Cogito, ergo?

The psychological concepts of “conscious” and “unconscious” correspond to the physiological test of “shallow” and “deep.” Beneath them, we have what is reputed to be a “collective unconscious.” (I turn to the late Swiss sage and shrink, Carl Jung.) This represents what remains to the human, although it extends outside. It is the consciousness that lies beyond the individual’s reach, unlike his personal complexes and pathologies, of which he can be made dramatically aware (through meticulous psychiatric reports).

When we get to a certain depth, that we consider profound, we cease dealing with things from the world of our experience. Rather, we have the facts of the brain and its structure; and their unseen interactions with reality at large.

Sometimes we become “unconsciously,” but as it were, consciously unconsciously, aware of this reality through art. One has seen the painting before, perhaps at the dream stage, or originally from another century; or heard the story in the remote past, on the knee of a forgotten ancestor; yet it is shockingly new. It is larger than life, and suddenly more vivid.

Art, and poetry, generally, are a revelation of what “everyone knows,” but did not know before they were indited.

We assume that everyone participates  in the same “collective unconscious”; but it may be unique to the physical constitution of a single, isolated brain. Were I a “secular materialist,” or atheist as we used to say, I might ponder this more. It is a path that leads to phrenology, and by various further developments to eugenics, demographic editing, mass-murder and all-round humourlessness.

There may be a deeper unconscious, still: quite non-material and thus incapable of interacting with this world by the techniques of cause-and-effect. It might never be detected, even though it is exquisitely capable of forming impressions, and making instinctive moral judgements — and conducting them through our physical channels, without leaving physical scars.

Well, I’ll relent now. For we are off-road, and possibly overturned.

But what of this “lower unconscious,” endowed like the more visible upper forms, by our Creator — made by Him, as everything was made? Yet also detachable from our universal kit? For the soul of a man is unique, and uniquely a mystery; not to be solved by studying the habits of another man, or by gathering reliable statistics.

He may be awakened from his sleepwalking, eftsoons.