Posts Tagged ‘unconscious’


my shame of owning
this brand new iPhone 5S
— reveals my inner
monk/puritan — quite distinct —
a sub-personality

Well, microchip technology is quite something after all. Conversely, I experience a swell of pride that I successfully weaned myself off a mild addiction to Twitter and Facebook (I’ve deleted both). The film Steve Jobs was, for me, a useful prod to the imagination to help grasp just how momentously computers have changed all our lives. Computers somehow engage our emotions whether we like it or not — which is quite some irony given they are totally emotionless themselves. Since a couple weeks ago I now own my first ever brand new iPhone. Prior to that, I had been using my sister’s cast-offs. I dreamed last night that I was holding my iPhone 5S under a stream of running water, trying to wash it clean. Then I realised with a jolt that I was supposed to have waterproofed it first. There was some quite  specific procedure for waterproofing, and I couldn’t for the life of me remember if I’d already carried it out or not. This was an anxiety dream and a wake up call to realise I care far too much about my iPhone! But the poem focuses upon the figure in my own unconscious who seems to be always whispering to me how much better off I would be if I owned nothing at all.



lying on the dirt
floor of an Egyptian tomb
— my head feels strangely
ordered and at peace — nothing
like what I was expecting

As an Anglo-Saxon Brit, my civilised history is a relatively recent affair. Maybe a thousand years old? In Egypt they were already living ordered, settled lives four thousand years ago. Assuming our ancestors are always with us, unseen, contributing their wisdom (and their foolishness) to our present lives — and that’s something which I do tend to assume — in that case, I’d have unconsciously developed in the course of my life, a whole set of expectations, based on the exact ‘feel’ of what kind of help to expect from my ancestors who were alive four thousand years ago. And that would be quite a primitive, animal sort of help (no less helpful for that of course). I would have picked this up from the very soil of England, from visits to ancient sites in England, from the activity of my imagination, from the real, living presence of those ancestors themselves. But when I visited Egypt, in 1984, and stretched out flat on the dirt floor of a tomb in the Valley of the Kings to try and commune with the spirits — I discovered my inner space behaving in a totally unfamiliar way. I had always assumed ancient wisdom to be somehow a matter of letting go of the thirst for order and control. Experiencing a little primaeval chaos and instinct instead. For me, communing with the spirits of my prehistoric ancestors (i.e. the Celts) had always been a matter of ‘going native’. And without thinking, I had expected the same from an Egyptian Pharaoh’s tomb. Instead, I felt the vibrations of a spirituality which, despite being so ancient, had nothing ‘primitive’ about it at all.

Last night I dreamed I was in modern-day Egypt trying to reach the airport, full of anxiety whether I had my passport and enough money.


I’d no idea
there was still so much anger
waiting to explode —
our chemistry possesses
more intelligence than us

Last night’s dream was a festival of anger and rebellion. Possibly triggered by a brief and apparently trivial conversation with Liz yesterday, about the current Celebrity Big Brother series, where she reported that one of the contestants had had a theatrical tantrum and ‘gone ballistic’. In my dream, I was shooting my mouth off all over the place at work, giving vent to, apparently, a lifetime’s worth of frustration and rebellion against authority. Also, in real life yesterday, Liz had her own explosion of temper, accusing me (in effect) of infantalizing her with baby talk. So it isn’t entirely clear whose anger is the issue, and I think my poem does capture that ambiguity, although it’s quite poor, as a poem. It’s anticlimactic, the way the reflection of the last two lines is just tagged onto the strong opening statement.

back story

I don’t want to be
part of whatever this is
— I don’t understand —
why are you all behaving
as though we know each other?

Reading Jung in the seventies, I came across the terms endogamous and exogamous. Specifically with reference to libido, which can be endogamous or exogamous. In the context of psychoanalysis, it’s a way of distinguishing between the energy — emotional, sexual, psychological — which derives from one’s earliest incestuous fantasy-feelings towards members of one’s own family (endogamous libido), on the one hand, and on the other, the energy which reaches out beyond the family towards actual sexual partners — in other words (at its most gross interpretation) strangers. Normal, friendly social interaction outside the family cannot really happen (from what I’ve observed in myself) unless it manages to incorporate an astonishingly powerful component of endogamous libido. In other words in social groups, we make an unspoken, unconscious mutual contract — whereby we agree each to treat the other, in some small measure, as though they were ‘family’. These ponderings formed a large part of my mental life in my twenties, when shyness was really a problem for me. In my dream last night, I felt alarmed at being treated as a long-lost buddy by a couple of young men whom I didn’t know at all. It turned out they were in therapy with the same analyst as me. I was then left with the problem whether that was a good enough reason to accept their premise of brotherhood. On the whole I felt extremely suspicious and disinclined to play ball. There was something not right about it — eventually transpiring to be that the analyst was treating each patient as a sexual partner — so we were bound together by mutual collusion in this situation. All part of my ongoing forty-year-long struggle to decide what I think of psychoanalysis. I still don’t know.


to indulge my own
magic generosity
— spending money I
don’t have on things I don’t want
for reasons I cannot grasp

I dreamed I was buying theatre tickets for my stepdaughter and a bicycle for Liz. Felt likely I might be exceeding my overdraft limit thereby. It’s a type of problem all too familiar from real life and I’m glad of the opportunity to quiz myself whether I regard it as an unimportant weakness or an important one — or maybe not as a weakness at all. Clearly, not knowing why I do it is one thing. But not knowing what I think about it, is a bit pathetic. There is a severity associated with the proper use of money. I suspect by refusing to take that severity into myself (i.e. refusing to live within my means) I am actually somehow the slave of the very thing I am trying to deny. In other words, I would rather be generous than severe. But I am so one-sided about it, it means logically that all my severity is gathering strength in the unconscious.

timid explorer

there are degrees of
impenetrable darkness
— sometimes it’s OK
to travel no further than
the familiar unknown

I dreamed I was in France on holiday, running out of money and missing my flight home. In the dream I had a vivid enjoyment of being immersed in Parisian culture even despite whatever anxiety about money and practicalities. The poem is crap unfortunately, as it entirely fails to capture that enchantment of Paris, which was the most powerful feature of the dream, and instead interprets the general idea of France (from a UK perspective) as symbolising the familiar unknown. Much too abstract. I also dreamed of an episode of Doctor Who featuring the Pied Piper of Hamlyn. Though in this case, the Pied Piper was being hypnotised by the mice rather than the mice by the Pied Piper. Mice being proverbially timid, this links up with the poem’s title. First thing this morning, before writing the poem, I did some work on improving the text of my own story for a presentation in the new year. I decided to insert a few sentences very close to the beginning which makes it quite clear (I hope) just how committed I am to the notion of ‘the unconscious’. It’s crazy stupid just how difficult I find it to talk about this when I do these presentations. I always feel it is far too intellectual and abstract. But it’s fundamental to how I see the world and it’s really the main reason why I was able to process my own madness successfully and come out the other side. Here’s the text I inserted this morning:

Surely if you’ve never questioned your own sanity — you’ve never lived. I’m someone who believes that the conscious mind is just the tip of an enormous iceberg — the unconscious mind. And madness is just simply whatever you experience when the unconscious mind takes over. Madness is therefore an opportunity for self-knowledge. 


weird formations
seducing the mind into

I dreamed of a very weird cloud formation. When we were tiny and young, each of us had the most intimate conceivable encounter, all the time, with the Great Unknown — because that’s what life itself was to us — and what we ourselves were to us. We were new to it all. Everything was hugely unknown. I honestly don’t understand how it can have come about that my adult consciousness has carved this niche for itself — like a cave — where it sulks, surrounded by the comforting Known. My forays into pornography have a lot to do with being an itch to experience the totally irrational, the totally unknown. I can do that at Catholic Mass. But the intensity of my own sexual desire challenges my rational side much more dramatically. My aspiration would be, to maintain some kind of constant vigilance against too much rationality. Or, on a positive note — to look constantly for the miraculous element of Being, in my daily life, in the workings of my own consciousness. Monotheism has quite a lot going for it, in the sense that it does encourage an awareness of one’s own essential helplessness in the face of some immense force larger than itself. Again, that is similar to what I experience in viewing pornography. Pornography is essentially dark, and monotheism light. What’s needed, doubtless, is a uniting principle of wholeness. I believe Jung called that The Transcendent Function. It’s a long time since I read the relevant texts. But I googled it just now and came up with the following typically abstruse quote from Jung’s Psychological Types:

From the activity of the unconscious there now emerges a new content, constellated by thesis and antithesis in equal measure and standing in a compensatory relation to both. It thus forms the middle ground on which the opposites can be united. If, for instance, we conceive the opposition to be sensuality versus spirituality, then the mediatory content born out of the unconscious provides a welcome means of expression for the spiritual thesis, because of its rich spiritual associations, and also for the sensual antithesis, because of its sensuous imagery. The ego, however, torn between thesis and antithesis, finds in the middle ground its own counterpart, its sole and unique means of expression, and it eagerly seizes on this in order to be delivered from its division. [Psychological Types, CW 6, par. 825.]