May 7, 2020
We have moved our lives online. But can we experience authentic human connection through virtual technology? Can we date, mourn, or have psychoanalysis on a screen? If screens offer some surprising intimacies—close-ups of wedding vows and eulogies—they also deprive us of embodied participation. Staying at home has made us newly eager to socialize—separately. Dating means conversation, not cuddling.
We enter the homes of colleagues, clients, and even newscasters, but despite this implicit amity we’re not guests. Psychoanalysts refer to “the analytic third,” physicists propound unified field theory, and Jung had these words carved over his door: Called or not called, God will be there.
There is an autonomous spirit and independent intelligence that lives in and between us and even onscreen. It can hold us in the mystery of meaningful connection that is not contingent on physical presence.
I was a magician’s apprentice. The magician was old and dying, and was in a hurry to pass on his legacy to me. He showed me a wooden box with jewelry. The box was placed on the lid of a deep well to the underworld. He opened the box and gave me two black diamonds, and told me he had locked a dangerous demon inside the well by casting a spell with the diamonds.
If the diamonds were ever to fall inside the well the demon would get back its power and escape the well. It was my job now to make sure no one threw the diamonds into the well. The magician then turned into an old man (who I think was my grandfather). He was suffering from dementia and kept trying to put one of the diamonds in the well, which he succeeded with when I turned my back on him for a moment. The demons came out--one was a big blue lobster.
They were free but had lost their evil powers, since I still had one of the diamonds in my hand. The lobster-demon demanded I use my power to lift the spell from the diamond, which I did. But nothing happened. The demons were still powerless. I realized that the demons had been in the well for so long that they had forgot how to be evil, and now they were loving creatures that just wanted to be free.