Where Did We Surf From and Where Are We Surfing To?
In fact, by way of horizontal analogy, we could say the same of our embryonic self and our infant/child/adolescent/adult selves. It not only confuses the issue to see them as separate, but renders our existence absurd -- like Zeno's paradox applied to human development. (It is precisely this metaphysic that grounds the illogical belief that the fetus is somehow separate from his own personhood and telos.)
Also, as we have discussed in the past, although I believe we "have" an "unconscious," it is more accurate to say that personhood of its nature is necessarily constituted of conscious/unconscious, such that there is unconsciousness in every conscious thought or act, and vice versa.
We could never be "fully conscious" because there's simply not enough space in the ego or in the moment to contain it. As someone said, the purpose of time is so that everything doesn't happen at once.
Analogously, you might say that the purpose of the unconscious is so that everything isn't thought at once. In every moment there is a complementary dialectic between conscious and unconscious; the latter not only in-forms the former, but will lend it more or less "weight" or presence. It is one reason why no computer will ever simulate the person.
Now, hold that thought and apply it to the upper vertical: if there is an unconscious, there must be a supra-conscious, for it would be absurd to maintain that the human ego constitutes the very apex of the cosmic hierarchy. To appreciate how absurd this is, just ask yourself what was at the top before human beings arrived on the scene. Pigs? Al Sharpton?
In other words, to say there is a top is to have a frame of reference, whether explicit or implicit. As it so happens, human beings are at the top of the cosmic heap, but this is only meaningful in reference to God. Outside God, it is bad nonsense, for there can be no top, bottom, or in-between, just endless iterations of vacuity.
We have always liked the Rabbi's way of putting it: imagine "a vast arc, curving from the divine source to oneself, which corresponds to the question, Where do I come from? while at the same time a line curving from oneself to Him corresponds to the question, Where am I going?"
And within this great circle, which includes all the levels of man, each person can discover the special lines of his own direction -- which again, are not simply random points in reality but are the expressions of his individual personality, the shape of his soul (emphasis mine).
I couldn't have put it better mysoph, which is no doubt why it is the penultimate footgnote in the bʘʘk (p.266). After that is just... nothing. Nothing expressible, anyway.
Elsewhere the Rabbi speaks for me in suggesting that the soul is "not to be conceived as a certain defined essence, caged in a body, or even as a point or immaterial substance, but rather as a continuous line of spiritual being, stretching from the general source of all the souls to beyond the body of a specific person." This explains how it is that we can rise above ourselves and sink even beneath our inner Sharpton.
We each have a divine spark -- or spark of divinity -- and you might say that the higher regions have more spiritual oxygen to fuel the spark. Conversely, the further down we sink, the dimmer our light. That nasty smell in hell is probably a result of the smoke from all those lights being extinguished in the muck, like a cigarette in stale beer.
Remember, properly situated, the arc of the soul stretches all the way up to the divine source. But "the sinner is perished by the closing of the circle, by being brought into contact with the domain of evil he creates."
One thinks of Michelle Obama, who, no matter how much worldly privilege, is still confined within the circle of her own wretched hatred, and then blames people of pallor for putting her there. In reality, all she has to do to escape her self-imposed nightmare is to click her heels three times and say "there's no place like reality."
Our esteemed Wizard of Jews makes another important point that goes to what was said above about man either being at the top of the (manifest) hierarchy or a complete bupkis:
"To call a world higher signifies that it is more primary, more basic in terms of being close to a primal source of influence..." Thus, the human being is higher than other animals because closer to God, while animals are lower because closer to matter. This is why, for the materialist, man must be the most distant thing from reality.
Which he actually can be, but only because there is a higher reality from which he may fallllllll. Strictly speaking, there can be no "reality" for the materialist, only appearances, all the way downnnnnn.
Steinsaltz would say that what distinguishes man from the angels is that the latter are "fixed" in the hierarchy, whereas man alone has the freedom to ascend or descend higher or lower. Only man can actually ride the waves of the divine plenitude, for we are at "the focal point at which the plenty rising from the lower worlds and the plenty descending from the higher worlds meet and enter into some sort of relation with each other." Surf's up. Or down, depending.
Back to Corbin, who says something similar, and then I gotta get outta here:
"If the possibility of encountering the Angel, the Lord, is eliminated, the human individual has no longer any celestial pole, no orientation, and thus no direction for its moral compass and nothing to guarantee its unique being -- 'there will no longer be persons,' only units in a totalitarian or totalizing regime of one form or another....
"We are powerless, lost in anonymity, rolled along like the foam in a torrent, and completely at the mercy of the social, biological, and political environments. This is the Abyss, the final loss of the soul in bitterness and helplessness, knowing ourselves to be only objects in a world where, in Charles Darwin's famous phrase, 'there is no higher or lower.'"
The Age of Obama is like surfing in a pool of mud.