Mikel Bassols (Barcelona, 1958), writer and psychoanalyst, expresses with sadness this “experience of loss”, which for him is the disappearance of the forest from his childhood games. This forest of Teresianas, in the heart of Barcelona, was his first connection with nature (albeit mediated by the pseudo-mystical architecture of Gaudí at his school). It is surprising that this first immersion in nature happened in that forest in the middle of the city, a Island wooden today deleted from the map by traffic on General Mitre/Via Augusta and Ganduxer. This forest disappeared, as did the friend with whom he explored these corners, and this loss he brings back to us with impressive reflections in his book Boscoria. The lost nature of things (Symbol editors).
The book is an essay, a testimony and a “sequel” to his own psychoanalysis. But above all, a testing ground for unleashing the supernatural, a dimension where nature and language creatively dialogue hand in hand with mountaineers, psychoanalysts and writers.
“Maybe it’s true that we go to the mountains to look for something we’ve lost”
It is therefore not surprising that the conversation in his modernist house next to the sofa stops at details such as the black oak on the Passeig de Gràcia (next to the Palau Robert), a replanted tree that recalls the specimen praised by Jacint Verdaguer as the last vestige of the old boscuria down the slopes of Tibidabo.
Bassols (Ph.D. in Psychology at the University of Paris, with three children) is very fond of hiking. But El Cadí is his favorite place because, seen from Músser’s (Cerdanya) point of view, the massif looks like “an exercise in flexible origami”, where the mountain resembles “an accordion or a sheet of paper that folds and unfolds” to show all the folds and folds, their furrows, slopes and sinkholes.
But the psychoanalyst warns that “landscape is a creation of romanticism, especially of artists,” a finding that contrasts with that Oriental or Japanese vision that projects the experience of a space of “moving boundaries” in which rivers and mountains interact and letters and blur of nature.
For this reason, when we go to nature or to a certain place, we already carry in our backpack the story of what will bring us to that place. We look at a landscape, but when we do so, we read the multiple messages that precede us and that make that landscape as such, he emphasizes. We are beings marked by language. “We have no separate experience of the symbolic constructions that have been important in our lives. Therefore, the whole relationship with nature and landscape it is entirely mediated by our unconscious, by our way of living speech”.
A great promoter of Jacques Lacan (he was president of the World Association of Psychoanalysis), Basols reads his teacher as “a great decipherer of the unconscious structured as language” and has just been translated into Catalan Lituraterra (Numbered Days), where the idea abounds that “nature is writing that you have to know how to read and that we only have access to through language,” he sums up. “We live and are subject to the power of language, which makes us experience connection with others and with nature in a unique way,” he says.
He talks about all this in his book, where he reviews his experience as a mountaineer, corrects blurred memories and recalls the vertigo and chasms such as the Mohammed pass in Anneteau, while healing the wound from the traumatic accident in Le Gavares.
Nature is a great metaphor, this is a text we must read”
It also examines the extreme experiences of mountain climbers. And guess what makes us explore the last frontiers of mountains and peaks. What did we lose there? “Through the readings of mountaineers and climbers, I believe that behind all of this is the experience of loss, be it of a friend, a brother, a loved one, or even a loss related to yourself. The mountain represents loss for many people. “Maybe it’s true that we go to the mountains to look for something we’ve lost,” he says.
The book delves into the philosopher Pascal and Lezama Lima’s idea that nature is lost (the true nature, the original experience, as only the symbolic experience remains…). And therefore everything we find is ‘supernatural’: behind the lost nature is the ‘invincible joy of the reconstructed image’.
“Nature is a great metaphor, it is a text we must read. This concept is in Gracian speaking of the book of nature, or in Ramon Lull, a great reader of nature, of the tree as a symbolic element of human thought,” he says. And it also allows for a possible new interpretation. The supernatural may be the intuition of Verdager and the creators of more accessible dystopias when they notice that behind so much loss, desolation and ecological destruction, jasmine can grow.