with Beverley Zabriskie
It will assuredly be a long time before the physiology and pathology of the brain and the psychology of the unconscious are able to join hands… to discover the bridges that connect the visible and tangible nature of the brain with the apparent insubstationality of psychic forms. The unerring certainty of their presence remains.
For indeed nature would not exist without substance, but neither would she exist for us if she were not reflected in the psyche.
In our era, the why—the inside-out of depth psychologies’ probings of mind and psyche—are now joining hands with the what—the outside-in of the neurosciences’ findings on the brain/body continuum. Brain and mind, body and psyche, emotion and cognition, are approached as a spectrum, as interactive and interlocking fields of register and experience, self–organizing or disorganizing, from the subliminal to the felt, from the remembered to the imagined or simulated gathered or dispersed sense of self.
While addressing common ground, our subject—consciousness—has multiple meanings and various valences across different disciplines. Neuroscientists have extracted resonant insights from their research on internal networks, while psychology offers narratives of identities and roles, patterns and determinants. In the depth psychologies, psyche and mind are treated as emergent aspects of human nature, as it reaches toward reflection on itself.
Not only do these hold divergent definitions of consciousness, but also, across the many schools of philosophy and psychoanalysis, the Conscious and the Unconscious are ascribed similar but not identical features
Zabriskie’s themes emerge from her practice in Jungian analysis, where charged mythopoeic imagery and personal interpretation, gut instincts and reflective understanding may come together. In this realm, time and the timeless, dream and symptom, personal and collective unconscious, inherited and cultural constructs, individuality and synchronicity, are linked.
The Swiss psychiatrist C.G Jung was influenced by William James, Darwin, Einstein, Pauli, and Neil’s Bohr, as have such neuroscientists as Edelman, Ekman, Le Doux, LLinas, Damasio, Ramachandran. Like James, Jung expanded theories of body–up emotions on personality and alluded to the Copenhagen formulas of uncertainty and complementarity as relevant to psychology. He also traced the mind’s mythological mode of story to express the significant, as if a collective unconscious impacts the personal unconscious.
While mortal body exists in chronological measures of perceptions and sensations, felt time is fluid insofar as powerful epics of emotions emerge from any epoch and place, and—in personal development—from any phase or age, in no particular chronological sequence. Memory updates the past via the present, while imagination moves beyond the now into the possible future. In a sense, psyche then exists in a timeless time.
To get beyond the magical thinking of striking coincidence as interventions of the gods, Jung saw meaning as a value granted by the observer rather than embedded in the event. Synchronicities then are manifesting microcosmic convergences with the macro domain, a matter of both mind and matter described in the dual-aspect monism of Harald Atmanspacher.
Jung’s idea of consciousness includes knowing one has an unconscious. Are we more our unconscious or conscious selves? Does a sense of self emerge from the exchanges between them, wherein we are both subject and object?
Does the seemingly rational daytime self-receive the hyper-condensed, non-linear mythopoeic dream imagery in a triangular network between the right and left brain paths of McGilchrist’s Master and Emissary? Are myth-making and mythologies alive and well in films, video games, virtual realities, fictional simulations of selves, as in Herve Le Tellier’s novel The Anomaly, David Chalmers Reality +?
In Memories Dreams, Reflections, Jung states:
Only here, in life on earth, where the opposites clash, can the general level of consciousness be raised. That seems to be man’s metaphysical task which he cannot accomplish without ‘mythologizin.’ Myth is the natural and indispensable intermediate stage between unconscious and conscious cognition.
In 1955, Jung wrote:
The mystery of the self will develop an aspect which is foreshadowed in our formulations, though in so veiled a form that the investigator of the future will ask himself, just as we do, whether we knew what we meant.
Still today, the brain scientist Eric Kandel declares it may take another 100 years to track and map the brain. Meanwhile, our questions are significant, the quest for answers worthy and necessary. Until we know, we will both find facts and make myths about who and what we are.