Let’s Talk About Skin


Best of 2016

We’re away until January 3, but we’re reposting some of our favorite pieces from 2016. Enjoy your holiday!

Charles Landseer, 1813. Wellcome Library, London. Via Wikimedia Commons.

Charles Landseer, 1813. Wellcome Library, London.

In the exchange below, J. D. Daniels and Mike Nagel discuss Didier Anzieu’s The Skin-Egoavailable in a new translation by Naomi Segal. Anzieu (1923–99) was a French psychoanalyst and theorist whose work brought the body back to the center of psychoanalytic inquiry; The Skin-Ego, first published in the mideighties, found him meditating on the function and structures of the skin as a “psychic envelope.” Naomi Segal is a professor of modern languages, specializing in comparative literary and cultural studies, gender, psychoanalysis and the body.


Dear Mike,

I just got back from New Orleans, where my friend Nicky told me his theory of swamp karma.

Anything you drop down here will sprout, he said, whether it’s a seed from a plant or a deed you sow. This land is fertile and karma is quick. If you do good, you get good. If you do bad, you get bad. If you don’t know how you did, you can always check on what you got.