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The prose of E. Hemingway and V. Voiculescu interpreted versus the psychoanalysis of J. Lacan.


Artistic literature, hidden between covers, written by people for people, may be always interpreted from various perspectives, including the psychoanalytic approach. Quite frequently, words wander from one domain to another, sometimes with the same meaning, other times modifying their significance.

As a general rule, analysis of the actions and language of a character involves comparison, in which stress is laid on each concrete case in part. In many situations, simultaneous literary grounds may bring together writers belonging to different cultural spaces, in whose works similar, but never identical, situations may be frequently met.

In this respect, the artistic creations of Vasile Voiculescu and Ernest Hemingway--both interweaving reality and imagination in the fishing net of writing--will be analysed from a comparative perspective. Fully aware of the responsibility taken upon herself by re-interpreting quite famous creations --Amin the Fisherman by V. Voiculescu and The Old Man and the Sea by E. Hemingway --the author attempts, nevertheless, at finding out her own interpretative fish. In an attempt of surpassing the obsessive spheres, the method of interpretation will show the manner in which the unconscious works out in favour of its own discovery, for unveiling the identity and connections between the archetype and the ritual--as an expression of re-discovery.


In the present analysis, the syntagm "fantasy (delusive picture, airy vision)" is used with the connotation of "imagination, desire", so that it does not refer, in any way, to ghost or chimera. In relation with the proper names of the main characters from the prose here under study, the term is approached from the perspective of Freud who defines it as "an imaginary, conscious, preconscious or unconscious scenario, involving one or more characters, and which expresses--in a more or less disguised manner--a desire" (Larousse: 1997, p. 117). The connection between matrix and character is actively expressed by the first name. Fisherman Amin, whose name means "I tell you the truth"/"Indeed I do", discloses his predestination by his inclination for the great mystery. In this respect, fishing, repeating some scenarios, appears as the ritual of man's approaching the wilderness of waters. This preparation in complete solitude, simulating an anachoretic style of life, favours the communication between the character and the great cosmos. In this respect, the text of Voiculescu may be compared, even at an onomastic level, with the novel of Hemingway. The biblical connotations refer also to the first name of the main personage of the novel The Old Man and the Sea--Santiago (in Romanian: Sfantul Iacob) who, in his earthly life, prior to becoming an apostle, had been a fisherman. Both first names suggest their predestination: in the prose of Voiculescu --that of discovering the truth, in the prose of Hemingway--of behaving like an apostle faced with wilderness.

The first name becomes the thread of destiny, synchronically, consciously-unconsciously juxtaposed. Such an interconnection is consciously manifested in the evaluation of the effort made for obtaining the desired object, yet unconsciously under normal conditions. Both characters act in an aquatic medium, and not on earth, in a realm where they live their dreams in a preconscious manner.

Water will bring them close to the mystery, seen as a fantastic environment by its hidden depths, by the creatures it protects, by the perils represented by the high tide and low tide, by its wholly unforeseeable nature. The masculine ego of both Amin and Santiago--even if they have different ages--interacts with the delusive water, whose femininity increases in direct relation with their virility. Masculinity is viewed not only from a strict sexual perspective, but also according to each one's concept of being a man. Vasile Voiculescu prefers the violent hypostasis of the Danube: "Nu se tine minte de cand Dunarea, umflata de ploi si zapoare, nu se mai varsase atat de naprasnic ca in primavara aceea". ("No one recalls the times in which the Danube, grown by rains and torrents, had ever so wildly discharged its streams as in that spring") with "ape furioase ce nu-l mai incapeau" ("with frightening waters flooding over the banks") (Voiculescu: 1997, p. 279); "Dunarea a intarcat" ("The Danube has run dry") (Ibidem, p. 283). The Danube appears as a fantastic creature with feminine traits.


The aquatic space is converted into one's own spurs, provoked by the tide, respectively by the increasing and decreasing level of water, known as determining the fluidity of certain instincts, manifested according to the selenar cycle. The phenomenon applies to all creatures entering this space, becoming a component of the myth of the origin. Perceiving the world from inside the aquatic immensity leads to an amplification of the surrounding world by means of an ego who experiences his mythical features. The respective optics is induced by dynamics, by change.

Similar to the closed one, the open space is included in the phobia list. In such characters, water (be it ocean or pool) urges the desire. At the same time, water is the source of death, concomitantly inducing the instinct of life. Santiago wants to fish the biggest fish, and he apologizes for the death he will cause, but, at the same time, he experiences an acute lust for life, the desire to show to the others this wonderful fish, which is actually a fantasy. This attitude is intuited by the imagination of the old man, in the same way in which the fisherman from the short prose of Voiculescu imagines the biggest possible sheatfish. Both fishermen change their condition--of leader of the situation. Also manifested here is the impulse of passing from the instinct of life to the instinct of death (as, in some moment, Santiago will ask the big fish not to descend to the depths of the sea, while fisherman Amin is decided to abandon fishing, only for letting free the sturgeon--which comes from the world of archetypes).

The cyclic time does not simplify the action, but enriches it with some difficulty, responsibility. Both characters get acquainted with the torrents of water, perceived as a feminine presence. Fisherman Amin and, equally, the old Santiago, change their identity as they wish. In this way, in the eyes of fisherman Amin, the swamp of Nazar appears as a concentrated cosmos, as a mirror of the universe, its umbilical link with the river Danube contributing to the role of vital importance given to it. However, the uniqueness of the event remains. Both heroes do hope--a hope transformed into an obsession--to catch the biggest fish.

They both have the power to conceptually modify reality. The dioptrics they use provoke some attitude. Fisherman Amin takes over the lens of the fish, thus becoming capable of amplifying the peripherical borders. The narrow banks of the pool become immense, offering deep aquatic horizons: "In lumina de matostat batut cu stele, fundul bulboanei era un adanc paradis regasit ... in care el intra, lasand in afara timpul, ca pe o sluga, sa-l astepte" ("In the starry jasp light, the bottom of the whirl appeared as a profound regained paradise ... in which he entered, leaving outside the time, to wait for him like a humble servant") (Voiculescu: 1997, p. 299).

The old Santiago follows another objective, related not to amplification, but to concentration. In his eyes, the ocean is a sea, maybe for having the illusion of a soothing space that might be mentally crossed with the eyes. This is actually the optics of transforming immensity into a feminine entity. In this way, grandeur acquires the contours of his knowledge, sprung from bliss: "In mintea batranului marea fusese intotdeauna la mar, asa cum o numesc oamenii cand o iubesc" ("In the mind of the old man, the sea had always been la mar, the name given by those who love her") (Hemingway, p. 33). "He always thought of the sea as la mar which is what people call her in Spanish when they love her. Sometimes those who love her say bad things of her but they are always said as though she were a woman. Some of the younger fishermen, those who used buoys as floats for their lines and had motorboats, bought when the shark livers had brought much money, spoke of her as el mar which is masculine. They spoke of her as a contestant or a place or even an enemy. But the old man always thought of her as feminine and as something that gave or withheld great favours, and if she did wild or wicked things it was because she could not help them. The moon affects her as it does a woman, he thought" (Hemingway: 1951, p. 12). In the here analysed writings, the rational side becomes a strict relation between men, involving only mechanical business principles, whereas emotiveness induces the unforeseeable character of the wilderness-fisherman intercourse, between water and the dedicated man. The emotional aspect of the aquatic milieu does not reduce the importance of equilibrium, so necessary in this space. Sensitivity turns to good account the meditation, from the perspective of the responsibility of facing an absolutely wild feminine element.


The method proposed by the French psychoanalyst Jacques-Marie Lacan stipulates new spectra in the interpretation of characters. Both artistic texts allow an analysis from the perspective of the three loops. The fourth loop will be left aside as--in our opinion--this symptom does not defy the characters.

Over the scheme of the Borromean knot we shall superpose the agreements selected from both texts, which show similarities, yet without being identical--which is quite natural, if considering that the authors are different, have lived in different social-political backgrounds, etc.


I = with both characters, the imaginary world is represented by the big fish, which appears as the aspiration of any fisherman. However, the typical dream is not the same as the dreams of the other fishermen. Their fancy world is equally determined emotionally, sometimes even opposed. The old man sees it as a success, as a rehabilitation in the eyes of the other fishermen, in the eyes of the boy. The imaginary vision refers to his way of living. His old age does not prevent him from going to fish in the open sea, from living for weeks only with what he fishes, in absolute solitude. Equally strong when faced with physical suffering--as his hand does not listen to him any longer--he resists sleeping. His permanent wake brings him to the apostolic condition, revealing the human heroism of resisting as a prisoner of the aquatic horizon, facing hunger, fear, physical pain, the lack of sleep, always surrounded by sharks and poisoned medusa.

In the beginning, Amin the fisherman appears as the strongest and most skilful among his mates. His fancy makes him imagine an immense sheatfish, whose catching appears as a punishment: "Cu somnul, da, avea pricini de rafuieli, cum avea cu vecinii din sat, megiesi de ograzi. Somnul ii inhata regulat ratele si gastele de pe balta. I-a apucat intr-un rand mielul din cardul de oi adus de copii la adapat. Insfacase botul vitelului care bea apa. Retezase piciorul unui copilas prins la scalda. Avea de ce sa-l prigoneasca, sa-l prinza si sa-l judece" ("Yes, he had several reasons for catching the sheatfish, as he had with his neighbours in the village. The sheatfish used to catch the ducks and geese swimming in the pool. Once, he caught a lamb from the flock of sheep brought by children to watering. Other time he seized the muzzle of a calf, while it drank. He cut off the leg of a child who was bathing in the pool. There were several reasons for catching and sentencing him") (Voiculescu: 1997, p. 293). Amin the fisherman takes upon himself the task of reinstalling justice, explaining this attitude by the hate he feels for the sheatfish. His wake aims at preventing the water from destroying the fishing nets, with which a lot of fish can be caught. He is the one expected to control the wild world, he is responsible for the food of a whole village. Amin is a hero who has to protect his place against the monsters of the water and to provide his people the fish--which is equally their food and merchandise.

For both characters, fish is a fantasy, an imaginary projection: even if Amin is absolutely convinced that he is confronted with a sheatfish, he barely sees it, appreciating its size only by its movements and by the reaction of the other fish from the pool. In his turn, Santiago lives with its image, without giving a name to it (it is only in the end of the novel that the cook says: "Tiburon, the waiter said" (Hemingway: 1951, p. 64), and this after seeing only the back of the fish, which leads him along its own route (as if the fisherman is the one to be fished), so that Santiago understands that it is 2-3 times bigger than his boat.

Another loop is symbolized by R = the real. The fishing action represents the real life, lived in a concrete space and concrete time, determined along several nights and days. However, in the opinion of Lacan, the real world appears as impossible, constituting the loop which excludes the external world. In this respect, both characters exclude the terrestrial element, preserving in their memory only fragments related to the aquatic world, the only one capable of opening their way to the imaginary realm and of symbolically bringing them together. The arguments supporting this assertion are the virtual dialogue of Santiago with the boy and the fact that Amin himself chases away his wife, as he feels the need to wait in complete solitude, for not dissipating his attention and concentration. The lack of attention would have severe consequences for his ego--namely the possible losing of his dream. In this respect, the action of fishing, repeating certain scenarios is quite similar to the ritual of man's relation with the wilderness of water. This sort of preparation, in complete solitude, which suggests an anachoretic way of living, initiates the communication of the character with the great cosmos.

The wild character attributed to this space adds a chaotic energy and force to it, which has to be doomed, for assuring survival. Involved here is man's testing versus his destiny, manifested by his communication with the universe, with his inner world.

If Santiago mimics a sort of conversation with the boy, fisherman Amin, on the contrary, rejects any form of dialogue. He only addresses a few words to his wife and regrets to have disclosed his thoughts to the chief fisherman and to other companions. One may observe that water confers to the character the function of nucleus. Apparently, wilderness seems to invite him to open the depths of the sea. This profoundness assumes a certain behaviour--denial, sacrifice, regret, joy, the ecstasy of seeing one's dream with one's own eyes, as the mirages of the desert. All these emotions of the characters appear as fluid labyrinthine constructions, in which time is detached from the terrestrial, the real world, acting at the level of the stars in the sky, according to some sort of visionary impulse.

Loop S = represents symbolically the absence, the loss, that should substituted by its symbol. The archetype is experienced in two planes, as a return to the origins and as an union. The old Santiago experiences the feeling of union with the sea hogs in a most acute manner, "sunt fratii nostri, ca si pestii zburatori" ("they are our brothers, exactly as the flying fish") (Hemingway: 2007: 61). "They play and make jokes and love one another. They are our brothers like the flying fish." (Hemingway: 1951, p. 22) A bodily-type connection makes our hero identify with the aquatic world: "Most people are heartless about turtles because a turtle's heart will beat for hours after he has been cut up and butchered. But the old man thought, I have such a heart too and my feet and hands are like theirs" (Hemingway: 1961, p. 16). The characters experience their relation with the fish they have caught at an ontological level: "I wish I could feed the fish, he thought. He is my brother. But I must kill him and keep strong to do it." (Hemingway: 1951, p. 28), or "It will uncramp though, he thought. Surely it will uncramp to help my right hand. There are three things that are brothers: the fish and my two hands. It must uncramp" (Hemingway: 1951, p. 30). Their relation is based not only on the brotherhood of the background, but also on their spirit of freedom, on the code of the hero, as stipulated in the analysis of Chloe Lizotte. Heroism is manifested by valuable firmness, by confrontation with one's own thoughts, by the force of the idea which resists emotion.

In the prose of V. Voiculescu, the Danube settles the totem which links the human being to the aquatic creatures. Fisherman Amin is convinced he comes from a sturgeon: "... misuna pesti uriasi din care i se trage neamul, leviatani stramosi ai legendelor, care carmuiau sortile pescuitului, chitii nemasurati, morunii balaurosi din care ieseau pe tarmuri sa nasca oameni din pantecul lor rodnic si sa intemeieze neamuri tari pe meleaguri pustiite" ("... the place is infested with giant fish present in large numbers, from which their people came, legendary Leviathans which used to master the destiny of fishing, immense cetaceans, dragony sturgeons which came on shore to give birth to human creatures from their rich bellies and to set up strong nations meant to populate the desert regions") (Voiculescu: 1997, pp. 298-299).

The involved connotations here are stated according to the algorithm of the connection spaces: the correlation of the imaginary realm (I) with the symbolic one (S), stipulated by meaning, constitutes the ritual. Especially significant is the ritual viewed in its preparation stage, evoked by the making ready of the boat, of the spears, of the fishing implements ... Expressed here is the notion of collective, which accepts collaboration. However, the fishing ritual also involves the mystery of solitude. Initiation becomes ample, opening the soul of the central hero.

The relation between the imaginary (I) and the real (R) world invokes JC = the Other One's Jouissance. As a disciple of Ferdinand de Saussure, Lacan grants special attention to the language developed between The Ego and The Other One, which is a most relevant aspect in the prose of Hemingway, when fisherman Santiago talks with a bird lost on the sea. The dialogue with The Other One involves a partner of opposite sex: "Such a connection establishes a radical hiatus between man and woman. Without being possibly restricted to any type of conflict, it refers to the very impossibility of describing the sexual intercourse as such" (Larousse: 1997, p. 190).

The best represented feminine character which establishes contact with the heroes of both proses is the water, present either as the sea (in the case of Santiago), or as a pool or Danube (in the case of Amin)--as already discussed, even if only partially--in the section entitled Water and the instinct of life--the instinct of death. This type of relation may be exemplified by the following fragment from the work of Voiculescu: "Gol, intra incet langa mal, cu mainile prinse in stuf. Dar apele nu-l rabdara. Ii lovira cu violenta picioarele si-l rasturnara ..." ("Fully naked, he slowly sank into the water, near the shore, his hands on the reed. Yet water did not suffer him, violently striking his feet and making him fall down") (Voiculescu: 1997, p. 282). The basic terms here, expressing the jouissance of The Other are: "naked", "did not suffer him", "violence" (repulsion and violence acting against the faithfulness of Amin). Alternation or the voice of the body is heard in the following fragment: "Pieptul, mainile, picioarele ii zbarnaiau in chipuri deosebite, dupa deosebitele niveluri la care sedeau in garla, si pipaiau ca niste antene iutelile curentilor, duritatile ca de corp tare ale izbirii apelor in toate caturile trupului si trageau incheieri. Talpile, mai ales, prubuluiau, masurau, luau instiintari despre gandurile apelor de la fundul unde alearga pestii. Se afunda, tot, de cateva ori; zabovi in adanc si iesi hotarat" ("His breast, hands and feet were trembling at different face, following the various levels at which they were sunk in the water, touching the swift torrents, the solidity with which waters blew various parts of his body. Mainly his soles were measuring, were feeling the intentions of the waters at the bottom, where fish run. He sank several times, remained there for a while and then suddenly decided to come out)" (Voiculescu: 1997, pp. 282-283). Wilderness is invested with the function of femininity, within which Amin enters, attempting to conquer, to decipher or predict it.

For fisherman Santiago, the relation with the feminine element is not restricted only to the sea, the feminine side being also perceived as a possible rescue of the masculine spirit. Manifested here is the necessity of revitalizing the image of the sacred woman--Virgin Mary, which symbolizes communication with hope, with the faith in a successful capturing of the big fish: "... ma leg ca daca o sa-l prind, o sa merg in pelerinaj la Sfanta Fecioara din Cobre. Fagaduiesc sa o fac" (Hemingway: p. 85). "I promise to make a pilgrimage to the Virgin of Cobre if I catch him. That is a promise" (Hemingway: 1951, p. 31). The communion with the sacred forces intensifies their presence in the open ocean. The Virgin of Cobre is expected to listen to his prayers, to be convinced of his promises, thus encouraging the old fisherman to defy his age, to develop his celestial project in the reflection of the aquatic light--a dazzling light.

The Real (R) and the Symbolic (S) entities reveal the J[phi] = the phallic jouissance, establishing the borders of the "speaking person" (Lacan, p. 189). Lacan minutely investigated this concept, explaining it in his study entitled "The ego in Freud's theory"; however, no analysis of the parameters proposed by the famous psychoanalyst, such as: "Jouissance, as far as it is of sexual nature, is always phallic" will be analysed here. Instead, interpretation of artistic texts according to the optics proposed by Lacan entitles the notion of "enigmatic jouissance" (Larousse: 1997, p. 189).

Mention should be made, in this respect, of diagonal splitting--from the part of the same person, permitting one to modify the immediate truth, in relation with the evolution of concepts. In the case of Voiculescu, one may assume introduction of the following modification--the discovery made by the hero that the fantasy is not the sheatfish, but the sturgeon: "Lui Amin schimbarea din somn in morun ii atarna din ce in ce mai greu pe suflet. Ca o nenorocire" ("For Amin, changing from a sheatfish into a sturgeon was a heavy burden on his soul. Similar to a calamity") (Voiculescu: 1997, p. 292). At first sight, pain and jouissance are antithetic, however, understanding of the concept reveals that this is the way towards desire: "Jouissance assumes lust, more precisely unconscious lust; this shows the extent to which such a notion goes beyond any connection with affection, emotions and sentiments, raising instead the problem of a relation with the object viewed by unconscious significance". In this way, phallic jouissance (size being important --as the biggest fish determines their masculine position) offers to Amin the possibility to discover that, actually, "the ghost", "the most precious prey, the beast of the pool" (Voiculescu: 1997, pp. 288-289) was not the sheatfish, which acted only as the shadow of his consciousness--a necessity belonging to an immediate, concrete time, conditioned by the space of the pool. Tracing of the sturgeon (a fish living in two spaces: that of the sweet and of the salty waters) discloses to him the bridge with the unconscious side, which gradually enters the conscious nature by means of memories, legends, moments which become eternal. Such archetypal memories reveal the meditative dialogue between the ego and the other, disclosing the sturgeon nature present in his soul: "Cauta morunul; indelung. Nu-l afla. Se ascunse? Si se-nciuda. Isi aminti de basm: cineva dinlauntrul lui il inalta sa se dea de trei ori peste cap, ca voinicul nazdravan, si are sa se prefaca in gand ... Gandul patrunde pretutindeni ... Cat era de amarat, tot isi zambi: incercase in copilarie toate tumbele."

* "Nu asa ... ci in suflet, ii sopti inlauntrul." "Aha ... sa-si intoarca de trei ori peste cap sufletul?! Asa se poate" ("He looked for the sturgeon. He did not find it. Was it hiding somewhere? He got irritated. He remembered a fairy-tale: someone from inside him turned over three times, as the brave hero, and got transformed into a thought ... The thought may enter anywhere ... In spite of the anger he was feeling, he smiled: in his childhood, he used to turn over in all possible ways."

* "Not like this, but inside your soul, his inner voice whispered."

"Oh, to turn over his soul three times? This is possible." (Voiculescu: 1997, p. 296)

This is the meditation that transfigures his whole inner world. The dialogue he hears inside him shows the same respect, noted with capital letter, as the one discussed by the French psychoanalyst Lacan.

Other fragments in this creation refer to the invocation of the supreme masculine forces. The central heroes experience the communication with the divinity in the aquatic sanctuary. The prey has nothing in common with any religious service. The expression of communication is experienced in the most direct manner, even if it simultaneously preserves the character of a contract, of a payment for an accomplished miracle: "Dar ca sa prind pestele asta, o sa zic de zece ori <<Tatal nostru>> sau zece ori <<Bucura-te, Marie>>" (Hemingway, p. 85) "But I will say ten <<Our Fathers>> and ten <<Hail, Marys>> that I should catch this fish" (Hemingway: 1951, p. 31). As seen, the fisherman has established a price for his invocation.

Vasile Voiculescu makes a classification of the two visions related to the pray of the fisherman, as opposed to that of the land worker: "Se stranse in sine ca intr-o dureroasa rugaciune. (...) Caci el nu stia, nu se pricepea sa-si intoarca chipul in sus, spre Cerul de deasupra. Numai plugarii fac asa, cersind de la Dumnezeul lor ploaie. Pescarii (...) cer mult mai adanc; ametitor de misterios ... Dumnezeul lor nu umbla pe nori: se poarta pe mugetele talazurilor, prin vartejuri si amafore, pe chitii si morunii biblici. Unul din acestia se afla inchis aici, si Dumnezeu trebuie sa fie aproape" ("He turned to himself in a painful pray ... As he did not know to look up to the Sky above. It is only the ploughmen that make this, begging God to send them rain. Fishermen beg for something much deeper; astoundingly mysterious ... Their God does not walk on clouds, He paces on the roar of the billows and whirlpools, on the back of biblical cetaceans and sturgeons. One of them is closed in here, and God must be somewhere, nearby.)" (Voiculescu: 1997, p. 297) Constantin Parfene turns to a good account this artistic text from a methodological perspective: "Fisherman Amin (...) a genuine poetic myth, created by melting the relics of a millennial collective consciousness in the imaginary plasma of a modern literary fiction" (Parfene: 1993, p. 142). This explains the sensation of experiencing the millennial faith --possessing the power of combining the Christian and the pagan concepts--in a most dynamic manner. The solar beliefs of the Dacians remain active only for the selection of the people capable of communion with the divine forces.

In the middle of the three loops, Lacan includes the object--cause of desire = a. Dylan Evans explains the signs in the scheme in the following manner: "Symbol a (the first letter of words autre and altul) is one of the first algebraic symbols present in the work of Lacan (...). It is always written in italics, with small letter, for showing that it denotes the little other one, opposed to the big "A" from The Other One. Unlike the big Other One, who represents a fundamental alterity (Evans: 2005, p. 211). The difference lies in the fact that a is the reflexion coordinate of the ego, deriving from the optics according to which the ego is reflected in one's own thoughts, and integrating the ego within an interchangeable relation (Lacan: 1988, p. 321).

Desire is expressed by a verb, and not by a noun. The desire of Santiago is determined by the action of catching the fish, and the fact that he returns only with its skeleton does not diminish his heroism, while leaving the imaginary side untouched, still in the area of fantasy.

The desire of Amin is that of releasing the sturgeon (which is "his legendary fore-forefather") by destroying the gate that should have acted as a trap for the fish. Unlike the fisherman described by Hemingway, the fisherman of Voiculescu experiences his desire in water: "he sunk at once", entering the "stream of fish". The gate becomes the border he goes beyond for amalgamating his life with the archetype: "Ah! Iata si morunul. Zadarnic se taraste pe fund, cautand sa se ascunda in dosul constelatiilor. E asa de urias, ca nu-l incap boltile" ("Oh! Here is the sturgeon. In vain it crawls against the bottom of the water, trying to hide himself behind the constellations. It is so huge, that the vaults cannot hold it" (Voiculescu: 1997, p. 300).

The desire of Amin comes true: "Morunul se ivise amenintator. Cand se infipse in gaura neincapatoare si se opinti, lua in piept pe Amin (...), pe stranepotul sau, pescarul Amin, (ducand) intr-o uriasa apoteoza catre nepieritoarea legenda cosmica de unde a purces dintotdeauna, omul" ("The sturgeon threateningly appeared. When it entered the too cramped hole for its size, he made an effort and attacked Amin (...) his great-grandson, (creating) a huge apotheosis for the everlasting cosmic legend from which man has always been created)" (Voiculescu: 1997, p. 301). This is the end of Voiculescu's prose.

The actions of catching and of releasing are antithetical, yet both of them are meant to identify the parameters of one's own freedom, determined by the unconscious side, as reflected in the conscious plane. This merging of the ego with the object representing desire is a central notion for the French psychoanalyst. In the prose here under discussion, the central point is represented by action, a notion evoking the capacity of going beyond one's own self for getting close to the desired object or to the desired ego, present in a reciprocally reflected connexion. In this way, the release action permits to be closer to the archetype --in the case of Amin--whereas fishing increases the empathy of Santiago for the gigantic creature, thus coming to be part, in a different way, of The Great Universe of the Primordial Waters, liable to both creation and destruction.


Jouissance of The Other One, in the form of the Borromean Knot, transgresses the perception of divinity, a central item in the study of Martin Buber, entitled "Me and You". The inter-concept of J. Lacan, namely perceiving of the unconscious side by means of involuntary assertions, is approached in a different manner by the Austrian philosopher, who is especially interested in the dialogue between Me and You (both written in capital letters). Mention should be made of the fact that, for the French psychoanalyst, communication between I and The Other is a redundant aspect. The intimate dialogue, knowledge of the ego, grasping of reality are equally of interest for the two specialists, however their approach is wholly different.

M. Buber considers the Christian trinity, initially--i.e., in the Middle Age--as standing for the Borromean knot, investigating the possibilities available to the Ego of being reunited with the You by means of an activity which he defines as a "presence" (Buber: 1992, p. 140), characterized by a "force involving three inseparable realities" (Buber: 1992, p. 140). This inseparability intensifies the correlation, the correspondence, the melt. At the same time, even if M. Buber does not recognize the communication with the subconscious world (Buber: 1992, p. 138), the collaboration among the three realities suggests a possible superposing of the conscious, subconscious and unconscious sides, that might involve both the archetype and some sacred (according to Buber) and dark (according to Freud) forces. The concentration of three realities permits to disclose the stages by which one comes to discover one's own nature, as derived from the Ego-Nature, Ego-Society, Ego-Divinity relation. Martin Buber settles the main features of these realities:

* "the full, real and total" reciprocity (Buber: 1992, p. 139);

* confirmation of the meaning of things;

* manifestation of meaning in life (Buber: 1992, pp. 139-140).

The philosopher substantiates his concept by the following conclusion: "This is the eternal-here-and-now present revelation" (Buber: 1992, p. 140). The philosophy of M. Buber favours man approaching God, the force to perceive, to enjoy eternity while still alive, which reminds of the most ardent desire of the main character of the novel Noaptea de Sanziene (Foret interdite) written by Mircea Eliade.

The propensity for assuming eternity can be manifested only in action: "Reality means exclusively action, to which its force and deepness are reduced. Even the <<inner>> reality exists only when a reciprocity of action is present. The strongest and most profound reality is that in which everything is led to action, the completely unchained human being and God who embraces all, the unified Ego and the boundless You" (Buber: 1992, p. 117). It is the tangent point of desire (a), situated by J. Lacan in the central point of the three loops. Desire prefigures the characters. In the case of Santiago, catching of the fish will not annihilate the brotherhood with it, instead it will contribute to the dialogue between the old man and the fished creature, and will help them both to avoid the fangs of the sharks, and to experience the eternity of the aquatic and starry horizons.

Amin experiences the moment of the sturgeon's release (as opposed to the stereotypy of his actions as a fisherman), initially only at a spiritual level, after which he dynamically has it projected in the real space. Corresponding to both characters, induced by the accomplishment of desire, and perceived as a mystery by both Santiago and Amin, is, in terms of the spiritual master, the "moment of the supreme meeting" (Buber: 1992, p. 138).

The philosopher specifies: "When abandoning the pure relation, the human creature has in him something new, added to him, something of which he knew nothing before and whose origin he could not exactly state. (...) We did receive something we did not possess before, receiving this fully conscious that it had been bestowed to us as a gift" (Buber: 1992, p. 138). This concept is different from the vision of the French psychoanalyst J. Lacan, according to whom the failed physiological side prevents the ego to experience happiness in the Jouissance of The Other. For M. Buber, the three realities do not develop fantasy as an element provoking the ego, instead they reveal inside the ego a different existential perception a higher level of understanding. The consequences of such experiences are also stipulated in the two artistic texts: Santiago is the living element which painfully experiences the reality of bringing to the shore only the skeleton of the big fish, however he feels an acute need of sharing with the boy the experience of having been initiated in the Supreme moment. Involved here is the unexplainable side which urges both of them to return to the instinct of life and instinct of death.

Fisherman Amin shares the experience of the sturgeon's release, by the sacrifice of his own life, thus accomplishing the archetypal myth. The eternal moment, experienced mentally, makes him accept self-denial, for his return to the origin. By the skilful plasticity of his artistic words, the Romanian writer V. Voiculescu makes us feel the animistic communication established between the sturgeon and Amin, in the Supreme moment, when times are superposed one upon another. Escaping from such at moment, Amin chooses to be reunited with it for ever, which transforms him into the subject of the legend, of the parable by means of which the text reveals its conceptual coordinate.


Interpretation of artistic texts by psychoanalytical means provides new opportunities for their deciphering. The main concepts employed in the analysis were: fantasy, life instinct --death instinct, the Borromean knot of Lacan.

Phobia represents a sensible zone of this science. In our opinion, wilderness, immensity, deepness, solitude--all these should induce fear, however neither old Santiago, nor fisherman Amin experienced such anxiety. Fear is replaced by the desire of remaining vertical in front of the sharks, when confronted with the avaricious human bestiality. The feeling of responsibility is reflected in their behaviour: they are always highly mindful, skilful, prepared, never in a hurry.

In both works, the concept of fantasy involves two elements--water and the big fish. Both are mysteries, dissociated into feminine--the water, and masculine--the big fish.

The notions developed by the Borromean knot (imaginary and real world, symbolism) do not correspond to the definitions offered by the theory of literature, the connection with the realism or symbolism being hardly tangible. The Borromean knot leads the relation between character and desire.

The relation established between the characters of Hemingway and those of Voiculescu is achieved at a synergetic level with the pray uttered to exceed one's limited physical forces, to find spiritual powers sprung from one's own essence. Nevertheless, such similitude develops differences, as well: the pray addressed--in Hemingway--to Saint Mary the Virgin and the one addressed to the God "living in the sky from the bottom of waters" (Voiculescu: 1997, p. 297). The uttered pray helps the prayer to survive in the middle of the ocean and to find his way towards knowledge, to maintain equilibrium in absolute solitude and to achieve the final goal.

The promise gives to Santiago hopes for the future, constituting the link between times. The past is placed on the wave of the virtual dialogue with the absent boy, whereas the present is restricted to the space of the boat, to the immense desire which is confronted with the immensity, becoming a freedom forcing him (by blessing his hand) to be the one actually led by the aspiration-fish. In the case of Amin, aspiration lures him towards another life. He gets united with his name, which means truth. He becomes a component part of the myth of the origin. Amin is lured by the aspiration towards nothingness, by the desire to live in the time of myth, to be consumed in the archetype.

Wonder constitutes the centre of both works. Wonder makes one discover one's own depths. Even if fantasy brings them close, the differences between their desires may be explained by the Borromean Knot: Santiago constantly wishes to catch the biggest fish; Amin changes his desires while he analyzes his own depths, from catching of the sheatfish up to the release of the sturgeon--therefore: he synchronizes his earthly existence with the imaginary one.

The French psychoanalyst J. Lacan takes over the Borromean Knot from the Christian concept. The divine side is fundamental in the Ego--You dialogue of the Austrian philosopher Martin Buber, who brings together several religious concepts. The conceptions of J. Lacan and M. Buber are antithetical, however their visions share a common coordinate --namely the communication relation of the Ego: according to Buber, the Ego communicates with You (Divinity) while, in the opinion of Lacan, the Ego dialogues in the Jouissance of the Other and in phallic Jouissance. In this way, investigation of the monad becomes possible. Both texts--that of E. Hemingway and of V. Voiculescu--are distinguishable in the two interpretative patterns, the three realities of Buber contributing to another approaching of the desire (a) of Lacan, situated in the middle of the locks.

The optics of J. Lacan transfigures the reality of personages into he and she, masculine and feminine, everything acquiring nuances of gender. M. Buber valorises the ideal, the notion of perfection. Sacrality works for life, pleading for embracement, but not for rivalry (as stipulated by the phallic Jouissance--in the optics of J. Lacan). In spite of the positive aspect of the concept, the characters do not remain identical in the Supreme moment, evidencing an individual behaviour, always faithful to their beliefs, as revealed by their actions.

Victoria FONARI--Associate Professor, Ph. D., State University of Kishinev, Republic of Moldova


The authors state that they are no declared conflicts of interest regarding this paper.


(1.) Buber, Martin. Eu si Tu, translated from German, with a Preface by Stefan Augustin Doinas. Bucuresti: Humanitas, 1992.

(2.) Evans, Dylan. Dictionar introductiv de psihanaliza lacaniana, translated from English by Rodica Matei. Pitesti: Paralela 45 Publishing House, 2005.

(3.) Hemingway, Ernest. The Old Man and the Sea, 1951.

(4.) WY0/edit?hl=en_US&pli=1

(5.) Hemingway, Ernest. Batranul si marea, translation from English and notes by Radu Pavel Gheo. Iasi: Polirom, 2007.

(6.) Lacan, Jacques. The seminar. Book II. The Ego in Freud's Theory and in the Technique of Psychoanalysis, 1945-1955, translated by Silvana Tomaselli, notes by John Forrester.--New York: Norton; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988.

(7.) Larousse. Dictionar de psihanaliza. Semnificanti, concepts, mateme, sub directia lui Roland Chemama, translated by Leonardo Gavriliu. Bucuresti: Univers Enciclopedic, 1997.

(8.) Parfene, Constantin. Teorie si analiza literara. Bucuresti: Editura Stiintifica, 1993.

(9.) Voiculescu, Vasile. Destin. Chisinau: Litera, 1997.


Victoria FONARI

Associate Professor, Ph. D.


Republic of Moldova


Submission: June, 22nd, 2015

Acceptance: October, 29th, 2015
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Title Annotation:Multidisciplinary contributions
Author:Fonari, Victoria
Publication:Bulletin of Integrative Psychiatry
Article Type:Critical essay
Date:Dec 1, 2015
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