New York Review of Books Daily, and the first chapter of Anne Dufourmantelle’s In Praise of Risk (Fordham University Press, 2019): “To risk one’s life” (approx. 20 pages). Participants are also encouraged to bring relevant writing of their own to the seminar to share and discuss (no more than 900 words).
About the instructor
Jamieson Webster is a psychoanalyst in New York and author of Conversion Disorder (Columbia, 2018), Stay, Illusion! (Pantheon, 2013), The Life and Death of Psychoanalysis (Routlege, 2011). She has written often for The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, Artforum, Cabinet Magazine, Spike Art Quarterly, and in many psychoanalytic journals. She currently teaches at Princeton University, The New School for Social Research, and is a member of IPTAR and Das Unbehagen.
BUT COULD I MAKE A LIVING FROM IT?:
Poets on Jobs, Money, and Capitalism
Workshop with Stacy Szymaszek
This is an online workshop and will take place on Zoom
Tuesdays, June 16-July 14, 2020 (5 weeks)
Time: 5-6:30pm EST (1.5 hours)
Capacity: 15 participants
Cost: $100-300 (Sliding scale, $20-60/session, discounted from $30-60/session)
In 2011, Time Magazine asked John Ashbery if he made a living from his poetry, to which he said, “Heavens no. Gosh no. Shucks no. No, not at all.” The poet is in a bizarre situation of always having to do something else to meet our material needs—maybe poetry-adjacent, maybe not. Many of the poets we will be reading in this workshop bridge the difference between making a living and making art by writing about work, registering varying manners of capitalist critique and antiauthoritarian/antibureaucratic spirit, using the tension that can arise when they have to participate, to some degree, in what they critique. The uniting factor of the readings is that all the poets (who are primarily US-based) bring an amazing vitality to the page by creating their own multidimensional, capacious, and just systems. Their lingual energy is whipped into an antidote against the despair we are meant to feel, by capitalist design, about the ordinary day, on an ongoing basis. Pandemic days are not ordinary days—the cruelty of the design has been made ever-more transparent. Poets are the artists, the inventors, we can go to for a new, un-nostalgic normal.
Some preliminary questions to answer in conversation and in writing throughout the workshop: how often, and why, is the poet asked to justify their existence by explaining the use/value/role of poetry? If you put your weekly pay, or deficit, in a poem what happens to that number? Why is the US dollar bill so creepy? We’ll discuss the reading and share our own writing inspired by the readings during class.
Some of the poets whose work we’ll read are: Wanda Coleman, Krystal Languell, Nikki Wallschlaeger, Ryan Eckes, Bernadette Mayer, Stephanie Young, Daniel Davidson, Jeff Derksen, Maged Zahar, Kevin Davies, Judy Grahn, Chris Nealon, Lorenzo Thomas, Hattie Gossett, Mónica de la Torre, Minnie Bruce Pratt, Simone White, the Worker Writers COVID haiku project, and poems from the anthology Ritual and Capital. Participants will be able to add to a growing bibliography on the subject.
About the instructor
Stacy Szymaszek is the author of the books Emptied of All Ships (2005), Hyperglossia (2009), hart island (2015), Journal of Ugly Sites and Other Journals (2016), which won the Ottoline Prize from Fence Books and was nominated for a Lambda Literary Award in 2017, and A Year From Today (2018 ). From 2007-2018, she was the director of The Poetry Project at St. Mark's Church. Since then, she has been a recipient of a 2019 Foundation for Contemporary Arts grant in poetry, the Hugo Visiting Writer at the University of Montana-Missoula, Poet-in-Resident at Brown University, and Visiting Poet for Fire Island Artist Residency. Her sixth book, Famous Hermits, will be published in 2021.
"Poets at Work!" Star Tribune illustration by L.K. Hanson