Consciousness and its Shadow

I’m watching Westworld and it’s totally hitting a nerve with me.

This class I’m taking has been forcing me to think about what makes humans, well human, and the main point he has brought to the table is our consciousness.

You are always conscious, you can never not be, your consciousness IS what makes you human.

Westworld explores this, with the use of robotics, and simulated intelligence. The revelries, the story lines, the characters waking up and making their artificial intelligence seem so human that the people working with them can’t even tell if they are becoming “real”. The general idea is that the game is some sort of maze, with levels and there are ways to unlock certain characters and plots by saying or acting in a certain way. Many people want to get to the middle of this maze, but they don’t know how. There may or may not be some dead creator somewhere at the middle. Then, you get the people that fall in love with the robots (or hosts). This is another story all together that could bring about a conversation all its own but is very important in determining what is considered human. Can we fall in love with robots? Probably.

It’s a trip, I’ve been thinking about it all day because I literally just caught up on the show last night. Inside of each characters scalp there is some sort of metal looking contraption that looks like a maze. Also throughout the show a symbol of a maze appears on different items that may make you think that things are important to the characters getting to the deepest level of the maze, which could, or could not, be argued as being consciousness itself. Ah. It’s a lot I know.

I came to work today and see this person that always talks to me that I try to avoid. So I duck into circulation and pretend that I am doing something important and look at the books that need to be re-shelved. One of the major players we talk about in class is Jung, and I see his book Man and His Symbols. It’s pretty thick, but I have not much to do today but wait for questions, so I grab it. The cover has a gold symbol of a maze (just like the show!). Now I have to thumb through it, at least.

Jung is a really interesting cat. He used to team up with Freud, but eventually his ideas became so drastically different be branched out and became his own thing. Jung was into subconscious symbolism, dreams, and something he calls the “realization of the shadow”.

“Whether the unconscious comes up at first in a helpful or negative form, after a time the need usually arises to re-adapt the conscious attitude in a better way to the unconscious factors- therefore to accept what seems to be “criticism” from the unconscious. Through dreams one becomes acquainted with aspects of one’s own personality that for various reasons one has preferred not to look at too closely” (Jung, 1964).

Does everybody believe in a subconscious? Maybe some people may not even think about it and just go about their lives knowing what they know and not bothering to dive a little deeper into all of it. Are dreams really just this mash up of thoughts, images and feelings that we encounter in our waking lives or is it so much more. Do you ever have this recurring dream or nightmare that goes away only to resurface when faced with a similar situation or lesson in life 10 years down the road? It’s as if we can’t run from our own minds, which could either be seen as a good or bad thing. I see it as good. MORE psychology books I know I know, but I think I’m just going to skim this one. Unfortunately, there’s not enough reading hours in the day. Sigh.

Jung, C.G. (1964). Man and His Symbols. Garden City, New York; Doubleday & Company.


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