On Cancel Culture. From Judging to Lynching: Repressions and Discriminations in the Name of Morality
Lecture: Minima immoralia. Meditations on the Offended Culture
Lecturer: Gian Piero Quaglino (IPAP Istituto di Psicologia Analitica e Psicoterapia, Ivrea)
Cycle: Eranos-Jung Lectures: On Cancel Culture. From Judging to Lynching: Repressions and Discriminations in the Name of Morality
Date: October 21, 2022, 6:30 p.m.
Place: Auditorium, Monte Verità, Ascona
Chairman: Fabio Merlini (Eranos Foundation, Ascona)
Refreshment and meeting with the lecturer
The recording of the conference can be viewed on the official YouTube channel of the Eranos Foundation.
When the Italian edition of Theodor W. Adorno's Minima Moralia was published by Einaudi in 1954, it was noted (with a certain surprise on the part of some) that of the one hundred and fifty-three passages that made up the original edition, only one hundred and fifteen appeared. For a complete translation of the thirty-eight missing passages, we had to wait more than twenty years. The Minima imMoralia. Aforismi “tralasciati” nell’edizione italiana was published by a small publishing house, so to speak "alternative", L'Erba Voglio, founded among others by Elvio Fachinelli, one of the most original psychoanalysts of the second generation of the Freudian school. A few years later, however, in 1979, Einaudi decided to provide the full edition of the text. For what reason in the first edition of 1954 had been "left out" those thirty-eight pieces? Above all, did the adjective in question render the idea correctly or would it not have been more appropriate to use other expressions such as: expunged, removed, crossed out, discarded, or perhaps ousted, abolished, deleted, suppressed? Or why not even censored? In all cases, it is evident, cancelled. For these reasons it was essential, in an attempt to understand the many shadows that the phenomenon of the so-called Cancel Culture shows to drag along, to go back to the Minima Moralia. Perhaps we could also take into account the fact that in all this psychoanalysis itself has perhaps played some role. Is it really completely meaningless, for example, that censorship has been identified since the first Freudian topical the elective "mechanism" activator of removal and therefore constitutive of the unconscious? It would seem difficult to deny it. Therefore, we could conclude that Cancel Culture would be nothing but the expression of some "psychic obscenity" and not simply the last drift of a tragicomic (but still catastrophic) kitsch of nefarious (and uncultivated) "Cultural Industry".
Gian Piero Quaglino, former Full Professor of Social Psychology, Dynamic Psychology, and Adult's Education Psychology, taught for over thirty years at the University of Turin (1977-2010). At the same University, he has been Director of the Department of Psychology, President of the Degree Course in Psychology (1993-1997), Director of the School of Specialization in Health Psychology (2002-2005), and Dean of the Faculty of Psychology (2003-2008). He was also President of the Interuniversity Consortium for Training (CO.IN.FO., 1994-1999). He currently teaches at IPAP Institute of Analytical Psychology and Psychotherapy, School of Specialization in Psychotherapy, Ivrea (Turin). He directed the "Individuo Gruppo Organizzazione" series for Raffaello Cortina Editore (1992-2012). He has published over two hundred scientific contributions on the themes of training, organization, group and leadership, including Fare formazione (1985; new edition, 2005), I climi organizzativi (1987), Gruppo di lavoro, lavoro di gruppo (1992), Leadership (1999), Gioco di squadra (2003), La vita organizzativa (2004), Autoformazione (2004), Scene di leadership (edited with C. Piccardo, 2006), La scuola della vita. Manifesto della Terza Formazione (2011), and Formazione. I metodi (2014), as well as five volumes of Scritti di formazione (1999, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2010). Honorary member of the Associazione per la Ricerca in Psicologia Analitica (ARPA, Turin), on Jungian themes he published Modelli del sogno (edited with S. Stella, 1994), A spasso con Jung (with A. Romano, 2005; new expanded edition, 2021), A colazione da Jung (with A. Romano, 2006), Nel giardino di Jung (with A. Romano, 2010), and Carl Gustav Jung a Eranos 1933-1952 (edited with R. Bernardini and A. Romano, 2007). He also edited the volumes Aforismi (with A. Romano, 2012), Aforismi dell'inconscio (with A. Romano, 2014) and The Solar Myths and Opicino de Canistris. Notes of the Seminar held at Eranos in 1943 (with R. Bernardini and A. Romano, 2014), also in English translation (2015), by Carl Gustav Jung, and the Italian edition of Dream Tending by Stephen Aizenstat (with R. Bernardini, 2013). His most recent works are Meglio un cane (2015), I quaderni di Eduardo Descondo (2018), Nuovi quaderni di Eduardo Descondo. La Compagnia del Mitra (2019), Abitare la soglia (2019), Incerti versi di Carlos Albasuelo (2019), Premiata ditta Caso&Destino. I quaderni di Eduardo Descondo, Vol. III (2020), Lettera a Mirul di Lumir Medana (2020), Ombre, buio (e Bob Dylan) di Marcelo Malavista (2021), and Istituto Pesaventa. I quaderni di Eduardo Descondo, Vol. IV (in press).
A culture is born and affirms itself always also from a selective operation of particular contents; from a certain operation of assimilation, rejection, remodulation of previous or coeval cultures: it takes and drops. Also, obviously in relation to the hegemonic forces of which it is eventually the expression. Today, a fierce variant of this logic of "take and leave" is represented by the so-called "cancel culture". It is a culture that, in its most intransigent expressions, seems to have a problem with the cultural past from which it comes: it sees it as a troubling set of inadequacies, of discriminations or injustices according to the yardstick of its own moral standards. A tribunal of memory determined to amend history, freeing it from its sins. In this, cancel culture is a coherent expression of that satisfied and self-referential present, for which past history is always and only a faded, lacking and reprehensible image of oneself. It is a culture that feeds on culprits towards whom to exercise its censure; a culture of sanction. There are cases in which all this is certainly justified, when, for example, the denunciation and sanction is aimed at the present of unacceptable behavior, in open violation of respectful rules that do not harm the dignity of others. Where, however, the question of the modalities through which denunciation and sanction are expressed always remains open. Especially when the system of communication, as happens today, offers tools for taking immediate word, uncontrollable in its effects. When, however, denunciation and sanction are addressed to the cultures of the past, the matter becomes even more complicated. For the risk here is the neutralization of the entire culture, an attempt to wipe the slate clean. Perhaps the inability to bend down with a reflective thought on the contradictions and the very complexity of life; the unwillingness to dialogue, to critical judgment, capable of evaluating and discriminating within the same situation.A regressive tendency not to grasp the chiaroscuro, the nuances. The index of a profound fragility. Finally, a new form of ignorance.