The present essay, entitled “Wells as spatial metaphors of the self in literature” constitutes a work of collecting, commenting and connecting literary texts relating to the space of a well, considering as valid its ancient Greek – and more wide – sense, which includes, except for the well, also the fountain, the spring, the cistern, the sink. These descriptions have many parts in common, as they refer to the water (the taste, the scent, the temperature, the purity of it), to the lighting conditions (the contrast, the position of the lighting source relating to the subject of the narration), the depth of the well, the material of its walls, the objects in close proximity (the roots of a tree). All these mentioned constitute the phenomenology of a space, but looking behind the obvious, one could spot the connection between that particular kind of space and the self, and more specifically its very important part that has to do with memory. In this text an effort is attempted to track down the points that bear multiple meanings, to relate them with each other (no matter how different writers they come from), and finally to create a collage, a synthesis of ideas and thoughts on the pair well – memory.
The manner by which this project was attempted is very simple: it is easy for anyone to realize that the surface of the ground is an external space, completely exposed to the elements of nature – the sun, the wind, the rain – an illimitable space where the stimuli can freely activate the senses. Therefore, one could comment on the fact that if a spatial projection of that particular space on the psyche was searched, this would be the part of it (the self) which is related to the objective perception of a human being, the part that interacts with the (outer/objective) reality (the Ego of S. Freud) On the very opposite lies the underground, the lack of the light, and therefore the lack of the sight, the moisture, conditions inappropriate for (human) habitation, or even for a simple visit. This fact leads to the complete ignorance of the spatial situation that prevails in that depth, and the fear that usually follows it (the ignorance). It concerns an internal, solid space, where only the water moves freely (even this not always happens) and leaves its imprints when it flows and implants on the ground (like the quill on the wax). And if there had to be a representation of its specific formation, the rest of the subtraction of the system of the routes of a tree from the ground (which is also the inverse of the tree if we consider the ground to be the axis of inversion), would be suitable. The corresponding projection to the self for this kind of space could be the unconscious part of the thought, this illusionary omnipotence, this underground, chthonic, infernal life, which is developing at the same time as the conscious, and possesses uncontrollable power and circumstantial will for intervention (the Id of S. Freud). The way of communication between these two spaces, archetypically and speaking by architectural terms is achievedby the help of a third kind of space, a transitional one. It’s the one that controls the entrance and the exit of the water from the labyrinth of memory, the one that determines the gradual influx and storage, and also provides permission for the emersion of the self (the Superego of S. Freud).
On the basis of the logic that has just been described, every well is considered as a station, a node, an exit from the underground system, but gradually the organization of this essay was led to the inversion of this specific shape/ schema. Nodes, according to this way of thinking, are the notional unities across which passes the water of every well described. Consequently, thirteen stations of thought were spotted (relating to the light, the materials, the reflection, the memory, the repulsion, the mythological chthonic beings, the underground as a burial space, the relation to the imagination, etc), the routes of the wells where carved by joining dots and shaping a complicated net, consisting of continuities and discontinuities, motion and stand, able to lead the travelers, as any other map would do.