The Undercloud

This idea of the internet as underworld is making more and more sense to me. From the book I’m reading, The Dream and the Underworld, by James Hillman:

Put more bluntly: underworld is psyche. When we use the word underworld, we are referring to a wholly psychic perspective, where one’s entire mode of being has been de-substantialized, killed of natural life, and yet is in every shape and sense and size the exact replica of natural life. The underworld Ba of Egypt and the underworld psyché of Homeric Greece was the whole person as in life but devoid of life. This means that the underworld perspective radically alters our experience of life. It no longer matters on its own terms but only in terms of the psyche. To know the psyche at its basic depths, for a true depth psychology, one must go to the underworld.

This book was published in 1979, but I can’t imagine a more apt description of how we exist online: “de-substantialized, killed of natural life, and yet […] the exact replica of natural life.” An avatar, in other words.

This is a tremendously exciting idea to me, a whole new way of understanding the cultural project of the last 30 years – what if we have all been laboriously constructing a digital manifestation of the underworld?

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