on psychoanalysis and life ( literature seminar’15 )

by ty

During the Literature Seminar, we were treated to an unimaginably comforting and demoralizing talk on psychoanalysis at 9 in the morning – and as dry as it seemed to be on the surface, I found myself running my cold fingers through my hair and deflating into a heap with every new conjecture which surfaced. Ranging from how terms like condensation and displacement meant entirely things in relation to dreams, to the Oedipus complex and eventually the mindboggling tripartite division of the mind into Id, Pleasure principle and reality principle etc., I realized that these things were easily relatable – once the confusing paragraphs of small print text were explained and put into simple terms by a guide.

Particularly, the idea of the death drive caught my attention. It speaks of the notion that all organic life wants to return to a state of rest or inactivity, our origins per se. This inevitably points towards death and translates into redefining life as a detour on the way to death. For some reason I found this thought a little familiar, and it took a little thinking before I had a clear recollection of an evening in my grandparent’s house when my grandfather shared his thoughts on how life was a railroad towards death – the train begins from a place unknown to us all, and the end is a conundrum. Yet, we get off when we deem fit and hop right into the fire when we feel it’s time – and what we do on the train, what we choose to see, remember and learn makes the difference, even though everything can’t be brought to our graves upon death.

On a larger scale, it signifies that as people and lives we aren’t much – we’re a lack, a black hole, a bottomless pit. We head in directions relative to the ones around us such that what we want, what we see, what we perceive as true is all in relation to the morals and opinions of others. In that sense, the true essence of being an individual and life lies in being able to get influenced and pushed in a particular direction. In a nutshell, we’re in a mad rush for the end, and honestly, we never know where it all begins and when it’ll all end. Therefore, cherishing the present is inherently precious – until we realize that since the present is relative to the beginning and ending, the present might not even exist.

The speaker also brought up the point that well, the reason why our memories of our dreams can transcend the border between being asleep and being awake is the fact that it holds messages which our brain chooses to let through the censors such that we can get the hint and link it to events in real life. Simply put, our desires or wish fulfillments per se, come to us in our dreams in the form of something else – it could be a dream as simple as plucking fruits or getting chased to your death, but it all means something. Yet the message usually makes itself seen as a motif as a compromise to maintain peaceful slumber – and the main reason why just a motif is made clear is the presence of a censor, the understanding and act of drawing a clear line between dreams and reality. I’ve known individuals who have never remembered their dreams all their lives, and it’s rather intriguing to pick up the traits that they share in reality.

And now as I ponder over how I am not I and human identity is arbitrary, imaginary and based on an illusion of incompletion, I have made a mental note that perhaps philosophy really isn’t my cup of tea.

and seeing once familiar faces felt warm, though there’s really nothing to feel warm about. and i’m glad we weren’t a disaster.