Science is like that. It is a web of its own conversations, good for catching some fish while letting others slip through unnoticed.
Jung perceived phenomena he named archetype, more concrete than Freud's drives. Their presence and consistency, some subtle and abstract, others down to earth, may be the imaginal life encoded in these seemingly utilitarian structures, primordial thought incarnate.
Camille Paglia, following on Freud, considers these ancient impulses and resurrects for them the term cthonic, arising from an underworld of biological imperative. Here is the home of the chaotic and impulsive id, constrained by the forces of culture. In her view, with its Nietzscheian stamp, the will to create is a triumph of the inventive, masculine spirit pitted against and over the primitive and regressive feminine. However, she does acknowledge a limitation in Freud's thinking, one that may be more central than she realized at the time she wrote Sexual Personae in 1991:
"In my opinion, Freudian theory overstates the linguistic character of the unconscious, and slights the gorgeously cinematic pictorialism of the dream life."
He himself, in the short essay "The Relationship Of The Poet To Day Dreaming" (1908) gestures at the mythic thought process which would concern him again, from certain angles in Totem and Taboo:
"The study of these creations of racial
psychology is in no way complete, but it seems extremely probable that myths, for example, are distorted vestiges of wish-fantasies of whole nations - age long dreams of young humanity."
Freud's map of the world was constrained by the limits of the paleontology in his era, which had yet to provide an accurate gauge of the true duration of human life.
Neanderthal skeletal remains were a significant discovery at the middle of the 19th century, 1856, the same year as Freud's birth, considered in some circles as evidence of a being far more apelike than is now accepted.
In geological time, this unfortunate competitor with our species is practically a contemporary. We roughly mark the end of his phase only ten times the duration of recorded history in a meaningful sense.
© 1995 Morgan Garwood
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