The Filthy Stench of the Familiar

i am a discarded couch
today i am a discarded couch

Boy am I in a rotten mood today. The snow outside is melting, mingling with the grime and muck of the city, casually suggesting a metaphor for my mental state. I am the melting world, hear me grumble.

I don’t know how I got to be in such a bad mood. I suppose it may have started with the article I read this morning, debunking the highly-publicized recent study in Sweden that could find no link between cell phone use and cancer. As one of those obnoxious techie-types who has had a cell phone in and around his crotch-region for around thirteen years now, the first article was a welcome relief. But now some peer-reviewing bastard has to come along and re-inspire visions of a tumorous future for myself and all my fellow GenX-ers (thereby completing a list of emerging concerns which includes a massively devalued dollar, global warming and generational hearing loss).

Yeah, that wasn’t the greatest news to wake up to.

But I think it was reading Jung’s Memories, Dreams, Reflections last night which upset me today. I read the chapter about “Life After Death,” where he argues that it is essential to have a myth about life after death, and bemoans (in his typical poetry) the death-grip of rationalism on modern thought. This depressed me because when Jung writes of the unconscious, it is with a conviction that would probably be mocked today.

Obviously, I blame my parents for this.

The consciousness-expanding movements of the 1960s and ’70s romanticized the work which Jung was trying to systematize. Icons like Jim Morrison, John Lennon, and Timothy Leary fashioned themselves as mind-pirates, heroically spelunking the depths of their unconscious for the good of society. The inherent assumption was always that there is something in the murky depths of our souls which is worth finding.

But as the Flower Children blossomed into Yuppies, they corrupted the ideological underpinnings of their own movement. Janov replaced Jung. Self-reflection gave way to self-obsession, and gradually to the self-mockery of our modern age. Nowadays we merely poke fun at the subconscious, coolly deriding our shared urge to fuck and be famous. Jung’s collective unconscious became a collective banality. Reality television won the war.

That’s some fine thinkery there, but really I’m in a bad mood because I’m trying to write a fricking play which I’m practically certain will never be even half as popular as the Numa Numa guy. Which means I, too, am guilty of self-obsession and the desire to see my name in lights. Which means Jung was wrong, and Warhol was right. Which means: why write the thing at all? Why throw fuel on the all-consuming ego fire of humanity??

I know that to follow these paths is to walk forever, circumnavigating this and that concept until you end up right where you started. Because the continuous offering of this OR that is exactly the dualist reductionism of which Jung wrote. And trying to “think through” it is like eating snow when you’re hungry; what you really need, and what I need now, is a nice hot slab of unsayable steak. You need to get out of your head and trust your gut.

So I need to quit bitching and get back to work.

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