Into the Woods Response

 

EvanKnappenburgerThere is a place not far from where we live, a place indescribable and inescapable, where those fairy- tale beings live: giants, witches and princes.

To Carl Jung, and to Joseph Campbell, this place was called the “collective unconscious,” and it was as real as, if not more real than, the familiar and droll world we inhabit throughout our waking lives.

There are many names for this place and it is never the same, strictly speaking, for more than a moment or two, but in its reflexivity it has a certain eternality. To arrive in civilization, we must cross through this space.

The purpose of civilization however is not the connecting of fellow beings, but the opposite: the purpose of civilization is to approximate relationship at the level of exchange.

To really connect to another human being, it must necessarily occur in this space outside of the familiar bounds of self and away from the marketplace or the courtroom.

This place, a place of sublime relational existence, is outside, into the woods, into the wild. It is in to and not away from.

Into the Woods is the space where dead relatives can visit us again; into these woods we flee when the giants (of institutional authority) want to crush us. In these woods, we encounter desire.

The agony of never having enough, the pain of perceiving that thing which is always escaping our grasp – the willful inability to accept the reality of our situations confronts us here.

We scream into the primeval forest, and the echo of our voices is articulated for us by forces which we do not control.

We can grieve here, or we can romp here, but only for a moment.

The very trees move with our thoughts, and the deep structures of our personalities dance under a blacklight, spinning like Sufis to the music of the cosmic orchestra.

We often spend the better parts of our lives avoiding sojourns into the woods, only to realize at the end that the only meaningful things we ever did were in the woods – that is, outside of the zones of gravity of the institutions that control our thoughts and manipulate the ways we perceive ourselves.

Yes, it is at the very moment of death that we engage the symbolic orders which govern the emergent processes of self.

It is only as the self dissolves into the atmosphere of becoming that we realize: it is us, we are the same woods into which desire drives us. Do not be afraid of the woods.

Your self-awareness comes from your desire, according to the philosopher Hegel, and it will return you to yourself, if you let it.

Who will join me and go into the woods?

-Evan Knappenberger, Staff Writer


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