Author Topic: The Anima Work, V: Depotentiation of the Anima Dream  (Read 4848 times)

Matt Koeske

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The Anima Work, V: Depotentiation of the Anima Dream
« on: September 11, 2008, 03:19:26 PM »
Dream:

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I was in a museum after hours.  The museum looked slightly abandoned, mostly dark, dusty, and had some cobwebs.  A woman was walking with me.  She had a powerful, numinous presence.  We came to a cordoned off exhibit that looked like a pit in the ground with a spiraling walkway along the inner edge.  I recognized it as a puzzle room from a Dungeons and Dragon game a friend of mine told me he had encountered in his youth while playing the game.  It was supposedly impossible to get through (as the spiral walkway was lined with horrible monsters).  I had devised a way to solve the room off the top of my head (during our conversation reminiscing about the game we each used to play).  I proposed flooding the entire room and then sending an electric current through the water.

In the dream, the woman and I remarked on this closed exhibit.  I felt mildly wistful, but also like this period of my life was ancient history.  It had no power over me anymore.  The woman and I went into a bathroom that was very large and grand and lined in marble.  I thought that maybe she and I were going to have sex, and she was now naked and hermaphroditic (female, but with penis).  But suddenly she seemed huge, and I was like a child compared to her.  She held me in her lap and put her breast up to my mouth very briefly.  She was sitting on some kind of throne as she did this (which might have also been a toilet).  This position was like a posture rather than an act.  She held me like that only for a second, and then we separated and were back to our normal sizes.  We went back into the museum, and she told that she had to leave or maybe die.  I was sad about this, but she reassured me that it had to be and that I would be OK.  She walked off into an even darker, more abandoned part of the museum and disappeared.  I awoke.


This dream offers a very succinct portrait of the end of the anima work, capturing and encapsulating all the important (or archetypal) points.  I'll describe these with varying degrees of detail in the following.

1.) The "Great Work" completed (and the Goal of that Work depotentiated) is reflected in the cordoned off museum exhibit that felt like something I accomplished many years ago and which I could now see from a distance and in proportion.  I could see this Work as a genuine accomplishment (it was made into an exhibit in the museum, and so memorialized), but simultaneously as a piece of my past, as an episode that was over and from which I have moved on.  The symbol of this exhibit that the dream uses is especially apt, because the "solution" to the room involved flooding and then electrifying . . . where the flood would correspond to the dissolution stage that characterizes the introduction to the Work (or the descent that pulls one down to the threshold where the Work can begin), and the electrifying would correspond to the renewing jolt of instinctual, "spiritual" energy that the intimate and transformative relationship with the anima always brings.

2.) The transcendence of the anima to the status of Goddess.  Jung did not spend much time talking about the transformation of the anima that accords with the psychic reorganization process I call the anima work, but he did occasionally hint that such a process existed.  To my knowledge, this process has not been very well charted or studied by the Jungians (who tend to take the anima more as a fixed entity or being/personage with complete psychic autonomy and somewhat mysterious motivations) . . . but Jung (in his love of quaternities, perhaps) once stated that the anima development process could be broken down into the following four stages of expression: Eve, Helen, Mary, and Sophia.["The Psychology of the Transference," CW 16, par. 361].

As I've suggested, I think the anima work is better described as a process with general stages or plateaus than as a progression of personages.  The fairest I can be to Jung's construction is to admit that his four anima personages do reflect common modes of anima expression . . . but these modes do not have to correspond to the progression of the anima work and can easily be present simultaneously in any stage.  The "anima mode" is, I suspect, more a product of a specific man's personality than a universal state of development.  What we see, for instance, in Jung's favored anima mode "progression" is, in my opinion, a process of differentiation that Jung undertook where his anima was concerned.  So, when he first "met" his anima, she seemed like "Eve" to him, less sophisticated, hungry, desirous, tempting . . . and dangerous.  But also maternal.  The Helen mode is not much different, except in that the witchy, seductive temptress is now a "golden object" to be coveted from a distance.  As Mary, she has lost much of her sexuality, taking on a maternal and spiritual eros instead.  As Sophia, Jung found an expression of the anima that he could more easily value.  Sophia is wisdom, and therefore, is a kind of intellectual or spiritual abstract only partially attached to Matter.

What is less apparent in Jung's construct of these anima modes is that even as Eve or Helen, the anima contains Sophia, the Goddess, all of the archetypes of the Feminine.  But Jung could not, it seems, comprehend the anima in this state of undifferentiated natural complexity.  The Anima modes Jung lists demonstrate Jung's own process of learning to valuate his anima . . . but this particular valuation only indirectly reflects the process of the anima work and the actual, instinctual significance of the anima archetype.

Daryl Sharp expands on Jung's construction in his Jung Lexicon:
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In the first stage, Eve, the anima is indistinguishable from the personal mother. The man cannot function well without a close tie to a woman. In the second stage, personified in the historical figure of Helen of Troy, the anima is a collective and ideal sexual image ("All is dross that is not Helen"-Marlowe). The third stage, Mary, manifests in religious feelings and a capacity for lasting relationships. In the fourth stage, as Sophia (called Wisdom in the Bible), a man's anima functions as a guide to the inner life, mediating to consciousness the contents of the unconscious. She cooperates in the search for meaning and is the creative muse in an artist's life.

This may accord generally with the conventional Jungian take of the anima modes.  If I had to compare my construction of the anima work with Sharps modes, I would say that I see the anima work beginning in the 4th, Sophia stage, but continuing beyond this somewhat.  I do not see the anima work as leading to a transcendent establishment of the anima as a muse or guide/companion figure.  Part of the anima work would include the "seeing-through" and depotentiation of this perspective.  A muse is a mythical being that functions as a totem.  On one hand, it serves as a gateway where instinctual libido from the Self can flow into the ego, but on the other hand, it places taboos on the relationship with the Self that functionally distances or abstracts the Self from the ego/Self relationship.  The persona we assign a muse figure will eventually exert severe limitations on the ego/Self relationship.  Ultimately, it can be dysfunctional to assign "muse-like" traits to the Instinctual Self (e.g., fickleness, sensitivity, "womanishness", sentimentality, etc.).  These are projections of egoic qualities that the ego personality cannot "own" functionally (i.e., shadow).  They amount to "misinterpretations" of the Instinctual Self (and its original envoy, the anima).  Also, the problem with muses is that they "betray" us from time to time . . . at least that is how the artist tends to see it.

Jungians are not usually artists (where an "artist" is not merely a part-time art hobbyist), and so perhaps they don't realize this fully, but the artist/muse relationship is a deeply religious relationship in which the muse is petitioned much like the "ancestors" or "spirits" are petitioned by animistic tribalists looking for divine favor in one (egoic) pursuit or another.  I have a hard time seeing the artist/muse relationship as an ideal of individuation due to its rather unconscious, spiritualistic construction.  I see the anima as determined to return drive and orientation to the ego that had been lost via projections and unconsciousness.  The anima doesn't want to end up on a pedestal.  It has a job to do, and it will do that job as quickly as the ego allows it to.  There is (as Jung noted albeit in somewhat sexist terms) a kind of "toxic" quality to the anima (which is a direct product of the degree of dependency, NOT intimacy or relationship, the individual's ego has on the anima).  This toxicity is a reflection of the anima's connection to the Maternal or the Unconscious-as-Provider.  The anima work is a push to reorganize the state of the personality's complex system.  That state change requires that the unconscious no longer be viewed as a divine provider.  This is why, despite the meaning the anima brings to a man's inner life, it must finally die or be depotentiated.  If this doesn't happen, the anima work and the system reorganization will not actually take.

The anima will generally be seen to discourage dependency on it (if such dependency is a factor in the ego's orientation to the anima, which is commonly the case).  The anima seeks relationship (with the ego) without dependency, a relationship of equal others.  This is actually a factor of the larger archetype to which the anima belongs.  Namely, the syzygy, which is the anima-hero pair.  In other words, the syzygy dictates that the anima encourages the man's ego to become increasingly heroic, and as it does (at least in the vessel of fantasy or dream), the anima will continue to "unfold" or become differentiated.  The heroic ego increasingly valuates the anima, seeking to know it as Other (and not merely as projection of preconception/stereotype).

The defining characteristics of the hero half of the syzygy are burden-bearing and self-sacrifice, both of which require empathy and strong valuation of others and Otherness.  The anima half of the syzygy is the archetypal Other that is meant to be valuated, the symbol of valuated Otherness.  Therefore, the anima is (among other things) the archetype of relationality, the archetypal symbol of our sense of relationship to and interaction with others.  The anima and the Instinctual Self are the gateway of Otherness, and our ability to valuate others is a direct product of our ability to valuate the inner Other, or the Self.

What must be remarked on (and analyzed) is that there is a conflict between this construction of the anima as the "discourager" of dependency and the conventional Jungian theory of the anima that connects it with "dangerous" projection onto actual women (dangerous, because these projections tend to lead the man to "imprison" these women in the construction of his own anima; this would constitute some degree of devaluing the women's actual otherness in a way similar to the narcissistic personality's devaluation of others).  I don't mean to contradict the Jungian notion that anima "obsessions" always lead to projections (and that these projections are mostly destructive).  But I would like to revise and refine this Jungian notion of anima projection.  To begin with, anima projection is most extreme in a stage that I would consider pre-anima-work.  When the anima is still a distant, dark, mysterious object for a man, he is much more likely to project it onto actual women (who may not even resemble his anima very closely).  As the anima work begins and progresses, although a man may still be tempted to project and "literalize" the anima, he comes to realize that she is no mere mortal, but rather a semi-divine part of himself.

Beyond this, the issue of anima projection (or transference) is actually very complex and quite ubiquitous.  It cannot, I think, be considered truly pathological in almost all instances.  I mean to suggest that the projection of anima (and animus for women) is no "disease", but is actually the root of all erotic attraction between potential partners.  Just because someone catches our anima or animus doesn't make the attraction delusional.  What tends to damage these relationships is the demand of one or both partners that the other become the projected animi.  To ask another person to be the soul they cannot see or accept in themselves is to ask the impossible while also ignoring the genuine difference of Otherness.

The most common stumbling block where the anima is concerned is to "see her across the room", fall in love with her, but want her to stay right where she is (out of reach, a mystical, totemic object).  This generates a specific (and very limited) kind of relationship.  I would consider it a less-than-human relationship.  It lacks complexity, and Otherness is never engaged with in any intimate way.  There is no need to accept shadow or difference in the Other.  The Other becomes merely an "artistic rendering" of the true Other.  In other words, this kind of relationship shows us choosing our own skewed (self-serving) construct of the Other over the validity and reality of the true Other.

Before and during most of the anima work, the anima is extremely potent.  It has "mana" (which the man's ego doesn't understand very well other than to know that he is overwhelmed by it).  Projecting this mana onto an actual person can be a great burden to them, and it can also grant them immense power to wound the projecting ego (it can be exceedingly difficult to not hurt another who invests one with mana, and such delicacy takes a great deal of practice and ethical consciousness to achieve . . . as any analyst could attest; a common problem of mana projections is a kind of unconscious desire to punish or challenge ourselves for some justifiable reason while not managing to take up a truly adversarial position to ourselves . . . we therefore choose a surrogate adversary).  This mana-driven wounding allows simple misunderstandings and differences of opinion to be perceived by the person projecting the mana as "violations" or demonic attacks.  But as the anima work nears its end and eventually reaches its culmination and depotentiation, the mana granted the anima is dissipated and any anima projections will be less likely to relinquish traits and empowerment that the ego (or conscious personality) is rightfully entitled to.  These projections are generally "less dangerous".  They do not place ridiculous demands on the projection-bearer to provide salvation or completion to the projector, but are much more likely to include a valuation of Otherness within them.  This Otherness is still numinous in a sense, but I believe that it is perfectly natural and healthy to feel some numinous valuation of another's Otherness.

These later anima projections tend to showcase a reversal of motivation or concern.  We at first want the anima to take care of us, to nourish and fulfill us.  But eventually (as we develop the "heroic attitude"), we want to (not so much "take care of" but)  facilitate the anima, to enable the Otherness it represents.  This enantiodromia is actually evident from the onset of the anima work (as the Anima Initiation Dream I previously discussed makes very clear).  This reversal of flow is the declared goal of the anima work at the beginning (even if it typically takes us a while to realize and then to actualize it).  The experience of the anima and the anima work is in many ways like taking a poison in order to develop an immunity to that poison.  Throughout certain parts of the process, we feel poisoned, but this poison is gradually transformed into its own cure or antidote.  And in the end, we can no longer be poisoned by this thing.  This cure means the depotentiation of dangerous anima projections and the development of a new ability to valuate Otherness (and not perceive others as merely limited and often prejudicial constructs of our own selfhood).

I will write a little more about the anima after the conclusion of the anima work (the depotentiated anima), its function as symbol of relationality, and the post-anima work projections in a later chapter.


3.) The comparison of the Goddess anima to the Great Mother and the indication that the resolution of the anima work requires a kind of final break with the Mother or with the son/Mother, provident relationship with the Self.

The relationship between the anima archetype and the archetypal Mother is complex and seemingly self-contradictory.  It has certainly been noted in Jungian literature, but hasn't been adequately understood among Jungians, in my opinion.  There is a great deal of hullabaloo surrounding the "heroic break with the Mother" that makes this break seem to be some kind of dragon slaying that happens once and for all.  This has not been my experience, nor have I ever observed this to be the case in others I've interacted with on an intimate, psychological level.  The break with the Mother is, I believe, largely a sham that has been spun by patriarchal "propaganda".  That is, the patriarchal male ego declares and celebrates such breaks very enthusiastically . . . but rarely if ever actually manages them.  This is due, I suspect, to a lie the patriarchal male usually lives by.  This lie tells him that the Mother (and the feminine to some degree) is the dragon that must be slain or subdued by egoic might alone in order for "a man to be a man".  But the instinctual unconscious doesn't really seem to operate by this patriarchal paradigm.

The alchemists (those great miners of the human, and Christian, shadow) often saw the dissolution and Coniunctio as a son/Mother incestuous coupling (as Jung duly noted) . . . and yet, they celebrated this.  But how do we reconcile this with Freud and his Oedipal construct (which I believe is very similar to the patriarchal construct in general, although not actually reflective of human instinctuality)?  That is, Freud brought to consciousness the Oedipal dynamic that had lain at the root of patriarchal masculinity.  For clarity in the current analysis, I would translate Freud's revelation as: the striving of the patriarchal ego never escapes the bondage to the Mother or the Maternal, provident unconscious.  This particular kind of egoic, socialized striving for power or self-control or "perfect persona" (and power over others) is the product of a somewhat dysfunctional relationship to the Mother.  The Mother and her breast or ability to provide unconditionally become so tempting to the patriarchal ego that this ego is simultaneously seduced and emasculated by the desire.  The lust for the breast (or whatever the breast symbol is projected upon . . . often social status or wealth or some form of social achievement) provides all the drive to the patriarchal ego.  It has immense mana, since this object of desire is made to define the selfhood the man desires to obtain or project.  If he manages to achieve his worldly goal, chances are he will hoard his gold like a dragon.  Hoard, but like a dragon, fail to be able to fully utilize his wealth or power in a functional way.  The dragon treasure is always merely a decoration or a failed attempt to communicate to others that the dragon desires to be identified by his gold.

But this dragon gold is a torturer of the soul, a Demonic imprisoner.  Its dysfunctional isolation of the personality from the sting of Otherness and relationality is the main factor that turns the patriarchal man into such a dragon.  The dragon grows inside him (as what I have been calling the Demon of the Complex), and it is a reflection of the providence that confines him, of the Mother.  This Demon-possessed man might come to see the maternal qualities in his imprisonment and may even try to strike out against whatever and whomever he projects this Dark Mother upon.  Out of this vain desire to strike down the dragon within him, he may develop fantasies of dragon slaying . . . but I do not consider these fantasies truly heroic (for more discussion on this topic, see the thread on The Hero Archetype).

The instinctual, heroic process I've observed is much more like the alchemical process of succumbing or dissolving.  Although this dissolution may begin with unwanted depression or morbid anxiety, the emergence of the heroic ego means an advocacy not for conquering the depression or the darkness, but for diving down into it, allowing it to take and transform the ego.  The hero is not the force that Demonically resists change and dissolution.  It is the force that believes or understands that it is a "seed-self", that it can be and is even meant to be digested as part of its evolutionary process.  It doesn't give in to the fear that the dissolution will absolutely annihilate it.  Something in the hero (and it's counterpart, the Fool) is indigestible.  This indigestibility is due to the connection to the Self, the recognition that the Instinctual Self is within and serves as the source of the ego in some way (I would say, in a biological as well as spiritual way).  To know the Instinctual Self is one's indestructible source is to understand oneself (one's ego) as the stuff of transformation, as meant by Nature to transform, as being a piece of Nature.

This idea is part of the Hermetic philosophy of the alchemists and is captured in the symbol of the prima materia.  The heroic ego is the attitude that allows itself to be changed into prima materia.  In some alchemical emblems (e.g., the Rosarium Philosophorum sequence) the dissolution is portrayed as a movement toward union of Sol with Luna, an anima figure.  This coupling involves a sharing of natures or "twinning" or resonance as the two move toward a state of oneness as the syzygy.  To dissolve into a different nature is to sacrifice the identity and nature one believed was fixed and genuine.  This old nature (sometimes associated with the figure of the Old King in alchemy) is hard to relinquish, because it was the life raft onto which the ego clung for many years.  It seems to be the only thing that will keep one afloat.  Letting go of this is an act of faith in something Other, in an instinctual process that is not understood.  And because it is not understood, letting go of the life raft means that one must accept the distinct possibility of death or total annihilation.

Therefore the Rosarium sequence shows the Coniunctio ending in death.  Only gradually does this death (transformation into the prima materia) show itself to be generative of new life.  The alchemists sometimes compared this to returning to the womb (of the Mother).

I think we need to make a stronger differentiation between the Dark Mother, who is often Demonic more so than maternal, and the Mother archetype.  The use of one's weakness to oppress and control him is a Demonic quality.  It can be a factor in mothering, fathering, or just about any other kind of relationship, but it is always a Demonic factor.  The struggle to find independence from the provident maternal need not be a battle against the Mother dragon.  The real dragon in this equation is one's addiction to dependency on providence.  This can be projected onto a Mother object, but this projection is ultimately misplaced (even if it is reinforced by an actual mother or motherer).  What must be severed is the bondage within, which is a bondage we have chosen, not one that was forced upon us by some other.

Patriarchalism is a misunderstanding of the function of the ego as one organ of an entire organism.  This misunderstanding involves a kind of inflation or overemphasis of the ego as "lord of the personality".  I think it is much more likely that the ego, despite all the celebration and adoration patriarchal culture invests in it, evolved as an organ meant to facilitate the instinctual needs of the organism (the Self, to put it symbolically).  In the tribalistic environment of evolutionary adaptedness, the ego develops out of the selfishness of childhood toward an orientation that sees the welfare of the tribe as more important than that of the individual.  What we see in the development of patriarchy (The Epic of Gilgamesh is the best and oldest story that portrays this development in mythic/psychological terms) is a devaluation of tribal Eros and a severe increase in classism, hierarchy, and the importance of status (which is obtained more often through self-interest, not empathy or self-sacrifice).  Additionally, the rise of proto-modern patriarchy very possibly took influence from the development of proto-industry (again, we see this in Gilgamesh) . . . where "proto-industry" involves a redefinition of the relationship between humanity and Nature.  Industrious Man sees that the power of Nature to determine his welfare is more limited than he once imagined.  Nature becomes less a Goddess and more "raw material".  Nature seems to submit itself or subordinate itself to the desires of Industrious Man.  And this sparks a kind of mad hubris in patriarchal man . . . who typically fails to notice that his relationship to Nature as resource or raw material is not unlike the infant's relationship to the mother and her provident breast.

The ego (developing in a patriarchal culture) strives to adapt to and adopt patriarchal structure and its prolonged (and often shadowy) sense of self-interest.  In modern and proto-modern societies, Otherness is everywhere, and so self-interest becomes more important to survival.  But the way modernism (patriarchy) builds extra self-interest into the construction of socialized ego is, I believe, in conflict with the evolution of this thing we call ego (that I see as evolving in order to facilitate instinctual adaptation to an environment defined by culture rather than a purely material environment).  The ego evolved (to put this theory very simplistically) to help keep sociality instinctual and adaptive even as human cultural evolution placed greater emphasis on the value of individuals.  Without delving any further into the deeper jungles of speculation where this theory is concerned, I will only note that it is possible that the ego is an incomplete adaptation or an adaptation still in R and D.  We may be living our lives with a "prototype personality", a (still buggy) "beta version".  That is, this organ of cognition I'm calling the ego is not a fool-proof tool for adaptivity.  It is extremely plastic, but also very prone to dysfunction  and breakdown.  It's like an exotic car that is great to drive . . . when it's actually working right, which seems to be all too rarely.

One of the cardinal "flaws" of the human ego is its need to be reborn or reorganized both constantly (on a fairly subtle level, i.e., "memory consolidation") and extensively (on at least a couple archetypal and universal occasions).  That is, we develop an ego as an infant and into childhood adapted to the environment of the mother (which extends to the father and/or other care-providers eventually).  Then this infantile ego must undergo construction/reconstruction as the peer environment becomes the environment to which the individual must learn to adapt.  After this, the tribal environment of the socialized individual who is responsible for others and for the group necessitates another reorganization.  There are arguably other archetypal reorganizations of ego, but I think these are the most significant ones.

The anima work is the instinctual process that underlies the third reorganization from adolescence to socially responsible adulthood.  This shouldn't be confused with "social conformity".  We are actually most "conformed" to group averages and standards during the second, peer environment adaptation phase (where the goal is commonly thought to be getting as high in the status hierarchy as possible through dominance, cleverness, or sycophancy).  But the peer environment tends to be highly competitive and encourages extreme self-interest.  The third reorganization of ego is always about curtailing this self-interest and becoming useful to others and to the group.  Obviously much more needs to be done to study such stages of development.  I am simply working from intuition and psychological observation here.  To my knowledge, developmental psychology is not as oriented to evolutionary biology as the approach I'm suggesting is, and doesn't adequately comprehend the importance of humanity as it has evolved to adapt and live.  That is, it is not observing the problem that the environment of evolutionary adaptedness is significantly different than our modern environment . . . and we are driven powerfully to return to the primal environment or to recreate it as a niche within modern society.  When we behave without much consciousness, we behave as though we are still in the primal environment (even as this can be dysfunctional or destructive in the modern environment).  And our notorious modern anxiety is very often the product of the tension we feel from being essentially "displaced".

Although I am far from an expert in developmental psychology, I'm concerned that a failure to understand what I call the Problem of the Modern can lead to the invalidation of much of the data developmental psychologists are gathering.  Modernism is not (by the standard of our evolutionary adaptedness) "natural".  It is inevitable and must be dealt with functionally . . . but it is a genuine problem for our species (the resolution of which cannot be made, I believe, in its repeal).


To return to the problem of the Mother, we need to examine the possible relationality between the ego and the autonomous and instinctual Self, between consciousness and the unconscious.  The notion (totemized in patriarchy) that the Self can be a provider for an adult ego (where this is projected by the patriarchal ego onto the mother, the mother-as-lover, the natural resource, power, wealth, etc.) is contested by the instinctual Self.  It is also not logical; it doesn't provide an accurate paradigm for functional relationality.  That is, it is not a matter of natural give and take, of recycling and reciprocation, but seeks to be like a baby bird, stuck in the nest, always opening its mouth to be fed by the Parent (where the Parent can be greed, ambition, or some other self-interested drive).  Even though the patriarchal ego can achieve (in the patriarchy) some kind of worldly success, the instinctual drive behind ego-formation is one that includes empathy and an Other-orientation.  To the degree that this Otherness is resisted and feared, we tend to live within a limiting and inflexible paradigm . . . essentially, a non-adaptive system that is not able to achieve adequate equilibrium with its environment.

The Demonic urge behind the patriarchal ego seeks to combat this by trying to control and limit the relationship with the environment to one that facilitates or provides for the inflexible, patriarchal ego.  We humans excel at manipulating our environment to serve our desires and needs . . . so much so that we tend to forget we are animals that must adapt in order to find equilibrium.  The severe control of environment by the patriarchal ego (when it is successful) almost always creates "externalities" that can be injurious to others.  The patriarchal mindset holds that these (often not directly intended) injuries to others are an acceptable consequence of what is believed an entitlement to serve the appetites of self-interest.  But this is a choice, and this choice implies the belief that Other-consciousness is relatively unimportant compared to self-interest . . . and that self-interest is self-sustaining just as long as everyone is competing with everyone else by trying to satisfy their own self-interest.  This is the declared philosophy behind "free market" capitalism.  And this philosophy has at times been "justified" with Social Darwinist arguments ("the survival of the fittest").  Social Darwinism was part of the elite ideology underpinning the Industrial Revolution (it seemed to work just fine for those empowered by industry).  Even though it has fallen into disrepute (especially since Nazism), we do not often enough recognize its adoption in our beloved capitalist system.  Nor do we often enough contemplate that the construction of self-interested competition is actually not at all reflective of our biology, instinct, and evolution (nor is it genuinely Darwinian).

That is, we are an intensely social species, not a species of isolated individuals.  The notion that self-interest is a biological imperative and social necessity of homo sapiens does not actually concur with our current understanding of human instinct and biology.  What we have allowed to slip into the unconscious is the recognition that, even in modernity, power and social success runs with tribal libido.  I.e., "Connections".  These back-room and "unconscious" connections are often "the way things get done" in our complex, hierarchical, modern societies.  But this tribalistic structure is often hidden from "the masses".  Except where struggles to achieve status are concerned.  "Status" in modern society is essentially the benefit of membership to a tribe that can afford its members some kind of power.  Status is achieved through belonging to a tribe or tribes, through affiliation and general obedience to the laws of conduct that tribe promotes.  If you want to "succeed", you have to "play ball" (i.e., belong/conform).  This is the larger reality of being a modern citizen.  The propaganda about our egalitarianism is perhaps a romantic ideal at best, a ruse of the powerful at worst.  But the relationship that modernism and patriarchy have to tribalism still fails the same challenge of modern sociality that tribalism fails.  Namely, instead of allowing greater diversity and complexity to exist within a larger tribe, it demands that tribal differentiations define and perpetuate the sense of Otherness across tribes.  That is, our unconscious (patriarchal) approach to modernism and its population density issues still fails to adequately valuate Otherness.  The humanist idea that the individual is the ultimate unit of social value and belongs to a universal tribe of humanity inspires us, but is very difficult to actualize given the innate, tribalistic limitations on our sense of sociality (our definition of self and Other).

In patriarchy we can detect a kind of forced ignorance of our individual and collective dependencies.  This is even an obvious (yet widely denied or ignored on a psychological level) political problem, especially in the United States.  "Oil dependency" gets the most press, but perhaps just as significant is "labor dependency" as we outsource more and more jobs, making skilled labor increasingly scarce in the American economy.  The waning of skilled middle class labor positions in the United States has placed more emphasis on service jobs, which tend to be unskilled by comparison . . . and this threatens to dismantle the bulk of the middle classes.  There seems to be general denial or repression of this concern in mainstream media-broadcast political discussions in which "the economy" is defined more and more by the elite classes who can benefit by global trading and the outsource of skilled labor as an investment.  Yet we fail to recognize (and respect) the complex system that a massive, modern economy presents.  That is, the middle class is a staple of modernity.  It is the rather mysterious emergent property of modern social self-organization.  We don't understand entirely the importance of the middle class to a global (or even national) economy, because the relationality of the middle class to the whole system is incredibly complex and hard to measure.  But it is very possible that the destruction (or merely paring down) of the middle class could affect the entire complex system like the destruction of a key species can affect an ecosystem, creating a catastrophic chain reaction.

I don't mean to say I understand this to be the case.  I merely mean to suggest that no one really does, this is the problem of complexity in general . . . so extreme economic ideologies (like free market capitalism) are more likely to have disastrous long-term effects than economic practices that seek to have consciousness of valuation of the system as a whole as well as specific self-interest.  The free-market ideology takes as its main opponent "governmental regulation" of business and seeks to alter government by advocating deregulation and the dismantling of governmental attempts at balancing economy and social class through social welfare programs (yet it also seems to be hypocritically fond of "corporate welfare", again showing its strange addiction to/demonization of the Breast).  This has come to seem perfectly sane to many of us today.  But seen more neutrally, this looks very much like a religious ideology or fundamentalism.  It seeks sustenance without being sustaining.  "Competition will provide" is its underlying motto.  It is no different than the faith-based dependence on manna from heaven.  It's a Catholic-like "Faith Alone" fundamentalism.

I don't know if this can be a sustainable and adaptable approach to survival in the modern world . . . but it is, I feel, in distinct contradiction to the ego reorganization of the anima work, which seems to function (at least essentially) as if we are living in the environment of evolutionary adaptedness, i.e., in an archaic and "primitive" fashion.  The push of the anima work is one toward social responsibility and Other-orientedness.  And this archaic drive tends to place the individual in conflict with the pressures of modern society and its indoctrination into and worship of self-interest and status-building. I don't mean to romanticize tribalism or neo-primitivism.  It is, in fact, the inability to be adequately conscious of our tribalistic affiliations and sociality (which are instinct driven), that prevents modern society from genuinely reaching our democratic, humanist ideal.  Unconscious tribalism tends to engender an Us vs. Them attitude and encourage fundamentalist approaches to whatever the prevailing ideology or dogma of the tribe might be.  But I do think that within the instinct or archetype of tribal Eros there is the prima materia of empathy for Others.  And this primary empathy and valuation of Others (initially Others who are very similar to oneself and may even be kin) can, I believe, with the plasticity of ego consciousness, be interpreted as a universal (non-tribal) ethical philosophy.  This is the case because empathy and relationality are human drives . . . whereas the ego is the interpreter, facilitator, and narrativizer of these instinctual drives.  Left unconscious, these drives will be interpreted in the simplest and strictest possible way (as the tribal dogma dictates), but channeled through the extreme plasticity of egoic consciousness, a basic drive like empathy can be construed as an all-embracing ethical philosophy.

The anima work does not create egoic plasticity like this, but it helps activate and facilitate it.  Complex adaptive systems, we have learned, are natural products of evolution.  There is often great plasticity and resilience in these systems (and humans have exploited this extensively in their non-sustainable use of natural resources).  Simpler, more rigid systems cannot withstand as much damage or opposition.  The anima work is a movement to valuate the flexibility and plasticity of the human brain's conceptualizing and narrativizing capacities . . . and therefore, to harness these capacities to natural self-organizational principles, to adaptive systemic complexity.  The qualitative feeling of this complexity and plasticity can seem at first (to our culturally rigidified egos) to be a lack of stability or stasis.  But once we work through that egoic prejudice, we find that this added (or newly valuated and facilitated) plasticity can make us more adaptive and resilient.  Those engineers now studying and designing artificial systems have discovered that this is a universal principle, and not merely a tribal or partisan ideology.


This is a long and winding way to get us back to the confrontation with the Maternal Unconscious.  What I mean to suggest through these economical, political, and ecological anecdotes is that the patriarchal paradigm that designates the battle with the Mother as the conquering of inner (and perhaps outer) darkness misunderstands how the true confrontation with the Mother requires not might, but flexibility.  Eventually, all might must be sacrificed, and with this sacrifice comes the recognition that there is no absolute erasure of the bond to the Maternal Unconscious possible.  To suggest there is is to deceive ourselves and cast this bond into shadow.  What is within our capacity is the choice not to usurp or demand from the instinctual unconscious, but to serve and facilitate it.

Therefore, the dependency we develop on the anima as we come to valuate it is meant to be relinquished.  The anima is not meant to be a surrogate Mother or muse or constant companion and buoy.  It is a process that brings attention to our dependency on the providence of the unconscious and allows us to see how this usurpation depletes and infects the very source of instinct we want to sustain us.  The illness of the anima is a common dream theme.  It locates the need for attention and care in the anima or Instinctual Self.  It isn't the ego per se that needs to be "healed".  The (old) ego is the disease that has poisoned the Self.  It has become a thorn in the lion's paw.  The anima is the drive or intelligence that draws the ego's attention to this wound site and makes a case for the valuation of healing.  As the ego comes to accept this argument, it increasingly adopts the heroic attitude and moves toward the union of the syzygy.  But this "seduction" into heroism eventually leads the heroic ego to a place in which it must sacrifice itself or accept that it (the ego) is the real problem.  And the final act of this sacrifice is giving up the dependency on the Mother-Anima and with it, the inspirational drive that nourishes the ego's heroism.  So anima and hero die together as we come to accept that the true meaning of the anima work was never to "feel heroic" or to "win the anima or soul twin", but to develop the courage and the empathy necessary to see how the old construction of the ego is the real disease of the personality and to figure out the "solution" or the beginning of the Logos (the "attitude of surrender and service") that can begin the systemic reorganization process of the psyche.

This Logos means starting over in a more or less equal partnership with the instinctual Self and actively co-creating the new dynamics of the "reborn" ego (where co-creation is a communication and cooperation or mutual empathy in which neither party dictates to the other).  Still, the Self contains the ego.  The Self is the fundamental drive and nature of the psyche.  The ego is always only a kind of go-between or conduit.  The needs and the instinctual urges driving behavior and thought come from the Instinctual Self, but are interpreted through the ego and its dynamic, personal memory.  As much as the ego might believe in its own autonomy, I see this feeling of autonomy or free will as largely an illusion.  Even the source of uniqueness is generated by the Self (as the product of the individual's genetic distinctiveness and his or her unique personal experience).  As the fundamental source of life and personality, the Self is and will always be a Great Mother figure to some degree.

And this means that, even as we make the heroic sacrifice to separate from the rigid paradigm of dependency on the instinctual unconscious, we can only do this with the acceptance that we, as egos, are small, subordinate organs in a much greater whole that we will never dictate or determine.  What the heroic ego comes to realize is that it has the power to both aid and impair the Self, and both options will lead to aid or impairment of the ego respectively.  The heroic ego is essentially responsible for the welfare and functionality of the Self, which is responsible for the adaptiveness, drive, and health of the whole organism.  The ego is perhaps more the provider than the Self is, and what it provides is access to environment, where this "access road" is made out of language, attitude, philosophy, functional fictions, Logos.


In the dream above, the anima is enthroned and raised to status of Mother Goddess, but her ritual act is meant to show that 1.) what was inspiring and empowering in the anima's love and attention was like the Great Mother's breast, a kind of providence that should be recognized as such, and 2.) this providence is no longer necessary for the more conscious and self-sufficient heroic ego and will therefore now be taken away.  The dream ego also sees that it must give up the sense of numinous eroticism that had stimulated it to pursue the union with the anima and has here been pared down to its Maternal essence.

The posture assumed briefly in the dream is also reminiscent of some enthroned statues of Isis and Hathor.  When I had this dream I was also reminded of an image I saw in one of Jung's alchemy books of Sophia nursing a Hermetic philosopher.  There is also an implication, therefore, of inheritance.  This sustenance will no longer be provided, because the ego is now able to provide for itself.  It doesn't have to project anima or Mother onto another person in order to experience it.  What the man undertaking the anima work realizes is that he is consciously becoming like the anima as the work progresses.  It is as if she is transferring personality traits to the ego.  Part of the anima depotentiation is a factor of this transference of selfhood (often experienced as wisdom or gnosis) to the ego.  To the degree that the anima can be "incorporated" into the ego, it is a matter of returning previously unowned egoic traits that had been left to be projected on the female Other.  What remains after this transfer is the Self (or Self-as-Other), which cannot be absorbed into consciousness.  What is inherited from the anima where the Self is concerned is the anima's role as envoy to and translator of the Self.  These duties now pass to the ego, and it is with these new duties that the Work proper begins.  The learning and translating of the Self's language or Logos is equivalent to what the alchemists called the Philosopher's Stone or the filius philosophorum.  That is, after the prima materia is derived from the Solutio/Coniunctio, it is often called the Stone as it undergoes the rest of the process.
« Last Edit: September 12, 2008, 12:19:21 PM by Matt Koeske »
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Re: The Anima Work: Depotentiation of the Anima Dream
« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2008, 03:20:24 PM »

4.) The purification ritual or baptismal initiation.

The scene of the dream that took place in the bathroom (and could be seen as a response to or processing of the feelings contained in the previous scene where we look at the cordoned off museum exhibit) has a few important features.  First, the bathroom was grand, elegant, and covered with marble.  It looked in many ways like an ancient Greek or Roman temple and this added to the sense of the anima figure as a Mother Goddess and made the posture of nursing seem more like a kind of initiation into the Mysteries.

Next, the bathroom as a symbol in itself designates washing, purification, removal of waste, privacy, intimacy.  The posture of the anima and the dream ego evokes some of the statues in which Isis nurses Horus on her throne.  Horus being a representation of the reborn god (born from the union of Isis and the corpse of Osiris).  But the ritual enacted in the dream seems to be one of weening more than of nursing.  As the heroic ego is weened of the last remnants of the Mother Anima in this marble bathroom, there is a reflection of baptism, the ritual in which the god enters the human.  The initiate into the Mysteries has not become "infused with" the god or turned into a half-divine, half-human being.  S/he has accepted the burden of being a vessel and caretaker/facilitator for the god.  Thus, the initiation is not a matter of transcendence or inflation, but actually requires a great humility and heroic sacrifice.  The gods of the Mystery tradition were suffering gods (Dionysus and Persephone), and to become their vessel meant to share in their archetypal suffering.

Finally, the throne was conflated with a toilet, and this (seemingly sacrilegious) symbol demonstrates that this baptism/purification ritual involves a letting go of waste.  This waste could include the remnants of dependency on the anima/Self, but also the feelings of confusion and inadequacy that are common products of the anima work.  That is, it is no easy task to valuate this anima work.  So much of it seems fantastic, unreal, self-indulgent.  Finishing this work requires that we allow ourselves to look upon it as complete and satisfying, to overcome the (perfectly reasonable, but destructive) doubts about its value.  At the same time, we must relinquish and residual hope or desire that the anima work would transform us into permanent heroes who can handle all challenges in their path with ease.  The anima work affords the individual no special abilities.  In fact, it is more likely to complicate life for us, or at least relationality.  Human relationality tends to be a mysterious and unconscious realm of experience.  To bring consciousness into this realm can sometimes feel like an invasion of the human into Olympus.


5.) The death or ultimate departure of the anima.

This is probably the most difficult part of the anima work.  It's difficult to let go emotionally.  It's difficult to understand why one should let go.  The bulk of the anima work seems to encourage the ego (toward heroism) to know and unite with the anima . . . and then she is gone.  Confusion, frustration, anxiety, regret, and grief are all common reactions and are completely understandable.  It often seems, as the anima work progresses, that one is moving toward ecstasy or transcendence, toward enlightenment and "rebirth".  And yet, the anima work leaves the individual right smack in the Nigredo, the corpse of the syzygy or divine hermaphrodite.  The promise of a new, more adaptive, resilient, capable personality suddenly feels smashed to pieces.  It's easy to become bitter about this, or to fall into denial, to think you must have done something wrong, to force yourself to strike out on a desert journey and endure the grief of loss without oasis.

Before offering my reflections on this, I would like to recommend a few texts that portray and address this grievous mystery, which is what the Coniunctio is all about and which I have also been calling the "heroic sacrifice".  First, it is almost essential that one seek out and listen carefully to Bob Dylan's music, starting as far back as his 1975 album, Blood on the Tracks.  Dylan has devoted at least half of his immense oeuvre to anima songs, and simply put, there is no text on earth as rich in the intricacies of the anima experience as his collected works.  One can, I feel, even track the progression in the anima work over the years his albums were released.  Before Blood on the Tracks, we can see many more conventional anima portraits in Dylan's music, some negative, some positive.  And even though many of these songs had prescient verses that seemed to predict the anima vanishing, it isn't until Blood on the Tracks that he really seems to devote a meditation to this.

It also bears repeating in the case of women doing or curious about the animus work, that in my opinion, there is very little difference between the anima and the animus work (and I usually refer to these archetypes as the animi for this reason).  Some juxtaposition is necessary, but I think women can get just as much out of Dylan's anima songs in terms of animus as men can in terms of anima.

In Dylan's 1976 album, Desire, the anima loss motif is continued.  The distinctly Jungian song, Isis, encapsulates the anima loss myth . . . but it ends hopefully, with a return of the anima.  Nicely paired with "Isis" is the song "Shelter from the Storm" from Blood on the Tracks, which concludes:

Quote
In a little hilltop village, they gambled for my clothes
I bargained for salvation an' they gave me a lethal dose.
I offered up my innocence and got repaid with scorn.
"Come in," she said,
"I'll give you shelter from the storm."

Well, I'm livin' in a foreign country but I'm bound to cross the line
Beauty walks a razor's edge, someday I'll make it mine.
If I could only turn back the clock to when God and her were born.
"Come in," she said,
"I'll give you shelter from the storm."

I don't think we should take Dylan's identification with Christ in these lines as "merely an inflation".  He has tapped into the Christ myth at precisely the right part, the doorstep of the heroic sacrifice.  "Shelter from the Storm" contrasts desire for the anima's Maternal comforts with the danger of such comforts.  But the notion that the anima work is a "bargain for salvation" that actually results in a "lethal dose" is one of the best ways of expressing the problem of the Coniunctio I have every heard.

What we see in this song (and in many of Dylan's songs from this time onward), is a desire to "turn back the clock" or reunite with the anima, to reignite that period of excitement and libido when She seemed to be everything, to be the final answer to the ultimate question.  Dylan is still writing songs with this theme (and the grief of anima loss) in the 21st century.  His 1997 album, Time Out of Mind is a fairly wearied revisitation of the anima loss.

I don't feel able to say with any validity how hard this stage is for most people who experience it.  I honestly haven't encountered many that have.  Bob Dylan seems to have lived off of this mythos for decades, and although it's good fuel for the Blues, it has to chew you up inside.  My own experience of this time was less prolonged (but also less productive, artistically speaking).  It took me about seven years before I could regain my creative voice and the libido to make.  During this time, I felt somehow hollowed out, as if some divine spark of energy was not there to drive me in any particular direction.  Like Dylan, I missed this, I craved it . . . but I also accepted it.  My constant companion at the time was the Rosarium Philosophorum sequence, which held a numinous fascination for me.  I understood that the anima work had to end in death/depotentiation, and that the Nigredo/Albedo sequence had to run its slow course before anything spiritually energizing would return.  I understood this intuitively, and also as my personal interpretation of the Rosarium's 6th through 10th emblems.  I had known before it happened (in the dream this chapter is based on) that the anima would die, and this is why (in this dream), I was able to let go enough for it to leave.  But, as you will see in the next dream, although I had let go of the Mother-Goddess in the anima, I still struggled to let go of syzygy's twin.

During these years (of Nigredo), I missed the anima, but did not covet it.  I didn't say to myself that I was incomplete without it.  I knew the anima had given me everything it could, albeit in a somehow "unborn" state (which I later came to recognize as the feeling quality of the prima materia).  I will write more in a later chapter about the experience of the anima during the Nigredo (i.e., after the anima work).


The next text worth checking out that portrays the anima loss is the David Cronenberg film, Naked Lunch (but not the William S. Burroughs book it is very loosely based on).  Cronenberg takes the fantasy images of Burroughs' novels and uses it as the backdrop to tell a symbolic biographical story about Burroughs.  It's an excellent film, but probably too bizarre and surreal for mainstream audiences.  The film shows the protagonist, William Lee's, semi-accidental murder of his wife, Joan . . . followed by a nightmare-like, symbolic reenactment of Lee's journey through drug hallucinations to come to terms with the significance of this act.  In the surreal quest through "Interzone", Lee pursues an anima figure (who looks exactly like his wife), while simultaneously undergoing a gradual cure for his heroine addiction (courtesy of shadowy Dr. Benway) and struggling with his homosexuality.  All of these are part of the same "hero's quest".  The background of heroine addiction and surreal hallucinations do more justice to the psychology of the dissolution than anything else I've come across.

As Lee descends into the dissolution, he seems to be unconsciously creating his "breakthrough novel".  Although he eventually "wins" Interzone Joan (Joan Frost, rather than Lee) from the Demonic Fadela/Benway and sets off with Joan to Annexia, at the border, Lee is asked by the guard to prove that he is a writer (in order to enter Annexia).  He does this by shooting Joan in the head in the same way he did his wife (a fatal miss during the "William Tell Routine").  Burroughs had famously acknowledged that the shooting of his wife (in reality) was the thing responsible for his transformation into a writer.  But from an archetypal perspective, we can recognize the theme of the anima being lost just as it was finally found.  And this loss is the final step in the transformation of the man into a full human being . . . and in the case of The Naked Lunch, into a creator.  We could read other implications into this particular narrative, especially as it is complicated by the character's extremely conflicted homosexuality, but this film remains one of the few modern texts that does justice to the whole anima arc.


A very similar film, archetypally speaking, is the Coen brothers' Barton Fink.  It is also a surreal, symbolic story about a writer-as-hero struggling with his craft (and therefore his "muse" and his Demon).  Barton exhibits some of the qualities that Jungians like to call "anima possession" in this film . . . and his obsession with (and eventually dependency on) the anima figure, Audrey (interestingly, played by Judy Davis, the same actress who played Joan in Naked Lunch), is portrayed in quintessential, archetypal form.  As he falls into an addiction to her providence (the Maternal anima), Barton becomes acquainted with his own shadowy greed, immaturity, and dependency.  This problem is "solved" for him by his "everyman" hotel neighbor, Charlie (a Shadow-Self figure) . . . who happens to be a closet psychopath and serial killer.  Charlie murders Audrey as she sleeps in Barton's bed (after consummating their relationship).  He then courteously "helps" Barton deal with the disposal of the body and leaves Barton with a nicely packaged box just the right size to contain a human head.  While all this is unfolding, Barton has been commissioned to write a "B-Movie" wrestling picture script as his introduction to Hollywood (he had been a New York playwright) that faces him with his own hypocrisy and artificiality.  Barton is ultimately transformed by all of this into a person of more (if somewhat wounded) substance.

Barton Fink is slightly easier to follow (archetypally) than Naked Lunch, but both films depict the same psychological process.  I know no other films that do as much justice to the anima work cycle.

The final text that addresses this end theme of the anima work is much larger than Naked Lunch and Barton Fink in its written form.  The novel, The English Patient, by Michael Ondaatje is about much more than the anima work (although the film adaptation gives this part of the novel significantly more screen time than the novel itself would suggest).  There is much more about the animus in The English Patient than there is about the anima, but Ondaatje does an excellent job of demonstrating how these two archetypal personifications play off of one another.  The anima story of The English Patient is a subplot of the novel, and it involves a reminiscence of an affair between Almasy (the English Patient) and Katharine Clifton, a younger married woman.

Their passionate affair ends in tragedy, as Geoffrey Clifton, Katharine's pilot husband, jealous and suicidal, crashes his plane into the dessert with Katharine in the back seat while attempting to strike down Almasy.  Geoffrey is instantly killed, but Katharine survives, albeit with some broken bones (The crash missed its intended target, Almasy).  The Katharine/Almasy affair had been characterized by intense guilt as well as desire, and Katharine had attempted to end it and stay with her husband.  But the repressed passion Almasy and Katharine felt for each other burned at each of them as they were apart . . . and this is what drove Geoffrey to his murder/suicide attempt.

The Clifton's were supposed to be picking Almasy up in the plane, as Almasy had stayed behind at an archaeological find in the dessert, an old oasis called the Cave of Swimmers (the search for which had previously served as the backdrop of his falling for Katharine).  Almasy carries Katharine into the Cave of Swimmers after the crash and tends to her wounds.  But he must attempt to set off on foot (as the intended vehicle of departure, the plane, was destroyed) through the dessert to find a vehicle and help to return to Katharine before she starved to death in the Cave.  She could not walk on her own due to her injuries, and they knew they couldn't make it far in the dessert if Almasy tried to carry her.

After walking madly for days, Almasy runs into some British soldiers (this is during WWII) and begs them to help by lending him a jeep to drive back to the Cave of Swimmers.  But the soldiers expect Almasy of being a German sympathizer (he had been under surveillance by the British partly due to his potentially German heritage and his expressed non-partisanship in the war; in fact, Geoffrey Clifton was one of the people assigned to keep tabs on Almasy, and he had become additionally suspicious due to the affair Almasy had with Katharine).  Not only do the British soldiers refuse to lend the raving Almasy a jeep, they incarcerate him.  After a long time, Almasy manages to escape British custody and sets off on a quest back through the dessert to reach the Cave of Swimmers (although he knows that Katharine has long since died).  He is willing to "sell his soul" to fulfill his promise that he would return to her, and he accomplishes this by selling his archaeological maps of the dessert to the Nazis in exchange for gasoline (needed to fuel a back-up plane that had previously been buried in the dessert by the archaeological crew Almasy was with (once Geoffrey Clifton joined the group with his new plane, the old one was no longer needed).

Almasy unearths the old plane and flies across the dessert to the Cave of Swimmers.  He takes the nearly fleshless corpse of Katharine out of the cave (she had starved to death years ago), and attempts to fly back out of the dessert.  But the plane is too old and had been abandoned for too long, and it malfunctions and bursts into flames.  Katharine's body falls away in pieces as Almasy is severely burned and crashes into the dessert.  It is as this horrible burned and nameless man that he becomes the English Patient nursed by Hana, to whom he gradually communicates his whole story of Fall.

Although even this excerpt is a lot to try to retell, this whole subplot offers and excellent portrayal of the anima work.  The "illicitness" of it, the dissolution (into desire in this case), the rise and fall, the impossibility of preserving the anima relationship on a plateau, the death of the anima and the resulting Nigredo (quite literally a "blackening" in this story) in which the whole drama of the anima work is gradually processed and made sense of.


I found that these texts along with my anima dream sequence and various fairytales have followed the same archetypal pattern (and I was lucky enough to have discovered these texts while I was embroiled in the anima work and ensuing Nigredo stage of the Work).  They helped me accept the loss of the anima, but it took many years for me to gain much understanding of what had actually happened.  Yet even in the onset of the Nigredo, I noticed that the archetypal theme of the death of the anima was conspicuously absent from mainstream Jungian thinking.  It was really only Jung himself who suggested that the anima was something of a "transitional object" (and this he did only indirectly in Memories Dreams Reflections and in one other essay which I will discuss below).  What has been lost in the Jungian failure to understand the anima death (and therefor the anima work as a finite process) is, I feel, the key to understanding the individuation process in any kind of concrete and studiable way.  It is because of this failure to grasp the meaning of the anima that individuation has become little more than a totem or myth in Jungian literature and imagination . . . and not something practical, tangible, real.  It is due to this failure that the inflation that is a common byproduct of the dissolution stage of individuation has been misunderstood and demonized (rather than depotentiated).  This failure constitutes the unattended wound in the Jungian psyche that now seems to be ushering Jungian psychology toward extinction.  This wound could not be admitted to, and therefor no adaptation or healing has occurred.

It is also this failure that had convinced me that I should write this current account.  I don't expect this writing to serve as the "missing link" to Jungian thinking, but it is an attempt to try to bring some light into an area of the Jungian shadow that has long been avoided.  It is, I believe, an artifact well worth contemplating for any Jungian interested in the animi or the experiential realities of the individuation process.
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 Anima Work: Depotentiation of the Anima Dream
« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2008, 03:20:48 PM »

The Divine Hermaphrodite

In addition to the Hathor/Isis aspects of the anima figure from this dream, it also reflects the alchemical symbolism of the Rebis or hermaphrodite . . . the syzygy, the union of Sol and Luna into one being.  At the time I had this dream, I was at least superficially familiar with alchemical symbolism through the reading of Jung (and had a very strong transference to alchemical emblems from the first time I saw them, especially the emblems from the Rosarium Philosophorum, which showcase the Rebis image as well as any text).  The hermaphroditic anima also showed up in other dreams of this period.  We could (in the conventional Jungian fashion) look at this symbol in its historical or archetypal context . . . an expression of the "collective unconscious".  This approach may add academic interest to the study of the dream and is by no means worthless in an analysis of the anima.  But my approach to dream work is less archetypal/academic than Jung's.  I don't so much see fully formed images preexisting in the unconscious as I do a sort of logic or regular structure and function.  This structure and function exists on what is essentially a "quantum" psychic level that provides the building blocks of the more conventional Jungian archetypes like the anima.

I do not imagine that all instances of hermaphroditism in the anima figures of men's dreams mean the same thing . . . but I can think of some reasons why this symbol would emerge fairly consistently.  Of course, on a basic symbolic level, the hermaphrodite is a logical expression of the unity of masculine and feminine within one persona or being/intelligence.  But even in alchemical symbolism, there is a recognition that this Rebis is no mere abstract symbol.  The Rebis is acknowledged as something of a monstrosity . . . and yet it stands as an emblem of functional unity and transformation at the same time.  Jung noted that some of the monstrosity of the alchemical Rebis was due to the symbolic son/mother or brother/sister incest theme attributed to the Coniunctio.  Perhaps this is a factor, but there is a more obvious interpretation of the alchemical monstrosity of the Rebis.  Namely, as a symbol, it represents a fusion of Opposites into a new Third . . . and that Third is unrecognizable, novel, even alien.  The monstrousness is also an aspect of the impossibility or "unnaturalness" of the union of Opposites.  That is the meaning (or a meaning) of the opus contra naturum.

How is this process of individuation a "Work Against Nature"?  Well, that's a matter of perspective, but I think we could say that "nature", where human psychology is concerned, is essentially "unconsciousness".  More precisely, nature is the urge for ordered and conventional participation in tribal expressions of sociality.  It is the human being living in relative equilibrium with the environment of evolutionary adaptedness (which no longer exists, certainly not in modern nations).  The opus contra naturum portrays a reorganization from this instinctive state of coexistence with the environment of evolutionary adaptedness to a state meant to adapt the individual to the changed environment of the modern (and what was the proto-modern) world.  It is an adaptation event in progress.  So it may be contra naturum, but it is also "nature's work against nature".  This was also intuited by the alchemists and incorporated into their philosophical reflections on Nature and the Work.

I see the seed of the Work (the so-called "true prima materia") as the animi work.  Everything in the Work flows from this fusion of instinct and conscious intention, is engendered by it.

If we look at what "evolution has done" to various species, we will see many "monstrosities".  Arguably, our own species can be seen as the most monstrous of all.  Novelty and monstrosity is the mark of adaptation.  Mutations can be helpful as well as harmful . . . and the alchemical Rebis is (symbolically) a beneficial mutation.  The emotional theme of the alchemical Work is valuation of what is newly born, newly created, and seems distorted, ugly, or base.  The Philosopher's Stone is found in the dung heap.  Alchemical texts keep coming back to this theme: the creation of the stone (and the act of transmutation of what is base into what is exalted) is a matter of valuation.  This is also expressed as redemption . . . and most commonly, as the redemption of Matter from a Fallen state of inert lifelessness.  This is expressed in the 19th emblem of the Rosarium sequence as the coronation or assumption of Mary.


There is another aspect of the hermaphroditic anima figure that has a more personal (but I think, still very universal) meaning.  As a woman who also has a penis, the hermaphroditic anima is not merely an expression of the archetypal Feminine (as conventional Jungian thinking would have it), but the carrier of the lost Masculine.  We can see similar elements in animus symbolism.  For instance, Dionysus (a quintessential expression of the animus) has many feminine traits and a large female entourage (which is specifically not a harem of lovers).  There is a sense in Dionysus mythology that he is not only driving the Maenads "mad", but empowering them as women.  Of course, patriarchal men might not want to see this empowerment as anything but "raving" (Maenad means "raving one").  I can't help but think that Jung himself would happily apply this moniker to what he liked to call "animus possessed" women.  We shouldn't forget that ancient Greek culture had a very imprisoning attitude toward women (they were largely imprisoned in the home).  Even if Dionysus worship was only a small fraction as wild as it has been portrayed in classic literature, such wildness would very likely have shocked and even terrified many patriarchal Greek men.

The residue of animus-like Dionysus can still be seen in the Christ myth, which has many parallels with Euripides' Bacchae.

As the anima work progresses, the ego receives a steady transference of personality traits and potentials from the anima.  This is what I mean by the term "twinning".  Jung's rather dated construct of the anima assumes that "men are men and women are women" . . . and so, that the anima imbues the man with femininity in the form of moods and pregnant affects.  Although Jung wrote in a pre-feminist era, I suspect his construct of gender is personally as well as culturally stunted.  With all the intelligent and strong women he had relationships with (some romantic as well as professional), he should have been less sexist in his anima/animus characterizations.  And yet, he came across like a Victorian, patriarchal stiff when he wrote about the animi.  One gets the impression from Jung's writing (including Memories, Dreams, Reflections) that Jung did his anima work almost in spite of his more Demonic/superegoic self.  Even as his insights about the anima demonstrate (as we read between the lines) genuine anima work experience, even late in his life, he wrote about the anima experience like one who is ashamed of it (i.e., hasn't completely come to terms with it's value . . . as shame or braggadocio would equally suggest).

I have found (and literary texts and my observation of others' dreams and fantasies have corroborated) that the inheritance from the anima is every bit as much masculine as feminine.  More accurately, the anima inheritance is always a matter of undeveloped traits, attitudes, and potentials.  One of these lost or undeveloped traits is always potency.  Potency flows from instinct and is generated from attraction of the Opposites (or of the heroic ego and the anima).  The phallus (specifically for men) is the most common symbol of potency.  And the experience of the anima as emergent and valuated is one in which the anima (and the Self) is afforded its potency.  At first, the potency of the anima overwhelms the ego, but as the twinning and approach of the Coniunctio progresses, this potency is shared between the anima and the heroic ego.

Equally, this potency is depotentiated with the Coniunctio and the loss or death of the anima (as the alchemical Nigredo symbolism captures so vividly).  The potency belongs to the syzygy . . . as it is the product of connection between the ego and the Instinctual Self.  At first it is expended (instinctually and unconsciously) in the bringing together of the heroic ego and the anima.  The Nigredo/Albedo process that follows the Coniunctio involves an attempt to "mulch" the old and purify it for a new return of libido or potency.  We could say that the dissolution/Coniunctio is Nature's gift toward the systemic reorganization of personality, while the Nigredo/Albedo places more emphasis on conscious intention and egoic volition to carry out "Nature's Call".  This Work of processing and "purifying" in the Nigredo/Albedo stage is what I have been calling the creation of the Logos, which is a functional language for communication and relationality between the ego and the Self.  The Logos is based in the seedling of the Coniunctio and its intense, instinctual valuation of the functional ego/Self relationship.  The construction of this Logos is a creative act that can seem to resemble pregnancy, labor, and birth (and this was also not lost on the alchemists).  The man undertaking the anima work (and the Work in general) therefore has to become pregnable and learn how to nurture and labor in the inner world.  This, Jung did see, and the insight allows us to have a viable foundation on which to rebuild the Temple of Jungian anima theory without the sexist dross.

But just as the man learns to become pregnable (as he receives the anima-Self's potency), he must also learn (post-Coniunctio) how to impregnate himself.  The potency or "sperm" of the anima received by the heroic ego in the Coniunctio is a last hurrah of providence from the Instinctual Self.  The psyche pushes beyond this event toward a homeostatic reciprocity.  The ego learns how to provide what the Instinctual Self needs for nourishment.  And a major ingredient in this nourishment or facilitation of the Self is the creation and maintenance of the Logos, which the ego (in its heroic mode) strives to constantly furnish, refine, revise, and improve in relationship to the Self's need to circulate and express libido into the world (i.e., the act of living in an environment).  The Logos, then, is like a system of conveyance, or what I also like to call a "functional fiction" that facilitates instinctual and adaptive living.  The key to its functionality is not its "Truth" or righteousness (precisely the opposite, in fact).  The key is its plasticity, adaptability, lack of dogmatic ossification, its constant openness to revision in the name of efficiency and functionality.  Although the Logos is abstract (like any language), it is structurally modeled on a natural, adaptive complex system.  It is a conceptual interpretation of Nature's complex adaptability.

The potency of the anima (expressed not only as a masculine quality, but also as divine power or knowledge as the anima work progresses) also expresses the twinning of the syzygy in the push for the ego to adopt the heroic mode.  This can be very confusing, because a man caught up in the anima work typically finds that he is heroic only in his fantasies and dreams and cannot bring this heroism into material living without becoming a Fool.  The solution to this predicament is (not surprisingly) a creative and novel one . . . and it marks a place where Jung and the Jungians have stalled dangerously.  Jung's attitude toward the hero and the foolishness of the inflation (the vain desire to become and be seen as the hero of fantasy in the material world) was harshly condemning (as is no surprise when we consider his own self-deification fantasy regarding the Salome anima and Jung's transformation into the lion-headed Mithraic hero god).  But the "solution" (not in any way a one-time trick, but a continuous sacrifice) is to differentiate the Fool from the lust for power through fortification.  The inflation common to the individuation process is a product of wishing to make the feeling of empowerment that seems to cloth the hero into a material manifestation . . . where it is used as a fortress to protect the ego from any sting, slight, or criticism.

But this is a rather childish interpretation of the heroic ego that has been developing with the anima work.  The heroic attitude is never fortifying, but always permeable and flexible and sacrificing.  We can see in tales that portray the archetypal Fool the true foundation for the hero.  The Fool is defined by flexibility and resilience, not by brute power or defensiveness.  The Fool Falls into every bog and off every cliff and allows experience to change and educate him.  Jung and the Jungians struggle mightily with the inflation of the individuation process because they have not relinquished the notion that the hero is a conqueror, a dragon slayer, a light-bringer.  But the hero-as-Fool is a humble bearer of the Grail to whom no "greater glory" is due.

More practically, the depotentiation of the inflation requires first an admission that the desire to be empowered and fortified is both foolish and wrongheaded . . . but completely human and therefor acceptable.  The Fool never loses touch with his weakness, his appetites, and all the instinctual Otherness that has power over him, driving him this way and that.  To the degree that we subjugate ourselves to shame at our inflated foolishness, we devalue the Fool and dismantle our chances of processing the inflation.  The inflated attitude that Jung demonizes is typically characterized by a pathological overestimation of how terrible it is to be foolish and to fall.  And this overestimation prevents the individual (and all too often, the analyst as well) from recognizing that we are mightily foolish beings, and that our foolishness has been a key source of our ingenuity and resilience.  The true hero is not proud and can embrace his Foolishness and his mistakes.  To the Fool, mistakes are the real teachers . . . and not because they show one what not to do.  But because they show us that doing the wrong thing and suffering the consequences is itself (at least partially) a fruitful experience . . . just as long as this fruit is valuated.  Adaptation is not isolation from environment, but integration of the demands and realities of environment with the demands and realties of Self.  It is compromise, where compromise always means synthesis of thesis and antithesis . . . a new, Third thing, a monstrosity of adaptation.

Part of the anima work is the letting go of egoic/Demonic conceptions of heroism, letting go of glory, reward, and power.  Ethicality and valuation of Otherness call for all these sacrifices.  And as these illusions of heroism are thrown off in the pursuit of the anima (a pursuit that tends to make fools/Fools of us), a new kind of potency emerges that contrasts very sharply with the patriarchal ideal of potency.  We can see this new Foolish potency portrayed nicely in the tarot card of the Hanged Man who expresses grace and poise in the face of his own hanging/sacrifice . . . while vines grow around his cross.  Vegetal potency that flows from instinct and from the reciprocal relationship between ego and Self.  As the heroic ego submits to this potency (as expressed initially by the anima) so he acquires or reflects it.  It manifests in his newfound ability to "satisfy" the unique spiritual-sexual needs of the anima.  This turns into the the potency required of the ego if it is to build and maintain a Logos or adaptive system of instinct facilitation.  It is a fallacy to assume that the ego or the individual has some kind of divine right to satisfy itself at all costs (as patriarchy would have it).  We are not entitled to the universe in this way, and to assume we are is to assume that the universe is a great breast feeding us endless milk.

The heroic ego is not entitled in this way.  It is cooperative, coexistent, sustaining and sustainable.  It feels potency as potency and instinctual libido pass through it.  Potency is thus experienced as something which is not possessed.  The moment we try to possess this instinctual potency and claim that we are entitled to it is the moment we fall into inflation and lose our vegetal plasticity.  In the patriarchal attitude we see the attempt to control and usurp the "divine".  As Jung's construction of the hero was distinctly patriarchal, the inflation of the individuation process seemed especially demonic and terrible to him.  Even as he saw the need for this patriarchal formation of the conquering hero to die, he failed to completely understand that this never was the true hero that the instinctual unconscious shows us.  As he did in other constructions of his theory, Jung failed to differentiate culture from instinct and took some of the machinery of culture and their products as "divine"/instinctual/archetypal/inevitable . . . when in fact they are essentially neurotic products of patriarchy and legends the patriarchal ego has concocted to inflatedly celebrate itself and its sense of entitlement to the providence of Nature.

The anima is consistently anti-patriarchal . . . which is much the same thing as being anti-ego (where ego is largely a construction of patriarchy).  The paradigm that Jung chose to see the anima experience was blinding in many ways . . . and it is a wonder and a testament to Jung's great intuition (even when it came in spite of his egoic grumblings) that Jung was able to construct as much viable and useful reportage on the anima as he did.  But as the anima seems anti-patriarchal, it is in no way anti-masculine.  It is, in fact, a strong advocate of the vegetal masculine, the masculine as plastic, penetrable, and adaptive.  And the inheritance it offers to the male ego is a new kind of masculinity.  We could characterize this new masculinity or potency as "half masculine/half-feminine", but this characterization still wears the skewed lenses of the old patriarchal paradigm.  Really, this new Masculine is wholly masculine.  It is the Masculine that can merge with and is attracted to the potent Feminine.  It doesn't need to be "superior" or more powerful, but seeks equality and creative exchange most of all.

As we still live in a decidedly patriarchal world (although it is more plastic than the one Jung lived, and more importantly thought, in), we men who experience and pursue the anima work will have to shed our patriarchal notions of masculinity and become receptive to a more vegtal masculinity in order to complete the anima work.  In this sense, masculinity is one of the most precious gifts of the anima, and such masculinity cannot be fully embraced without the anima work.
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 Anima Work: Depotentiation of the Anima Dream
« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2008, 03:21:18 PM »

Anima and Jungian Thinking

Although I have sporadically inserted asides about Jung's and the Jungians' struggles with and with the analysis of the anima, still more needs to be said.  In Volume 7 of Jung's Collected Works (Two Essays on Analytical Psychology), the second of the eponymous essays, "The Relations Between the Ego and the Unconscious" holds Jung's quintessential statement of the psychic experience I am calling the anima work.  Interestingly, this essay was written early in Jung's career and marked (along with Symbols and Transformation of Libido) a distinct element of his departure from Freud.  In the preface to the second edition (1935), Jung even remarks that his original conception of some of this material began even earlier.  He also notes that the essay was revised "thoroughly" in 1928.  In his preface to the third edition (1938) he wrote: "Since this work first appeared no new points have emerged which might have made revision desirable."  Although, of course, Jung was under no obligation to return to this "introduction to the psychological problems of the process of individuation", it must be noted that never after this essay did Jung give as much energy and space to a discussion of the "mana personality" or inflation disease common to individuation nor to the "depotentiation of the anima".

In my various readings of this essay, I have been confronted with a rather overwhelming mix of impressed admiration and hair-tearing frustration.  I see (if often only between the lines) a great introductory text on the anima work here.  That is, all of the necessary components are mentioned (if not always elucidated).  And yet, there is a great deal of sexism, prejudice, narrow-mindedness in Jung's adopted tone and attitude toward the anima (especially) that reminds me distinctly of what I call the Demon of the Complex casting shame copiously on what I think should not be such a shameful endeavor.  At times, Jung sounds almost snide or petulant . . . and I found it very challenging to try to brush this aside and note that there is also a great deal of profundity and wisdom interspersed.

I have also noted that, if one could effectively pluck out the weeds of arrogance, condescension, and judgmentalism, one would be left with a portrait of the anima work that is more or less equivalent to a "highlights" version of the one I am here attempting to construct.  To some degree, this has led me to fault myself for portraying this construction of the anima work as novelly as I have and for continuously faulting Jungians for misunderstandings and for perpetuating misconceptions religiously.  My (rather excitable) inner critic whispers, "But Jung already said all that."  Not only did he say much of what I have reiterated in my account, I also learned many of these things (at first "academically") form Jung and developed my own conceptions in a way that I cannot deny the influence of Jung's paradigm on these formations.

Still, the fact remains that the functional anima work is not well culled from Jung's account in "The Relations Between the Ego and the Unconscious" . . . and what seems so obviously differentiable to me now has obviously not seemed so to most other Jungians (if published literature on the anima is a fair representation of Jungian thought on the matter).  If all I am doing is combing a part in an early text of Jung's then this is certainly enough.  And it would certainly be novel.  But what concerns me most is that "absolute" novelty in this project might be more effective than this revisionary novelty, since this anima work lore of Jung's has passed on into the Jungian mentality as an untanglable whole, a Gordian Knot perhaps.  Those who dare to play Alexander and slice such knots with their swords are (by knot makers and their followers) often the most hated of all.

I have done my best to argue for why the present knot should be sliced thusly, but I imagine that innumerable (and often academic) quibbles could be made, one for each frayed strand undone.  In other words, we must (in considering my revisions to conventional Jungian thinking about the anima) ask why some aspects of Jung's anima work construction are dispensable and others are not.  With slight trepidation, I have to confess that I see the specifics of this differentiation as entirely the products of experience.  I cut the knot thusly because of what I have experienced personally, what I have wrestled with, culled, and reworked again and again over the last 15 years.  In these years, it is only very recently that I have recognized the need to make a clear differentiation between my account and theories and those of Jung and the Jungians . . . and that differentiation came as unwelcome news to me, even as I recognized its necessity.  It has always been my intention to honor Jung and his ideas with my revisions and not to strike him down with vengeful criticism.  Jung's writings have been a salvation to me, a true star to guide by for many years.  Even as I depart from what has essentially become Jungian dogma, I do so with sad resignation, and the recognition that my revisionary criticisms of Jung's ideas will definitely at times win me enemies among "more loyal" Jungians (I speak not from paranoia but from experience here, unfortunately).

To that, I can only add a quote from Jung himself from the preface to the second edition of the above mentioned essay:
"These investigations have not yet come to a satisfactory conclusion, for the answer to the crucial problem of the nature and the essence of the unconscious process has still to be found.  I would not venture upon this exceedingly difficult task without the fullest possible experience.  Its solution is reserved for the future."

It is not my intention to hide behind this quote arrogantly, but to reiterate it on my own (rather than Jung's) behalf.  I hope and believe that I have clarity and value to add with my revisions and not more murk.  But at best my account is a more functional fiction, a more modern and precise language for describing something that is complex, mysterious, and unmeasurable.  I have based my theories (as I think Jung based his own regarding this subject) on what paths seemed most functional, healing, and sane (as well as logical) to me.  But the so-called "personal equation" is an undeniable factor.  Just as I detect the obstruction of Jung's "personal equation" in his accounts of the anima and the mana personality in his essay, I can only assume that I have my own specific blinders.  I hope that, also like Jung, in spite of these blinders, I have done and will do my best to sow gold among weeds.  Further winnowing may become the burden of others.  Times change, languages change, each new experience resonates and informs the the old and is informed by it simultaneously.  I cannot (nor do I suspect it would be possible to) give a definitive account of the anima work . . . and the Work in general remains a wonderful mystery to me, even as its structures seem to gradually materialize.


With that said, I feel there is a need to address some of the problems of Jung's anima work characterizations, especially within the context of Jungian culture.  This is not the place for a deconstructive analysis of Jung's essay, so I will only touch on a few major themes.

First of all, Jung characterizes the anima as a pathology (especially in this essay).  In Part IV, "The Mana-Personality", he declares the anima work (or the period in which the anima is potent or has mana in the psyche) is essentially a disease or delusion one should heal from.  He refers to the depotentiation of the anima also as "conquering", "conquest", and "assimilation".  To his credit, Jung also equates "conquest" of the anima with "her transformation into a function of relationship between the conscious and the unconscious".  But the other terms Jung employs to accompany "depotentiation" trouble me as they suggest an intentional (and therefor, egoic) act to overpower or manipulate the anima to fit into the ego's "safety zone".  Such an act would constitute a devaluation of the Other . . . and Jung clearly feels this is called for as he insists that the anima's autonomy is the specific threat that the ego must compensate and depose.

This declaration stands in radical opposition to my own experience, which powerfully reinforced the all-importance of valuating the Otherness the anima represented.  There is no absolutely egoic (self-interested) act in the experience of the anima work that serves to progress that work.  And here I mean specifically to differentiate the heroic ego or heroic attitude that the anima work engenders from the ego (as the construct of identity that mitigates the relationship between the environment outside and the instinctual environment that the Self is symbol of.  I see the heroic attitude as necessary in the anima work to convince the ego that it must follow or valuate the anima, even unto oblivion (i.e., the Coniunctio).  The ego is generally oriented to trust in the World . . . by which is meant, experience, indoctrination, conditioning, mass and authority opinion, expectation, and tribal dogma.  It "stays afloat" by appeasing this immense and potentially terrible force.  The anima work insists on the sacrifice of this attitude and the compensatory trust in the Instinctual Self.  What I hear in Jung's theories is a concerted attempt to balance the powers of conscious and unconscious through individuation . . . whereas this seems like "holding out" on the Work to me, a refusal to dive all the way in, and therefore a refusal to allow the ego to adequately "dissolve" in the instinctual process of reorganization.  By contrast, I do not see the unconscious as so terrible and demonic as Jung did.  To me, it seems merely natural . . . and therefore innately functional.  It's demands on the ego are not bedevilments, seductions, and assaults so much as reactions in the attempt to right a listing ship (and somewhat maddeningly, Jung, I think, would not at all disagree).

It is in playing out such criticisms and inner debates as these that I can't help but think that Jung is more than one personality.  In this essay, he seems more self-divided than ever.  All I can say is that I do not trust both of these Jung's equally . . . and yet I find it impossible to prove that there are (of course, figuratively) two Jungs at work here.  Ultimately, I sense a discordance in the statements Jung makes throughout this essay.  But the only way this discordance can be properly detected is through the lens of actually experiencing the anima work for oneself.  But, as Jung's is the primary account of the anima (the real monopoly), most of those (myself included at one point) who come to the anima through Jung, come to the anima without the necessary tools to do the work successfully.

I can't quite fathom how Jung could have come upon the notion that the anima must be "conquered" by the ego and still managed to derive so many fruitful insights about the anima experience.  His anima descriptions are distorted by what strikes me as prejudice, yet they are not stunted or retarded as I would expect such prejudice to render them.  It seems as if there must have been a Jung who experienced the anima work and another Jung who (with cynicism and snideness) wrote about it based on the notes of the experiencer.

Another element of this troubling attitude of Jung's is evident in his boiling down of the anima work to a matter of "mana".  He asks, "Now when the anima loses her mana, what becomes of it?  Clearly the man who has mastered the anima acquires her mana . . ." (¶.376, Two Essays on Analytical Psychology).  From there he only continues on a mana hunt.  But I'm not sure it's credible to say that the fundamental nature of the anima is a transferable mana or potency (different that the potency of the anima and the vegetal masculine I discussed above).  It is not (in my experience) the depotentiation of the anima that affords mana to the ego.  The mana-personality that Jung describes can, from what I have seen, arise for quite the opposite reason.  Not as a product of depotentiation or union, but because of devaluation.  The inflated mana-personality is often characterized by its totemization of the anima.  That is, the anima is taken as a kind of provident throne on which the patriarch sits, a matrilineal inheritance.  The totem anima is the mana-personality's entitlement.  Often, she is his disciple for whom he holds a fatherly eroticism.  She makes him feel wise, brilliant, powerful, magical, endowed.

But this paradigm (which Jung also noted and which appears in his vision of Salome and Philemon) assures that there can be no true equality between ego and anima, and therefore no heroic ego, no syzygy.  Additionally, there is no confrontation with and sacrifice of dependency on the Mother anima.  The ego does not adequately dissolve.  The anima is imprisoned in the ego's definition of it, and the ego's incarceration of the anima (often a "loving imprisonment" or Bluebeard marriage) becomes the ego's secret shame and weakness, which is guarded against ruthlessly.  All the while, the supposed "mana" of the mana personality is put on like armor to protect the fragile ego from any deeper penetration.

In my experience, this state (though common, especially among Jungians and those inclined toward mysticism and the occult) is actually one which predates the anima work proper.  Until the ego can let go of this Bluebeardian weakness and shame and allow the anima its due status as envoy of the Self, the anima work cannot begin, let alone progress.  This specific dynamic is a mainstay of the inheritance Jung has left the Jungians with, and it is one of the most common variations of anima experience we will see in the Jungian community.  But what is practically mind-boggling is that, despite what I see as an insurmountable fallacy erected at the gates of the anima work, Jung himself seems to have pressed on and unearthed more credible and valuable artifacts from the anima work.  How he accomplished this, I cannot say, but there is significant evidence that he did.  But what is regrettable, even lamentable, is that Jungians have, collectively speaking, not managed to wind their way through this maze of obstruction Jung left for them.

The conception of the anima has changed in Jungianism since Jung.  And although this has seemed to be partly in response to Jung's sexism regarding the anima, I think the change is much less progressive than it seems.  For instance, we can see that almost all of the study of the development and eventual depotentiation of the anima has been ignored or abandoned by the Jungians.  In place of this attempt to depict a logical and functional process, the most common characterization of the anima in recent decades has been totemic.  She is made to seem a fixed and eternal figure who contains both the dark and the light qualities Jungians have always attributed to her.  The ego stands in relation to this anima totem as if it were a constant star.  What this actually means is that the anima is not being very intimately experience and must therefore be held at a distance by the ego, perhaps in the fashion I just described above.  Although this oppression of the anima requires some kind of identification with the mana-personality or magician figure Jung describes, this eccentric and mythical figure is often too extreme to be entirely accepted (except by the most mystical and shamanically-aspiring Jungians . . . of whom there are not a few).  But what then occurs is the implantation of an unconscious complex in the collective Jungian psyche in which every Jungian man is a closet Bluebeard to his anima while singing poetical nothings about her below her balcony.  It is, I fear, an epidemic sham, a "Jungian disease", even . . . but it has become so common in the Jungian community that acceptance into this tribe becomes an excuse not to look more closely at this complex or bother with the stalled anima work.

What we can gather from this is that, in this matter, Jung managed to out-wizard the magician to some degree, but less-clever Jungians after him have managed only to construct a neurotic society of sorcerer's apprentices botching the incantations left in the book Jung bestowed upon them openly yet rendered indecipherable.  We are left trying to abide by what Jung has said while he himself managed to succeed only by breaking his own commandments.  This botching of the anima has become a great, secret shame of Jungian men (who escape these bonds only by thinking outside the Jungian box to some degree) . . . and this shame is perhaps only outdone by the animus inheritance Jungian women have been saddled with.

This is a dramatic portrayal of the "state of things in Jungiana", I realize . . . but experience in the Jungian community and with Jungian literature has brought me back to this troubling scenario time and again.  I can think of no other way to suggest change where the anima is concerned other than to point out the negatives that the illusions we frequently embrace lead to.  I think these failings to valuate the anima are not really what Jungians want . . . and I continue to hope that this is not so much a mass ethical failing as it is an accidental stepping into the bear trap of a flawed theory that master trap-maker Jung left for us to stumble into.  We are going through our Jungianness "swollen-footed" because of this trap that we cannot acknowledge, let alone detach.

To return to Jung's chapter on the mana-personality, we must acknowledge that Jung's take on the mana-personality/magician's relationship to the anima is very much in accord with my "Bluebeardian" characterization above . . . with one distinct difference being that Jung, even as he criticizes the mana-personality, does not see its attempt to depotentiate/conquer/defeat/control the anima (or its mana) as a misstep.  Rather, Jung's construction holds that the conquering of the anima is a necessary precursor to the rise of the mana-personality, which them must be depotentiated (although he is conspicuously vague on how this should be done).

In contrast, I am suggesting that the empowerment of the mana-personality is often a product of anima-devaluation that is not only unnecessary, but destructive to the anima work in general.  I don't mean to suggest, though, that there will be no mana-personality so long as the anima is properly valuated.  Regrettably, this is not the case.  Nor do I think anima-devaluation is the only (or even the main) cause of the mana-personality's seizure of power in the psyche.  The mana-personality, as I see it, is more a product of an egoic attempt to usurp the heroic identity for fortification (rather than sacrifice), and along with the heroic identity (or persona, rather than attitude), the potency or numen attributed to the syzygy.  The "effects" or costumes of the syzygy are adopted (from fantasies of the Goal) but employed in attempts to defend the "old" ego that is characterized by ossification, stagnation, lack of dynamism, lack of complexity and adaptability.  The actual heroic ego is the attitude that is devoted to the syzygy and the "new" organization of personality.  So the mana-personality (a Demonic possession of the ego) is the sworn and bitter enemy of the syzygy, of both the anima and the heroic ego.

It often casts the heroic ego as a "hopeless puer" who is swallowed by his own fantasies and submissive to the anima "illusion" like a boy believing he can marry his mother.  The anima is fractured into two polarities.  On one hand she is the pristine princess-goddess-lover-pupil who unquestioningly laps up every bit of ridiculous "wisdom" the mana-personality spews.  On the other hand, she is a devouring mother, a dark temptress and evil witch or dragon to be slain.  In other words, the mana-personality possession encourages the construction of two animas who only have in common the sense of distanced but numinous ossification that is the defining trait of all totems.  It is also worth noting that, even as Jungians almost unanimously love their alchemy, this fracture of the anima stands in stark contrast to the Sol/Luna relationship in which all roads lead to dissolution into one substance.  It often goes unnoticed (and admittedly, alchemy is a very confusing subject) that the Jungian individuation process distinctly deviates from the letter of the alchemical opus it generically holds up as a previous model (yet this deviation is never addressed or even realized, most likely).  This deviation can be traced back to the very misuse or devaluation of the anima that I have discussed here.  This is, itself, a large and complicated topic which I have written about elsewhere and cannot revisit in this essay . . . but the parallel must be noted in passing.

The Demonic mana-personality's portrayal of the syzygy I just described is, notably, the very one we most commonly see in Jungian discussions of the anima work.  This hypothetical Jungian balances the dismissal of the true syzygy with starry-eyed babble about the divine, pedestaled anima . . . and typically claims that others who pursue the anima are usually such "hopeless puers" while the accuser himself is an enlightened senex.  But really he has never endured the dissolution, never experienced the Coniunctio, and is still very much tied to the Maternal anima (albeit with no consciousness whatsoever).  Part of the epidemic of the "Jungian disease" is the determined identification with the senex (and component thrashing of the puer).

It is perhaps Jung's keen ability to spot these mana-personality pitfalls that allowed him to reckon with this figure enough to glean some genuine anima work and experience in spite of the devaluation of the anima we see in his essay.  Jung's insights into the mana-personality strike me as especially sharp, so much so that I cannot escape the intuition that he is writing from vivid, direct experience.  It is his chosen location of the mana-personality within the entire anima work/individuation process that I see as problematic.  I'm left (after the reading of this essay and other writings of Jung that mention inflation) with the feeling that the mana-personality was a great shame for Jung that he managed to overmaster but not entirely forgive himself for.


I also must question Jung's notion that personification of archetypal figures in fantasies and dreams is indicative of a problematic constellation or unresolved complex . . . and that these personages are resolved by consciousness into more abstract formulations.  My disagreement is subtle on this point, because there is a sense in which I see Jung's view as valid.  After all, I am arguing throughout this account that the anima (and more properly, the syzygy of anima and heroic ego) are more of a process than a personage.  But I am concerned that Jung's opinion about personification here is not practical and ends up being more shaming than illuminating.  That is, to feel we are somehow neurotic or psychologically retarded because we have personifications in our fantasies and dreams would be akin to feeling guilty for being human.  Personification is a ubiquitous reflection of the structure of our brains.  Yes, there is some sense of illusion to this, some Maya.  And yes, this personification is a kind of condensation or projection of the ego's own qualities upon the unconscious, but we are talking about an autonomous process here.

Additionally, the anima cannot be "depotentiated" into an abstraction or a generic understanding of some of the operating procedures of the Instinctual Unconscious.  The depotentiation of the anima is, I feel, more of a sacrifice than a transformation.  The anima (as it is commonly manifest during the anima work) is an expression of one complex system's push toward reorganization.  Part of the organization of the new system is that such a figure no longer becomes necessary . . . and to cling to the preservation of this figure would hold back the state change.  Beyond this, the anima does not disappear absolutely, and will continue to be personified in dreams and fantasies (and perhaps even projected onto others in a less dire/more conscious manner).  I'll discuss this in a later chapter.

I worry that the conquering of the anima that transforms it into an abstraction or law of the unconscious is both a sexist and a dangerously wrongheaded construction.

Although I won't go into great detail presently, I also see Jung's construction of the mana-personality as something that (like the anima) can be de-personalized and assimilated into consciousness as incorrect.  The mana-personality can be depotentiated, but as its roots often lie in some aspect of the Demon of the Complex, no mere flick of the wrist can burst its bubble of power over the personality.  I would personally be surprised to find that the majority of people who have been afflicted with mana-personality "possessions" manage to recover and depotentiate them.  So long as there is a smallest shred of doubt about the validity of one's inner experience, the mana-personality and the Demon have some influence over the psyche.  And what we have to acknowledge is that such doubts are absolutely impossible to do away with.  How can the value and meaning of inner experience be absolutely proven?  So much of this value is assigned, and the Work is a process of assigning more (and more complex) value (valuating) to both the instinctual unconscious and the Other in general.  The ego is the intelligence that must ultimately apply these valuations, and this leaves massive amounts of room for arbitrariness.

Also, the inner life does not lend itself to one clear and True interpretation.  The instinctual unconscious is always a kind of pre-language that we must interpret, and our interpretations are fictions.  It's a useless science, as I like to say.  What is the value of what we come to "know" through the inner work?  Well, there is no clear objective value.  Value is subjective.  The mana-personality tends to believe that such value is actually objective, that to know or have experience or have felt "enlightenment" makes one superior to another who hasn't.  It is actually this lust for superiority that drives the mana-personality, which is essentially a compensation for a terrible and shameful feeling of weakness and impotence.

The mana-personality that Jung is focusing on in his essay is a very extreme and pathological (psychotic) version of what is, in its less extreme state, a pretty normal factor of egohood.  It becomes possessive and addictive, because without any objectivity to bring "reason" to it, it can get stuck in the feedback loop of its own delusion.  And we live in a world where sometimes we can get away with the pursuit of such illusions, especially when we are able to convince others to believe the same thing (which is what the mana-personality is most driven to do).  In other words, the mana-personality is like a form of persona, because it hopes to negotiate a favorable treatment of the ego in the world or in relationship to others.  The more conventional person is considered sane, but s/he is often just as Demon-driven as the mana-personality in his/her attempts to convince others that one is a viable, social being, a citizen, not a freak, not a danger, but a "competent person" . . . or, we could also say, a tribe member, a believer.

The mana-personality means to convince other people that it is a person of mana, significance, charisma, insight, power, knowledge.  So long as it succeeds in convincing others of this, it is able to hide the ego from its own weakness and shortcomings, its impotence (its shadow . . . which the Demon clandestinely uses to control the ego).  The Demon plays the role of "magnifying" the shame the ego secretly feels about its impotence.  As a result, a mania develops to try to conceal and escape from this impotence.  In the dissolution stage of the anima work, a lot of transcendent images and feelings arise.  The mysterious anima seems to wave her witchery at the ego while the heroic ego starts to bud like new pubescent muscles.  The anima's love of the ego in its heroic mode is like the comforting love of a mother that makes the man's ego feel like it is capable of attaining any height or lofty goal (and perhaps also that its childish foibles are actually messianic sufferings).  But the anima, in its true form, such as in dreams rather than in our wish-fantasies and daydreams (as discussed in previous chapters) actually tries to disabuse the ego of this loftiness and show the ego that heroism means sacrifice and surrender, not transcendence.  But so many longings and numinous resonances are stirred up by the dissolution, that it takes time (and ideally, guidance) to sort this out.  It can be much more tempting (for obvious reasons) to leap at these feelings and images of power and transcendence (especially as they are probably born out of depression and dysfunction) than to muster the poise and humility required to actually listen to the anima (I remind the reader of the previous anima dream I referred to as the Initiation Dream, in which the anima pretty patiently strives to convince the hero-wannabe ego that her wounds and needs outweigh his).

The mana-personality constructs a sham of the anima/hero relationship by pasting together all of the random trappings of the facade of the anima work and weaving them into a coat of many colors to parade around in and seek shelter under.  But the entire substance of the real anima work is missing.  Despite its infantile and simplistic motives, the Demon-driven mana-personality is insidiously clever in the attainment of its program for self-fortification of the ego.  This is especially notable in its imitation of the hero and its divine manikin of the anima.  The understanding of the hero's and the anima's natures is still sorely lacking from conventional Jungianism, and without that understanding, we are getting a lot of confusion between the mana-personality's version of these forces and the version that the instinctual unconscious promotes.  This is no easy illusion to see through.  My personal experience is that the depotentiation of the mana-personality requires enormous and dedicated culling, examining, reexamining . . . in other words, it takes a scientific mentality determined to understand what a thing really is rather than believe in what it feels like or seems to be subjectively.  Jungians would call this a development of the sensation function . . . most commonly the inferior function of intuition-heavy Jungians.

There is yet one more thing that I feel should be added to this discussion of the mana-personality that emerges during the dissolution stage of the anima work . . . and it's something that psychologists and modern, positivistic intellectuals so often overlook (yes, even Jungians).  Namely, that there is an instinctual precedent and validity to the personage that the mana-personality is based on.  The shaman.  We should note that Jung's reflections on the mana-personality do not in any way appear to consider the possibility that there could be some genuine validity to this shamanic personage.  And I would say that this attitude is safe 99% of the time, because most of the "enlightenment" we think we experience is subjective, "useless", and probably delusional at least in its most novel expressions.  But I don't think we should therefor pre-conclude that shamanic events in the psyche are always and only delusional.  We should also, I think, consider that modern society is a shamanless society, a society in which there is no reserved space chiseled out for shamans, a society in which it would be impossible to express a shamanic drive without falling under suspicion and arousing negative feelings and criticism from others.

The devaluation of shamanic members of society means that, if there is anything genuine to inner Work and transformations of personality, such transformations have no formal way of being recognized and put to use socially.  Guru types who rise to some position of fame and power are actually better served by possessions of the mana-personality than by more genuine experiences with the Work.  And disciples and believers flock more readily to charismatic charlatans than they do to people who are perhaps more genuinely wise.

The anima work is part (the beginning) of a shamanic, archetypal process.  To the degree that it is done with integrity and devotion, the same instinctual energies that transform shamans in tribal societies are at play (in the same way) in the anima work.  And, more importantly, the temptations of the tribal shaman-in-training are the very same as those in the anima work.  In other words, the battle with the mana-personality is a major issue (just as it is or should be for Jungians, were they to manage to be able to admit it).  My knowledge of tribal shamans is practically non-existent, but from the literary accounts we can read, it seems that the mana-personality manages to claim just as many victims among tribal shamans as it does in Jungian individuation.  But (it's important to note) there is more space for the mana-personality in a tribal context and the mana-personality need not be as destructive in tribes as it can be in modern society.  When the mana-personality seeks to expand the tribe through some form of evangelism or conquest, then the tribal environment can be destroyed or perverted, and dysfunction becomes more apparent.  Also, in genuine tribes (not tribalistic niches within modern society), shamanic influence on the tribe needs to be adaptive and fit or the tribe will suffer mightily (perhaps not managing to survive).  In modern society, there is so much isolation possible from the outer world and its environment (especially if the tribe or cult has some money to protect and sustain itself with) that shamanic influence can be radically dysfunction and drive what are truly "insane societies" . . . that yet manage to persist.

In all fairness, in the early days of institutionalized Roman Christianity (a modern, tribalist movement), churches and monasteries managed to survive because they were funded by citizen tax money.  They didn't have to be self-sustaining.  I mention this because it helps us see that the mana-personality that drives tribalistic movements within modernism is so frequently characterized by dependence on some Maternal Breast or another.  The failure to be self-sustaining in one's practice of spirituality is a pretty sure indication that the mana-personality is calling the shots and not a genuine and adaptive shamanism.

The parallel with shamanism aside, an individuant does not play the same role in modern society that a shaman plays in tribal society.  What "shamanism" is in the modern individual remains something that is neither her nor there, something fundamentally alien.  Modern society's diversity and high population density includes some degree of adaptation for tribal difference among individuals.  As the tribal shaman is in part a "token individual" to the tribe who is called on to provide an Other perspective on certain tribal matters of survivability. the individuant in modern society has his or her difference rendered somewhat more obsolete.  That is, there are plenty of Other perspectives to encounter in modern society.  Still, these generally fall within fairly conservative boundaries (not terribly different than those boundaries of "normality" in tribes).  The problem of the individuant's Otherness in modern society is a problem without a clear or socially provided solution.  And as long as this Otherness is afforded no space, the temptations of the mana-personality will be considerable.

What we see when the mana-personality arises in an individual in modern society is a strong push of the unconscious (which we experience as fantasy images and ideas, affects, and numinousness).  But this instinctual urge must be filtered through the ego as it attempts to adept this urge to living in a material environment.  The fact that such instinctual urges are typically left unconscious and undifferentiated and that the modern environment is ill-suited to tribal shamanism tends to drive individuals stricken with the mana-personality to find or create tribes.  In other words, the ego is not adapting to the real modern environment, but trying to manipulate the modern environment to provide a pocket of tribal environment that more closely resembles the environment of evolutionary adaptedness.  Modern society actually breaks up into interrelated tribes more or less naturally.  The mana-personality tends to make a specifically tribal appeal to other individuals who would be tribe members.  But this expression of instinct in neo-primitivist tribalism (like much Jungianism and the various sects of the New Age movement) is dysfunctional or non-adaptive in the more complex and diverse modern environment.  The result is the formation of cults of varying sizes that seek as much isolation from modernism as possible.

But what we see in this is an instinctual drive to manifest tribalism (complete with its shamanic component) albeit with more or less total unconsciousness of the instinctuality behind this drive.  It seems to its members, "spiritual" rather than instinctual, and transcendent rather than regressive.  Considering how much modern society squeezes out the expression of instinct in daily living, neoprimitivist movements are not surprising in the least.  They could be seen as a mostly unconscious reaction to the problems of modernism.  Their main flaw is that they in no way manage to treat the problems of the modern and, despite their various mysticisms and religiosities, cannot provide a functional fiction or adaptive philosophy for living as individuals in the modern world.  The little pockets of tribalism they carve out sometimes make their Truths seem viable, but these Truths can only be divine inside the tribalist pocket.  Modernism is a complex system and cannot be converted into a relatively simple system (like tribalism) without catastrophic destruction of life . . . but a complex system can contain many simple sub-systems.  Still, to the degree that these contained subsystems do not serve as useful organs in the whole system, they are not engaged in a healthy symbiosis, have no failsafes, and tend to fall much more quickly into extinction than those subsystems that functionally interact with the whole.  One of my concerns is that Jungianism has become one of these unrelated, tribal subsystems that is non-sustaining and therefore not co-sustained by the whole; it is threatened by the modern environment with impending extinction.  We might note that the psyche (via the anima work in this case) and larger modern society operate under similar dynamics in this instance.  This similarity is, I suspect, merely a factor of the "physics" of complexity.

In matters of Jungian therapeutic philosophies and praxis and in individuation in general, this issue of tribal "truths" vs. global "truths" goes largely unexamined.  But individuation, when it is allowed and encouraged to progress, brings us smack into this problem . . . and if we are Jungians to some degree, we are forced to recognize that Jungian analysts and devotees alike are able to choose between tribal truths and modern or global ones.  That is, does the Jungian individuant, analysand, or analyst strive to promote adaptation to or healing within the confines of a tribal environment (which can only exist as a kind of tiny bubble within modern society), or does s/he promote or pursue adaptation and healing within the modern environment?  This is (or at least should be) the great ethical concern facing the Jungians.  Is tribalism escapism?  Is it irresponsible?  Are people who have managed to adapt to tribalistic bubble environments really "fit" for the modern environment?

These are big questions with no easy (or perhaps possible) answers.  But they reflect the kind of difficulties we Jungians would face were we to revise our approach to the anima, the hero, the mana-personality, and the individuation process.  They are vast and terrifying enough at least to demonstrate why we might be disinclined to implement such revisions.  I'm not sure Jungianism can be a world view that could adopt these revisions.  I'm not sure the drive behind Jungianism is actually knowing or gnosis.  It may be (and it may be better off as) a quest for Eden, an attempt to build and direct a few people to their true tribe.  Maybe this is a fine goal and not one to cast shamefully.  But the sham this Eden-seeking Jungianism has made of the anima work remains.  As an indoctrinating dogma, maybe it works adequately (although I can think of things that suggest otherwise).  But as a scientific or gnostic attempt to understand what the anima is, what the anima work is, what the inflation of the mana-personality is, it is essentially flawed.  It is as flawed as the construction of a geocentric universe . . . which also seemed pretty logical to people for thousands of years.


I would like to end this section by returning to more humble ground, and by turning back to the dream that is the catalytic text for these long and twisting branches of digression and reflection.  Despite the forays into mysticism, shamanism, and spirituality that a discussion of the anima work requires, I would like to call attention to the ways in which this particular dream grounds such high-mindedness in a mundane and instinctual, universally human issue.  Hopefully, this will also go a little ways toward demonstrating why I have continuously stated that the mana-personality or inflation in its full regalia is more accurately ascribed to the dissolution stage that the anima work begins in (when it is allowed to begin).

The dream reinforces the sense that there is something remedial or childish connected to the anima work.  It is not so much the work itself as it is what the work means to address.  First we see the cordoned off museum exhibit, suggesting "ancient history".  It focuses not only on an episode from my past that no longer holds significant libido for me, but this past memory was itself based on a memory of a childhood game.  Dungeons and Dragons is a game of fantasy and make-believe.  A game in which one pretends one is a hero of one sort or another.  It is also rather notorious for breeding somewhat delusional behavior that could be seen as "impractical" and inflated.  The game, in fact, by posing mythic scenarios and heroic quests, allows its players to enter into the same kind of fantasy world that the dissolution thrusts upon us.  Dungeons and Dragons was seen (as I'm sure many video games are now seen today, depending on which subculture you ask) by some people as childish and "geeky", even when I was a kid.  While others completely immersed themselves into the "D&D" culture, which was often rather cultic.  My own perspective as a child and adolescent was sort of on the fence.  I had no friend network that was anything near the cultic level I mentioned, and I occasionally struggled with the reputation the playing of the game afforded one when I was younger.  When I occasionally met real fanatics, I often found them to be inflated (especially in the case of the "dungeon master"s whose role was to dictate the game to the players).  So there has always been a sense of remedial and delusional escapism surrounding the game for me.

This museum exhibit is a wonderful and complex metaphor for the end of the anima work.  The way the "Great Work" is portrayed as a memory of a memory of a children's game that encourages fantasy but also delusion/inflation, shows many of the archetypal traits of the anima work (seen from some distance).  What is radical about this symbol is that the anima work was hardly a far distant memory I barely recognized, a memory that had acquired dust.  In the time-scape of waking life, this dream came only a matter of a few months after my first anima dream.  So why would the symbol of the anima work be portrayed as it was?  To answer that, I think we need to look at the feelings of the dreamer (or dream ego) regarding the symbol.  The feeling was complex.  At first I didn't recognize my own work (as it seemed so "dead" or depotentiated).  Then I felt a small twinge of pride that lasted mere seconds and was followed by a sense of wistfulness.  Guided in part by the anima figure's attitude toward the exhibit, I then began to feel that I was, in fact, able to let go of this "Great Work" . . . and I was somewhat surprised to find that I felt this way.  This concluded with a feel of appreciation for the value of what had once transpired without any desire to "revisit my youth" or rekindle the libido of the anima work.

What was prefigured in the complex emotion of the dream ego is the feeling that I would strive to cultivate toward the anima work consciously from this time onward.  This is not as easily accomplished as in the dream.  This wasn't even my final anima dream of this series.  But this dream led me to recognize that it was time to let go of the potent anima of the anima work.  To perpetuate it would be to remain in some sense a mother's son, which I had spent the whole anima work thus far trying to move away from.  I should reiterate something I mentioned earlier in this account.  Namely, that although the anima work (perhaps best accomplished through dream work) can run its course very quickly (easily in less than a year), it will still require a great deal of time and conscious effort to better understand and to properly valuate it.  But on another level, these changes in personality (in their unelaborated and most fundamental form) can actually take place in this surprisingly short time frame.

I think this is a reflection of the psyche as a complex system going through a state change.  State changes are typically sudden, and the new state is still fragile and not perhaps as resilient as what it is meant to evolve into.  To follow this parallel as far as the anima work goes requires a much more extensive analysis and description of what I like to call the Work.  The best symbolic precedent for describing the Work after the anima work I know of is alchemy.  But without properly understanding the anima work and where it fits into the alchemical opus, Jungian attempts to psychologize alchemy are of minimal use.  More pointedly, the fascination of some Jungians with alchemical mysticism makes for very grandiose and inflated blather that lacks resemblance to any of the practicalities of the Work beyond the Coniunctio (where the anima work effectively ends).  That is, if we fail to understand the anima process, then we will fail to understand the relationship of psychology and the individuation process to the alchemical opus.  The anima work results in the creation of what the alchemists called the prima materia, the primal substance of the Stone as it is worked on throughout the rest of the opus.  Psychologically, this prima materia is the necessary stuff of the new organization of personality, the organization that is based on the ego's valuation of and devotion to the Instinctual Self.

Such valuation and devotion must be the undissolvable foundation of instinctual and adaptive living.  But how to utilize or apply this valuation and devotion to the continued building of the reorganized personality is the central project of the Work, and although the anima work is perhaps the most intense period of the Work, it is far from the hardest.  What one finds in the pursuit of the Work is that the anima work flows by force of nature and the ego only has the power to slow or stall it.  The rest of the Work is driven both by instinct and by conscious will, and those spring days of instinctual providence become mostly memories of the past.

It is looking back on the anima work after the Work proper has kicked into full gear that dream image of the closed exhibit nicely reflects.  Even as the anima is depotentiated, though, the anima work (the creation of the prima materia) should never be devalued.  Jung at times implies that the anima work or the anima personage is an indicator of immaturity or pathology.  I think this is unfair, and the completion of the anima work does not in any way warrant such an attitude.  How can the child be faulted for once being an embryo or the tree for being a seedling (or a nut, if you prefer)?  Although it is true that the anima work reflects what would conventionally be seen as adolescent psychology (perhaps pertaining most of all to the psyche from the teens through the mid twenties), still we have no institutions or guides that help channel this instinctual reorganization functionally in modern society, no adequate, modern rites of passage that signify this initiation.  Jungians have conventionally slated the anima experience to midlife, which is the reality of modern (patriarchal) men, but not an inevitability by any means.  We moderns have adolescent psychologies for the most part (which is perhaps what one would expect from any society without functional rites of passage and where there is no real One and unified society but only innumerable intermingled tribes).  But how can we have functional rites of passage without genuine, adaptive and fit tribes?

Because we generally have adolescent psychologies, we are especially plagued by inflations, as inflations show up most often as a reaction to the drive that pushes the ego toward an adult reorganization.  Inflation is the Demonically-inspired reply to the threat of frightening change.  But we cannot fall into the trap of becoming too ashamed at our psychological adolescence.  If we cannot embrace the impotence of adolescence and its apprenticeable aptitude or Foolishness, then we will never be ready to move beyond it.  As modern men typically put off the anima work until midlife (when they engage in it at all), they have lived decades before then in the repressed shame of their extended adolescence and Maternal dependencies (and therefor have huge, unwieldy puer shadows to bear and process, which are often concealed behind cleverly constructed senex facades).  The Jungian answer to this problem has been, as far as I can see, to impersonate the senex while the shame of shadow puerism terrorizes the ego demonically.  This doesn't seem like a functional solution to me, and it may be a factor in what appears to be the movement toward extinction/obsolescence of Jungian psychology.

If we Jungians continue to fail to adequately valuate the puer, we will likely not find our way into and through the anima work collectively.  The puer is the root of the Fool, which is the foundation of the hero, which is the partner of the anima in the syzygy, which is the true prima materia on which the Work is founded.  What I mean to suggest is that the shame we feel for not being good enough senexes or for being too puer-y is the finger in the dam that Demonically holds back the flow of instinct through the Jungian mindset and prevents it from reorganizing itself into a truly modern and 21st century philosophy.
You can always come back, but you can’t come back all the way.

   [Bob Dylan,"Mississippi]