We treat the term, the unconscious, as a place or thing when, in reality, sometimes we’re just not conscious. During that time, we’re unconscious. Not very hard to understand, but lots of people who are interested in the human mind, and especially Jungian and post-Jungian psychology, make this mistake. In fact, some seem to speak of the unconscious as a divine entity, even capitalizing the word and attributing all sorts of powers to it.
Unconsciousness is simply a lack of consciousness. For example, I am trying to remember the name of someone I went to school with when I was a child. I can see her face clearly in the imagination, but I am unconscious of what her name is. I don’t remember her name. But, if I think of her face for awhile, the name usually comes to me. Does this mean that lost memories are stored in a compartment of the mind called the unconscious? No, it simply means I was momentarily unconscious of the name. There is no sense in reifying the concept. It is not a metaphor for Soul. It’s just a concept.
Consciousness and unconsciousness are not oppositional. In our experience, they walk hand-in-hand.
In today’s language, we cannot be conscious without at the same time being unconscious; the unconscious is always present, just as the past is always present. To say it another way: we cannot will (voluntas) or love (amor) or form a notion (notitia) or understanding (intelligentsia) without imaginal fantasies going on simultaneously. So, we never cease projecting. We are dreaming all the time (James Hillman, The Myth Of Analysis, p 177).
Imaginal fantasies are the bases for memory. I was always a good speller. It is because I can see the words in my mind as pictures. There is a remarkable relationship between unconsciousness and memory. We remember by seeing the memory as an image in the mind. It seems that Memory and Soul have much in common.
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