Rene Magritte’s “The Great War” (1964)

In the article posted on June 13 I tried to understand more about the psychology of war mongering and war-making through the analysis of Magritte’s painting. Why we cannot learn how to resolve the international conflicts in a more rational – peaceful, way?

In 2009 this question is even more urgent than it has ever been. I have framed Magritte’s monumental painting according to the events of the 21st century. So if to give it a new title today it can be “Our great war in Iraq (2003 – 2009…)”.

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In the previous article I asked why Magritte metaphorized war as a beautiful figure of an opulent woman. Perhaps he was trying to address the subject of war as a matter of our libidinous fixation on war as the object of our unconscious yearning. We may in fact have a secret crush on war.

Isn’t something like this often happening in love – we don’t completely understand why this particular woman makes us crazy. Lacanians under Jacques-Alain Miller’s arduous lordship and Slavoj Zizek’s daring leadership will remind us about the object petit a. What then can be the similarity between the lost primordial object and war as its masked return?

If some of us are really traumatized by the loss of the primordial object and therefore cannot accept the loss, and then our whole life is impregnated with our vain attempts to restore the primordial symbiosis (by finding new symbiotic relationships), war can be a metonymy of this our soul’s drive to fight for regaining a dyad with the lost primordial object. War becomes for us not only a kind of mother, a kind of mother-umbrella protecting us from the world, but the symbol of our very search for the lost bliss of being with mother-me of my infancy, which we keep alive and desired in the underground of our memory. The risk of possible death in war then becomes for our unconscious the signifier of our return to the womb (the most radical mode of the re-uniting with a primordial mother) and a prerequisite of our re-birth into a better world.

Our war-welcoming complex (our unconscious desire to participate in war making because it puts us “closer” to our lost primordial object) makes it almost impossible for us to stop feeding with our passions and our flesh the solemn ritual of military clashes.