by cheri block sabraw
W.G. Sebald’s 2001 novel Austerlitz concerns, among many things, what happens to a person when memory is suppressed. In Sebald’s novel, Jacques Austerlitz suppresses his childhood memories, the only ones he has of his mother, father, nanny, and the surroundings in his city of Prague.
Put on a kindertransport at the age of 4 in 1939 to escape Nazi deportation, little Jacques becomes Dafydd Elias, the son of a Welsh couple. It isn’t until he is a grown man, visiting an antiquarian bookstore in London and overhearing a radio show on which two women are sharing their experiences as children on kindertransports, that his suppressed memories begin to bubble up, painfully popping and disturbing him.
As he travels to Prague and to the former concentration camp outside of Prague, Theresienstadt, he forces himself to bring to Ego the deep sadness that Unconscious has been harboring for him. Like an enormous cosmic pressure valve, the Unconscious will surrender its holdings when the Ego becomes unhappy.
Jung observes that the self is the Ego. But, he says, we have another part that is connected to a power far greater than ourselves. Some call this power God.
Jung says that we have a soul but that just the use of the word soul begins to work against its true meaning. He says that the soul is the Self (with a capital S). He observes that the Self is not a noun but rather a verb.
He says, The Self Selves.
What this means is that our soul force, the Self, will not be denied its true mission in our brief but important earthly possibilities. Should we deny the Self, it will make itself known, in some way.
It is a verb.
Which leads me to the question: what is your Self telling you to do?