Paul Bothorel – Post Hoc Exsilium Ostende

The Letter Issue 66-67 (Autumn 2017/Spring 2018) Pages 47-54

Post Hoc Exsilium Ostende

Paul Bothorel

This paper looks at the link that might exist between psychoanalysis and emigration within language, by examining the perspective that Freud, who emigrated to London towards the end of his life, gives us in “Moses and Monotheism”.

Keywords: Exile; language; psychoanalysis; loss; Moses.

First of all, I must tell you that I came up with this title in an instant, as a reply to Helen Sheehan’s pressing question. It brings to mind a Witz or a slip of the tongue…

I shall try to explore this further with you. This verse comes from a beautiful hymn to the Virgin Mary which is sung at Compline, at evening prayer. It evokes our position as humans; as separated beings exiled from the object of our desire which is within God; as children of Eve, exsules filii Hevae, that is to say, permanently excluded from earthly paradise, from Eden, awaiting celestial paradise and eternal felicity. So, we can follow this with Saint Paul, ‘For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known’. In another letter he evokes that future in which we will have full knowledge.

Thus, there is a homeland that is postulated, that of Heaven, where the lack of knowledge, the lack of being, the lack of words will be filled. It may be, also, that in Heaven I will speak the language of angels, free from the embarrassment of sex, as it is well known that angels do not have a gender. So, that will be the end of our position as wandering pilgrims on earth, as exiled, as perpetual migrants. Of course, we are not within the psychoanalytical lexicon, which offers no eschatology. Psychoanalysis does not have…

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