Jean Carteret: Language and Psyche

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Below is something I read a few years ago in a book by a Dutch writer, George Bode.

His thinking is mainly based on the thoughts of a French philosopher, Jean Carteret. As far as I know, nothing is written on paper by Carteret, but Bode wrote a book called: ‘Het poetische denken van (poetic thinking of) Jean Carteret’.

A book in which Bode tries to give an impression of the thought process of Carteret.

Deeply hidden in that book was the following (English translation of the Dutch writings of a French thoughtprocess, so something might get lost here):

At a certain moment Carteret was very impressed by a line in Jungs book ‘Man and his symbols’: Matter and psyche are two aspects of one and the same phenomenon. Superficially from this comes that matter obvious is the visable side of the psyche.

But if one stays in this stage, it becomes a formula and becomes a presence where you cannot go about. That never happened to Carteret, therefore was his analysing quality to good. His second association by the phrase of Jung was: matter and psyche are sort of the same, but matter is also energy.

Coming from this scientific fact, he then formulated: the energy in the matter can be seen as workable infinity, an infinity in action. And matter is a condition of limitation. So there is a couple of matter/energy and besides that there is also the psyche. But psyche also is invisible like energy. Psyche, which is an inner concept, asks for a fourth concept, that is to the psyche what energy is to matter.

The search for this fourth concept could start, a search which could take weeks, sometimes even months. But also sometimes only a blink of an eye.

The latter was wat happend here. Suddenly he thought of something from the psychiater Lacan about language. And apart from how Lacan meant that, he had found his fourth concept to use in a dialectic.

He formulated it about this: Matter is the ‘condition’ of ‘limitation’ from an ‘infinity’ in ‘action’ (energy). Psyche is just like energy an ‘infinity’ but a ‘condition’ of infinity. And language is the ‘limitation’ in ‘action’.

Because the psyche is the oceanic infinity and the ocean does not move, while on the contrairy the rivers do. So the psyche is the ‘condition’ of ‘infinity’ of which language is the ‘limitation’ in ‘action’.

So on one hand as a physical aspect of the world, there is the couple matter/energy: a condition of limitation and an infinity in action.

And on the other hand, complemantary to that and as a metafysical aspect, there is the couple psyche/language: a condition of infinity and a limitation that can work on that actively.

The result of that, if maximum, is poetry and if this does not work then there is the language that totaly drawns in the actual unspeakable of the psyche, which gives the mystical.


My translation:

Action = ACTIVE
Condition = PASSIVE
Infinity = POTENTIAL
Limitation = STRUCTURE

Energy is ACTIVE POTENTIAL and transforms into Matter which is PASSIVE STRUCTURE.

Psyche is PASSIVE POTENTIAL and transforms into Language which is ACTIVE STRUCTURE.

Energy = Active Potential
Matter = Passive Structure
Psyche = Passive Potential
Language = Active Structure



Other Theories:

Carl Jung: Individuation Process

David Bohm: Mind and Matter

Leonard Bernstein: Metaphorical Language

Maslow: Hierarchy of Needs

Ken Wilber: Integral Theory

Spiral Dynamics


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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Immanuel Ghim

Anne, hello, this is my second post of yours in deep reading.
Well, at instance, after reading the post on zodiac, I passed on to the post right above that of the zodiac which is provided in the right column of your blog. That was, ‘Ego development’.

But instantly the post started providing a link to the ‘basic concept’, therby leading me to that post. When I found the mechanism woven in your blog, I thought that maybe the big titles given on the top of your blog may be the ones which you Anne, might want to speak about first with the most emphasis.

Therefore, I clicked on ‘core’ and eventually found myself re-encountering this post on Carteret. As you know, if you still remember, I was interested in this French figure and once read through this post earlier. So I’ll give you some comments on this informative post below: (it might be a little long)

1. on the notion
‘matter and psyche are sort of the same, but matter is also energy.’
> Anne, then, what do you think energy is? Is it something which can be defined? Something like an Idea(in a platonic sense)?

2. on the notion
‘the energy in the matter can be seen as workable infinity, an infinity in action. And matter is a condition of limitation’
> then, does ‘energy’ here mean something like an infinite flow? if then, is there any possibility of it being related to the will of a Being which is over the reach of human beings?

3. on the last 3 paragraphs
‘So on one hand as a physical aspect of the world, there is the couple matter/energy: a condition of limitation and an infinity in action.

And on the other hand, complemantary to that and as a metafysical aspect, there is the couple psyche/language: a condition of infinity and a limitation that can work on that actively.

The result of that, if maximum, is poetry and if this does not work then there is the language that totaly drawns in the actual unspeakable of the psyche, which gives the mystical.”’

> then, where do you think that ‘bodily movement’ should belong to? matter, or infinity(limitation)?

Final comment:
This post is very interesting, especially in that it talks about something which is more than particular human language(in Saussurian, the langue).
In other words, it deals something beyond, and at the same time adoptable. It’s almost identical to the concept of ‘game theory’ of Ludwig Wittgenstein, when concentrating on the aspect just I’ve mentioned, that,
‘there are things which we cannot define, but use them and make sense of them.’

Well, some pretty messy questions.
Feel free to answer them taking your time.

FESTINA LENTE
Ighim

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Annemieke

Hi Ighim, you ask some great questions again. The main problem for me in answering them, is the use of words. Many times I think it is just me, not being able to find the right words. And I also think it is due to a translation problem, this piece which was translated from French to Dutch to English.

But I guess it is also because of what you said ‘things that cannot be defined, but of which we do want to make sense’.

And I really do want to make sense of it. So I read it again myself, for the gazillionth time. And in doing so now, I thought I could use other words in the text, words that I, for myself, already used, but did not change in the text, because I wanted to stay as closely to the original as possible.

But now I updated the post, and systematically changed the 4 most important words [action, condition, infinity, limitation] into [active, passive, potential, structure].

Action = ACTIVE
Condition = PASSIVE
Infinity = POTENTIAL
Limitation = STRUCTURE

In my next comment I want to try and answer your questions. They very much made me think, and I first have to find out how I see those things. But as soon as I have a better understanding myself, I will try to answer them.

Thanks for helping me to define it all better,
Annemieke

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Annemieke

I want to react on your first two questions at the same time, because they both might make my point more clear.

> Anne, then, what do you think energy is? Is it something which can be defined? Something like an Idea (in a platonic sense)?
> then, does ‘energy’ here mean something like an infinite flow? if then, is there any possibility of it being related to the will of a Being which is over the reach of human beings?

So you ask if the Idea in a Platonic sense would be some sort of energy. And the same with the will of a Being (I guess you mean in a more religious sense). But I think both are not the energy/matter part of the model.

The energy/matter part is what can be measured by scientists. Energy is just that one part of Einstein’s formula E=mc2, all matter is actually energy.

And I think Plato’s Ideas and a Being, have to do with the other part of the model, psyche/language as Carteret calls it (metaphysical).

But psyche/language is to limited in my opinion. Psyche indicates something rather personal, and I think it is much more general. That part includes also the collective unconscious, dreams, myths, religious feelings, oneness and so on.

And language is also concepts, consciousness, art and so on.

Something like: giving words to feelings. Where words is: language-concepts-consiousness-art. And where feelings is: psyche-religion-dreams-myths.

But both are even more then that. I think it is also is what David Bohm is talking about when he says that the electron has a mindlike quality that responds to information (to put form in).

> then, where do you think that ‘bodily movement’ should belong to?

Bodily movement is such an example of the couple energy/matter that responds to the other couple psyche/language (which is then a much broader concept).

I really have to try to make it more clear, but I hope this was a start.

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de Pontcharra

Hello, i am sorry but you don’t really understand some thing about Jean Carteret. I knew him very well and it happens experiences very strong beetween us and i can tell you that for the moment nobody keep really who was Jean. Thank you thierry

Reply

Annemieke

Hi Thierry, how great to hear from someone who knew Jean Carteret very well. I would love to hear from you, what it is that you think I don’t understand from him.

Maybe you can share some of your understanding, especially about his formulation of matter, mind and psyche.

I would really be very interested in hearing that.

Thank you,
Annemieke

Reply

de Pontcharra

suite: If you are interest, i know quite a lot of textes from jean and i make lectures of these texts on internet but not in english,. Thierry

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Thierry de pontcharra

annemieke, De temps en temps je jette un coup d œil sur ton travail et je sens que tu avances progressivement mais sûrement. Amitiés a toi thierry

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Allie Smith

Hi- Jean Carteret was a friend of Anais Nin. She mentions him in her vol 2 journal 1934-1939. Interesting. She was aware of his thinking. A very good character, description, of him.

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JB

Anaïs Nin also depicts Jean Carteret in her short story ‘The All-Seeing’ in her collection, ‘Under a Glass Bell’. The eponymous character in the story ‘Marcel’ in ‘Delta of Venus’ is also (at least partly) based on him.

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