Author Topic: the Hero Archetype  (Read 38084 times)

Matt Koeske

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Re: the Hero Archetype
« Reply #15 on: February 13, 2008, 01:53:02 PM »

I have another poem about the self-annihilating predicament of the conquering, patriarchal ego.  It's a little longer and perhaps difficult or "surreal" or absurdist, but I think it captures this entire mindset perfectly.  The poem is much less "silly" than it might seem at first.  Bear with it  ;D.


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A History of Bitings in the Domesticated Universe

A dog bites a man.
A man says, “A dog bites . . .”
but a dog bites a man again before a man can say more.
A dog stops biting a man as if to invite a man to speak.
A man, as if on cue, says, “A dog bites . . .”
but before he finishes a dog does bite.
A man is bitten by a dog as if, for want of saying it,
it became a thing.

“But I said it after the dog bit me,” thought the bitten man,
“How could I be blamed for provoking the bite?”
A dog stopped biting a man and then started again.
Not to be interrupted, a man said, “A dog bites a man!”
even though he was, by this time, well bitten,
bitten well past “bites,” rendering his statement senseless.

A dog ceased its biting of a man as if to clarify any residual doubt.
Suddenly, a dog bites a man . . . again . . . as if for the first time.
“A dog has no regard for tense!” cries a man being bitten.
A bitten man encourages a dog to bite him since,
being bitten, he must be worth biting.
“But once I was unbitten!” complains a clearly well-bitten man
with a known history of bites.
This is not so, for even in the first line of the poem,
You were bitten by a dog, but in the present tense.
“Yes, but before that I wasn’t being bitten,” said the man being bitten by a dog.

No, from the very beginning you were being bitten.
If you think back, before you were even a man, you were being bitten,
and before the bite, there was a dog, but it all happened in the present tense.
And before the dog there was the letter A, which is reminiscent
of the beginning of the alphabet, and also
signifies the oneness of the dog. In fact,
even before the dog bit you, there was another A
signifying one particular man, perhaps at the beginning of manness,
like an Adam.

A bitten man cringed as he was being bitten by a dog whose task, it seemed,
was to bite a man, for so it had been written.
“Why did you bring me into such a world,” winced the man,
a dog bite being given from a dog’s mouth to him,
as would seem to be the way of the world, as it has always been.
What other world would I bring you into?
“Well,” said a man as a dog bit a man who said “Well”
as a dog was biting him as he spoke, “at least a sort of world
where I could be a man with a name, a name such as Adam,
before there was a dog, and a dog was biting me.”

This certainly flies in the face of Nature!
For it was clearly written that a dog was the primal subject,
that biting was the original action, and that a man was,
after all this had become, the object of the action of the subject:
a dog bites a man.
And so it did. And does.
For it was written. And so it was.

“Can you at least make the primal dog stop biting me?”
said the man speaking and being bitten as a dog bit him
in a prolonged act of biting a man who could speak
and be bitten by a dog at the same time.
That you are not content with this world seems
an affront to language. But I suppose I could have said,
a dog had bitten a man, although beginning
in the past tense does not seem correct,
for if I had begun in such a way,
this would imply that something happened before this,
and that is blatantly impossible, and I would know,
since I wrote it all, beginning with:
a dog.

“Couldn’t you have written, ‘A man is being bitten by a dog’?”
squealed the man being bitten by the very dog that bit him.
I could say that now, but not then, for it was not written that way.
There’s no point in worrying about what was,
such are the complexities of tense.
A dog bites a man. A man squeals. There!
It happened again, and again, it is too late to do anything about it.

“Yes, yes . . .” said the man just bitten, full of the pain
of being bitten again and again by a dog in all different tenses,
“but the pain, the pain! This biting is hell, regardless of the tense!”

Ah . . . .
You have made something that transcends the dominion of tense
over language! That sits like a stone unchanging,
or like the beginning of a poem in which A dog bites a man
is written and cannot be unwritten
from the beginning, where it sits
like an unchanging stone.
This pain, if it could domesticate language
as language domesticates what is written,
then it may be able to domesticate the dog,
which, like everything written, is domesticated by language
as it is written.

A man’s eyes light up. A man bites a dog.
A dog yelps, then sits and hangs its head.
“I have domesticated the dog!” said a once frequently bitten man
who had evolved into a once frequently bitten man
who is no longer frequently bitten, although it was once so,
and so it will always have been.

“Whereas once I was the one acted upon, now I am the actor.
Whereas once I was in pain, now I am not.
I have become to the dog as you were to me
before I domesticated the dog with pain.
By giving pain, I domesticated the dog,
and by receiving pain I domesticated the language.

“With the dog and language and pain,
which is now rapidly fading from my memory, at my disposal,
I conquer the barbarian, tense!

“I am a man. I call myself Adam! I have a dog,
I have a language—all is born out of pain.
So, what you gave to me, once an affliction,
has freed me from suffering,
as it has freed me from tense. So . . .
I stand here, newly made . . . what now?
What else is there in this universe awaiting domestication?!

“I am the great domesticator . . . .
The universe awaits . . . .
There is, I say, in the universe,
one dog, one man, the now quite distant memory of pain,
the more recent memory of domestication.
These I call Things . . . .
I am the great domesticator of the universe . . .
which bears the mark of my domestication
like a memory of pain
reverberating into the infinitely domesticated distance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ”
You can always come back, but you can’t come back all the way.

   [Bob Dylan,"Mississippi]

Keri

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Re: the Hero Archetype
« Reply #16 on: February 13, 2008, 03:46:12 PM »
I was at the dentist with my son this morning, and they had Disney’s Beauty and the Beast playing.  It was at the part where the dashing, strong, aggressive “hero” of the village is drumming up the local people to go attack “the Beast.”  He works them all into a frenzy, playing on their fears of the Beast.  When Belle tries to stop him, he “man-handles” her, throwing her and her father into a cellar.  The villagers go off to fight the Beast at his castle, with the “hero” in the lead.  I see this, psychologically speaking, as an attempt to oppress/repress/squash out the beastly parts of the psyche.  But the villagers definitely would define this man as the hero.  He is strong, brave, and he wants to protect the village.  But I think he is the false, conquering hero.

I think, in this story, Belle is the actual heroine.  She acts heroically in that she must be brave (overcome her fear), she must “stand against” the village (tribe), she must “see-through” the Beast’s outward appearance and gruff manner to the man within.  She redeems the Beast (Animus) through really “seeing” him, through empathy, rather than with a conquering attitude.
O gather up the brokenness
And bring it to me now . . .

Behold the gates of mercy
In arbitrary space
And none of us deserving
The cruelty or the grace

O solitude of longing
Where love has been confined
Come healing of the body
Come healing of the mind
  - Leonard Cohen, "Come Healing"

Let me be in the service of my Magic, and let my Magic be Good Medicine.  -- Dominique Christina

Matt Koeske

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Re: the Hero Archetype
« Reply #17 on: February 13, 2008, 05:01:06 PM »
I was at the dentist with my son this morning, and they had Disney’s Beauty and the Beast playing.  It was at the part where the dashing, strong, aggressive “hero” of the village is drumming up the local people to go attack “the Beast.”  He works them all into a frenzy, playing on their fears of the Beast.  When Belle tries to stop him, he “man-handles” her, throwing her and her father into a cellar.  The villagers go off to fight the Beast at his castle, with the “hero” in the lead.  I see this, psychologically speaking, as an attempt to oppress/repress/squash out the beastly parts of the psyche.  But the villagers definitely would define this man as the hero.  He is strong, brave, and he wants to protect the village.  But I think he is the false, conquering hero.

I think, in this story, Belle is the actual heroine.  She acts heroically in that she must be brave (overcome her fear), she must “stand against” the village (tribe), she must “see-through” the Beast’s outward appearance and gruff manner to the man within.  She redeems the Beast (Animus) through really “seeing” him, through empathy, rather than with a conquering attitude.


Agreed.  Excellent example.  This differentiation (between conquering ego and sacrificing hero) is constantly demonstrated in fairytales.  I haven't done an official study by any means, but I am pretty sure that what I said about conquering "heroes" being the stuff of tragedy and spiritual heroes being the stuff of "comedies" or success stories (as we often see in fairytales) is accurate.
You can always come back, but you can’t come back all the way.

   [Bob Dylan,"Mississippi]

Kafiri

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Re: the Hero Archetype
« Reply #18 on: February 14, 2008, 09:16:06 AM »
Quote from: keri
Quote

I was at the dentist with my son this morning, and they had Disney’s Beauty and the Beast playing.  It was at the part where the dashing, strong, aggressive “hero” of the village is drumming up the local people to go attack “the Beast.”  He works them all into a frenzy, playing on their fears of the Beast.  When Belle tries to stop him, he “man-handles” her, throwing her and her father into a cellar.  The villagers go off to fight the Beast at his castle, with the “hero” in the lead.  I see this, psychologically speaking, as an attempt to oppress/repress/squash out the beastly parts of the psyche.  But the villagers definitely would define this man as the hero.  He is strong, brave, and he wants to protect the village.  But I think he is the false, conquering hero.

I think, in this story, Belle is the actual heroine.  She acts heroically in that she must be brave (overcome her fear), she must “stand against” the village (tribe), she must “see-through” the Beast’s outward appearance and gruff manner to the man within.  She redeems the Beast (Animus) through really “seeing” him, through empathy, rather than with a conquering attitude.

Keri,
Let me begin with a quote from A Critical Dictionary of Jungian Analysis:

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   Myths are stories of archetypal encounters.  As the fairy tale is analogous to the workings of the personal COMPLEX, the myth is a METAPHOR for workings of the ARCHETYPE per se.  Like his ancestors Jung concluded, modern man is a myth-maker; he re-enacts age-old dramas based on archetypal themes and through his capacity for CONSCIOUSNESS, can release himself from their compulsive hold. P. 95.

With information in mind, one might ask:  "What personal complex" is at work in the Beauty and the Beast?  From the tale itself, we can see that no mother is involved.  It is about the father-daughter relationship, more specifically a "father's daughter."  The female version of the Oedipus complex is the Electra complex:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electra_complex But the modern emphasis is on the romantic relationship between the Beauty and Beast completely ignoring that before she can tame her animus by "seeing" it for what it really is, she must leave, once and for all, her father's house.  Unlike the collective, as you point out, Belle, comes to understand that the Beast is not "out there"(projected), but part of her own makeup that she must come into a relationship with.
"We lie loudest when we lie to ourselves."
      -Eric Hoffer

Sealchan

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Re: the Hero Archetype
« Reply #19 on: February 14, 2008, 02:05:03 PM »
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I was at the dentist with my son this morning, and they had Disney’s Beauty and the Beast playing.  It was at the part where the dashing, strong, aggressive “hero” of the village is drumming up the local people to go attack “the Beast.”  He works them all into a frenzy, playing on their fears of the Beast.  When Belle tries to stop him, he “man-handles” her, throwing her and her father into a cellar.  The villagers go off to fight the Beast at his castle, with the “hero” in the lead.  I see this, psychologically speaking, as an attempt to oppress/repress/squash out the beastly parts of the psyche.  But the villagers definitely would define this man as the hero.  He is strong, brave, and he wants to protect the village.  But I think he is the false, conquering hero.

I think, in this story, Belle is the actual heroine.  She acts heroically in that she must be brave (overcome her fear), she must “stand against” the village (tribe), she must “see-through” the Beast’s outward appearance and gruff manner to the man within.  She redeems the Beast (Animus) through really “seeing” him, through empathy, rather than with a conquering attitude.

If I were to translate this into a dream I would say that the village "hero" is a default animus figure who has found himself fortuitously oriented at the center of the inner multitudes.  This is the problem of the feminine psyche in its early formation where it has not engaged sufficiently with the animus such that the animus has becomes concerned with relating to her.  This original animus is more interested in maintaining its own separate centeredness in the original psychic environment.

The Beast is really that same figure only through some trick of the psyche re-presented to the feminine ego in a way that allows a relationship to begin.  In seeing the dark side of the original animus a differentiation is formed that depotentiates the original, over-powering animus into two and the feminine ego then takes a biased (Beast over leadeer) approach to the divided animus allowing her to form a relationship with this depotentiated inner man.

This is like a change in dream scene where the first scene is the female dreamer with the popular guy whom everyone likes...but her.  The next scene is her, already married, perhaps, to this beast which is really the same person.  Perhaps we could even see this as an extroverted-introverted dichotomy were we to want to map this to a particular psyche.  So by relating in a biased (differentiated) fashion to the animus as "just Beast" she redeems the entire animus and reconstellates the entire village's people into a better psychic configuration with her as an organizing center sharing power as is the preference of the feminine style of connected ego development.  The divided animus probably must be cast into a mutual conflict, but I suspect that both animus types must be retained (no final deaths) for the optimal personal development.

By the end of the story, the masculine-separative power center animus who finds himself in the center of the villagers regard is depotentiated and the devalued beast is raised in value.  Depending on the version of the story how the village "hero" and the Beast "hero" come to a final orientation would depend on what values you wanted the story as a whole to convey.  But psychically it is the coordination of all the parts into a whole that is most important for individuation because no inner character is of no value in the end.  At its worst, in the inner realm, the most evil character is simply a valuable character misplaced or mis-coordinated by the ego that is in the position to inherit the role of the master coordinator of the psyche.

I wouldn't assume a father complex unless, literally, a father figure was involved.

Also, a hero is one who willingly undergoes sacrifice and transformation but the village leader guy is merely a default central figure that has, without self-consciousness, found himself in the role of the "center".  He is like some natural confident popular guy in high school, who finds himself working at a fast food restaurant after his high school days are over.  He is a mere statistical anomoly in that the herd focused around him, not because of his insight, but because the herd selected him as leader.  The hero becomes the leader through trial and sacrifice.

But an animus may begin with this untried natural "center".  When the feminine ego tries to adapt to a wider reality that includes the separative consciously "she" will begin by critiquing the flaws of the original animus until she can find something, anything to which she can relate.
   
« Last Edit: February 14, 2008, 02:14:22 PM by Sealchan »

Kafiri

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Re: the Hero Archetype
« Reply #20 on: February 14, 2008, 04:43:06 PM »
Quote from: Sealchan

I wouldn't assume a father complex unless, literally, a father figure was involved.

In the widely told tale the father figure is at the core:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beauty_and_the_Beast#Plot_summary  For a Jungian view of the Beauty and Beast where the father's role is discussed, see:  http://books.google.com/books?id=ecQuvwSSgzEC&pg=PA54&lpg=PA54&dq=%22beauty+and+the+beast%22+jung&source=web&ots=GCcnn5bQbR&sig=V3gjPwrMa3DPwI25Vb_KBW3pjJI
« Last Edit: February 14, 2008, 04:53:36 PM by Kafiri »
"We lie loudest when we lie to ourselves."
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Sealchan

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Re: the Hero Archetype
« Reply #21 on: February 15, 2008, 11:12:59 AM »
This conversation is helping me to sort out a few things...I especially have a renewed appreciation for Neumann in all of this as I find that I am harkening back continually to insights I have derive from his ideas.

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Quote from: Sealchan on February 08, 2008, 08:56:56 AM
And maybe to clarify my view, the so-called masculine line of conscious development which is aligned with the majority of today's masculine oriented collectives is to establish the ego as a separate system from the rest of the psyche.  The feminine line of development is to maintain connectivity with the whole psyche.

The problem I have with this, Chris, is that I don't see women being or striving to be any more connected to their instinctual unconscious than men.  I merely see two different preferred languages in which to practice "separation" (more accurately, dissociation).  And even these languages (in contemporary society) are not very differentiated.  That's why I don't like the Masculine/Feminine dichotomy of psyche that many Jungians are partial to.

My thinking about things Jungian actually started with Neumann and trying to understand all of this and trying to come to grips with how he distinguished between a masculine and feminine line of development.  Neumann saw the typical male hero figure and Jung's ideas as inadequate to explaining feminine psychology.  What follows is my take on his work and what I have come up with based on my dream and scholarly studies...

The separative vs connective lines of development are really my effort to de-sexualize the so-called masculine and feminine dichotomy mentioned above.  I think the truth may lie somewhere in the middle of genetics (male/female differences), culture (sexual bias) and that there isn't really a significant sexual difference in conscious development in the ultimate sense.

When I think of separative vs connective I don't think of the relationship between the ego and the unconscious so much as I think of the relationship between personality centers, those multitudes of inner others I keep going on about.  I am suggesting that the ego preferentially develops with a biased (strong foot/weak foot) approach to development by either separating or connecting with others in the greater psyche.  The masculine line of consciousness seeks to polarize others as to whether they are, at bottom, for or against the ego's own separated objectives while the feminine line seeks to maintain in coordination the already polarized others.  The unconscious, per se, pushes both separation and connection by virtue of it harboring a largely undifferentiated (by collective conscious standards) response to precise, real world situations. 

We are left with a disorganized inner bunch of individuals and we may either separate the ego as a centralized power that "orders" the other psychic others into hierarchical compliance (alignment) or we can connect psychic others together in response to their existing divergent inclinations into a harmonious, coordinated whole being careful not to centralize egoic power.  Either method less consciously relies on its opposite to meet it halfway for any kind of success.  The egoic-separative "conquerer" will find itself facing continual problems overcoming a consensus of inner others.  The egoic-connective is still vulnerable to the one intruder that somehow still can penetrate and isolate the ego as something other than a vanishing part of the whole.

By unconscious egoic development, one achieves a biased style of conscious preference.  The animi comes along as a complimentary other who can consciously, masterfully work the other mode.  The only consciousness here is the mutual or not so mutual feelings of love, obsession or numinosity directed at the complimentary other.  But looking at the dreams and fantasies you should see the motifs thematic of the hero's journey and other hero related archetypal contents.  The literal achievement of the waking world other probably requires an inner adaptation of the ego to the needs of the animi whether that is a largely self-conscious process or not.  One does not need any Jungian language just some modicum of wisdom and inner adaptability if one has the satisfaction of the sexual instinct waiting on the results.

So from this perspective you might see how the collective development of the interpersonal marriage as opposed to the arranged marriage actually introduces an advance to the process of individuation on the part of the collective.  It does so not by building up "guarantees" for individuation to occur, but by removing collective forces (familial or cultural taboos or expectations) that would contain a marriage without having to differentiate/negotiate a relationship with one's complimentary other.  The very, so called, ritual void that not having an arranged marriage creates is the opportunity, instantiated in the collective, for a higher development of consciousness to occur.  This development was probably an unconscious, even consciously resisted by tradition, fallout of other seemingly unrelated social-collective developments.

So there is no sense of conscious intentional striving just patterns of behavior-attitude-underlying character to how we relate to outer and inner others.  This view I think fits in with Carol Gilligans' research described in In a Different Voice which describes her understanding of how women typically resolve conflict differently than men.

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Quote from: Sealchan on February 08, 2008, 08:56:56 AM
Both lines of development are occurring but the ego aligns preferentially with one or the other and projects onto the animi the other developmental line.  One aspect of development is this separation of the ego from the unconscious and another is the coming into awareness of the deep connectivity of the ego with the unconscious.

And so not surprisingly, I see encouragement of "deep connectivity with the unconscious" as simply a general animi property . . . not something specific to anima or animus.  The modern condition is egoic dissociation and alienation from the instinctual unconscious . . . and the animi are psychic figures of valuation for the reattachment of ego to instinctual unconscious.

Here again I am confusingly using the word unconscious...from a masculine separative point of view, looking at the ego as developed to the extent that it has separated leads to the intuitive notion that remaining connected to the rest of the psyche keeps the ego sunk beneath the threshold of consciousness.  I find myself still trapped in that language even while I see a need to escape it.  I think there is a further need for new language in the Jungian model here.

From the perspective of either the masculine or the feminine style of conscious the other seems to be a crazy abdication of common sense.  I think of the psyche as composed not, primarily of an "unconscious" per se but of psychic contents in relation to a priviledged complex which simply has associated with it the largest organized libidic reconstruction of the contents of the psyche.  We are what in our psyches is most ordered.  Our egos arise from a multitude of potential centers.  The conglomeration of these centers becomes the ego which is both a single and a diverse array of inner personalities in the metaphoric language of dreams and myth.  An individual can stand for a multitude and a multitude can stand for an individual in this inner language.  when one identifies with the connectivity one seems to have abdicated the centralization of power and is caught up in a web of connections which both empower and cripple the whose power is diffused among many centers.  When one identifies with the separation one seems to cultivate the centralization of power but is caught up in hierarchies, isolation, competition and all the triumphs and struggles that go along with.

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Quote from: Sealchan on February 08, 2008, 08:56:56 AM
Today's modern Western culture emphasizes the masculine, separative and so we have produced a culture of alienation from the unconscious, the "secondary personalization" (Neumann) of the contents of the psyche makes the transpersonal disappear behind the personal, particular and arbitrary because consciousness has rested the libido away from the unconscious to an extent that the unconscious no longer significantly manipulates the consciousness within the greater part of the ego's domain.  So the problem of a well-adjusted modern Westerner is to reconnect to the transpersonal and help to dissolve the meaninglessness of the pervasive alienation from the transpersonal.  This requires finding and exploring the hidden affective elements of psyche and allowing them to undo the separative bias of the masculinated ego.

I agree that this "separative"/dissociated condition seems "Masculine" in character . . . in the sense that it is an artifact of patriarchy.  But I am not sure that patriarchy is really a good representation of what is archetypally "Masculine".  I see patriarchy as a dissociation of Masculinity based in the fear of the Other (a category that includes the Feminine for men).  It is an egomania, a conquering attitude, but it is not an attitude that is in any way productive in the individuation process.  It does not bring consciousness of or differentiation in the unconscious.  Instead it upholds the supremacy of a particular ego-position that is characterized by inflation, entitlement, and devaluation of Otherness.  It is enabled by the provident, protective Mother, which it sees as a resource with which to express its (the patriarchal ego's) power.  But just as this enabling fuels its power grab, so does it create a dependency that threatens to "pull the plug".  So sometimes the Mother is usurped and other times she is feared.

Here we may differ, but it may be a matter of language...dissociation, for me, is merely the extreme of a vital separative line of development.  There is some arbitrary line that is crossed from healthy to dysfunctional that is not intrinsic to the inner psychological process as such as it is defined in the context of the environment in which the individual exists.  when we need to separate from our parents we need to develop this separation, when we need to separate our spouse from our animi projection, we need to separate.  When we need to relate then further separation is going to lead quickly to dysfunction.  It is context driven determination of whether the one basic psychological process is good or bad.

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This patriarchal attitude is undisciplined, uninitiated.  It fears its own potential impotence, and so essentially over-compensates by emphasizing potency and transcendence.  What I think we are seeing here is the death of an initiation into a more holistic manhood.  Patriarchy is man in love with his own might . . . which means he is terrified of his own weakness and vulnerability.  But I think this dissociation represents a wedge between the Masculine and the Feminine.  And I think this dissociation is more complex than "something that men did to women".  "Men" are not capable of this Fall just because they are men.  Masculinity doesn't really have anything to do with it.  A change this drastic has to be caused by something much larger.

The creation of the atomic and nuclear bomb is the irrefutable fact of the limitation of the patriarchal way.  It is a suicide to exert a centralized power by launching a nuclear weapon attack against a similarly armed opponent.  But I certainly wouldn't throw the baby out with the bathwater and devalue patriarchy as a whole.  A matriarchal order would bring with it its own share of vices (and virtues), and given sufficient technological empowerment, its own variety of self-destructive capabilities.  Any one-sided attitude threatens a dissocation from its complementary opposite. 

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The candidate I would like to nominate for this role is Environmental Catastrophe.  This particular one was different than other natural disasters like tsunamis, volcanoes, plagues, ice ages, and meteors.  I think it was population expansion . . . probably as the result of advances in agriculture (see Keri, I got me a knuckleball, too!   ).  I'm not ready to "blame the agricultural revolution" just yet, though.  I see this as an inevitability . . . not a sin.  The SIN came as an eventual reaction to the inevitability.

. . . .

But the creation of complex systems has never been within the ego's grasp.  Complex systems baffle and mystify us.  Only Nature has succeeded in creating complexity like this.  I don't know if we will be able to manage this at all . . . but if there is any chance of success, it will only come through a reliance (but not dependency) on our own instinctual nature's.  I.e., consciousness harnessed to instinctuality rather than dissociated from it.  Is this possible collectively . . . and if it is, could it make the difference?  I have no idea . . . nor any idea how something like this could be achieved even if it were possible.

But what I would say to all of this is that if through the greed of some we came to develop a valued technology that saved this very planet and its ecosystem from destruction by a giant asteroid, say via the use of the very wealth of self-destructive technology we insanely covet, then suddenly all of what you could easily, convincingly devalue becomes divine providence.  The asteriod comes when it comes and won't wait for us to be ready to defend ourselves against it.  We have no guarantees.  Despite all the pain and suffering (and let us not forget the nobility and selfess sacrifice) we might have now what we may need to save it all should the need arise.  I can't even say this is justified, just possibly justified.  I would never turn to a victim of our current social order and tell them we made you suffer for the greater good.  Maybe I just prefer hope over pessimism, and I see your overall take as too pessimistic for my tastes.  But I can't resent the world for all the evil that is in it.  I couldn't live with that.  And saying that in the end the patriarchy is just bad is too broad of a value judgement in my book.

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Quote from: Sealchan on February 08, 2008, 08:56:56 AM
The hero's journey isn't really so much about the separative development of consciousness as it is about the life-death-life cycle of conscious development.  However, I think that the monomyth, as such, is more about the development of the ego as a separate element from the psyche and tends to show ego victories over other inner personalities.

But in the conquering/egoic hero stories, the final result is always tragedy, failure, madness, self-destruction, loss of value, dissociation . . . and in the hero stories where the mode of heroism is not conquering, but surrender (such as in most fairytales and in spiritual hero myths), consciousness is not separating so much as uniting.  I just don't see the textual examples needed to support your interpretation.

One of the main themes of the mystery religions, as I understood them, was that they imparted to the initiate a sense of a transcendence of death, that one is immortal.  What if in our myths we also find transcendence via an inevitable death?  My understanding of the conquering hero is that they typically do come to an unintended end.  To me that seems to place into consciousness, front and center, not only the limitations of the "conquering" hero but our inevitable mortality.  I don't think these myths try to hide or gloss over any of that, not even Gilgamesh.  In fact Gilgamesh was portrayed as a great annoyance to his people, as I recall.  In this sense I wouldn't equate the popular high-school guy with the conquering hero-king figure in myth although they may be related.

In opposing the conquering hero to the spiritual one you are taking the full archetypal hero--which being archetypal is not something to which the ego can relate directly--and you depotentiate this psychic fact by dividing it in two (separation of (not from) the World Parents) with a discriminating feeling function.  You then develop a necessarily biased relationship to the spiritual hero and put the conquering hero into the shadow.  This is, itself, the archetypal conquering hero who splits the world (as hero) as form (parents) into opposites and by dividing conquers.  Freud shortcuts this and says that you have a mother and father complex and want to sleep with the sexual other and kill the same sex parent.  But through the introduction of the life-death-life cycle you separate past, present and future and differentiate the inner characters in time.  You can then try to kill your same age shadow and sleep with your same age animi rather than your parents and enjoy a kind of psychic distance via time from your progenitors. 

But this is all metaphoric of unavoidable archetypal patterns of conscious development.  Our very neural architecture is set to battle against itself even as it coordinates its separated actions.  Just as the male of many animal species literally fight one another for tribal and sexual dominance so too do the same "conquerers" act for the good of the tribe at the expense of themselves when they defend that same tribe they have risen to lead.  We must split the psyche in order to relate to it.  But even as we so conquer and divide we also self-create the wound.  At first this is all done without a full awareness of the underlying reality.  But later in life, via individuation, we reveal this archetypal story to ourselves.

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Quote from: Sealchan on February 08, 2008, 08:56:56 AM
The benchmark for successful ego development in this light is simultaneously the instinctual world and the collective world through which one must negotiate.  But for those of us who are looking beyond the collective's obvious solutions to life, we need to dig deeper.  This is where I think that the alchemical, individuation motifs come to the fore.  Now that we have our ego-consciousness as a separate container or alchemical workshop where mind and matter are two different things (a necessary pre-requisite) now we can do the work of re-uniting, re-valuating what was lost in the first phase of development.

OK.  But in the alchemical allegories, the initial separation of spirit from matter is accomplished through surrender and dissolution.  The ego's will is harnessed to the Will of the Self.  And the spirit extracted from Matter is exalted and considered the thing of greatest worth, the Philosopher's Stone . . . which is the "perfected" or restored/revaluated prima materia.  Alchemy shows a process of extracting valuated spirit . . . whereas as with the conquering, Gilgameshian attitude I gave as an example above, Matter is superficially conquered and spirit is lost/devalued.  Never in the alchemical work is Matter or any other element devalued.  Even the basest things are raised up, praised, and imbued with value.

I think you take the alchemical myth as the whole developmental process of the psyche.  But you can't engage in this myth until after you have developed consciousness.  Alchemy is all about a self-conscious spiritual practice, but there is a huge realm of the un-self-conscious developmental process.  The alchemical motifs can find their antecedents in the earlier mythic stories of course because buried in the old stories are the secrets we discover later as the objective realities of the psyche.  But before we can "surrender" and dissolved we must be born into matter, into body and also separate via self-creation as spirit from that matter.  Only after we conquer can we then "surrender", only after we form can we dissolve.  i think you missing the whole pre-individuation developmental process.  I can be read in one's dreams and fantasies and mythic preferences.  It is precisely this aspect of the psyche that Jung explored in himself during the so-called "fallow years" which were after he wrote Symbols of Transformation which is the foundation in psychology (not to eclipse the probably more vital role that previous comparative anthropology played) for the hero's journey.  It was the application of this un-self-conscious truth that we are on the hero's journey before we even know it that lead Jung to say, hey I better figure out how this is playing within myself.

Of course, you know the motifs of your own story and you feel you have worked through important milestones.  But you may not realize that your psyche was already doing the Work before you became self-consciously involved.  Because you don't seem to intuit this, you come off, from my perspective, as devaluing the whole natural and cultural evolutionary process that brought you personally and us collectively to the point at which we now stand. 

We stand at the current end of the past evolutionary process, a process as full of meaning and intelligence as the alchemical one.  And evolution doesn't mean right or fair.  Was it fair that the dinosaurs all had to die off?  Well, they weren't smart enough to build rockets that could take them to better places so they died.  That is evolution.  We are smart enough but we might be stupid enough to aim those same rockets at ourselves.  That too is evolution.  Nature will leave us be for millions of years and then deliver the smackdown killing us all if we don't move quick enough.  Fuck you nature! I say sometimes even as I am a loving nature photographer. 

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The alchemists were very specific about the idea that "only Nature can master Nature" . . . not human/egoic will.  They constantly warn that those who do not rely on Nature to drive the Work are bound to fail.

I once wrote a poem or too that made the point that our children need old growth trees...cut down to make them paper for school.  I came up with that while immersing myself in nature via an extended bicycle tour down the Pacific coast.  I was in Forks, Washington at the time, one of the centers, out West of the sometimes competing interests of environmentalists and...well, people who need paper and wood products.  At some point you have to ask the question "what is and what is not Nature?"  When do my needs or desires, channeled as they are by the society in which I live with its various technologies, become not an expression of the natural?

I figure if I was given the gift of intelligence and the other animals and plants don't move fast enough and I need them to die so that I can sit and think about how it is I can help the world keep from entering a nuclear winter, then they die for my dinner plate.  And as without, so within.

Of course, I am not advocating this mentality above all others, but it should not be forgotten or summarily devalued.

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Re: the Hero Archetype
« Reply #22 on: February 18, 2008, 03:53:54 PM »


Chris, I've written a very long and detailed reply to your last post (which I'll break up more or less arbitrarily into multiple posts).  I'm not sure how much use there was in doing this, because I'm not sure there is a place of synthesis between our contrasting attitudes or philosophies.  Still, I am going to make my arguments.  Ideally, if either of our arguments can't bear fruit through reasoning alone, data could be provided to supplement a person's position.  But I'm not sure that the accumulation and organization of such data would be worth the effort.  Data is just as easy to ignore as reason.  And a lot of data in this more philosophical subject matter can be interpreted in various ways (necessitating more and more data in a process that swells into a tide of minutia).  And ultimately, reason should suffice if it is constructed solidly enough.

In general, I am inclined to say that instead of debating many of these things with me, you would be better off turning to and reading almost any piece of Jungian writing that touches on these issues.  Despite your Neumannian orientation, I don't think that your general thrust is compatible with Jungian thinking.  Which is, of course, perfectly fine.  Your opinion of the conquering ego/hero is in contrast with everything I've gotten out of Jungian literature . . . and I am not going to influence you if Jung and the Jungians could not.  My main concern (perhaps distant hope) is that you have merely misinterpreted or misunderstood the conventional Jungian line of reasoning on this topic . . . and that then maybe I could find a way to make the Jungian argument more sensible or overt.

But it seems more likely to me that you have consciously deviated from conventional Jungian thinking about the hero.  In which case, nothing I say is likely to make any more sense out of that argument.  If that is the case, though, I would like to suggest that the greater burden of "proof" is on you in this situation.  That is, if you are contradicting a mainstay of Jungian thinking, it isn't me that should really have to bend over backwards to construct arguments that you can understand.  You are really in the position in which you have to hard-sell your own "new and improved" Jungianism door to door.  And I'm saying that not as a brush off, but as one who is very much this kind of door to door Jungian revisionist.  The reason I am always going into such detail and devoting so much of my writing to argument and disagreement is that I understand that I am offering something different.  And that demands some kind of explanation or salesmanship for the value of this difference.  I get so stuck in this mode as the Willy Loman of Jungian route, that I don't realize right away when I don't need to sell, because somebody else is trying to convince me to buy.

But my arguments below are still filled with my characteristic and compulsive sales pitch.  Partly because I am delineating subtle differences between my position and the conventional Jungian position, and partly because I worry that your attitude that so highly values the conquering ego is ultimately self-limiting if not self-destructive.  So I'll make this pitch for what it's worth.


My thinking about things Jungian actually started with Neumann and trying to understand all of this and trying to come to grips with how he distinguished between a masculine and feminine line of development.  Neumann saw the typical male hero figure and Jung's ideas as inadequate to explaining feminine psychology.

My reading of Neumann has been limited to Amor and Psyche and a number of excerpts (mostly from The Origins and History of Consciousness).  I've mostly read about Neumann from other Jungians.  My impression (perhaps erroneous) is that Neumann has fallen out of favor with mainstream Jungians, who perhaps find him overly intellectual and more philosophical/theoretical than experiential/clinical.  I can't say whether or not I would agree. 

Giegerich takes Neumann to task severely in one of his books.  I came away from that article feeling distanced from both men's arguments, though.  I'll find the chapter and scan it for you; you can see what you think.

Here's an article praising Neumann by Camille Paglia: http://www.bu.edu/arion/Volume13/13.3/Camille/Paglia.htm.  She has some basic, but astute things to say . . . mostly about the deficiencies of a postmodernism that ignores Jungian and Neumannian theories altogether.  Paglia summarizes Neumann's proposed stages of feminine development as follows:

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Neumann laid out what he theorized to be four fundamental stages in women's psychological development. The first is an undifferentiated matrix or psychic unity where the ego and the unconscious are still fused. He called this stage matriarchal and symbolized it as the uroboros, an ancient symbol of a snake biting its tail, both devouring and giving birth to itself, an image of either solipsism or fertility. In the second stage, there is spiritual invasion and domination by the Great Father archetype (associated with rationalism and monotheism), who is perceived as a destroyer or rapist. A gloss here might be William Blake's peculiar, haunting poem, “The Sick Rose,” where a ruthlessly phallic “invisible worm . . . flies in the night / In the howling storm” to “destroy” a virginal rose's passively self-enclosed “bed / Of crimson joy.” In the engraved plates of The Songs of Innocence and of Experience (1789, 1794), Blake, like Neumann, is picturing an unfolding series of spiritual and psychosexual states.

In his third developmental stage, Neumann embodies the masculine in a normative individual, a rescuing hero who liberates the young woman from the controlling father but yokes her to conventional marriage under new male authority. Sex roles are polarized, with masculinity and femininity mutually exclusive. Neumann's fourth and final stage has feminist implications: here the mature woman discovers her authentic self and voice. As she borrows from the masculine, sex roles are blurred.


I'm not sure what to say about this.  Although I am not inclined to see these stages as anything but a fairly restrictive, perhaps even deceptive paradigm, it's true that the focus of my own writing and thinking would be on the 4th stage and "beyond".  I've never been driven to read any more of Neumann previously, although a desire to understand you better is some motivation.  But I'm not sure Neumann would really help all that much with that.  And I'm not sure I want to get into a critique of Neumannian thinking (or a critique of your interpretation of it).


The separative vs connective lines of development are really my effort to de-sexualize the so-called masculine and feminine dichotomy mentioned above.  I think the truth may lie somewhere in the middle of genetics (male/female differences), culture (sexual bias) and that there isn't really a significant sexual difference in conscious development in the ultimate sense.

That confuses me, because I thought this was one of the things we disagreed about.  The bolded line above pretty much represents my opinion, too.  But if one believes this, doesn't it necessitate the devaluation if not outright dismissal of any theory that sees conscious(ness) development as having both a Masculine and a Feminine style that are essentially Opposites?

Even "de-sexualized" it seems that your notion of "separative" and "connective" intelligences/modes/styles maps completely to Masculine and Feminine respectively.  My thinking would be, in order to truly "de-sexualize" concepts like a separative and a connective mode of consciousness or consciousness development, we would have to state that these styles of intelligence are both equally represented in men and in women.  Not that women tend to be more "connective" and men more "separative" . . . as you have clearly stated to me in the past.

But even de-sexualized, I'm not sure that this is the ideal paradigm through which to talk about consciousness.  In fact, I don't think this theory can be de-sexualized, because I think that the theory determines or demands its own mindset.  I.e., that the mindset/perspective behind this theory is seeing consciousness from what I would consider a "patriarchal-egoic" perspective.  It is the patriarchal perspective that valuates separation as a "masculine mode" and sees connection as its Opposite and compliment . . . therefore, feminine.

I'm not sure, though, that the patriarchal ego is able to see this clearly.  I.e., it sees things inherently as "like me" and "not like me" . . . where the "like me" is masculine in the patriarchal sense.  I'm saying that this patriarchal ego doesn't get outside itself enough to either truly relate to and understand the Other (the not like me) or to look upon itself from an Other's perspective.  It looks out at everything around it from within and constructs theories of things based on this perspective. 

But this is what I call the egoic fallacy.  It is projective thinking, not scientific or gnostic thinking.  The goal of science or gnosticism is to be able to look at self and Other from a neutral (or non-egoic) perspective.  So, in science, we have made progress by trying to understand the behavior of matter and material things from what is essentially the perspective of Nature itself.  So, "projective sciences" like alchemy are discarded for non-egoic sciences like chemistry.  The problem of this, as the Jungians lament, is that soul is lost, human psychology and our ability to relate to it "directly" are abstracted and become endangered species.  But in order to understand matter better, we had to extract psyche/projection from it.

My opinion is that this can be done (and should be done as much as possible) to psyche itself in the attempt to understand psyche.  We have to try to look at psyche as a natural phenomenon.  We have to get outside of it and our unconsciousness of it in the same way that we have dealt with matter.  That is, we need to extract ego from it in order to understand it (where "extract" means to objectify and gain and outside perspective on).  By which I mean, egoic-perspective, the idea that because something seems such and such a way to us, therefor it IS precisely as we see it.  The egoic fallacy.

Ego is extracted out of psychology and studied as its own entity.  As we come to better understand how the ego works, how it "tends to behave", what it doesn't see very accurately, we can then reintroduce that to our study of psyche as a whole.  The study of egoic behavior needs to be isolated as much as possible from the study of the psyche as a whole, or else we will commit the egoic fallacy and project egoism onto the psyche (which, as both Jungians and neurobiologists know, is significantly different as a mechanism or object than it is as perceived egoically).

The alchemists talk about the extraction of spirit from matter.  I propose that this is the same thing as I described above . . . except the alchemists didn't understand psych-free matter very well, so they could only do this mystically or metaphorically by projecting the extraction of ego/spirit onto a symbolic, mystical process.  That is, as Jung pointed out, they were really dealing with psychology more so than chemistry.  Also, the Hillman term "seeing-through" that I've been employing . . . it's all the same thing: a distancing of oneself from the egoic perspective, which doesn't see things as they are, but only as they resemble or relate to the ego.

What I have to question in your separative/connective paradigm is whether you are getting a non-egoic perspective on the psyche or seeing psyche specifically through the lens of your ego-position.  I question this for two main reasons: 1) I see no such dynamic inherent in psyche (which could be because I have an ego-perspective that limits me in a different way or could be because I am seeing psyche with less ego-determination), and 2.) Your ego-position or conscious attitude, from what I can tell, necessitates the perception of psyche within the paradigm you propose.  That is, it seems to me that you are bringing this particular paradigm to psyche and then detecting it, "projectively".  And that it is not psyche in general you are really talking about, but your psyche . . . or more accurately, your psyche as perceived through your favored ego paradigm.

I'm not saying that this is bad or even avoidable.  We always bring our ego to our thinking and can't extract it out completely.  What we can do, I think, is calculate into our theories a "margin or error" based on our own limited, egoic positions.  We can say, "I know I tend to see things in such and such a way, so when I see an Other or an object in a way that reflects this, I have to exercise special scrutiny and skepticism."  One of the best ways I see to maintain that scrutiny and skepticism is to pay careful attention to all the data that don't seem to fit our favored egoic paradigms.  How do we treat those data?  Do we devalue them ("they only pose minor inconsistencies")?  Do we ignore or reject them outright ("they are irrelevant")?  If we valuate them in some way, why do we do so?  Do we valuate them based on how well they fit with our favored paradigm?  If so, is that attitude in anyway credible?


When I think of separative vs connective I don't think of the relationship between the ego and the unconscious so much as I think of the relationship between personality centers, those multitudes of inner others I keep going on about.  I am suggesting that the ego preferentially develops with a biased (strong foot/weak foot) approach to development by either separating or connecting with others in the greater psyche.  The masculine line of consciousness seeks to polarize others as to whether they are, at bottom, for or against the ego's own separated objectives while the feminine line seeks to maintain in coordination the already polarized others.  The unconscious, per se, pushes both separation and connection by virtue of it harboring a largely undifferentiated (by collective conscious standards) response to precise, real world situations.

But why would such a dynamic operate in the psyche in this way?  How could it be adaptive?  Why might it have evolved?  How does it solve (as elegantly as possible) an evolutionary "problem"?  Where else in nature might there be parallels to this organizational principle?  These are important questions for anyone who feels biology plays a role in psychology.

And those personality centers, what are they "really"?  Are they innate or do they develop with or through socialization?  Are there instinctual drives founding them or is their organization random or is it a matter of living experience and specific memory accumulation?  Do we consciously feel that there is a muddle when personality centers "over-connect"?  Can it be perceived in one's thought or in one's neuroses or complexes or dreams?  Is clarity of thought generated by the just-right amount of separation?  What does it really mean to separate or connect personality centers?

I apologize for being antagonistic . . . but this is the kind of process I like to employ when I develop theoretic paradigms.  And I can't elicit my own answers to these kinds of questions for your theory.  I'm not asking you to answer these questions for me . . . but I am curious if you can answer these kinds of questions for yourself without feeling there are neglected or devalued data.


We are left with a disorganized inner bunch of individuals and we may either separate the ego as a centralized power that "orders" the other psychic others into hierarchical compliance (alignment) or we can connect psychic others together in response to their existing divergent inclinations into a harmonious, coordinated whole being careful not to centralize egoic power.

Is it the ego, then that establishes order in the psyche either by connecting or organizing personality centers in a hierarchical, differentiated fashion?  Does the ego have this kind of shepherding power over the sheep of the psyche?  What evidence is there for this kind of power and influence of the ego over the unconscious?

To but it in an evolutionary framework, how and why might such an animal evolve that had this thing we call an ego that was responsible for organizing the psyche into a healthy and functional network?  Conventionally, evolution produces species that are unconsciously driven to behave in adaptive ways; are we so different?  Can our adaptive behavior be said to be driven not by instinct or unconscious drives so much as by egoic choices and willpower?

We know that many of our bodily functions and behaviors are largely or entirely autonomous from consciousness.  What are the guiding forces of adaptability in our societies?  Generally, they are "institutions" in modern society or "traditions" in pre-modern and tribal societies.  Religion, education, government, law, marriage, parenting, rituals for passage of life stages, death.  How much do we egoically determine these things and how much do they determine us, our identities, attitudes, and beliefs?

What I'm basically questioning here is the idea that the ego is responsible for psychic organization in any fashion as opposed to there being an "unconscious" source of psychic organization . . . that (at least in part) organizes the ego.  I have never personally felt that I was able to organize my psyche consciously and intentionally, whether by separating psychic contents or connecting them.  I might consciously observe that one thing is related to another thing in my psyche, but I am not responsible for connecting them.

As for differentiation/separation, I'm not sure that we can actually "differentiate" psychic contents in a way that moves those contents around.  More conventionally, the process of differentiation is the discovery of pieces of clarity or focus in something that was initially perceived as amorphous, indistinct, black, chaotic.  In fact, differentiation is often the product of recognizing meaningful connections that weren't previously seen.  But I don't see this as "creating order" so much as valuating complex order that already existed.  In general, I think we only have power (and even then, not all that much) over the things we have taken in from outside us that formed our identity.  We can "change our minds" about these things . . . but I have yet to see any evidence that we can change our brains or instinctual psyches.  Nor have I seen any evidence that instinctual and organic psychic contents can be "disorganized".  Only that we can have inadequate egoic paradigms through which to understand them.  Some severe childhood traumas and genetically inherited psychological disorders potentially withstanding.

The instinctual unconscious, in my opinion, is just trying to live in a state of relative equilibrium.  The ego is trying to fit the drives of the instinctual unconscious to the environment: human society.  But even this "fitting" is driven almost entirely by unconscious means, the acquisition of tribal identifiers or beliefs and attitudes that help connect us with support groups that in return offer protection and validation for our identities.  We generally gravitate toward what is most validating of us . . . and in this drive toward validation, we build identities based on what our tribes will and will not validate.  In this behavior, I see very little conscious determination.  Although, in the modern world, there are certainly many more choices to make regarding these affiliations than there were in our environment of evolutionary adaptedness.


So from this perspective you might see how the collective development of the interpersonal marriage as opposed to the arranged marriage actually introduces an advance to the process of individuation on the part of the collective.  It does so not by building up "guarantees" for individuation to occur, but by removing collective forces (familial or cultural taboos or expectations) that would contain a marriage without having to differentiate/negotiate a relationship with one's complimentary other.  The very, so called, ritual void that not having an arranged marriage creates is the opportunity, instantiated in the collective, for a higher development of consciousness to occur.  This development was probably an unconscious, even consciously resisted by tradition, fallout of other seemingly unrelated social-collective developments.

I don't know.  This construction doesn't really add clarity to the understanding of consciousness for me.  It completely ignores the biological.  Arranged or chosen, sexual attraction and desire still exist.  Human sexuality predates marriage . . . and sexuality in general well-predates our species.

So there is no sense of conscious intentional striving just patterns of behavior-attitude-underlying character to how we relate to outer and inner others.  This view I think fits in with Carol Gilligans' research described in In a Different Voice which describes her understanding of how women typically resolve conflict differently than men.

I feel like you are taking two lines of thought that are contradictory to one another and laying them down together as if they don't actually self-negate.  Your position is becoming less and less clear to me.
You can always come back, but you can’t come back all the way.

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Matt Koeske

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Re: the Hero Archetype
« Reply #23 on: February 18, 2008, 04:14:17 PM »

Here again I am confusingly using the word unconscious...from a masculine separative point of view, looking at the ego as developed to the extent that it has separated leads to the intuitive notion that remaining connected to the rest of the psyche keeps the ego sunk beneath the threshold of consciousness.  I find myself still trapped in that language even while I see a need to escape it.  I think there is a further need for new language in the Jungian model here.

I agree that some of the Jungian terminology is antiquated and woolly.  The "collective unconscious" is a metaphor, not a thing, and that can become cumbersome when working with theory development.  But the metaphor is meant to describe a thing.  As much as I like the term "psyche", even it has its problems . . . only one of which is its connection to a heroine from mythology.  "Mind" is already falling out of favor.  My suspicion is that "brain" is more scientifically accurate for many of the elements of the Jungian collective unconscious, but we don't yet value the material "brain" enough to see complex thought or "soul" in it.  But "brain" is confusing because the brain has so many different parts that perform fairly specific functions, none of which by itself can be seen as responsible for "thought" as we experience it.

Probably we are reacting (when we think of psyche) to the emergent property of a complex system.  Perhaps we will never be able to do better than a metaphor, then.  But we can trace the elements of the metaphor back to various material foundations in the brain and in instinct-guided behavior.

But, as you may have noticed, I often define my "Jungian" terms a bit different than they are conventionally defined in Jungianism.  And you, I think, do the same.  Probably all of us Jungians and quasi-Jungians are defining our terms differently . . . which is no doubt a contributing factor to our inability to progress Jungian theory.  Hell, even Jung defined his terms differently from one text to another  (-)laugh(-)!

Yep, we're screwed.


From the perspective of either the masculine or the feminine style of conscious the other seems to be a crazy abdication of common sense.

I think of this perspective on the other/Other as indicative of the egoic perspective in general.  In a man or in a woman.  But we are not entirely damned to the restriction of this egoic perspective.  There's no reason that we have to see our sexual or gender-oriented Others as nonsensical and alien . . . unless we have identified ourselves in a very fixed and rigid way.  The animi work is the process of compensation of this kind of ego rigidity.  Which is to say that the Self is not the Opposite of the ego.  The Self holds the union of various egoically-defined Opposites in harmony.  What the fixed ego perspective is afraid of is not its Opposite, but the coming together of it with its Opposite.  In other words, the ego perspective that has become "one-sided" has dissociated itself into Opposites.  First (as self-consciousness develops) it becomes aware of its Opposite (and the dissociation in general), then it moves toward healing the dissociation (with the drive of the Self).

I think of the psyche as composed not, primarily of an "unconscious" per se but of psychic contents in relation to a priviledged complex which simply has associated with it the largest organized libidic reconstruction of the contents of the psyche.  We are what in our psyches is most ordered.

This I definitely disagree with.  The ego is by no means "more ordered" than the rest of the unconscious.  Anything but.  The ego is constructed haphazardly.  That's why it is always breaking down.  The rest of the psyche, in my opinion, being rooted in matter, is the product of evolutionary ordering over millions of years.  The ego is a Johnny Come Lately.  It would be like an arm deciding half way through life to change shape and become a tentacle.  The ego can do that kind of thing, but not the instinctual unconscious.

Our egos arise from a multitude of potential centers.  The conglomeration of these centers becomes the ego which is both a single and a diverse array of inner personalities in the metaphoric language of dreams and myth.

I would question the very notion that the ego "arises" from the unconscious or from various personality centers.  I do think there are instinctual, genetically based drives that contribute to personality (more so than to "identity"), but my feeling is that the ego is more given/taken from outside (from culture and socialization) than it is formed from within like the Christian God forming heaven and earth during the Creation.  But I think it is fair to say that it seems to us (egoic perspective) that we have formed our identities, our consciousness, from within by ordering primal chaos.  There are many myths that describe this (especially coming from the more patriarchal cultures).  But that chaos was the product of our initially inadequate and infantile egoic identity constructs that could neither make sense of the world nor channel emotion functionally.  The ego may begin in relative chaos, but there is no evidence that the Self or psyche as a whole does.

So I think it is important for us to ask why we have such an imagination for this kind of Creation myth.  I don't think it's all that hard to trace specific characteristics of one's ego development to external events and social conditioning.  That is, it's pretty easy to demonstrate how any given individual is mostly unconscious of who they are and how they got that way (much harder to do through self-analysis, though).  Why are we preconditioned to believe in the myth of creating identity, then?  That is, the myth that we have a unique identity derived from will and discipline and self-creation?

On one hand, a sense of contained, individual identity allows one to focus more libido on him or herself.  That is, in the effort to survive, to succeed, to satisfy hungers, etc., focusing libido on one's individual identity is beneficial.  If we are, let's say, alone (or only among "strangers") and out in the "wild", we don't have the energy to focus on altruism and self-sacrifice and long-term thinking about the health and fitness of the group.  When a tribesman, for instance, is separated from his group on a hunt and lost out in the wilderness, he has to suddenly fend for himself.  There is no division of labor, no religion or ritual that will help sustain him.  It's just him and his wits and his drive to survive.

I propose that this is the mindset behind the beginning of patriarchy and behind the modern . . . which we often identify with egotism/egoism.  I would recommend, again, the BBC documentary The Century of the Self, which talks about how our modern egoism has been used as a source of profit by the PR industry which grew up around it.

We can only guess as to why this egoic, patriarchal loneliness became predominant.  It must have been a vast number of factors converging.  Most importantly, perhaps, is that it would have required a dismantling of classic, "primitive" tribalism . . . which I suspect prevents ego from becoming too self-absorbed, because it directs egoism at the tribe, making it a tool of sociality.  Accompanying this would be some kind of detachment from instinct as I described through the Gilgamesh story (regarding Enkidu).  The details we can only guess at.  What we can know for certain is that it happened.  We once were tribal and nomadic . . . and that was the condition of our environment of evolutionary adaptedness.  Eventually we became agriculturalists and city-builders, and this radically altered our environment.

One of the things that the Men's Movement has brought into consciousness so well is that the condition of modern man (and woman, I would add) is terrible loneliness.  We deal with it, we repress it, but it's there.  Dissociation, separation, loss of Eros, loss of soul.  That's the condition of all individuals in patriarchy.  It's the condition of the ego dissociated from the Self . . . and therefore dissociated from the deep intimacy of tribal Eros and participation mystique.  That's why, when we get a taste of this Eros, we would happily throw away all of our consciousness in a heartbeat just to bask in it.

I am far from the first person to suggest that this condition is "unnatural".  But as far as the conquering ego and some of the things you are suggesting about the formation of consciousness go, I see these as elements of patriarchy or egomania (radical over-emphasis on the ego) and not truly instinctual or innate.  These are the social conditions that we are all born into . . . and struggle to adapt to.  But I don't think we can understand the development of consciousnesses through this patriarchal lens.  It is biased, wounded, and doesn't go deep enough.  It sees the development of consciousness through the development of culture, and I believe that is a mistake.  Consciousness predates modern culture.  It predates the agricultural revolution.  And most of our efforts to understand its origins falter by looking at tribalism and agriculture through the eyes of the modern, patriarchal, dissociated ego.  This is not the objective perspective, the perspective of Nature itself.  Not the scientific or gnostic perspective . . . and so it fails to tell us what the thing is.  It only tells us what the things seems like to us (modern, patriarchal, dissociated egoists).


An individual can stand for a multitude and a multitude can stand for an individual in this inner language.  when one identifies with the connectivity one seems to have abdicated the centralization of power and is caught up in a web of connections which both empower and cripple the whose power is diffused among many centers.  When one identifies with the separation one seems to cultivate the centralization of power but is caught up in hierarchies, isolation, competition and all the triumphs and struggles that go along with.

And again, I would see both styles as patriarchal.  When dissolution and moving closer to instinct seem to "abdicate centralization" of personality (in the ego) and result in a combination of extreme weakness and extreme inflation, I am saying that this is the result of applying a patriarchal lens to the psychic situation.  The separative, conquering egoic is the same thing to me.  What you describe are two sides of the same coin.  But in my opinion, the whole coin is an illusion of Maya.  It can be seen-through.  We are not limited to these perspectives.  And the process of individuation will dissolve these Opposites into their prima materia, allowing us to start over, sans patriarchal dissociation.

Here we may differ, but it may be a matter of language...dissociation, for me, is merely the extreme of a vital separative line of development.  There is some arbitrary line that is crossed from healthy to dysfunctional that is not intrinsic to the inner psychological process as such as it is defined in the context of the environment in which the individual exists.

I am using the term dissociation in a more or less conventionally Jungian way here.  That is, dissociation is pathological.  It can be more or less severe, but it is never the same thing as differentiation.  Differentiation is a conscious (or semi-conscious) process of recognizing that one is dissociated, that one has artificially divided oneself up into Opposites that are at war with one another.  Of course, we are all dissociated to varying degrees . . . that's the modern condition.

But as dissociation is a term that describes our pathological detachment from our instincts, there is no "good amount".  We need our instincts to flow through us in order to either differentiate or to connect.

when we need to separate from our parents we need to develop this separation, when we need to separate our spouse from our animi projection, we need to separate.  When we need to relate then further separation is going to lead quickly to dysfunction.  It is context driven determination of whether the one basic psychological process is good or bad.

Separation from the parents is instinctually driven.  It's a different dynamic entirely.  Patriarchy actually (by dissociating ego from instinct) makes separation from the parents much, much harder.  We no longer have suitable rites of passage for this.  But in tribes, this was accomplished withing the context of tribal sociality.  The Men's Movement has also recognized this and has sought to treat this problem . . . although I'm not sure it can be done as easily as some of the gurus of that movement suggest.

I think that the thing we are separating from in the separation from our parents (and from the parental unconscious) is usurping dependency.  The ego needs to learn to act as a facilitator of the instinctual Self, not as its suckling babe.  This is a matter of survival and fitness (in the environment of evolutionary adaptedness).  What we are separating from is not instinct, but our unconscious dependency on instinct.  We are separating from the illusion that instinct will always nurture us, and that we can take and take without ever giving back.  This feeling that we can take as much as we want without giving is precisely the condition of patriarchal egoism.  It is dissociative, uninitiated, pathological.  It is not a heroic achievement, but a childish failure (psychologically speaking).

The separation of the real world receptacle from our animi or other archetypal projections is also not a differentiation in the sense I think you are suggesting.  What we are doing is removing an illusion and reintegrating the "soul" we shed back into our functional personalities.  The reason we project is that we don't know how to accept parts of ourselves.  Removing projections is not accomplished by will or restraint or self-mastery.  It can only be done by moving toward union with our inner Other.  The closer we come to that coniunctio, the less we will project our animi.  And once the coniunctio is accomplished, the anima projections will be depotentiated significantly (although they never dissolve completely, as they represent our Eros receptivity and attraction to others).  The projections are depotentiated, because we have found the Other and reconnected internally with our once dissociated instinct. 
You can always come back, but you can’t come back all the way.

   [Bob Dylan,"Mississippi]

Sealchan

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Re: the Hero Archetype
« Reply #24 on: February 18, 2008, 04:33:06 PM »
Quote
I feel like you are taking two lines of thought that are contradictory to one another and laying them down together as if they don't actually self-negate.  Your position is becoming less and less clear to me.

I have to laugh here because I am always afraid that this is how I am perceived.  I see in my own thinking a constant stepping on my own toes.  Yet, at the same time, it is also a part of how I see my own thinking that I am intentionally "taking two lines of thought that are contradictory to one another and laying them down together as if they don't actually self-negate."

I feel that I am always thinking about the relationship between two unreconcilable truths when I say anything of value about consciousness or the psyche.  I have a certain comfort level with allowing myself to fall into the limitation of how I am expressing myself always knowing in my head that I say this to get at something but not because I think it is a consistently rational statement that I would stand behind in all contexts.  It puts me in an awkward position constantly when I make a rational case for something.  It is as if I am more at home in the mode of telling a story when I write an essay, but I would rather write an essay and make an argument rather than "entertain" with a story.

I feel that with the ideas of Neumann that I have found a decent centering of my intuitions in a strong Jungian sense.  I am aware that Neumann's ideas have a peripheral influence on the Jungian community but I have not widely read in Jungian literature.  I am still working through Jung's works themselves. 

I think that I have always felt that I was off in my own corner of the world thinking my thoughts and never felt comfortable or confident that my ideas were supported by any particular philosopher or thinker.  My hope is that I can clarify my position via dialogue here and hopefully make myself plain.  But it has always been a fear of mine that I just seem to talk in strange circles in the ear's of others.

Matt Koeske

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Re: the Hero Archetype
« Reply #25 on: February 18, 2008, 04:44:56 PM »


The creation of the atomic and nuclear bomb is the irrefutable fact of the limitation of the patriarchal way.  It is a suicide to exert a centralized power by launching a nuclear weapon attack against a similarly armed opponent.  But I certainly wouldn't throw the baby out with the bathwater and devalue patriarchy as a whole.  A matriarchal order would bring with it its own share of vices (and virtues), and given sufficient technological empowerment, its own variety of self-destructive capabilities.  Any one-sided attitude threatens a dissocation from its complementary opposite.

One of the problems we often have when thinking about patriarchy and its inheritance is imagining that matriarchy is both the opposite of and the only alternative to patriarchy.  As far as we know, there have never been any matriarchies, so this conclusion is not very well thought-out.  I certainly don't mean to promote matriarchy as a "solution" to patriarchy.  For me, patriarchy is defined more by its egomania than it is by its masculinity.  It has been an element of patriarchy that men have claimed the patriarchal, dissociated ego for themselves (as, perhaps, the hunter claims the kill).  This has certainly made it more difficult for women to achieve power overtly in patriarchy.  But since patriarchy others the instinctual unconscious and Nature and casts woman into that Otherness, women have in the past had the opportunity to remain closer to some of the instincts.  Especially those instincts related to the maternal.  In this sense, they have become another resource for the patriarchal ego to depend on.

I'm not sure this is as much true in contemporary society.  Women have increasingly been afforded (won, more accurately) patriarchal powers and rights . . . but only to the degree that they adopted patriarchal egos.  This could be seen as yet another indication that patriarchy is not simply a "masculine" mindset.  But it seems to me just as dysfunctional in women as it is in men.  One of the easiest things to spot in this situation is the growing conflict in women today between the desire for career and the desire for parenthood.  It's just radically hard to do both . . . and most of the time, one has to compromise in one pursuit or the other (or both).  During the feminist era, women hungered to get out of the home and work.  Many women were shamed (by other women) for their desire to raise families.  Today, some women have come full circle and now resent the fact that the economy requires them to work, because they would rather be raising their children full time.

But even before feminism started to patriarchally empower women, it wasn't as if instinct was easily accessible for them.  Patriarchy cast feminine instincts into the shadow . . . and that meant that they were mixed up with other darker, "more shameful" aspects of humanness disowned by patriarchal egoism.  As anyone who has been underrepresented or been a part of a devalued minority can tell us, it is tremendously difficult to valuate oneself when society casts your value into the shadow.  You end up finding your power in the shadow and not in the light.  You learn how to work the shadow power to your own benefit.  This is very evident in both modern African Americans (especially the men, I think) and in modern women.  The shadow power of women living in patriarchy is derived from their ability to manipulate and regulate their availability as "resources" for men.  They have the shadow power of everything that men project onto them.  So the Mother, the lover, Nature itself, and instinct . . . these all get discarded by patriarchal men, and they become the primary means to power for women in the patriarchy.  Manipulated with intense drive and deftness, these shadow powers can be used to exert a great deal of control over men.

To heal our patriarchalism, men need to reconnect to these things they've discarded, these instincts . . . and women need to lift their sense of empowerment out of the shadow (where empowerment is only won with shame in tow).  Men essentially need to "descend" into the instinctual unconscious, and women need to be "lifted up" (by themselves) out of its shadow.  This is, as far as I can tell, the very dynamic you are getting at with your separative/connective dichotomy.  But I think it is more complex.  For instance, men also need to do a lot of differentiation, paring away of the patriarchal ego, seeing-through its illusions, and withdrawing their dependence on the instinctual unconscious as a Maternal resource that nurses them endlessly.  There is a lot of "sword work" in that.  The initiation need that the Men's Movement thinkers talk about is very differentiating . . . before any reconnecting to the instincts is accomplished.

Since the majority of theorists have been men (this may be evening out in contemporary society), it should come as no surprise that women's individuation is typically seen through male eyes.  Jung and the first wave Jungians made a big deal of how women "needed" to develop more accurately discerning minds by getting their animus to be "rationally wise" and deductive instead of "opinionated".  That was supposed to be the key to their individuation.  That strikes me (and many other more modern thinkers) as incredibly sexist.  It's all the more ridiculous when we consider that even in the first wave of Jungians (colleagues of Jung himself), many brilliant women provided the driving intellectual force.  The fact that these women were not able to correct this sexism before it got embedded is, I feel, terribly sad.

In my experience and opinion, modern women's primary individuation need is not much different than modern men's.  I see commonly in women today a devalued hero/heroine with the component issue of an overly shadowed animus (or diminished/devalued capacity for relationality with the Other).  This is exactly what we would expect to see from people who have been othered or cast down by the patriarchy.  As I said above, women have had to derive their power from the shadow left to them (left imprisoning them).  Although this was a survival necessity, there is something dishonorable about this empowerment.  Dishonor is what is supposed to be remedied through initiation.  Dishonor is over-dependence on the providence of the seemingly parental unconscious.  Usurpation.  The hero is the drive toward adulthood that sacrifices this dependence and the psychological childhood that comes with it in order to become both self- and other-sustaining.  The heroic/adult psychology has a more complex relationship with the instinctual unconscious.  It's harder to maintain, but it is ultimately healthier, produces more constructive libido and a more developed sense of morality or Eros connectedness to the Tribe and to others in general.  That is, the heroic/adult psychological attitude is what is necessary to make the human sociality instinct constructive collectively . . . so that culture can serve and express instinct functionally, adaptively.

For women today it is not (as it is commonly believed) just that their Femininity is devalued by patriarchy.  In fact, patriarchy dissociates the Feminine into a too-exalted and a too-devalued pair of Opposites . . . and so even the attempt to identify with the exalted instead of the devalued constitutes a patriarchal movement.  And one that does nothing to heal the dissociation.  The Masculine is equally devalued in women.  It has been equally dissociated into the demonic, terrorizing Masculine and the Wounded, needy Masculine.  Many women are just as terrorized by men's woundedness and need as they are by their outright terror and abusiveness.  All too often, very little discrimination is made on this issue . . . as the entire Masculine/animus has been left in the shadow.  The Masculine has often remained something to appease, defend against, manipulate, or mother.  But these options leave no room for the valuation of the adult Masculine.  The Masculine as partner.

The deepest wound to modern women, in my opinion, is this dissociation from and devaluation of the True Masculine, the erotic/Erotic partner Masculine.  And this is a wound shared by modern men.  We can even see this Wound in our ancient mythology represented by the disappearance of the dying and rising god, the male consort of the Goddess.  The vegetation religions were replaced by the solar religions, and these gradually became fixated on the ascendant . . . where the sun was a representation of the Great Society or empire that enjoyed its apex of power and prosperity.  On the long term, these empires rose and fell, but in their primes, the egoic perpetual erection was celebrated.  When they crumbled and fell, some Other was to blame, someone who didn't share the dream or who was racially corrupt, some scapegoat.  So as long as patriarchy could keep its scapegoats in line, it could enjoy "eternal power".

The last vestige of institutionalized religion of the dying and rising god was, of course, Christianity.  But in Christianity, the Goddess is excised, sexuality and fertility are excised . . . and although the death and rebirth of Christ are part of the dogma, Christ is essentially gone from this world.  The Second Coming was eagerly awaited since as early as the first century.  Christ was expected to return in glory more or less immediately after the crucifixion.  And Christians continue to wait for this 2000 years later.  In the meantime, the Christian God remains abstract.  If we are more nihilistic, we disbelieve and think there is no God, God is a pipe dream.  There is no evidence of God's presence on earth or of any care about humanity in the heavens above.  Or we could say that God is always here and buoys up everything we do and believe.  Everything we accomplish is accomplished through God or by God through us.  Every other we smite, every dollar we earn, every new possession we accumulated, every mood of righteousness and vengeance we have is really "God's Will".  And when we recognize that we are in conflict with ourselves and may have acted dishonorably, it was the "Devil that made me do it".

Christianity has merely put the last nail in the coffin of the True Masculine.  It has expertly employed the philosophy of "keep your friends close, but your enemies even closer".  Of course, Catholic Christianity was not only responsible for removing women from participation in theology for hundreds of years, but also for the characterization of women as "The Devil's Gateway".

Women and the Feminine have been dissociated and marginalized by patriarchy, but the True Masculine has been excommunicated altogether, thrown over the highest cliff, driven into the wilderness, buried beneath the mountain.  It is the greatest threat to patriarchal egoism, the thing patriarchy is most terrified of.  Patriarchal women have upheld this just as much as patriarchal men.


But what I would say to all of this is that if through the greed of some we came to develop a valued technology that saved this very planet and its ecosystem from destruction by a giant asteroid, say via the use of the very wealth of self-destructive technology we insanely covet, then suddenly all of what you could easily, convincingly devalue becomes divine providence.  The asteriod comes when it comes and won't wait for us to be ready to defend ourselves against it.  We have no guarantees.  Despite all the pain and suffering (and let us not forget the nobility and selfess sacrifice) we might have now what we may need to save it all should the need arise.  I can't even say this is justified, just possibly justified.  I would never turn to a victim of our current social order and tell them we made you suffer for the greater good.  Maybe I just prefer hope over pessimism, and I see your overall take as too pessimistic for my tastes.  But I can't resent the world for all the evil that is in it.  I couldn't live with that.  And saying that in the end the patriarchy is just bad is too broad of a value judgement in my book.

We see smaller scale examples of this all the time in our society today.  The military industrial complex, with its zeal for creating more and more potent weaponry . . . driven by a government that seeks to arm itself for world domination . . . produces technology as byproduct that is beneficial to social welfare.  Noam Chomsky talks about this frequently.  But this doesn't excuse the immorality and irresponsibility of the desire to create weapons of mass destruction.  An ethical evaluation of this drive has to differentiate this.  And, even though there are numerous useful byproducts of the drive to create destructive technologies, why can't we just invest that money in the creation of useful, beneficial, non-destructive technologies?  This is a particular mindset here that can only create welfare benefits as a byproduct of its demonic desire to empower itself with destructive force.  The mindset is unhealthy . . . perhaps even psychopathic.  It also demonstrates how unconsciously dependent we are on the providence of our resources.  We don't even feel we need to concentrate consciousness on and devote money directly to the betterment of social welfare and long-term, global survivability.  It just "happens" as a byproduct.  It is providence.  But we are not taking care of ourselves responsibly.  Our drives and resources (utterly unanalyzed) are providing us with social benefits like manna from heaven.

And so we can go on playing war and world-conquering like its make-believe.  We are a society of infants.  But we are reaching the threshold at which this kind of infantile behavior and extreme unconsciousness and dependency will no longer be tenable.  The environment is threatening to no longer provide.  The economy based on this unconsciousness and greed is starting to deteriorate (specifically in America, which perhaps leads the industrialized world in mass unconsciousness and irresponsibility).  Ecosystems that sustained human populations for centuries or longer are grinding to a halt.  And then of course, there is the problem of war-mongering despite our growing "economic impotence", drastically increasing the threat that we will be knocked off our little hill of relative prosperity.  The war-mongering vs. "terrorist threat" battle is self-perpetuating, and it will consume our disappearing resources all the more quickly.  It's a mania-driven self-devouring (as well as other-destroying) process.

The point is not that "some good" (perhaps 5%) comes from all that patriarchy produces.  The point is that, with greater responsibility and ethical and ecological determination, we could do a lot better.  We should strive to be self-sustaining within our environment without "externalities", without being dependent on the destruction and oppression of others.  The patriarchal attitude can't provide this kind of ethical responsibility to others and to environment.  Chances are much higher that our own patriarchalism and egomania will destroy us long before the proverbial asteroid comes.


One of the main themes of the mystery religions, as I understood them, was that they imparted to the initiate a sense of a transcendence of death, that one is immortal.  What if in our myths we also find transcendence via an inevitable death?  My understanding of the conquering hero is that they typically do come to an unintended end.  To me that seems to place into consciousness, front and center, not only the limitations of the "conquering" hero but our inevitable mortality.  I don't think these myths try to hide or gloss over any of that, not even Gilgamesh.  In fact Gilgamesh was portrayed as a great annoyance to his people, as I recall.  In this sense I wouldn't equate the popular high-school guy with the conquering hero-king figure in myth although they may be related.

I'm not sure that I would characterize the goal of the mystery religions as "immortality" per se.  But as far as the tragedies of the conquering hero go, the "point" of tragedy is to present a moral lesson.  Namely: don't do what this person did.  It isn't "do what this person did, value it, and perhaps learn from it".  The idea behind tragedy is that our poor choices eventually lead us to damnation . . . and that even our seeming achievements along the way are stepping stones to our own destruction.  The patriarchal mindset doesn't want to learn that lesson, though, so it repositions tragedy as a kind of "sad inevitability".  Life sucks and then we die.  We strive and strive, but nothing lasts.  That's just as much a part of the patriarchal mindset as all the rest.  The belief within this is that, because "all is ultimately meaningless or lost", we are excused during our lives from moral obligations.  We are enabled to be greedy, guilt-free, and to feed our egomania in glut.  Existentialist philosophy (a modernist movement) takes this shadow of patriarchy and tries to tell us that we should not allow ourselves to feel free to be so greedy and irresponsible.  We have to establish our own individual sense of responsibility for our actions and choices and beliefs.  That is, existentialism sees the unconscious drive for egoic greed and selfishness and positions that drive in our social conditioning.  It says, "Wake up and get responsible".  Jung was very distinctly influenced by this philosophy.
You can always come back, but you can’t come back all the way.

   [Bob Dylan,"Mississippi]

Matt Koeske

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Re: the Hero Archetype
« Reply #26 on: February 18, 2008, 05:06:38 PM »



In opposing the conquering hero to the spiritual one you are taking the full archetypal hero--which being archetypal is not something to which the ego can relate directly--and you depotentiate this psychic fact by dividing it in two (separation of (not from) the World Parents) with a discriminating feeling function.  You then develop a necessarily biased relationship to the spiritual hero and put the conquering hero into the shadow.  This is, itself, the archetypal conquering hero who splits the world (as hero) as form (parents) into opposites and by dividing conquers.  Freud shortcuts this and says that you have a mother and father complex and want to sleep with the sexual other and kill the same sex parent.  But through the introduction of the life-death-life cycle you separate past, present and future and differentiate the inner characters in time.  You can then try to kill your same age shadow and sleep with your same age animi rather than your parents and enjoy a kind of psychic distance via time from your progenitors.

Don't you see in a comment like this how restrictive your paradigm is?  It's like it has you by the throat.  This doesn't even remotely make sense of my position.  The "full archetypal hero" is precisely what I am responding to and talking about.  I called it the "spiritual hero" as a gesture of differentiation, and attempt to communicate to you that it is not the same thing as the "conquering hero", which is actually the dissociated and inflated ego (and is not genuinely "heroic" in the instinctual or archetypal sense).  I don't cast that into the shadow; it creates its own shadow.  Every dissociation or imbalance or transgression of instinct (or "sin") creates its own shadow.  It may think that what it identifies with is "Good", and equally that what it doesn't identify with is "Bad" . . . but both the Good and the Bad are part of its actual identity.  It (the egomaniacal, patriarchal ego) is responsible for creating its own monsters . . . and for the fantasy in which it slays these monsters.  But the monsters can never be absolutely and eternally slain, because they are perpetually created by the dissociative attitude of the patriarchal ego.  They are straw monsters, and the victories over them are hollow and delusional.  We might think repression and artful avoidance are "conquerings", but this is mere self-deception.

As Rilke wrote (in "The Man Watching") :

Quote
What we choose to fight is so tiny!
What fights with us is so great!
If only we would let ourselves be dominated
as things* do, by some immense storm,         [* i.e., natural things, things that have no ego, but adapt instinctively to environmental pressures]
we would become strong too, and not need names.
 
When we win it’s with small things,
and the triumph itself makes us small.
What is extraordinary and eternal
Does not want to be bent by us.
I mean the Angel who appeared
to the wrestlers of the Old Testament
when the wrestlers’ sinews
grew long like metal strings
he felt them under his fingers
like chords of deep music.
 
Whoever was beaten by this Angel
(who often simply declined the fight)
went away proud and strengthened
and great from that harsh hand,
that kneaded him as if to change his shape.
Winning does not tempt that man.
This is how he grows: by being defeated, decisively,
by constantly greater beings.


It's true that I am making a differentiation between the conquering hero/ego and the "spiritual"/instinctual archetypal hero.  But this is not the product of "conquering" anything.  It's a matter of differentiating the ego and the Self, of comprehending where real power and drive come from, even the drive to "become conscious".  They come from instinct . . . and they are not won by defeating instinct that is "maliciously aligned against us".  The very notion that instinct is maliciously aligned against us is an egomaniacal attitude.  WE (egotists of the patriarchy) are maliciously aligned against instinct.  But, with the help of instinct, when we learn to start valuating that instinct, we come to see that it is not aligned against us, but is the source of our drive to live.  We have imprisoned and limited it by insisting on egoic paradigms that could not provide functional outlets for these instincts to imprint adaptively on our environments.

It's true that the revaluation of instinct/archetype tends to devalue ego (more accurately, the specific ego position that sees its repression as "conquering"), and that can become an issue.  That's why we experience the depressions that can lead to the Work as dissolutions and losses of libido.  The ego, as we have insisted upon it (or as it has been thrust upon us socially), is inadequate as a device to live through.  It has been overvalued, but it is not sufficiently functional.  So valuation is taken away from that.  If we can't accept that dissolution, we will never individuate, never heal, never rediscover the libido and instinct we lost.  But there is a later stage in which the ego is reconstructed and revalued.  That revalued ego is driven by the "full archetypal hero".  The archetypal hero is the drive to reconstruct the ego in coordination with the needs of the Self.  The conquering ego is simply not a part of that instinctual drive, and so it is not "archetypal" . . . even if it is "typical" in our society (and history).  I would even go so far as to say that the conquering ego believes it is heroic because it is inflated with an identification with the hero archetype.  But it usurps and drastically misunderstands what that instinct/archetype really is.  All it does is don a costume of what it thinks the hero would look like.  But the archetypal heroic drive is not behind the conquering ego's conquests and feats of oppression.  It's inflation identification with the hero archetype is a sham . . . and is rooted in shamefulness and dishonor (i.e., tragedy . . . e.g., Oedipus murder of his father is not genuinely heroic, it's tragic).  So the conquering ego intuits the heroic instinct, but fails to live it, because the act of living is in the possession of the Demon.  Living is done in Bad Faith.  Such living is done in a fashion that protects the ego from the heroic instinct and the dangerous transformation it offers.  One of the "best" ways to live in Bad Faith and not be entirely aware of it is to put on the superficial disguise of the very thing you are most afraid of.  The pious, selfless Christian may cloak the hypocritical scapegoater, and so forth.

These disguises are constructed in order to spare ourselves from our own recognition of sin or dishonor.  But they force us to find some Other to bear that sin, someone or something we can attack and berate instead of attacking and berating ourselves for the real transgression or moral failing.


But this is all metaphoric of unavoidable archetypal patterns of conscious development.  Our very neural architecture is set to battle against itself even as it coordinates its separated actions.  Just as the male of many animal species literally fight one another for tribal and sexual dominance so too do the same "conquerers" act for the good of the tribe at the expense of themselves when they defend that same tribe they have risen to lead.  We must split the psyche in order to relate to it.  But even as we so conquer and divide we also self-create the wound.  At first this is all done without a full awareness of the underlying reality.  But later in life, via individuation, we reveal this archetypal story to ourselves.

I'm not sure there is any legitimacy to mapping male dominance competition or conquering onto human neural architecture.  It is true in general that evolutionary mutations that "stick" are often retoolings and counter-balancings of previous traits (as opposed to from-the ground-up reconstructions of traits), but this is not the same thing as the "conquering of the instinctual unconscious".  Nature is responsible for all of these mutations, the ego determines nothing.  Even natural selection is not determined by egoic will.

Additionally, it is not the "psyche" that we split into Opposites, but only the ego, only out attitudes toward the psyche.  The idea that we can split the psyche (or that the ego itself is or is a large part of the psyche) is hubris and is not supported by any evidence.  It is true that we often bear some responsibility for creating the Wound (some, not all), because we have unconsciously accepted a socialization or ego-construction that is dissociative.  This is par for the course in the modern world.  But we had no idea what we were doing.  We were just trying to limit cognitive dissonance and ally ourselves with protectors (actual people or attitudes and beliefs) that seemed best capable of defending us from that cognitive dissonance.  Our egoic thinking was short-term and "unconscious", and if slather layer after layer on the personality in that fashion, we will eventually become dysfunctional (unless we can exist entirely within a tribe that reinforces this dysfunction and protects us from the larger world).  Young egos do not strategize for long-term functionality, they merely react in knee-jerk fashion to strong stimuli, trying to limit discomfort and dissonance and increase comfort and pleasure.  That tends to lead to egocentrism and egotism . . . even narcissism, the notion that the satisfaction of one's ego-cravings is more important than anything else.  And primarily, the ego craves reinforcement and protection from the threat of change or transformation.

What happens in later life with individuation is not the same thing as early ego-formation . . . except in that, with either process, the ego is undergoing a construction of beliefs, associations, and preferred paradigms.  But early ego formation is an unconscious reaction to socialization, and individuation is a conscious reaction to the inadequacy of that earlier socialization and ego-construction.  We will always need ego, but what we need most of all (in order to be adaptable to environment) is a functional ego, an ego that relays instincts to the material environment effectively.


I think you take the alchemical myth as the whole developmental process of the psyche.  But you can't engage in this myth until after you have developed consciousness.  Alchemy is all about a self-conscious spiritual practice, but there is a huge realm of the un-self-conscious developmental process.

No, I see the alchemical process as describing only an adult, individuating psychology.  Alchemy has no application to the psychology of children or people who haven't felt compelled to approach individuation in any way yet.  This is why I have called alchemy a mysticism . . . as opposed to a totem or dogma that assigns "right beliefs" to unconscious believers.  Even conventionally-thinking Jungians have only scratched the surface or the first preliminary stages of the alchemical opus.  Their experience and understanding bottom out early in the dissolution, never getting to the coniunctio or the Nigredo or beyond.  In the Jungian paradigm of individuation, the true prima materia has never been created.  So the Work hasn't genuinely truly begun.  It is this particular obstacle that I feel leads to the religification of Jungianism and the loss of its gnosticism or scientific usefulness.

The alchemical motifs can find their antecedents in the earlier mythic stories of course because buried in the old stories are the secrets we discover later as the objective realities of the psyche.  But before we can "surrender" and dissolved we must be born into matter, into body and also separate via self-creation as spirit from that matter.  Only after we conquer can we then "surrender", only after we form can we dissolve.

Actually, the "extraction of spirit from matter" in the alchemical opus is accomplished post-coniunctio and comes to completion in the end of the first opus with the birth of Luna as divine hermaphrodite.  I have called this stage the differentiation of ego from Self.  It is essentially an "advanced mysticism" by conventional (and Jungian) standards.  It is not in any way the same thing as ego-development in childhood and even in adulthood.  It post-dates the sacrifice of the adult/heroic ego to the instinctual Self (i.e., the surrender or dissolution I spoke of).
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Matt Koeske

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Re: the Hero Archetype
« Reply #27 on: February 18, 2008, 05:47:50 PM »

i think you missing the whole pre-individuation developmental process.  I can be read in one's dreams and fantasies and mythic preferences.  It is precisely this aspect of the psyche that Jung explored in himself during the so-called "fallow years" which were after he wrote Symbols of Transformation which is the foundation in psychology (not to eclipse the probably more vital role that previous comparative anthropology played) for the hero's journey.  It was the application of this un-self-conscious truth that we are on the hero's journey before we even know it that lead Jung to say, hey I better figure out how this is playing within myself.

It's true that I concentrate heavily on individuation and very little on initially ego-development, but it isn't an unconscious neglect.  I don't think I am "missing" the nature of ego-development at all.  I just don't consider it to be very much influenced by "consciousness" (i.e., knowing and specific choice-making that helps organize identity).  All that mythos about conquering heroes doesn't seem to fit in to the early ego development at all from my perspective.  Perhaps the infantile ego is always "egomaniacal", but the conquering hero myth represents the attempt at self-justification regarding prolonged egomania (and entitlement).  Or, more conventionally, it represents (in the form of tragedy) a morality tale about how prolonging that egomania will eventually result in self-destruction and loss.  What we would call, in psychological terms, "depression", especially in the circumstance of "midlife crisis" . . . where we thought we had "conquered life" by fulfilling our egomaniacal (and unconscious) paradigms, only to suddenly discover that what we achieved was empty and worthless.  And then, in that realization, we discover that we are nothing, nobody.  We have no identity that wasn't branded on us from without.  That's when individuation can begin . . . after the egomaniacal fantasy of conquering has both succeeded and failed (as its success is also its failure).

Of course many people spend large portions of their adult life trying to live up to the egomaniacal fantasy and failing to do so (it is a lofty goal, after all).  So we either have to succeed in that attempt or else manage to see-through our whole desire to conquer life in such a way, before we can begin individuating.

As for Jung, I will go back and read Symbols (it's been almost 20 years now), but my understanding is that Jung's dissolution period after his split with Freud was not the ego-building that you propose.  Jung was a very famous and highly respected psychoanalyst by this time . . . and he was married to one of the wealthiest women in Switzerland.  The break with Freud and Jung's withdrawal of libido from everyday life all centered around his experience of the unconscious as a powerful and objective reality.  Far from conquering it, he was being dissolved in it.  This was also the time directly after Jung had an anima infatuation with his patient, Sabina Spielrein, that ended in disaster (and probably some kind of impropriety).  There was a kind of analytical (and perhaps relational?) triangle among Spielrein, Jung, and Freud.  As Jung dove into his confrontation with the unconscious, he discovered his anima as a genuine presence in the psyche (not just in projection onto Spielrein or other women).  His individuation had begun in earnest.  I think his separation from Freud was a symbolic gesture of letting go of some piece of his established, pre-individuated egoic identity.  The famous psychoanalyst and "crown prince" of the movement.  Freud's own anointed son and protege.  But this was a false self for Jung.  He had conquered . . . but failed.

As for the residual identifications with heroism that came from this confrontation with the unconscious, Jung describes this very accurately in his essay on the Mana-Personality . . . the person who has "assimilated" the unconscious and thinks s/he has been imbued with mystical powers.  The archetypal inflation.  This mana-personality of inflation has become a mainstay and perennial bogeyman of Jungian psychology.  I struggled to both cope with and understand this situation for many years, and I eventually concluded that this inflation is necessitated by the residual egoic attitudes in Jungian thinking toward the unconscious and the animi.  Jungians sometimes describe the inflation as "identification with the hero archetype", and this is something that does happen (as I described it above with the conquering ego that wears the hero's costume).  But I don't think this was what was happening with Jung and what happens to most mystics and Jungian individuants.  The actual identification in this kind of mystical (post confrontation with the unconscious) inflation is an identification with the Self.  And the Jungians (starting with Jung) have handcuffed themselves by conflating the hero and the Self.  This is entirely incorrect and radically dangerous.  It took me many years to be able to sort this out (due to my Jungian inheritance), but after I did, it started to look pretty obvious (and much of my anxiety over the issue dissipated).

This identification is in many ways understandable, because the dissolution and the animi work are bringing the ego and Self closer and closer together.  But I see the inflation that often results from this is a misinterpretation or misappropriation of the Self's numinous libido.  It comes when the conquering ego has still not been completely shed.  As it dissolves, though, it finds a "back door" to empowerment.  All the new instinctual libido it senses from the Self is appropriated for the conquering ego as an empowerment of egoism.  The opposite of what is intended.  But it is another knee-jerk reaction to feeling so devalued and belittled by the dissolution.  The first whiff of power the ego gets, it tries to dig its spurs into and ride to "glory" on.  Generally, this is viewed as psychotic by society . . . and rightfully so.  That is, it is clear to everyone else that this sense of power is delusional and artificial.  But every so often, some guru or other comes along and manages to attract a bunch of sheep who can't see-through the illusion.  And in this way, the guru gets to have his or her delusion protected and perpetuated by a tribe (or cult) devoted to it.

This guruism is in the shadow of Jungianism.  Jung connected this mana-personality to the anima, claiming that she encourages and inspires it (in a man).  He comes very close to blaming the anima entirely for this psychosis.  But he did have a vision of his Salome anima worshiping him as a Christ while he was deified . . . so his conclusion seems logical from his perspective (even though it is incorrect).  In my opinion, Jungian psychology cannot navigate through the inflation nor finish the animi work . . . and it's because the conquering ego never ultimately steps up to the sacrifice he must make (in much the same way Jung cannot bring himself to touch his head completely to the floor in his dream of his father previously discussed).  Buried in this stage of the Work is the myth of the Great Man . . . and that myth was something Jung hungered for and could never entirely get beyond.  After all, by conventional social standards, he was a great man.  And if you can obtain greatness and status on wit and intellect and "charisma" alone (and without living entirely in Good Faith), why not?  To Jung's credit, he always seemed equivocal about his legacy and his followers.  He was not by any means a rank amateur in the game of consciousness (seeing-through one's own fictions).  But I think he struggled with the mantle of his greatness all the way to the end of his life.

And what that means is that, albeit depotentiated and recognized in many ways, Jung's conquering ego was never put to rest entirely.  And that may have contributed to the legacy of an occult religion that he seems to have left behind in his followers.  The Jungians still struggle to worship the Great Man (while Jung's detractors still try to kill that Goliath with well-slung rocks).

But what I'm saying is that I feel Jung's period of "confrontation with the unconscious" was characterized by both dissolution of the socialized ego identity and by an inflation in which the dissolving conquering ego made a power play by trying to take credit for the "assimilation of the unconscious".  Jung reacted to this by being very leery of his tendency toward inflation, seeing it as a delusional side-effect of dissolution that was a temptation of the devil to be resisted.  Accompanying this was a deep suspicion of the anima which he felt was encouraging the inflation.  My revision of this would be that the anima encourages the ego to identify with the hero archetype (the heroic ego), but Jung's personal Demon, his over-valuation of the conquering ego and the Great Man, confused this encouragement for the embrace of the heroic ego with the appropriation of the Self's numen (which Jung's followers encouraged with their worship and deference).  In Jung's vision of his deification, we see only the exaltation of the ego personality.  But to actually step into the hero's role would mean a self-sacrifice . . . and not an exaltation at all.  But this may be one of the problems with active imagination as opposed to dream work.  Jung didn't really differentiate, but I've always found dream work to be more "honest" and more shadow-demonstrating than active imagination (which I don't really trust all that much).  With active imagination (which is a lot like creating art, something I have plenty of experience with), there is still much left over to see-through, even after the vision or inspiration is recorded or portrayed.


Of course, you know the motifs of your own story and you feel you have worked through important milestones.  But you may not realize that your psyche was already doing the Work before you became self-consciously involved.  Because you don't seem to intuit this, you come off, from my perspective, as devaluing the whole natural and cultural evolutionary process that brought you personally and us collectively to the point at which we now stand.

What was going on in my childhood was not what I call the Work.  The Work is a mysticism, an act of conscious spirituality.  I was introspective as a child, and due to my complex and my innate inclination, I often questioned (or at least doubted) the way ego was constructed in my personality, but I had no active and conscious role in this until I was in my late teens and in the grip of anima obsession/projection and dissolution (as well as creative and spiritual awakening).  My childhood ego construction petered out very early compared to most people's.  I was "precociously dysfunctional" . . . and perhaps it was the nature of my particular complex, which is so radically self-annihilating that it leaves one little choice in life.  One must either individuate or perish.  So individuation with me has always become a necessity of survival.  That's actually the conventional experience of the shaman, although I didn't realize this until, well, about a year ago, really.  It's THE archetype for individuation, reaching back long before recorded history.

For me, the Work didn't really begin until I had allowed the small attainments of my life to dissolve (my sense of myself as socially capable or intelligent, my sense of myself as exceptional athlete, my sense of myself as a writer who was "going to make it" on natural talent, my sense of myself as devoted lover and erotic partner with "a lot to give", my sense of myself as "spiritual personality" with precocious "enlightenment", my sense of myself as befriended, loved, and cared about by others . . . all of this crashed into nothing, burned into ashes).  Then the animi work kicked in full force, after which the long period of Nigredo and Albedo followed taking about a decade.  During that decade, I was processing the psychic/spiritual events that the anima work had produced, sifting through them, rethinking, revising myself, etc.  This was all made much more difficult for me by having no direct assistance or guidance from anyone.  Even Jungian writing (which I consumed ravenously at the beginning of the anima work) often no longer seemed applicable as I drifted through the Nigredo.  Many years later, I came to see this as partly due to a failure of Jungian thinking to address this stage adequately.

But I don't disagree completely that the "psyche is already or always doing this Work".  The instinctual unconscious is always pushing for equilibrium with the environment, and it drives the ego to develop (very generally) in an attempt to construct functional paradigms or a functional language to live in.  But we, the egos, don't often understand that our constructions are the very things that stand in the way of the fulfillment of our instincts.  My guess is that, come late adolescence, the instinctual unconscious has "had enough", and part of our maturation transformation (on a physical level) is the awakening of the individuation instinct (through which we transition to a more adult and responsible perspective on the world).  But as we have no institutionalized rites or myths to guide this transition or initiation in modern society, we stumble through early adulthood trying to succeed as spiritual/psychological adolescents.  Sometimes we accomplish this (because, perhaps, our father is George Bush Sr. . . . or we invest all our adolescent drives in Wall Street trading . . . or we have a salable talent like athletics or acting or music . . . or because we are beautiful and people are attracted to us, etc.).  But much of the time, we grind slowly to a standstill (around midlife) and then look up at the sky and the tall buildings surrounding us (and at our spouses and children) and think, "How in the hell did I get here into this strange adult world?  It's like I was asleep for a few decades and just woke up.  I feel like a small child, totally overwhelmed."

Anyway, I don't think I am devaluing the process.  I have a great feeling of valuation for the individuation instinct, and if I didn't, I wouldn't be able to express any experiential understanding of these things.  Which is precisely what my theory-making is the product of.  I am not fitting the world to a theory that can't really express the world.  I'm trying to account for the data I have observed . . . and so I constantly revise and reconstruct my thinking to accommodate that data.  More recently, I have been able to do this with smaller adjustments, but for most of my life, I have been making huge adjustments to my thinking.  The revisions and adjustments and new avenues in my thinking even since we first met on Kaleidoscope are, I think, quite significant.  And my whole adult life has been an ongoing transformation very much like this last year or so.

As for cultural inheritance, no I don't value it all that much.  My survival as an individual has been achieved at the cost of very painful oppositionalism.  I have frequently stood against the pressures that would conform me and my thinking to "standards".  And I can assure you that I have been well-punished for these heresies . . . both by myself and by others.  I have never had a true mentor or guide or therapist or spiritual teacher.  I am, for better or for worse, an autodidact when it comes to the Work and the understanding of the psyche.  Reading extensively in Jungian literature did help orient me, especially when I was younger and in need of a grounding language that could make sense of what I was experiencing.  But it hasn't provided any guidance for me for nearly 20 years.

I have never had a tribe or the benefit of "elders" to initiate or train or indoctrinate me.  I had to accomplish this on my own, and that is no easy task.  I hungered for mentors for many years, but never found one I felt was capable of initiating me . . . and I can tell you that the pain and grief involved in not finding such a person is very great, very debilitating.  One should never have to initiate oneself . . . because it means that one's "crossing over" is not accompanied by Eros and recognition.  We can't really give these things to ourselves, and when we have to provide them from our meager stock, we are likely to maintain a lingering feeling of invalidity.  That can become a cancerous growth of loneliness . . . and there is no inner realm in which that loneliness can be entirely assuaged.  When one is initiated, one is "supposed" to enter into a new collective.  The whole point of initiation is to functionally connect Eros to ethical and productive living.  When no such Tribe is there to welcome us, we are scarred with our own alienation, which, left to grow untreated for long enough, will become its own obstacle to living.


We stand at the current end of the past evolutionary process, a process as full of meaning and intelligence as the alchemical one.  And evolution doesn't mean right or fair.  Was it fair that the dinosaurs all had to die off?  Well, they weren't smart enough to build rockets that could take them to better places so they died.  That is evolution.  We are smart enough but we might be stupid enough to aim those same rockets at ourselves.  That too is evolution.  Nature will leave us be for millions of years and then deliver the smackdown killing us all if we don't move quick enough.  Fuck you nature! I say sometimes even as I am a loving nature photographer.

You even seem to realize in the characterization of Nature that you give how extremely and Otherly Nature is portrayed.  Evolution continues on through mutation and adaptation and natural selection.  I have no gripe with that.

I once wrote a poem or too that made the point that our children need old growth trees...cut down to make them paper for school.  I came up with that while immersing myself in nature via an extended bicycle tour down the Pacific coast.  I was in Forks, Washington at the time, one of the centers, out West of the sometimes competing interests of environmentalists and...well, people who need paper and wood products.  At some point you have to ask the question "what is and what is not Nature?"  When do my needs or desires, channeled as they are by the society in which I live with its various technologies, become not an expression of the natural?

Of course, human egoism is also an expression of Nature.  But the line to draw that you speak of comes when the destructiveness of a species is not sustainable.  Predators eat prey, and the population of the prey is controlled and typically falls into equilibrium with the population of the predators.  Remove the prey and the predators also starve.  Remove the predators and the prey overpopulate and can face food shortages and all kinds of other ecosystem altering problems.  The issue with our species is that we take and take from Nature, but we don't adequately think about how to sustain Nature.  Eventually, we end up taking so much that not only are numerous species forced into extinction and numerous ecosystems radically disturbed or destroyed, but we ourselves cannot be sustained, because we were also dependent on the balance of these ecosystems.  No long-term thinking.  No comprehension of complex systems (relationality in Nature).  And of course, we've been building up to the event horizon of our non-sustainable drive for taking and destroying for a long time,  Especially since industrialization.  We create waste, externalities, that we banish into the unconscious.  But these things come back to affect us.  Our shadow cannot be conquered or deposed.  We only prolong the confrontation with it by repressing, denying, and running away dishonorably.

I figure if I was given the gift of intelligence and the other animals and plants don't move fast enough and I need them to die so that I can sit and think about how it is I can help the world keep from entering a nuclear winter, then they die for my dinner plate.  And as without, so within.

Of course, I am not advocating this mentality above all others, but it should not be forgotten or summarily devalued.

But there are no animals "within" to die for your dinner plate.  That is an illusion.  Even "without", the egoic attitude of taking without thinking about the repercussions is often destructive.  The earth has provided us with immense resources, true, but we don't have to take a childish and selfish attitude toward them.  We want to be provided with resources, but at the same time we want to own and control them.  We want the possession of resources to determine our worth, and we want to keep resources away from those we deem Other.  We are both perverse and stupid.  It's the egomaniacal human that wants to live like an animal (dependent on ever-abundant providence from Nature) while claiming it is entitled to be a god.  I see no reason to feel such pride or self-satisfaction in this condition.  In my opinion, the amazing benefits of our evolution are squandered in attitudes that "less-evolved" animals are "too wise" to even consider.
You can always come back, but you can’t come back all the way.

   [Bob Dylan,"Mississippi]

Matt Koeske

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Re: the Hero Archetype
« Reply #28 on: February 18, 2008, 06:30:13 PM »
I have to laugh here because I am always afraid that this is how I am perceived.  I see in my own thinking a constant stepping on my own toes.  Yet, at the same time, it is also a part of how I see my own thinking that I am intentionally "taking two lines of thought that are contradictory to one another and laying them down together as if they don't actually self-negate."

I feel that I am always thinking about the relationship between two unreconcilable truths when I say anything of value about consciousness or the psyche.  I have a certain comfort level with allowing myself to fall into the limitation of how I am expressing myself always knowing in my head that I say this to get at something but not because I think it is a consistently rational statement that I would stand behind in all contexts.  It puts me in an awkward position constantly when I make a rational case for something.  It is as if I am more at home in the mode of telling a story when I write an essay, but I would rather write an essay and make an argument rather than "entertain" with a story.

I feel that with the ideas of Neumann that I have found a decent centering of my intuitions in a strong Jungian sense.  I am aware that Neumann's ideas have a peripheral influence on the Jungian community but I have not widely read in Jungian literature.  I am still working through Jung's works themselves. 

I think that I have always felt that I was off in my own corner of the world thinking my thoughts and never felt comfortable or confident that my ideas were supported by any particular philosopher or thinker.  My hope is that I can clarify my position via dialogue here and hopefully make myself plain.  But it has always been a fear of mine that I just seem to talk in strange circles in the ear's of others.

I think you have the right attitude in keeping some self-doubt in your equation.  Without that, there is no chance to learn or grow.

But there is also the possibility that the seemingly irreconcilable truths don't quite "fit", because the paradigm trying to reconcile them is flawed.  We can become too complacent in our feeling that we have succeeded in "seeing things from two sides at once".  But there is always that chance that we are creating the illusion of separation artificially.

Jung talked a lot about individuated consciousness "holding the Opposites together" . . . and I agree that, so much as this means accepting cognitive dissonance as useful and even creative rather than dismissing its threat, that has to be done to retain consciousness.  But I also feel that Jung and the Jungians are too inclined to mistake the bearing of cognitive dissonance for the dissociation of a singular thing into polarities in conflict with one another.  The real conflict is introduced to the unconscious by the ego that has artificially dissociated it by identifying with one aspect of a singular thing at the expense of other aspects.  Some Opposites can be synthesized, united, because they are really an artificially divided oneness.  But other things in conflict have no perfect solution (such as issues of relationship dealing with literal others) or are irredeemably relative.

In my opinion, many of the favorite Jungian Opposites are unnecessarily divided by flawed egoic attitudes that can't adequately address their complexities.  The Jungians misunderstand things like instinct, matter, and natural complexity (by falling into the egoic fallacy) . . . but we can apply more contemporary thinking about these things that allows what seemed to be irreconcilable Opposites to be united into one harmony of understanding (or at least points the way to eventual harmony).

I think some of your ideas about the conquering hero and the role of consciousness are not very new or underrepresented, but actually quite old.  Pre-modern.  You throw in some neuroscience and a few updated terms, but I think your feeling of separation is a product of certain attitudes that have fallen out of fashion in contemporary thought.  Whether this is good or bad is another issue.  After all, the ideas of evolutionary biology are rooted in some classical (and a lot of Darwinian) thinking that had fallen out of fashion (in our age of social constructionism), but the latest data seems to suggest that these ideas had been wrongfully devalued.

My guess is that what you need to accomplish in order to "sell" your separative/connective paradigm is the construction of a convincing argument against contemporary shifts in the understanding of gender identity.  Can your paradigm effectively make sense of post-feminist gender?  And at the same time, although you draw from some biological distinctiveness between the sexes, is your application of this to the development of consciousness legitimate?  Are there other ways to apply the biological data?  Is the application of this data to ego development or individuation absolutely justified?

The way I see it, you have a war to fight on two fronts.  The social constructionists (postmodernists, especially women) are going to see your division as dated and potentially even sexist (I prefer the term patriarchal).  The evolutionary biologists are skeptical of psychology in general, and those with a sense of discipline and reserve are none too keen to have their Darwinian notions generalized in the realm of psyche (which they don't claim to be as biologically determined as specific common behaviors are).

This is the same war I am fighting with my own theory-building, even if your theory and mine have their conflicts.  My "religion-science coniunctio" stuff is actually trying to progress in both directions at the same time: seeing psychology as more biological than it has previously been seen while also recognizing modern and postmodern shifts in identity that suggest more similarity than difference in the psychology of the sexes.  Of course, I came out of the feminist, social constructionist tradition more than the biological . . . and so I saw and rejected the sexism in Jungian thinking before I recognized how valuable Jung's intuitive biology was.  In my opinion, most Jungians fail to modernize and correct the inherent sexism of Jungian thinking AND the nascent development of Jungian biology.

It isn't easy to move in these directions simultaneously, but I have been increasingly seeing a synthesis down the road . . . and in my mind it is a "happy coincidence", because it means that Jungian psychology can potentially be updated to be both modern and scientific, shedding its patriarchal sexism and its metaphysical dalliances and diversions.  No other psychology or philosophy has come as close to this synthesis as Jung's has.  But my guess is that, if Jungian psychology doesn't adapt in the way I'm proposing within a decade, it will be surpassed by the rapidly growing field of evolutionary psychology.  After that happens, Jungian thinking will be largely obsolete, existing only as a historical curiosity.

That would suck for me personally, because I found all of my language on Jungian thought (even as I revise and add).  Also, as an intuitive thinker and non-scientist, my thinking would be marginalized by Jungian psychology's lapse into obsolescence.  If I wanted to contribute to psychology, I would have to return to academia and become an evolutionary psychologist . . . and I don't know if I have the energy to start the whole blacksheep cycle over from scratch like that. 

I'd have to settle for writing New Age self-help books  (-)laugh(-).
You can always come back, but you can’t come back all the way.

   [Bob Dylan,"Mississippi]

Sealchan

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Re: the Hero Archetype
« Reply #29 on: February 19, 2008, 10:26:35 AM »
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But as far as the tragedies of the conquering hero go, the "point" of tragedy is to present a moral lesson.  Namely: don't do what this person did.  It isn't "do what this person did, value it, and perhaps learn from it".  The idea behind tragedy is that our poor choices eventually lead us to damnation . . . and that even our seeming achievements along the way are stepping stones to our own destruction.

To me it is both.  It is "don't try this at home" AND "it was worth the effort even though we didn't make it".  I have a basically mystical and positive outlook on what has come and where we are going although there is plenty of nastiness.  However, in focusing on what is wrong I think one gets caught up in the excesses of the time and doesn't see the underlying tidal forces. 

The point of tragedy is to pit the individual against the greater forces of the world and show simultaneously just how little and just how much we do and yet do not have great influence and control over the course of events in the greater collective-world.  And a tragedy is usually just one plot device away from what might be called a "glory" or a story of an overwhelming victory.  The best stories are probably a combination of both.  For example, Star Wars has the tragedy of Anakin Skywalker and the "glory" of Luke Skywalker.  Luke's identification with and need to indirectly kill his own father is a tragedy accept that his father forgives Luke with the words "you were right".  Then it becomes a glory of the progress obtained through great suffering.