This post relates to the dream I shared in “Why I Write.”
In the sixth year of my Ph.D. program (see About me), having completed my dissertation, I delivered a paper at the EASST (European Association for the STudy of Science and Technology) conference in Lausanne, Switzerland. My presentation was titled “The Right to Design: Computer Skills, Identity and the Imaginaries of High Schoolers,” and related to the association’s intention of considering society and environmental issues. when contemplating use of science and technologies. My talk focused mainly on an EAST program in a large San Diego high school where I’d observed students gaining a sense of themselves as empowered to help the earth with advanced technologies, in projects such as saving a stream bed in their local area.
The conference took place at the University of Lausanne, with Lake Geneva stretching out from the ancient town like a sea. I found it ironic that the university buildings imitated a factory.
Presenting at this international conference in Europe did a lot for my soul at that point, when I was losing confidence regarding my abilities and aims. I believe that infusion of life was evidenced in dreams afterward. Like “Renaissance Woods,” each carried a numinous feeling – I can only call it my Europe feeling, which has edges outside of the term’s translation and the connotations most Americans apply to it, such as status, desired vacation destination, class, quality, high cost. This dream sense is, I believe, infused with ancestral connection, something very old and cellular.
In Why I Write, I described an Englishman who gave me a sense of being known and loved. He might be called an animus figure. Shalit (2002) depicts a woman’s dream animus as a psychopomp, a guide toward soul. Jung (1953/1990) called the creative animus a soul-figure standing for life itself.
Jung writes of a collective unconscious with memories that extend to the beginning of human existence. I believe our ancestral knowing is located along that continuum, in those deeply stored recesses of our psyche. Coniunctio is when the conscious mind connects with the deep Self. We can only barely grasp at the very liminal edge of this sense, and part of that deep Self is a collective, ancestral, indigenous soul.
The Europe dreams reactivated longings deeper than any ego motivations that may have led me to pursue the Ph.D. Those longings contain the ancestral yearnings that came before me, to do the greatest work I am capable of, to stretch myself, and to always keep soul in my work.