Posts Tagged ‘archetype’
Of Broken Vessels, Art, and Repair Len Cruz, MD, ME “The more I am spent, ill, a broken pitcher, by so much more am I an artist.” – Vincent van Gogh On Saturday July 27, 2013 from 12:00-2:00 PM the Asheville Jung Center will be presenting a conference titled, Art and Psyche: A Jungian Exploration with Murray Stein, Linda Carter, and Lucienne Marguerat. The conference originates from Zürich, New England, and Asheville. Registration is still open. One subject that will be explored is the art of Adolf Wölfli In preparation for Saturday’s conference I read two books on art, and one coffee table book compiled from artwork done by persons suffering mental illness. They are briefly reviewed below. Creative Transformation: The Healing Power of the Arts by Penny Lewis is an exceptional book. Published by Chiron Publications, it is not strictly Jungian. Ms. Lewis is a dance and drama therapist with Jungian training from the C G Jung Institute of New York. Written in the 1993, its material remains timeless. Reading Creative Transformation: The Healing Power of the Arts is like taking a short course in psychoanalytic theory, Analytical Psychology, and Gestalt and the application of these ideas with patients. Ms. Lewis maintains that “the dance between conscious and unconscious is choreographed in the transitional space of the imaginal realm.” She relies heavily on Mahler, Winnicott, by personal field between patients and therapist.” Section 2 of the book looks at the use of the arts from a perspective of developmental psychology. She leans heavily upon Margaret Mahler, D. W. Winnicott, James Masterson, and Nathan Salant-Schwartz. The rich use of black and white plates combined with a very expansive index, make this book an invaluable resource. With patients who suffered trauma in early childhood, at a time that was preverbal or prior to the appearance of well-developed abstract thinking, the use of arts media can be a powerful tool for the healer. Creative Transformation: The Healing Power of the Arts is not a How To book, though the author provides ample illustrations of how she uses art in therapy. It is a clinical treatise, from someone well-versed in several psychotherapy approaches, in which the writer just happens to use the expressive arts media in addition to words. The Creative Soul : Art and the Quest for Wholeness by Lawrence Staples , published by Fisher King Press, is a tightly composed, personal reflection by a seasoned sage and Zürich trained Jungian analyst. It is precise, yet comprehensive in its treatment of the creative process. According to Staples, “Psychic tension is at its highest just at the moment preceding creation, just as we experience at the moment of orgasm.” (P.25) The receptivity to the feminine is vitally important to the creative experience. Through extremely concise clinical vignettes, poems, short stories, and other examples of artistic creations, Staples explores an impressive expanse of the territory of the creative process. I have only one critique of this book; it was not long enough. About one third of the way through the book, Staples introduces a case of a man named Bert, whose story weaves through the remaining pages in an effective, cohesive way. In just over two pages titled Creativity As An Inner Parent, Staples uses Bert to explain how a good parent can be fashioned through creative expression for individuals whose actual parenting was deficient. In a section titled Therapy As Art, Staples acknowledges that “Therapists often envy the creative gifts of the people with whom they work.” He goes on to point out that the work of therapy is itself a creative expression; it is art. Sunshine From Darkness: The Other Side of Outsider Art by Nancy Glidden Smith is simply put a coffee table book. However, the artists featured in this beautiful volume all suffer mental illness. The introduction to the book is written by Kay Redfield Jamison, Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins. Her pioneering research along, with her testimonial about her own struggles with mental illness, have brought attention to the issue of stigmatization of the mentally ill. She opens the book with the van Gough helpful in reducing stigmas. The featured artists are all Americans. It appears the book is currently out of print but copies are available on Amazon. by Len Cruz, MD, ME
Fisher King Press; First edition (June 1, 2012) Language: English ISBN-10: 1926715756 Lifting the Veil is an ambitious effort to describe “how cultural wounds and archetypal defenses of the group spirit, be they Middle East or of the Western powers, add to the spirit of the age in which we live”. Jane Kamerling and Fred Gustafson explore the veil that has served as a powerful symbolic attractor throughout Islamic history. The veil and headscarf (hijab) is a symbol for the tensions between the Middle East and the West, for a symbol for movements advancing the rights of women, and symbol that relates to the urgent need to recover lost parts of the feminine principle. In the course of their thoughtful examination, many veils are lifted, and the idea of cultural complexes is extended from an individual psychology to the culture at large. This domain of the cultural complex has remained veiled, according to Dr. Thomas Singer who writes the introduction, since C. G. Jung met with such disastrous results in his explorations of the outer, collective roots of the rise Nazism. The historical and cultural significance of the veil is carefully presented in Lifting the Veil. When the authors eventually reach out to Sheherazade, a hero figure who uses storytelling to heal and recover the repressed feminine, a solid foundation has already been laid for the claim: “… Allah has raised up your daughter [Shahrazad] to be the salvation of my people”. Many Westerners are caught in a struggle, unable to move beyond a collective ignorance about Islam. They are ensnared by certain cultural complexes that are mistaken for representatives of all of Islam. Sadly, there are many Muslims who adhere to a form of Islam (submission) and jihad (struggle) that focuses almost exclusively on outer mastery, the rejection of any vestiges of colonialism, and retribution for offenses committed by the West. Kamerling and Gustafson offer evidence that the abdication of the interior dimension of submission and struggle goes hand-in-hand with repression of the feminine. Lifting the Veil argues that the tension and conflict between Middle East and West also derives from repression of the feminine principle. Most Christian Americans would not want others to think that Westboro Baptist Church speaks for all Christians. The West then also needs to understand that Islam is not a monolithic religion represented by the ultra-conservative Wahhabism that the Saudi royal family disseminated across the Muslim world, in part to appease clerics. “The veil powerfully holds the polarity of attitudes and beliefs and invites the projections of the psychological complexes in both Western and Islamic societies. These negative shadow projections fuel external and internal conflict between and within each culture, the veil is not just a female garment to hide, protect, or humble Muslim women, but the curtain behind which resides the feminine principle, repressed East and West.” When Jungian theory is applied to whole cultures, as if a culture is a person, concepts such as ego, persona, shadow, anima/animus, repressed feminine, and complexes take on new meanings. Jung warned of the dangers inherent in extremism where the complementarity of opposites becomes lost such that the unconscious must then offer some compensation. Lifting the Veil devotes thirty-two of its one hundred sixty pages to Sheherazade. Sheherazade is introduced as both an adept, manipulative temptress and a storyteller whose tales are placed like stones on a golden path of awakening and integration. It is the feminine principle that carries the functions of relationship, it is the feminine principle that gathers and cherishes the stories of life, and it is the feminine principle reanimates stories and thereby elevates stories so that they become templates by which we can guide our lives. According to Fatima Mernissi in her 1987 book, Beyond the Veil, Arab-Muslim nationalists in the post-colonial periods like Qasim Amin “…considered the liberation of women as a condition sine qua non for the liberation of Arab-Muslim society from the humiliating hegemony of the West.” This modern day feminist observed that women can stir fitna (chaos stirred by sexual disorder) and this accounts for some of the demonizing of women’s sexuality. While earlier Islamic voices like Imam Ghazali (1050-1111) “… recommends foreplay, primarily in the interest of the woman, as a duty of the believer”, women are still seen as a “dangerous distraction”. Mernissi notes that “While Muslim exploitation of the female [feminine principle] is cloaked under veils and hidden behind walls, Western exploitation has had the bad taste of being bare and over-exposed.” She goes on to assert, “The entire Muslim social structure can be seen as an attack on, and a defenses against, the disruptive power of female sexuality.” In Lifting the Veil, Kamerling and Gustafson, like Mernissi, recognize that throwing off the veil for some women is an act of self-determination but it is also an act of self-determination for some women when they don the veil. Transcending and integrating the tensions between anima and animus is akin to what certain Sufi masters encourage. Hear the words of The Shaykh of Shaykhs Abu Maydam al-Maydam al-Maheibi Shu’ayb, “Gatheredness (jam’) is what makes your separation drop and annihilates your indication. Arrival (wusul) is the absorption of your attributes and the disappearance of your qualities.” “The one who still has a residue of his nafs (the small self) remaining for him, has not reached pure freedom.” Lifting the Veil can be read as a succinct scholarly synopsis of the history of Islam. It can also be read as a treatise on the repressed feminine. However, it should also be read as a re-visioning of Sheherazade, a prototypical figure in the feminine psychology Islam. The stories she told “were not neat”. Kamerling and Gustafson maintain that “Locking away or placing a veil over life not only leads to an extreme fundamentalistic and myopic ay of living, it proves to be psychologically and spiritually disastrous. … A person [or culture] trapped in this dilemma becomes unbearable to self and others.” The head-scarf is likely to remain a touchstone that will frame the tension between secularism and Islam. Re-introducing Sheherazade and portraying her as the feminine principle that can “think as well as remember stories that unite all people” presents the reader with a challenge. It is the task of each one of us to recover the stories of the past and live those stories “in service to life”. At one point the authors quote from the Koran Sura XIII line 11 Verily never Will God change the condition Of a people until they Change it themselves. There is a rich, deep, coextensive history and tradition between the People of the Book and Muslims. They share a common, almighty God. Jews, Christians, and Muslims are each a called people. A recent book by Peter Todd, Individuation of God, states “It is in this sense [garnering power and controlling energy resources] that religious fundamentalism can be seen as a collective manifestation of the collective Jungian shadow archetype. Permit yourself to imagine what might emerge if each of these called people were to take on something from one another’s religious practices or traditions. Suppose that Jews were to devote themselves to the idea of building the Kingdom of God here and now and that across the world they engaged in regular, ritualized prayer five times per day. And also suppose Christians recovered some elements of the Arianism discarded at the Council of Nicea and gave more public emphasis to the traditional monotheistic view of God and less on God’s Trinitarian nature. Also imagine Christians began to pray five times each day. And finally, imagine Muslims being very mindful of their is common heritage and common prophets with Jews and Christians without surrendering a foundational belief, Muhammad-ur-Rasul-Allah (Muhammad is Allah’s Messenger). And of course they too would pray five times per day. Now consider if two thirds of the world’s population lifted the veil of separateness and difference and sought common ground and engaged in prayer five times each day. Into such an imaginary world, introduce storytellers. Lots and lots of storytellers, sharing tales that heal, that serve as templates for how to live and how to wake up. Lifting the Veil is a critically important book that speaks to our times. It continues the recent interest in cultural complexes that offers hope for the human race. Jane Kamerling and Fred Guststason are to be commended for taking on such a charged topic respectfully and with the depth that seasoned Jungian Analysts can bring to such a project. All of us can hope that when enough veils are lifted and projections recovered perhaps we can dwell in the love of which Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Balkhī writes: ملت عشق از همه دینها جداست — عاشقان را ملت و مذهب خداست The nation of Love has a different religion of all religions — For lovers, God alone is their religion. Len Cruz NOTE: The Asheville Jung Center will host a live conference on May 31, 2013 at 8:00 PM titled Lifting the Veil: Recovering the Feminine that will also be available for later viewing by streaming video. To register go to http://ashevillejungcenter.org/webinars/w11/
 Lane, EW and Poole ES. the Thousand and One Nights: Commonly Called, in England, The Arabian Nights’ Etertainments, Chatto and Windus, 1839. Available from http://www.books.goolge.com as a free book.
 See Wikipedia entry from 5/26/2013 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westboro_Baptist_Church
 Jung, C G. Psychological Types. CW 6, Princeton, NJ: Bollingen Series, Princeton University Press, 1971, Page 709.
 Mernissi, F. Beyond the Veil: Male-Female Dynamics in Modern Muslim Society. Indianapolis, IN, Indiana University Press, 1987, Page 13.
 ibid. Page 40.
 ibid. Page 45.
 Kamerling, J and Gustafson, D. Lifting the Veil, Carmel, CA, Fisher King Press, 2012, Page 105.
 Kamerling, J and Gustafson, D. Lifting the Veil, Carmel, CA, Fisher King Press, 2012, Page 170.
And a Woman Shall Lead Them
The Feminine in A Dangerous Method
By Len Cruz, MDA Dangerous Method is one of the best psychological film portrayals of the feminine I have seen in a very long time. Knowing many of the historical elements that director David Cronenberg smoothly wove together in a 95 minute film helped me look past the two Titans of 20th century psychology and delight in the figure who was for me the main character, Sabina Spielrein. I am looking forward to the conference (webinar) led by Dan Ross that is scheduled for February 8th. For registration information visit http://ashevillejungcenter.org/webinars/february-discovering-psychotherapy-dangerous-method/register/ The arc that transports Sabina Spielrein from wounded virgin delivered forcibly to the Burghölzli by uniformed Russian guards to the pregnant Hectate (in all her chthonic, celestial, and maritime glory) sitting on a bench by the fragile Jung, fresh from his break with Freud, depicts so many facets of the feminine that a list may do them justice. Ravaged Virgin When Sabina arrives at the Burghölzli we discover that the harsh, brutal corporal punishment her father administered had awakened something. The early studies on hysteria posited that sexual abuse and unacknowledged sexual desire was akin to Lethe, the subterranean river that flowed around the cave of Hypnos from which all who drank experienced complete forgetfulness. Sabina’s character is extraordinary in her capacity to first remember, the first achievement of the talking cure and then press on to a healthy integration of the sexual pleasure she first experienced at her father’s hand. Sabina starts out as a ravaged virgin and this image is re-presented in the scene of Jung’s first sexual intercourse with her. But even as she lifts the bloodied sheet and the camera draws back we do not observe a young woman ravaged by her father figure. Instead we are witness to a woman who has taken another step in claiming her full, individuated capacities. It evoked a sense of baptism and Jung the man was an instrument of this baptism into womanhood. Waif Sabina is also portrayed as a vulnerable waif who cautiously places her trust in Jung. Jung is looking for someone on whom to try his hand at this new talking cure. Rather quickly, Sabina displays her perspicacity in a scene in which Jung is conducting his word association experiment with a pregnant woman whose ambivalence is evident. When she asks if the woman was Jung’s wife (she is), we observe the native gifts and talents that will mature into an analyst whose influence has never been properly acclaimed. Divine Daughter/Vestal Virgin Spielrein matures fairly quickly during the film. She is well into her medical career and displaying uncanny abilities in the infant field of psychiatry. Like the Vestal Virgins of Rome, she has respected a chastity that has allowed her to learn the rituals of the psychoanalytic state. And like the Vestal Virgins, she keeps the sacred fires of eros burning in Jung. There is scene in which Sabina initiates a kiss. Sabina and Jung are discussing her ideas concerning creative destruction and the inherent clash of opposites from which arises something new and creative. Jung admonishes her for being the aggressor. Jung “It’s generally thought to be the man who should take the initiative.” Sabina “Don’t you think there is something male in every woman and something female in every man, or should be?.” What is so striking in this scene is the intimation of many foundational ideas of analytical psychology: transcendent function, conjuctio mysterium, anima, and animus. The scene also suggest the possibility that one woman, shuttered away and later shot by the Nazis, might have been a fount for Jung and later Freud whose concepts of Thanatos may owe a tremendous debt to Sabina according to Cronenberg’s portrayal. A Completing Woman Sabina reaches the completion of her training, she presents a paper titled “Destruction as the Cause of Coming Into Being.” Astoundingly original ideas were contained in this article made me wonder if another unnamed giant from Vienna may have been inspired by Sabina. Joseph Schumpeter, the famous mathematical economist credited with popularizing the idea of creative destruction introduced ideas that sound like spin-offs of Spielrein’s ideas. This concept of creative destruction still enjoys considerable cache as evidenced in its frequent appearance in the Republican Presidential Debates in America concerning Mitt Romney’s time at the venture capital firm, Bain Capital. When others have accused him of shuttering American companies in which Bain Capital invested, he defends himself with Schumpeter’s (or should I now say Spielrein’s) ideas of creative destruction. that has recently found its way into the United States’s political discourse concerning Mitt Romney’s venture capital dealings that shuttered certain companies. Wrathful Feminine (The Furies, Hera, Athena, Kali) There is a tense period in the film when it appears that Spielrein intends to cause Jung’s destruction. It turns out that Jung has unleashed more than one fury when he discovers that the anonymous letters Freud received about his indiscretions with Spielrein were not authored by his mistress but by his wife Emma who apparently write to Spielrein’s mother and perhaps others in Vienna. Spielrein does strike out and cut Jung’s face, but her temperance dignifies her even more and begins to establish the strength of this character in the film. I cite the Erinyes (Furies), because Spielrein appears to threaten to unleash a severe vengence upon Jung and the whole psychoanalytic movement. Recall that the infernal goddesses were chthonic deities whose vengence was unleashed upon those who swear a false oath. How fitting that this figure of the feminine should menace the great pioneers of depth psychology. I call upon Hera for the wrath she displayed whenever she discovers Zeus’ infidelities. How like Hera Spielrein desires to be and Emma appears to be. I invoke the image of Athena because of her fiery warrior eruption from the head of Zeus. Spielrein, like Athena, comes to life within the container of Jung’s intellectual interests but must emerge fully formed by breaking out that same container. Is there a woman who strives in the patriarchal realms who cannot identify with the goddess of just warfare? Athena had no consorts and is also called Athena Parthenos. Towards the end of the film, when pregnant Spielrein reappears with barely the mention of a husband, Athena Parthenos, somehow comes through as having had no consort. This woman’s fertility has transcended the need for the man’s sperm. Madonna There is gentleness in Spielrein’s attentions to Jung. At the various stages depicted in her own evolution, she demands almost nothing, apart from a similar degree of care and regard. She tells Jung when he insists they end their sexual relationship because she asked too much, “I never asked for more…” The movie’s portrayal of Spielrein’s demand that Jung disclose the truth to Freud so that she may undergo analysis with him, is at once forgiving, firm, and self-assured. For a brief instant, Freud is depicted as redeeming Jung’s mistakes until he reminds Spielrein that they are both Jews and will always be Jews. Spielrein understands the powerful and nuanced destructive forces being acted out between Jung and Freud better than either of them do. Yet she seems capable of holding them both with the gentle forgiving qualities that the feminine sometimes exudes that can heal the deepest wounds in a man’s soul. It is in these scenes that Spielrein’s dignity and force of character was most apparent to me. The Miller’s Daughter (The Rumpelstilskin Story) Something about the development of Spielrein’s character left a deep impression of what the individuated woman is like. A Dangerous Method’s portrayal of is a woman who has secured, through hard fought struggle, a formula for making inner gold from the base metals of her life experience. This film’s Sabina Spielrein is a stark contrast to the miller’s daughter from the Rumpelstiltskin fairy tale. That miller’s daughter had to reply on the impish Rumpelstiltskin to spin gold for her. Rumpelstilskin we recall deliver’s the miller’s daughter from her plight on condition that he can take possession of the girl’s first born child. In the final scenes of the movie, Jung shares a great deal in common with Rumpelstiltskin. He is seen sitting on a bench, overtaken by deep melancholy when he declares that Spierlein’s baby should have been his; she agrees. Like Rumpelstiltskin, Jung comes across as an incomplete, broken, maybe deformed man who covets the fecundity he sees before him. But Speirlein, unlike the miller’s daughter, has a connection to her animus. She has learned to spin gold without relying on a covetous or undeveloped man. (See Robert Johnson’s Inner Gold for a concise rendering of alchemical gold). When she confirms that Jung has moved on to another mistress, Toni Wolff, the viewer is left with the impression that Jung has progressed very little yet. He has hardly remembered, he has repeated, and he has yet to work through his struggle with monogamy and sexual license. Sophia There is one more facet of the feminine that comes to full fruition in the final scenes at Lake Zürich. Emma and Sabina seem to understand one another now and they both have a wisdom about Jung. It seems that in the course of a man’s development, in those early years when he severs the connection to his interior feminine, he also loses the connection he might have had to Sophia. If such a man is fortunate to encounter a woman possessed of sufficient Sophia and she elects to share herself with him, the ability to rekindle the relationship with his anima is likely to quickened. Jung may have had the blessing of at least three women who imparted to him Sophia. In the case of Emma, she also gave him his beloved home at 228 Seestrasse in Künsnacht. Perhaps, Spielrein, in addition to Sophia, gave Jung a container in which he burst onto the scene of psychoanalysis and also delivered him beyond it to the place he was destined to go. And Toni Wolff, apart from Sophia, may have furnished a vessel for his completion. A Woman Shall Lead Them; The rest is silence.
The movie “Stone” directed by John Curran, dropped like one from the theater marquees before you anyone knew it and so when I ask anyone of they have seen the film, the answer is “Oh yea! What happened to that one? I saw the trailer and that was it.” So “Stone” will be remembered for its trailer which is misleading anyway. In fact, “Stone” sneaks up on you and catches you off guard. If you expect something plot driven with action and a high speed chase forget it. Instead, it is a film about transformation of character based on archetypal elements. Edward Norton plays a convict, as he has done before, but this time he portrays a man seemingly struggling with his dual nature, the sacred and profane, or is he?. He is intent on manipulating Jack into freeing him on parole or contributing to his release. But in the process of struggling to understand his nature, the part of him that could allow his grandparents to be brutally murdered and then burn down their home, begins struggling to reach consciousness and Stone discovers an obscure religious teaching that teaches him about moving through stages in life. Stone’s wife is played by Milla Jovovich. Jack Mabry is played by Robert DiNero and Stone is played by Edward Norton. Jack Mabry is a man tightly wrapped in a life hanging from a thread. Stone begins to work on Jack by asking him questions about whether he has the right to judge anyone, has he never done anything wrong? His life is being honed by Stone and by these questions that begin working on Jack and begin to wear him down. He is wearing his ego down, weakening his fixed stance against the world. Jack does not know his particular view of the world has died and is decaying and makes him vulnerable to someone like Stone who provides him a different pedagogy to his Episcopalian upbringing. Stone knows Jack’s life is meaningless. Stone’s accomplice is is his wife. Stone and Lucetta (which means light) remind us of Elijah and Salome for Jung. Lucetta seduces Jack sexually and Stone seduces him intellectually by making him doubt his life. Jack was long overdue for such a change in life. There is much in his life he needs to come to terms with including his marriage to his wife, played by Francis Conroy, the mother in the HBO series written by Alan Ball called Six Feet Under. This is a Faustian tale and Jack, just like Faust, thought he had everything figured out. But also like Faust Jack Mabry is dead from the neck down. There is no passion in him and early in his marriage his wife tries to leave him because he keeps her “…soul in a dungeon” but Jack threatens to kill their child if she ever left him. Their marriage is coerced and the only two things that sustain it are alcohol and religion, both of which they consume on a daily basis. In fact, the only intimacy between them is in reciting prayers and sharing drinks with each other. There is a scene in Goethe’s Faust, before Faust is given the gift of youth as part of his agreement with Mephistopheles, when his companion shares with him a natural way to youth that doesn’t require witch’s brew and potions. Mephistopheles suggests he work the “yonder fields” with the ox, as an ox and spread manure and reap the benefits of the earth. Faust would have none of this for he is a learned man, not a common worker. The part of Faust that is unlived is his instinctual nature, connected to the earth. His passionate side remains in shadow deadening Faust’s outlook on life now in middle age. He never married, never was with a woman, never had children. Jung once said between Faust and Mephistopheles he thought the latter much more interesting than the dead cerebral Faust. In fact, Mephistopheles is Faust’s shadow and as his life is destroyed in taking his guidance, he also finds salvation. If Stone is Jack’s shadow figure then Lucetta is Jack’s anima figure. Lucetta connects him to his own instinctual nature again over which he now seems to have no control. This is his nature he denied his wife their whole marriage. But by sleeping with Lucetta he has broken every law to which he clinged his whole life and career. In a way Stone and Jack were shadow to each other. Each honed their character off the stone of the other. Jack unforgiving, inflexible approach to his life required a conflagration and Stone’s chaotic drug-bathed unreasonable and unreasoned life required the discipline and Logos to bring order out of disorder. As Jack descended into chaos after meeting Stone, Stone arose from it. When Jack begins his descent he goes to his church minister for advice who tells him to remember what is in the Holy Scriptures, “Be still and know that I am God”. The minister suggests that Jack needs to listen and that God works in mysterious ways. This stillness is what Stone is searching for himself. There is the incessant chaotic noise in prison that is parallel to the incessant noise Jack experiences with the radio talk shows discussing religion and God and righteous pathways and the sinfulness of human nature. Jack has been listening to these voices for years just as Stone has been listening to his prison soundtrack for years and both now are becoming unbearable for each. Even the sensual and sensate Lucetta struggles with these changes Stone is going through and at one point feels left out of the lives of both men as they come to terms with each other. There is some symbolism to the sounds in the film that cut through the chaos as one sustained sound of consciousness which we choose we listen to or not. It is the sound of the insect that is extinguished when Jack threatens to kill his daughter. It is the sound Jack hears perhaps for the first time at the end of the film before he turns his gaze above. It is the sound that Stone tried to discern from the chaos in the prison. It is also the sound that Jack cannot hear over the din of the religious rhetoric on the radio. I began this review on the anniversary of September 11th and felt it was fitting that a film that is about self-reflection, self-transformation through coming to terms with our own shadow and reminding us of the work we have to do. If we only mourn the loss of life on this 10 year anniversary we would have short-circuited the process of self-examination which would serve better those who died on that day and since. Faust did not do the hard work needed to expand his life and consciousness; he did not take his shadow’s advice and work the fields. He chose the short cut and that was his downfall. That is our downfall. And as for the film, we are not sure at the end who or how the characters are transformed but as Stone suggests “Let it burn, let the whole thing burn” and Jack’s life does burn up. In alchemy fire is represented as the calcinatio which is a purification process by firing elements down to their purest form. It results from prolonged frustration of desires unfulfilled. Jack blames Stone for his own house burning down at the end of the film but there is reason to suspect his wife who felt she was acting out the will of God. Perhaps the reviews were right, what starts out as a film noir complete with anti-heroes and sexy dame is unraveled by the end in ambiguity and paradox. “The paradox is that what they try to subvert in “Stone” — namely, your viewing habits — are intrinsic to your enjoyment of the movie.” (New York Times) So amidst the din of high-budgeted, high-tech sound and fury films waiting to assault us this Oscar season, “Stone” requires we ponder a little bit about ourselves and how we may be transformed by the simplest, quietest, easily dismissible sound or image. It requires us to listen very closely. At the very end of the film Jack has gathered his belongings at work and is preparing to leave for retirement, his life now in shambles, the only role he knew was as a parole officer, as a judge of other men’s lives, to begin a journey in which, we suspect, he begins to rebuild his own life , a more complete and conscious man. So as the film “Stone” falls fast and hard from our collective memory it hits the sidewalk not with a bang, but a whimper. – Daniel Ross
Len’s posting last week about the film the Black Swan addresses not only an aspect of the protagonist’s nature, the pursuit of perfection, but it also reflect’s our society’s addiction to perfection. We not only want perfection, we want a shortcut to get there. Over the last few months postings on this blog regarding the Black Swan reveal many different aspects of the film that have touched many people. Here are a few of the comments: Cynthia commented “Throughout the whole movie we are never sure what is “real”, there is a constant weaving of images from Nina’s internal and external worlds. Nina was under the spell of her mother’s unlived life and needed to breakaway and begin her own life process.” Constance Myslek-McFadden commented: “To me, the movie was one of the most brilliant, beautiful, psychologically and emotionally accurate and evocative movies I’ve ever seen. I loved it!” David Pressault commented: I found that the years of training in an aesthetic that is so far removed from the natural tendencies of the body often results in one loosing some basic connection to certain instincts. In a sense, the connection to our body as the animal part of us, so often is lost in ballet training. We will be discussing the Black Swan from many perspectives on Friday. I welcome your thoughts and ideas about what you would like to discuss as there is so much archetypal material from which to draw. I will be incorporating more of the fascinating and intelligent comments posted on our two blog postings on this film. The commenters provided varied backgrounds in therapy as well as dance and brought a richness to the discussion that was brilliant and provocative. I look forward to that same liveliness and level of participation at Friday’s seminar. If nothing else the Black Swan got us to discuss how a film like this can move us. The reactions of many to this film were often extreme. Some really loved it and some were repulsed by it, but I did not hear anyone say it was boring or average. We are also fortunate to have a second presenter, Michael DeMeritt, join us. Michael has been a producer, writer & director on numerous film and television projects over the last 20 years. He is a member of the Director’s Guild of America and has served as assistant director on such well known series as LA Law, Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Enterprise. He has won numerous awards including an Emmy recognition certificate for special effects and currently resides in Los Angeles. Michael will be adding another dimension to the film analysis, namely an inside perspective on film making. Why has there been so much written about this film? Why does it provoke such polar and polarizing reactions? Why do some of us love this film and why do so many of us hate it? Let’s find out. Let’s dive into the archetypal themes of the dark feminine, twinship, the shadow and anima/animus. Let’s look into the film from an alchemical perspective to understand the nature of transformation and finally let’s compare this film to Jung’s real life confrontation with the unconscious as described in the Red Book. I look forward to Friday and I hope you can join us. – Dan Ross (Seminar Presenter) [Click here for Registration Page on Upcoming Seminar]
I am watching more films, reading more film reviews, and using my 3-D glasses (2-D plus Depth Psychology) in anticipation of the August 26, 2011 conference Transformation of the Black Swan (register at http://ashevillejungcenter.org/upcoming-events/black-swann/bsregistration/ ). I started reading the latest issue of Spring: A Journal of Archetype and Culture with the film reviews in the back. The entire issue that is devoted to Home and the Wanderer. It is an extraordinary compilation that you will not regret owning. As an exercise, I began reading Spring from back to front. I don’t just mean that I started with the last item in the table of contents, which I did. I started with the last sentence of each article and proceeded to the next to the last sentence, then the one before that and so on and so on until I reached the first sentence in the review. Those familiar with Martin Amis’s Time’s Arrow will appreciate the intriguing Alice in Wonderland results that ensued. I began with Dr. Glen Slater’s review of The King’s Speech. Reading it from back to front, I was moved from pure, distilled insights to the first sentence that could double as a movie tagline “The King’s Speech is the story of how a stuttering monarch-in-the-making faces his fears and ascends to the British throne to rally the empire at the start of World War II.” . Dr. Terry Waddell’s review of Black Swan was next. This review was as compelling when I read it back to front when I subsequently read it in the customary direction. The experience reminded me of watching two violinists playing Mozart’s Table Duets. Waddell’s film review was the catalyst I needed to finish watching the Black Swan. (I had been unsuccessful twice before). The following excerpt begins with the last sentence of Waddell’s review and reverses time’s arrow. “It is already here for us to find in the confusion of being. Nothing is really missing. There is no illusive someone or something out there that needs to be grasped in order to feel unbroken. and her’s what I found to be thrust of Black Swan. Reaching out to others as if they can provide a more adequate identity – and by extension a sense of wholeness – exacts a damaging toll. Nina is even more incapable of disciplining the archetypal challenges that arise to shift her into the next gear of maturity. That certain artistic (and dare I add educational) institutions thrive on this message is destructive. That we are often socially coerced into perpetual want is unfortunate. If mindfully living in self-appreciation carries with it a feeling of sufficiency, I’m all for that but striving for an illusive state of perfect inner/outer alignment implies that we lack, we are inadequate, we will never be enough. Life is a relentlessly messy process. We are too, necessarily unique, complex, and fragmented to ver realistically imagine ourselves as complete. This obsessive search for wholeness, as perfection or the individuated state, potentially leads to the antithesis of this goal.” The line between concepts like self-improvement and the neurotic pursuit of perfection grows indistinct these days. A frequent sight across the United States are cars with bumper stickers proclaiming “My son (daughter) is an honor student at _______ Elementary School”. Vacuous and excessive praise poured upon unsuspecting children by well intentioned parents does not achieve the desired goal of building self esteem. However, it does invite two insidious results. It robs youngsters of the vitally important experience of working hard on a sustained basis to attain a reward. And another malevolent effect is that such messages inculcate, at an early age, the idea that our worth correlates with our nearness to perfection. Waddell interprets the Black Swan through a lens of the relentless pursuit of perfection. Marion Woodman’s Addiction to Perfection comes to mind and Waddell quotes her in his review. Waddell asserts that the project of unending self-betterment will never be enough. The film review made the film more approachable and I began to recognize Nina’s struggle with certain universal themes. My first impressions of Black Swan was that this film was a dark tale about the world of dance, sexual exploitation, and a descent into madness with a bit of gratuitous sex thrown in. But with Waddell’s help, I finished watching the movie. I watched Nina becoming lost in the boundary between a story portrayed and a story lived. Now the peril of perfection declared itself. Seeking to embody both the white swan and the black swan proved too much. This conjunctio, taken to excess, leads to Nina’s self-destruction. The performer cannot allow a character they portray to establish a permanent residence in the psyche. That “All the world’s stage. And all men and women merely players” serves to remind us that there are roles and there are actors who play these roles. We do well to keep them distinct. Waddell suggests that “This obsessive search for wholeness, as perfection or the individuated state, potentially leads to the antithesis of this goal”. It is easy to succumb to the demon of endless self-betterment, individuation, and wholeness. But like Nina, that may be a path leading to perdition. It may be that we serve best when we put aside the inclination to do our “best” work with our clients and embrace the possibility that good enough therapy, like good enough mothering, may be more helpful than unleashing the destructive power of our own pursuit of perfection as therapists. I am still struggling with Black Swan. I hope the conference on August 26 illuminates something about my revulsion to this movie. Meanwhile, Waddell’s film review along with Daniel Ross’s review on this blog site at ( http://ashevillejungcenter.org/2011/02/black-swan/ ) provided a needed foundation for me persevere and finish watching Black Swan. There is still time to register for the August 26th seminar http://ashevillejungcenter.org/upcoming-events/black-swann/bsregistration/ . While you are doing that consider purchasing a copy of the current issue of Spring: A Journal of Archetype and Culture at ( http://www.springjournalandbooks.com/cgi-bin/ecommerce/ac/agora.cgi?ppinc=1a&product=Spring_Journal_Subscriptions ). Len Cruz
The Asheville Jung Center would like to thank Thomas Singer, M.D. for allowing us to republish his captivating review of The Book of Symbols in our blog.
(Thomas Singer, M.D. is a psychiatrist and Jungian psychoanalyst with particular interests in contemporary political and social movements. He has written and/or edited several books including the newly published Psyche and the City: A Soul’s Guide to the Modern Metropolis (editor) which has been published by Spring Book Publications, The Cultural Complex (co-edited with Sam Kimbles), The Vision Thing, Who’s the Patient Here? (with Stu Copans, M.D.) and A Fan’s Guide to Baseball Fever: The Official Medical Reference (with Stu Copans, M.D.).
The publication of The Book of Symbols: Reflections on Archetypal Images is the child of an unlikely marriage between ARAS, a hidden gem of an archive, with Taschen, the daring and brilliant world wide publisher of fine art books. The union of ARAS and Taschen is not so strange when one realizes that both organizations are passionate about depth and beauty. Each is willing to spend the time, money, and human energy to bring a unique vision into the world. The result is a gorgeous bargain of a book which follows in the ground breaking tradition of C.G. Jung’s Man and His Symbols. For most of its seventy five year history, branches of what is now known as ARAS (The Archives for Research in Archetypal Symbolism) have pursued its mission in relative obscurity, hidden away in the filing cabinets of a handful of Jungian Institutes. A few years ago, ARAS created ARAS Online by digitizing its collection of 17,000 images and 90,000 pages of cultural and psychological commentary. ARAS Online and its free quarterly ARAS Connections offer stunning public access to the archive. The Book of Symbols is the newest and richest offering of ARAS which is now sharing its treasures and wisdom with the world. The publication of the book represents the culmination of a fourteen year effort by a large team of collaborators who were led by Ami Ronnberg and Kathleen Martin. The emergence of ARAS into more public arenas has caught the eye of both the Huffington Post and the Wall Street Journal. In August, 2010 Arianna Huffington turned to ARAS Online to help understand the symbolic power of Sarah Palin’s identification with the mother bear. And just a few weeks ago, the Wall Street Journal reported with some fascination on the ARAS approach to the archetypal world of images! This is astonishing because ARAS has about as much to do with financial markets as the great German mystic, Meister Eckhart, does with the derivative bond market. According to C. G. Jung “psyche is image” and The Book of Symbols is all about the evocative power of images to move us in profound and mysterious ways. Most books of symbols manage to kill the symbol by reducing it to simplistic equations. The Book of Symbols moves in just the opposite direction by allowing the living symbol to shine through poetic evocations of beautifully chosen images. It follows the lead of Eckhart who taught us that “When the soul wants to experience something she throws out an image in front of her and then steps into it.” The mission of ARAS is to collect and research examples of archetypal symbolism from every culture and every age. For example, if you go to ARAS Online and select “snake”, you will get the following “cultural time line” which displays by culture and age every image in the collection related to “snake”: The Book of Symbols follows this principle of using images from around the world and every era to explore a symbol. Here is a small sampling of images and shortened, accompanying text offered in The Book of Symbols: 1. Creation and Cosmos: Passing through the Fire of Purgatory, manuscript illustration from Dante’s Divine Comedy 15th century C.E. “In myth and in reality, fire sometimes merely destroys, but often destroys so that from the purified residue or ashy essences a new world may come into being.” 2. Plant World: Pine Trees, detail, by Hasegawa Tohaku, screen. 16th Century C.E. “With a few brushstrokes, a Japanese painter conveys the strong, standing presence of pines amid the grey mists of winter. Associated with Confucias and the Taoist immortals, the pine is a favorite subject of Chinese and Japanese painters and poets. Because of its hardiness and the fact that it retains its green leaves even through the winter, the pine has become a symbol of long life, immortality, constancy, courage, strength in adversity, and steadfastness unaffected by the blows of nature.” 3. Animal World: The Ba or soul bird from the Book of the Dead of Tehenena, 18th dynasty (ca. 1550-1295 B.C.E.) Egypt “In our desire for boundless freedom, we identify ourselves with the flight of birds. In our imagination, we transcend the ordinary world by leaving the earth and the weight of the body. Wings lift us.” 4. Human World: The Bleeding Heart (Lamb of God) anonymous, oil on tin, 19th century, Mexico “Stop the flow of your words, open the window of your heart and let the spirit speak.” Rumi 5. Spirit World: Rock Painting by San Bushmen, South Africa “In the very earliest time, when both people and animals lived on earth, a person could become an animal if he wanted to and an animal could become a human being. Sometimes they were people and sometimes animal and there was no difference. All spoke the same language. That was the time when words were like magic. The human mind had mysterious power. ….. Nobody could explain this: That’s the way it was.” Translated from Innuit by Edward Field In the early stages of creating The Book of Symbols, one of the contributors dreamt of the emerging book in the following way:
“I am in a library, looking in a reference book. The first page is ‘A’ which has a listing for ‘apricots’ — except the apricots are real and I can take them off the page, put them on a plate and eat them. A man next to me is looking at the entry for ‘beans’ under B and he can do the same thing with the beans.”Many readers of The Book of Symbols are finding this prophetic dream to be true as they partake of the book as an unexpected and magical feast of living symbols that they can ingest. About the phenomena of the edible book, one can only follow the lead of the Inuit poet and say:Nobody can explain this: That’s the way it is.
Thomas Singer recently gave an enlightening 2 hour seminar out of Sonoma, California, on the idea of how unconscious forces affect cultures and nations as they engage on various levels. One of his main concepts is that of a “Cultural Complex,” a charged unconscious archetype that grips entire nations without our awareness. Part of what happened on Sept 11, 2001 was the triggering of an enormous cultural complex, both in the attackers and in our collective psyche’s response in the United States. Cultural Complexes are pervasive and subtle. You know you’ve triggered one when a person or nation responds in a highly charged manner. In the 10 minute video below, Tom Singer introduces this powerful concept. Please feel free to post any thoughts or comments you may have. ____________________________________________ ____________________________________________
Justice Antonin Scalia and the other is Dr. Ricki Tannen, a lawyer who refashioned herself as a depth psychologist. If the skills of rhetoric and argumentation interest you, then you may enjoy Justice Scalia’s Making Your Case . Whereas, Dr. Tannen’s, “The Female Trickster”, is a comprehensive revisioning of the trickster archetype through the lens of a feminist, postmodern theorist. She has published scholarly material in the area of feminist legal theory. She displays a sound understanding of how patriarchal structures can subjugate the feminine but this is neither a political rant or a stridently feminist contribution. It is a well crafted, timely addition to the study of archetypal psychology. Books that purport to be post-modern turn me off and to claim the status of Post-Jungian only aggravates this irritation. Ordinarily, the appearance of post-modern, or post-Jungian dissuades me from any further approach. I am glad I didn’t allow “The Female Trickster: The Mask That Reveals~Post-Jungian and Postmodern Psychological Perspectives on Women in Contemporary Culture” halt my pursuit. Dr. Tannen recently moved to Asheville and I am looking forward to meeting her soon. She studied law at the University of Florida (my undergraduate alma mater) and has published on various topics in feminist legal theory. She went on to complete doctoral work at Pacifica Graduate Institute in Depth Psychology. If you are asking why I am featuring this book, it is because when a new, feminist voice appears on the scene, it deserves to be acknowledged. Tannen’s is a new voice. Listen to some phrases from her book. “Tricksters preside over moments of passage, rupture and transformation”. This is surely not a new idea. But the female trickster embodies “psychological authority, physical agency, and bodily autonomy”. That is a revolutionary idea. Tannen proposes that the subversive, strategic use of humor along with a refusal to identify herself as a victim, are defining features of the female tickster. Three female sleuths, V. I. Warshawski, Kinsey Millhone, Kate Shugak, serve as three exemplars of the means by which popular literature transmutes “imagination into reality” in ways that transform the individual and collective consciousness. The books scholarship is broad and imposing enough to justify owning it. But scholarship alone would not have moved me to devote a blog entry to this book. There are books that proclaim with a deep, authentic voice a message that changes my understanding of the world. Years ago, In a Different Voice (Gilligan), Women’s Growth in Connection (Jordan, et al), Toward a New Psychology of Women(Baker Miller), and Jane Eyre (Brontë) caused the tectonic plates of relationship to the feminine to shift. The Female Trickster joined the canon of writings by women that transformed my appreciation of The Second Sex (this was not meant as commentary, but I could not overlook this title). Is there an archetype associated with the postmodern period? Is there room for a post-Jungian persepctive? I am skeptical of any proposition that a new archetype has emerged. I understand archetype as the substratum of psychic content that cuts across the ages, trascends cultures, and plunges deeper than an historical context can fathom. But I want to remain open minded to the notion that just as our species evolves (https://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=how-we-are-evolving) our psychic structures may be evolving. If I have a criticism of The Female Trickster, it is that the chapter titled “Where have all the virgins gone?” was too brief a survey of the ancestral origins of the female trickster archetype. I suspect that the female trickster has declared herself in ages past. The ineffable realms of feminine intuition and ways of knowing has aroused fear and suspicion in patriarchal culture again and again. Perhaps because the effort to suppress female trickster energy has been so successful, the chapter was as extensive as it could be. My objection to the concept of a new archetype were mollified by Tannen’s liberal use of phrases like female trickster energy rather than archetype. Tannen uses the Female Sleuth (detective) as an example of the female trickster and she enriches that example with other popular characters from Sex and the City and pop music. Dr. Tannen has something to say. It is something profoundly important for our time. The female trickster is inherently complete and her proclivity for social work in the world is a defining characteristic. I have a personal affinity for the trickster motif and friends, colleagues, loved ones have ascribed trickster qualities to me. Tannen’s understands the trickster’s clever use of humor that permits simultaneous challenges to the established structures while remaining inbounds. The Female Trickster is a sort of Summa Psychologica of the female trickster. viewed as one step on the long march toward deeper understanding and integration of the feminine it is worth your attention. Be prepared for a curried mix of scholarship, personal reflection, and deep psychological insight. Please tender your opinion on the following matters (whether or not you read this book):For inexplicable reasons, lawyers are the purveyors of some of my recent reading material. One is
- Is it possible for new archetypes to emerge?
- How has the trickster archetype or motif (male or female) manifested in your clinical work and in your personal life?
- What response do you feel to the notion of a female trickster as a discrete entity, recognizable entity?
- Do you have any personal encounters with the female trickster?
- Native American Mythology (socyberty.com)
- Men, Women and Relationships – A Post-Jungian Approach (psypress.com)
- Palin’s Use of Jungian Archetypes [Dispatches from the Culture Wars] (scienceblogs.com)
- Nora Ephron, Amy Bloom, and others draw lines in the sand. (slate.com)
Dr. Tom Singer will be one of the presenters for the conference being presented by the Asheville Jung Center titled, Symbols and Individuation in Global Politics: The Case of Barack Obama I recently posted a blog on the subject of the transcendent function and the notion that figures like Obama carry that function and various cultural complexes for the wider culture. I am persuaded by the most recent cover of Newsweek, an American news magazine, that Dr. Singer is more right than wrong. Below is the text of what appears on the cover: THE MAKING OF A TERRORIST-CODDLING WARMONGERING WALLSTREET-LOVING SOCIALISTIC GODLESS MUSLIM PRESIDENT* *who isn’t actually any of these things The dichotomized and clearly opposing characterizations of Obama underscores Tom Singer’s deep insights and dispels any remaining doubt I have about the validity of his construct. The timing of that Newsweek cover, the week before our conference, reminds me of the synchronicity of things. The fact that this president can be so deeply misunderstood and so confusedly characterized alarms me. Why alarm? I remain convinced that individuation is one of the most important tasks to which a person can apply herself or himself. The more individuated person will be capable of dynamically holding tensions such as those depicted on the cover of Newsweek. The process of individuation improves the likelihood that there will be persons who recognize that from the depths of their unconscious there arise life affirming, inspiring, seemingly charmed currents but there also arise sinister, destructive, rejected forces. These darker, unconscious forces often make themselves known through their projection upon others. So it should alarm us that the current president is such a figure who exposes the individual and collective capacity for projection. Newsweek has drawn fire for this cover (FOX News). http://video.foxnews.com/v/4326868/critics-cry-foul-over-newsweek-cover/?playlist_id=86858 Of all things, FOX News, a news syndicate that has spared no opportunity to exploit the inflammatory rhetoric to oppose Obama, criticizes Newsweek for relying on such extreme and sensational epithets to sell magazines. If FOX News had chosen to confront its own sensationalism, I would be more encouraged, but instead, it assailed Newsweek and the author for employing the same tactics it uses. (Does anyone detect a bit of PROJECTION?) There is less danger for the public to be overtaken, deceived, or led astray by projections when persons get on with the business of their own individuation. To that end, Analytical Psychology has something to offer. The focus of Analytical Psychology is likely to be the individual and yet, the subject of Analytical Psychology will also remain the collective, that infinitely larger field with which the individual’s unconscious resonates and sometimes discords. The harmonics between individual and collective are the roots of the notes that every single person is given to sing. Mr. Obama appears to have a near endless capacity to inflame such opposing polarities (see the actual cover at http://www.politico.com/static/PPM170_100827_domestic.html) In Psychology and Alchemy (1955) and Mysterium Conjunctionis (1956) Jung recognized that the substratum of the alchemist’s efforts was the archetypal union of opposites by means of integrating opposing polarities. I am more eager than before for the September 10, 2010 conference where these themes will be explored. Registration is still open at http://ashevillejungcenter.org/symbols-individuation-global-politics-case-of-barack-obama-registration/ Len Cruz, MD