Do you ever have a thought, an instant calculation flung forth from electric impulse, and still take time to put word to it? It’s almost as though we do so in order to compensate for the incomprehensible speed with which our minds work. Our consciousness must perform these small acts of putting thought to word, simply to keep up. An idea has been birthed and fundamentally understood in an instant, yet we still feel the need to take a moment to translate this into a layman’s term for ourselves. When a question is asked, the answer may flash before you, and then just as quickly drift away as the conscious mind begins to consider and debate the matter. This begs the questions of where this line is drawn between the conscious and subconscious mind, and how much control do we truly have?
The idea for this post occurred to me just after such an instance, but it soon spurred on further contemplation concerning the mind. I’ll admit here that I have little basis for the following thoughts, (aside from some brief understanding of Freud), they are simply my own speculations. Regardless, the notion still intrigues me. Perhaps the inspiration for this has also to do with a recent novel I have read, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, by Haruki Murakami. In this he considers that our unconscious is the bulk of our mind: an immense, expansive mass of thought process and activity, controlling our body so that our waking mind, a mere scraping over the unconscious, is not over-whelmed.
This is an interesting thought.
Freud indeed uses the analogy of the iceberg, within which the tip represents our conscious mind, a layer beneath that our preconscious and the vast mass below our unconscious. I have considered this in a different explanatory way. That which makes us as we are, which determines our intelligence, our knowledge, our waking conscious, is as though a small probe, dipping into our preconscious for memories. Indeed, our conscious mind is like a CEO, making simple, commanding decisions, but unaware of how they are then enacted on a much smaller scale. Our preconscious sends us signals – perhaps a central board meeting, to continue the simile – which we can understand and act upon, but the key root of this all is somewhere inperceivable to us.
Dreams are an interesting way of interpreting this. There are but few instances where our conscious mind may affect our dreams, known as lucid dreaming. During these instances our mind – the probe, for point of reference – briefly interjects with our waking thoughts. Typically however, our mind merely becomes subject to the mad wanderings of our unconscious. Dreams appear random, mismatched, but this is likely due to a lack of our conscious mind inflicting it’s own thoughts and considerations upon them. Dreams seem to be more a pure state, during which the probe may dip more freely into the unconscious waves within our brain.
Another interesting thought, what actually is our conscious mind? Electrical impulses in a literal sense. But what are the cause of these? Whilst I have these very thoughts, what is the cause of the impulses sparking through my brain? The phrase ‘minds eye’ comes to mind, which I imagine to be the platform of conscious thought. A vast void of black nothingness, concentrated behind closed eyelids, which may offer forth shadows of thoughts and memories, images so clear they could well be real. In this sense, I suppose they are. It is this very image, of a mass expanse within our very heads which can hold and process so much information, an organic creation more powerful than a super computer, that truly is a great wonder of the world.
Now this is all my own speculation, and I’m sure there are many who could offer more evidenced findings, but the brain is one of the last unconquered parts of the modern scientific world. And of course, this is speculation corner after all.
If anyone who has studied psychology would care to correct and inform, please do, I’d be quite interested!