he was too much taken aback to form one clear thought in his upper consciousness

longxianchen

Senior Member
chinese
Hi,
Here are some words from the novel Lady Chatterley's Lover(page 342, chapter 16) by Lawrence (planetebook,here):
(background: Connie and Mellors ran in the rain without clothes on, then they dried themselves with a blanket and at the fire. After Clifford heard Connie ran out naked in the rain, he got angry.)
Clifford still stared at her transfixed. What he thought in his under-consciousness he would never know. And he was too much taken aback to form one clear thought in his upper consciousness. He just simply accepted what she said, in a sort of blank. And he admired her. He could not help admiring her. She looked so flushed and handsome and smooth: love smooth.

I presume under-consciousness means subconsciousness, and upper consciousness is the opposite of subconsciousness. Now I paraphrase the sentence in blue as:
and he was too frightened(=taken aback) to have a good understanding of Connie's words in his mind(=form one clear thought in his upper consciousness).
Is that right please?
Thank you in advance
 
  • Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    I'd say that 'taken aback' means 'amazed' or 'astounded' (very surprised), not 'frightened'.
    He understood what Connie had said of course, but he didn't know what to think about what she'd done; he was incapable of formulating any reaction.
     

    longxianchen

    Senior Member
    chinese
    Thank you. But I failed to search out upper consciousness and understand consciouisness. Is it possible that upper consciousness stands for the consciousness of upper classes, while under consciousness stands for the consciousness of the lower classes?
    Another possibility is that upper consciousness is a phrase created by Lawrence, which is intended for the opposite of subconsciousness, but not widely used by others
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    Another possibility is that upper consciousness is a phrase created by Lawrence, which is intended for the opposite of subconsciousness, but not widely used by others
    I'd say this suggestion is along the right lines.

    Upper- and lower- consciousness has nothing to do with social classes, but they are terms from Lawrence's philosophical views, not ones in general use at all. They refer to the upper and lower human body. By 'upper consciousness' he means consciousness above the solar plexus, the diaphragm. I think it could be called objective awareness that takes place in the mind, conscious thought.
    'Lower consciousness' is a subjective sort of awareness below the diaphragm, according to Lawrence, perhaps what we would call 'gut feeling'. According to Lawrence, we live too much by our refined mental processes, and have lost the natural lower consciousness. The ensuing discussion between Clifford and Connie is all about 'mind' or thought, over 'matter', or physicality.

    I'd like to read and think a bit more about his notions to see what the best modern day English terms might be. So far, I can only offer 'gut reaction' vs 'conscious thought'.
     
    I agree with HG that "taken aback" means astounded, not "frightened."

    She obviously knows a lot more about his unique philosophy and word coinage than I do.

    (By the way, the simple modern terms these days are just "subconscious" and "conscious", minus any complicated meanings or references.)
     

    longxianchen

    Senior Member
    chinese
    Thank you two
    I'd say this suggestion is along the right lines.

    Upper- and lower- consciousness has nothing to do with social classes, but they are terms from Lawrence's philosophical views, not ones in general use at all. They refer to the upper and lower human body. By 'upper consciousness' he means consciousness above the solar plexus, the diaphragm. I think it could be called objective awareness that takes place in the mind, conscious thought.
    'Lower consciousness' is a subjective sort of awareness below the diaphragm, according to Lawrence, perhaps what we would call 'gut feeling'. According to Lawrence, we live too much by our refined mental processes, and have lost the natural lower consciousness. The ensuing discussion between Clifford and Connie is all about 'mind' or thought, over 'matter', or physicality.

    I'd like to read and think a bit more about his notions to see what the best modern day English terms might be. So far, I can only offer 'gut reaction' vs 'conscious thought'.
    Really an excellent interpretation. You are so sensitive to the hidden meanings:thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup:. Maybe no Chinese could figure it out if it's not for you. All the best to you
     
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