No-Man's-Land and Knowing Man's Land
As we have discussed in the past, the "space" of our conscious mind has some analogies with the Newtonian space of everyday life, whereas unconscious (or supraconscious) space is quite different (ultimately we are not just "in" this space but of it). However, we can only make an artificial distinction between conscious and unconscious minds, since each is always implicated in the other -- like the horizontal divide between right and left brain, or the vertical divide between neo-cortex and limbic system.
You might say that we are three (or more!) beings in one person. Somehow we have this unproblematic experience of a unified self (at least in mental health), despite the fact that it is constituted of so many innumerable parts.
In fact, as I outlined somewhere in my book, we can only have this unified sense of an individual self because we are intrinsically intersubjective -- just like the godhead.
So either the early church fathers who worked out trinitarian theology were proto-psychoanalytic developmental theorists, or modern psychoanalysis has unwittingly confirmed the intersubjective godhead. I obviously vote for the latter. The extraordinary implications of this have yet to be fully outlined by anyone -- i.e., the deep analogy between our intersubjective life and God's intersubjective life. Might as well start today.
What do we experience when we awaken to the world? For we never experience the world as such, only images of the world, like a multitude of snapshots. And yet, we again experience these images as a unity we call "the world." But we could never experience that unity unless we were first unified on an interior level.
In a certain very real sense, psychopathology consists in any breakdown of this interior unity. In extreme cases -- e.g., schizophrenia or real autism -- there is no longer any exterior unity, just one experience after another, with no way to synthesize them.
Ever had a panic attack? (You would remember.) Suddenly the world and/or the self are reduced to a blizzard of calamitous novelty. What happened to the unity? The containment? The coherence? The meaning? The future? The past? The depth? The surface? The other? For these are all aspects of one another.
In panic, there is no longer anything to cling to, no center, no axis. That's when you find out what it would mean if human beings weren't actually the center of the universe, because the alternative is too horrifying to conceive and tolerate, at least for very long. Suicide would probably be preferable for most people, because in such a hellish condition, death remains the only merciful boundary in the cosmos. At least it is an end.
Indeed, I recently evaluated a schizophrenic patient with just this problem. Although heavily medicated, he would nevertheless randomly cycle into periods of agitated depression for which the only solution was immediate suicide (he would have to be hospitalized on each occasion). You have to imagine yourself as utterly and irredeemably worthless, a complete burden on existence itself, an insult to the cosmos, a spit in the eye of God.
Thus, you can also see that a primitive form of justice remains: you shall die for this sin of existing! But that is all that remains: the sadistically omnipotent judge and the perverse satisfaction of executing oneself, either symbolically or literally.
As you can see, such a person is still "Three," but in an inside-out, upside-down manner, i.e., judge, criminal, and the unholy ghost of sadistic joy. You might think that this is an "extreme case," and it is. However, one thing I learned during my internship at a state mental hospital is that similar processes exist in the "normal" person, only in more subtle form.
To take an example that is readily at hand, Perez Hilton took perverse joy in executing the bitch/c*nt from California because she does not share his peculiar ideas about redefining marriage. Burn her! Death to the witch! He says that if he could have, he would have made her "the 51st runner up," i.e., a non-person symbolically outside the psychological bounds of the fifty United States.
Likewise, Obama and the insane left want to symbolically execute people who traded belly slaps and caterpillars for thousands of saved American lives. Madness. The secret psychotic madness of everyday life. Or "the left" for short.
Back to the images that confront us, through which we somehow intuit a cosmos, i.e., a coherent totality. Obviously, this is a kind of magic that the "raw stuff" of experience cannot pull off on its own. For example, Coondog knows nothing about any "cosmos." While she can judge, after her own fashion, she cannot judge her judgment, and that makes all the difference. She does not think to herself, "Hmm, that was a bit of an over-the-top reaction when the UPS man came to the door, wasn't it? Must check this tendency to bark first and ask questions later. I look as stupid as freaking Perez Hilton."
HvB writes that the image-world simulates "something that they themselves are not: a world. They suggest the idea of essence and existence, but they are neither. They have no essence, because they are nothing but surface with no depth. They are mere appearance and are thus incapable of displaying any interiority at all.... They are what they are, nothing more, this sweetness, this noisiness, this quickness, this colorfulness," etc.
A moment's introspection will inform you that this is how we come into the world (remama?), for HvB has just described the world of the infant, the inner coherence of which will only become apparent through the adventure of bonding and attachment with a sensitive and empathic other.
When you are consciously aware of this process, it makes parenting all the more fascinating, for you are not just watching a self come into being, but a -- the -- cosmos as well. No coherent interior self, no cosmos.
Again, one cannot help thinking of the intersubjective Word through which God eternally creates the cosmos. This "loving bond" between the two is prior to any creation -- just as it is with the human being. Or, one might say that it is creation. The great psychoanalyst D.W. Winnicott wrote many papers on how the infant "creates" the world through the feedback loop of sensitive parenting.
The discovery of the interior cosmos is also the discovery of law, both the laws of matter and the laws of the heart. Conversely, for the schizophrenic person referenced above, his is a lawless universe, with no consistency or coherence. He can "assemble" a cosmos, so to speak, but he cannot access its a priori interior unity. He will desperately search for patterns and regularities, and cling to them for survival, but it is as if he must live in exile from being.
Here again, there is something eerily similar going on with the atheistic materialist, who clings to the surface at the expense of the real depth. Why does he do it? Is it some sort of genetic defect? Childhood trauma? Stupidity? Conformity? Pride? Resentment? Who knows. I don't think there's any general rule.
Everything happens in the transitional space between subject and object, or what we might call the "intersubjective third." Without something like this, "the images float without fixity between being and nothingness, just as they float with no fixed residence in a no-man's land between subject and object" (HvB).
But this is hardly a "no-man's land." Rather, it is "man's land" -- or knowing man's land -- precisely.
Long day ahead. To be continued....