Asociatia Zamolxe

“Barbarian Invasions” or “Blood Debt”?
Notes on the new boundaries of subjectivity

Raffale Attanasio

The field of biotechnology, its progress and its affirmations, as it has been imposing itself on public opinion in the last quarter of a century, represents a point of passage and anthropological transition (Marchesini, 2002) with a high emotional and psychological impact for the reflection that these changes have had and have on the consciences and private sphere of each of us. Psychoanalysis is no stranger to this phenomenon.
Even today the changes introduced by biotechnology invite us to a problematic rethink. In fact, they radically affect the terms of the relationships we were used to,
both from relationships with ourselves and our body, and from relationships with others, calling into question the problem of „boundaries” and „limits”.

I will refer to 2 films to illustrate the topic in question:
The Barbarian Invasions (2003) is a film about the relationship of the protagonist, who is ill terminally ill, with his own death and with the surrounding environment engaged in an action that could be defined as maniacal.
The other film Blood Debt (2002), narrates through an enthralling detective story the complicated events of a heart transplant case and the consequences of this
experience on the feeling of personal identity, on the boundaries of the self and on relationships with others .

The situations described by the two films are certainly not unusual in today’s society and represent a good example of how the experience of „limits” and „boundaries” is transforming as a result of the serious changes that have taken place in external reality.
Some considerations should then be made on the way in which electronic media contribute to the growing interconnection of human societies and the composition of
distances. This topic received wide coverage when, between the end of the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s, a great debate, not only political, on globalization

The contribution of the mass media specialist Marshall McLuhan should be recalled to continue with the social, cultural and political significance of space-time
compression, a theme at the center of the debate on globalization.

As will be seen, McLuhan’s theme of the global village, and therefore of overcoming the distances between human societies, joins that of the globalization process and the growing interconnection between societies and economies, transnational circulation of populations, cultural flows.
A synchronization process made possible by the radio, as we can see in the examplegiven by Amitav Ghosh, an English-speaking Indian writer with British anthropological
training, regarding the interconnection in the Islamic world guaranteed by the radio announcing the end of the fast at sunset (Ghosh, 1993).
Today the capacity of the electronic media to create what Marc Augè (1997) has called the “expanded ritual effect” is evident. Events that take place locally but which
receive an amplification with the media that can be defined as global. From the first live television via satellite in Worldwide vision in 1962 numerous sporting, political,
religious events, etc. they enjoyed this “global ritual dimension” (Boni, 2004). Peter Gatrell (2020) in his historical reconstruction of the post-war period to the
present day spoke of „European uneasiness” about the way in which population movements have reshaped the continent.

Concern because, from the post-war reconstruction onwards, the population flows between the different areas of the nation states, the arrival of citizens from former colonies, refugees and migrants have changed the demographic, social, cultural, political and economy of Europe.

After the crumbling of the communist regimes and the advent of globalization, the internal and external borders of Western Europe appeared very porous and more unstable; as if the distances between the various spaces had suddenly disappeared or shortened. In this regard, Eriksen (2017) observed that over the last few decades the border between the European Union and sub-Saharan Africa has now settled in the center of the Mediterranean. For various sectors of European public opinion, this process seems to have been experienced in a disturbing way (Gatrell, 2020). Beyond any large-scale analysis, how do the local and the global interact in the flow of
daily life? It is a problem that Jonathan Friedman (2005) posed for about twenty years ago Here I will try to show two ethnographic cases. Globalization has produced forms of social life characterized in various ways by mobility as a characterizing aspect of existence. In Western Europe, high-speed rail communication networks have
connected previously distant urban areas making it possible to work in one city and have a family in another (Castells, 2002). The European space is crossed by people
who lead a somewhat precarious life, often following seasonal jobs in the countries of the European Union (agriculture, construction, etc.) but also by people with a high
level of education and qualifications who travel comfortably and quickly enjoying the benefits of a high and cosmopolitan standard of living. For Gatrell (2020) and other
scholars these are the citizens ironically nicknamed „Eurostar”.
Eriksen (2017) spoke of the condition of contemporary life as dominated by ecological processes that can become „out of control” (increase in population, urban traffic, of
pollution, waste and in particular plastics) and unsustainable not only from an environmental point of view but also from a social, economic and political point of
According to Eriksen (2017), the treadmill syndrome could become the feature of contemporary social life; that is, you run, and you can also run sustainedly, but always
staying in the same place. In short, as if a strong commitment were needed even just to maintain one’s living conditions by adapting to the constant stresses of a changing world. One of the most representative social scientists of the last seventy years, Edgar Morin, recently interviewed on reaching 100 years of life, spoke of the difficulty of interpreting historical dynamics so characterized by uncertainty and complexity (Morin, 2021).
As mentioned by Piketty (2020), we can see how in recent decades in some social classes a bond has been created between the uncertainties produced by the financial
crises, the growing social inequalities and the discontent with how the political and economic elites have carried forward the construction of the European Union.

Augè M. (2005), To invent a new future. The Republic, February 1, 2005.
Freud S. (1929), Discomfort in civilization, O.S.F. 10
Marchesini R. (2002), Posthuman. Towards new models of existence, Bollati
Boringhieri, Turin
Appadurai A. (1996), Disjunction and difference in the global cultural economy, in M.
Featherstone, Global culture (1990)
Augè M. (1997), Stories of the present. For an anthropology of contemporary worlds
(1994), Milan
Castells M. (2002) Internet Galaxy (2001), Milan
Castells M. (2009), Communication and power (2009), Milan
De Martino E. (1959), South and magic, Milan
Friedman J. (1996), Being in the world: globalization and localization, in M.
Featherstone, Global culture (1990)
Ghosh A. (1993), The manuscript slave, (1992), Turin
Ghosh A. (1996), The shadow lines (1998), Turin
McLuhan M. (1977), The tools of communication (1964), Milan
Morin E. (2021), Culture is the common destiny, in la Repubblica
Piketty T. (2020), Capital and ideology (2020), Milan

The text represents the point of view of the author.

Dr. Raffaele Attanasio, Psychologist

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