Are archetypes predominantly negative?

It seems to me we are mostly ruled by our unconscious. We believe we are floating on the surface of a variously sunlit or storm-racked sea. Whereas in fact we are driven by deep ocean currents far below the surface of our mind. And what forms and drives those currents? These are the tectonic plates, reefs and undersea mountain ranges and chasms that Jung named archetypes.

I’m increasingly aware of these archetypes within. It appears that what drives most societies are negative archetypes – those arising from fear, sadness and anger. Whereas what forms most personal relationships are positive – love and joy. (Incidentally – is there archetypes for surprise?).

Or rather, the archetypes for love and joy operate at a personal rather than societal level, since they arise out of intense connection. Whereas the big beast archetypes for fear and anger work at the societal level (the wolf is outside our family house – will he eat us up?)

If so, and if we do want to live in love and joy – then our journey and is a personal one and we (note to self really) should beware being drawn into societies emotional concerns.

But then I’m only rediscovering old truths. Give unto Caesar that which is Caesars, and Caritas begins at home..

love, joy, surprise, anger, sadness, fear

The Number Ladder

This is for “O at the Edges” and for his musings on the number 9. Thank you.

From zero to hero, the world is born with the appearance of 1. The archetypal boundary is right there in the change from nothing to all. But, one is one and all alone and ever more shall be so.

From 1 to 2, consciousness is possible. Granularity and separation. We can understand existence because we have edge. A within and without. Quantum mechanics shows that everything exists only as a cloud of possibility – until observed. It is the act of knowing that crystallises out reality from potential. Deliberately to mix language – it is witness that causes wavefunction collapse. It is consciousness that creates reality, and that is only possible when edge is born with the advent of the number 2. Duality appears to be a fundamental property of existence. Energy is the flip side of matter (e=mc2), everything is wave and particle simultaneously. Yin is nothing without Yang. Ich and Du embrace and the world unfolds.

From 2 to 3 – unbalanced materialism. The three dimensions of space, but static – going nowhere without time. The trinity – all male of course! A way point en-route to…

The mystic number 4, Jung’s number. The sacred number of alchemy. The four points of the compass and of course the description of all – space-time (the fourth dimension not separate as imagined until Einstein, but integrated). The alchemists believed that moving from 1 to 2 to 3 and then finally adding one to reach 4, integrating back to one was the route to perfection. Jung worked with Wolfgang Pauli to tease out an interrelationship between quantum mechanics and psychology. What synchronicity then that Pauli’s best know contribution was to discover through the exclusion principle that a fourth dimension is needed to describe reality. The three intuitive dimensions of space plus spin.

Conjugating Jung

Animus, Anima.  Declension of nouns describing polarity,  intending integration

Animare. A verb. To live lovingly. Already connected, in conversation. A dance. Conjugation to wholeness.




Evil, a consequence of boundary

The problem of evil is often cited as an argument against a loving creator. But surely…

Boundary is necessary for our experience. We understand “loud” by contrast to “soft” and so on. Some of the greatest writers and thinkers express existence itself in this context. Jung sets up contrasts and enjoins us to struggle toward their integration. Buber’s existentialist view is expressed as a “two-fold entity” Ich-Du (or the alternative Ich-Es which allows evil). I read an article recently (teilharddechardin) which eloquently stated religious insight as “relational”. Experience is relative and depends on “the other”. Martin Buber as a catholic? (Indeed he writes that Jesus Christ is the epitome of the jewish ideal).

And surely experience is what creates existence. That is at the core of quantum mechanics – it is observation that crystallises out this particular reality from the infinity of potential. I think of our role here as “observation engine” creating reality. At the heart of observation, again there is separation – a boundary between the observer and that which is observed.

It seems to me that evil is something we create, tolerate and live with. It is the particular reality we choose. It is we who crystallised out the holocaust, not the loving creator. As a result we experience good, by contrast and in relation. We know something is good by reference to all of the evil in the world.

But what is this evil and good that we create? Jung would enjoin us to attempt their integration. What then? Perhaps – joy?

The world is right now saluting the passing of that great spirit – Nelson Mandela. He was, apparently angry and violent as a young man. Yet he transcended this and became something else entirely. His will almost alone seems to have delivered reconciliation and integration out of an almost certain bloodbath.

Perhaps, a thought only, the charity of the loving creator is of a wholly different order from what we think of as the good and evil which we create. In that case, is the path back to our spiritual home (the loving creator) – the integration to which Jung refers? The living in the duality Ich-Du rather than the chimera of Ich-Es?

Mystical Ellipticism

Why are all the great thinkers difficult to understand, at least with our mind? Perhaps because reality is so difficult for us to perceive – as through a glass darkly. That wouldn’t be surprising I guess. Our brain is evolved to help our bodies survive in jungles. We don’t see polarised light as bees do. The point is – it’s not some kind of perfect instrument designed to understand the outer reaches and meaning of creation. Neither does it have complete sensory input.

At least for me, those who have most changed my life all point to reality in relation. That is to say – reality existing in the magnetism between two points. As opposed to reality in the points themselves,

Carl Jung, for instance, in his search for integration between opposites “The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed”. Martin Buber sets out his form of existentialism entirely against a backdrop of relationship – his “philosophy of dialogue” with it’s primary words I-Thou and I-It. Teilhard de Chardin saw the process of evolution (powered by love) toward a shared consciousness. Alfred North Whitehead saw the whole of reality as process.

All of these elliptical thinkers seem to expose facets of the same underlying truth. It’s connection that matters, not matter that connects.

And yet..

For the Dawkins of this world it’s so simple. Matter. Of Fact. Simple(s). Nothing there but things. Science, thought and our brains have solutions. Death comes and there is nothing beyond. Love, kindness, a shared smile – all just twitchings of the material – set in the one-way street of time.(It’s not what science shows, but there you are .. better read Rupert Sheldrake on the subject.)

The writings of Buddha, the parables of Christ, the music of Bach. Complex – difficult. Mystical. Elliptical.

Loneliness, an illusion of the Ego

Loneliness. The first and fundamental pain, which stems from the loss of birth. We arise from a state of Being ” a pulse in the eternal mind, no less”; and being born we are bounded. The edge that defines each as individual also encloses and imprisons. The pain of our loss is the absence of connection to all that is. The struggle toward consciousness – the vital urge that drives evolution – is surely the need to re-connect. It is a mistake to equate consciousness with thought or the ego. Consciousness observes the mind and emotion. Consciousness springs from the space between Ich und Du. It is the force (be with us!) that de Chardin names as Love. It is Jung’s insight – the drive toward integration (of opposites).

Without separation and boundary there is no form; no possibility of self-awareness, of perspective. Indeed there is no internal and no external. “Let there be light” – does not abolish dark, but separates from dark and becomes it’s opposite. Understanding can only spring from boundary, edge, individuality and separation.

But separation without re-integration is imprisonment, loss and loneliness. It is the narcissism of Ich und Es – the connection with the material rather than Being. Self-reflection instead of integration.

Boundaries are simply discontinuities. Lines in two dimensions, surfaces in three. On the other side, through the looking glass and in the land of the other – lies the answer to loneliness. My Nation, My Religion and My Life have borders beyond which are the Enemy, the Damned and Death. (Oh yes, and Loneliness). However Our universe has none of these – only Love.

Don’t believe me? Try smiling at a stranger and see how you feel when they smile back.

On Composure

From “On kissing, tickling and being bored” Adam Phillips

The writing is a pleasure of itself; so much so that I suspect sleight of hand, the magician’s smile. Composure is proposed as a defence against and in the face of – “the cumulative trauma of development”. As Freud would have it, composure is part of the ego’s defence against the body – “a form, largely unconscious, of vigilant self-control”. Winnicot perhaps would view it as an affect of the mind, itself a defence against the uncontrolled environment that faces the infant; a form of self-reverence with the mind as substitute for mother.

Beautiful. Elegant. Revealing. What though, of the magician and his context? Is in not in the nature of an analyst to view development as a accretion of trauma; therefore to see all aspects of the psyche as defensive? This is not to blame, or take issue; simply though to point out that most writing about the mind has come from those treating mental disturbance – from Freud onward.

Instead of starting from Ruskin, “to compose, is to arrange unequal things”, where would Jung has begun? Perhaps in balancing opposites – anima and animus – and allowing for the potential of their resolution into a new state. In his language composure would perhaps have been a state evoked by integration, rather than a shield against inevitable trauma.

I would dearly love to know what Adam Phillips thought. Whatever it were, it would be a delight to read, and in itself worthwhile.