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Author Topic: Introduction to the Core Complex subforum  (Read 1908 times)

Matt Koeske

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Introduction to the Core Complex subforum
« on: April 21, 2009, 01:14:03 PM »

I suppose this section of the forum is long overdue . . . and far too late in the coming.  It was never my intention to create a new psychological theory.  Even in the tribal splintering that led to the foundation of Useless Science, it didn't occur to me that I would ever be working outside of the Jungian tradition.  But over the last couple years, my flailing attempts to wrestle with and generally "agonize" Jungianism has spawned enough non- or quasi-Jungian material to justify my conscious effort to better organize and communicate it.  To the casual reader of this forum, it must seem as though my wild accusations and digressive ramblings are half-mad babble . . . especially because I have continuously revised my thinking and many of my positions since the beginning of this site.  To the more avid and careful reader (I love you :)!), my "body of work" must seem so scattered and un-formulated that my half-mad, digressive babble probably seems much more mystical and complicated than it really is.

My hope is to start moving toward elegance . . . and this hope is partly born from a grudging acceptance that I will never be a conventional or acceptable Jungian (even if I continue to posture and claim the title of Posterboy for the Jungian Good Son).  I can only also hope that my decision to start writing some of my posts within a growing context of my original thought is not merely an act of arrogance (or that it is at least a "healthy arrogance").  It may take some months (maybe years) before I am able to transcribe and rework enough of my developing theories to warrant a separate category for them, but I have developed them in my head, my un-posted writing, and scattered willy-nilly throughout this forum well enough to see it as reasonable to create such a category.  By rough estimate, I'd say that I have written at least 2000 standard pages of text developing, describing, and refining my theory over the last two years.  I have been fairy negligent (maybe lazy) in this writing by sticking to a very informal, blogger-like approach.  But this has gone on long enough that I think I have done my ideas a disservice . . . and so I'd like to start making them more communicable.

I don't have an official name for my psychological theory.  I don't really have a fully developed theory of psyche.  What I have is a basic theory of the psychodynamics surrounding individuation . . . but a great deal of other applications can be extrapolated from this.  For instance, I have a pretty well-developed theory of literary interpretation (at least of archetypal texts).  I also have a dream theory that is at least as sophisticated as (although not radically different from) other Jungian dream theories.  I have a theory of more esoteric, post-individuation attitudinal development (which I've called the Work).  And I have rough and far from complete theory-ettes of personality development, psychopathology, mind/brain coordination, and cultural "evolution".  Many of these and other extrapolated theory-ettes are threads I am only very marginally interested in developing.  My point of focus has always been individuation and the transformation of adult personality, and it is only on this subject that I suspect I have anything to contribute.

I have labeled this forum "Core Complex Psychology" for lack of a better moniker.  The basis of my theory is a psychic structure I have been calling the Core Complex.  I see the Core Complex as characterized by a set of interrelated but differentiable "archetypal" dynamics that all share a quality of representability as common psychic phenomena.  In other words, these dynamics all show up frequently in dreams, in myth, folktale, religious texts, and art.  They could also be seen as showing up in culture in other forms, but there they are, I feel, diluted and confused with other, more or less unrelated phenomena and patterns of organization.  The key "players" of the Core Complex are the Self, the Demon, the ego, the personal shadow, and the Syzygy.  The Syzygy is composed of hero and animi (and not anima and animus as in more conventional Jungian thinking).  All of these personifiable dynamics are very specific in my theory . . . and I have been constantly differentiating them from other similar terms in conventional Jungian thinking.  Although we cannot always say with certainty that a specific psychic phenomenon should be classified as the Demon or the animi, I believe we can differentiate with much more precision psychic phenomena by using this relatively streamlined system.  In other words, you won't see me writing about an "Athena archetype" or a "Zeus archetype".  The five (or six, depending on how you count the Syzygy) basic archetypes of the Core Complex are the fundamental categories into which I feel the representable phenomena of individuation are best categorized.

I do want to make very clear that I do NOT think that these archetypes of the Core Complex are innate structures.  Rather, they are abstract categories (derived mostly from Jungian ideas and studies) that can be used as a helpful tool or paradigm for understanding extremely complex psychic processes.  They are metaphors.  I do not think there is some conglomerate of neurons that founds the Demon or the Self.  Nor do I accept Jung's idea that archetypes are some kind of "pure forms" that order the psyche in an a priori fashion.  The psychological and physiological processes that give rise to these archetypal representations are enormously complex and do not take on what we would think of as form until they are represented (as condensations or symbols).  They are not "whole" as we would understand wholeness consciously or egoically until they are rendered as symbolic representations.  What lies beneath archetypes, then?  Quanta.  The components of a complex system that are too small or simple to be identified as "agents" in the way we are compelled to understand agency or identifiable wholeness.

As for the term Core Complex, itself, I remain somewhat dissatisfied with it.  It's vague and it sounds like a lot of other psychological terms that mean very different things.  But it is the most accurate descriptor I have yet conjured.  Whatever this theory should be called, I feel strongly that it must be generally descriptive and very simple.  Supposedly Jung intended his psychology to be called "Complex Psychology" . . . even as the less descriptive analytical psychology managed to stick in English translation.  What Jung meant by "complex" and what I mean by "Core Complex" are not exactly alike.  But they are not entirely dissimilar.  The Core Complex is not merely "a complex" in the psyche, it is The complex.  It is the psyche (or the individual psyche's specific structure) as it represents itself or as the ego can make sense of it as a whole (which is typically a kind of complex narrative at best and a set of predefined strategies and laws at worst).  I see the Core Complex as constructed in much the same way that Jung saw complexes as structured . . . i.e., with "polytheistic" personages.  In the narrative of interaction among these personages, identity is constructed and personality as a survival-oriented, adaptive system is developed and exercised.  Within the Core Complex, there is usually some degree of "pathology" or dysfunction . . . and when this pathology is severe enough, it will color and seem to reduce the scope and complexity of the entire Core Complex.  In this perspective of reduction, "complexes" are more commonly understood by Jungians and psychoanalysts.  I share with Jung's (somewhat inconsistent) orientation toward these complexes or "diseases" that they are a kind of peep hole into the whole psychic system.  The "disease" of such complexes is in large part a matter of reducing the whole of personality to an extremely confined and simplified ("imprisoned") dynamic or sense of organization.  As these diseases of the psyche already serve to constrict the Core Complex, I see no reason to further pathologize them and "shrink" psyche even more with overly-reductive theories.

We could say that "God" is just as much in a grain of sand as in the whole cosmos.  And perhaps it is in this spirit that I will argue that the Self is experienced as "within" the Core Complex, even though it could also be said to encompass all of the psyche.  This makes more sense (and loses some of the mysticism of Jung's "center-and-circumference" characterization), when we understand the Self as non-local and as a principle of organization (rather than a thing or entity).  This principle itself is representable, and since it is both dynamic and structured, it can be perceived (by the ego) as an agent or intelligence.  I do not think that "beneath the mask", the Self is an intelligence, though.  It would be more accurate to say that "we" (the egos) are the intelligence of the Self.  The Self is a complex principle of organization that is housed in a system that has also developed an "agentic" theory of mind or projective intelligence as an organ through which the biological Self system negotiates survival and adaptation with the unique human environment we call culture.  In other words, because there is otherness and because our survival depends so much on our relationality, the ego develops or emerges from the complex psychodynamics of the Self system.  I will discuss this in much more detail when writing about the ego and the Demon.

One of the (at least seeming) oddities of the Core Complex theory is that, despite its very poetic, Jungian-sounding components, it is completely compatible with contemporary scientific understanding of the brain and of our evolved biology.  This is not an easy claim to substantiate, and it may take me some time to be able to do so (and I suspect I will never succeed in a way that would satisfy a neuroscientist).  But I have developed the Core Complex theory specifically to fit with scientific, biological understanding of human physiology, cognition, and behavior.  In that endeavor, I have been very vigilant about not conforming scientific data and theories to my Core Complex paradigm (as is, for instance, a distinct problem in psychoanalytic and other psychological theories).  I have used my very general knowledge of neuroscience, evolutionary biology, and complexity theory as an "Archimedean Point" from which to analyze the data of psychic phenomena collected by Jung, other Jungians, and myself.  I mean to use science rather than belief to cull and understand psychic data.

This is not to say that I see material science as infallible.  Not at all.  All scientists are also human beings and subject to human psychology and its distortions.  My best solution so far has been to use only the very general and widely agreed upon aspects of scientific theory and research in the fields related to psychology.  I remain suspicious of fringe and "scientistic" theories.  Also, in the field or neuroscience there remains very little wholistic knowledge of the brain as a complex system.  I feel that many psychologists (and especially psychoanalysts and developmental Jungians) have misused or mis-analyzed scientific data to bolster their non-scientific theories.  Scientific studies and citations can be used in psychological articles and books like power words and propaganda . . . and too little scrutiny of this abounds today in our field.  I approach this psychic material not like a scientist, nor like a true believer of one tribal dogma or another . . . but rather, like a linguist or rhetorician.  I am interested in what is really being said in what is being said.  I want to explore the subtext with my eyes open.  I am very consistently a skeptic and non-believer . . . and I apply this vigilance to texts and language as rigorously as I can manage to.  I don't want to read a "meaning" into texts, planting some paradigm there that I had previously constructed.  I merely want to observe the way the bones of psychic texts cohere . . . what is the logic of the way they tend to fit together?  What I call "my theory" is based on these relatively assumption-free observations.  I don't want my preconceived assumptions to clutter the analysis of the data.  I don't claim to have perfect "scientific" detachment from the psychological data, but I seek to construct mental tools that will account for my projections and attachments and factor them out of my conclusions as much as possible.  This is a tall order, of course, but I think I succeed fairly well at it.

Therefore, I place a lot more emphasis on logical argument and transparent sense-making than I do on the spurious use of citation, credential bullying, and name dropping.  Credit where credit is due . . . that I agree with.  But I feel a writer must always ask how and why citations and quotations are really being used.  We cannot merely hide our sketchy ideas behind the cloak of academicism and convention.  I seek a higher standard that is not subject to the dangers and delusions of the academic, professionalistic mindset.  And yet, at the same time, I am admittedly not good with citation.  Even though I have been dedicating myself to Jungian scholarship over the last few years, I don't read with citation in mind . . . I read with desired understanding of phenomena in mind.  I read like an analyst, not like a scholar.  Or perhaps I read like a creative writer.  Everything I take in is processed and cooked together with with I have previously read and contemplated.  I come away from most Jungian books non-plussed or merely with an emotional or affective reaction.  Usually only what makes sense to me sticks with me on an intellectual level (also what strikes me as clearly flawed or wrongheaded).

So I remain torn between my own scholarly ineptitude and what I think is a genuine valuation of the scrutiny of professionalistic academicism.  Ultimately, I see my efforts to understand governed by a philosophy very much in line with the scientific method (if not always with science as it is practiced).  That is, how do we validate assumptions about data?  I seek to validate or invalidate my own assumptions as scientifically as possible.  I factor negations, contingencies, and margins of error into my hypothesizing.  I have followed what abides by the logic of this scientific method and been quite ruthless with disposing of my "darlings" that did not pass muster.  At this point, I think my limitations (and the limitations of my theory) are primarily those created by my own ignorance (inadequate data), and not those of delusion, ideology, or a distorted sense of logic (although it took a great deal of work to get to this point).  Taking into account all of the data I have so far had access to, the theory of the Core Complex is a sound and very reasonable hypothesis.  But my ignorance is vast, and I fully expect to be making continuous revisions as long as I am still able to think.  This has at least been the trend thus far . . . although I feel I am at a point with this particular theory where my general assumptions will no longer be disproved by further data collection.  If they are, then they are, and I will start over as needed.

What I mean to say, although the term strikes me as preposterous and fanciful, is that I am a philosopher, not a psychologist.  In this disposition, I am not utterly alone among Jungians.  Arguably, James Hillman and Wolfgang Giegerich are also more philosophers than psychologists . . . although both are certified Jungian analysts.  I don't share many of their philosophies, but I do have some things in common with them.  I don't really know what a "Jungian philosopher" is . . . and my immediate reaction is that I definitely don't want to be one of those.  Yet, I refuse to make any false pretense about being either a psychotherapist or a scientific or academic psychologist.  I am neither and don't aspire to be.

Sometimes, I intentionally vague up this identity stance and say I am just a "writer" (which I accept as true and accurate, but know to be somewhat misleading or meaningless).  It has been a neurotic preoccupation of mine to continuously question myself: on what authority do I speak, claim, reason, prognosticate, assert, or create?  I have no nicely palatable answer to that question.  To say personal or inner "experience" sounds too esoterically mystical (but isn't entirely untrue).  To say "intelligence" or "genius" is rather preposterous, as it is clear to me that many of the thinkers I criticize are far more brilliant than I am.  Perhaps most accurate (but equally, the most grand in its own unique way) would be to say my authority (what there is of it) derives from my integrity as a thinker.  I am humbly equipped and prone to affective reactionary responses, but my obsessive compulsive nature (or wound?) keeps me going back over my thoughts and reactions again and again.  I am the consummate eater of shadow, like a poor fool who gradually grinds up coal with his bare teeth in the hope of one day shitting diamonds.  Or is that it?  Maybe he grinds that coal just because he can't stop grinding it.  It's a compulsion.

But however unattractive this disposition is, it works quite nicely as a philosophical engine.  I'm not sure I convey this odd kind of integrity . . . especially to those I offend with my contrariness, atheism, and moralistic reactionism . . . but it is the impetus driving my theory-development.  Logic used at the expense of credential brandishing is not unlike magic or wizardry.  We have evolved to evaluate information much more by the sense of authority that accompanies it than by its actual substance.  This is usually a sensible and functional way to evaluate information.  But when possible, the most accurate way of evaluating information is testing it apart from any tribal affiliation it might have attached to it.  This is rarely possible.  There is simply too much information to process.  We rely on authority as a valuator.  And yet, for whatever reasons (both knowable and mysterious), I have never been satisfied with authoritative valuation.  Even as I respect and must usually accept it, I reserve a bit of atheism, reserve a margin of error.  And in taking this somewhat skeptical attitude, I've come to see that a great many "truths" we commonly accept are very deeply flawed.  Of course, we have all made many such observations . . . but normally, we make these observation about others, other ideas, other tribes, other beliefs.  Rarely do we apply this skepticism to our own tribal affiliations and beliefs or assumptions.

The same agonism that emanates from me in regard to the various ideas and tribes I've critiqued  is a mere phantom of the agonism I turn in on myself.  Some might think this is a self-brutalization . . . and at times it seems so to me also.  But it also has helped me enormously in developing and refining my theories and in the analysis and evaluation of information.  I can only hope to demonstrate this in my writing (for obviously the claim is worth nothing, less than nothing as it merely attracts due skepticism).  Trying to come out of the closet and admit that I do indeed have a theory and hope to work on organizing it is a step toward the demonstration of this claimed legitimacy and integrity.  The task is more heroic than possible, but even if it's unattainable, it is the best I can do to try.

I'm not sure yet how to organize this section of the forum or how it might self-organize.  Coherence and elegance would be ideal, of course, but I suspect I will use it to work on rough drafts, notes, and outlines of writing projects.  As always, feedback is appreciated.

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Matswin

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Re: Introduction to the Core Complex subforum
« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2011, 02:24:07 AM »

Matt, when you mention the "hero" as part of the core complex, and claim that it is not in any sense constitutional, then I cannot agree. For instance, heroic feelings are inborn, especially among men. The kid who dares to climb the highest tree, etc., is the hero. Especially boys have a strong tendency of heroic projection, as they search for a role model in the older boy or man, who is "strong", etc.

If you don't believe in hereditary archetypes, then you must at least concede that instincts play a role in the formation of the core complex. Hence it is in large part hereditary. To me, this is self-evident, that men, for instance, have an inborn attraction to the female, and this will give rise to an anima complex. The exponent for his longing will appear in his nightly dreams and in his day-dreams, and he will tend to have expectations on the woman of his dreams. So there is an anima which is the product of constitutional factors.

Another Jungian author who has suggested another set of archetypes, compared with those of orthodox Jungians, is Robert Moore. He discusses King - Warrior - Magician - Lover. I haven't formed a judgement of it, yet.
http://www.robertmoore-phd.com

(Perhaps you should try to be more succinct. I think that long harangues can have a discouraging effect. You could write an ingresse that summarizes your standpoint.)

Mats
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Keri

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Re: Introduction to the Core Complex subforum
« Reply #2 on: March 04, 2011, 08:45:53 AM »

This is a joke, right?
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"The problem's not that the truth is harsh but that liberation from ignorance is as painful as being born.  Run after truth until you're breathless.  Accept the pain involved in re-creating yourself afresh.  These ideas will take a life to comprehend, a hard one interspersed with drunken moments."
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Matt Koeske

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Re: Introduction to the Core Complex subforum
« Reply #3 on: March 04, 2011, 02:34:32 PM »

Hi Mats,

Regrettably, summarizing my ideas (in progress) has proven extremely difficult.  Part of the difficult is my own disposition and my quasi-mediumistic writing style.  But the greater part of the difficulty is that my working theories, though seemingly very Jungian or very close to conventional Jungianism, are actually very radically different.  I didn't realize or plan this radical difference at first, but interacting with Jungians and immersing myself in Jungian literature over the past five years has educated me.

It does frustrate me greatly that I cannot encapsulate my theories for an easy sell . . . but my style of thinking and the theories that have emerged from it are very complex.  By which I mean, not complicated, but highly interconnected.  And each interconnected organ is dynamic.  The whole is emergent (not planned as in an intellectual paradigm).  I don't really have a strong metatheory like Freud.  I've spent my efforts trying to observe psychic phenomena, the patterns of their self-organization.  I've adopted some Jungian names for these phenomena (especially those that cluster around the individuation process or the archetype of initiation/mysticism) because I felt that Jung and I were observing the same phenomena, seeing some of the same categories of organization emerging.  Where Jung did not see a pattern of organization or relatedness emerging, I have hesitantly introduced new terms.  This is the case with both the Demon and the Core Complex.  Jung recognized the Core Complex (as in his dream of the historically layered house that Freud felt was a projected death wish), but he didn't see the whole pattern of relatedness to other archetypes.  As for the Demon, of course Jung talked about the shadow and "Evil", but he didn't understand the pattern of relationship to the other core archetypes that necessitated the differentiation of the Demon from the shadow (and other archetypes).

It is Jung the psychological phenomenologist that has always most impressed me and who I try to build upon.  But Jung's phenomenology had flaws and lapses, mostly around the areas where he carried personal and cultural prejudices: gender, race, modernity vs. "primitivism", Christianity, etc.  Jung remained, even in these areas, basically phenomenological (treating what he observed as "real"), but he didn't differentiate his egoic prejudices, his "personal equation", adequately from the phenomena themselves.  Ultimately, this failure of differentiation muddies psychological phenomenology and the result is a psychology that is (as Jung predicted all psychologies must be), an expression of the observer's psyche.  That such personal biases exists is, I agree, inevitable, but in a more scientific framework this is unacceptable.  Even if Jung couldn't differentiate his ego from objective psychic phenomena, Jungians need to step up and make those differentiations.  That is, they would have to do this in order for analytical psychology to have any scientific credibility.

I try to be as aware as I can be of my own biases.  For instance, I am extremely drawn to the archetypes that surround individuation/initiation and pay less attention to those outside this realm.  Also, as a Jungian outsider, I live and think on the fringe of Jungian culture, and my attitudes toward Jungianism are significantly affected by the dynamic of one who is alienated from his tribe.  This lends an extra emotional charge to my critiques of Jungian shortcomings.  But I have had the advantage of growing up in less-prejudiced times with parents of humanistic bent, so I don't think I carry the kind of Swiss Protestant cultural baggage that Jung did.


The way you describe the hero doesn't really jibe with my own use of the term.  I think you are describing something more like male aggression and status competition.  My definition of the hero is unconventional (making my use of this conventional term admittedly problematic).  By archetypal hero, I mean the attitude that valuates or consciously assigns high value to the Self-as-Other.  The hero is a valuator of what is devalued but essential for life.  The hero's journey (a version of the death/rebirth archetype of initiation) is the narrative necessitated by the valuative attitude.  I.e., it unfolds from this attitude and the relationship with the Other/Self it demands.

The greatest source of confusion (especially among Jungians) where the hero is concerned involves the conflation of the hero figure in epics and myths of modern or proto-modern patriarchal cultures (what I often call the conquering hero) with what I consider a "psychically purer" formulation of the hero (the valuative hero).  We see the valuative hero mostly in folktales and in dreams of individuals engaged in what I've been calling the animi work, or the period in which the anima or animus emerges in the psyche in a more developed form with which the ego (the heroic dream ego) seeks intimate relationship . . . thereby kicking off a narrative pattern (the pattern of initiation or the hero's journey).

In folktales, heroes are just as often women as men, but in epics, heroes are always men.  Epic heroes are always men, because these epics are the products of patriarchal cultures that see the "ideal ego" of the culture in the figure of the conquering male culture hero.  Epic heroes appropriate some of the archetypal hero journey from their valuative precursors, but these motifs are harnessed to the ultimate goal of demonstrating that such "heroic traits" are specifically the traits of the ideal ego of the given culture.  They define the personality of the "tribe".

But at the same time, thee epic heroes are often tragic.  Unlike folktale heroes that ascend at the end of the story and live "happily ever after", epic heroes eventually die (and usually because of their "fatal flaw".  The fatal flaw is typically something like arrogance, lack of sympathy for others, cruelty, blind obsession, rage, etc.  Always very "male" faults.  I suspect this tragic element is a compensatory attempt at balance from the unconscious.  But the way these myths and epics are typically used in their cultures is as a recommendation (or expression of faith) that the "good citizen" should emulate the "positive" qualities of the hero while avoiding the "negative".  That this is impossible is not really recognized.


As far as archetypes being hereditary, I do not think this is so.  I see archetypes as abstract categories that we logically (but still somewhat arbitrarily) assign to patterned phenomena.  They are intellectual tools of classification and taxonomy (that help us think about a huge, dynamic, interrelated system like the psyche, which we cannot comprehend as a whole).  There is no archetype-in-itself, as far as I can tell.  BUT . . . I do feel there are instinctual or genetic predispositions that influence personality.  Some of these are species (or genus, family, class, kingdom, etc.) specific, and others are matters of individual inheritance of variations.  I have often referred to the Self as "instinctual", because I feel it is characterized by these more universal categorical traits.  Like Freud's emphasis on "instincts" of sex and aggressions and Jung's emphasis on other instincts (perhaps for religiosity, etc.), I see psychic patterning predisposed by genetically inherited traits.  Sociality is a big one.  Human sociality has specific patterns that are universal throughout all human cultures and eras.  These patterns predispose (but not predetermine) the way psyche is constructed, the way it behaves.  I find evolutionary psychology and biology relevant to depth psychology for this reason.

Although, phenomenologically, we can speak of archetypes as personages (since they seem to appear this way in texts and in dreams), I think they are better understood as dynamic psychic processes.  When I said that labeling of archetypes was arbitrary above, I meant this mostly because the snapshot of a single archetypal personage does not really capture the dynamic process at work.  To understand archetypal processes, we have to understand the patterned relationships among core archetypes.  We can't for instance adequately understand the anima as a set of traits fixed to a female personage (and as aspects of some phantasmal "Feminine").  The anima needs to be understood in the context of its patterned relationships with the hero, the Demon, the shadow, and the Self (and also other archetypal variants like the Mother and the Child or puer).  Abstracting archetypal personages from their narrative, relational context can help us analyze them, but it can also be very misleading.  If we don't recognize that this abstraction is like an attempt to understand a human being outside of his or her culture or any animal without relation to its habitat or environmental niche, then we end up with a distorted theory of archetypes (which is precisely what I think Jungian archetype theories today are).

So the unsatisfactory term I've used at times, Core Complex, is an attempt to understand the interrelationship and typical narrative of these core archetypes (Self, Demon, hero, animi, personal shadow, and ego).  Although it becomes very complex, I just don't see that any of these archetypal personages can be understood outside of their relationship to the other core archetypes.  Attempts to do so lead to a very romantic version of the psyche where we have little autonomous people running around inside our heads (each with whole "minds" of their own).  Seeing this grand psychic drama can be helpful as a first step (away from the belief that we control our psyches, which are "me" and have no Otherness), but I think we have to eventually begin to see the archetypal patterns in the psyche as aspects of a complex dynamic system structured not like a group of personages but more like an ecosystem.

It is our inherited nature to related to things that suggest "agency" as autonomous minds or personages.  A psychological phenomenology demands that we observe this accurately.  But this theory of mind is also a bias of the mechanism we are using to observe, and that bias has to be factored during an analysis of the phenomena.  Factoring out this bias as much as we can, I think we end up seeing a complex dynamic system composed of interrelating processes . . . and this model helps us better understand aspects of archetypal behavior and manifestation that were distorted by interpreting them as the interactions of personages.


I read Robert Moore's King, Warrior, Magician, Lover a number of years ago.  I don't remember it that well, but my current thinking has moved away from this brand of archetypalist Jungian thought.  Moore means to make these (specifically masculine) archetypes into therapeutic lenses.  That is, he wants to understand male experience through them, and (in conventional Jungian fashion) to imagine such experience as split between positive and negative poles of an archetype.  The idea, then, is for healing, growth or adjustment to try to move from the negative pole into the positive pole.  As a therapeutic languaging, this can be effective.  Therapy is always about telling stories that help the patient re-language their complexes in a way that permits great flexibility and dynamism.  Language can be either a prison or a pathway to or through something.  Thus the "Talking Cure".

But as an analysis of psychic structure in general, I don't think Moore's masculine archetypes are that functional.  Or rather, these particular archetypes would be found fairly low on an archetypal taxonomy; they are perhaps "species".  As we travel up the taxonomic tree through the positive poles of these archetypes, we run into the hero and the Self.  Through the negative poles, we find the Demon and its abusive partnership with the shadow.  Whether therapeutically or theoretically, if we want to understand the way these "poles" relate, we have to understand the archetypes of the Core Complex, the archetypes of initiation.  Otherwise, we are left with pure fantasy.

Which leads me to the other problem I have with Moore (and the many Jungians who propose typologies).  I don't really find typologies very useful.  They can lead to closed, and even at times delusional, thinking about selfhood and psyche.  Types can, at best, function as temporary tools that enable us to understand difference between self and other on a basic level.  But they can't tell us "who we are" in any adequate or functional manner.  King, warrior, magician, and lover, for instance, are not types of personalities but modes of relating to things or people.  And they are not mutually exclusive modes.  The human personality is much more complex.

I do appreciate Moore's effort to lend languaging options to men trying to understand themselves as men in this diseased form of patriarchy we live in today.  But this form of Jungian archetypalism is more like poetry than science.  It doesn't tell us what things (in and of the psyche) are, it presents us with metaphors to employ in our self-languaging process.  Regrettably, these metaphors don't help us understand what the archetypal process of self-languaging entails and how one might go about it.  In my experience, self-languaging (or what I sometimes call Logos) has a prerequisite of initiation or individuation beginning in a process of dissolution/dismemberment and unlearning.  To self-language, we have to first learn definitively the difference between self and other . . . and this derives from differentiating ego and Self.  But this aspect of individuation is already beyond any Jungian system of explanation and analysis I've yet to find.  That is, the Jungian method does not succeed in making this differentiation (even though it admires and proposes it).

Jungian thinking and values are very good for getting people who have a negative or conflicted relationship with their autonomous psyches (Self, complexes, archetypes, whathaveyou) to begin valuating the "great and mysterious Otherness of psyche".  In this sense, Jungianism is a way in.  But I have not found it to be an effective way through.  Through requires initiation, and with the distorted and broken understanding of the hero/animi syzygy in Jungianism, initiation remains a shrouded mystery.  It is addressed in Jungian thinking only as a totem.  Therefore, it can be lifted up, praised, worshiped, appropriated as an emblem of tribal identity . . . but it can't function as a real threshold or active passage.  It's an idol, not an engine.


I'm afraid I can't really give any more succinct outlines of these aspects of my theories than this.  But I use this website (and my blog) more as a scratch pad or field journal.  I hope someday that a more focused and refined version of some of these ideas can be formalized (and perhaps even published).  But I do have a hard time seeing my theories as other than works in progress.  I have a dual perspective on them.  My primary inclination is to feel that I know very little and to orient myself to learning more and experimenting creatively with my growing thought and writing (via harangues, as you say).  Out of this expressive experimentation, I continue to learn much and to constantly revise and rework as the data demand.  I don't know if there is an end product I am working blindly toward.  I am too blind to know, and this blindness is in some ways quite functional.  Perhaps the work is endless (as any "science" should be, useless or otherwise).

But at other times, I stretch and look back at what I have left in my wake of furious haranguing, and I see (objectively, I think) that I have learned quite a bit and have a lot to say, even a lot of rather formalized and consistent things.  And that tempts me again and again to want to formalize even more, put it all into essays and books for some form of publication.  It would be a waste not to do this (I grumble to myself, quite rationally).  It becomes quite an inner struggle.  I think I am working gradually toward crystallization, refinement, and formalization.  But I also see many of my desires to demand this of myself as counterproductive.  I think I am doing "good work".  I hope eventually this work will be of use to others.  I am very devoted to making it so, which is why I spend so much time thinking and revising and arguing with demons and angels and not professing and publishing.  Eventually, as I learned with my poetry writing, you have to let go, let the little bird out of the nest to fly or fall (or, probably, a bit of both).  In contrast to my poetry book (which took me seven years of writing and revision before I let it fly), my work in psychology is still immature.  It would be nice to have a cut diamond in five years rather than 20, but I'm not sure I have the final say.  Emergence can be the product of struggles between environment and Self . . . those two great Others.  As a member of the "audience", I'm anxious to see what happens.

Best,
Matt
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You can always come back, but you canít come back all the way.

   [Bob Dylan,"Mississippi]

Keri

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Re: Introduction to the Core Complex subforum
« Reply #4 on: March 04, 2011, 04:08:39 PM »

Dear Mats,

I think I owe you an apology.  I wrote that out of frustration, which you are certainly not the sole source for, so to the extent that I would take my frustration out on you, I apologize. 

I wrote it because I felt frustrated at the misunderstandings but also because I interpreted the comment about succinctness as rudeness.  Itís not that I feel you should read everything here or understand it (if thatís even possible) or that you should care about it at all.  But it seems to me that it would be like me going to your website, not really reading much there, but then saying you did a bad job expressing yourself.  If I found it interesting and wanted to understand it, I would read it carefully and do my best (even if I might eventually misunderstand you through my own deficiencies in understanding or your deficiencies in communicating).  If I did not find it interesting, I would not read it, but then I would not comment on how I feel you should do it better.

But if you actually meant your comment as constructive criticism, as an expression of what you would like or what you feel would be helpful, then please accept my sincere apologies.  And, of course, it was my personal reaction to what you wrote and not a reflection of anyone else.  I hope it doesnít discourage your further participation here.

Sincerely,
Keri
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"The problem's not that the truth is harsh but that liberation from ignorance is as painful as being born.  Run after truth until you're breathless.  Accept the pain involved in re-creating yourself afresh.  These ideas will take a life to comprehend, a hard one interspersed with drunken moments."
- Naguib Mahfouz, Palace of Desire

You do not have to be good.  You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.  You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.
- Mary Oliver
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