❝[I]t was very clear that people saw in their neighbours the thing they did not recognize in themselves.
As a rule, when the collective unconscious becomes really constellated in larger social groups, the result is a public craze, a mental epidemic that may lead to revolution or war or something of the sort. These movements are exceedingly contagious — almost overwhelmingly contagious because, when the collective unconscious is activated, you are no longer the same person. You are not only in the movement — you «are» it.❞
👴🏻: C.G. Jung, The Tavistock Lectures, Lecture II
For the last year, my front teeth have been breaking off at the gumline. All my teeth were capped thirty five years ago. When I was twelve a head injury somehow engendered a condition known as nocturnal bruxism, which broke all of my teeth from the back. By the time I was forty, something had to be done. In 1983 I found a good dentist in Austin and he did the job. Those crowns are still good but the underlying original teeth are breaking.
Yesterday a Mexican dentist, for whom I have nothing but the highest praise, installed three new teeth in as many empty spaces. Not only did that one-hour job change my allure, I couldn’t help but notice my self image began to mutate from not so good to lots better. I noticed myself trying out smiling and laughing again. It felt good. I suddenly felt I was wearing my true skin again.
That’s self image, that’s how it works, but underneath those thoughts and emotions exists another, more real self. The things that go to make up myself are a mix of constructed self image and natural interests, abilities and attractions. Some things you think are inborn are really add-ons. It has been one of my projects to sort them out.
I want to know what is fundamental to me. It’s a work in progress. I’m still learning.
I love foreign languages. That interest is basic to who I am and has nothing to do with ego or self image. It’s a constant in my life. That’s one example, but of course there are many others. Those things give me a sense of what kind of being I am and what my reason is for existing.
Because we don’t suspect what’s hidden in ourselves, we project those unconscious parts onto others. Before I knew how fundamental language is to my basic self, I used to project various forms of that talent into other people. As a child I lived surrounded by a world of my projections, never realizing they were parts of myself.
Now I have a little better handle on that process, but we humans have a hard time talking about the world in an objective way. Our own hidden self is peeking at us from every corner. We just don’t know we’re talking about ourselves when we describe the world.
Right now, emotions are high, what with demonstrations against prejudice and murderous cops, with the pandemic in full swing and livelihoods disappearing. It’s a perfect time to notice our unconsciousness, our ignorance of who we are.
So, why did I post a picture of Italy at the top? Because I love that part of the world, because it inspires me and helps me write. No other reason.
And why did I title this article the way I did? It just popped into my head, though I believe there is a connection. I’m a maladjusted Medium writer who insists upon talking about what I’m interested in regardless of what pays. I’m a natural born Texan who got out as soon as I could to finish my growing up abroad.
Is that surface identity or deep identity? Those things are probably more constructed than inborn, but in any case, that’s who I am and that’s what I have to work with in this lifetime.
- Anima Fire is my publication