Julia Kristeva, the Bulgarian-born French psychoanalyst is one of the primary influences on my intellectual and spiritual life. Recently her term, semiotic chora, has been falling into place for me, tying together for me a variety of spiritual/intellectual themes that have drawn my attention for most of my adult life.
She borrowed this term from Plato’s “Timeous”, using it to describe a “space” between being and non-being. This buffer zone might be thought of as the pre-conscious, a murky realm where our animality conjoins the symbolic realm, the domain from which will spring consciousness. And between this chaotic, “non-sensical” realm there is discontinuity with consciousness which is related to the Oedipal transition and, in my estimation, the Biblical “fall” from Grace. This is the domain of experience that Shakespeare’s Macbeth was aware of when he lamented, “My dull brain is racked by things forgotten.” Here Shakespeare was revealing one of the reasons for his literary brilliance, his “dull brain” was always teeming with effluvia from the semiotic depths of his heart which is why his work speaks so powerfully to the human heart even today.
With this foray into linguistic intricacy, I admit I am a bit over my head. Let me be safe and put it into laymen’s terms…being a layman myself…there is a region of experience beneath the surface of our life which is unconscious. All of us know about it though when it surfaces we often dismiss it with a simple lament, “Now why did I do that?” or “Why did I say that?” And occasionally the playwright of this drama in which we each have a bit part brings along a character like Donald Trump who glaringly demonstrates this unconscious element of our individual and collective psyche.
Awareness of this unconsciousness could be completely stifling. For example, the words I am spitting forth here are coming spontaneously. They are flowing from my heart, driven by this unconscious dimension I have put on the table. I am mentally healthy enough to not be so worried about my unconsciousness that I am fretting about every single thought that I convey here, or every single word I choose. For, should I do so I would very quickly be so stymied by the resulting hypertrophied self-reflectiveness that I would not be able to do anything but sit here and, and, well…., ahem, alas and alack…probably just burst into tears at some point, a complete meltdown!
Mental health, or actually spiritual health, will allow us to recognize the presence of an unconsciousness in our life but not be so terrified of it that we feel out of control. Recognition of this dimension of our life is merely acceptance of our human-ness and with that might come a dollop of humility which would allow us to be less strident with our viewpoints and more accepting of those who see things differently.
Here is a list of my blogs. I invite you to check out the other two sometime.