Dorothée Legrand: Hoisted at the Hinge of Times – in Exile between Melancholia and Nostalgia

In this presentation, I would like to underline the contrast between, on the one hand, a past that doesn’t pass and which, as such, makes no future conceivable, and on the other hand, a past that doesn’t pass and yet can be inscribed into the present in view of the future. Tentatively, on the one hand, we may call melancholia a state of mind which involves a past which always fails to become presently alive again, thereby preventing any future to come anew; and on the other hand, we may call nostalgia a state of mind which involves the insistence of the past to always remain presently alive, thereby opening itself to the risk of being transformed by what’s yet to come. I will notably rely on Jacques Derrida’s views on historicity to consider different manifestations of melancholia and nostalgia. I will focus in particular on situations of exile. Exile will here be characterized by a temporal rupture, no future being conceivable from a present cut off from its past. To this rupture, I will argue, one may reply melancholically or nostalgically. I will consider how exile may be blocked out of time, caged into a present which is both at once ephemeral and eternal, knowing no past and no future, and will also consider how, contrastively, exile may be hoisted at the hinge of times – reopening the past towards what’s to come.


Dorothée Legrand is a researcher in philosophy (CNRS, Husserl Archives, Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris Sciences et Lettres Research University). She is also a psychologist and psychoanalyst, affiliated to IHEP (Institut des Hautes Etudes en Psychanalyse). As a clinicial, she works in private practice, as well as for the association MigrENS (for students in exile). Since 2014, she organises a monthly seminar “Articulations philosophiques et psychanalytiques“ at Ecole normale supérieure in Paris. In 2019, she published the monograph Ecrire l'absence – Au bord de la nuit (Paris, Hermann).