Author Topic: Intellectual life  (Read 5415 times)


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Intellectual life
« on: January 26, 2013, 01:16:33 AM »
In North America rules "Archetypal Psychology", which represents subjectivism, that is, myth is mere fantasy and nothing objective can be said about it. This means that there is really nothing to discuss. In fact, most people have no intellectual passion at all. I have presented my articles, on matters pertaining to mythology and Jungian psychology, etc., in several forums, but it hasn't stirred much interest. As a rule, people don't seem interested in ideas. They are mostly interested in "chatting" about trivialities, such as the weather.

It seems like most people feel intimidated when they meet an intelligent person on the Internet. I suppose it revolves around the notorious inferiority complex, and the question of public status. Perhaps they fear that somebody is going to outshine them intellectually. Personally I don't experience intellectuals as intimidating at all, but then again, I belong to this category myself. The intellect is connected with the devil and the serpent in Paradise, since it questions the order of things. Thus, an intellectual is seen as a dangerous and disruptive person, although his intent is really to contribute to a better state of things. For instance, I have suggested betterments in Jungian and Freudian psychology, etc., but this is likened to an attempt by the devil to overthrow the perfect order of things in order to place himself on the topmost position. This is the old Satanic myth. Of course, they are projecting an archetype.

The intellectual tries to keep the boat afloat. He dives down and discovers a leak, and says to the captain that the hole must be mended. This is, however, enough to have him shot. He has put himself above the captain by telling him what to do. So he is a rebel who must be executed, in order to preserve order on the ship. Seamen have been hanged for insubordination when trying to prevent a ship from sailing into a reef. Most people, when being surrounded by intellectuals, experience that they are surrounded by disruptive devils who are creating a quagmire of the once firm ground. They start protesting about this snobbish intellectual discourse, and allege that it is only narcissistically self-serving and aims at putting the intellectual himself at the topmost position. So they deliberately kill the discourse. People have had their articles refused because the reviewers cannot tolerate critical thinking. However, should an intellectual acquire great status, like Jung, the very same people turn into subservient dogmatists. Jung hated it. He even thanked God that he wasn't a Jungian.

So, evidently, the notion of an open-minded intellectual discourse is wrought with enormous problems. It is very sad, since big ideas, such as presented by Jung and Hillman, can lead people astray in their lives if the ideas aren't rectified. It is necessary to carry ideas in one's head, in the form of governing ideas. As part of an initiation rite certain primitives put twigs in their hair. This symbolizes that they are furnished with concepts and ideas belonging to adult life. Jung's system has this capacity of increasing consciousness, putting a full magpie's nest upon the head, as it were. I have benefited immensely from this myself. It is absolutely necessary to be able to understand dreams, etc. Above all, it prevents people from adopting systems that are more inferior. Thus, Jungian psychology fulfills an important function in personality development.

But certain of these twigs in the hair are simply wrong and ought to be removed and replaced. Of course, it is a relative thing. If people hadn't had recourse to Jungian ideas, they would perhaps have adopted a much inferior system, or been seduced by Flower Power, and disappeared into the hashish fogs. Anyway, certain aspects of Jungian psychology, and especially Archetypal psychology, are detrimental. Nor has mythology been properly understood.

Is a fruitful intellectual discourse possible on Internet discussion forums? The propensity to project the shadow on the intellectual is so strong, so I think it's difficult to accomplish. An intellectual person must waste so much of his precious time and energy to defend against shadow projections that little time is left over to fruitful discussion. Many people feel intimidated by his presence and avoid taking issue with his ideas. It takes time and effort to grasp a subject matter deeply. Most people aren't prepared to sacrifice that time. In their leisure time, they prefer to satisfy themselves with trivial pastimes instead.

It's similar to tidying up your house or apartment. A resident must be prepared to sacrifice time and effort to cleaning, otherwise he/she must live with inferior ideas present in the house, which is like mold and dirt that cause disease and vermin infestation. But it's much more important to clean one's head than to clean one's house from dirt. Nevertheless, people are very reluctant to get their heads right. Have they inserted a twig into the hair, they expect this twig to sit there permanently. I don't know why it's so. Aboriginal people are very keen on keeping up their traditions. To stray from cultural tradition, that is, the ways of the forefathers, evokes fear. It angers the forefather spirits.

Perhaps there is an instinct that says that we must remain true to the traditions of the forefathers, and that's why people unconsciously view Hillman, for instance, as an important forefather who is responsible for the traditions of culture. So, in keeping with the instinctual conservatism of our nature, which is advantageous in the traditional setting, people have a strong urge to remain true to ideas once adopted. A person who dares to criticize the olden ways evokes instinctual fear and the devil is immediately projected on him. On account of this, it is very hard to affect people with one's ideas, no matter how intellectually convincing you are. You simply must establish grandeur, a high position in society, before you can have an impact at all. Then, suddenly, you can say any foolish thing, and people are prepared to adopt it unquestioningly.

The intellectual must see the truth of human nature and realize that a fruitful discussion among equals is simply not possible. Plato's dialogues are fabrications. They never occurred in reality. On the Internet, we can sustain intellectual life by writing articles and posting links to them. Now and then, a person will take time and read something of our products. According to modern chaos theory and the notion of the butterly effect, it can have an impact in the faraway future, although it is merely a wing stroke of a butterfly in the present time.

Perhaps a suitable term for our present condition is "symbolic poverty". I think it was sociologist Orrin E. Klapp (1915-1997) who coined the term in his book from 1969. Like you, he endorses ritual aspects, "place symbols", etc., and argues that "intellectual information" about myth and symbol is not enough. Klapp says:

"What is symbolic poverty? Not lack of factual information, but of kinds of symbols which make a person's life meaningful and interesting...[At] the nondiscursive level modern society suffers a more serious poverty of symbols, including a lack of: reassurance from the gestures of others (that one is loved, understood, needed, somebody special) - what Eric Berne calls "strokes"; ritual which gives a person a sense of himself and fills his life with valid sentiments; place symbols, the familiar world where one belongs, home; the voice of the past, a sense of contact with prior generations; psychological payoffs in recognition for work; and, above all, centering.
Surely one cannot resuscitate such symbols merely by shooting people full of information "about" such things. Factual, historical, technical, discursive information is next to irrelevant for the meaning of nondiscursive symbols. This is perhaps the predicament of our society: trying to replace dying nondiscursive symbols (some of which we call tradition, some of which we call human relations) by material comforts, technological efficiency and design, and impersonal information."
(Klapp, Collective Search for Identity, pp. 317-23)

I discuss the problem of symbolic poverty here. It is necessary to build a passion for something in order for it to have an impact. Since I am an intellectual I must needs have intellectual passion, as a musician has a strong passion for music. Intellectual passion for the symbolic life, and for dreams, myth and symbol, is a spiritual passion, of sorts. But an intellectual discourse around symbolic life cannot be equated with the exchange of "intellectual information". An important function of the discourse is to disprove wrong-headed ideas, which make people go astray. Such ideas need to be surgically removed from the head, as it were. We need to know how to think right.

People often discuss the dangers of religion, but keep forgetting about the dangers connected with secularization. In the modern era there has been an upsurge of ideologies and political philosophies, etc., which people use as compasses in their lives. They program their heads with  warped ideas, and then look upon the world with warped eye lenses. According to the all-embracing notion of an "ideational multiculturalism" anything goes, which makes people think that ideas cannot really be criticized. Mythology is flexible, since it is alive. Like the dream world, it is not pinpointed by exact definitions. Moreover, it is always changing and adapting. But it seems as if people have abandoned mythological beliefs and turned to ideological beliefs, which tend to turn their minds into automatic machines that repress natural impulses from the unconscious. Among these impulses are nature's own attempt of healing, namely symbol and myth that is being produced spontaneously.

Jung was severely critical of the artificiality of modern life, and the very strong tendency in modern man to identify with vacuous ideologies, and politically correct ideas of consciousness. He said that this is producing what he termed 'instinctual atrophy' in the Western population. My point is that the intellect can function like a surgical "laser tool", well suited for removing wrong-headed ideas from people's minds. When the intellect exposes and criticizes an idea, it will die, with time. I don't think mythology, symbol, and ritual, is capable of exterminating the  neurotic ideational content that has infested society. It is necessary to accept and tolerate the critical intellect, despite the devilish projections that is gives rise to. Thus, the critical intellect can pave the way for myth and ritual. The pathways to the unconscious are opened up again, when false ideology is removed. For instance, the very inferior philosophy of phenomenology has made an inroad in psychology in the form of Archetypal Psychology, which vulgarizes mythology and misinterprets the symbolic life in very superficial terms. It is enormously detrimental, since the moral factor plays no role. Marilyn Nagy says:

"The role of imagination and the function of the archetype also stand in a hierarchical relation of subservience to moral ends in Jung's clinical theory. Through imaginative attention to inner affective states of mind we become conscious of desire and conflict and have to make decisions for what we perceive as the good. This point has been too little noticed in some Jungian circles in recent years, with the result that fantasy has sometimes come to be valued as an end in itself. But it then becomes empty of all significance for human life - a truly narcissistic occupation which would be entirely antithetic to Jung's own goals" (Nagy, "Philosophical Issues in the Psych. of C.G. Jung" (1991), pp. 159-60).

Due to its superficiality, phenomenological ideology only serves to kill the passion for the unconscious. This intellectual abortion should be analyzed and criticized. People ought to remove it from their heads. Thus, a healthy relation with the unconscious can be restored. The intellect can open the door to the third level, by removing the ideational content that blocks the way.

Mats Winther
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