No one compares to you, but there’s no you, except in my dreams tonight
I spend a lot of Time reading Carl Jung. It has been through Jung and also, John Piaget, a developmental psychologist, that I started to understand that our articulated systems of thought are embedded in something like a dream. That dream is informed in a complex way by the characteristics of our actions.
In other words, we act out things we don’t understand all the time. If that wasn’t the case then we wouldn’t need a psychology or a sociology, anthropology or any of that because we would be completely transparent to ourselves and we’re clearly not. Hence, we’re much more complicated than we understand, which means that the way that we behave contains vastly more information than we know.
Part of the dream that surrounds our articulated knowledge has been extracted as a consequence of us watching each other behave and telling stories about it for thousands and thousands and thousands of years. Extracting out patterns of behavior that characterize humanity and trying to represent them partly through imitation but also through drama and mythology and literature and ART.
All of this is a reflection of what we like so that we can better understand what we’re like. Within these reflected modes of self representation we can identify the struggle of humanity to arise above it’s animal forebears say and to become conscious of what it means to be human.
This is a very difficult thing to self actualize because we don’t know who we are, what we are or where we came from. Life is an unbroken chain going back three and a half billion years ( or three thousand for those religious zealots ), which is an absolutely unbelievable thing that every single one of your ancestors reproduced successfully for three-and-a-half-billion years.
We rose out of the sea, dirt and muck and now here we are conscious but not knowing. Although, trying to figure out who we are. Freud, I suppose in some sense started to collate the information that we had pertaining to the notion that people lived inside a dream. It was Freud who really popularized the idea of the unconscious mind. We take this for granted to such a degree today that we don’t understand how revolutionary the idea was for it’s time. For instance, the sexual catalyst behind humans emotions is what most people think of when Freud comes to mind, although the overarching, and revolutionary ideas on consciousness he discovered is now engrained in our popular culture that we rarely take heed to them.
This most notably includes the idea that your perceptions and your actions and your thoughts are all informed and shaped by unconscious motivations that are not part of your voluntary control. This is one of the most unsettling things about the psychoanalytic theories. Psychoanalytic theories are along the lines of, you’re a loose collection of living sub-personalities each with its own set of motivations, perceptions, emotions and rationales, which you have limited control over. In essence, you’re like a plurality of internal personalities that’s loosely linked into a unity. This notion of sub-personalities because self-evident because of the daily struggle that is waged in order to controlyourself.
This bleeds over to one of Carl Jung’s objections to Fredrick Nietzsche’s idea that we can create our own values. Jung didn’t believe that especially not after interacting with Freud because he saw that human begins were affected by things that were deeply beyond their conscious control and no one really knows how to conceptualize those things (e.g., never pay for therapy, do it yourself).
For example, the cognitive psychologist think about one’s own ability to consciously control actions in some sense as a computational machine. Which, is in effect punting back to ancient times when people thought of the inter personalities as individual gods. Rage would be a God, Mars; the thing that possesses you when you’re angry. It, referring to the God, has its own viewpoint and it says what it wants to say and most of the time it has very little consideration with what you as an individual want to say when you’re being sensible.
The unconscious entity doesn’t just inhabit you, it inhabits everyone, including animals, and it lives forever. Therefore, it’s a transcendent psychological entity that inhabits the body politic, like the thought inhabits the brain. Which is one way of thinking about, however strange, but certainly having its own merits and in some sense these are deities, although not that simple.
Carl Jung, like myself, got very interested in dreams to understand the relationship between dreams and myths because he would see in his clients dreams echoes of stories that he knew because he was deeply well read in mythology. Which lead him to begin to believe that the dream was the birthplace of the myth. There was a continual interaction between the two processes, the dream and the story and storytelling. The dream tends to occupy the space of uncertainty and to concentrate on fleshing out the unknown reality before coming to grip on it, hence the dream is the birthplace of thinking. And so, since the dream is the birthplace of thinking it’s not that clear, the recollection of the dream is the remembrance of the process by which one formulates something deep within the unconscious mind, that was Jung’s notion.
On the other hand, Freud, who believed that there were internal sensors that were hiding the dreams true message. Jung believed the dream was doing it’s best to express a reality that was still outside of fully articulated conscious comprehension. The common notion of, “a thought appearing in your head”, seems ridiculous when you pause on the concept for a moments time. One question that, COMES TO MIND, where does it come from? It seemingly comes from nowhere, it just appears, which is not a very sophisticated explanation. Those thoughts that appears are often someone else’s thought, perhaps someone long dead. The word you use to think are the utterance of people and so, you’re informed by the Spirit of your ancestors, is one way of looking at it.
Your motivations speak to you. Your emptions speak to you and your body speaks to you. It does all that least in part through the dream, and remember the dream is the birthplace of fully articulated idea.
Jung being a strong believer in dreams believed that dreams will tell you things that you don’t know. Which skeptically, you’ll think is biased because how can something you think up tell you something you don’t know. Fist of all, why don’t you understand it, why does it have to come forth in the form of the dream? Which alludes back to the notion that there is something going on inside you that you don’t control. In other words, the dream happens to you just like life happens to you. A crazy complicated world manifests itself inside you and you don’t know how because you can’t do it when you’re awake. Furthermore, you don’t know what this world means through its symbols and narrations.
This is what is so frightened about the psychoanalyst, in which you begin to perceive from both Freud and Jung, that you begin to understand that there are things inside you that are happening that CONTROL YOU, instead of the other way around. Granted there is a bit of reciprocal control but there’s manifestations of spirits, so to speak, inside you that determine the manner in which you walk through life. What does control it is the deeply unsettling question.
Is it random? there are people who have claimed that dreams are merely the consequence of random neuronal firing which is a theory I think is absolutely absurd because there’s nothing random about dreams. Dreams, however complicated and complex, are very structured, not like static through phone lines.
In sum, I’m one that takes the phenomena seriously, in ways that there’s something to dreams and if not heeded or wrestled with to understand better what is taking place within we are doomed to be overtaken by what’s inside.