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Title: The Role of Symbolisation in the Shaping of Reality and Identity: Tales of Woundedness and Healing
Keywords: Woundedness and Healingmimetic mindShaping of RealityShaping of Identityempirical consciousness
Issue Date: 2020
Publisher: EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste
Source: Susana Onega, "The Role of Symbolisation in the Shaping of Reality and Identity: Tales of Woundedness and Healing", in: Cinzia Ferrini (Edited by), "Human Diversity in Context", Trieste EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste, 2020, pp. 315-331
The essay begins by endorsing Merlin Donald’s description of symbolisation from “the mimetic mind,” through the birth of language and, with it, of narrative thought, to the eventual development of complex systems (ritual, myth, religion, art and literature) that would be essential for the shaping of reality and identity. The cognitive imperative to orient ourselves in the world by ordering and classifying it, is constantly curtailed by the human capacity for self-knowledge, which includes the shattering perception of our own mortality. Confronted with the open quest for the meaning of reality, human beings have developed the capacity to take distance from their ordinary experience and maintain simultaneously separate and contradictory bodies of knowledge, so that, as the psychoanalyst Sandra L. Bloom remarks, we may “know without knowing”. Transition rituals an artistic performances are common forms of achieving collective states of dissociation that attenuate the traumatic impact of reality and enhance the social cohesion of the group. But staying in a sustained state of dissociation or negative relationship with our empirical consciousness entails the risk of self-fragmentation. As Boris Cyrulnik argues, this risk is reduced through creativity and storytelling, since “as soon as we put sadness into a story, we give a meaning to our sufferings”. Drawing on this, the essay offers examples of spontaneous engagement in creative activities as a form of resilience in such life threatening conditions as those endured by inmates of Nazi camps, or by Guantánamo prisoners in the context of the “War on Terror”. It then goes on to consider the role of classical wondertales in the transgenerational transmission of awful but necessary knowledge, and ends with a brief comment on the paradigmatic use the British writer of German-Jewish origin Eva Figes (1932- 2012) makes of myth and wondertales as a way of assimilating, transmitting and working through her Holocaust trauma.
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-88-5511-112-6
eISBN: 978-88-5511-113-3
Rights: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 Internazionale
Appears in Collections:Human Diversity in Context

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