On Thinking Your Thoughts and God Thinking His
When I use this term I mean it in the (modern) psychoanalytic sense that human minds are "interior" to one another. If you have even a nodding acquaintance with psychoanalytic thought, you may recall that Freud -- who was as materialist and positivist as they come -- regarded the mind as a sort of instinct-driven machine. Thus, it's not even a proper subject at all, more like a pressure cooker seeking release (not to say that some infra-human people aren't unreasonable factsimians of such a model).
Some of the early psychoanalysts who couldn't go along with this view formed their own schools and schisms. However, psychoanalysis itself began to undergo a profound shift after World War II, especially in Great Britain. To make a short story shorter, it began to explore the earliest relationship between mother and infant for the source of our deepening subjectivity. Anyone who is interested in learning a little more about what I consider of central importance to any comprehensive view of the cosmos might begin with The Developing Mind: How Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are.
It's been awhile, but my recollection is that this book does an able job of summarizing the most cutting edge research on the subject, including the work of Allan Schore, a remarkable polymath who synthesizes... well, I'll just quote one of the blurbs: "the depth and breadth of whose reading, bringing together neurobiology, developmental neurochemistry, behavioral neurology, evolutionary biology, developmental psychology, developmental psychoanalysis and infant psychiatry, is staggering." "Staggering" is a good description. I definitely wouldn't recommend starting with him. It would be like giving Balthasar to Mtraven. He would only look for references to torture. But then he'd blame it on the Jews for occupying Roman land.
Here's a good summary by Dr. Grotstein, who was also nice enough to enblurb my book. Wordy but accurate. Skip ahead if you like:
"In this remarkable and unique integrative contribution on socioaffective ontogeny, Dr. Schore has assembled an incredible array of data that spans virtually the length and breadth of modern science, including neurobiology, developmental neurochemistry, behavioral neurology, evolutionary biology, sociobiology, developmental psychology, developmental psychoanalysis, and infant psychiatry. His aim in this work is to construct an interdisciplinary model for the attainment of optimum integration from all these disciplines so that we see a more transcendent picture of the emerging human infant as a neurobiological-social-emotional self. I believe that he has achieved his aim and, in so doing, he has lifted our neurobiological 'hardware' into a unique costarring role with our mental (cognitive/affective) software and has highlighted how our neurons become key players in the formation of our personalities. We can almost now see brain and mind in a paradoxically discontinuously continuous Möbius strip connection.... It fundamentally alters our traditional, fundamentalistic, cyclopean psychodynamic way of viewing infants and patients and dramatically informs a newer and much needed interdisciplinary perspective."
As Jerome Green -- rock's greatest maraca player -- famously said to Bo Diddley, "I can do what you do." Bo inquired, "then how come you ain't doin' it?" Jerome's condescending response was "because I got you doin' it."
So I'm not sure if I could do what Dr. Schore does, but it doesn't matter, since I got him doin' it for me.
But you don't really need to know all of the science in order to understand the truth of this worldview. For example, in my case, I merely had to be exposed to the ideas of Bion back in 1985, and I was instantly coonverted. He locates the roots of what we call "thinking" in the intersubjective space between mother and infant. You might say that when we come into the world, we are barraged by "thoughts without a thinker" (this is also summarized in my book). The (m)other serves as the "auxiliary cortex," so to speak, who will help the infant to think its thoughts (Bion called this "alpha function," the internalization of which will allow us to think our thoughts instead of simply being "subject to them," so to speak).
I'm afraid this is starting to sound overly abstract, but it's actually as concrete and empirical as can be. Mind parasites, for example, are internalized entities that thrive outside the bounds of our alpha function. They are not really just "thoughts without a thinker." Rather, the internalized mind parasite actually thinks thoughts that we do not authorize. Of course, there is always an unwilled flow of thoughts coming from various planes of consciousness, and depending upon the depth and integrity of our thinker, we will be able to organize them into higher and higher syntheses. But the mind parasite cannot be integrated, again, because it is split off from the central self.
This is all reviewed in my book, so I don't want to spend our limited time going over it again. See pp. 109-123, The Acquisition of Humanness in a Contemporary Stone Age Baby. Now that I've both had a baby and been one, I can recoonfirm everything presented there.
Our interest is in how all of this relates to the interior life of the trinitarian godhead, a life that we share, being that we are its image and likeness. We'll get into this in much more detail later, but I think it's entirely soph to say that "the world" comes into being in the space between Father and Son, or Ground and Word, Love and Wisdom, or O and (n).
You might say that the eternal generation of God's Word is the operation of his own "alpha function" (or perhaps alpha-and-omega function!) in the groundless ground beyond being. It is his own "self understanding," which is why to understand the Word is to understand God, since it is his own witness to himself. And of course, it is not an "it," but another Subject; therefore, the Word is the Other who is actually non-Other, or Love; no intersubjectivity, no love, which is why love is a true union that reveals the One beneath, or "above" the two. And the baby -- the "third" -- is the witness to this love.
Which is why "homosexual marriage" is an intrinsic cosmic absurdity, but I don't want to go there. I don't want to jeopardize my chance to be Mister California.
Whew, that was a long prelude. Which rhymes with quaalude. And gay dude. And très rude. I'm sure there's a limerick in there about Perez Hilton.
A silly and bitchy young gay dude
who invented supposit'ry quaalude...
What? No, Dupree, they're just saying B'ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhB.
Okay, back to Image and World. Now that you know all about alpha function, you are in a position to draw the obvious parallels between it and HvB's observations about the raw image-world that confronts us, which is very much analogous to "thoughts without a thinker":
"The images simulate 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... Their sheer superficiality conveys nothing of any hidden background."
In short, we can only deepen the images by "thinking them" as opposed to merely being subject to them. Again, look at how HvB describes it: "If they are to start making sense, the images must be lent an essence and existence that they do not possess themselves. To lend them essence is to interpret them as the appearance of a coherent but non-appearing sense..."
We must "think the world into being," so to speak, very much in the manner that the mother thinks the infant into being, so that the infant may discover-create its world. For to "think" is to first apprehend and then tolerate the mystery of the There that isn't there; in other words, we do not waste our time thinking about things that possess no mystery, like Mtraven's skull. The mystery is precisely what draws us in.
But some people do not intuit the mystery, which in turn causes their thinking to suffer in consequence. Here again, one cannot help thinking of the poor atheist, who sees only a wall where we see a window or even Door. What happened to their alpha function? And who really cares?
O "testifies" to its own existence in the form of our ceaseless thoughts. You might think of these as an infinite number of "views" of O. Here is how HvB describes it: images proceed "from a common, non-appearing center," and are "the exhibition of one and the same thing from various angles or in various phases..."
And here is how Bion described O (and I can't tell you how daring it was for a psychoanalyst to speak in this way back in the 1960s): "The central postulate is that atonement with ultimate reality, or O, as I have called it to avoid involvement with existing association, is essential to harmonious growth.... In short, the individual has, and retains, what religious people call a belief in God however much he denies it or claims to have become emancipated. The final relationship is permanent, though its formulation is subject to constant reformulation," or what I call O-->(n).
I'll leave you with one more quote from Bion to ponder, for it bears on what we might call the "negative intersubjectivity" of the left, as exemplified by one of its rank-and-foul, mtraven: "The link between one mind and another that leads to destruction is the lie.... The lie is not restricted, as the word 'lie' would ordinarily imply, to the domain of thought, but has its counterpart in the domain of being; it is possible to be a lie and being so precludes at-one-ment in O."