The Withdrawal of Human Projection: Separating from the Symbolic Order


Following the path Freud laid down in Civilization and Its Discontents, M. D. Faber presents a profound analysis of the relationship between the individual and society. Faber contends that "ordinary consciousness" serves a defensive purpose: Even as we struggle to become separate individuals, we ceaselessly project the objects of our internal world into the environment. Our ordinary way of being is "transitional awareness," a perceptual condition in which we strive to maintain our tie to the inner world by discovering substitute objects in the reality of our cultural realm. The symbolic sphere is a magic system of support whose purpose is to protect human beings against the danger of object loss.

Exploring alternatives to ordinary consciousness, Faber turns to Buddhism, which provides practical techniques for moderating our tie to objects and liberating us from the symbolic order. In proposing emptiness of mind as the essence of mind, Buddhism offers an alternative to the Western attachment to (and glorification of) the cultural sphere. Resting within the space of emptiness, one is freed from tormenting internal objects and the oppressive universe of symbols.

Faber's book presents a vision of culture as a vast transitional space. In our flight from separation and death, we project existence into symbolic objects, quelling anxiety and releasing ourselves from a sense of smallness and aloneness. As we feel enhanced by the objects with which we identify, we simultaneously are oppressed by them. Faber poses the question: What type of human being (and society) might emerge if people no longer clung so desperately to the symbolic order?


Foreword by Richard A. Koenigsberg


Part One: The Transitional Nature of Ordinary Consciousness

The Process of Mind-Body Conversion
From the Cradle
The Internalization of the World
The Mirror
The Dark Side of the Mirror: Splitting
The Agony of Differentiation
The Sands of Time and the Container of Space
The Stimulus Itself
The Ward
The Tie to the Culture
The Oedipus, and After
Notes and References Part One

Part Two: The Cultural Sphere

Some Background
The Religio-Economic Realm
Money and Magna Mater
The Sacrificial Way to the Object
Sacred Lucre
Psychodynamic Extrapolations
The Metaphors of Marx
The Interest in Interest
The Vicious Circle and the Bad Parent
More Opiates, More Anxieties
Lurking Ambivalence
Goods and More Goods
Notes and References Part Two

Part Three: Disrupting the Tie to the Inner World

A Glance Backward, A Glance Forward
The Meaning of Non-Ordinary Moments
The Emergence of the Non-Ordinary World
Solidifying One's Change
Transforming the Past at the Mind-Body Level
Notes and References Part Three