The 2015 attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris was widely interpreted as an attack on free speech, one of the latest in a series of such attacks that appear to be intended to intimidate journalists in relation to criticisms, or humour, in relation to specific religions. “Je suis Charlie” became a rallying call for worldwide protest. Over the ages, political and scientific discussion has often taken the form of argument. This can be healthy provided individuals are allowed to have a voice. However, humans are passionate creatures and argument is often associated with conflict, where individual voices may be derailed. In considering the conflict between the materialist and the idealist philosopher in the 19th Century, Hegel came to the conclusion that these two positions were both “moments” in a larger conversation. When one position is silenced, this becomes a lop-sided affair with a cost to the potential for development of self.
This tendency may be accentuated in global communities where the vast scale of interpersonal interaction requires individuals to develop beyond the requirements of tribal societies (such as Australian Indigenous Dreaming Cultures) where personal dreaming could form the basis for connection and belonging within a more limited interpersonal sphere. To share “dreaming” requires a person to be in touch with an inner world and to have a sense of its relevance to environmental connection. This amounts to having an effective interpersonal voice, and sharing one’s experience: an everyday creation of intimacy through “poetic” moments. Such individual accomplishment is the basis for democracy and freedom of (relational) association which can only flourish in an atmosphere of safety (non-violence).
In therapeutic conversation there is a co-construction of text by therapist and patient. The language of this therapeutic conversation is crucial: it is both the mode and evidence of intervention. This paper explores the language of the poetic in this context, which is associated with the non-linear, analogical, right-hemispheric form of language outlined in the Conversational Model (cf. Meares et al, 2012:27). This style of conversation is associated with a change in the form of consciousness and cohesion of self (Meares, 2012; Meares et al, 2012).
This paper examines a clinical case in which Heidegger’s work took a central role, where a confluence of Conversational Model and Heideggarian ideas assisted in a current engagement in psychotherapy. In this case, Heidegger’s work functioned in two modes. Firstly, as a shared play-space between my patient and I where analogical relatedness could develop. Secondly, Heidegger’s work also functioned as a literal model for being-in-the-world that over time became integrated into the conversation. This is an example of fit, intersubjectivity and fellow-feeling. Heidegger’s concept of existential authenticity (Eigentlichkeit) derives from that which is owned. If affect is innate, then it is arguable that this is the essence of that which is owned. By engaging with the affect of our patients we are engaging on a fundamentally authentic level.
While verbal art has been regarded as the quintessential expression of what a community shares in a “collective consciousness”, equally it has been studied as the harbinger of experiential innovation. Language affords the chief source of interpersonal solidarity AND a semantic laboratory for what is incipient or even weird (outside the ken of ‘normal folk’). This polarisation of functions can in some cases be explained by changes of artistic taste – mediaeval poetry in Europe was appreciated in terms of its ensemble of standard cultural motifs – e.g. roses, blood, courtesy… Other eras, like our own (in English, at least), have given value to novelty and invention, as well as to highly marked linguistic constructions.