In the move from Modernity to Post-modernity our concept of the "subject" has undergone dramatic changes. Nowhere is this transformation more significant than in the study of dreams where the paradox arises that the human subject is not only the object but also the "subject" of our investigation. This article traces the genealogy of the "subject" in Western thought from its "birth" in Cartesian philosophy to its "death" in post-modern thought. Particular focus is placed on the role of language in the creation of a self-reflexive subject, a re-examination of Jung's notion of the imago in terms of the post-modern problematic of text, and a new look at dream interpretation in light of these issues.
KEY WORDS: post-modernity; human subject; dream interpretation;
Jung; self-reflection; mirror stage; language; psychoanalysis.
The psychological study of dreams presents us with the paradox that the observer is the observed. This inherent reflexivity at the heart of the study of dreams raises several important questions: (1) What are the epistemological implications for a discipline where the human psyche is not only the object but also the subject of its inquiry? (2) What is the subject of dreaming? (3) How is this subject related to psychic images, language, and the problematic of textuality? (4) And how is the "interpretation" of dreams related to the process of self-reflection? To develop a greater understanding of these questions in relation to the therapeutic use of dreams, we will turn to some of the dramatic changes in our system of thought occurring as we move from Modernity to Post-modernity.
But the actual birth of the human subject, seen as a distinctive presence with specific attributes, occurred in the seventeenth century. Ellis Raglan-Sullivan, 1986
The study of the human "subject" emerged in the seventeenth century through the process of the human psyche constituting itself as an object of knowledge (Foucault: 1970). With this reflexive turning back on itself the human psyche became not only the object, but also the subject of our field. It was the appearance of the notion of the self-reflexive subject in the seventeenth century that most characterizes the movement from Medieval Scholasticism to what has become known today as Modernity. Prior to Descartes and the seventeenth century, existence was predicated on a transcendent God, Matter, or Eternal forms. But with Descartes' cogito ergo sum, "I think therefore I am," the human subject for the first time is placed directly at the center of Western metaphysics and psychological understanding. Descartes' theory of the cogito, the thinking subject, signaled a major change in Western psychological understanding. The Cartesian theory of the thinking subject contains the beginning of the Modern philosophical project to provide an anthropological foundation for our psychology and metaphysics. No longer were ideal forms (Plato), matter (Aristotle) or god (Medieval Philosophy) at the center of our system of thought. For at the center, Descartes locates the human subject.
The subject of Modernity is a conception of the human psyche as an actively
knowing agent. The study of this subject and the process through which thought
is constantly interwoven with the unthought has in the 20th century led to the
development of depth psychology. But, as the twentieth century comes to a close,
we find ourselves once again at a critical moment in the history of Western
psychology. Today we find ourselves at the transition point between Modernity
This transition in our underlying system of thought is just as profound as the movement in the seventeenth century out of Scholastic and Medieval assumptions and into the Modern conception of the world and human nature.
(I)f the individual subject did not exist. for example. in the Middle Ages, it could also cease to be in another. future epoch. This is the crux of post-modernist thought, and it includes the argument that post-modern capitalist society no longer provides the discourse and the conditions of possibility for the existence of a subject. Marike Finaly, 1989
Nietzsche's declaration of the Death of God in the last quarter of the 19th century signaled the beginning of the end of Modernity. Through a radical questioning of the transcendent values Scholasticism and Modernism had assumed as given, Nietzsche attempted to call forth a transvaluation of values and the birth of a new conception of the human subject. Today, some one hundred years later, the foundation of Modernity is once again being challenged. This time the challenge is being heralded not by Neitzsche's declaration of the death of god, but by Foucault's, Derrida's, Lacan's, and Hillman's declaration of the Death of the Subject.
For today, it is the speaking Subject who declared god dead one hundred years ago whose very existence is now being called into question. No longer is the speaking subject unquestionably assumed to be the source of language and speech, existence and truth, autonomy and freedom, unity and wholeness, identity and individuality. The transcendence of Descartes 'cogito' is no longer so certain. The speaking subject appears not to be a referent beyond the first person pronoun, but, rather, a fragmented entity produced by the act of speaking. Each time the first person pronoun is uttered, it projects a different entity, a different perspective and identity. It is positioned in a different location.
Man is not the author, but the text. Richard Kearney, 1988
Post-structuralist thought has produced a Copernican revolution in the theory of the subject and its relation to language. The subject comes into being not beyond language, but in and through language. The "I" located within the existence of language is merely a function of the place, the position, the site, it holds within the textual realm. Our ontological ground is shifting from the individual subject to the text.
The move from Modernity to Post-modernity is not simply a change in perspective, but an entirely new mode of thought. It is an entirely different mode of conceiving the world and its relation to the human psyche. The emerging notion of the empty subject does not create a foundation as Descartes proposed, but rather creates the limits of a critical depth psychology by seeing through the very idea of the subject as the foundation of human thought and certainty. Historically, the certainties in our systems of thought have been founded in the belief in god or the gods, in common sense, empirical observation, or phenomenological experience. But today with the emerging recognition of the irreducibly textual character of our beliefs and our theories, all areas of certainty are being called into question (Kugler, 1990a). Our "certainties" are expressed through texts, through language. As our certainties in foundations dissolve, so too do our certainties in our psychological concepts. No longer are our psychological concepts regarded as transparent, in either conveying ideas or reflecting the world. All psychological theory and experimental description is trapped within the confines of language, unable to stray beyond the limits of its own terms. Psychological concepts such as "I," "subject," "reality," "dream," "unconscious," "psyche" are, after all, only words within language. We are, therefore, unable to escape the conceptual web of these words.
As speaking subjects, we can never step outside language and view it from some other perspective. Derrida has described this inability to transgress the text, noting that we "cannot legitimately transgress the text toward something other than it, toward a referent (a reality that is metaphysical, historical, psychobiographical, etc.) . . . There is nothing outside the text." (Derrida: 1976, p. 158).
This radical assertion of our inability to transgress the text marks one of the most important differences between the Modern and the Post-modern modes of thought. The Modern view works to heal the split in language between sign and referent, striving to close the gap by using symbolic interpretation as a mediator of identity and difference. To reconnect the sign with its meaning or referent, the Modern mode uses various hermeneutics. The dream image (sign) is interpreted (reconnected to its referent: meaning or object) by using various therapeutic techniques, such as free association (Freud), amplification (Jung), interpretation of derivative communication from the bi-personal field (Langs and Searles) and so on. Each therapeutic hermeneutic, in its own way, attempts to repair the split in language between sign and referent. But what if in the Post-modern language game played by dreamers and their culture, the sign refuses to be identified with its referent? Interpreting, amplifying, and semanticizing are Modern therapies for Modern language games. But what if the speaker refuses to make the identity between the signifier and the referent; refuses to identify the first person pronoun in his/her dream with his/her conscious "identity"? Is this dissociative disorder, multiple personality, or is this perhaps a new language game requiring new methods for "individuation"?
Can psychoanalytic discourse go beyond the semantics of interpretation and translation once post-modernism declares that signs do not stand for something else. that they are traces of productive forces only? Can psychoanalysis survive the desemanticization of discourse? Marike Finaly. 1989
To develop a better sense of the interrelation between post-structural thought and contemporary dream analysis, let's turn for a moment to Jung's notion of the "imago" and see if it bears any family resemblance to the Postmodern notion of "text."
Jung used the term "imago" to refer to psychic representations. He elected to use a term other than "image," or "representation" to differentiate imagos from "true" representations. As early as 1912, Jung recognized the relative independence of the child's parental imago from its object referent, the literal parent (Jung: 1961, par. 305). The Imago is a composite of outer perceptions and inner apperceptions. Sense impressions of the external world entering via the perceptual systems are affected by the emotional reactions of the perceiver. The person's love, admiration, resistance, hatred, rebelliousness. and envy transfigure the perceptual contents, creating an imago which reflects the external world with very considerable qualifications. The imago performs a synthetic function, integrating both external sensory experience with internal psychic reactions. The significant point is that the imago is not simply a reproduction of the outer world (that is, a copy of an historical event), but rather, a psychic production. It is precisely this distinction between reproductive imaging and productive imaging that led Jung to characterize psychic images as imagos.
. . . the naive person takes it as selt-evident from the start that when he dreams of Mr. X this dream-image is identical with the real Mr. X. It is an assumption that is entirely in accord with his ordinary, uncritical conscious attitude, which makes no distinction between object as such and the idea one has of it. Jung, 1960. Par. 508
Jung was influenced not only by Kant's distinction between productive and reproductive imaging, but also by his differentiation of the noumenal from the phenomenal, i.e., the differentiation between the object-as-such and its representation in consciousness (Jung: 1971). The process of Jungian dream analysis begins with the literal objective level of the dream and then moves to the metaphoric-subjective level (Kugler, 1982). If, for instance, a dreamer's mother appears in a dream, the objective level of interpretation refers the mother-imago back to the actual person herself, the extemal object of reference, and the dreamer's personal associations to her. On the other hand, the subjective level of in- terpretation approaches the same mother-imago as an expression of the dreamer's psychic traits. The imago is approached as part of the dreamer's own psyche. The objective level approaches the imago "as if" it were referring to the actual object, while the subjeaive level suspends this assumption, approaching the imago as a relatively autonomous entity existing within the psyche. Through the process of moving from the objective to the subjective level of interpretation "projections are withdrawn" and the personality develops a greater capacity to hold the tension between the literal and metaphorical dimensions of both their outer and inner worlds.
The debate between Freud and Jung on the interpretation of psychic images might be understood as a by-product of the problematic of images, i.e., representation and referentiality. Freud is committed to the mimetic concept of image, which views image as a copy, a re-presentation of some more fundamental phenomenon. For example, early Freud refers psychic images back to biology in his drive theory, and later, as he struggles to free himself from biological reductionism, the image is referred to desire. In either case, the concept of image at work in Freud's theory of dreams is reproductive. This "copy" or mimetic view of image inevitably leads to Freud's distrust of the manifest level of the dream.
Jung, on the other hand, is working from a fundamentally different concept of image. Having adopted Kant's productive view of imaging, as well as the distinction between the noumenal and the phenomenal, Jung approaches the psychic image as a primary psychic phenomenon: "Image is psyche." The imago is not reduced to material predicates in the outer world, nor to biological predicates, nor to divinities, nor to a transcendental ego. The imagos we see in our dreams as Other reflect those aspects of the psyche estranged from consciousness. Through the reflexive process of moving from the objective to the subjective level of dream interpretation, those estranged aspects of the psyche are slowly brought into a more integrated relation with the conscious subject.
This type of reflexive hermeneutic differs significantly from the more traditional humanistic mode of reflexivity. The model of self-reflection found in classical psychology and philosophical epistemology works from the assumption that self-reflection Is a mirror reflection. The subject-imago being objectively reflected upon is symmetrical (identical) to the subject doing the reflecting. This model of reflexivity adopts the logic of physical reflection. When applied to psychology, the process keeps the reflecting subject always caught in the solipsism of ego-consciousness. There is no way of escaping the ego's narcissism.
The narcissism resulting from the therapeutic use of this mode of reflexivity an ego-consciousness reflecting on itself has been extensively critiqued by Hillman (1989). Unfortunately, Hillman is in error equating this symmetrical model of reflexivity with depth psychology's asymmetrical model. Self-reflection in Jungian depth psychology is a process through which the personality turns back on itself in an asymmetrical fashion. This provides a way out of the philosophical solipsism and therapeutic narcissism inherent in the humanistic model. The mirror at work in the Jungian hermeneutic does not reflect the self-same face. Rather, it mirrors back the face of the Other. But who is this Other to whom I am more attached than my own ego-identity?
Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?
The model of mirroring at work in the Jungian hermeneutic is based more on the logic of mirrors as found in psychic reality than those found in physical reality. The imagos being reflected back to us in "our" dreams are not psychic images symmetrical to ego-consciousness. Rather, they are an inner Otherness, alien to ego-consciousness. This model of reflection asymmetrically mirrors, not the self-same, but the alienated Other.
To concern ourselves with dreams is a wav of reflecting on ourselves a way of self-reflection. It is not our ego-consciousucss renecting on itself: rather. it turns its attention to the objective actuality of the dream . .. It renects not on the ego but on the Self; it recollectslhe strange self. alien to the ego, which w.'s ours from the beginning, the trunk from which the ego grew. Jung, 1964, par. 318
Approaching the dream in this manner unsettles the boundaries between subject and object, self and other, inside and outside, the living and the dead, subverting at the same time the symmetry that founds their traditional opposition. By placing primacy on the intermediary realm of images, the founding polarities of Western metaphysics are undercut and we are less bound by their dichotomous structures and hierarchies.
. . . the psyche consists essentially of images. It is a series of images in the truest sense. Jung, 1960, par. 618
The imago might be compared to a "spirit of the dead" living on after the death of its material referent. It is a category of Being located somewhere between the subject and the object, the living and the dead and its alien presence creates a sense of alterity within the psyche.
The imago is built up of parental influences plus the specific reactions of the child; it is therefore an image that reflects the object with very considerable qualifications . . . The image is unconsciously projected, and when the parents die, the projected image goes on working as though it were a spirit existing on its own. The primitive then speaks of "revenants" while the modern man calls it a father or mother complex. Jung, 1966, par. 294
The imago is a presence in the psyche made of an absence of an object, a "ghost," a "revenant," a "trace," a "sign of absence" located in the "beyond." Traditional fear of the dead and of the ancestors in the beyond might be viewed as an intra-psychic fear of the parental-imagos located beyond consciousness and exerting a significant influence on the ego. The realm of the "beyond" with its ghosts and apparitions is the liminal realm just beyond the borders of consciousness, inhabited, haunted, by imagos. Working out through analysis a more conscious relation to these imagos might be analogous to the assimilation of ancestral spirits in more traditional cultures.
In Symbols of Transformation, Jung once again returns to the theme of referentiality.
Interpretation in terms of the parents is, however, simply a "facon de parler"--(a manner of speaking). In reality the whole drama takes place in the individual's own psyche, where the "parents" are not the parents at all but only their imagos: they are representations which have arisen from the conjunction of parental peculiarities with the individual disposition of the child. Jung: 1952, par. 505
The process of moving from the objective to the subjective level of interpretation is simply a "facon de parler"--a manner of speaking! The interpretative move transforms the parents into the "parents," opening up the psychic space between the "called" and the "so-called." This is the place of quasi-quotation, the topos between the literal and the metaphorical, the site of reflexivity. Therapeutically this hermeneutic privileges neither the "called" nor the "so-called," but works instead to hold the tension between the two.
Jungian psychoanalysis, with its movement between the objective and subjective levels of interpretation, works to hold the tension between the mimetic and the figurative aspects of psychic images. At times the mimetic dimension will move into the foreground, while at other times the figurative will be more emphasized. But, we must be careful not to split the two dimensions, privileging one over the other. This splitting of the privileged theoretical object of psychoanalysis has led to a false division between the so-called archetypal and the so-called clinical. All analysts are working with psychic images and, therefore, are consciously or unconsciously caught up in the crisis of representation. Our imagos always fail to represent completely the object as well as the subject. The rupture between referent and representation is constitutive, as opposed to an event after the constitution of some other ontological entity. The world of psychic images is constituted precisely through the negativity implied in the impossibility of representing either the object or the subject.
Our cerebral consciousness is like an actor who has forgotten that he is playing a role. But when the play comes to an end, he must remember his own subjective realily, for he can no longer live as lulius Caesar or as Othello, but only as himself, from whom he has become estranged by a momentary sleight of consciousness. Jung, 1964, par. 312
Interpretation on the "subjective" level involves approaching psychic images as if they were an inner drama, an inner text with multiple roles and voices. The conscious subject tends to identify with one or another of these inner parts, "acting" as if this text were the subject's actual identity. Iung compares the conscious subject to an actor who has for a moment forgotten he is playing a role. The subject is located in a text, his/her identity based on identity and difference in relation to the figures of speech. Analytic work involves differentiating the various sub-texts within the personality, working to develop a conscious attitude capable of relating to imagos, while not becoming over-identified with them.
The ego stands to the self as the moved to the mover, or as objecl lo subject, because the determining factors which radiate out from the self surround the ego and are therefore superordinate to it . . . It is not I who creates myself. rather I happen to myself. Jung, CW 11. par. 391
Jung's main focus was not on the subject and its relation to subject-imagos, but on the subject (ego) and its relation to, what he termed the Self. The Self (capital "S") was conceptualized by Jung as the "agency" within the psyche moving the personality toward maturity and completion. The Self is a subject superordinate to the ego. (Corbett and Kugler: 1989).
The Jungian Self is conceived of as the privileged agency in the personality responsible for "creating," "holding together" and "individuating" all the disparate imagos, complexes, part-objects, emotional experiences, etc. The Self represents the "totality" of the psyche as well as the agency responsible for its self-regulation. This concept of the "self" lies somewhere between the modernist notion of the subject and the post-modern notion of discourse (or perhaps Heidegger's Being of language). What is clear, however, is that Jung's "Self" is not the modernist "subject," while at the same time, still carrying many of the liabilities characteristic of that "subject": a privileged status, a totalizing tendency, a sense of a unitary, singular identity and so on.
So far, I have found no stable or definite cenlre in 1he unconscious and I don't believe such a centre exists. I believe that the thing which I call the Self is an ideal centre . . . that dream of totality. Jung Interviewed by Serrano (Serrano, 1968)
Jung's radical questioning of the subject of representation led him already in the 1920's to posit that within the personality there exists not one, but two subjects! The ego "represents" the conscious subject, while the Seif represents a superordinate other subject. The ego in its relation to the Self in Jungian psychology holds a position similar to the role of the subject in relation to discourse in Post-modernism. Where the subject of post-modern thought has lost its primary ontological status to language, so too in traditional Jungian psychology has the ego lost its primary ontological status to the Self.
The mirror would do well to reflect a little more before returning our image to us. Lacan, 1977
But how does this divided subject, capable of self-reflection come into being? The divided subject (ego/Self) comes into being when the ego--that is, the imago with which consciousness is identifed--becomes differentiated from the agency of the Self during the mirror stage of psychic development (Lacan: 1977; Kugler: 1987). This childhood event is simple enough. The infant is six months to a year in age, not yet able to talk. All at once, the child, who has never before hesitated in passing the mirror, stops and smiles, for this is the first time it has recognized itself in a mirror. The infant's discovery of and identification with its image in the mirror, or in a mirroring relationship, signifies the division of the subject into ego and Selo With this reflective rupture comes the differentiation of the agency of the Self from its conscious representation. The image in the mirror actually "belongs" to the same child viewing and experiencing the image as Other. Octavio Paz describes the subject's experience of Otherness, this way: "'Otherness is above all the simultaneous perception that we are others without ceasing to be what we are and that, without ceasing to be where we are, our true being is in another place" (Paz: 1975, p. 245)
As the infant for the first time views its own image as Other in a mirroring relationship, that very act of viewing simultaneously brings into being the "subject" doing the viewing. The event of the mirror stage is the first instance of the infant's psyche imagining itselo The mirror stage is a paradigmatic metaphor for the birth of self-reflexive consciousness, the divided subject, and the inter-dependence between the imaginal and the real. There can be no reflection without the real child and there can be no consciousness of the real child without the imaginal child. The real and the imaginal are coterminous: each coimplicates the other.
This split between the actual infant and the mirror image with which the infant now identifies is only the anticipation of a more profound differentiation of the subject which will occur during language acquisition. This later process replaces the mirror image of the body with a linguistic image, the first person pronoun. The linguistic image is even more problematic than the mirror image in that it does not signify the particular individual, but whomever is speaking.
During the mirror stage the human subject becomes possible when neurological development allows the infant to distinguish objects, and the human subject becomes actual when the child develops the capacity for representation. The realization that the human subject is constructed through the reflexive creation of representations leads to the awareness that we are in language and creating metaphors of ourselves, as well as of our understanding of ourselves, all the time. The human subject is not given. The subject is something constructed through metaphorizing in every dimension of our psychic existence, including theory making, free associating, dreaming, and every other dimension of psychic imaging.
The acquisition of "language" results in three significant effects (Kugler: 1990). In the first place, by acquiring the ability to name itself, the individual is able to be symbolized by replacing lived experience with a text. This capacity to self-represent allo'wc us to gain consciousness of and distance from the immediacy of an event. The textual realm not only mediates the object world, but also self-experiences by establishing a self-representation in language (e.g. "I"). For example, this capacity allows a person to recognize their ego-image in a lived dream and represent it in a dream text.
The dialectic between lived experience and the textual realm constitutes the primary locus of therapeutic analysis. The process of analysis works to differentiate the analysand's conscious identity from both the "outer" and "inner" texts. The outer texts of a child are those spheres of representation constructed by others in which the child is represented. For example, the outer text might be the parent's discourse. The child represented in the parents' texts is not the same as the literal child. If the child over-identifies with the parent's representation, this may lead to the development of a false or compliant self. The child's identity is then based upon the parent's images rather than their own unique images. Compliance prevails over individuality.
An inner text, on the other hand, might be a dream, fantasy, in which the ego and other aspects of the personality (complexes, desires, etc.) are represented. If the child over-identifies with the images in the inner text, it may lead to acting out through an identification with unconscious images.
The personality may take several possible attitudes toward these representations. The conscious attitude might (1) comply with the imago and assume the imago as its identity, (2) adopt a defiant or rebellious attitude toward the imago, taking just the opposite position presented by the imago, (3) not recognize anything about the imago as pertaining to his/her identity, or (4) be able to view the imago as the representative of some aspect of their personality, but not necessarily feel their identity as identical with the imago. This later position is possible only when the individual views the imagos (both outer and inner) as Other, thus allowing the ego to hold the imago at enough psychic distance so as not to overidentify with its contents. Often this attitude is undermined by a tendency among therapists to encourage their patients to view all aspects of their psychic representations as "part of me." When this happens, the client learns to "relate" to his/her imagos by simply stating: "Yes, and this image is also a part of me."
Although the therapist's intent might be to encourage the patient to integrate those imagos being projected onto others, the problem is that through this therapeutic move the ego is subtly encouraged to identify with the imago, rather than open up a differentiated relation to it. Psychic integration is quite different from an ego identification. When this identification is therapeutically encouraged, it is no longer possible for the patient to view his/her imagos as Other, undermining their sense of inferiority and their capacity to confront responsibly this aspect pf the personality. This is a form of therapeutically induced narcissism (Hillman 1989).
The problem with this therapeutic move is in the ambiguous use of the word "me." To which "subject" does "me" refer: the ego or the Self? The difficulty with this or similar phrases is that "me" is ambiguously functioning both as a representative of ego-consciousness, as well as, a totalizing agency representing all of the personality. While the imago is part of the patient's total personality, the psyche or Self, it is not necessarily part of the ego. The expression "part of me" collapses the critical distinction between ego and Self (psyche), I and inner Other. A more differentiated approach to the imago by the therapist might be something like the following: "The image is part of your psyche. Perhaps you (the conscious subject) can paint the figure or begin a dialogue with the imago to help develop more of a conscious relationship to it." The therapeutic objectivation of the imago through painting or active imagination works to break the ego's identification with it, while locating the imago in a representational sphere related to the conscious subject.
The capacity for the ego to see "itself," its representation, at a distance is the result of the originary alienation taking place during the mirror stage. This originary alienation between consciousness and representation leads to the second consequence of language acquisition: the creation of an inner sense of Otherness.
The process of acquiring language results in the creation of a second order of being, the textual realm of representation. The post-mirror stage personality is divided into an experiential self and a textual self. By assimilating and being assimilated by language, the speaker increasingly identifies with the textual self, the first-person pronoun "I." The unconscious tendency to identify the imago with its referent is particularly apparent in interpreting dreams. When a dreamer first looks at a dream, the usual reaction is to identify consciousness with the dream-ego and to identify the other persons in the dream with their apparent referents. For example, the naive dreamer identifies their mother imago as it appears in a dream with their actual mother. The "natural," conscious attitude makes no distinction between object-as-such and the imago one has of it.
But through the analytic process of differentiating the imago from its referent, whether Self or other, a sense of inner Otherness and psychic inferiority slowly comes into being. The process of psychoanalysis is characterized by the patient's progression from an unreflected identification with their imagos to a reflected relation to them.
Jungian analysis is particularly facilitated through work with dreams, allowing the person's consciousness an opportunity to view and emotionally relate to at a distance the behavior of their psychic imagos. As long as the imago is identified with its referent, its presence as a distinct psychological entity within the person's psyche will remain unconscious (Jung, Collected Works 4, 1961). The conscious mind cannot recognize the relative autonomy of psychic images because the imagos are projected back onto the referent and confused with the referent's own autonomy. Psychic reality is fused with physical reality; the finger pointing toward the moon is confused with the moon itself. In short: the imago/text is contaminated by the referent. The distinction between referent and image has been ingeniously portrayed by the surrealist painter, Rene Magritte. One of Magritte's works displays a pipe and has for its title: "Ceci n'est pas une pipe" ("This is not a pipe").
I am conscious that I am moving in a world of images and ~hat none oF my reflections touches the essence oF the unknowable. Jung, CW 11, par. 556
The inability to transgress the text opens up an ontological gap betvveen representation and referent, imago and the unknowable. The exclusion of the experiential self from the realm of representations leads to a third effect of language: the appearance of an unconscious order of experience. Although textual mediation is necessary for consciousness and self-consciousness, the price paid for such mediation is the creation of a certain unbridgeable distance between text and original lived experience. While psychic images are representations experienced in the sphere of consciousness, the realm of unmediated experience is the realm of the unconscious. And about this subject we cannot speak . . .
We began with several questions: What is the "subject" of dreaming? How is this subject related to psychic imagos and language? And how are dreams and the process of therapeutic "interpretation" related to the act of self-reflection? In the course of discussing these questions many figures have been evoked: Neitzsche, God, Foucault, the Subject, Post-modernism, Jung, the Imago, Lacan, the Mirror Stage, the Imaginal, the Real, Otherness, the Unconscious, Revenants, Spirits of the Departed, the Beyond, and that undeconstructed concept with the capital "S," the Jungian Self. Long after the departure of these figures there remains in consciousness a trace, a haunting awareness that it is not possible to clearly "see through" their ghostly images to a reality that is metaphysical, historical, or psychobiographical. These spirits of the letter are not transparent to the world, but actively figure in the creation of our subject. In the process of reading, we identify with a figure, taking it literally as does the post-mirror stage child in that inaugurating first reading. As various other figures begin to appear and disappear within our gaze, this process of literalizing and deliteralizing brings into being both the subject of this text, as well as our own subjectivity. Through this "mirroring," "interpreting" the figure first on the "objective level," then on the "subjective level," we find the (")subject(") continually shifting sites, changing identity. This reflexivity renders a definitive reading impossible, for we are always suspended somewhere between the literal and the figural, thrown into the dirtying semantic indeterminacy of the text. The figures are suspended in the topos between the called and the so-called. And somewhere in the inter-mixing of the figures in this text with those in our subjectivity, a significance begins to emerge, always seeming to allude to something behind, b,eyond the text, to an elsewhere, to a truth that the text itself does not quite yield.
I would like to express my indebtedness in writing this text to conversations with Michael Adams, David Miller, and Sonu Shamdasani.
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Jung, Carl, Civilization in Transition, Collected Works 10, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1964.
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Miller, David, "The 'Stone' which is not a Stone: C. G. Jung and the Postmodern Meaning of Meaning," Spring 49, Spring Publication: Dallas, 1988.
Ragland-Sullivan, Ellie, Jacques Lacan and the Philosophy of Psychoanalysis, University of Illinois Press: Urbana and Chicago, 1986.
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Copyright 1993 Paul Kugler, Ph.D. All rights reserved.