Thursday 2 June 2011

Human analogue nature and Depth Psychology

It's worth stating why my interest in depth psychology has been re-awakened (after having rejected Jung particularly as 'obscurantist' many years ago; Freud I still find fascinating because I think sex does seem to be behind most things...). It really derives from the fact that we are not digital; we are not on-off: we are analogue, and more than that the world caresses us with it's phenomena: that means that perception is a wave-like 'motion towards something'. What that 'motion towards' is actually towards is an interesting question, but I think it's something 'big': Bataille might say 'death', and I am attracted by that idea. Perhaps in 'death' Jung would identify the 'shadow', or Freud the libido. All of these are possibilities.

The technical problem is 'pinpointing the wave': what is it's cycle? how does it oscillate? How does it progress? Is it purely driven by internal forces, or do external forces (the material world) play a role in its progress? As with all my thinking about this topic, music illustrates spectacularly. The caressing short phrases of Webern (in the piano variations, for example), are one type of wave expression: short, distinct; the overlapping phrases of a Bach fugue have a collectively different effect. Larger musical forms have a technical architecture which is clearly delineated into 'movements' (interesting word!) of different characters (for example, Beethoven's late work - say piano sonata op. 110). One might be tempted to say these are almost archetypal. There appear to be moments of 'character' at all levels... "When I first looked into her eyes, I felt a rush of emotion gradually giving way to a realisation that..."

I'm most attracted by Jung because I can see the archetypes in the larger-scale structures of art, literature and music. This also takes me back to my degree-level studies in the music of the Jungian Michael Tippett. Is it that Jung gave greater definition to the dialectic of Freud's Id? Yet maybe Freud has something when he talks about repression, and the dialectical consequences of that. The dialectic that arises from psychological repression is also a way of making distinctions about 'the wave' - diachronic distinctions. It is also what Roy Bhaskar is trying to do with 'absence' and dialectic.

This is best played with in a modelling environment. However, the criteria for any explanatory power here would have to be the match between emergent outcomes in a model and emergent outcomes in the world. Clearly, we all have a subconscious. None of us quite know how it works, but it would appear to play a key role in making each of us different from one another.

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