August 2, 2021

Make a “common body” with Fernand Deligny

“The Tacitus, the human. Political anthropology by Fernand Deligny ”, by Catherine Perret, Seuil,“ La Librairie du XXIe century ”, 370 p., € 25, digital € 18.

“Camera. About images ”, by Fernand Deligny, edited by Sandra Alvarez de Toledo, Anaïs Masson, Marlon Miguel and Marina Vidal-Naquet, with texts by Hervé Joubert-Laurencin, Marlon Miguel, Jean-Louis Comolli, Anaïs Masson, Alexandra de Séguin, Sandra Alvarez de Toledo and Cyril Béghin, L’Arachnéen, 390 p., € 39.

“What becomes of singular madness in a society which, between war and extermination, discovers its own madness? “ This question opens The Tacitus, the human, the book that Catherine Perret devotes to the figure of Fernand Deligny (1913-1996), educator, storyteller, writer, philosopher, who refused any institution. “A common affair”, she answers, before giving the floor, not to Deligny, but to her contemporary, the psychiatrist and psychoanalyst François Tosquelles: “Without the recognition of the human value of madness, it is man himself who disappears”, and to add through the voice of another contemporary, Robert Antelme, survivor and witness of the Nazi concentration camps: “The questioning of the quality of man provokes an almost biological claim of belonging to the human species. “ In this little fictitious exchange, a movement takes place – passage from man to human, from subject to species – which is of enlargement and indeterminacy. It is in this precise movement that in Deligny, a way of making common cause with the abnormal, the mad, the delinquents was translated, which was the commitment of a lifetime.

Decisive moves

The Tacitus, the human is not exactly a book on Deligny, it is rather an essay written with or alongside Deligny. It intends to reveal, reassemble and bring together a whole section of the history of theory and clinical and educational practices which, throughout the XXe century, strove to draw the consequences of the destruction caused by wars and the death policies of fascism and Nazism. In this story, we find the doctor and philosopher Georges Canguilhem alongside the Spanish refugee François Tosquelles and the psychiatrist Lucien Bonnafé, who, during the war, established the hospital in Saint-Alban (Lozère) as a place of life, even survival. , a real “asylum” for the mad as for the persecuted politicians and resistance fighters.

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