A Bigger Identity Crisis.

Psychology seems to imply that identity is comprised of a complex system of habit patterns that arise out of the interplay between genetic predispositions and environmental programming. We are not nouns but verbs, not free but enslaved, not self-governing but habitual. Our evolving identities constitute the unfolding of our personal fate. Identity is our prison and our life is our sentence.

This deterministic outlook conflicts with personal experience, which suggests identity evolves in a more probabilistic manner. From moment to moment we experience electing one potential path among an available spectrum ranging from the least to the greatest resistance. As before, our identity in any given moment is surely the cumulative result of all previous choices, though we do not experience it determining our subsequent choices. Instead, it only determines the level of ease or difficulty inherent in our available choices: we are influenced, though not determined, rendering life a constant battle between the personal fate of identity and personal freedom. We may fight to remain static but are destined to evolve; inner strength can allow you to fight off resistance and take the reins of identity’s evolution, though in such a case perhaps the path of development could more accurately termed revolution.

Whether we submit to identity or fight against it, we feel its force in our lives and our capacity to guide its growth and rebel against it suggests our distinction from it, a distinction we meet face to face with in certain styles of meditation. Three levels of identity, at least in my case, have become abundantly clear: beneath the personality we express in the external world is the personality we express within, to ourselves; beneath the social masque or persona, that is, resides the personal masque or ego, to borrow convenient terms from Carl Jung. Beneath the ego, however, there is yet another level, and it is the same level suggested in our capacity to fight against the identity — against the persona and ego strata of identity, anyway. It is the level difficult to articulate, which is perhaps best referenced through negation, which can only be conceptualized through a process of elimination. It is the aspect of identity that does the identifying; it is the “I” left behind after peeling away all that “I am not.” It is what is often called the observer or witness state of consciousness; that which, once it ceases identifications, is left observing or witnessing but cannot observe or witness itself. Which makes sense, as in order to observe or witness something you must be apart from it. This makes the persona and ego aspects of identity at their very best reflections of the witness; at worst a fantasy we have mistaken for reality, and in either case make them mere masques, as said earlier.

What of the witness itself, though? Is the witness a sort of naked awareness void of identity or does that awareness stem from a true identity — one which we can only accomplish awareness of through the presumed reflections of our ego and persona?

In any case, Dissociative Identity Disorder sheds light on more complications. If alternate identities would only “switch,” for instance, it would be easy enough to conceive: the underlying witness consciousness dissociates with one identity and then associates or identifies with another. Same individual, a different masque. The clear issue is that this is not the case, however; alters can not only operate in parallel but interact with one another. If my conception of consciousness were to hold here, than one individual witness would by necessity be playing the role of two characters at the same time without being aware at either end of also playing the role on the other. This is only a severe case of having an engaging conversation with a dream character, however; it is something that functions in us all.

Advertisements

Queries of an Xenophobic Ego.

“To calculate the means of convergence, define the nature of the duality.”

Before I had burned out on his writing, I remember reading Chuck Palahniuk describing how when Alzheimer’s patients were shown photos of their past, or even photos from someone else’s past, they would tell an elaborate story about the experience they had at the time the photo was taken — and despite signs that they believed in this experience entirely, they had clearly whipped it up out of the ether on the spot.

Though this speaks volumes with respect to the awesome creative potential of the human mind, it also speaks of a far-more unnerving and considerably confusing fact. It is not unconscious forces that are creating the story, it would seem, but the conscious mind. That seems, at first, a little difficult to wrap the head around, and then it appears downright absurd. How can we be making it all up without being aware of it if the process is conscious? We are aware of consciously engaging in the process, it is only that we have mislabeled what it is that we are doing. Though we may feel overwhelmingly certain we are engaging in the time-traveling process of recollection, the truth can just as easily be that we are truly engaging in the real-time process of creation.

This is by no means limited to the failing brains of the elderly, either. Many studies seem to indicate that we adopt unconscious impulses and rationalize them in such a way that they appear to us to be consistent with, and a product of, what we regard as the conscious personality. We connect the dots of these unconscious impulses through rationalization in the format of an internally-consistent personal narrative, but it would appear to amount to a cover story or personal myth. This inner portrait and narrative we construct serves as the conscious personality, the persona and ego, the masque we hold up for the world and the one we show only ourselves.

Many studies also indicate that we adopt external, subliminal impulses and rationalize them in such a way that they appear to us to be consistent with, and a product of, what we regard as the conscious personality. A post-hypnotic suggestion buried beneath post-hypnotic amnesia will produce an impulse to follow the unconsciously-recalled suggestion but, lacking the true motives for our behavior, we spontaneously construct rationalizations in the same way in which we would if they were impulses received from our own unconscious. The same is the case when people are stimulated through electrodes or subcutaneous implants to commit certain behaviors.

The conscious personality reflects the conscious self-concept of the moment, the center held in place by select aspects of the psyche wound together a web of rationale. The selection (for the ego) and/or expression (for the persona) of conscious aspects are influenced by the inhibiting or reinforcing effects of external stimuli, which is itself gravitated to, projected upon, and if possible cemented in with projective identification spawning from unconscious processes and goals. It’s a recurrent feedback loop allowing the unconscious to adapt through use of subliminally-spawned set-up, spin, and manipulation, often leaving the conscious ego none the wiser.

In summary, then, it would seem that the conscious mind executes and justifies what the unconscious mind or subliminal source demands without explanation or even awareness of its creative activity. The conscious ego is the puppet leader of the psyche. Pay no attention to the shadowy figure behind the curtain with its hand up your psychological rectum.

There is at least some suggestion, however, that the ego is not a mere puppet, but can instead exert its own will over that of the unconscious impulse. This produces a state of inner incongruence reflected in one of two ways, where one is either a walking contradiction or one separated by time. As a walking contradiction, our present verbal and nonverbal cues are battling, expressing diametrically opposing points of view. The other form of incongruence is a mismatch between your commitments in one state and those in another. As an example, there are those gun-ho promises we make and chronically break.

The unconscious mind processes associatively, organizes schematically and communicates to and interacts with consciousness through the language of emotion, pattern and metaphor. I think we can say with reasonable certainly that the unconscious mind remembers in form, not content, and governs what is known as implicit memory. Here similar patterns condense into generalized prototypes, enabling cross-modal application. It is no coincidence, either, that this also describes metaphor and analogy quite well, as this intrinsic memory also manifests experientially in dreams.

Conscious exertion in the style of deep analysis or over-thinking creates a conscious barrier to unconscious thought processes. Conscious thinking processes, at least those of extreme emotional exertion, appear to override unconscious thinking processes in the given subject area, preventing the unconscious from accessing the material or intervening in the thought process. Once the subject matter drifts from conscious awareness, however, it is consequently in the territory of the unconscious, who begins to subject the material and the associations made through the conscious thought processes to its own, unconscious thought processing. This is why walking away from subject matter to focus on something entirely different, especially preceding an incalculable amount of conscious over-analysis, helps in the comprehension of the material in question: you’re giving the unconscious mind the time it needs to digest the information and your conscious position and make new associations. Upon returning to the subject matter, you find new discoveries and might find yourself streaking through the streets, raining bathwater behind you as you scream, “Eureka, I have found it!” It also explains some of the great discoveries and ideas that blossomed from the strange soil of dreams.

Regardless as to whether we rationalize or repress unconscious impulses, we remain consciously blind to the unconscious underpinnings of our total personality, an identity so secret, it would seem, that we keep it even from ourselves. Perhaps to designate the unconscious identity as singular is misleading, however. Scientific studies suggest the true nature of our total psychology is not only that of a dual (conscious and unconscious) processor, but the unconscious processor is itself a parallel processor. In consciousness, the processor would be the conscious personality of the ego-persona. The parallel processor known to us as the unconscious mind would then have multiple egos interacting to produce either a singular impulse or are able to individually exert their will. Which is the case has not yet become clear to me through my reading and pathetic internet and book research, but it does serve as an important question to me.

In attempting to conceive as to how both could be true — the unconscious has multiple personalities and yet a singular one — my mind is drawn back to the one Star Trek film I saw dealing with the Borg, where the collective consciousness of the Borg is found at once in a pale, bald, wire-scalped and freakishly sexy queen bound in a skin-tight and black, latex-looking outfit. While the individual members of the hive walked around like mindless drones on a mission, the queen had a distinct personality, a complex intellect that fed from and fed to her hive as a whole. An unconscious personality such as the queen would seem to be the logical conclusion of the nature of what are variously referred to as “attractors,” . complexes, or schemas. They all summarize and generalize and interrelate, culminating in a sort of uber-schema, the anti-ego at the apex of the unconscious mind. Unconscious personalities may seem vague or indistinct in their personality, seemingly more akin to functions than personalities, but the unconscious king or queen of the schemas might be a condensed version of them all. The unconscious self-schema or ego-complex may be as individual as the Borg queen.

An unconscious ego as seemingly self-aware as our luscious Mistress Borgamatrix certainly sounds like a pretty fucking big contradiction in terms, of course, but I think this is only an illusion of language. Use of the words unconscious and conscious are rather unfortunate, it seems to me, as the “conscious personality” we refer to as ourselves tends to operate on the egocentric notion that it alone is relevant, special and supreme. We fail to remember that by calling it the unconscious we merely mean to say that we are not conscious of it and that it reacts in ways that are not the result of our own conscious deliberation. Consciousness may not be synonymous with awareness; unconscious may not be at all antithetical to awareness. The unconscious mind may merely be an aware aspect of our mind that we are not aware of, and that mind-part may be just as consciously aware as we are, just afforded different liberties than those of us who take the driver seat.

Of course, it’s not so clear cut. Some aspects of the psyche appear to be shared equally by both psychological hemispheres, but the apparent ability for the conscious and unconscious to fall into dispute and potential polarization would seem to imply both hemispheres of the psyche draw from the same pool of content but have different methods of processing and integrating that content. Some content has time-share between the two of them, others are exclusive to one or the other. In any case, even were ownership overlaps in time-share the conscious and unconscious weave their elements of choice together in distinct associative webworks, and as with many arguments in social circles, arguments in the subjective not-so-merry-go-‘round seems to make polarization predictable. If the unconscious and conscious minds would increase what they share, however, would they also integrate in terms of self-awareness? Do two become one? Or do we each have a resident twin to contend with till death of body, of soul, or if not perhaps the rest of eternity?

I do find myself wondering if we can only encounter aspects of the unconscious personality or encounter our inner Borg collective in the form of its singular, uber-schematic identity. Is the conscious and unconscious personality ever turned entirely towards one another, ego to ego, eye to eye, and have a direct discussion? If such a thing is possible, the conscious ego would seem to have it left in its own hands. Given unconscious slips, projections, and consciously-adopted impulses, it nonetheless seems the ego is potentially safety-sealed from awareness of any psychological content outside of it’s list of known-knowns. Even as one stretches one‘s self-awareness, however, what one finds must still be understood, and even then there remains the struggle to embrace.

Fish Out of Water.

During a flashback I experienced when I was sixteen, I remembered an evening in which I awoke from a dream of a creature I called the Goblin Man. While holding my mother’s hand in a crowd of people, we see him bolt into the crowd and lose sight of him as everywhere goes frantic. I see a guy running through the crowd in a green-and-yellow costume, and for some stupid reason wonder if its him. Then the real Goblin Man appears and takes me from my mother’s hand, giving me a piggyback ride and telling me that its okay for him to take me away because he was my real daddy.

When I awoke from that dream, I found the Goblin Man standing at my bedside. I ran to my mother’s room to find security. She let me sleep beside her, insisting it was all a bad dream. This hope she planted in me diminished considerably when I watched, through my mother’s open doorway, as the creature booked it from my room, passed her open door and down the hall, where the bathroom and my sisters’ room was located. The aforementioned hope literally died in the light of the dawning morning. Still awake beside my sleeping mother, I open my eyes and lift my head to find the Goblin Man now standing at the foot of my parent’s bed.

Among my countless anomalous experiences involving these creatures this theme of confusing parentage carries on and grows. It played a role in another spontaneous recollection that came to me sometime after the flashbacks. As this was the incident where I began keeping dated logs, I know this memory came back to me on February 25, 1995.

The memory opens with me standing just outside my parent’s closed bedroom door, pushing it open as if my mother just told me to come in. When I push it open sufficiently to walk inside, the room is dimly lit, as if it is morning. Despite everything being in its place, so to speak, something about the scene seemed artificial. It almost seemed like I was walking through the single frame of a space-time film. There was an ominous, permeating silence, an eerie stillness to the whole scene, and as I stepped towards the bed I could no longer deny my deep sense that this was all somehow a set-up. Before me on the bed is presumably my mother, though she is concealing herself beneath the sheets. The form beneath the sheets is small, however, and certainly nothing like that of my mother.

I suddenly feel like Little Red Riding Hood approaching her alleged grandmother, all the while knowing it’s really the wolf, and the feeling does not go away. Though we proceed to have a conversation with each other, the terror in me grows the more I pay attention not only to where this conversation is being pushed but the manner in which the conversation is taking place. It is less like I hear my mother’s voice than it is that I just know what she is saying, and when I do put my might into focusing on the voice it sounds absolutely wrong. It’s high-pitched and frighteningly inhuman. In addition, our conversation seems somehow manipulated, like a veiled interrogation, unerringly driven by her to something preconceived. I dodged her questions and pressed my own, such as why she seemed to be hiding beneath the sheets. My anger at this attempted manipulation finally grew to the point where it overpowered my fear. Finally, I began screaming that it was not my mother, demanding it show its face. Conveniently, all fades to black.

For some reason they have frequently done this throughout my experiences with them, the last incident having occurred roughly a year ago. They seem capable through what can only be described as telepathy of not only conveying thought in the manner of an inner voice, but also imagery and other sensory parallels. These come in the forms of hallucinations or mental imagery. They can produce hallucinations on your waking sensory field, thereby making you see things that aren’t there, stop you from seeing things that are there, and can also make you see things that are there as something other than what they are. They can make it so that you see them as black dogs, white cats, or perhaps a huge owl or a seven-foot-tall Smokey the Bear.

With respect to mental imagery, this can come in the form of a single still-frame, a slide-show, or mental movie. These images seem to come in certain levels of absorbency, with the lowest being the experience of a mental image from another as a mental image, and the most extreme case being a realistic lucid dream setting in which you share this space with one another. When using the low-absorbency mental images they will often use them in combination, nearly always complimenting them with an inner-voiceover, making it sort of documentary-style. As implied by both my flashbacks of that evening, when these creatures weave their lucid dreams you take to be real, they can also use them as false “screen” memories to cover for the amnesia they also induce and confusing any surfacing memories of the actual event. They seem capable of producing imagery through eye contact or mere close physical proximity and, in one experience of mine, a “lucid dream” was accomplished through ramming a sturdy metallic rod into my ear.

Any way you slice it, it sounds like a form of telepathic warfare in which the strategy of “divide and conquer” is applied to the single individual. Keep a person battling themselves inside over what’s real or not real and they will have little time, energy, and of course be lacking the necessary prerequisite of certain belief in the enemy in question to have any hope of being a significant any nuisance to the spooky powers that be doin’ the dividin’.

The incident with the creature in my mother’s room is the only instance I have recalled in which I called them out on their telepathic illusions and aggressively stood up to them, unfortunately, and I do not recall the outcome. Just as in the case of my Goblin Man flashback, there was only my mother and myself in the room, and the dim morning glow about the room was identical to how the room looked when I saw the Goblin Man at the very end of the flashback. I wondered if he had somehow used that scene as a model for this one.

There was one more use of this telepathic dreaming that seemed to be aimed at confusing parentage. Around the time I remembered the incident involving the creature under the covers I also recalled a single image from some memory or dream from my childhood. I’m on the floor in my room staring at the open doorway to my old room, where stands, shoulder-to-shoulder, who are presumably my mother and father. Their faces look wrong, however, or at least appeared so due to the interference of their large, glowing eyes.

Which brings me to what for me constitutes a far more disturbing matter, namely why they would wish to confuse me in this area to begin with. Part of me wonders if they do this out of an interest in what parental bonds do and how they function. There is, for instance, the matter of that oil-painting-style still frame of the Goblin Man giving me a piggyback ride that came to my mind towards the end of the flashback. This I cannot help but associate with “Mother and Child,” an oil painting by Gari Melchers that, it seems to me, inspired that portion of the dream-scenario. A copy of the painting hung above my parent’s bed from the time I was young, and though I somehow found it dark and eerie, it was also comforting. Perhaps my association here is no mistake, either. Clearly having access to my memories and associations, perhaps the Goblin Man utilized that style of imagery in an attempt to inspire the same kind of parent-child bond I had always felt was depicted so elegantly in that painting. Maybe when I ran to my mother for security after awakening to find the Goblin Man standing beside my bed, they elected to study the maternal angle as well.

Rather than using parental bonds as study, they used it as a means of manipulation. The Goblin Man’s attempt to justify taking me away by claiming to be my father, for instance, or the creature under the covers trying to glean information from me by pretending to be my mother, no doubt because they presumed I found security and trust in her. If the themes in these experiences weren’t expanded upon in others, I would be perfectly happy with concluding that this was all there was to the matter. Unfortunately, the paternal theme played out in a more complete manner in an incredibly vivid, haunting dream that I had prior to the two flashbacks, and perhaps while I was still in junior high school.

One late night or early morning, I recall waking up from that seemingly endless dream and going downstairs, where my father was preparing to go to work. In my groggy state I made an attempt to convey to him the power of this dream, though only found myself frustrated at my inability to articulate much about it at all. The dream was more eerie in terms of mood and emotions, while the imagery, however frighteningly lifelike, was just as necessary but ultimately secondary to its rich emotional context. To make matters worse, the dream was quickly going retrograde, fading from my conscious grasp. It angered me that I could not convey what little I managed to momentarily hold on to. I remember drinking water by the sink, looking groggily down at the counter and trying to find any string of words that might capture something still lingering within conscious reach.

In my mind’s eye I examined the remaining image from the dream. While the image was technically in motion and it remained for an enduring period, neither the frame nor what it framed changed much, so it was not much of a scene in that respect. There was only a close-up of his face, and it was in the darkest conceivable night during a violent downpour. Still, you could make out his black, leathery face, and while I remember no thunder, I do recall seeing the face in an odd highlight, perhaps caused by flashes of lightning. As you strive to capture all you can of his features through these brief windows of illumination you find that his face vaguely resembles the mask of Batman. In comparison the creature’s face looked far more inhuman, however, and in retrospect the face looked more than slightly like the tall, black vinyl creature in Tool’s Prison Sex video. The way he crouched atop that building like a predator, looking out into the distance beyond the frame in the rampant downpour as if some guardian, one could easily mistake him for a gargoyle.

In the end, all I managed to tell my father was the overarching message of the dream, which once out of my mouth struck me as being essentially accurate but grossly insufficient. In the dream, I learned that my real father was this strange creature like the Batman. In the dream, a profound fear and confusion emerged in me not only out of the discovery that my real father was some Batman-like creature, but the logical extension of that fact, the daunting implication: as his son, I was somehow also somehow such a creature. Though groggy, it seemed to me as if the tone in which I asked him had confused him, as if I had unintentionally delivered my words in such a way that it was presented not as a description of a dream but rather as an accusation I wanted him to respond to.

Perhaps a response did come through him after all, though the specific source was in the dreams generated by his unconscious mind. The message from his shadow was then passed along to me. As is the case of many people, for some reason, my father occasionally tells me of his dreams. At some point late in high school, I recall him describing a vivid dream which, upon asking him some time after, he appeared to have entirely forgotten. In my recollection, his dream dealt with our family in some hallway. Along with the family was someone who he called “the dark man,” who wore a trench coat and fedora. His face could not be seen. A young boy was running around playfully, who my father seemed to think was me, and whom the dark man proclaimed to be the devil’s child.

So to summarize: the child of Goblin Man, who was depicted in the dream-scenario, at one point, as a man in a superhero costume. The child of a Batman-like creature. Now a child of the Devil, who is certainly the equivalent of a comic book supervillain for some people, a superhero to others. So why this theme of being a son to a dark, inhuman superhero? Was the flashback a glimpse into the source material for my dream, and perhaps my father’s as well, or would it be rational to look upon the flashback as a dream as well?

Regardless as to whether the flashback was a root experience giving rise to two dreams, why did I call him a goblin? My mother told me once that I always spoke, evidently through play, that I was being chased by goblins, and I particularly remember imagining them following us in our car as we drove, trying to catch up with us by quickly building a tunnel underground parallel with us.

The only place I remember being subjected to the concept of a goblin was through a superhero, meaningfully enough. I knew the Green Goblin to be the arch nemesis of Spiderman, and both characters I knew not through the medium of the comic books, but through the boob tube during the Saturday morning cartoons. On our Atari 2600, I also remember playing a Spiderman game. As Spiderman, you would slowly crawl up a building with your web. The obstacles he faced on his way to the top I fail to recall, but as the top of the building Spiderman met with the Green Goblin, who was riding his “goblin glider” back and fourth in the air. I could never get passed him, and in the end he always made me fall off the building and die. Beyond that, there aren’t many associations with the character.

If the flashback is the root experience, the nonhuman superhero theme makes perfect sense. These creatures are clearly not human and with their display of telepathy, psychokinesis and advanced technology, imagining them as being of superhero or supervillain status isn’t really a far cry from the truth of the matter at all. The incident with the creature under the sheets pretending to be my mother I felt to be attacking my intelligence, as they were trying to trick me and doing such a shoddy job of it. If this was all a dream they had put in my head, couldn’t they make the form under the sheets look convincingly human, in the very least, and perhaps come up with a reasonable explanation as to why she couldn’t show her face?

The Goblin Man’s claim attacked my sense of identity, my sense of belonging to the family and species I had taken to be my own. Yet it left me in limbo, as they had not revealed my true identity or family but left me with the knowledge that I was in both, of both, but belonged to neither. I belonged nowhere and I was utterly alone.

If this was all an illusion, if the flashback was nothing more than a hallucinatory fiction emerging during a psychotic break, this makes the “alien” theme an obvious unconscious choice. I have felt that I don’t belong my entire life, and it has not dissipated as I have aged, but to the absolute contrary. Perhaps the feeling of not belonging emerged in me and had no seeming cause or explanation, so my unconscious whipped up a fictitious narrative to give that sense of out-of-placement a well-needed context and origin.

The fact that in being both human and alien I would also be just as alien to the aliens seems unnecessarily redundant to me, however. In addition, given my reactions to this unconscious choice of origin it seems unlikely that providing a sense of comfort was a primary objective. The notion terrified me and, I feel ill to confess, still terrifies me as I write this. Not only because some intergalactic pact might support visitation rights for the father, thereby providing legal justification for abductions, either, but because of the aforementioned implications.

As if the whole alien ordeal was not enough, other events began happening in real-time and drifting back to consciousness in memory that were not mundane or carried by the air of what we regard as sanity by any means. This led me to conclude that either our most educated assumptions about the nature of ourselves and the universe were flawed in what I took for some pretty fucking vital areas or my madness, ever-relentless, simply accepted no bounds. Relevant here are my apparent recollection of events that occurred in previous lifetimes. Later, after I had struggled with the puzzle pieces, attempting to order them into their distinct lifetimes and their correct sequence, I felt I had distinguished three distinct lifetimes aside from my present one and possibility two more. The most recent was the life of a man I have come to call Sam, born in Little Rock, Arkansas in the 1940s or 50s and dying in the mid-to-late 70s while working at a toy store in a mall in Florida, perhaps Miami, where he lived for a time in his vehicle in the large parking lot. Previous to that I recall being a man who, given some of the memories, I presume to be an orphan, born and raised for a time in Tennessee or Kentucky and eventually making his way to California or a closely neighboring state while still a pre-teen. Eventually he became a Catholic priest who seems to have met his demise at an old age by means of a gunshot wound to the head.

The third and most distant group of memories bear the basic qualities of the other two, which is to say that I recalled the memories directly and also recalled instances in my own childhood in which I had recalled them. The first scene I had seen countless times as a child, crisp and vivid in my mind’s eye. The light is a little brighter than twilight, perhaps, and from a position up high, perhaps on a mountain or large dune, I look far out across a desert and see, atop a dune in the distance, three to four vehicles congregating. Despite the fact that I see them from far away, the discovery of their presence invokes a tremendous fear.

What I saw in the distance may or may not have been what I knew as either a “war machine” or “death machine,” which I have a single memory of. In the scene I recalled, the light is dim, like a dark twilight, and I am standing beside a gigantic wheel that towers over my head, part of this massive machine. It has four to six wheels, I believe, and is in some ways akin to a tank. The metal is silver and it is shaped like half of an arrowhead, the longest side down.

In another scene, I am now on flat ground, looking at the side of a large jagged rock with many layers of sediment. It is dark and the area looks gray and dusty. Some creature scurries across the ground, and then a spider-like creature that looks more or less like a pom-pom with long, spindly legs leaps after it, pounces on it and wraps its legs around it in a lightning-speed predatory maneuver, sending a cloud of dust up from the ground. I have visions of creepy, leafless, dead-looking trees either alone or in patches across the wasteland as well as visions of a lush rainforest teeming with plant life that took on neon colors of a phosphorescent quality, both, and especially the last, appearing very out of place with the rest of the desert world.

During meditation or on the bridge of sleep, I would receive other brief images of this world. I had brief visions of lit, three-windowed domes peeking up out of the desert surface. In another image, I saw a three-pronged structure akin to a crystalline castle amidst an otherwise desolate wasteland. An image similar to the three-pronged castle, though it seemed to be a logo, was accompanied by a voice on another occasion on the bridge of sleep which said the single word, “Conduit.” I had images of underground caverns with rooms that served as artificial habitats, full of plant and animal life.

In tandem with these direct memories of this environment there are memories of my playtime as a child, in which I used this world as a setting for my fantasies. As far back as I could remember I’d play Hock and Noodle at night when I was in bed and supposed to be asleep. Rather than using toys, my props for this dynamic duo were solely my hands. I’d hold all my fingers horizontal and press my thumb to my index finger to simulate their mouth when they spoke; when they walked, I would withdraw my thumb and last two fingers into my palm and use my middle and index finger as their legs. To simulate these spider-like creatures, I would put my hand spread palm-downwards and my thumb and fingers acted as the crawling legs. I’d also press my thumb to my index finger or to my middle finger with the rest of my fingers spread to represent two other specific types of enemies, though I do not recall the actual mental images these particular enemies were associated with.

Often I’d use a tissue box as a prop for their vehicle and together these two would venture out across their sickly, desolate, desert world. I liked it best when I had my light brown blanket on my bed, as that was close to the color of the surface of their world. Though no memory of mine specifically indicates it, I have the burning sense that the civilization had long ago retreated into underground tunnels and subterranean cities, preferring to live predominantly below the surface in order to protect themselves from the dangers on the planet above. During playtime, I would often imagine rocks falling from space onto the surface of their world, something that seemed to be a frequent occurrence. I’ve also always felt that this has been connected with a recurring theme in dreams I’ve had over the years in which various end-of-the-world scenarios have played out. In those dreams, my instinct has always been to get as far beneath the ground as possible, be it through the sewer systems or elaborate, subterranean structures.

Though perhaps I wouldn’t be talking about Hock and Noodle at all, perhaps they and their world would have faded from my memory entirely if it had not been embedded into my mind due to the nature of their last adventure. It was less than a year after I’d first put on my leg braces when I went back to the doctors so they could check out how I had been developing. To meet this end they would place me in the CAT scanner. On the table I went, and it guided my frantic self deeper into the doughnut-shaped lips of the machine and into it’s huge, tube-shaped belly, where I would have to remain for three to four hours.

As I was drawn inside, my face reddened and I cried and screamed. I didn’t understand what was going on, what this machine was doing or what was going to happen, but my mother and the doctors said that I would be fine, that I just needed to lay perfectly still and everything would be all right. They tried to get me to relax by talking to me and reassuring me again and again. Once inside, I calmed a bit, though I was still considerably restless. Eventually fear gave way to boredom and I began playing Hock and Noodle. Hands dancing all around the belly of the CAT scanner. Imagining how those doctors must have felt after looking at those X-ray images after four hours and finding freeze-frame Kodak moments of the bones of my hands as they walked across my belly and mouthed words to one another — well, it makes me shudder. Hearing him was frightening enough.

At first it was just a commotion below my feet; I could barely hear it and wondered if maybe I was just imagining things, but then I heard those frightening screams of anger, that high-grade cussing, that shouting back and fourth between what was undoubtedly the doctor and my mother. I wondered what was going on. When I heard my mother shouting my name, she did not sound very pleased at all, that was quite evident. She told me viciously that I had better not budge. Not a twitch. This time, I didn’t move a damned muscle. I remained in there for another four hours, and the embarrassment over that whole episode was a profound one. It ended my playtime with Hock and Noodle, but it served to solidify them and their world in my memory.

It was after I got the braces taken off and while I was still in kindergarten that my eyes fell onto, into the eyes of one who I felt a strange kindship that seemed associated with the memories of that dead world. She was petite and brown-eyed with long brown hair that looked strangely exotic to me. However frail, she seemed to be a furnace of energy, and she battled the world with a beaming smile. There was something dark and vast in her, it felt to me, something rich, and in some way, shape or form I felt as if we came from the same place, that we both felt similarly out of place here. I don’t ever recall talking to her, and it would not at all surprise me if that is only because I never really uttered a damned word to her in the first place. Even then, evidently, I was deathly shy of approaching beautiful girls.

Despite that fact, I was overcome with joy and violent surges of anxiety when I received an invitation to her birthday party. Her apartment was in the apartment complex catty-cornered across the street from our house, so the night of the party my father walked me over. When we came into the place, it was like a drunken college party of shaved, drunken orangutans. There was no booze, however, and these were toddlers, and nearly everyone in both kindergarten classes, by the looks of it. It suddenly made sense how I had come to be invited. I existed. Looking out across the living room, I saw kids running up the stairs. She was upstairs, the birthday girl, hiding in her room. Both my father and I wanted to leave, and he asked if I wanted to go up and say happy birthday to her. I did want to, but I was afraid, and I somehow got the sense that she didn’t like being the center of attention anyway.

So my father and I slowly walked home in the dark, and I remember liking just walking beside him, with no one else around. It always felt good to be around him. I remembered thinking about my sense of isolation, and a conversation I must have recently had with my father. It was an evening when I was “camping out” on the floor in my room — basically just sleeping on the floor with blankets and pillows, which is something my sisters and I found exciting when we were younger for some reason. Earlier in the day my mother, upon learning of the report cards of my sister and I, had joked about how she should be doing so much worse than me in school due to her cerebral palsy and that the school must have mistakenly swapped our grades. When my father had come in to kiss me goodnight, I remember asking him if he thought there may have been a similar mix-up and it could be me, and not my sister, who had cerebral palsy. This question seemed to sadden him, and when he asked why I would ask such a thing, I tried to explain how I felt different from everyone around me, and though I could not articulate what this difference was, it had to do with my brain. My sister’s condition was my only real default assumption.

At this point, walking home beside him, I felt that the difference was in fact something else, that it had some other cause, that if it included genetics it must also go deeper than that, past the marrow and to the soul. Part of what drew me to that girl, I felt, was that she was different in a way similar if not identical to how I was different. Her and I, somehow and in some way, had come from the same place and I felt some sort of kinship. In my mind, her image, her vibe, her “feel” is associated with the most beautiful images. A bird’s eye view of a vast desert landscape enshrouded in darkness, an image of a planet that looked like Saturn, of distant-seeming areas of the cosmos where I seemed to be just a swimmer in space, taking in from all angles the community of stars, asteroids, nebulae. These images shared this feeling that seemed to extend far beyond what I understood or felt from others with respect to religiosity; it was a union of my essence with beauty that swept me far beyond the usual conceptualized limitations of the self, that truly connected with the mystery around and within myself. It was a numinous cosmic saturation. This feeling was also associated with the imagery and experience of coursing through space at such a speed that stars seemed to stretch and bleed into one another, as if I was on some voyage into sectors of existence where few if any had ever ventured.

These images as well as the girl are also associated with a bizarre experience that happened to me when I was older, I believe. I remember awakening in a strange, well-lit and sterile-feeling room on a hard table and walking towards the huge, floor-to-ceiling window on the far wall. As I came up towards the glass, the beauty that had drawn me there blossomed completely in my discovery that this was not a glorious night sky I was looking at, but the seeming depths of space. There was no ground. Stars were all around me and earth was nowhere to be seen, but that didn’t disturb me at all, strangely. Staring out that window, I felt so strong a connection, so intense was empathic feedback, that there was no question I belonged to the cosmos. Certainty surged in that moment that it was not that I did not belong in the universe, or even the earth, but perhaps merely this specific time and place, these particular cultural circumstances.

Even after the girl moved at the end of the year, I found that I still thought of Hock and Noodle and their world from time to time. Years later, after we had moved into our new house and my parents wanted to re-paint my room, I decided I wanted to change the color of the room from blue to brown, and my mother said I could also get a wall paper mural on one wall. When I was at the store looking through the choice of murals, I was absolutely drawn to the image of the planet Saturn, which I always imagined the desolate home of Hock and Noodle to look like.

Regardless, after I saw that Saturn mural, I didn’t want to look at any of the other images; I persisted this was the one I wanted. Though I would not dare say it, the image of Saturn brought back strange feelings of longing, almost an aching homesickness, of the dark world I left behind with my childhood playtime. That mural remained on my wall far passed my teenage years, and it took me some time to recall the associations that had prompted me to get it.

If the aliens can create lifelike memories, they could certainly create false memories of a previous lifetime as an alien. In an incident I feel must be some extremely-well executed telepathic imaging on behalf of the creatures, they again cease their attempts to attack my identity from the maternal or paternal angle, boldly stepping fourth and drive a dagger into the heart of it, go for the bull’s-eye.

I find myself standing on the stool we always had in the bathroom when I was a kid, looking into the mirror above the sink. Soon enough I find myself transfixed on my reflection, certain that something about my appearance is unusual but utterly unable, at first, of putting my finger on what it is. As I’m drawn into studying my reflection more closely, however, I suddenly realize that the problem resides with my eyes. Despite sincere efforts to prove to myself that I must be mistaken, the reflection clearly show my eyes appearing to grow larger and more slanted. The process begins slow, so slow at first that I could not first determine what was happening, but the shape-shifting effect was steadily increasing in speed. As continue ballooning, slanting up along my face, my mouth hangs open in disbelief. Though I wouldn’t have known this at that age, my eyes were distinctly of a shape, and increasingly growing to the size and position of the eyes of the typical Gray beings. Soon I discover that I cannot blink, shifting my awe and horror from the reflection to my actual face. No longer can I pretend this is merely my reflection. Slowly, I reach up a hand, watching the reflection, and cautiously allow my fingers to touch the surface of one eye. It feels rubbery and slick. The sensation is incredibly real.

Reflecting on it now, it makes me think of a three-link chain of associated scenes in the original Star Wars trilogy. There is a moment towards the end of Return of the Jedi, where Luke has successfully beaten the shit out of his cyborg father and looks down at the hand he cut off of pops. He then looks down at his own black leather gloved mechanical hand. He makes the connection. Back in the second film, Darth Vader hacks off Luke’s hand with his saber and then drops the news on him that he, Darth Vader, is Luke’s father, and Luke was a bit dramatic in his reaction. It was also in The Empire Strikes Back that he had the experience under the guidance of Yoda back on Degahbah. Back in that swamp, Luke had been made to walk through a cave of twisting vines in the darkness and ultimately forced to battle an illusion of his father, Darth Vader. He cuts off the head of the heavy-breather with his trusty light saber. The head falls, rolls, and comes to a sort of rest on the ground. There the mask of the helmet explodes, revealing Luke’s own face behind the mask. You are the son of a monster, and as a consequence you are part monster yourself.

Perhaps the Goblin Man circumstance is my life’s own manifestation of the same underlying archetype — fed to it, perhaps, not in the Jungian sense but rather through becoming very familiar with the Star Wars trilogy itself. In my version, I see the eyeless Goblin Man, who pronounces he is my real father. Then upon staring into the mirror I find my own eyes growing into the ones he had lacked. You are the son of an alien, so as a consequence you are part alien yourself.

I cannot help but feel another incident is related to the memory of the mirror, one that took place amidst the “play therapy” sessions I recall being run through by any number of the psychologists and social workers my mother took me to when I was young. At that time, I do remember that it was a young, attractive and friendly woman who, in the comfort of her office, ran me through a test known as the Thematic Apperception Test. Basically, the patient is shown a picture and is supposed to weave a story around it, explaining not only what is happening in the image but what happened up to that point and following it. Since the patient needs to draw off of their own personal beliefs, thoughts and emotions in order to construct the fantasy, it conveys personal information without the patient being aware of it. The image she handed to me depicted a person standing alone in a room staring into a mirror. I described how the person saw their face slowly changing, and how the reflection ultimately transformed into a large fish which stepped through the glass and chased the person around the room.

In either dreams or spontaneous fantasies, looking into mirrors would seem to imply we are taking an honest and direct look at ourselves in order to see who or what we really are. Before we had mirrors, the most likely place we glimpsed our reflections was on the surface of some body of water. We went there to drink and bathe, glimpsing through the surface, along with our reflection, the fish that inhabit the world beneath the fluid skin. With that association between mirrors and water’s skin in mind, my reflection transforming into a fish and stepping beyond the glass would seem to suggest the notion of “a fish out of water.’ By this time in my childhood, for all I know, I may have already been able to draw off of my eye experience with the bathroom mirror as well, which would make this TAT image particularly alluring and projection-friendly. As I watched my eyes undergoing their transformation, after all, I was unable to blink, much as the case appears to be with fish.

When our ancestors went to the water, they did not only glimpse down at the fish swimming in the fluid world of reflection, however, any more than we do today, however relegated it is to a so-called “sport.” No, we hunt them. We fish for fish. Bait fish. Net fish. Spear fish. By whatever means, one barges in through that reflective surface into their world and chases after them, aiming to abduct them from their world, perhaps fillet them, maybe just throw them back. The tides, one could say, are merely turned in my fantasy, where the fish instead bursts through the surface into my world and chases me around. Here, the fish out of water, the reflection now out of my control, hunts me down, and I run from it as I am terrified of it.

Perhaps then, at least at some level, I felt there was a part of me that came from another world and that it didn’t operate under my control and could step in at any time. If so, it was certainly buried deep in me, only to be unearthed perhaps a decade later on the eerie morning of Tuesday, August 22, 1995, only a few days after school had begun. That morning was a rather fitting end to the months of unrelenting, mind-wracking chaos that had led up to it in the last several months, and no doubt this would have been even more the case if I were able to remember clearly everything that had transpired.

Instead, I awoke that surreal morning to find myself scooping coffee grounds out of the can and putting it into the filter of the coffee machine. This is not in itself an unusual occurrence at all; it was only shortly after the memories started trickling in that I had been a thoroughly-caffeinated insomniac. This was my morning routine. The issue was that I had become aware of doing this only in the process of doing so, with little initial recollection of any of the events that preceded it, which was a considerably unusual experience. As soon as I asked myself why I was here doing this, however, I remembered, and I also remembered how this works. The sensation. There was a sort of breach between one state of consciousness and the other where you forgot entirely for a moment and then could successfully look back for a short time as memories rapidly went retrograde. I seemed to know precisely how it worked, as if I had gone through the experience a thousand times before. I immediately stopped what I was doing. I bolted up the stairs, across the hallway and into my room, grabbed the nearest notebook and pen and, kneeling beside my bed and using it as a table, I struggled to get out the general highlights of a long night seemingly out of this world before it all faded from my mental grasp.

In my confused notes that morning I wrote that they had been there last night, that I had not been asleep at all, and that throughout the experience I was unable to think straight or function appropriately. I had also experienced a series of what I described as “terrible” and “odd dreams” and “astral projections,” the specifics of which I could not recall, save for the fact that they had to do with my cousin. There had been some discussion, at least, about her being in trouble and then helped. Though I did not write it that morning, I know I had been walking out from the forest at the side of my house in a stressed manner not too long ago, someone walking beside me as I walked towards the house. This was perhaps right before I came into the house, began my morning routine and suffered the breach in consciousness. Then there came the flood of memory that immediately began its retrograde erasure.
Most disturbing to me of all is that I wrote that for at least part of the time that I was with them I was in an alternate state of consciousness in which I became aware that I was “one of them” underneath it all, that this deeper alien personality hid its identity behind the masque of the everyday personality.

At the bedside, pen in hand, I felt the last of it go, and the memories were gone. When nothing else was forthcoming from my memory, I wrote that I was scared of them, and frightened at the thought that humanity was at the mercy of these alien forces, these creatures, who I knew were here to “fulfill their own agenda,” specifics unfortunately not offered. What bothered me most of all, however, was that it suggested that I was a masque, a shell, a costume for some alien consciousness. It made it sound as if I was the alter, and he was the host. It made it sound like there was some sort of supervillain inside me and I was his secret identity.

Fatemakers & Unconscious Conspirators.

We are wired to believe in free will, but even if we accept the notion with full consciousness we cannot deny those moments in which it seems fate is alive and well and has tight in its grips, be it for good or ill. Yet this fate, I maintain, is nothing more than the yank of unconscious reins.

We cling to patterns like junkies, as if the mother’s heartbeat leaves us addicts for more. We naturally gravitate towards the familiar, as the familiar is predictable, the familiar is a pattern. We find security here, as when in the womb, because we find pattern — repetition of the familiar — and this offers us the illusion of control, as we can predict and so anticipate and so have a fighting chance to manipulate the outcome if the present course does not look to be in the aim of your favor. If it is in our favor, we can just let those cards naturally play out in our favor.

In any case, it is always easy to convince ourselves that a prediction was actually a self-fulfilling prophecy. That rather than having known it was going to happen, we had made it happen. Or that we had known something was going to happen and effectively manipulated it into our favor.

We are experts at getting what we are taught to believe we need. Unfortunately what we feel we need is not always synonymous with what we think we want, and is actually quite often to be found in diametric opposition to what we want. So perhaps a familiar pattern is having an abusive figure in close relations. One may not want this, but if a woman has grown up knowing nothing but her drunk and abusive father, that’s the only point of reference she has from that point on for a close male figure.

We know that the unconscious mind communicates to the conscious mind. Could the unconscious minds of two people communicate through an unconscious body language of nonverbal cues? To some degree we know this is the case, as people exchange certain mannerisms and postures in our underlying courtship rituals. This was revealed through studies in evolutionary biology. We also know the knowledge of common nonverbal cues can be utilized in order to hypnotize or program a person to follow a certain command. In other words, all in all we know not only that conscious minds can speak to other conscious minds but that unconscious minds can speak to their own conscious mind, and that conscious minds can speak to their own unconscious mind as well as the unconscious minds of others to the extent that it bypasses their conscious mind. Is the final conversation in the pattern set here all that much of a leap?

It suddenly hits me that we already seem to have evidence of this.

Through unconscious “hot“ and “cold” reading and nonverbal communications, we identify and gravitate toward potential targets for our needs, project upon them and then get them to take on the role faithfully in projective identification, and we then let the unconscious forces produce a self-fulfilling prophecy based on the same old story. The objective of this is to provide a psychological sense of comfort and security through an illusion of conscious control produced by rationalizing “in” unconsciously-generated compulsions.

This is only half the story, as suggested by the book A General Theory of Love in their presentation of the notion of two people having compatible “attractors.” This is to say their mutual patterns of condensed experience with paternally or maternally-based pair-bonding have a key-in-lock, foot-in-shoe, hand-in-glove kind of affinity, and so they naturally fall into gravitation around one another. In their struggles to make you fit better into the silhouette of their “attractor” in their own minds, they will project; in order to reinforce those projections, you unconsciously manipulate your conscious self to manipulate the targets of your projections to actually identify or embody the role of the projection. “You are” as an answer to the question, “Who’s your daddy?” may have more relevance than you would have ever, in your most wretched train-wrecks of gruesome thought, dared to considered possible. Aside from that, in would appear that love is not, as I have previously stated, nothing more than a hormonally-induced form of temporary insanity. It is also evidently a conspiracy targeting two conscious people, with the conspirators their respective unconscious minds.

Attractors don’t only exist for pair-bonding, it would seem, as recurring patterns in your relationships over time have certainly manifested in life. When my family moved from our old house to our new one in 1988, we also changed schools, and I immediately noticed that groups formed that bared the same roles and styles of relations that I had seen in the groups at my old school. Sometimes even their sizes were the same. I began to wonder if there was more to group structuring than the usual pack and pack-leader. Maybe there wasn’t so much a hierarchy but a system of interlocking roles that developed in which each provided what the other “needed,” however unwanted. Groups were closely-knit relations, but groups also have relations with other groups. We also have relations between individuals within groups, and many people belong to many groups. It seems possible that unconscious minds are influenced by a sort of unconscious social network just as we are influenced by our conscious ones. In life, there are always two levels to every social situation: the Surface and the Underneath.

The surface is the land of interacting conscious egos; the underneath, a network of unconscious conspirators playing us like unwitting psychological sock puppets, the propaganda and cover stories we cling to mere myths, making our real history one of much more depth and breadth than we could ever consciously acknowledge. On the surface, we egos weave and embrace our self-fictions and forge relations with denied aspects of ourselves in the reflections we catch of them in the eyes of others. In the underneath, unconscious minds communicate through gestures, postures, facial expressions and positions, through subtleties in choice of language, suggestions in tone of voice, in what we wear and when and so many other ways, one unconscious mind bypasses its conscious counterpart completely to communicate with another unconscious mind through the medium of the nonverbal, of the implicit.

It could be that they conspire to wire certain social relations based on shared affinities between mutual condensed histories, and much as the conscious ego does with certain unconscious impulses, it rationalizes them in a way that is resonant with the elaborate network of schemas it constitutes. Just as conscious awareness weaves itself an ego to rationalize the unconscious, it weaves similar fictions for itself to rationalize its bonds with others, to satisfy itself that the past is not always present.

This is how we deny that we are held in the grips underneath.

To Flow With the Autopilot.

Previously I have written of two ways we might defeat autonomous complexes, attractors, or as I call them here, autopilot programs. We can either integrate them through Jungian trancendent function or work with them through incubation techniques. There appears to be a third option, however, and this is to override them through flow.

The mind as a whole, as Colin Wilson suggested, seems to have a sort of “thermostat” for conscious awareness. So long as we stay consciously aware above the mid-point, we are at the wheel of our brain, but when our degree of awareness or absorption drops below, say, 50 degrees, the thermostat clicks on the unconscious autopilot (or what he calls “the robot function”). The unconscious autopilot is composed of multitudes of stimulus-response programs governing countless sectors of our life for us. From the standpoint of consciousness, these programs are both unconscious and automatic, subliminally influencing both the percieved stimulus through projection and the generation of the actual response through unconscious impulses the conscious ego rationalizes. We program the autopilot through emotional intensity (regardless of the specific emotion) and repetitive exposure to stimuli (of any sensory modality or form of communication, supraliminal and subliminal).

Traditional psychology calls the autopilot by another name, implicit memory. This is a type of memory in which we do not remember facts or events as with explicit memory, but instead consciously execute patterns, forms or structures in our thoughts, speech or behavior that are based on unconsciously-remembered patterns, forms or structures and unconscously-generated associations and consolidations. This is known as priming; the unconscious influence on our choices. This unconscious influence is suggested due to the fact that certain choices are clearly based on memories of our experiences, though we may have never consciously recalled those memories and are certainly not aware of them influencing our present decisions.

We need the autopilot in order to preform higher functions. There are tiny steps that need to be taken, and our sucesses with achieving this or that step accrue, cumulatively leading to our success at the task as a whole. It is this way for so many of the capabilities we have and yet take for granted, such as speaking or driving a car. None of that would have been possible if not for our ability to program the autoplot, and it goes further. There would appear to be a ghost in the autopilot. The autopilot thinks, and it does so in an associative manner. Mastering a pattern in one specific area, the autopilot proceeds to both generalize the triggers and programs to which they are associated for cross-modal application.

Consequently, even when venturing into unknown territory the autopilot plays a key role, as it can relate (as through analogy or metaphor), generalize (as through symbol or sign) and condense (as in the form of what are known as attractors, complexes, or CODEX) programs from all throughout the unconscious mind which have parallels to the new situation. After we learn to drive our first car, an Oldsmobile, we don’t have to start from the ground up in learning how to drive a Mercury Topaz after the Olbmobile, due to a series of unfortunate events, ends up resembling a huge wad of smoldering tinfoil bleeding neon green antifreeze into the midst of a busy, five-way intersection. Instead, we can generalize the trigger Oldsmobile to an umbrella term, cars, and as a consequence the Topaz will conjure up the “driving” program with matching success. Then we abstract the pattern carried over from the specific trigger for use in the now-generalized trigger. We don’t have to start from scratch every time we drive a different car, as programs carry over to the specific new cues of the new car with relative ease.

Often this even seems to work too well, as a person goes from driving a stick shift to an automatic and to his utter irritation constantly finds himself reaching for a shifter that isn’t there time and time again. In other cases when the autopilot words too well, it drains our lives of meaning. Throughout his writings, Wilson gives examples of this. Just as we consciously learn to ride a bike and then slowly autopilot comes to do the riding for us, when we at first hear a new song we like it moves us, but after the radio has overplayed it for a month’s time at work it seems that all the life it once swelled with has been drained dry, as if by some feinding chubacabra. The reason is that autopilot is now doing the listening, just as it has been doing the bike-riding. You programmed it through emotional intensity and repitition without even trying and then went 50-below. If we withdraw too much conscious awareness, we basically fall alseep at the wheel of our brains. Unfortunately, we tend to lead lives of routine and it becomes profitable to keep awareness well below fifty degrees so the autopilot does what it does best. If we fall asleep at the wheel of our brains too deeply, we begin being absent-minded, making stupid mistakes. If, on the other hand, we apply too much conscious awareness, we are bound to step on the toes of the unconscious and disengage the autopilot. Think of all the times you were in the midst of doing something and suddenly made the mistake on reflecting on just what it was you were doing, at which point you screwed up a task you engage in every day.

The less conscious awareness invests attention in the autopilot implicit memory in question, the less it interferes with unconscious “recollection” through imposing structure and unconscious associative thinking processes. Conscious thought and behavior interferes with unconscious thought and behavior. As consciousness withdraws control, unconsciousness compensates; as consciousness takes control, the unconscious takes the passenger seat.

At best, the mind would be a masterful trapeze artist engaging in a balancing effort between challenge and ability, structure and freedom, which would bring the conscious and unconscious to interact and share their energy. There is an interview with Bruce Lipton, a psychologist and author, in which he explains how one’s behavior changes when they’ve met a love interest. A love interest gives you a very focused and structured sense of purpose. That it is a love interest implies, of course, that awareness is likely to be heightened, and for two reasons. To begin with, you want full engagement with the senses so as to gather as much of her as humanity possible; as a consequence, autopilot programs that have governed our perceptions at perhaps every preceeding point in our life are disengaged. In addition, there will be an all-systems-go status with respect to conscious awareness. You’re going to be very consciously aware of what you do, how you behave, what you say and how you say it.

Essentially, what he is describing is Flow. The state of Flow seems to indicate that happiness is a byproduct of a clear, meaningful and comfortably-structured sense of purpose. To put it another way, Flow appeared to bes produced by any activity that simultaneously encompasses qualities inherent in what the Western mind considers the two over-arching categories of meditation. Mindfulness meditation involves open monitoring, or detached observation of experience. The thoughts we think we own actually own us, and by training ourselves during meditation to letting go of them we not only percieve that fact to be true but in so doing liberate ourselves from their influence. It also serves as active, concentrated meditation, which involves focused attention on object, image, or area of the body. The goal, such as a love interest, acts in the capacity of a yantra. Though the goal that sets the purpose and structure and simultaneously calls upon heightened self-awareness can be something other than a love interest, of course.

Regardless, it would appear that by increasing the range and degree of conscious attention we invest in our behavior while honing in on a meaningful goal in a comfortably-structured manner, we in turn disengage the autopilot programs, the schemas and complexes that take over our behavior and govern our perceptions.

Forget Me Not (Senex II).

Grasping for an explanation in the beginning, the concept of repression was there for the taking. These events in my life were simply too bizarre, I had thought, and my puny human mind couldn’t take it in. The trauma was too great, and so I buried them in the catacomb beneath my consciousness, built a wall of fear between this horror and I. This wall had held for nearly a decade until it began to crack, bleeding out fragments of memory from the other side, finally flooding my consciousness. However shattered, scattered, and frustratingly incomplete they were, these memories were only delivered in this fashion out of my own unconscious mercy. My conscious inner strength, once built to a sufficient level, will render me capable of conjuring up the remaining memories for integration and I will finally bring my true, inner self to bathe in the eager light of my conscious awareness. I will finally know the truth and be whole again.

Alas, ’twas all fly-infested bullshit. This frightening fact I came to face early on in my journey through utter confusion, once the deeper message underlying the events of February first, 1995, struck me like a ton of shit-bricks from the heavens.

Hyped up that night, as so many nights, on caffeine so I would not be caught vulnerable in sleep, I eagerly read in my room until roughly four in the morning. Having grown increasingly restless, I decided to put my books away and do something else, and in the process submitted to the urge to just pace about my room to burn off some tension in an aimless daze. In so doing, and without realizing it, I went to push in the chair at my art desk. Whether it was due to my hyperconscious state or something else, I do not know, but I stopped myself just as I put my hands on the chair and just examined this urge that was rising up from within me. It seemed strangely extreme and desperate. I then closed my eyes not to examine it so much as become receptive to it, let it overtake me and reveal its motive in the process. Marinating my mind in awareness of the emotion, I slithered by way back to its roots.

Despite its brevity, it burst before my mind’s eye as a vivid, single-frame recollection saturated with emotional intensity. For a moment I saw myself again, in that damned loft bed I had when I was younger, looking down into the darkness of my room. I was filled with this tremendous, paralyzing fear. As I felt it surge through me, dominate me, I realized my younger eyes were fixated downward, down upon the chair pushed out from my desk. As with the desk, the chair was made out of stained wood. It had a cushion of black, brown and white yarn. I stared down at it with those horrific emotions swelling in me, strangling me as I tried to burn that image into my mind, brand it in my brain for use as a psychological bookmark, a beacon calling for conscious recollection. Determined not to forget what had just happened, I repeated to myself over and over the mantra, “You will remember, you will remember, you will remember…”

As I contemplated the strange memory, my mind suddenly brought back a strange behavior I’d enacted for years. Everywhere I went I had the compulsion to push in chairs. Whenever I had gone to bed I found it absolutely necessary to push in all chairs in the room before I even attempted to go to sleep. If I for some reason forgot, I would notice upon laying down and have to get up out of bed to push it in. Oftentimes I’d go as far as placing a chair outside in the hallway and closing my bedroom door, just so I didn’t have to look at it. I remember that my parents had questioned me about it and I never really had any good excuses to offer. In retrospect, it bothered and amazed me that I had never even thought twice about it.

Clearly it stemmed from this memory, but all I had to work with was a single-frame snapshot. Try as I might, I could not recall what it was that I had burned with such passion to remember, only that I had wanted so desperately to remember it. A bookmark I had made myself, sticking out of a locked diary that rightfully belonged to me. My frustration with trying to determine, much later on, what the focus on that chair was meant to suggest led me to wonder if my unconscious, for some unknown reason, was teasing me with no intention of ever providing the entire package.

It was not until I saw the connection with a dream I had only a little over a month later, on March 13th, that I was provided with some suggestion as to what the incident regarding the chair may have actually entailed. After I awoke, I wrote in my dream diary that my family and I had gone to the church that we had gone to when my Uncle Milton had died. As we were walking down some stone sidewalk outside the church, a strange woman approached me and offered me tortillas and bean dip. Then, evidently after taking her up on her offer, I remembered an incident in a hotel room that had the same loft bed and chair I used to have in my childhood room. While in this hotel room, I had seen or heard something that I was not meant to, and all I could recall regarding it is that it had something to do with the Doctor.

The first peculiar thing that struck me about the dream was that despite his old age, my great Uncle Milton was alive and well, living in Pennsylvania at the time of the dream, and would not pass away until years later. Such a church could not, then, exist. The objective inaccuracy of my dream-context memories does not end with my uncle and the church, either; no such hotel room existed, of course, bearing the furniture from my childhood room. Presuming for the moment that there is indeed meaning behind dreams: why did my unconscious elect the church and hotel settings for the false memories?

In dreams, a default setting might be provided by a generic room in an unknown house or building, but in some cases, particularly when a dream emphasizes a specific locale, it appears to me to have symbolic significance. When the room or building draws attention to itself or suggests a definite location, especially when that location was otherwise unnecessary information given the narrative, these might serve as red flags calling fourth a closely-scrutinizing inner eye.

Houses function as symbols of the conscious personality, at least in my case, and basements and secret passageways or rooms often denote the unconscious aspects of the conscious personality. Churches are, of course, generally associated with worship and faith, and despite the early state of semi-atheism I was in at the time and my negative view of churches, the church in the dream did seem to convey a sense of solemn spirituality — solemn no doubt due to the associations with it and my uncle’s death. If we are to presume that the church functions in a sense related to houses, which are symbols of the conscious personality, perhaps the church references the true, inner self or soul, or the Self, as Jung would have called it. It may represent our spirituality or our genetic, social and psychological roots.

As for the strange woman, motherly in the sense that she was providing nourishment for me outside of a church, she would be seen through the Jungian eye as a manifestation of the more divine qualities of my anima, the feminine aspect of the male personality, which typically acts as a guide to the unconscious. In this particular dream, she evidently did so by means of offering up food, reminiscent of the Alice in Wonderland “eat me” scene. Why the tortillas and bean dip specifically, however? My immediate reactions show associations with celebration, such as a party of some sort. Though I have always had a certain fondness for Mexican food for as long as I can remember, I recall no memorable incident involving this food specifically.

Dreams don’t only seem to draw off of personal events in one’s life, however, but subtler things that consciousness might be apt to overlook — such as the associations spawned by our idioms, popular phrases, expressions, figures of speech and so on. This angle seems to make the most sense, given the results: corn makes me think of the ear, given the whole “ear of corn” phrasing, and beans make me think of “spilling ones beans,” or telling a secret. After eating the tortillas and bean dip, I recalled an incident where I heard (“ear” of corn) something I was not supposed to hear, or saw something I was not supposed to see. In either case, what I had overheard was evidently a secret: the act of someone spilling their beans. It may be a stretch, perhaps into left field, but those are the only associations out of the few I can consciously conjure that seem to make any sense.

After my snack, I evidently imploded into a memory regarding an incident that occurred in a hotel room that, strangely, had the loft bed and chair from my childhood bedroom. The setting of a hotel room does not suggest furniture from my old bedroom, nor does my furniture conjure from default anything remotely resembling a hotel room. This leads me to believe that these specific elements were conjoined in the dream for a specific reason, perhaps one that can only be discerned by analyzing the conjoined elements separately and then trying to find some relation between them at their roots, despite the seeming absurdity of their mutual presence on the surface.

As a temporary residence (or “ego”), the hotel room might represent a transitory state, thus echoing the theme of death associated with the church: as a last rite of one’s life, it would be, along with birth, one of the two most major states of transition during life. When the hotel room in a dream serves as the meeting place for two or more parties, however, it would seem to instead (or additionally) represent a neutral location where neither party is on the other’s turf. The hotel room, if you believe popular culture, serves this purpose for exclusively illicit activities, such as covert meet-ups between criminals, where deals between paid killers and their employers take place. The hotel room is where cheating asshole husbands meet up with the women they’re using as their secret side project or rented product to exhaust their junk’s spunk for seed-spraying. It’s where people hold people for ransom, where people hide when they’re on the run. More than just some ordinary room made out of wood and serving as a pit-stop for the traveler, it serves as the all-purpose, wooden segue of the underground. Whenever I read the dream again, my mind’s eye receives a flash of the dark and shadowy hotel room from the dream, and it seems to reflect these associations of hotel rooms as secret meeting places for covert activities. To me, it almost seemed like a scene out of a mobster movie, or when secret government agents are threatening a witness.

This only serves to reflect what I had recalled going on within the room between the Doctor and I: namely, that I had seen or heard things that I was not meant to. This was the same impression I had gotten in my first flashback experience in both the portion involving the presumably real memory and the end, which seemed to serve as a screen memory: he was trying to distract me from things going on behind him. This dream, however, offers no clear answer as to what might have been heard or seen in that hotel room. Strangely, however, the dream did specify that the room had the old loft bed from my youth, as well as the chair that had surfaced in a flashback the previous month. Why those specific items, as opposed to generic ones? Out of all possible choices, why did the dark of my mind elect to weave these elements together into a dream?

I had looked down at the chair from my loft bed in the chair flashback, which could indicate the dream was referencing that incident. With respect to me having seen or heard something involving the Doctor that I was not supposed to, however, the dream seems to be at the same time referencing the incident depicted in the Doctor flashback. The dream could be suggesting that both flashbacks were of the same incident: they had found me under the bed, taken me away, and then placed me back in my bedroom, paralyzed as I struggled to remember it all by chanting affirmations to myself.

Shortly after the chair flashback, I thought that perhaps I could trigger the rest of the memory. My youngest sister had inherited that chair from me and within days I examined it, but seeing it, smelling it, even running my fingers across the wood and fabric brought back nothing to me. All I could recall was laying in bed, swelling with fear and staring down at that chair pushed out from that desk on the opposite wall of my old room as I chanted to myself that I would remember.

Now I made a conscious effort to leave chairs pushed out. It was amazing how difficult it was. Whatever had happened to me that night on my bunk bed had followed me around ever since. I’d stared so intensely at that chair and chanted over and over to myself to remember, and had been so fearful at the time, that I came to associate the intense, negative emotions with the event (whatever it was) with the image of the chair pushed out from the desk. The level of effort I put fourth in burning the image of that chair into my mind, the sense of effort that the image of the chair permitted me to recall, the overwhelming degree of fear I felt coursing through my body and which came to embody that image of the chair as a consequence — it was nothing less than a real event of an incredibly horrible and highly unusual quality, I felt certain of it. Still, I accepted the fact that for all I knew the chair may have just been a convenient prop which had little to nothing to do with what it was I wished to remember, however. It may have just been an attempt at making a familiar object stand out like a sore thumb, acting as a trigger which would later make the memory of the object and the projections of that fear act as a signpost readily accessible to consciousness.

The real question behind my act of staring at that chair and repeating my mantra, “you will remember, you will remember,” over and over is, of course, just why on earth I felt so certain that I would forget whatever it was I wanted to remember in the first place — a certainty that burned so strong in me at the time that I felt the desperate need to create a visual, emotionally-laden bookmark for the memory in a desperate, determined effort to circumvent the amnesia. In other words, this didn’t sound like dissociation or repression at all, at least not as a natural, psychological mechanism. What suddenly became clear to me was that these memories had instead been locked up inside of me by some external force and, as the incident with the chair strongly implied, evidently against my wishes to the contrary. It was not that my unconscious was teasing me with the briefest previews of truths it was hiding from me, like some cat torturing a mouse. Instead, my unconscious seemed to be trying to wear down the boundaries between us to deliver these memories, doing all it could to bridge the chasm by pushing them through a post-hypnotic wall placed between us ten years before by what I could only conceive as a malicious external force.

Communication Breakdown.

The mind appears to be a dual processor composed of the conscious and unconscious mind.

The unconscious is a parallel processor composed of simultaneously-active schematic information systems, or what might be better described as a spectrum of unconscious ego states functioning in parallel. Each unconscious ego mood-state operates on the basis of differing base axioms, communicating with one another by means of a cross-modal associative style of thinking. Pattern-oriented, metaphorical-allegorical and non-linguistic, it aims to connect psychic components through associative, lateral, and parallel thinking in order to produce multiple alternatives to choose from. As opposed to the concern of consciousness, which works in service of the ego, the unconscious works in service of relationships. The unconscious ego spectrum emerged from the schemas or “attractors” imprinted into our minds through the nature of the attachments forged early in our childhood (such as the maternal and paternal bonds, discussed elsewhere) which all proceeding data gleaned through experience is filtered through and all subsequent decisions are based upon. As a consequence, the unconscious is in many ways childlike and fails to distinguish the past from the present.

Consciousness is a serial processor composed of a spectrum of schematic ego mood-states experienced in a structured, sequential manner by conscious awareness which strive for collective cohesion, giving rise to a collective sense of singularity. Detail-oriented, logical-analytical and linguistic, it aims to rationalize psychic components through vertical thinking in order to produce a singular coherence in service of the conscious personality. The conscious mind works to move forward in vertical thinking through debate and works in retro as well in its effort to rationalize contradictions in thoughts, emotions and behaviors in the schema-driven self-concept through rationalization. These contradictions or counter-positions that allow for conscious debate would not seem to arise from the thinking process of consciousness itself, however, but instead constitute unconscious standpoints that arose to the threshold of consciousness subliminally in various forms.

Given experiments utilizing fMRI readouts, it would appear that we are constantly accepting, rejecting, and overruled by unconscious impulses. Vertical and logical thinking would appear to be the central function of consciousness, with dialectical or adversarial thinking arising from the interaction of conscious and unconscious contents. It is the means by which these two aspects of ourselves relate and communicate.

Several issues can emerge in internal communication.

One factor is undoubtedly the drawbacks of each mode of thinking taken independently. While vertical thinking is a slow, cautious and calculating, the nature of its rule-bound process generates a tendency towards strict limitation. Experiments seem to suggest that at least part of the issue may be found in the linguistic bias of consciousness. Unless it is capable of articulating something accurately, the conscious ego makes decisions contrary to the choices of the unconscious and overrides the unconscious decision.

Parallel thinking, on the other hand, despite the diminished processing time, can be incredibly ambiguous and unfocused in terms of its end-product. Intuitions arise and, bearing no tail of reason, the ego acts with schematic panic to either reject them or, if they sneak right by the ego and leak through into behavior, rationalize them into the fabric of our conscious self concept. Coincidences occur in life but they seem to bear no message we can discern save, perhaps, for the unconscious trying to get your attention as if you were a negligent parent and the unconscious, a needy child.

Visual metaphors often seem unfocused and ambiguous to consciousness, let alone systems of metaphors that relate in a static image, such as those we might see in hypnagogic slide-shows. This circumstance is worse still in dreams, when the relations between the metaphors are laid out in an often-disjointed narrative form. If the unconscious speaks to consciousness through words, as through the mouth of a dream character, they are often interpreted by the conscious ego to be cryptic, vague, even downright nonsensical.

In addition, the often differing positions and fundamentally distinct modes of thinking and communication make the interactions between the conscious and unconscious problematic. This is expressed in Jean Stine and Camden Benares 1994 book, It’s All In Your Head, where it reads (pg 39) as follows:

“Munich researcher Detlev Ploog believes the lone primate is only half a primate. Our interactions with others are not merely tangential to our lives, but critical to them. Apparently, interaction with others releases important brain chemicals, possibly endorphins, that are necessary to our physical and mental health. Unable to communicate with others, we begin to deteriorate. Ploog says that, ‘As a psychiatrist, I believe that the cause of mental illness is a disturbance or even a breakdown of the communication system.’”

As the unconscious influences our relationships based on our childhood bonds, we could further speculate that if Ploog is right, that mental illness constitutes “a disturbance of even a breakdown of the communication system” between the conscious and unconscious mind of the individual in question. This, in turn, suggests that the key to psychological health resides in the means by which the unconscious and conscious relate to and communicate with one another. In general, one could easily deduce that the drawbacks inherent in the unconscious and conscious modes of thinking can be overcome if the two sides of the equation can learn to engage in a direct and productive means of communication and interaction — one based on a sustained sense of mutual respect and understanding. Such a relationship, after all, has the greatest likelihood of producing mutually-beneficial results. In terms of specificity, there are several means by which one could apply efforts towards developing and nurturing such a relationship.

The one you will most often come across in the process of researching the matter is what I have chosen to dub the Eureka Technique or Time-Share Approach. Here, one essentially splits the labor. Based on what we know about the particular qualities and deficiencies of both the conscious and unconscious mind, we might elect to split the labor specific to situation. In matters of emotion or value or when there are too many factors for the ego to grapple with, the decision is apparently better left to the unconscious. In the aforementioned book (pgs 87-88) this approach is articulated in four steps.

Preparation requires that one first elects a goal, such as choosing the right major in college, and then engages in a thorough, laborious research effort on all available and relevant data and exploration of the problem or material in question. Incubation involves distracting yourself from the issue, deflecting attention from it, “forgetting it” and in so doing effectively seed all the data in the unconscious. The unconscious parallel processor gets to work on the data you provided, working towards developing a position. Later, perhaps after sleep or during a period of relaxation, the unconscious provides its results in a stage referred to as Illumination. It typically announces its choice through such mediums as emotions, synchronicity, intuitions and dreams. The last step, that of Verification, requires the conscious ego to experimentally apply the concept to see if it has merit.

In essence, they would work together as a team with the ego leading the dance. Consciousness would provide the aim and then allow the unconscious to generate new ideas; in turn, the unconscious mind would provide these ideas to consciousness and then allow consciousness to subject them to fair analysis prior to implementation. Consciousness would provide structure and focus for the unconsciously-provided potentially beneficial ideas.

This technique is essentially the same as dream incubation, but the answer does not necessarily have to come through that particular medium of the unconscious. Dream incubation involves “cramming” for a subject or concern of yours and then going to sleep and noting your dreams upon awakening. Dreams need not only function as the delivery system of the unconscious, however, but can also serve as the medium through which the ego can interact with the unconscious directly, an in real-time.

If we observe our dreams carefully, we find that there are several different types. In mundane dreams and vivid dreams, the unconscious oppresses the ego. The only distinction between the two types is, as Jung noted, the higher “energy tension” of the vivid dreams, which results in a relatively sensory-rich, structured, and perhaps even startlingly “literal” dream narrative. As the unconscious is driving the show, attention is directed unerringly at relationships the ego has rather than the ego as a lone or singular self-concept. The dreamer is still held under the spell of the dream narrative, however, unaware of the fact that he is dreaming. This circumstance is inverted in lucid dreams, where the ego oppresses the unconscious, differing only from daydreams in the intensity of the ego awareness and degree of accompanying sensory deprivation. Both involve the ego using the dream-spare as a sort of metaphorical mirror, time machine, or sketch pad. In any case, attention is directed unerringly at the ego as a self-concept, reinforcing it in the process.

The fifth type of dream was referred to by Jung as Active Imagination. In these dreams, which reside somewhere between the conscious reflections of the day-dream and the unconscious expressions of a mundane dream, the fully aware ego stands at eye level and on equal footing with the unconscious, both of their attentions drawn towards one another within their shared ground of the dream-space.

The most optimal technique is to reconcile the duality of the conscious and unconscious mind altogether, to bring the two back together as one. According to Carl Jung, the transcendent function is a third position — a portion of the manifest Self, as Jeffrey Raff would say — that arises from the union of polarized conscious and unconscious contents, which consequently “makes the transition from one attitude to another organically possible, without loss of the unconscious.” According to Raff in his 2000 book, Jung and the Alchemical Imagination, the transcendent function is the means by which one reconciles conscious and unconscious dualities to bring the latent Self into manifestation. In order for the transcendent function to occur, conscious and unconscious opposites must be differentiated and hold their polar positions. The position of ego and the position of the unconscious must be considered to be of equal value; both are to be taken seriously and to be considered potentially valid perspectives.

The first is the stage of Preparation, which varies in surface form depending both on your central sensory mode and whether you’re documenting it in real-time or in the wake of the experience. A person who is attuned to sound and documents it in real-time might pick up an instrument such as a guitar. Someone with an interest in moulding clay (a combination of tactile and visual, I suppose) may go that route as a real-time means. You might get a pen and a sketchbook or get in front of your keyboard. Otherwise, take up a meditation posture, sit on a decent chair or lie comfortably on your back and close your eyes.

As a natural prerequisite to the transcendent function, the conscious and unconscious must have sufficient tension between them. In some cases, this tension may not be sufficient enough, and in such a case one would carry out the stage Raff referred to as either Evocation or Intention. First, one focuses on producing an empty mind, sort of cleaning house for the visitor you plan on inviting over. You might empty your mind in any number of ways, perhaps by focusing on a body part or remaining attentive to the breath, control of which one has relinquished to the involuntary function. Once the mind is sufficiently vacant, one asks a question and holds it firmly in mind in expectation of some response from the unconscious. If that requisite tension already exists, one needs none of that, of course. You don’t need a question because the unconscious is already tapping you on the shoulder. One merely allows themselves to become acutely aware of the intense mood, become receptive to it, and then allows oneself to sink into it. In either case, one ensures that one does not wander outside the boundaries of the intense mood-state. One holds a sense of expectation with respect to a response, be it in the form of an inner image, an absorptive spontaneous fantasy, an internal voice or an episode of spontaneous writing, music, moulding, drawing or painting.

The next stage rests in the hands of the unconscious, and it is called Activation, when the unconscious responds to your question or intent. The response, as implied earlier, is likely to come in one’s predominant sense or senses, and in the style or medium if one has elected to go the real-time documentation route. If not during, then immediately proceeding the experience, they then take careful note of the sounds, fantasies, visions or voices that were produced when becoming submissive to the mood. The next stage is the Interaction, where the ego enters into a dialogue with the unconscious.

As Jung summarized in his autobiography, Memories, Dreams, Reflections (pg 187):

“The essential thing is to differentiate oneself from these unconscious contents by personifying them, and at the same time to bring them into relationship with the unconscious. That is the technique for stripping them of their power. It is not too difficult to personify them, as they always possess a certain degree of autonomy, a separate identity of their own. Their autonomy is a most uncomfortable thing to reconcile oneself to, and yet the very fact that the unconscious presents itself in that way gives us the best means of handling it.”

All the stages mentioned so far can take place within a single session. As was the case with Jung, you may move from Preparation to Interaction at once, and in a meditative state may actually hold a dialogue with an inner figure. Alternatively, one may experience only Preparation and Activation in a single sitting. In either case, be it an Interaction or mere response, you then enter a stage called Reflection.

During Reflection, the ego engages in two related tasks. In the first, the ego must first engage in what Jung called “creative formulation” and an aesthetic “enrichment and clarification” of the unconscious reaction, and this is accomplished through a mode of deliberate conscious expression such as writing down the experience or expressing it a visual art form. Then the ego attempts to understand and derive meaning from the unconscious reaction intellectually.

After the ego has developed a response to the position of the unconscious, it then proceeds to repeat the process as before, only now bearing a response based on the ego’s renewed perspective on the counter-position of the unconscious. On and on it goes, from Preparation to Reflection, considered a step in itself by Raff, who refers to this ongoing process as the stage of Interaction. This stage ultimately reaches a climax in the Resolution, where the ego gains an insight he must put into action, utilizing it in their external life in a stage called Integration. This active insight constitutes what Jung called the Transcendent Function, the creation of a third psychological content that acts as a middle ground between the opposites. It acts to bridge the gulf, allowing the two opposites, now constellated through their interactions, to reconcile and unite. As a result, it enables the ego to find home in the central position, allowing it a smooth transition from one attitude towards another.

These fused conscious-unconscious polarities either create or slowly mend together the psychological duality, giving rise to what Raff referred to as the Manifest Self one piece at a time, one stitch following another. Slowly, one clarifies and expands communication between the unconscious and conscious minds until, at last, the waters kiss and the individual gains awareness of being at both ends of the internal dialogue.

The Blind Host.

Our self-concept or ego is technically a complex meta-schema, particularly in how it seeks out and integrates information resonating with that which it already contains, manipulates information in order to make it fit when necessary, and in general strives to reinforce itself and maintain cohesion. In the course of doing so, the ego serves as its own immune system as well, fending off incompatible information that threatens that cohesion. Many psychologists, such as Jung, believed that the ego accomplished this through repression.

In an act of repression, elements of the psyche are censored or rejected by the conscious ego because they are incompatible with the ego-schema. Such contents have sufficent energy to remain in consciousness, but as the ego refuses to integrate it, as a consequence it must take on an exaggerated counter-position, an opposing stance of equal or greater energy intensity, to “hold it down” below the threshold. Projecting the unconscious position onto someone else is the means by which we ritually attempt to distance and distinguish our ego from it, and exaggerated reactions to particular stimuli therefore act as indicators of such repressed contents.

The fight to keep it down is an enduring one, as the unconscious content fights to emerge at the same time. The opposites build in energy, with the conscious trying to keep the content down and the unconscious content trying to arise. The pressure or charge builds on both sides of the doorway, so to speak, and the unconscious accomplishes this added charge or pressure the same way the conscious ego does: by exaggerating its position. Both ends have to keep upping the ante, mutating into the purest and most extreme form of its position. In the end these polar positions become totally opposite one another, compensate for one another, and this is a tendency Jung considered one example of enantiodromia, or how the overabundance of one force produces its counterforce. As the opposites keep uppin the ante, they mutate into the purest and most extreme form of their positions. This is why if the unconscious wins and bursts through the doorway and into consciousness, as Robert Bly points out in his book, A Little Book on the Human Shadow, it is often a monstrous manifestation of what it once was before the repression commenced, or what it might have been if it was permitted to rise to the threshold of consciousness to begin with.

At least in the Jung seemed to use the term, repression seems synonomous with what today is often referred to as dissociation. In the most extreme cases we have those who utilize extreme dissociation as a coping mechanism in response to trauma in Dissociative Identity Disorder, also known as Multiple Personality Disorder. It usually begins with persistent neglect or emotional, physical or sexual abuse at a key developmental stage in childhood. A new personality state or “alter” develops around the dissociated, emotionally-charged memories, which are forgotten by the “host” personality. Alters can identify themselves as a different age, nationality, sex, or species and can display unique speech patterns and body language. Bodily control fluctuates between the host and the alter.

Full dissociation involves the complete “switching” from one personality to another, with amnesia for both during the time in which the other assumed control. In Beyond the Occult, Mysteries and other books of his, Colin Wilson often focused on a different relationship that often spawned between the host and alter. Specifically regarding the cases of both Doris Fischer and Christine Beauchamp. In both cases, the girls became host to multiple personalities that almost seemed like Jungian Shadow figures, as they had qualities which diametrically opposed the qualities of the host. More interestingly, however, while the alters knew everything about the host personality inside and out, the host personality knew nothing about the alter until the alter told them. In the case of Doris, there was even a hierarchy where each personality could “see inside” all those below it, but not above it.

In its simplest form, then, the host was transparent to the alter and the alter was invisible to the host. This relationship is also found in alters that were artificially induced by a hypnotist — and there is some suggestion that such alters can be developed artificially through hypnosis. In his book The Search for the Manchurian Candidate, John Marks writes about Morse Allen of the CIA’s ARTICHOKE program, focused on mind control, and how he began plans to execute a program in which they would create alters in unwitting subjects for use as spies, and according to psychologist George H. Estabrooks in his 1957 book Hypnotism, these experiments were not only carried out, but proved to be successful. Interestingly, both sources explain the relationship between the host and the alter in the same way Wilson did. For their use as spies, these alters were undercover agents that had characters diametrically opposing the personality of the host. As in the cases Wilson focused on, here again the alter knew itself as well as everything about the host, and the host knew only of itself until the alter decided otherwise.

Perhaps the difference between victims of DID or hypnotic mind control programs and the average person is not that they have alters, but that these alters are of such strength (or the hosts so weak) that they can play Chinese fire drill with respect to who gets the steering wheel of the body. The relationship between the host and the alter, after all, seems very similiar to the relation the conscious and unconscious seem to share. Given its capacity to make decisions prior to the conscious ego and to know enough about the ego and its life circumstances to do so — particularly in light of the typical ignorance the conscious ego has of the unconscious, its motivations and influence — it would appear that consciousness is transparent to the unconscious, and the unconscious is effectively invisible to consciousness until it chooses otherwise.

Masque of Myth.

Carl Jung proposed that there is a threshold of consciousness that distinguishes subliminal or unconscious contents from supraliminal contents. He further placed the contents of the unconscious into three distinct categories, the first two of which I’ll be dealing with here: the subliminal, the forgotten, and the repressed.

Forgotten contents at first achieve sufficient intensity only to have that energy diminish when consciousness is deflected or distracted, as he put it, and as a consequence the contents fall from the conscious mind back into the unconscious. Jung writes that “when something slips out of our consciousness it does not cease to exist, any more than a car that has disappeared around a corner has vanished into thin air. It is simply out of sight. Just as we may later see the car again, so we come across thoughts that were temporarily lost to us.”

The unconscious does not only receive data from consciousness, however. According to Jung, subliminal contents are born in the unconscious, raised to consciousness only when they have achieved sufficient intensity with which to do so. Be the source of the material perceptual stimuli or subjective responses, they are in this case far too subtle for consciousness to pick up on, and remain solely in the realm of the unconscious mind until they achieve such intensity. It turns out he failed to give the unconscious enough credit. Research first initiated by Neurophysiologist Benjamin Libet and reinforced by further experiments provides evidence that these subliminal aspects are, in fact, constantly achieving sufficient intensity with which to influence seemingly conscious decision-making.

We now possess the scientific capability to use brain monitoring equipment to accurately predict the decisions of individuals given two choices before they experience having consciously “decided.” In lectures, Sam Harris has pointed out that recent experiments have revealed that some choices that a person experiences as having consciously elected can actually be predicted up to ten seconds in advance if one has access to their real-time fMRI read-outs. Unconscious thinking processes occur in tandem with conscious thinking processes and the unconscious can “seed” its conclusion in consciousness. The conscious mind than readily adopts it and considers it the fruit of its own loins.

More disturbingly, such subliminal contents need not even be borne from our personal unconscious minds. To the contrary, it does not really seem to matter much at all where the signal comes from. For instance, I recall reading about the experiments of that haunting Dr. Jose Delgado, specifically regarding how he had electrically stimulated the brains of subjects to make them commit complex behaviors at the flip of a switch. When Delgado would ask the subjects, who did not know they had been stimulated to commit the behavior, why it was that they had committed the behavior, the subjects always seemed prepared with rationalizations that were aimed at identifying these behaviors as their own conscious decisions. Similar results came out of experiments with split-brain patients. As written on page 82 of the book, It’s All In Your Head:

“Studies of brain cancer patients at the Dartmouth Medical School produced startling evidence that we can remain completely unaware of our actual motivation for an action, even while we’re in the midst of carrying it out. In one study, researchers showed the word ‘walk’ to the right eye of a patient whose left and right brain lobes were separated. The man promptly stood and left the testing area. When asked why, he told researchers he was ‘thirsty and going to get a Coke.’ The man had no conscious knowledge of the unconscious impulse that had actually motivated his behavior.”

Similar stories have always come out of experimental research into hypnotism. When subjects are given post-hypnotic suggestions to carry out certain behaviors in the conscious state, they will always weave rationalizations aimed at identifying the behaviors as their own, with their own personal motivations. Early parapsychological studies into long-distance, telepathically-induced hypnotic suggestions at a distance produced frighteningly similar results.

In general, if a choice is delivered to consciousness from an effectively “other-than-conscious” source, we work diligently to identify it as property and product of the ego as if it were our primary directive, adopting it through rationalizations that promote internal consistency in our view of world, self, and other. You cannot distinguish the will of yourself from the promptings of an autonomous psychological complex, a telepathic manipulator, a hypnotically induced suggestion or as a result of remote-controlled subcutaneous device.

An experiment described (and, frustratingly, without sources) in Stephen Mills’ (nonetheless) intriguing January 5, 2010 Rat Race Trap website article, “Unconscious Decision Making,” might provide evidence for the ability of the ego to exert its own will, but it does not come without the typical bad news. As a prologue to the experiment, four fake apartments were created, each of which we’re described by twelve attributes which were then tested so as to ensure that a specific one of the four was clearly the most optimal. In the experiment itself, these four apartments and their twelve attributes were then shown to three separate groups of people who were then forced into three separate circumstances. Directly following being provided the information about the apartments, one group was made to commit to an intense task involving working memory. Only then, after engaging in this extreme distraction from thinking about the issue, were they asked to make their decision about the best apartment. Another group was forced to make a decision immediately after hearing the details of the available apartments. The remaining group was given as much time to think about the issue as the first-mentioned group was given to complete their distracting, working memory tasks.

These last two groups did about the same, too, which might strike one as unusual, given one had to make a snap decision and spit out the answer while the other, seemingly so lucky, was given the same issue and then some time to chew before spitting. Most intriguing is the fact that it was the first-mentioned group — those who were entirely distracted from thinking about the issue — that produced the best results of them all. An interesting interpretation of this is that these two groups did poorer because their process of decision-making on the topic was causing interference with (and, in fact, successfully over-riding) the unconscious process unerringly aimed towards the same goal. The consciously distracted group gave the unconscious some alone-time to process through its data without consciousness stepping all over its feet. In the end it seems to have conned consciousness, through the covert nature of its delivery, into thinking that it had produced the decision itself anyway.

Three intriguing things are suggested by this experiment. First, as analysis of the first-mentioned group reveals, these latter two groups suggest that the ego can exert its own will against that of the unconscious will. In tandem, however, we are forced to face the fact that the ego appears to serve itself best when it distracts itself with another engaging task and leaves the issue in the hands of the unconscious mind. We are forced to face the bad news, in other words, that the ego appears incapable of engaging in anything more than rebellious, uneducated decision-making based on a consciously aware working memory capacity of a measly magic-number circa-7 chunks when it does so.

Even more disturbing is the nature of the ego as suggested here. The ego appears to be composed of rationalized constellations of unconscious promptings bound up with rebellious repressions of unconscious contents that promote one-sided exaggerations in consciousness. Rationalization with the aim of internal consistency is the thread that weaves together these elements of the ego in such a way that fell into consistency and gave the illusion of completeness. The ego is the uber-schema of the conscious mind.

We engage in the act of rationalization very consciously, one might say ruthlessly, on a day-to-day basis. We might buy something spontaneously because it feels right, and when somebody asks us why we bought it, we begin listing reasons that are, unbeknownst to us, mere justifications or rationalizations aimed at conveying to the other party as well as ourselves why this was a conscious decision of the ego, borne exclusively out of the process of rationality in the womb of the conscious mind. We aim at identifying the impulse as our own and so must interpret it in a way that makes it consistent with both logic and our personal character. The unconscious delivers a feeling, thought or act and then we work to weave it into the schema known as our ego with threads of rationalization.

In our defense, there is little else we can do. We do not, after all, know the real thinking process behind the intuitive product we adopt in consciousness as our own, nor do we often appear conscious of our repressed positions, nor that we consistently engage in personal rituals of banishment by taking on the role of the exaggerated counter-positions. We are no more aware of our degree if plagiarism as we are of our spectacular creativity. The unconscious personality serves, at best, as inspiration for the conscious personality.

The psychological circumstance here sounds a bit like some of the assignments the beautiful post-grad that taught my creative writing class in college had us play with in the creation of fictional narratives. She would give us a list of words, for instance, that we were to weave into a coherent story of our own making.

In our daily lives, it becomes the choices delivered from the unconscious to consciousness that we take to be our duty to weave together into a fiction with our threads of rationality to quench the thirst for cohesion, to support our self-concept with all its notions of rationality and conscious deliberation. At the most fundamental level, we are mere myth-makers playing a game of connect-the-dots, creating constellations out of the stars that emerge from the unconscious ether into our conscious skies; constellations that weave into preexisting personal myths explaining ourselves and the world we are embedded in. We are not a true story; we are only a myth loosely based on leaked aspects of the true story. We and the world we live in essentially constitute a cover-story for the truth, a more expansive identity and view of the world that we do not readily have conscious access to. The ego, in other words, would truly function as a masque we wear for ourselves — but only for lack of knowing our true face.