Saturday, July 13, 2019

Post 6300 - Subterranean

I wonder how much the improvements in the technology of the underground influenced Freud's idea of the unconscious. There had always been short tunnels, and miners had dug deeply straight down, but the expansion of mining into whole networks of tunnels was relatively new.  In the cities, pipes for both water and sewage were both out of sight, and perhaps correspond to Freud's images of both good and evil coursing around in the depths of the person. Finally, the urban underground transport systems were coming into being popping people up in new locations not visible from the surface.

The circulatory systems of the body had been known about for a few centuries (and the idea that there were important things going on below the skin was far older than that), but the knowledge of them had sharply increased in the 19th C.

The idea "there's a lot going on beneath the surface" had become common, where it had not been before. In the current state of our thinking, we no longer look at those hidden physical forces as deep secrets of life.  Subterranean rivers turn out to just be rivers like any other. The forces of circulation are identical to pumps, valves, and tubes in machinery.  Most recently in psychology, we are coming to believe that the surface is what is really there.  There are no subterranean caverns of the mind. There are forces we are not very aware of, but like Gollum, we find that the labyrinth is eventually just a collection of roads.


Texan99 said...

There are large areas of the mind, or brain if you will, that are purposeful but not available to conscious view, and perhaps subject only to the most indirect and partial control. I don't have any problem thinking of those processes as subconscious or unconscious. Some are as primitive as reflexes, but others are complex though visible only in their effects.

james said...

Good point. That there were unseen things was always known, but perhaps the advent of things like the newly expanded Paris sewer system led to thinking of these unseen things less in terms of spirits and more in terms of mechanisms.

RichardJohnson said...

Post 6300 - Subterranean

BTW, the Buenos Aries subway is called the "SubT" (soob-tay in Spanish pronunciation.)

Interesting conjecture about underground tunneling improvements spurring Freud's speculation about unconscious/underground mental processes. BTW, Vienna didn't have a subway until after WW2, though discussion of a subway had been going on for decades before that,though a number of cities had subways by 1900- Boston included.

Donna B. said...

Coming off thinking about great voices singing bad silly lyrics, my first thought upon reading this was Subterranean Homesick Blues -- a not-so-great voice singing (almost rapping) great meaningful lyrics. I have to read Bob Dylan's work to appreciate it. I'd also rather read Leonard Cohen's work.

Though I haven't brought this notion all the way to the surface and thought it out, I suspect it's because I don't like Cohen's music very much. Dylan's is better, but much of it just isn't memorable.