Monday, June 23, 2008
What Would Happen to the Animals in Our Dreams if Humans Disappeared?
In my last post -- If The Animals Disappeared (Friday, June 20, 2008) -- I took up the question posed by Cuban in London: What would happen to our dreams if (vertebrate) animals disappeared? I have another question to place alongside that one: What would happen to the animals in our dreams if humans disappeared?
Most humans keep forgetting, or trying to forget, that the animal presence on earth long pre-dated the human presence. And not only were the animals here before we were, but what we think of as "our" psyche is actually an extension and elaboration of theirs. Even consciousness itself is pre-figured in animals. We see it in that level of animal awareness we share with domestic pets, in the battle of wits we sometimes carry out with wild creatures (who's going to outwit whom?), and in mythology, we see the carriers of animal wisdom and consciousness in the trickster-figures and the animal-guides of practically all early cultures.
The animals that come to us in our dreams, we should never forget, are autonomous. They come and go as they please. Sometimes they even appear to us in waking life -- in extraordinary and sometimes shocking ways -- in synchronistic events.
If animals form a still-active link, then, between modern consciousness and the archaic layers of our psychic past -- still here to guide us and to keep us grounded -- then what would happen to them, as psychic presences, if humans were to disappear?
Would the psyche itself cease to exist? Possibly . . . but that assumes that humans are the only carriers of psychic life, which is manifestly not true. In fact, the "new paradigm" taking shape on the edges of science suggests a growing notion that psyche, or "mind," is dispersed throughout the universe.
If dream-animals -- and actual animals for that matter -- embody the primordial psyche and pre-figure human consciousness, the disappearance of humans would probably not result in the cessation of psychic life. It would instead revert to the ancient, creative, mythical pathways that "have always been," a living Dream, carrying all the past and future potentials of the world.
And should there be another evolutionary thrust toward self-awareness and reflecting consciousness, the animals would still be inhabiting the psychic layers of the biosphere. There they would be waiting to inform the next version of conscious being -- whatever its form -- just what it must keep in mind in order not to lose the opportunity a second time.