The Infra-World, 3–15




Upon hearing an unknown noise, spying a fleeting shadow, the adult will imagine a whole series of potential scenarios that might explain the phenomenon, bringing it back into the known world and rendering its existence probable. On the contrary, a child rapidly runs up against the limits of his imagination, then finds himself before the most radical, the most terrifying unknown. He finds himself at the gates of the infra-world, and there perceives the real danger of being snapped up by nothingness, of seeing the few certainties acquired during his early years shattered to pieces and sinking into the pitch-black waters of a groundless world.

Against the structures of order and discipline, whether those of school or of the family unit, against the many strategies designed to initiate the child into the grown-up world (objects and coloured forms designed to ‘awaken’ him to the rigours of civic education or to the history of civilization), the terror of this blackness insinuates into the ear of the toddler a terrible promise: ‘You will never know the world; the known world is already gone, it is collapsing around you. Its fictional limits are at breaking point, and the ensuing flood will carry you far, far away’.…