Author Topic: Critique of active imagination  (Read 11449 times)

Matswin

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Critique of active imagination
« on: January 17, 2013, 04:51:00 AM »
I doubt that active imagination has this powerful capacity of archetypal integration that Jung claims. This was also the position of his own anima, something which he relates in his autobiography. When Jung was painting images the anima told him that this was art which he was doing. He reacted strongly against this and argued that the anima had tried to mislead him, which is a controversial interpretation. I submit that she made an opposite evaluation, to balance out his conscious standpoint. Arguably, he overvalued this activity, or had adopted a lopsided view of it, and the compensating factor was activated. The unconscious compensates the conscious standpoint.

Art history contains movements, such as symbolism and expressionism, which allow expression to the unconscious, to a degree. Arguably, Jungian active imagination should be categorized as a form of art. Novelist often say that their characters take on a life of their own. They are not mere constructions of consciousness. Thus, it is not obvious that the artist's or the novelist's activity is essentially different from active imagination. This could explain why the Jungian form of active imagination seems to have no pronounced effect on personality. It is, after all, an art form. The argument of Jung's anima could be correct. I hold that active imagination easily reverts to artistic creativity, if the creative energy is raised beyond the feeble energy levels where the spirit roams.

I discuss the subject of creativity in this article (evidently it needs some reworking, which I will probably do soon).
http://home7.swipnet.se/~w-73784/creativity.htm

Mats Winther

Starcrosser

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Re: Critique of active imagination
« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2013, 10:16:52 AM »
It does. Particularly if you can accept your shadow to a mercurial degree.  I'm currently doing it, and it is probably one of the greatest vehicles of healing I've had in my life.  I'm not Jungian cling-on, but if the dude had discovered his technique of active imagination, I'd be screwed into a psychotic hell.  Quite literally.


Starcrosser

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Re: Critique of active imagination
« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2013, 10:17:58 AM »
Err, hadn't.  I suppose that slip will offend the psychologist in you.   (-)smblsh(-)

Starcrosser

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Re: Critique of active imagination
« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2013, 10:58:37 AM »
His anima probably was trying to screw with him.  She'll say things sarcastically and leave you to feel her meaning.  It can put a man up against his knowledge and acceptance of feeling, but also his ability to allow himself to be emasculated without being a retributive ass about it.  She is trying to lead him to a deeper understanding of himself, but this requires that he feel her meaning instead of blindly following her word.  There is often a bit of spite in her and that is simply as real as it gets, and, yes, a man can get pissed off because he realizes that if he is too stupid to fall for it that she may mislead him into all kind of delusion.  She can also be quite awesome and functional, so to speak, so this can offset the experience of her as a seductress into the world of fantasy.

Being completely submissive to your anima in an attempt to enlighten yourself is noble, but the reality is that the anima will force one to understand her without telling him how.  This is much like actual women that refuse to tell a man how to love them.  You have to feel her to understand her.  Jung also had a feeling function that was probably a bit underdeveloped, but he did have the extreme wisdom to see beyond her tactics.  Probably because he had such a great understanding of the shadow.  I.E., the devil.



 

Starcrosser

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Re: Critique of active imagination
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2013, 11:15:45 AM »
The realm of "fantasy" is hard to explain.  It can both lead a man into an insane asylum and lead a man to enlightenment.  Believe me, however, the anima will screw with a man.  I can just hear her now bullshitting him by poking fun at his confidence in himself.  What you don't get from reading the text is how she said what she said.  I used to get pretty pissed off at my own for leading me this way.  I'm a lot more even-keeled about it, now.  I realize it has purpose, as crappy as it may be.  Women provide a very nice path for a man, away from his own inflation and towards his own contact with a personal life, which he should be humble and learn to enjoy.  Personal lives are very intimate and are the envy of many men that have given it up for a "greater way in the world."



Starcrosser

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Re: Critique of active imagination
« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2013, 12:04:46 PM »
Without our personal lives and intimacies we become foreign to the world, as great as we may become the grass will no longer smell the same, even on the path to our grave.  Be sure to be connected with life and not be a fool for the greater.   (-)yinyang(-)

Keri

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Re: Critique of active imagination
« Reply #6 on: January 24, 2013, 01:36:24 AM »
Hello, Mats and Ryan. 

Sorry to have never properly welcomed you here, Ryan, but welcome and I've enjoyed reading your posts. 

I think active imagination can have a place in psychological work, but it seems to me that it will always be at risk of being led by, and interpreted by, the person's ego (unlike in true dreaming).  There may be some people who are more adept at getting their ego out of the way and allowing more unconscious input.  Perhaps artists or other creative people are better at "channeling," so their active imagination might be more useful that way.  I personally have found it more difficult to be "honest," or at least to be honestly "out of the way," with active imagination than with dream work.  So, on the one hand, I agree with Mats that "archetypal integration" through active imagination alone would be exceedingly difficult.  I also agree with the widely held understanding that the unconscious often compensates the conscious standpoint (when necessary).

Personally, I think that the anima or animus, once properly identified, never misleads you . . . that is, not if one accepts that its function is as an emissary of the Self.  My understanding (and my feeling, after working with Matt and doing my own dreamwork) is that the animi figure in a dream is revealing, or leading one to discover, the needs of the Self.  It is interacting with the other aspects of the psyche, especially the heroic ego, to entice or otherwise convince the heroic ego of the need to facilitate the life of the Self.  Matt has described the heroic ego as that which is, or is becoming, Self-aligned.  That which responds with empathy to the anima or animus (NOT that which "heroically" in the Western tradition of conquering hero resists his or her "tactics").  That which tries to understand what it would take to "keep the god alive," and which is willing to sacrifice itself for this.  As such, the anima or animus doesn't "screw with you," though I can completely understand why it could feel like that.

I'm doing a terrible job of this, but what I'm trying to say, Ryan, is that I have no doubt that active imagination has helped you immensely and it seems that you've done a lot of shadow work and have deep understanding and insight.  I like and agree with much of what you wrote.  I also believe that there can often be a "tricksterish" aspect to the animi.  But I think that the times when it gets muddy and confusing, the times when it feels like the animi are "misleading" us, are actually the times when we're simply not as heroic-ego-identified.  Because it's true that what facilitates the needs of the Self is often at odds with what facilitates our functioning in this world, in this culture, with our need to earn a living and have relationships with other people.  And so it is entirely understandable to feel that one is being led straight to hell or to delusion or something similar.  My feeling (based on my admittedly limited reading and understanding of the Red Book but also through discussion with Matt) is that, at least in this particular instance, Jung's anima was simply being honest, compensating, not screwing with him.  It seems to me that he misinterpreted her intentions, and maybe this is because it was through active imagination rather than through actual dreaming.  I don't think the animi are ever trying to make us "submit" or otherwise be emasculated or disempowered (see Matt's dream, The Anima Work, IV: Coniunctio and Sacrifice, for discussion of this).  When we feel like that, I think it is through some combination of misunderstanding (ie, not fully heroically-identified) and also perhaps when the anima or animus is not entirely differentiated from other aspects of the psyche, ie, when it is perhaps conflated with the Demon or with aspects of the Self.  I think the anima or animus becomes more and more fully differentiated and "anima-like" (or animus-like) as one becomes more and more heroically-oriented (ie, they become more twin-like). 

Again, I'm having a hard time communicating what I mean to say.  Yes, if one does go through with initiation with the animi, one experiences a death of sorts, which could potentially be seen or felt as the ultimate in disempowerment or emasculation, but what is really a deeply rich beginning.  Matt writes a lot about the year-gods here, too, which is helpful in understanding the difference between (the weakness of) submission/emasculation and (the great strength and courage of) being penetrable/mutable.

Quote
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Quote from: keri on February 13, 2008, 11:35:46 PM
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Quote from: Matt Koeske on February 13, 2008, 02:54:52 PM
An old poem of mine, only indirectly relevant, comes to mind:

Dream of the Thousand Men

I dreamed I was
a red-haired girl who fell
into a lake of semen.
I locked my strong thighs together like
holding a gulp of air.
Strange things moved in the thick milk.
A hand fell under my arm,
dragged me out.
I coughed on the shore,
the bearded lips of Dionysus
kissed me.

I dreamed the Thousand Men hanging.
You, as tall as a father, whispered,
“They are the year gods of all the years.”
A moth wove past your ankle.
Disgusted with myself
I gave birth to the head of a donkey.
You held it up, dirtied with my blood,
bright as a Christchild.

I dreamed of my naked body on the ground
knocked down by the snowchild women with their heavy masks.
The sound of drums.
From behind the mask
once again you touch me.
All night long warm
beneath a shadow of you the fire has designed
I beat on the earth.
The song we sing tells me
when I awake
your name will continue to dance away from my tongue.

Well, to be honest, tonight this sounds scary to me.  Maybe I just shouldn't write on these insomnia-producing call nights


It is scary.  I wrote the "dream" (not yet a poem) in an old story.  It was the dream a woman character had when she was going through a very difficult animus transformation/erotic awakening period.  The dream was a nightmare.  The story was called "The Dionysus Women".

The poem is a good example of what I was talking about above regarding relating from the opposite sex position or from some Other's perspective.  I imagined/created the poem as a kind of shadow-animus dream of a woman who had some kind of relationality wound.  Perhaps she had been sexually-abused.  The animus is darkened, horrific.  Like the Beast or other enchanted animus from fairytales.  The woman sees "impregnation" by the animus as dissolution and violation (falling into a lake of semen).  In my experience, the main obstacle for women to the animus work is precisely this attitude . . . which is perfectly understandable.  Inviolability is a necessary defense and survival tactic.

But Dionysus is the god of "Fallen women".  He does not judge or take advantage of them.  What the "dreamer" imagined initially as a violation/dissolution, thanks to the intrusion of Dionysus, becomes a baptism ritual.  Dionysus intuitively understands her fear and struggle and pain.  I see his kiss of the woman/girl on the shore as a gentle, calming, protecting/redeeming kiss.  It is fatherly (but not patriarchal).  It tells her that she is allowed to, welcomed to forgive herself for her feelings of shame.  It isn't a seductive kiss.  Although there is some kind of Eros there. it is not desire.

In the second stanza, Dionysus shows her the year gods, which are the true symbols of masculine fertility or Eros.  They are the dying gods who live eternally only through resurrection and surrender.  Not willful force and transcendence.  She sees the moth by his ankle, which is a transformation symbol . . . but only in a foreshadowed sense.  She is still concentrating on the horror of the scene: the Thousand Men Hanging.  What Dionysus is trying to show her is the Masculine/animus Wound . . . which neither patriarchal man nor patriarchal woman can bear to look at.  It is the fallibility, acquiescence, weakness, impotence, penetrability of the masculine . . . which terrifies the patriarchal ego, but draws its real strength from its cyclical perseverance, its Erotic receptivity.  This is not a "Feminine" quality . . . as the patriarchal mindset misconstrues it.  Dionysus is trying to show the woman that what she has been taught is "feminine", submissive, receptive, passive is false.  True receptivity requires enormous strength and courage.

The girl has, despite her resistances, become impregnated by the animus, but she is still having trouble accepting the Otherness that is growing inside her.  She is still ashamed that her pregnancy has come as the result of a Fall.  The "product of her labor" seems monstrous to her.  She cannot value it.  She see its creation as another shameful failure.  But Dionysus understands the new birth is redemptive and wondrous.  As I mentioned above, the donkey is one of his sacred animals . . . and what the girl has brought into the world is the intelligence (head) of this instinctual, burden-bearing animal.  She doesn't yet understand, but he knows that this instinctual intelligence is the essence of the redeeming drive that will, once valuated, become her alchemical gold, her gift to herself and to the world.

In the final stanza, the girl has entered the initiation ceremony.  She is naked and still detached from her body (as if she and her body were two separated things).  The initiated, erotically-awakened women of the "Dionysus cult" seem powerful and dangerous to her, frenzied.  They also reflect back to her her own "frozenness" and childishness (snowchild).  Their masks like mirrors knock her to the ground.  The numinous force of the god is behind the strength of these women, but so long as she cowers from her reflection, the force will knock her down.  She must find her own wildness in order to survive, to persevere.  She must learn how to channel the god's erotic power instead of deflecting it.  But she also needs to be "brought down" or to come down to the earth, the connecting principle that the ego tries to transcend and avoid.  She needs to realize (as we have seen from the previous scenes) that she is a true bride of Dionysus: wild, strong, resilient, capable of "transmuting" the instinctual drive of the god.  This drive doesn't violate or penetrate in the way she initially feared the animus would.  In the initiate, the Dionysian drive is focused, intensified, directed.  The initiate is a lens, and no longer a victim.

Finally, she allows the transformation to begin, and she accomplishes this by accepting that the source of the heat, protection, drive, energy, Eros is the shadow of Dionysus.  The source is not a bright sun shining down ("Apollo"), but a deep fire burning-though.  She is touched by the Masculine that can't be seen or named or captured by the ego.  It can only be felt, channeled, focused, transmitted . . . with rage and ecstasy and grief and desire and joy.  These feelings are so powerful they can't be contained, but must be allowed to flow through us.  It is not "my" rage or my "grief".  It is Rage, Grief, Desire.  They are divine, transpersonal.  They are too large to belong to us and will only destroy us if we stand against them.  But once we let them move through us, we are connected Erotically to everything, bonded to everything empathically.  The self-centered ego moves aside.

The greatest and most common mistake we make in our woundedness is to imagine that pain or grief or joy can be possessed, usurped, hoarded away safeguarded against other people's knowledge and access.  They don't belong to us.  They are the gateways through which we connect and relate.  Our ability to survive and adapt and persevere is not a matter of our fortitude and self-containment.  True strength is permeability.


I had to feel like this girl to become initiated and to understand and accept my masculinity.  And all the shame she experienced, all the fear of impregnation and violation and being overpowered or poisoned was an expression of my shame regarding my own masculinity.  But as I learned to burn away this shame, I found Dionysus, the nurturing, redemptive, empathetic Masculine.  And it was wild, instinctual, ecstatic . . . and yet somehow also quiet, harmonious, gentle.  It was bisexual in the alchemical sense.  True masculinity means pure receptivity to the Feminine . . . which includes an openness to "feminization".  But this openness is not emasculating.  It seems like a contradiction to the patriarchal ego . . . but it isn't at all on a deeper level.  True masculinity and true femininity inspire, drive, imbue, create, and redeem one another.  There is no conflict at the instinctual level.  There is only co-generation.

Keri
O gather up the brokenness
And bring it to me now . . .

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

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

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

Keri

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Re: Critique of active imagination
« Reply #7 on: January 24, 2013, 02:00:07 AM »
Ryan, let me say again (or anew . . . because I feel like I keep bungling it! (-)smblsh(-)), that in the subtext of your writing, I feel like you totally get this.  But in some of your language about the anima being misleading and emasculating and such, I felt a need to "redeem" the animi. :)

Keri
O gather up the brokenness
And bring it to me now . . .

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

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

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

Matt Koeske

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Re: Critique of active imagination
« Reply #8 on: February 01, 2013, 04:46:10 PM »
Hello All,

I have been away from the site and just now saw this thread.  I've probably written many posts touching on these issues over the years.

I also have some skepticism where active imagination is concerned . . . but this is largely due to observing many Jungians who base their "spiritual realities" in active imagination fantasies yet seem to lack a kind of genuineness or experiential insight such spirituality is "supposed to" bring.  Active imagination can be very useful therapeutical and in self work, but it can easily lack a strong ethical element.  That is, it does not guarantee that the Other is adequately represented and fully present, nor does it make relationally with and conduct toward the Other a priority.

There is, of course, no active imagination experiment more robust than Jung's (recorded in the Red Book project).  As an experiment (i.e., as "science"), I think the Red Book is extremely successful.  That is, it tells us a great deal about an attempted creative/therapeutic process . . . and a great deal about Jung the man and thinker.  But I don't think it was successful as psychotherapy in the way Jung and many Jungians hoped/imagined.

Although that assessment is a matter of my opinion (I could make a strong case for it, logically, as I have tried to do in my writings on the Red Book), Jung himself also seemed to feel it was ultimately inadequate.  He leaves the Red Book unfinished and writes a brief addendum (itself unfinished) years later noting that once he found alchemy, he no longer needed to pursue the Red Book project (in my interpretation, "as psychotherapy" or self work).  Alchemy became for Jung a better language in which to get at the images, symbols, and vital otherness he wanted to connect with and comprehend through the Red Book project.

This is not terribly surprising when we recognize that the Red Book ends with a complete absence of Otherness.  All of Jung's psychic not-I characters leave.  He is left with his idealized ego, Philemon the magician, the great "Gnostic" orator and "necromancer" . . . Philemon, the conqueror of the "dead" (i.e., of the Otherness of the psyche).

Around this time, Jung also finishes/revises his Two Essays on Analytical Psychology in which he essentially analyzes his experimental active imagine process in the Red Book (of course, he doesn't go so far as to admit he was his own guinea pig, but that was always his M.O. . . . such as when he used his own mandalas and dreams "disguised" as an anonymous patient).  In Two Essays (an essential companion piece to the Red Book), he writes about the "mana-personality" that "conquers the anima" and take her "mana".  He recognizes that this is an inflation for the ego (another "possession by the archetype"), and not a psychotherapeutically sound end point.  Yet, the Red Book (doesn't go this far) ends with the mana-personality in "victorious transcendence" . . . with Philemon's Seven Sermons to the Dead.

Jung had psychotherapeutically moved beyond the Red Book by the time he made these revisions to Two Essays . . . even as he clearly still respected it for the wealth of personal (and he hoped, collective) psychic material it gathered together.

The question one must ask (once one moves beyond the classical Jung worship and idolatry of Philemon, the mana-personality) is what went wrong with the Red Book's self work?  Why was it a psychotherapeutic "failure".

My argument is that the flaw was a matter of Jung's treatment of his psychic Others.  The quintessential Other in the Red Book is the Soul, his anima figure.  The Red Book catalogs his conflicts with this figure.  Jung's ego character/narrator spends most of his time protesting and refusing her, treating her like some kind of leprous monstrosity that means to devour him . . . although that behavior is never indicated in his actual representations of the anima figure/Soul.  One cannot help but sympathize with her as Jung (for the most part) treats her mere presence as a heinous temptation of the Devil.

Jung's steady (if circuitous) movement toward Philemon, the mana-personality, is a movement toward a fortified ego position that can "exorcize" the Otherness of the anima via intellectual/psychological philosophizing.  Jung sought to find an ego position he felt was more "righteous" and immune to the penetrations of the anima/"unconscious".  He (not inaccurately) recognized this power of the mana-personality as "magic".  That is the kind of primitive magic that can repeal or compel gods and dangerous spirits.

Let's not forget that the Red Book's Seven Sermons conclusion is literally an exorcism.  Jung writes (in MDR) that he felt his house was haunted at this time, and only when he wrote the Seven Sermons (originally put into the mouth of Philemon), were the spirits exorcized.

So, to jump to the conclusion and sum up a very complicated process, Jung's Red Book experiment failed psychotherapeutically because he was seduced NOT BY THE ANIMA, but by the mana-personality, Philemon.  Jung fell into an inflation (even as it was embraced out of fear he would fall into a different inflated identification).  In Two Essays, Jung sees a path of progress from anima to mana-personality to some kind of nebulous depotentiation of the mana-personality.  But this is frankly wrong.  The identification with the mana-personality is NOT indicative of moving beyond the "anima work".  It indicates a failure to accept and complete the anima work, a failure to pass through the threshold of that work's initiation.

All of the "blame the anima" rhetoric that characterizes Jung's writing (even to his final works) is founded in this blind projection of malicious seductiveness onto the anima.  In fact, the maliciously seductive figure in Jung's psyche is a male, a Great Man and dark wizard, the transcendent ego and conqueror of the unconscious.  Jung has insight into this figure, but not enough.

What we are able to learn about Jung from the Red Book is that this figure is the personal complex Jung struggled with and needed to work through via the active imagination process the Red Book portrays.  But, as fascinating and complex as this active imagination is, it ultimately doesn't work for Jung.  Jung himself was largely aware of this (although I don't think he had worked out a viable alternative by the end of his life . . . he merely had a lingering dissatisfaction despite a richly lived psychic life, which is noted by some of those who were close to him near the end . . . Laurens van der Post mentions this in his Jung biography: Jung and the Story of Our Time).

Regrettably, the Jungian legacy is one in which this failing is not seen, and is instead dressed up in the emperor's new clothes and made into a divinity to worship (as the "Philemon Foundation" reveals of itself in its choice of name).  Jung carved in stone at his Bollingen tower: "Philemon's sanctuary; Faust's repentance".  But Jung's Philemon of the Red Book/Seven Sermons is not a humble, earthy, compassionate old man.  He is merely another version of Faust . . . Faust transcendent.  Also important to note is that, in the Red Book, the figure of Baucis (the woman, wife of Philemon) plays no role, whereas in Faust, she is more of a moral anchor than Philemon.

These figures and Jung's active imagination of them depict the deepest core of Jung's personal complex (the complex that lies at the heart of what I have called "the Jungian Disease").  Despite Jung's best attempt his "inner Faust" hijacked his "inner Philemon".  I don't mean to condemn him for this.  Despite never being able to fully work through this complex, he develop a great deal of rational and sophisticated insight into it and into the issue of inflation.  He recognized it as a poison to psychic health, but he never managed to alchemize a "cure".

See this article at the Philemon Foundation for some additional details and insights: <url=http://www.philemonfoundation.org/resources/jung_history/volume_2_issue_2/who_is_jungs_philemon_a_unpublished_letter>Who is Jung's Philemon?</url>

In conclusion, my contention is that Jung's portrayal of the anima as a "seductress" or as in some ways malicious or "daimonic/demonic" and dangerous to the ego are deeply flawed and do not accurately represent a healthy relationship of a man with the anima.  That said, so often the anima work DOES begin in this kind of conflict with the foreignness of the anima.  But through the anima work, one comes to see that the darkness attributed to the anima is a matter of egoic projection, a disowning of egoic darkness and maliciousness that is snared by the Otherness of the anima.  The anima, in fact, doesn't "approve" of these tendencies in the ego (even as she might tolerate them for a time).

That work began very much in this tradition of projection for me, as well.  My first glimpse of the anima was in a dream where a mad woman of unbelievable strength seized my arm and plunged a syringe filled with mercury into it.  She was Kali-like to me then, terrifying, violating, even somewhat emasculating.  She was (in the dream) a companion of the devil (to whom I had chosen to sell my soul).  I found the devil perhaps "suspicious" but ultimately less terrifying than this madwoman.

But I was already reading Jung when I had this dream.  I wasn't well read in Jung yet, but I became interested in the anima because of this dream (and subsequent anima dreams).  The dream figure set me on a companion intellectual/analytic quest to understand the anima.  Of course, the first thing I learned was that mercury is the principle transformative substance of alchemy (which I didn't really grasp before I had the dream).  Perhaps it was with that recognition that I began to valuate this anima figure.  Although I felt that mercury injection in the dream stilled me and was going to kill me (just as I awoke), my ensuing research into alchemical symbolism introduced me to the complex, transformative symbolism around mercury.  I saw that that "death", was a beginning rather than an end.

And I never had another negative anima dream after that . . . even though Jung's writings on the anima were my primary guide in that work.  My dreams never abided by Jung's negative projections, though.  They remanned free of most of the classical Jungian trappings . . . and where some of Jung's complexed analytical ideas were woven into my dreams, the dreams remade their negativity into more functional stuff.

For instance, I had recognized in Two Essays and in Jung's talk of the anima in MDR that the anima was a "finite stage", perhaps something to "conquer".  My anima dreams utilized that symbolism, but portrayed it as a sacrifice rather than a conquering of the Other.  The heroic work was not the oration of an exorcism sermon, but a surrender of the desire to be dependent on the anima (for "inspiration", spiritual feelings, "wisdom", etc.), an acceptance of her death/departure/descent/transformation.  A component of that was an acceptance of the sacrifice of my own feelings of heroism as her partner and "chosen one".  It's not that those dependencies are "evil" or "wrong", but they must be shed in order to pass through the threshold of initiation . . . in order to become responsible for the facilitation of the Self-as-Other.

That facilitator is a genuine archetypal "hero" . . . not by glory and transcendent might, but by compassion, penetrability, openness.  This archetypal attitude remained foreign to Jung.  Jung could only see this type of masculinity as a kind of demonic puerism, tainted and blackened.  But that too is a projection from his more "Apollonian" superego that strove to be a Great Man, a prophet and leader, a saint, and wiseman.  Such a Great Man doesn't need to be allied with the anima, he purports to be everything unto himself, master and creator of his own perfect universe . . . which is "perfect" because "Other-less".

That is the opposite of the anima work's lesson.  What we learn form the anima work is that we are massively interconnected ecosystems, not islands unto ourselves.  We affect and are affected, and our "goodness", our ethical consciousness and integrity is measured by how we recognize these relational ecosystems and embrace them rather than try to determine them (as any such determination or colonization must become an assault on Otherness of one kind or another).  Through the anima, a man learns to "live with and among" what is Not-I rather than shaping "his" world to suit an idea like a Patriarchal God.

Best,
Matt
You can always come back, but you can’t come back all the way.

   [Bob Dylan,"Mississippi]

Matswin

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Re: Critique of active imagination
« Reply #9 on: February 13, 2013, 02:45:49 PM »
Philemon, the mana personality, is an image of the self. Following your line of reasoning there is something amiss with this self image. It is daemonic, and it gives rise to an unhealthy form of identification. This theory is born out, I believe, by his 1913 crucifixion vision, which is here partly described:

"Then a most disagreeable thing happened. Salome became very interested in me, and she assumed that I could cure her blindness. She began to worship me. I said, 'Why do you worship me?' She replied, 'You are Christ.' In spite of my objections she maintained this. I said, 'This is madness,' and became filled with sceptical resistance. Then I saw the snake approach me. She came close and began to encircle me and press me in her coils. The coils reached up to my heart. I realized as I struggled, that I had assumed the attitude of the Crucifixion. In the agony and the struggle, I sweated so profusely that the water flowed down on all sides of me. Then Salome rose, and she could see. While the snake was pressing me, I felt that my face had taken on the face of an animal of prey, a lion or a tiger" (McGuire, 1989, Analytical Psychology: Notes of the Seminar in Anal. Ps. given in 1925, p.104).

Already in the dream Jung realizes that this is madness. The anima takes a submissive stance towards him, and he becomes a daemonic god. The message of the dream seems to be that this can't be right. Arguably, the spirit of falsehood encoils Jung (the snake in the Christian context signifies falseness) and causes him to turn into a subhuman and demonic deity. I hold that this snaky spirit is none other than Jung's unitarian view of the self, symbolized by Philemon. The snake encoils him and holds together the many warring opposites that threaten to tear Jung apart, thus serving as a symbol of wholeness. But Jung's face acquires demonic features. Thus, it is a false solution to the problem of the self. The submissive stance of the anima symbolizes her subdual under the one-sided self ideal. But its falseness is due to its one-sidedness. Had Jung allowed room for the complementary aspect of self, Philemon would have been alright.

Arguably, the anima here represents the feminine and submissive aspect of self. It is the aspect of self that submits under God in humble worship. But this was exactly what Jung refused to do. He rejected Christian notions of faith and submissiveness. His notion of the encounter with the unconscious remained heroic. The effect of his powerful dream, in which he is told to kill the hero Siegfried (in MDR), wasn't deep-going enough. Thus, he remained suspicious and slightly contemptuous of the anima, which is the side in him that is devotional and "weak". It is feminine and weak in the sense of a Christian contemplative who allows himself to be weak before God. He makes himself into the feminine chalice into which God can instill his spirit.

But that thought was alien to Jung's nature. His ideal remained that of the mana personality, whose destiny it is to do battle with the unconscious, with great cunning and sorcery. But on the British isles, Merlin receded, and the virtuous and reclusive ideal of the Christian monk took over. Arguably, Jung should have realized that Merlin's recession is a significant symbol, and allowed room for the complementary aspect of self. As he didn't, his self ideal remained one-sidedly masculine, geared toward power and cunning, like Merlin. This is both worthwhile and necessary, up to a certain point, when it is time to give up the powers of the self-deifying ego and its luminous consciousness. I have written a critique of Jung's unitarian view of the self in the following two articles, and elsewhere: Critique of Synchronicity; The Complementarian Self.

Mats Winther

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Re: Critique of active imagination
« Reply #10 on: February 14, 2013, 07:30:21 AM »
It is significant that the anima worships the Christ. That's what she believes, anyway, because she is blind. Her name is Salome, which means 'peace'. But this is not the Salome who is the wife of Herod (the treacherous seductress responsible for the death of John the Baptist). This, I believe, is the Salome who is the mother of James and John, and who was an early follower of Jesus. Salome was among the women who stood and watched as Jesus was crucified (Mark 15:40-41). She was among the privileged women to first learn that Jesus was resurrected (Mark 16:1-8).

Jung viewed his anima as a treacherous seductress, but in reality she was a devout follower of Christ. In the vision, she said that Jung can cure he blindness, that is, he can make her conscious. It probably means that he ought to realize the truth about her. She is the lesser known of the two Salomes in the bible. Jung's anima was, in fact, a Christian.

Mats Winther

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Re: Critique of active imagination
« Reply #11 on: February 17, 2013, 04:25:56 AM »
What is represented in this daemonic image is essentially the Jungian view of the ambivalent godhead, and its derivative, namely the ambivalent self. If the self is an ambivalent spirit, it means that it is evil. By example, an upstanding and competent individual murders his wife. According to modern moral consiousness, this means that he is evil and should be locked up for life. However, he is ambivalent because in all other respects his conduct in life is fine. Hermann Göring was a jovial and generous person, a good comrade. He was also a courageous war hero. Today, we view him as one of the worst criminals in history. King David was a murderer, too. There is no way around the fact that ambivalence, in human psychology, means that the person is a dark character.

Jung had a hobby-horse, namely the conjugation of the ambivalent "binarius" and the "ternarius" (the Trinity). But it would imply that the resultant godhead is ambivalent, too, i.e. it is infected with the evil principle. (That's why Dorneus warned that quartarius is the hidden binarius.) It doesn't matter that He is the creator of the universe. If he is guilty of murder, then he is evil. In fact, this was the quandary of Job. King David created Israel. Yet he was a murderer, and he would have been locked up if he had lived today.

Such a self-ideal would eventually invoke a retrogression and actualize such characters as Hermann Göring and King David as model personalities. Indeed, such characters are model individuals in phallocentric culture. So it seems the ambivalent self-ideal is no good. We know that ambivalence is characteristic of the unconscious, whereas modern consciousness is moulded by the trinitarian spirit. Hence, the self as a 'coincidentia oppositorum' of conscious and unconscious results in ambivalence, which is morally objectionable.

So it seems that the Jungian view of the self as a 'coincidentia oppositorum' isn't good enough. I have proposed another solution which I call the "complementarian self". Jung's version of the self I denote quartarius. I do not repudiate this self model. I conclude that it is merely half the truth. Ternarius and quartarius are complementary opposites (I use Niels Bohr's definition of complementarity). This means that the godhead can be envisaged as complementarian: the Trinity and the Quaternity are mutually exclusive, yet both defintions are needed to define the godhead in its entirety.

Mats Winther

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Re: Critique of active imagination
« Reply #12 on: February 19, 2013, 09:15:44 AM »
Mats, I agree with much of what you say, although I am inclined to (no doubt arbitrarily) use different terms and foci in places.

Jung's Philemon was an image of the Self in a Jungian sense and is conventionally held by Jungians to be a Self figure.  Although there is enough overlap in my own construction of the Self with the Jungian concept to share the name (and derive an initial inspiration to stay with that name), in my definition Philemon would not be a Self figure.  I would consider him an amalgam of the heroic ego and the Demon . . . in other words a "poisoned" hero.

In my thinking, Philemon cannot be a Self figure because he is not a true Other to Jung's ego but an idealized version of it.  Philemon is Jung's fantasy ego pumped up to full potential and utterly sans shadow.  This kind of poisoning/inflation of the heroic ego can occur once the heroic ego has triumphed over the more basic, supergoic form of the Demon introject.  That is, once the "son" overthrows the "father" and starts to value a new organization of the psyche over the old, socially conditioned one.  That attitude was very prominent in Jung when he was writing the Black and Red Books, taking very particular shape thanks to his relationship with Freud.  Jung also exercises (more than explores) this dynamic in his work that helped cleave his bond to Freud, Symbols of Transformation (written just before the visionary experiment that became the Red Book began), although much of Jung's focus there is on Son/Mother conflict.

Perhaps the principle theme (and problem!) of the Red Book is the conflict between son and father figures and the struggle of the son to become the "New Father".  That myth was always very important to Jung (who was profoundly dissatisfied with and developed himself in reaction to his father, Paul Jung).  Although the Red Book introduces the anima/Soul in a supporting role (and she turns out to "steal the show," at least for the audience), it is really a drama about Jung and his father figures.  The attitude he takes to these father figures is very interesting.  He begins with a very worshipful approach, appearing like an eager disciple.  But he quickly grinds through them, exposing their limitations.  He wants more . . . and he is clever enough to get it most of the time (though his expansive imagination). 

I sense a distinct sense of rage in Jung directed at father figures and "powerful patriarchs" but masked with passive aggressive pseudo-humility.  It is no wonder Freud was afraid that Jung harbored murderous wishes toward him.  Freud and Jung were perfect pathological partners for one another.  They had complimentary complexes.  I still think Freud was overbearing and contributed greatly to luring out Jung's complex in a catastrophic way, but Jung deserve much of the blame for their split. 

The Red Book culminates in the image of the ego ideal, Philemon, because that was Jung's best solution to how to be a "superior man" to his father and father figures and to the "inheritance" of their model of manliness.  Although Jung makes Philemon a wizard steeped in chthonic darkness and perhaps (it is at least implied) something "demonic", Philemon is really a shadowless figure . . . a being without real weakness (from Jung's perspective at the time).  Philemon is capable of fully mastering and manipulating the unconscious that Jung felt was undermining him (via the anima most of all) and waylaying his attempts to be strong, perfect, and secure in his knowledge, selfhood, and social position.

To Jung's credit, he remained skeptical about this identification with Philemon (even as he succumbed to it).  He recognizes it as a "mana-personality" or archetypal inflation with "the wizard".  Jung never falls entirely or permanently under the spell of this inflation . . . but his solution is far from perfect.  He chooses to differentiate himself from the mana-personality by forcibly disidentifying from it.  He allows it to exist as it appears, but makes a Herculean effort to chisel off a piece of himself apart from it that he will call the ego.  But making this differentiation for Jung is like splitting an atom.  One must be a Titan to keep the explosive energy of this splitting at bay.  That is, one must always be a kind of Atlas pinned beneath an impossible burden.  That is Jung's "holding the tension of the opposites."

I don't think it works.  For one thing, one is still identified with a mighty figure . . . one capable of such Titanic strength and supposed self-discipline.  For another, the figure of the mana-personality is never functionally resolved or transformed.  It remains fully formed in the psychic pantheon.  That might be how things work in a culture's mythology, but in the individual psyche, greater dynamism is required.  Archetypes are not mere stars fixed in the sky, they are complex, interwoven relational patterns that have narrative, dynamic properties.  Although archetypal personages might not be entirely soluble, they are quite transformable . . . and I suspect that that transformation is often the mark of a healthier psychic organization.  It is such transformation that we see as a staple of folktales (as opposed to classic Western myths).  No Demon or mana-personality figure in folktale ever survives intact.  They either are led to destroy themselves or they are redeemed or have their "blackness" removed.

A serious problem of Jungian thinking about the hero and individuation is that it ossifies the hero as a kind of Demon-posioned mana-personality.  Jung never separates the hero from the Demon . . . and so the "true" hero is not known to him or to Jungianism in general.  Equally, the Demon is not known to Jungianism, because the Demon is caught up in both the hero and in the so-called "archetypal shadow" and Jung's "real evil".  Missing from Jung's constructions of individuation are the genuine mystical experience of the hero surrendering to the way of the Self.  In fact, his passionate efforts to rebel against identification with aspects of the autonomous psyche become ways of refusing to surrender to the Self's principle of organization.  The "unconscious" remains something to be resisted and to only embrace when specifically cultivated and colonized by the ego.

That makes for a very "theological" construction of the psyche . . . and I prefer a more "naturalistic" one.  There is no Great Dark Unconscious trying to defeat and devour the ego.  There is only an adaptive and instinctual principle of organization to the psyche that the ego is subject to, albeit with some autonomy and partial (often illusory) free will.  The psyche's principle of organization does not always fit neatly into the process of living in the world and among other people.  It does not address the kinds of problems ego consciousness does.  Mostly, it seeks to grow and to move toward a kind of dynamic homeostasis, to perpetuate itself, even while embracing adaptation and mutation.  I don't see the autonomous psyche as particularly anthropomorphic or "like consciousness writ large".  I also don't see it as inherently opposed to the ego, although it is the nature of the modern world that we often end up in conflict with the autonomous psyche.


The story of Salome you recount form Jung is very telling.  I'm not sure I would interpret it precisely the way you do, but I agree it is extremely significant to understanding Jung and Jung's thinking.  I think we should keep in mind that this is taken from an active imagination experiment.  I am disinclined to see Jung's Salome as a pure expression of the anima or the "unconscious".  Her characterization is riddled with Jung's signature sexism.  He tries to find "archetypal" meaning in her, but fails to recognize how she reflects his own prejudices and complexes.  I think her blindness and worshipfulness of Jung are reflections more of Jung's own projected blindness and sense of self-importance than of any inherent traits of the anima archetype.

This Salome seems a lot like Sabina Spielrein (and some of Jung's "other women") thrown in.  We should also contextualize the fantasy Jung describes with his relationship to Spielrein in which he may have wished he could act above her, as her doctor and mentor, but he could not control himself well enough not to also (it seems) act as her lover, as someone who desired specific things from her.  The crucifixion/deification fantasy seems to depict Jung in a much more resistance position to the anima than he was able to muster in real life regarding Spielrein.  It's wish-fulfillment . . . at least at first.

"Against his will" he succumbs to her and ends up ensnared in the transformative coils of the snake "curing" Salome's blindness with his profuse sweat.  It sounds to me (among other things) like Jung imagining he can "cure" Spielrein's neurosis with the sweat (and other bodily fluids?) of sexual passion.  Whatever the truth might be, the fantasy definitely demonstrates his inner conflict.  He cannot resist the "temptation" of the anima, and this gives him an excuse for his behavior . . . i.e., it is she who is a "temptress".  Throughout the Red Book, Jung is fighting with the anima figures, despising and insulting them, pushing them away.  But they keep creeping back in various forms.  He hangs all blame on them (like eating the child's liver in a later scene), but the only progress in the Red Book (if there is any) comes out of his interactions with the anima.

But he longs for the personal power (which he comes to call "magic") to dispel and overthrown the anima, which for Jung embodies the difficult and unwelcome otherness of the autonomous psyche.  Only once he completes and seeks to become Philemon does he have the "might" to make the anima go away (or perhaps give up on him).  And he very astutely (if incorrectly) recognizes that it is the mana-personality that "defeats" the anima and takes its mana for his own and in accordance with his mighty will.

I'm less inclined to read Christian ideas into Jung's symbols.  Consciously, he was very Christian and exuded (especially in the Red Book) all of the conventional Protestant moralisms and prudishness as well as the dogmas.  But Jung's spontaneous symbols seem much more "pagan".  In fact, I suspect that they are made to seem especially "pagan" because they are seen through such a Christian lens and with conventional Protestant superiority (regarding the "pagan").  Like a "good Christian", Jung tends to turn a lot of the Otherness of the "unconscious" into the demonic.  It's certainly true that Jung is deeply dissatisfied with Christianity and critical of it . . . but I think it is HIS OWN Christianity he is most dissatisfied with.  It is the way he wears and feels oppressed by that Christianity that drives Jung out questing toward the pagan, the occult, and the East.

So, I wouldn't look at the serpent in a Christianized way (as "falseness", as you say) as much as in a pagan way, as a symbol of transformation, or devouring and rebirth.  It is that symbolism that most fascinates Jung . .  and TEMPTS him, because he is seduced by the possibility of becoming something new, something more than what he was, by transcending himself.  Just as he is seduced by the romanticization of the pagan mind (even as he simultaneously maintains a very Protestant and very modern attitude toward his own romanticism).

Jung cannot bring himself to actively identify with the Christ.  He recognizes the hubris in this (even as he desires some degree of Christification, it seems).  So he must find an earlier prefiguration of the Christ archetype, one that is available because it has been tarred by Christianity's brush and thus labeled "demonic" or false.  Jung also clearly feels that the Protestant Christ is too etherial, too perfect, not fleshy enough, lacking the kind of genuine darkness that natural expressions of the autonomous psyche usually exhibit.  I think he is dissatisfied with a kind of Christ that neither he nor any man could ever become.  Maybe that is partly a product of his inflation and desire to transcend and become a "Great Man", but I also think there is something valid and perfectly functional to Jung's dissatisfaction (although he didn't quite figure this out).

Namely, the Christ figure is a potent, natural, archetypal expression of the autonomous psyche enmeshed in the modern era.  But the Christ of the Church is a very distorted being (or perhaps emblem) that is wrenched away from its roots and displaced as a lofty hood ornament signifying the Church's right to determine truth and the nature and will of God.  It is like waving an FBI badge in front of someone's eyes for a second as an indication that you must reveal to them exactly what they want out of fear and awe.

But the natural Christ figure is merely a tribal shaman and archetypal hero . . . not some kind of omniscient and all-powerful God.  The death and rebirth of Christ are products of the shamanic initiation journey signifying the surrender of the individual to the principle of the Self, not the supremacy and "divine right" of the Church or those empowered by it.  I think the Christ figure in its purest proto-Christian expressions (the proto-Gospel, whether "Q" or whatever it was, and some of the early Gnostic texts later purged) was not meant to be a superior being so much as a somewhat exalted ego figure one was meant to identify with and emulate.  Such was the objective of the Gnostic "pneumatic".  That Christ is the heroic ego, the embodiment of the attitude one must take in order to pass through the threshold of mystic initiation.

Only with the rise of the orthodox "Catholic" Church was this personalization of the Christ figure ripped away from the individual psyche where it belonged and made into an expression of patriarchal power and transcendence.  Jung is too Christian to fully see or believe this, but intuitively and instinctively he leans this way.  And this splitting makes for some degree of rupture in him.  He is "possessed by the natural archetype of the Christ, but it drags along all its institutional Christian baggage and serves to ensure his brush with mysticism becomes a desperate grapple with inflation.

I think this inflation is built into Christianity (where it is only a problem for Christian mystics or Church authorities) and therefore built into Jungianism.  The "Churchified" Christ figure is simply unhealthy for the initiate into the Mysteries . . . and intentionally so, because those Mysteries (in their various pagan and Gnostic expression) were the arch competitors of the early Church.  Catholicism became the anti-Gnosticism.  It was reactionary by design, rejecting and arguing against an older tradition rather than truly innovating.

Jung was always seeking to "treat" Christianity, although he was limited by being, himself, so Christian and by using such decidedly Christian tools while remaining tethered darkly and romantically to pre-Christian pagan drives and ideas.  In a sense, he was like an early theologian or Church Father who sought to explain the universe, but only within the context of Christian assumptions about nature, humanity, and God.  In "Answer to Job", for instance, Jung tries to work within these restraints, albeit with a more "heretical" and personalized project.  But the psyche is not theologically bound.  It is natural.  A better tool to understand the psyche is science, because science allows things to be natural, to be objects.  It does not (at its best) insist that they be seen relative to arbitrary human assumptions about the unknown/unobservable universe.  There are no such assumptions in science, only what is evident.  At least, any assumptions used are considered "experimental" and subject to falsification.  But religion doesn't approach objects with the notion that its assumptions might be falsified by what it comes to observe.

Jung was caught between these kinds of perspectives (and probably among others, as well).

I do sympathize with Jung's dissatisfaction with becoming the kind of Christian contemplative you use in your example.  I am personally more fond of the heretic's path.  I can't identify with the assumption of belief.  It simply isn't rigorous enough.  To me, that kind of faith can easily become caught up in an identification between God and ego in which one speaks or acts as if by the "will of God", but since one has never functionally differentiated the ego from God, one is really acting out of egoic will subtly deified and refracted.  To live a life of such profound and contemplative faith, one must assume they know God or the spirit and are abiding by its desires.  But that is too big an assumption for someone like me, which is why I prefer science and its preference for objectivity.

For me, "faith" was a kind of tearing at the scenery of everything, always testing, trying to see things from alternative perspectives.  It wasn't a matter of finding The One Holy Truth and then setting myself up as its prophet and devotee.  I was always too impressed by the relativity of things, by arbitrariness.  I am also largely pragmatic and tend to evaluate ideas by what good they can do when put into use.  Does a belief lead to the dismissal, condemnation, or abuse of an other or others?  If so, it's not so righteous in my book.  Its exaltation depends on having a convenient scapegoat.  I am unimpressed by "religious" ideas that can too easily be used to do some kind of harm to others.

I don't know if Jung had quite the same beef, though.  My sense is that Jung was frustrated with Christianity because if prevented him from being "reborn" in the way he imagined.  It hampered his romanticism.  It was like a coat too small to fit his mind.  But for better and/or for worse, he kept trying to put it on.  I think that was largely an act of tribal solidarity.  He wanted (as a heretic of the highest order) to demonstrate that he was one of the Christian tribe and deeply concerned with its wellbeing.  It never really worked to the degree he desired.  The very idea that Christianity is changeable, is treatable, is redeemable by a more modern mentality is itself a romanticism . . . and one that threatens to inflate those that might believe in it.

Curiously, that is an essential part of the Christian myth.  Jesus was (by the story) a Jew who sought only to be a good Jew and to serve God and do right by Judaism . . . . where necessary, to treat Judaism where it had become crippled or diseased.  But he never meant to make a new religion.  The treatment of the tribal identity construct is a shamanic task.  Jung desired something similar.  He wanted to treat the Christian tribe, and that activities the shaman/scapegoat archetypal pattern.

One of the most distinct problems is that Christianity is no longer a tribe (despite superficial tribal pretensions), and Jung was never an official member or person of status in it.  One of the great failings of many modernisms of the 20th century was the assumption that modern monotribes could be conducted like pre-modern monotribes.  That they can be homogenized (like Nazi Germany sought) or shamanically transformed (as Jung fantasized).  I don't know what if anything can be done, but these solutions do not work.  At worst they do massive damage, engendering atrocities like genocide.

One of the great lessons of the modern (which Jung had pioneering insight into) was that the tribe no longer really exists in the outer world, can no longer really be understood as a group of people organized around specific survival purposes.  The tribe lives in the psyche of the modern individual.  We carry our tribes along with us wherever they go.  They are like Jung's gods that became diseases, hidden in our personal darkness, away from our awareness, yet powerfully influencing our behavior and thought.  This is something Jung well understood yet also deeply resisted . . . as in the case of Christianity, where he seems to seek and desire a treatment for an institutional or tribal body of Christianity.  But the best he could do was work (sometimes "shamanically") within the context of an individual's own personal Christianity.

Within the individual's mind, a monotribe can have massive, modern scale . . . and it can be treated and transformed because the individual can be a kind of alchemical vessel containing such a transformation.  But the mistake is thinking that these individual, inner transformations can affect some kind of outer institution in the world.  The experience just doesn't seem to translate over to "the world".  In effect, one can alchemize and live along side one's own Christ, but there is no room for Christs in the world.  That is something I think the Gnostics grasped and may have approached more functionally than the Catholics.  The Christ is an archetype residing in the individual psyche that can never be flesh.

Therefore, the story tells us that the flesh of the Christ must be torn away . . . and that it is God's will.


Although your interpretation of Jung's Salome (as "the other" Salome from the Bible) strikes me as a valid way of seeing it, I am less inclined to see her this way . . . or less inclined to see her in only this way.  Jung very much saw the anima as John The Baptist's decapitating Salome . . . and himself (at times) as a kind of John.  Her seductiveness threatens to hand Jung, the Great Man, prophet, and intellectual, his head.  What is interesting (as you also note) is how, despite Jung's strong feelings about a decapitating anima, his Salome is both the blind follower and companion of Elijah (won Jung sees as a prefiguration of Philemon) and a ready worshipper of "Pagan Christs In Waiting".  So, instead of decapitating like the whimsical but sadistic Lolita that was John's Salome, Jung's Salome "decapitates" by her worshipful Christmaking.  It is (from Jung's perspective) as if she devours and even "rapes" Jung into unwanted identification with his desired but passionately resisted pagan Christ image.

Despite being imagined through Jung's sexism and complexes, I still feel this Salome has a glimmer of the real anima in her.  It is the anima that loves the hero and wants the ego to "become" heroic (I mean this in the way I define the hero archetype/attitude, not in Jung's way).  Jung is afraid of his own temptation to identify with the hero (not irrationally, since his vision of the hero is very inflated and patriarchal, a la Siegfried).  He projects the temptation onto the anima figure which is the force of "inspiration" behind the transformation of his personality.  And instead of dismantling and depotentiating his inflated identification with the hero, Jung decides to take out his frustrations on the anima as temptress.  It is "all her fault", because Carl Jung would otherwise be an upstanding Swiss citizen and well-scholed son of a minister.

Jung's solution (as was the case in his personal, sexual life) was to have the "affair" with the anima, but only clandestinely and while paying public lip service to her condemnation.  He is rather a hypocrite on this issue . . . but as regrettable as that might be, I suspect we are better off with a hypocritical Jung that at least had backdoor affairs with his anima than we would have been with an utterly anima-less Jung.  Still, in Jungianism, the anima needs a great deal of redeeming (it is trapped at an early, "enchanted" stage of development as we see it in folktales before the hero fully embraces and redeems her).  That redemption is part of a package that would require the differentiation of the Demonic/inflated hero from the genuine hero.  Where the inflated hero can use and conquer the anima, turning her into a natural resource (we see this theme in some fairytales where the imprisoned princess is forced to perform some special task for the Demon figure, whose powers are in some way dependent on her imprisonment and usurpation.

Jung is surprisingly neglectful of the large tradition of anima folktales in which the male hero succeeds by redeeming the anima figure (who may be enchanted or cursed in some way that completely or partially imprisons her).  His model of the hero comes from the myths and epics of great Western civilizations, which adopt (and misconstrue) only some basic elements of the folktale hero's model.  Jung leans toward (or is drawn by) the motif of the conquering hero's battle with the Terrible Mother dragon, which is often a patriarchal cultural epic motif signifying the rise of the patriarchal ego over the darkness of Nature and instinct, which it transforms (temporarily, as the sun brings temporary light in daytime) into "fuel" for the development and progress of civilization.  This is the myth of the modern male ego that is exalted through self-mastery and dissociation.

But the male folktale hero redeems the anima from its animalistic or demonic enchantment, often causing the imprisoning Demon figure to destroy itself by its own greed or hunger to control.  And that hero ends up "happily ever after" with the anima as his queen.  He never conquers or smites the Demon, but rather is focused on the rescue and redemption of his bride.  And that redemption is often made through self-sacrifice, patience, and deep acceptance of her otherness or oddity.  In other words, the folktale hero is not a creature of might but of valuation for what has become devalued, lost, or "enchanted".

There is no grasp of this in the Red Book and barely any awareness of it throughout Jung's work.  Curiously, ironically, Jung is preserved in his insight into the autonomous psyche largely by the "power" of his rather persistent anima.  She was not one to be easily defeated or dismissed.  Jung maintains an awkward and indirect connection to her through his "susceptibility" to the unconscious, to his "weakness" for romanticisms, his capacity to keep second guessing himself, and his inability to fully embody the mana-personality.  I.e., it is NOT his great success as a wizard and "balancer of the opposites" that gives Jung enough contact with the anima for it to imbue his work and worldview.  It is rather that Jung can't help but "be seduced" consistently (if only temporarily) by the "magic" of the unconscious, which he is always indirectly in the process of valuating . . . even as he also issues condemnations of its "evil", darkness, and "feminine seductiveness".  Jung is an anima's man despite himself.

It is not the anima or the "feminine" that is "weak" (as Jung often had it).  It is that Jung's incurable and persistent ego "weakness" became for him the vehicle through which his anima relationship survived.  I think that wherever Jung choose to detect his strength was where the anima vanished.  When he was being overly "scientific" and "rational", rising above the chaotic and swampy unconscious, the anima snuck in through his closeted romanticism and susceptibility to the complex "otherworldliness" of the autonomous psyche.  That is, he was just so damn fascinated by the "unconscious", that he was willing to sit at its feet patiently observing everything it put forth . . . even when in his writings he often made efforts to interpret and even reduce it.

And when he identified with his romanticism and sought to prophecy about the non-temporal, acausal, mystical, "psychoid" unconscious, his rationalism and capacity to psychologize or treat experience as objective, analyzable phenomena, helped bring these inflated wonderings back down to earth, grounding them somewhat in what could truly be observed.  It was as if he was then rational in spite of himself.  Either way, he was self-conflicted, and it was the nature of this complex self-conflict (a kind of primal and continually life-giving Wound, perhaps) that gave rise to his openness to and appreciation of the autonomous psyche.  Jung famously sees himself (in MDR) as a creature of two conflicting personalities, but what he doesn't fully grasp is that Jung the object and observable self as well as the objective Jungian psychology is a synthesis of these forces even as Jung the man remains divided and turned against himself.

That synthesis, though (like Jung himself), has only ever been a potential.  Jungians are left with something to heal or unite, which would seem to be a work much resisted.  There is more inclination to gather the low-hanging fruit than to take care of the tree and its seeds.

-Matt
You can always come back, but you can’t come back all the way.

   [Bob Dylan,"Mississippi]

Matswin

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Re: Critique of active imagination
« Reply #13 on: February 24, 2013, 09:44:55 AM »
I haven't read the Red Book, so I cannot make a critique of your reading. Concerning the anima being a Christian; this is how she presents herself, so we have to take her word for it. She compensates the conscious standpoint. So, if his anima was a Christian, Jung's conscious standpoint is averse to Christianity. Your notion of a warped or a shadowy self ideal rhymes with the fact that the truth of the anima isn't realized. She is blind, that is, she is unconscious. Jung thinks she is the treacherous Salome, but she is really the lesser known Salome, that is, the virtuous one. If the truthful anima isn't realized, it will result in a lopsided self image, since the anima is part and parcel of the self. There is virtuous femininity missing in the self.

Jung says in the text that she is "that side of the inferior function which is surrounded by an aura of evil." So Jung thinks she fulfils a destructive function, which is a very curious way of looking upon the unconscious. It is difficult to understand why evolution should have endowed us with a function that wants to harm us. It is as if Jung sometimes looks upon the unconscious as a spiritual Gnostic universe, where some spirits, corresponding to the evil Archons, aim to destroy our plans of redemption. I won't buy the idea that the anima, the most important archetypal complex of all, is an evil Archon. Jung keeps returning to the phenomenon of anima possession, and says that men must avoid being possessed by their anima, which means that the man cannot control his emotions, but is controlled by them. Jung says:

"If there were only such an evil figure as Salome, the conscious would have to build up a fence to keep this back, an exaggerated, fanatical, moral attitude. But I had not this exaggerated moral attitude, so I suppose that Salome was compensated by Elijah. When Elijah told me he was with Salome, I thought it was almost blasphemous for him to say this. I had the feeling of diving into an atmosphere that was cruel and full of blood.

This atmosphere was around Salome, and to hear Elijah declare that he was always in that company shocked me profoundly. Elijah and Salome are together because they are pairs of opposites. Elijah is an important figure in man's unconscious, not in woman's. He is the man with prestige, the man with a low threshold of consciousness or with remarkable intuition. In higher society he would be the wise man; compoare Lao-tse. He has the ability to get into touch with archetypes in others [...] This plays an important role in man's psychology, as I have said, but unfortunately a less important part than that played by the anima."
(p.101)

Jung never questions that she is the evil Salome, Herod's wife. He simply takes it for granted. He also grapples with the problem that she doesn't seem to compensate his conscious standpoint. Then he comes up with the curious idea that she compensates the self in the form of Elijah, thus compromising his own structure of the unconscious, where the anima is subordinate to the self. In fact, she is compensating his conscious standpoint. In this context, he also accounts for the battle of two snakes:

"Then I realized I had a conflict in myself about going down, but I could not make out what it was, I only felt that two dark principles were fighting each other, two serpents. There was a mountain ridge, a knife edge, on one side a sunny desert country, on the other side darkness. I saw a white snake on the light side and a dark snake on the dark side. They met in battle on the narrow ridge. A dreadful conflict ensued. Finally the head of the black snake turned white, and it retired, defeated. I felt, "Now we can go on".

Jung then enters a Druidic sacred place, where Salome appears, etc. Jung interprets the snakes in a reductive way. He says they represent a conflict in him, whether to go down into the kingdom of darkness or whether to move into the daylight. The tendency to go up was stronger. So Jung understands this conflict as resolved, as the image had passed, since he took the decision to go on. It seems like he thinks that active imagination has an immediate effect on personality. When it is played out, a resolution will also take place. This cannot be right.

I think the two snakes represent the trinitarian (white) spirit in battle with the Druidic pagan spirit (that is, the binarian or quaternarian spirit). Jung was strongly drawn towards the latter, to the detriment of the former. That's why the unconscious compensates this by presenting an image where the trinitarian spirit defeats the pagan spirit by making it conscious. Merlin, the son of Satan, is converted to the light side, so to speak, which is also what takes place in the Arthurian myth.

So we seem to agree on these facts: there is something amiss with the image of the self, and the anima is unduly subverted by Jung. These biblical figures don't belong in this pagan setting. His self notion is a conglomerate of incompatible elements, and it can only be held together by resort to black magic involving a spiraling serpent and demonic transformations, relating the image of a crucifixion. It is a warped and disharmonious image. These elements must be separated, and Salome must be moved into a Christian setting. Thus, we may arrive at a complementary, bipartite, self image, and harmony is restored.

Mats Winther


Matswin

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Re: Critique of active imagination
« Reply #14 on: February 25, 2013, 02:43:34 AM »
To me, it is not the quality of "Otherness" which is missing in Jung's conception of the self. What's missing is its "Otherworldliness" (but this might be what you really mean). I call the missing aspect "the self of transcendence", as opposed to the this-worldly aspect. I think that Elijah symbolizes the transcendental aspect. Elijah defeated the Phoenician god Baal, a suitable symbol of the this-worldly self of completeness. This has a bearing on Jung's vision of the white snake defeating the black snake. Elijah was the first man to gain entrance into the heavenly realm, when he was taken up in a whirlwind (2Kings 2:11). Thus, he is connected with transcendence. Elijah and Salome are held captive in a tiny house, in the pagan underworld, where they don't belong. So the figure of Elijah here fulfils a compensatory function. He is entirely a positive figure, I think.

On account of being held in this pagan realm, Salome's Christian faith is frustrated. So she mistakenly makes Jung target of her wish to worship the Christ. After all, she is blind. Thus, Jung undergoes deification. The repression of the transcendental self has this consequence. When the divine realm of transcendence is not given its due, the result is self-deification. Evidently, if you won't bow down to the transcendental spirit, but your sole aim is to realize the self as  this-worldliness, it has harmful repercussions in terms of identification. Elijah and Salome, as representatives of the trinitarian spirit, are being repressed. This is emphasized in the vision, since they appear as miniscule doll-like beings who live in a tiny little house in an underworldly place, inside a crater. The conclusion is that this vision compensates Jung's lopsided view of the self as an immanent ideal.

Mats Winther