Psychoanalysis, Deconstruction, Hodoeporics: Tabucchi

By Smith, Jonathan | Annali d'Italianistica, Annual 2003 | Go to article overview

Psychoanalysis, Deconstruction, Hodoeporics: Tabucchi


Smith, Jonathan, Annali d'Italianistica


Ma a lei perche interessano le storie altrui? Anche lei deve essere incapace a riempire i vuoti fra le cose. Non le sono sufficienti i suoi propri sogni?

(Piccoli equivoci senza importanza 46)

Tabucchi's fictions echo and mimic each other in a complex event of meaning, here studied in the hodoeporic strategy launched by Piazza d'Italia (1975; written 1973) and "Il gioco del rovescio" (1981; written 1978; Il gioco del rovescio 11-24). (1) These works are informed by elements of psychoanalysis cognate with those deployed in Tabucchi's 1990 volume on Pessoa (considered in section I), and illuminated by a sketch of the global (or galactic) event given in Il piccolo naviglio (1978; written 1975): (2) this second novel is examined in section III, with an uncollected Pessoa essay and the 1988 preface to Il gioco. Sections II and IV respectively consider hodoeporics and psychoanalysis in Piazza d'Italia, and in "Il gioco." Partly following Derrida, the story re-positions psychoanalysis relative to Pessoa, in a different configuration from that of the criticism, and in Tabucchi's first hodoeporic setting. It also fictionalizes a context for Piazza d'Italia, reinterpreting the novel as an effect of narcissism: by de-stabilizing the novel's emblematic presentation of Italian history, and the subject position it presupposes, the hodoeporic demarche initiates an analysis of subjective identities and objective realities continued in subsequent fictions. Section V sketches broader affinities between this project and Derrida's.

I. Tabucchi privileges The Ego and the Id (1923), (3) but exploits the pivotal essay On Narcissism (1914), the uncompleted systematization of the Papers on Metapsychology (1915-17), the elaborately speculative Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1920), and Freud's excursion into social thought in Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego (1921). (4) On Narcissism canvasses the priority of instincts of self-preservation, self-regard, and self-aggrandizement over those investing external objects, but this is reversed in The Ego and the Id: the ego, and the instincts invested in it, are now specialized portions of the id. This narrative is complicated, however, by a conception of regressive narcissistic identification sketched in 1914, developed in Mourning and Melancholia to decipher gratification in inaccessible objects or in redundantly excessive mourning over them, and re-appearing in Group Psychology to account for the distinction between sensual and idealizing love, and for compulsive commitments to groups, their leaders, and their ideals. The Ego and the Id develops these arguments into a general model of sublimation, marking a path from (Oedipal) object loss, via narcissistic re-investment in the ego, to a de-sexualized one in new objects and aims: still revising conceptions sketched in The Interpretation of Dreams (1900), Freud now gives the first systematic exposition of the aggressive and self-punishing superego's emergence from the dissolution of the Oedipus complex to channel the id's energies into identification with received values. (5)

Despite these Freudian presuppositions of the fiction, explicit psychoanalytic reference enters the Pessoa criticism in a 1977 interview where Zanzotto interprets the heteronymic poetry in Lacanian terms Tabucchi too will exploit (Un baule 114-22). These include, first, the bars annotating division of consciousness from unconscious desire, and of signified meaning from the organization of the signifier structuring the unconscious, and, then, the three orders of the Imaginary (in which consciousness mis-recognizes itself, narcissistically, as rejoicing in a physical and moral integrity it cannot allow others, either in principle or in practice), the Symbolic (in which it has structural conditions of possibility so barred from view that it can have only the most intermittent success in achieving either truthfulness or communication), and the Real, in which it intermittently suffers helpless incapacity relative to these demands (119). …

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