In a previous post, I quoted Jung’s definitions of rational and irrational: part of his efforts to describe a natural, empirical ground beneath the mythic flight of our religious and philosophical history.
It finds us still chasing a natural reality – on earth as it was in heaven — still in a world of concrete thought. So anxious is it for certainty, it would make of the deepest realities only the dry artifacts of theoretical projections despite the most obvious contradictions in them.
Contradictions in our thinking, however, also produce symbolic reactions in the body (the unconscious) which sometimes violently reject the half-truths forced upon it — just as the long history of religious obsession verifies.
As much as we may consider ourselves rational beings, deeper puzzles than stone gods and modern desires define who we are. You may sense the paradox in the space-age illusions which have replaced the old ones; the new astrology of a strangely alive material universe, still reflecting and recording our deeds, only now through the devious satellites of men: symbolic attempts to see living mysteries from a different perspective: the singularity of earth, nature, body, animal, individual.
These are the mysteries of psychic images working beneath consciousness, the paradoxical language of nature: circumstance, chance, and accident, and none are quite certain what to make of our vulnerability to them…
In a reference to Christianity, Joseph Campbell remarked that its hostility (its vulnerability) to nature was unique in the context of world mythology. Any serious history student can see it. Identification with intellect means the hostile influence of repressed emotion, and this bi-polarity will find us always in great conflict; though until you become aware of yourself to the extent that you question your sanity, your greatest conflicts will appear outside.
Jung wrote that the Western emphasis on the exclusive power of thought may hold some peculiar divine plan in the gradual unfolding of our natures; that we might discover something about that plan if we could account for the greater purposes behind our surface fascination with the material world and the devil’s banquet we’ve made of it.
The Pandora’s box of scientific object-ivity may eventually lead us to a closer, more realistic examination of our subject-ivity — but what it makes of our souls in the meanwhile is frightening to those who sense it.
I was born into the aftermath of WWII, and those dire conditions resulted in much thought on the circumstances which produced them — by a few for a while. As a child, I watched a panicked nation construct bomb-shelters in the event of nuclear war. Even the scientists were startled by what they’d unleashed, though few admitted that the seeds of destruction existed also in themselves as unconscious reactions to general conditions.
Then the civil rights movement exploded, and a confused and off-balance culture suddenly became aware of its conflicts on two levels. The enemy which was once only outside now appeared inside as well, and the clash of changing values suddenly burst through the tension. The ugly hypocrisy of race relations, coupled with an unpopular war, also formed the tipping point of a much wider dissatisfaction which captured young people everywhere.
The hippie movement that followed — an instinctive attempt to re-connect with nature — was the unconscious response of a generation saturated with the deep-seated religious hostilities it had inherited. A rigid Establishment with no ability to examine itself was so threatened by it that the young idealists’ radical notions of being “natural” were branded as products of drug-induced fantasy. Mind you, these were adult responses to children. The ideas were repressed for further absorption, even as the drug culture was subliminally incorporated by it for the same reasons…
Psychology has snatched a few crumbs of objectivity from the plate of science since that time — from the otherworldly fare of god-like fantasies it was called upon to digest: the circumstances and consequences created by literal, one-sided conceptions of a dual psyche which reflects life through images. But psychology, like science generally, dismissed religion as fantasy; though the mind it was charged to study, outside its own thought, was itself comprised of images and fantasies.
Science only fancied the more that it could extricate itself from the threats of its inventions by inventing even more novel things to occupy itself with — though its exclusive concentration on objects created problems which became only the more threatening the more objective the solutions. That the novel age of diversion were more revolving than evolving by-products of its destructive side, no one considered in the blinding glare of immediate gain.
The dark spirit-shadows (the earthly ones) lurking in the background went right on generating the same spiritual aims they always had — only the times and circumstances changed according to ego’s perception of itself. Psychology tagged along behind an objective science and assumed it could discover the depth of nature’s spirit, not by delving into the mystery, but by soaring above it with the same certainty the preachers used to avoid it.
How will a rational science discover the mysteries of an irrational nature? Maybe you’d rather not think about such things, pursue your diversions while you can, and leave the burden for your children. On the other hand, if you feel a strange and uncertain anxiety about where the old dual morality is taking us, read more here.