The Opening of the American Unconscious

June 3, 2011

David Brooks, the comic sociologist of our postwar meritocracy, has written a strange and strangely fascinating new book that partly refudiates the meritocratic view of life. We’ve all been busy seeking the laurels of advanced degrees, or the corner workspace, or the proper mix of antique and modern in our country houses, but this is a false path. In The Social Animal Brooks has concluded that we cannot willfully guide ourselves to contentment. Our big mistake has been to view the unconscious as the junk drawer of evolution. “The unconscious parts of the mind are not primitive vestiges that need to be conquered in order to make wise decisions,” he writes. “They are not dark caverns of repressed sexual urges. Instead, the unconscious parts of the mind are most of the mind—where most of the decisions and many of the most impressive acts of thinking take place. These submerged processes are the seedbeds of accomplishment.” In other words: Use the Force, Lucas!

via The Opening of the American Unconscious – By Michael Agger – Slate Magazine.

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