Wednesday, May 13, 2020

The Final Solution: Transitional Object

There’s strength in numbers goes the old saw, but the current pandemic presents a situation that's diametrically opposed to the aphorism. The sense of congregation which has historically been the way people meet hardships and crises is not the medicine that anyone would suggest for the current affliction. In fact, social distance and sheltering-in-place are the two memes that are prescribed. When you think about it, coronavirus is unique due to its level of contagion. Remember D. W. Winnicott’s transitional object, usually something that a child employs to give him or her comfort? In essence, it’s become incumbent on most people to become their own transitional object. They have to be their single-minded prayer group. If someone has died, they have to provide a solitary wake. They will sit shiva by themselves. Electronic conferencing provides one outlet, but after engaging in Zoom for days on end, the initial excitement begins to wear thin, as you realize you're further away from those people who have usually been a source of intimacy than ever. There's something unsettling about talking to someone, then watching as their image dissolves right before your eyes as you press the "leave the meeting" button and they exeunt in the oblivion of electronic data that's the legacy of a completed cybernetic transaction. Electronic couplings are a lot like fantasy, even of the Walter Mitty kind.There’s the initial thrill, then the hangover as the chimera  before you vanishes and you’re left with no other alternative then the prospect of a new hit of the cyber-defibrillator to bring the dead back to life.

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