Presentness

“The present contains nothing but the past,” says the great Henri Bergson, “and what is found in the effect was already present in the cause.” Is this true of the human psyche? Is our present state of mind merely an aggregate of our total experiences and affects from birth to the present? It may be more, but it certainly isn’t less.

Was, then, Freud and the early psychoanalysis movement right? For true psychic health must one launch on an epic quest to excavate one’s soul, dig up the hidden events and affect haunting the walls of the unconscious, drag them into the light of consciousness, and by this encounter effect self-integration? Is this sort of quest even possible for everyone… for anyone? Who has the basic starting requirement of 100 hours set aside for psychoanalysis? Never mind the great cost that goes with it (Lord have mercy). If this process is necessary to reach psychic equilibrium then perhaps only rich widows would have the resources necessary to pull off a healthy mind. The average man in the street, he’s fucked.

But, alas, not all is lost. If Bergson has it right then maybe the present is all one really needs. Maybe the prime necessity for psychic health is found in the ability to be present with oneself – to be aware in the moment. If all of one’s past is located in one’s present then it follows that the key unlocking the self is not the past but the present. The next question is far more grave: can the average man in the street learn to be alone with himself? If he can’t he is truly doomed. He is neurotic who lives in the past or in the future since both are deceitful: the past is a myth and the future pure imagination. One can find and heal the true self only in the present.

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