Saturday, April 19, 2014

Jungian Version of Plato's Cave

Maudslay Park
CC Jean Stimmell: April 17, 2014

Through both image and word in yesterday’s blog, I tried to illuminate the following enigmatic quote by Elias Canetti:

“You carry the most important things in you for forty or fifty years before you venture of articulate them. For this very reason, you cannot reckon what it is lost with those people who die early. All people die early.”

He appears to be saying that it is impossible to articulate what is most important to us; worse yet, it takes us forty or fifty years before we even try.

I think he has hit upon something important about our existential inarticulateness, but, in my opinion, it is a consequence of living in our modern world – it wasn’t always so.

I visualize our plight as an alternative vision to Plato’s cave. In Plato’s version, humans lived in a cave but didn’t know it. What they saw as reality was only a reflection on the cave walls of the real world outside in the sunlight.

In my Jungian version, our collective unconscious is the real reality, tapping us into a more-than-human wisdom, a reality that indigenous people are immersed in and consciously able to celebrate. But in our modern world of science and technology, we no longer live in our bodies or within the sacred body of the Earth but in our minds.

Separated from our body, nature, and our sense of place, Canetti is correct: we can’t fully articulate the important things, just faintly perceive them as dream images and visions reflected on the flat-screen walls of the cognitive and technological caves we have so blissfully built around ourselves.

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