I have been reflecting one small part of this excellent talk – making meaning. Where does meaning come from?
Douglas Rushkoff makes the beautiful point that meaning is collaborative – meaning is created socially. With the Internet era this has come into its own.
To say we create it collectively is not as cheap as the existential, rather crazy, idea that we each as individuals create our own meaning. That we create meaning collectively was at the roots of Wittgenstein’s discussion on the impossibility of a private language.
There will be of course critics who would even think collective meaning cheap, people who look to a religion for meaning, meaning that is not relative or dependent on human whims & fashion. The critique makes some sense sense – if we create it – then it could be anything at all.
Meaning can be found without religious dogma or the arbitrary human creation. Carl Jung made a breakthrough in this area with a profound insight. Which I will get to in a moment.
Interestingly Douglas Rushkoff mentions Jung & his insight in his talk!
He mentions that Jung is a voice of the new renaissance with his insight that we are all connected through the collective unconscious. Freud was the last of the old with the focus on the individual. Putting the idea of creating meaning & the collective unconscious together is useful, and forms the basis of the idea of collective meaning making.
The collective unconscious connects us – so there is something we have in common – it is in its very collective existence a power in its own right. Jung was at the root of the idea of the “higher power” in the AA movement. We are not tabula raza – there is an a priori something about being human – genetic givens and *also* collective psychological givens. We may not quite understand the mechanisms but there is an “objective psyche” as Jung called it.
So we can create meaning but not in any way we like – we do it collectively – via language which is inescapably collective & within the matrix of the collective unconscious. This restraint on meaning making I thought was not quite grasped in Rushkoff’s talk.
What does this mean about meaning making – it involves communication of a particular kind – one where we connect with each other & also – somehow – with the collective unconscious.
May sound mysterious, but not all that mysterious to a psychotherapist – this is bread & butter work – listening to the unconscious & recognizing its patterns, known as arch & complexes – knowing through our shared umbilical connection when we are in tune with the matrix.
So, I liked the talk, the main point about the *new renaisance* is well put. His notions about choice and freedom miss something subtle about the collective beyond.