Tosquelles Conference round off

[Automatic translation from Catalan]:

Closing words on Conference dedicated to Francesc Tosquelles.
Paraphrasing Salvador Espriu.

The time has come to close this act, but it seems nice to finish this Day, focusing on three issues that may well be the common denominator of the legacy of the person we have honoured today.

All our rapporteurs have constantly reminded us that the main legacy that Francesc Tosquelles leaves us is to subject everything to questioning, to the permanent question. This question has three dimensions which, throughout this day, have been illuminated with sufficiently clear force.

Firstly, as a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, Tosquelles asks us: what do we do? How do we do it?

Tosquelles reminds us of Espriu when in that poem he said that: «Diversos són els homes i diverses són les parles, i convindran molts noms a un sol amor…» (“Several are men and several are the words, and many names will be given to a single love…”). Tosquelles maintains that several are therapeutic practices related to mental illness and not just giving pills. Every therapeutic practice, if we look at the course of the work that he did, came to tell us: let us not stop talking about the various practices by subjecting ourselves to one. This is a lesson that we must never forget.

This took on particular value when an unbearable part of his work was carried out at a time when there were no effective psychopharmacists yet, and this involved great difficulty. Now we live in an opposite era. It is the time of single psychopharmacologic thinking. And while even big psychopharmacists discoverers in second half of 20th century, they always warned that pills did not fix everything (I am thinking specifically of Delay and Sternbach) by imitating Tosquelles, we must recover these various words that seem to be endangered to prevent human subjective from disappearing as it is.

Secondly, Francesc Tosquelles, we are surprised by his extraordinary dialectic capacity, which we could summarise as: walking with your head and thinking with your feet. Tosquelles, in all his professional practice, always relied on the fundamental dialectical contradiction, which was defined with admirable precision and beauty by Presocratic philosophers, in this case and in an especial Heraclitus way when he warned that all things are preyed upon by their opposite.

Our pay homage either as a psychiatrist of the Civil War, as in the concentration camps, in Saint Albán, in Reus, or wherever, always found its contradiction in the worst madness. It is this force that keeps him constantly recalling Freud’s final sentence of his treatise on hysteria when he said to his patients:

You will be able to convince yourself that it will be a great gain if we can transmute your hysterical misery into everyday misfortune. With an analogous life you can defend yourself better from the latter…

(This is a translation into English made from the translation of Freud’s Complete works published by Amorrortu editors in Spanish language).

And speaking of Freud, Tosquelles regained the best Freudian tradition of walking. Psychoanalysis and walking action, in fact, are two activities that go together, which leads me to think of the statue of Alberto Giaccometti, The Man Who Walks, and in the final part of the poem Cementiri de Sinera. Espriu tell us:

(…) Pel silenci
fidel de nobles arbres
per mi estimats, camino
a l’oblit, deixant rere
amors, velers, sofrença,
últims senyals de passos (…). 1

And thirdly, Francesc Tosquelles also helps us Catalans to recover memory and identity. Tosquelles is denounced himself because of the accent, as Catalan when he is spoken in French or Spanish. Many of us feel identified. It is this man from Reus who, as a young man, already has the courage to say what he thinks, and think intimately of Catalan. That is why, in his vocation as a doctor, in his radically republican political position, and in his life of exile, he behaves in a way that makes himself familiar, because he is ours.

But, as in so many other cases of exiled, his figure, so important in the history of psychiatry in the second half of the 20th century, was completely unknown to many people who are here today and who already live the autumn of our lives. I refer to the fact that, on the dark night of the dictatorship, we knew that there was a certain Francesc Tosquelles through the work of his disciple Frantz Fanon, the author of The Convicts of the Land accompanied by Jean Paul Sartre’s indefatigable prologue.

The eminent figure of Frantz Fanon, the doctor born in Martinique, a French passport doctor, an Algerian for vocation and adoption, founder of the Algerian National Liberation Front and the premature death of leukaemia, coincided with the person to whom we have today subjected to scrutiny his work and to whom we pay the tribute he deserves. Who should have influenced who more? A good teacher is said to never know where his influence comes.

The proof is how things changed a lot in the hospital in Blida-Joinville under the direction of Fanon, so influenced by Tosquelles. But dialectically, the clever and committed disciples also greatly influence the teachers. Knowing, mastery and transmission, three very psychoanalytic notions put into play, especially that of mastery.

And I paraphrase Espriu again in his poem dedicate to Pompeu Fabra — to which Espriu defines as a «master for all» — entitled «El meu poble i jo» (“My people and me”) and I remember some stanzas, perhaps the most important one:

Senyor, servidor?
Som indestriables
El meu poble i jo 2

Two men, two different origins from two nations without state, two doctors and a manifest desire to «cure» in the broadest sense of the word. Two physicians who, like from Hippocrates to this day, have been influenced by great force.

But the Day must end, and nothing better to close it than to return to Espriu in his poem «El caminant i el mur» (“The Walker and the Wall”):

Benignament soc ara guiat
Enllà del vell origen de les aigües
On ja no sento la contínua font.
Quan els purs llavis reposin cansats
De la vigília del tercer nocturn,
Començarà l’ocell la clarosa lloança.
Jo, que em moro i sé
La solitud del mur i el caminant
Et demano que em recordis avui,
Mentre te’n vas amb les sagrades hores. 3

It’s turn to leave ourself. We thank you for your attendance, for the hope that we could learn and share new things today, for your confidence in these dry times which, dialectically, are signs of a better future. Francesc Tosquelles, you can help us a lot, to make it a reality.

Many thanks to everyone on behalf of our Journal.

Poems translation
[Automatic translation from Catalan]:

  1. (…) For silence
    faithful of noble trees
    My dear, I walk
    forgotten, leaving behind
    love, sailboats, suffering,
    last signs of steps…
  2. Lord, server?
    We are inseparable
    My people and me
  3. Benignly I’m now guided
    Behind the old origin of the waters
    Where I no longer feel the continuous source.
    When the pure lips rest tired
    On the eve of the third night,
    The bird will begin with the clear praise.
    Me, I die and I know
    The loneliness of the wall and the walker
    I ask you to remember me today,
    As you leave with the holy hours.
Oriol Martí
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