Monday, 2 October 2017

The Unconscious

[Just a re-posting of an earlier piece.]

It is my conviction, that is not so much a conviction as, well, not a conviction at all in fact, but simply an idea, an idea for which I feel no bonds of affiliation, this idea merely being a thought, and why bind yourself to a thought - these things which appear and disappear and whose periods of absence are generally far greater than their presences - and anyway this thought is a thing of little import, perhaps more whimsical than anything else, a thought that silently rose up out of the darkness and burst forth humbly but without shame into the light of conscious knowing . . . But, wherever the hell we're going and before we go any further along the route, who was thinking this thought that arose from the invisible and oblivious depths? I, that is 'I', that which we call I and which dwells up here in the visible firmament, as it were, was wholly unaware of any goings-on in these depths from which burst forth the thought. I wasn't even aware of the existence of these depths, and who knows, perhaps all this 'depths' is mere conjecture; this implied dark matter of the soul, this great unconscious, for when you come to think of it the moment we are talking of the unconscious, well then we're in the land of the conscious, not unconscious, and how could it be otherwise?

A man was in search of absolute blackness and so descended into a cave that burrowed into the very belly of the earth. "But this is no use!" he exclaimed. "I can't see anything!" So he turned on his torch and with great satisfaction proclaimed, "Ah, now I see. How wonderful it is. Though this blackness is not half so mysterious and black once you give it a proper look."

You can't flash a torch into darkness and go on calling what you're looking at 'the darkness'. And what's more, the analogy might suggest all too much, as unlike this cave the unconscious never becomes visible. All we have is the conscious. Otherwise how could it be unconscious? I'm not saying it isn't there but what's the good in getting worked up about it, creating some kind of narcissistic fetish out of it, obsessing about this great unconscious, all the while it's actually the conscious you're wallowing in.

I have moved far from this conviction or idea which bubbled up to the surface, though you may be wondering if this idea was merely a literary device, a means towards an end - the end having something to write about, and the means the writing. Words were placed in sequence, how else could they be placed, in the expectation, or perhaps just hope, that some inspiration would in the process be ushered forth from the dark depths...we're back to these depths. There seems, for now, no getting away from them. No, I don't doubt their existence at all, but it's this unnatural, urban, civilized fetishisation of oneself I can't stand. A mental self-lust, a kind of perverted mysticism where instead of release from one's self-imagined self, one wallows endlessly within it. And perhaps that's what in essence this is all about: the intelligentsia seek intellectual justification for masturbation. That seems to me very true, though exactly why I am as yet unsure, but if true it can't be too mysterious.

Their own personality is their greatest love. Deep down (in the depths) even they realise it's a false, sterile kingdom, but they wish to conquer this thought and to rule or dwell in full confidence and complacency within this personality's domains. So all this Freudian self-wallowing wishes to prove that this personality and its desires is all fully real and fascinating, and indeed all there is. It is from the deeper silence that the intimation of the falseness of this remorseless selfhood, this personality, its self-engendering, is felt and therefore to cover up this silence is the task at hand, to silence its silence, so to speak, and to convince oneself one is doing the opposite.

But to cover it up with what? Endless thought, and, entwined mixture of cunning and stupidity that is this 'self', announce that all these words you produce are actually this enemy, the Silence, which you label the Unconscious. You make a load of noise about silence and announce that the noise you produce is this very silence, and what's so special about this silence after all- just a load of noise. And also what could be better than to persuade oneself that this silence is actually something grubby, mere base desires; rationalise it as so and only so. So the very alleged silence, this Unconscious, proffers the justification for this corrupt self-wallowing individual to continue wallowing in itself as you've declared it and its desires absolute reality. And the civilized short-sighted animal proclaims with pride: "We have tamed the animal, the Great Beyond! The rational self is king! We may masturbate with full self-esteem!" For what after all else is there?

How's that for psycho-analysis?


Anonymous said...

Best thing i've read in ages.

Andrew Kenneally said...

Thanks very much.