Sunday, June 28, 2009
There is something very solitary about this image of a woman contemplating the sea. The sea is formless and limitless,. Like the unconscious, its currents can be dangerous or revitalising - the tides are quite dramatic at Sandymount Beach and can catch out the unwary! It struck me that in this sea picture, the formlessness of the sea seems to contrast sharply with the formal reality of the solitary woman who appears to be dreaming. But whilst water in dreams would seem to be a good subject for psychoanalysis, streams and lakes are largely preferred - the sea's infinity poses some problems apparently. Even Baudelaire, who was more in tune with sea waters, commented that the radius of infinity for someone dreaming by the sea is about six or seven leagues (Mon coeur mis à nu, Journaux intimes, 1947). My feeling is that water represents the collective as opposed to the individual unconscious - a seemingly huge, undifferentiated mass as opposed to the single, perceived self. The individual needs a conscious, developed sense of self to be able to differentiate from the collective - otherwise its easy to be swept away in currents that are largely unconscious. Maybe that's why dreamers prefer to dream of the freshness of a mountain stream, rather than the infinite ocean.