nature of the Self: theory, image & archetype
“This, then, is the ultimate paradox of thought: to want to discover something that thought itself cannot think.” -Søren Kierkegaard
Through conscious awareness human beings have created a field of shared symbols. We call this field of shared symbols a ‘language’. Most of us take language for granted. We use language to express our desires, feelings, thoughts. We use it to navigate our world and get what we want, focusing only on what we know and can name and speak. Few of us ever think about what is unsayable or unrepresentable.
If we imagine the symbolic as a dimension of mind which we are used to inhabiting, then we may imagine another dimension: an unsayable dimension. This dimension of the mind represents all that cannot be said.
The unsayable dimension so deeply saturates our perception that it is, in fact, very hard to get a hold of, to grasp. We simply cannot represent it with words. Yet it remains within every given moment, saturating it, providing a ground for all conception and experience.
And so, we may say that there are two dimensions of experience. One is affirmed through our capacity to speak about it and the other is negated because it is unsayable. We have an affirmative and a negative. For the most part human beings understand their reality through that which is affirmed. But the negative exists nonetheless.
The negative may be seen as the ground of our perceptual experience. And when I say that the negative is the ground, I also mean that all perceptions arise from and in relationship to this ground. If all things arise from the negative, then it, paradoxically, something which deserves to be affirmed.
In reading Carl Jung, one is introduced to the religious dimensions of the psyche. The religious dimension includes archetypes and symbols that exist within the depths of the psyche. Images which are neither sayable nor unsayable, but paradoxical, point at that ‘something that thought itself cannot think.’ It is here, in the religious dimension of the psyche, that we encounter the unsayable as veiled in religious arcana.
If God is the Divine Father, representing the most affirmed: ‘the most high’, ‘the mighty one.’ Then the divine mother becomes the negated, the negative, the hidden. While that which is most high can be represented by the number 1. That which is negated has no representation, except as we give her the notation of 0. Thus representing the primal binary pair of mind: 1 and 0.
It is from this primal dialectical tension that the life of the mind arises. It is the archetypal father and mother: God hovering over the deep.