“Success comes in cans; failure in can’ts”

.. great quote from Wilfred Bion. Our whole purpose is to make reality out of infinite potential.  I’m struck by similarity underlying Bion’s model of reality-creation and that of Alfred North Whitehead’s view of a “prehensile” crystallisation of reality in the present moment out of infinite potential.

“The art of being yourself at your best is the art of unfolding your personality into the person you want to be.” Wilfred Bion

“We cannot think first and act afterwards. From the moment of birth we are immersed in action and can only guide it by taking thought.” Alfred North Whitehead

 

Bion has this concept of our thinking as a candle actively penetrating the dark in a quest to mate with and discover the ideas or truths already there waiting.  If I understand aright Bion’s model of how this arises:

– there is a welter of “unthought” images, emotions and other stuff floating around – his Beta elements.

– if we are able to tolerate the pain of the unknown – then we begin to assemble these into the building blocks of thoughts – his Alpha elements. (Mostly we are able to do that because we’ve had a “good enough” mother and a holding environment as a baby).

– these alpha element thoughts then abstract into – pre-concepts which are “looking for” concepts to “mate with” to allow understanding of ideas. Importantly the ideas already exist and our mind and brain is a machinery that has evolved to allow us to think them.

Compare this with Whitehead’s view of the implications for reality of  quantum mechanics (see Process and Reality). The present moment – is like a zipper – moving from a past event into a future that the observer crystallises by selecting from the infinite potential. This then, the process by which reality is created. He calls the present moment prehensile, because there is an active searching or selecting of the future.

This concept (If my understanding is correct – the book is almost impenetrable) surely has resonance with Bion’s view. There is at the heart of both schemas a vital present force which is actively seeking a “mating” with a future that it is involved in helping create or crystallise.

Can we call this free will? Are we witnesses here and eternally now of all of creation?

“The foundation of reverence is this perception, that the present holds within itself the complete sum of existence, backwards and forwards, that whole amplitude of time, which is eternity.” Alfred North Whitehead

 

Are archetypes predominantly negative?

It seems to me we are mostly ruled by our unconscious. We believe we are floating on the surface of a variously sunlit or storm-racked sea. Whereas in fact we are driven by deep ocean currents far below the surface of our mind. And what forms and drives those currents? These are the tectonic plates, reefs and undersea mountain ranges and chasms that Jung named archetypes.

I’m increasingly aware of these archetypes within. It appears that what drives most societies are negative archetypes – those arising from fear, sadness and anger. Whereas what forms most personal relationships are positive – love and joy. (Incidentally – is there archetypes for surprise?).

Or rather, the archetypes for love and joy operate at a personal rather than societal level, since they arise out of intense connection. Whereas the big beast archetypes for fear and anger work at the societal level (the wolf is outside our family house – will he eat us up?)

If so, and if we do want to live in love and joy – then our journey and is a personal one and we (note to self really) should beware being drawn into societies emotional concerns.

But then I’m only rediscovering old truths. Give unto Caesar that which is Caesars, and Caritas begins at home..

love, joy, surprise, anger, sadness, fear