Nausica Manzi

He knows that she is there, a hidden knowledge  that is fundamental to his whole life. He knows that darkness does not devour, but he cannot explain that situation in words, that way of speaking whilst singing of love and desiring Eurydice in his arms.


The inexplicable spark of a doubt that inexorably changes everything, the unconscious precision with which the fingers dance on a musical instrument, the upright posture and free speech during a decisive path: everyday actions; habits that have fascination and mystery in them. These are mechanisms that are neither remembered nor forgotten, elements of a particular and fundamental dimension –unconscious cognition. But how does this dimension actually exist?

All is contained in Eurydice’s glance, in that last moment to the rhythm of the melody of love and sadness of her doubtful Orpheus.

It is a subconcious dimension that dwells in every human being and acts in silence and out of sight. Our subconscious is a journey that we undertake every day simply by living within the depths of a morethan we are but will never fully understand. Unconscious cognition is precisely this ‘more’, a disarming ulteriority, like the doubt that makes Orpheus turn to his beloved before the end of the myth. 

“The Thracian poet […] dared to descend through the Tenarian gate to the Styx, proceeding amidst the faint crowds and the simulacra of the buried dead, he went to Persephone and the lord of the dismal kingdom of shadows”[1],   Orpheus, upset with the sudden death of his beloved, decides to embark on a journey into the darkness in order to restore light. Reinterpreting the myth, we could say that Orpheus descends into the depths of his inner self – into his subconscious – to overcome his pain, accept it and acquire a new awareness.
He therefore crosses the threshold of his subconscious and discovers the existence of a concealed wisdom, the basis of his soul and his own body, unconscious not because it has been removed but because it has never been known: a silent, rich and mysterious ‘more’ enclosed in Eurydice’s look. The unconscious cognition that Orpheus experiences is the part of the mind which stores long-term information and that, despite not being accompanied by verbal explicitness, influences thoughts as much as actions and personal relationships: “”What we know of ourselves is but a part – perhaps a very small part – of what we are. And there are many things, at certain exceptional moments, that we surprise ourselves with: perceptions, reasoning, states of consciousness that are truly beyond the related limits of our normal, conscious existence.” 

Orpheus’ journey into the underworld is an image of descent into the depths of the soul to dialogue with a bewildering pain that he expresses through the music of the lyre, the form of his soul, which moves the very darkness and manages to open the door to that inner, primordial world. Pain is what makes every human being discover a further dimension that dwells in silence. This is the feeling of the unconscious cognition: devastation and transformation. It paradoxically delves into every individual in order to bring them face to face with the innermost depths of their interiority. Orpheus therefore comes face to face with his subconscious, wandering in the dark to find Eurydice’s glance.
Even though he is at the mercy of the stream of unconciousness and uncertainty, like every human being, he is aware of what he wants to do and what he wants to achieve. However, when an emotion like grief breaks the soul in two, he realises that this uncertainty is a reality and that this unconciousness pervades him, and thus begins his journey into the underworld of his own subconscious.
By listening to the music of one’s soul, each of us discovers that in this same darkness there is something that belongs to us, something we know perfectly but cannot express in words: Eurydice’s glance, the unspoken knowledge to which that part of the unconscious cognition belongs. It is a guardian of precious elements of existence in an inexpressible silence because it is extremely rich, more than the mysterious wonder of life.
Orpheus recognises this inexpressible mystery, his soul recognises it, and it touches his own subconscious, which suddenly shows itself benevolent. In fact, he obtains the right to bring back Eurydice’s glance. He knows that she is there, a hidden knowledge that is fundamental to his whole life. He knows that darkness does not devour, but he cannot explain that situation in words, that way of speaking whilst singing of love and desiring Eurydice in his arms.
Unconscious cognition is the keeper of the sparks of existence that are never forgotten; of all those feelings and thoughts that direct life and actions and that words cannot explain. They are the roots of every single soul, together with air and whatever suffocates, hopes and despairs, life in all its profound nuances. 
In his suspended path between conscious and subconscious with Eurydice behind him, however, Orpheus suddenly freezes. Darkness ordered him not to turn and look for his beloved’s glance, to trust that unconscious cognition, to embrace that unbearable silence. Yet, as if awakened by a car’s red lights that are about to brake in front of him, Orpheus has a doubt that floods his mind with questions: what seemed to be unconscious appears at the door of his brain, demanding cognitively, a legitimate explanation. What happens to Orpheus is what occurs every day in each individual: actions or thoughts sometimes reveal something profoundly contained in the soul, though we know it, we cannot explain it. Indeed, when we try to do so, the mind immediately freezes in doubt, in an interweaving of awareness and unawareness, in a mystery that envelops and gives wonder. Consequently, faced with the presence of something unconscious that emerges in the mind but finds no explanation, just as Orpheus turned to look at Eurydice, so do human beings turn to their inner selves to find that elusive something more than themselves that, as soon as an explanation is sought, disappears like Eurydice. 

In conclusion, Eurydice’s glance represents this ‘more’ that constitutes human beings.
Eurydice’s glace is what whispers in the folds of existence. It emerges unexpectedly – a cipher of the inexhaustible, in which its meaning is enclosed and makes invisible and which, even if it disappears, never dies completely because it is imbedded in every soul. It is the unconscious awareness enclosed in the details of existence, in small gestures, ephemeral moments, which take life into their own hands. When it rebels it loses itself in the obscure ways of the unconscious and little by little, tacitly and in a conscious and subconscious dimension, makes it discover that the ‘more’ that it knows but cannot say, about which it doubts and broods, is the love that constitutes it. Eurydice’s glance is the love that every individual has behind them, the one that watches over them, the same one that everyone is hesitant to acknowledge, as soon as they turn around like Orpheus. It is the only thing that needs no explanation, that does not need to appear but to be because it is the root and the breath. It is the glance that meets existence, transforms it and brings it back from pain and darkness. 

[1]  Translated from Ovid, Metamorphoses, X, 12-16, translated by G. Paduano.

[2] Translated from L.Pirandello, L’umorismo e altri saggi, Firenze, Giunti, 1994, pp.137-138.

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