The Law of Opposites II

But, that for every prompting we obey, the risk of opposite result is set up, few Western men are willing to consider in relation to themselves. It shakes every pretension to our society. To a… materialistic “civilization” it proposes… that orientation toward objects has put the whole subjective nature of society in jeopardy. We may go mad — or be mad.” — Philip Wylie, 1947.

This quote was from an earlier post in which I highlighted Jung’s insights into our current cultural transition from a traditionally religious-based value-system to a rational scientific world-view. Here, I return to Wylie’s interpretations of Jung’s work to stress the historical psychic conditions which have fashioned the most catastrophic vision of nature consciousness has ever conceived: objective science.

WWII and its unprecedented technology of destruction might have suggested a new relation to the unconscious nature which produced it. Well, it did for a while — until more diverse forms gave us ever newer diversions to repress the chaos and confusion of a subjective world whose emotional center of gravity has shifted toward an irrational belief in more physical science as the answer:

Health authorities make maps of areas and ages to show how these people were felled by typhus, those by avitaminosis, others by syphilis, cholera, smallpox or malaria… the day is coming when maps will trace the subjective viruses and  show how an overweening pride undid the Semitic conquerors… how Napoleon’s France fell to the mass identification with a single Hero archetype, and how it was an inferiority complex that gnawed away the German Reich… For diseases of the mind are greater killers of nations than things which wriggle and flagellate. And neither universal public health nor economic stability is any panacea for this other category of plague.

Wylie’s seventy-year-old observations take on new significance as the need for an inner perspective gains momentum. How can we, as individuals, understand the collective ego-compensations that form our modern conceptions of ourselves?

The adaptability of man is great enough so that he is able to maintain social forms and carry out national programs with a seeming of normality long after his psychological infection has spread beyond hope of recovery… for, whatever the disorientation or illusion may be, it is so widely shared that any evidence of insight is itself regarded as a perturbation of the mind.”

So, individual insight into human behavior is conceived by collective standards as subversive; liable to create dangerous effects if unchecked, though the general approach today to the inevitable consequences of our subjective natures for the purposes of increased self-awareness is to ignore and repress it.

Mental epidemics are not like physical plagues. Symptoms there may well be, and symptoms violently alarming to the afflicted group; but, when the sickness is severe… and general enough, its universal symptom is that it’s concealed. It disguises itself as “realism” and the very proof of good mental health — and there is no way for the people to tell that they are mad.

To the individual, the entering virus is a small thing, a conversion or an indoctrination, the re-arrangement of a few electrons in his brain; the act is customary and the reward to ego is large. Religion not only relieves him of the distressing responsibility of being an animal, but elevates him to a godship — kept conditional, that the church may hold dominion over him. Patriotism makes him that most superior… of all human beings, a Spaniard, a Dutchman, an… Englishman — or an American, the inhabitant of God’s country.”

This may sound extreme to the nationalistic ideologues who now compensate the global trend toward (at least) commercial cooperation. The latter’s aim may be a result of subverted values for material gain, but it remains one more subjective step toward the acceptance of the other in the face of historical biases:

The common patriot, Hindu or Hoosier, and the common bigot, Brahmin or Baptist, are madder powder-makers than all the merchants of death and the military men together.

Beneath the egotism… the instincts demand, not security; but the opportunity for satisfaction. Security — some safe and standstill status quo — is never the main business of instinct, but evolution, the increment of consciousness,  which holds dear the individual or the group only so long as the greater purpose is served. The moment the rising consciousness is inhibited by men, the instincts commence to destroy those men and their works, keeping the process hid under some good name or blessed program.

Lest we lose sight of the higher purposes beyond the partisanship of competing ideologies; or the values of democratic principles that empowered the individual with “certain inalienable rights” such as history had never known, consider the psychological aspects of our modern predicament:

But we Americans have not much utilized the knowledge and we do not much have the machinery in our minds to find out how to begin to use it. We invest our greatest passion in the contrary attempt… Before there… was a germ theory, poxes and black death were regarded as scourges from heaven or… hell. In these days, we have exactly the same attitude toward the psychological sources. We see that we are behaving foolishly — or ridiculously, but we do not see that what we believe is foolish and vicious.

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Basic Questions for Both Sides

“A struggling clergy, unable to translate the older values into contemporary terms, cannot defend its views in the face of rational argument. Literally interpreted, religious symbols not only don’t make sense to a science based on observable facts, they appear ridiculous and even silly. Worn half-truths and a declining relevance find modern mega-churches resorting to the same impersonal strategies driving business and political interests: mass commercial appeal. Science and religion have become adversaries competing for consumers; the individual, an insignificant statistic buried under the anonymity of target groups, market niches, and sales pitches.” — A Mid-Life Perspective: Conversations With The Unconscious

For Jung, death and the ‘beyond’ were symbols of unconscious perceptions far exceeding conscious reasoning. The gulf between belief and rational knowledge is filled with irrational facts that don’t make logical sense. Jung asked: why would the unconscious insist on such fantasies? Why is it important to consider things we can’t know?

The short answer is: they provide a deeper experience of life than intellect can achieve; a feeling-level which ascribes human values to the impersonal effects of rational thought. The commercially-instilled collective belief in science, because it depends on exploiting unconscious emotions by identifying them with objects, is a denial of subjective reality. We’re losing contact with our spiritual natures and fast becoming what Jung called “heads with wings”.

In an earlier post, I related an exchange between Manuel and the severed head of Misery from James Branch Cabell’s, Figures of Earth, in which ideas of the soul were discussed; of spirit and immortality, human disregard for animals and the earth, and other such ego-based projections as describe the conflicts and cross-purposes of man and nature.

In the conversation, Manuel explains that he has an immortal soul. The rational head, in its subservience to the sensual, material world, wants to see it. Manuel says it can’t get out until he’s dead. The head asks how he, who has never been dead, can “… be certain as to what happens when one is dead?

Manuel takes up the argument: “… there is about at any rate some persons a whiff of divinity… do you not find it so?” He feels the inner weight of beliefs which give deeper meaning and purpose to his life…

“Yes, Manuel, most young people have a spark in them which is divine, but it is living which snuffs this out of all of you, by and large, without bothering Grandfather Death to unpeel spirits like bananas. No, the most of you go with very little spirit, if any, into the grave, and assuredly with not enough spirit to last you forever. No, Manuel… I never quarrel with religion, because it is almost the strongest ally I have, but these religious notions rather disgust me sometimes…

“Now you are talking nonsense, sir,” said Manuel stoutly, “and of all sorts of nonsense cynical nonsense is the worst.

“By no means,” replied the head, “since plainly, it is far worse nonsense to assert that omnipotence would insanely elect to pass eternity with you humans. No, Manuel, I am afraid that your queer theory, about being stuffed inside with permanent material and so on, does not very plausibly account for either your existence or mine, and that we both stay riddles without answers.

“Still, sir,” said Manuel, “inasmuch as there is one thing only which all death’s ravishings have never taken from life, and that thing is the Misery of earth — “ Misery allows the premise to be indisputable and asks what he makes of it.

“… I deduce, sir, that you, also, who have not ever been dead, cannot possibly be certain as to what happens when one is dead. And so I shall stick to my own opinion about the life to come.” The head replies that his “… opinion is absurd on the face of it.” Manuel:

“That may very well be, sir, but it is much more comfortable to live with than is your opinion, and living is my occupation just now. Dying, I shall attend to it in its due turn, and, of the two, my opinion is the more pleasant to die with. Thereafter, if your opinion be right, I shall never know that my opinion was wrong: so that I have everything to gain… and nothing whatever to lose…”

The disembodied head of rational thought can’t understand Manuel’s reasoning and questions him, but Manuel interrupts: “Ah, sir,” says Manuel… smiling, “in this world men are nourished by their beliefs; and it may well be that, yonder also, their sustenance is the same.

“But at this moment came Reeri (a little crimson naked man, having the head of a monkey) with his cock in one hand and his gnarled club in the other…”

Such heady ideas summon up unconscious emotional conflicts of a very primitive nature: the repressed animal-spirit that holds the creative urge in one hand also wields the threat of violence in the other. To restrict one to the purposes of ego, unconsciously brings the opposite into play.

You may not relate to such psychological antinomies, but we hear daily about this ‘little naked man with the head of a monkey’ on the news. An unconscious religion may well be the strongest ally of misery — until we interpret the symbolic reality beneath the beliefs.

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Mediology: The Social Science of Tomorrow

Though specialists have long been toiling behind the scenes, recent findings are only now sketching out a new field of psychological inquiry: Mediology reveals an emerging picture of the human psyche never before conceived.

Its obscurity is due to its diffuse and complex nature; but make no mistake — while the deeper recesses of the brain remain impervious to Cat-scans and MRI’s, Mediology is quietly plumbing the invisible depths of the unconscious mind.

Below the radar, modern icons have ousted the clumsy religious images of the past to become living models for a new generation of hands-on believers. Moses may have led a rogue band of spiritual wanderers out of Egypt, but who bears that flesh and blood reality for the socially oppressed today?

From the scriptures of antiquity to a sophisticated modern media, an archetypal social nature lurks silently behind every whim. Cultural conditions, according to Mediologists, can be likened to mirrors reflecting historic changes in the way we see the world — often in stark contrast to the inside-out perceptions of just a generation ago.

Just as modern technology revivified an uncertain ego from the fearful state of self-reflection it briefly flirted with after WWII, Mediology shows such cultural spurts to be compensations for unconscious transitional stages. A new vision is replacing the metaphysical images once thought vital to spiritual growth with a more direct form of idolatry. Though the older forms held some crude value in the socialization process of an evolving consciousness, they serve only to isolate the contemporary individual.

Mediologists now confirm that our modern commercial/industrial era began, not with the technology of weaponry and the unconscious backlash of guilt, fear, and confusion that came with the sudden capacity to decimate millions with the push of a button while rendering the earth uninhabitable for generations — but with television.

The new medium saw cultural innovators create visions of human functioning previously acknowledged only in “weirdos”. The Sleepy Society of the fifties and its dream-like depiction of family life was startled from slumber. By the time Elvis the Pelvis was done, the geriatric gyrator had altered the spiritual outlook of an entire generation. The King personified natural, instinctive urges beneath the repressive religious regimen of the time. WWII was neither the formal nor the final cause it was presumed to be.

The causal connections ascribed to mass movements in general, according to Mediology, can be viewed empirically as acausal processes of a purposive nature that reveal the causal standpoint to be only partially applicable. The individual prototypes of primitive collective conditions symbolized by kings and priests in antiquity now herald new vistas of social equality. The continuity of thousands of years of such dual developments can now be traced through cable re-runs.

Worn-out myths such as personal gods, sacrifice, rebirth, and ever-lasting life exaggerated individual qualities while ignoring the deeper animal, sexual, and social realities describing a more profound instinct to consume and be consumed. Scientific proof of the innate drive to be a particle-in-the-mass, while consciously maintaining the illusion of personal freedom, was the first glimmer of the task of ridding humanity of an effete philosophy of the soul.

In the projected metaphysical language of the past,  for instance, the benign Devil of Christian theology imaged in the Privatio Boni, symbolized a repression of the negative consequences that were the result of one-sided ego-ideals. Though the primitive philosophical paradigm was a developmental necessity, happiness on a universal scale remained a utopian dream. It did, however, engender a psychic truth: evil could be completely wished away by identification with the ideal.

This simple, no-nonsense vision has been proven empirically to be the brick and mortar of civilization. Once the ego-complex mastered its abilities to turn its fantasies into concrete realities vast enough to control everything but itself and the weather, a new social enlightenment could begin.

Quirky philosophical compensations for antiquated ideas of the soul such as the history of dictators personified soon faded. Personal power-complexes, bigotry, and fear were supplanted by a collective commercial vision of mutual greed and cooperation by the few for the many. Life could finally be experienced in the abundance Christianity’s rude prototype promised but failed to deliver.

Television sparked a new horizon of empirical study which would define natural parameters of what a healthy society could and should be. The artificial notions of ego-consciousness were one-dimensional images of deeper psychic symbols, survival-products of the dark ages of the last century. A desperate humanity had little choice but to violently expel its pent-up, self-fulfilling anxieties. It was the new reality-show of a conscious animal struggling to free itself from an illusory conscience through a new medium.

Little wonder that instinctual nature hastened to the rescue. It had happened many times in the fits and starts of human evolution. According to Mediology, we can learn much from our turbulent history. It’s science in the strictest sense — if science still means the observation and recording of past experiences and the accurate prediction of future events based on them.

As Mediology illustrates, the psychological method of tediously evaluating rote statistics based on unconscious variables, suggestion, and artificial conditions and fitting preconceived assumptions into articulate but misleading theoretics only to rationalize subjective conclusions given in the premises is a carousel of confusion which only obfuscates a deeper psychic reality.

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Religious Images and Psychic Reality

Though the ego is only one complex of associations in the psyche, it has evolved as a coordinator: what it is drawn to as an object of attention will be where and how its energy is applied. These motives are based on unconscious processes, and only by turning conscious attention to them can we find deeper meaning and purpose beyond the preconceptions of ego and its one-sided, paradoxical intentions.” – A Mid-Life Perspective: Conversations With The Unconscious          

Religious images have dominated human culture since beyond recorded history. So far as we know, they evolved with consciousness: a natural balancing function designed to compensate a split psychic system. As such, they reflect changes in the way we relate to ourselves and the world as we evolve.

This implies that we not blindly or literally accept their centuries-old forms. But, it also implies that their denial means not only that the split has widened between consciousness and its foundations but is in danger of losing the thread altogether as the earlier forms change.

Jung saw spirit as life-energy, and an unconscious symbol-making function points to a diffuse reality beyond what modern ego (preacher and scientist included) intuits in the unbridled fulfillment of instinctual, material desire it calls progress.

Today it’s a matter of some importance as an analogy. Only a fluid mind can grasp an analogy, and religious beliefs and scientific assumptions alike are perhaps the greatest test of our ability to relate and discriminate between a conscious reality and an unconscious one.

Not only is this a primary aim of religion, it’s what Jung’s psychology is about: the life-urge he conceptualized as libido (psychic energy) mediates a concrete reality through images. Beneath sense perception, they express analogies of psychic processes, and the associations embedded in them describe as much how we relate to things as the things themselves.

It’s the nature of a subjective ego to see the world according to its own limited perspective, both individually and ideologically, and it’s taken many centuries to even begin to separate the ideal from the real. Conscious discrimination of want vs. need in the larger context of this double-sided prism is how we see — and don’t see — their conflicting realities.

As Jung pointed out, the religious function is as innate as sense perception. It is, in fact, the complement of it, and its denial defines belief and assumption as inadequate and often misleading substitutes for an indirect psychic reality. Reflections on emotions and their associations provide unconscious information about our relations to objects and their effects on us.

This counter-pole to sense perception is just as real as the material world; the images it produces appear the more exaggerated and fantastic (even hostile) the more we identify with the sensual world: the compensations intended to direct us toward an objective inner reality. A certain measure of opposition between the two standpoints is inherent but, when it attains a critical intensity, destructive projections are the result.

… and God gave man dominion over the earth.” has a high-sounding ring when concieved as a heavenly directive. But, whose god can assert it without revealing a profound contradiction? Today, only a devil could make such a proclamation. Yet still, we believe in our own self-deification.

James Branch Cabell fabled in his, Figures of Earth, a confrontation between Manuel the Redeemer and the disembodied head of Misery, as the two met on Count Manuel’s doorstep in his isolated cabin in the “irrational forest”: ”… I wonder why misery should have been created to feed upon mankind.” the Count pondered.

Probably the cows and sheep and chickens in your barnyards, and the partridges and rabbits in your snares, and even the gasping fish upon your hook, find time to wonder in the same way about you…” replied Misery.

What is this contrary nature-image that refutes our best and loftiest intentions and even turns them into their opposites? Is it the severed head of repression, our own misunderstood natures, that appeared on Count Manuel’s doorstep as he looked down below astonished and confounded? Where was it’s body, its foundation, its wholeness?

Ah, but man is the higher form of life –” said Manuel. “Granting that remarkable assumption,”  Misery countered,  “and is any man above Misery? So you see it is quite logical I should feed on you.

Still, I believe that the Misery of earth was devised as a trial and a testing to fit us for some nobler and eternal life hereafter.” Manuel responded. “Why in the world would you think that?” the head inquired… Because I have an immortal spirit, sir, and –

Dear me, but this is all very remarkable. Where is it, Manuel?” – It is inside me somewhere, sir.

Come then, let us have it out, for I am curious to see it.” – No, it cannot get out exactly, sir, until I am dead.

But, what use will it be to you then?” said Misery: “and how can you, who have not ever been dead, be certain as to what happens when one is dead?” – Well, I have always heard so, sir.

So are we taught. Depth psychology has shown that it can get out — here and now, if we would conceive it. But, only the “god-like” effort of consciousness, it’s active examination of its own nature, would reconcile us to the images which point to the veiled reality behind concrete perception.

For an original look at science, psychology, and spirituality, click here.

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Objective Science and Psychic Reality

“… the science of psychology is still in its infancy… the empirical material, the object of scientific investigation, cannot be displayed in concrete form, as it were… The psychological investigator is… obliged to make use of an indirect method… to present the reality he has observed.” – Carl Jung, Psychological Types.

Our notions of reality have changed considerably over the last hundred years. The current fascination with the material world would seem to have created a new image of it, and few historical events so startlingly conspired to make us re-think metaphysical views than those of the last century.

WWI served as notice of an exponential trend in intellectual development: as scientific rationality gained momentum, a primitive collective nature asserted itself on a broader scale. The isolated study of matter produced unparalleled means of destruction, and it wasn’t coincidental that the increase in objective thinking accentuated instinctual tendencies.

At that time, Jung was defining an empirical psychology that could make sense of an unconscious psychic reality. But, as conventional science immersed itself in material objectivity, the split in our natures widened:

Within three decades, the primitive emotional projections of an intellect bound to the senses formed a new image: World War II and an Iron Curtain symbolized ego’s dissociation from its psychic foundations. It was no accident that these developments paralleled a decline in religious values:

Only insofar as elementary facts are… amenable to… measurement can there be any question of a direct presentation. But how much of the actual psychology of man can be experienced and observed as quantitatively measurable facts? Such facts do exist, and I believe I have shown in my association studies that extremely complicated psychological facts are accessible to quantitative measurement. But anyone who has probed more deeply… than that it should confine itself within the narrow limits of the scientific method, will also have realized that an experimental method will never succeed in doing justice to the nature of the human psyche, nor will it ever project anything like a true picture of…  complex psychic phenomena.

“But once we leave the domain of measurable facts we are dependent on concepts, which have now to take over the role of measure and number. The precision which measure and number lend to the observed facts can be replaced only by the precision of the concept… One has only to take the concept of “feeling”… to visualize… the variability and ambiguity of psychological concepts… And yet the concept of feeling does express something characteristic that, though not susceptible of quantitative measurement… palpably exists. One simply cannot resign oneself… to a mere denial of such essential and fundamental phenomena… In this way an essential part of psychology is thrown overboard.

“In order to escape the ill consequences of this overvaluation of the scientific method, one is obliged to have recourse to well-defined concepts.” For Jung, it was only through symbolic thinking based on empirically derived concepts that psychology can bridge the gap between conscious and unconscious. His definition of abstraction clarified the problem:

“Abstraction is an activity pertaining to the psychological functions… in general… Abstract thinking singles out the rational, logical qualities of a given content from its intellectually irrelevant components.” Rational science is a thinking activity and lacks basic feeling-values. A technology capable of mass destruction without the empathy that accompanies its effects is a dangerous tool in the hands of a dissociated intellect.

“… I also associate abstraction with the awareness of the… process it involves. When I take an abstract attitude to an object, I do not allow the object to affect me in its totality; I focus my attention on one part of it by excluding all the irrelevant parts… my interest does not flow into the whole, but draws back from it, pulling the abstracted part… into my my conceptual world… “Interest” I conceive as the energy… I bestow on the object as a value, or which the object draws from me, maybe even against my will or unknown to myself.”

But, when the object of study is ourselves, we need a way to conceive how and why the unconscious so consistently opposes conscious ideals. Who is it that lives in these dark shadows, the “ill consequences of this overvaluation of the scientific method“? Symbolic realities aside, there are certain quantitatively measurable facts which would suggest that our alienation from ourselves only deepens with consciousness’ perceived independence. War is many things, but it’s a business, too — and business is booming.

Psychology, also, is a booming business — like the science of weaponry, medicine, or any other abstract activity which depends on ideological caprice or commercial exploitation for advancement. The science of objective data has not only done little to improve the conditions of the soul, it’s tricked us into believing that we’ve outgrown the need for its guidance. These shadow-effects are observable only through concepts which presuppose them. Without them, they work invisibly.

Attemps to subject the mysteries of unconscious psychic reality to the ideals of a dissociated culture may be good business for a few — for now; but, like an advanced technology in the fearful hands of an alienated ego, it only increases a primitive collective nature.

For an example of the symbolic process that leads back to the unconscious values beneath our modern assumptions, visit Amazon.

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Emotional Energy

… To think logically, intellect must repress emotion; to the degree that we identify with it, we are at odds with ourselves. The over-reliance on one function to the exclusion of others is a threat to our psychic balance. The unconscious attempts to restore equilibrium by creating circumstances through unintended and “accidental” consequences which form an inner counter-pole to conscious direction: the basis of the tension of opposites, their relativity, and the swings produced by changes from within.” – A Mid-Life Perspective: Conversations With The Unconscious.

Considered psychologically, our intellectual enlightenment is an illusion. That the mere interpretation of facts can make them relative is a great paradox for an objectively oriented culture; yet it continues to create subjective conditions which only accentuate the broader psychic conflicts we face today. Jung wrote in 1961:

Through scientific understanding, our world has become de-humanized. Man feels himself isolated in the cosmos. He is no longer involved in nature and has lost his emotional participation in natural events, which hitherto had a symbolic meaning for him. Thunder is no longer the voice of a god…

No river contains a spirit, no tree means a man’s life, no snake is the embodiment of wisdom, and no mountain still harbours a great demon. Neither do things speak to him nor can he speak to things… His… communication with nature is gone forever, and the emotional energy it generated has sunk back into the unconscious…

Since energy never vanishes, the emotional energy that manifests itself in all numinous phenomena does not cease to exist when it disappears from consciousness… it reappears… in symbolic happenings… At least the surface of our world seems to be purified of all… irrational admixtures. Whether, however, the real inner world of man — and not our wish-fulfilling fiction about it — is also freed from primitivity is another question.

“Numinous” describes the pull of unconscious energy to the symbolic ideas which appeal to it: the strange attraction of a painting or the uncanny feelings excited by dreams — or our projections into objects. It has a compelling quality — a feature of instinct.

Over the centuries, the denial of instinct was based on conscious ideals which in no way matched its power of attraction. This darker side of the psyche is likewise spiritual; though in a form unacceptable to the ideal. Its deeper, symbolic aspects were the focus of Jung’s  studies. 

Psychologically, Jung considered instincts as functions of relationship; not just biological drives to maintain the race. Instinct isn’t blind, it’s unconscious; we can’t see it but through its effects. We may have created a separate reality for our own ego-purposes, but our instinctual natures will always serve as a counter-pole through unintended consequences: the symbolic reality we can’t see.

Psychic functions are more emotional than sensual. Religious devotion was once the medium through which an unconscious nature expressed the urge to symbolic understanding, to lift us beyond mere instinctuality. Though we have evolved in some aspects, the world we create today as much reflects the inhumanity and spiritual inferiority as the one Christ sought to inform. The natural balancing of consciousness is effected by an unconscious counter-pole: a two-sided devil we may dismiss as superstition, though we remain subject to its hidden will.

The conflicts between conscious and unconscious, spirit and nature, science and religion, reflect this dual nature. Science has proved the duality of all energic processes, yet it dismisses emotion as fantasy. Preachers can’t incorporate it but through an obsolete dogma. Psychology can’t interpret it but by rote method. Philosophy grows stale before a material truth, and culture seems more divided today than ever. Confusion increases with each partial answer.

As Jung has shown, the nature of the unconscious is fluid and ever-changing, and it relentlessly pursues its own purposes. We may want more certainty than that implies, yet it’s this tension of doubt and uncertainty which is intended to make us aware of inner changes.

The value of myth and religion is that their images express the deeper conflicts below consciousness. Its purposes are not determined by ego, but are its burden. Through this mystery, we have inborn functions which enable us to relate to it. But, only if the symbols are re-interpreted to reflect changes in consciousness will they make any sense.

Ego must attain a certain level of stability to see its inner opposite as a part of itself. This is only possible through the emotions it creates. When unconscious tension is projected and explodes into the objective world, it is fantasy become real, and the instinctual energy contained in them can be very destructive.

There’s no other way for consciousness to conceive a world beyond the senses, strive as science and psychology may to understand the psyche through fact and statistic. The denial of spirit for the material world, where subjective images become concrete, is now at the expense of the reality that sustains it.

We don’t have to perceive the wind or thunder as the voice of a god to know it’s a power we can’t see or control. We won’t ever again conceive concrete things as spirits in the literal sense. Yet the way we relate to nature today, the unconscious awe, the fear and disdain, does speak to us. But only a small whisper does it sound; easily drowned by the siren-song of technology, material progress, and all the rest of the fear of god that makes us strangers to ourselves.

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A Brief History of the Holidays

Can you believe it? Black Friday is here again (be careful out there!), Christmas jingles fill the airways, and our flagging economy gears up for another festive orgasm of high sales figures and disappointing profit-margins to honor material fixations in the cellophane guise of spiritual devotion.

Lest we forget the humbler origins of religious reverence amid the frenetic frenzy of instant need-gratification, here are some little-known facts about the history of the holiday season:

Did you know?

That our traditional Thanksgiving dinner actually dates back to Julius Caesar? Shakespeare immortalized his famous plea to Brutus, “Et tu…?”, though this is an historical inaccuracy. It was actually Brutus’ query to his slave, Wimpy, who not having et all day upon entering the senate cafeteria, responded: “I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.” Many historians believe this to be the basis of the modern pay-by-installment system whereby one signs one’s life over to the one percent for the privilege of sharing and maintaining its bounty.

At the time, hamburgers were a symbol of wealth and prosperity enjoyed only by a powerful minority; but they soon became so plentiful during the Pax Romana that rotting surfeits accrued. The putrid meat was tossed to crowds of starving citizens in annual celebrations in which they gave thanks to a violent and self-serving elite which allowed many of them to survive.

Did You Know?

That in an epicurean gala of “all the hamburgers you can eat”, Roman senators purged their spirits on specially reserved stone couches in great stadiums (the prototype of today’s luxury sky-boxes) to watch Lions eat Christians amid the dull, half-dozing revelry of inflated stomachs, mead-guzzling, and rude, noisome bodily emissions? The Lions still symbolize the old tradition, though somewhat less competitively today, and soda pop now eases the dispepsia of over-ingestion.

According to primary sources, as a result of crude meat preservation, bacteria-laden overages, and the unrestrained excesses of the senators: “There were not a bare spote of grounde in the near propinquity of the spirit-purge the size of a denarius wherein the Senators had not expunged some foule and variouse forme of excretium.

Did you know?

That the tradition later re-emerged in the New World in more civilized form as Christian compensation spread its new gospel of love to a primitive, animal-like heathenry? Annual banquets were held — but this time, in accordance with the selfless creed devoted to the service of religious life. The copious bounties were shared freely with the rude race of primitives (once a year) in joyful anticipation of converting/exterminating them to relieve them of their natural dignity along with whatever else the emissaries deemed proper return for the divine sacrifice of having to depend on savages in the name of God.

Did you know?

That our modern Christmas began as a pagan ritual marking the winter solstice? The shortest day and the longest night of the year translated to the ancient mind as a symbol of bitter hardship and deep depression, and this primitive heritage underlies the high suicide rates which, for many, only add to the festivities of the holiday season (compensation for the fantastic history of a divine ego which is yet subject to natural law).

Outbursts of consumerism now replace the orgiastic sexual excesses of old; boozy office parties and the suggestive lure of kisses under the mistletoe stand today only as fading silhouettes of the naked debauchery of our ancestors and convince us that the lowest forms of sensual greed have been magically transformed into lofty intellectual pursuits through repression and the pretense of belief.

Did you know?

That the jolly old St. Nick our children dream so wistfully of on Christmas Eve evolved from the ancient Norse god, Nikolai of the Twelve Engorgements? The terrible gifts he proffered were enslavement, abuse, and exploitation in return for only the barest physical sustenance. He presided over the fate of humanity’s forgotten children whose self-serving progenitors’ nurturing instincts had been overcome by the blind pursuit of immediate personal gain. Fortunately, they only ever comprised about one percent of the population.

His tragic, innocent victims were later euphemized as cute helper “dwarfs” by a wise ruling elite determined to improve humanity’s condition whatever the cost to itself; though a small handful of backward-oriented, bitter, and disgruntled naysayers of contemporary culture propose that unconscious aspects of the original image have now morphed into the modern form of “managed mass deception” for the purposes of maintaining the run-away avarice of a wealthy, dissociated, and unregulated one percent.

Did You Know?

That no poor, pitiful unwitting beast of lower intelligence, human or animal, is off limits to the usury and exploitation beneath the carefully staged benign, even pleasant, subliminally-induced commercial images of corporate media-interests which trigger the Pavlov-like responses of sensual self-indulgence we’ve been conditioned to like automatons through the merest suggestion of the most transparent, pre-packaged advertisements?

Click here for a serious look at our modern predicament.


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Psych-Standards for Public Office?

Legislative response to public outcries for the mental evaluation of our nation’s political leaders has finally arrived. Psychological standards for holding office are now being considered on both state and federal levels. After years of closed-door negotiations, an APA-backed proposal defining the depth and nature of testing procedures has been drafted.

A slip-tight majority approved an independent committee’s recommendation to hold the nation’s decision-makers to the minimal standards of “at least, say, a sanitation worker.” Only the slim-jim of a disgruntled populace decided the fate of the controversial bill first introduced by senator, Wares DeBiefe.

Angry phone calls, e-mails, texts, twitters, tooters, tweets, hooters, spoots, faxes, and floots from outraged citizens nationwide so overwhelmed Capitol electronic circuits that the overloads inadvertently set off alarms. Congressional members rushed head-long into the streets as in a jail-break.

When order was finally restored by the Federal Bureau of Instigation, the panic produced by what were later assessed as “projected fears of mass conspiracy” left lawmakers so shaken, even lunch was cancelled. “They’re not accustomed to immediate response outside physical threat and the denial reflex.” an inside source told Entertainment-For-Spite amid the chaos. 

“It was the perfect storm.” an anonymous aide explained after the dust settled. Congress finally reconvened — two weeks after the potential catastrophe which never happened had left the projected portent of emotional angst in the over-sensitive guilt complexes of the nation’s public servants. 

I spoke with Dr. Norm Gruupe, who will oversee the testing. “Many of the aging politicos familiar with the psychoanalytic theories of the Freudian era worried about phallic issues. What the old school conceived as a classic clinging to a patriarchal power-complex — a regressive, reverse weenis-envy with anxiety-induced erectile aberration compensated by premature verbal ejaculation — we now know to be of chemical causation correlated with the mediating mechanism of male menopause; age-related functional failure of the weenis itself, which modern medicines have cured

“The younger members were more concerned with peer approval,” he continued, “and we took advantage of that as leverage for negotiation. We finally settled on the ‘good therapist/bad therapist’ tack and separated them into random groups to test responses. Fortunately, clear-headed reason prevailed, and much needed criteria for public service were approved  for consideration.” 

“I don’t think the old trickle-down psychology ever worked.” Dr. Gruupe mused. While his inside experience of the political process had increased his respect for corporate interests intent on abnegating legislative restraints altogether and just allowing each individual to “go for it” in an unregulated free market, the lure of political corruption still lurked. He rummaged in his head: “The each-for-himself capitalist approach, especially in light of federal uber-reach, might just be crazy enough to work in a real free market. Anywhoo…

“To appraise the situation, we sent out market-test questionnaires with yes/no boxes. These matched up only with random statistical patterns which showed no continuity. We knew then we had a formidable task ahead of us.”

When responses were required in essay form, Dr. Gruupe explained, they had to run them through computerized code-breaking sequences to determine their actual content. “Even our most experienced psychologists couldn’t make sense of them.” he said; though, he added, it was no surprise. “Their statements were so subtle and contradictory that we couldn’t leave the grunt-work to college psych majors as we do with the general public.”

Various testing procedures were applied to determine which might be the most effective in establishing criteria for service. “General assessment began with the IQ/Deceivement Test.” Dr. Gruupe said. “High verbal acuity conflicted with low meaning-scales under comprehensive analysis and,  in the end, we were forced to resort to the “Animal Metaphor Test” to arrive at a curve for evaluation.”

That test proved to be the most efficient for distinguishing motive intent in the incoherent catchword-designed articulations required for public deception. The Rorshach had resulted only in meaningless meanderings that left even test professionals confused and disoriented. Many were alarmed at the results.

Free association proved equally unproductive. “I could only describe their results as a strange hybrid of P.T. Barnum, Nietzsche, and Billy Graham.” Dr. Gruupe recalled. “The neurocognitive functions first appeared normal, but on further examination, analogical inconsistencies contrasted so starkly with any coherent parameters of organized thought that we were compelled to reject one exam after another and try more creative approaches…

“It was the appearance of neurocognitive normalcy that threw us off. Even our assessment team began to question their sanity. Think about it. They all aced the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale.  Semantic and episodic memory scores were off the charts. They blew the lid off the Boston Diagnostic Aphasia, yet they were quite unable to answer a simple, direct question. We shit-canned the Ruff Figural Fluency; even considered the possibility that they may be an atavistic species of weird savant tuned to an upside-down world all their own.”

For a serious examination of the upside-down psychic world, click here.

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Political Reality

“The underlying tension of the individual’s relation to culture… is a fundamental conflict of psychic life, a catalyst for development from infancy to old age. If the individual cannot discern him/herself apart from these impersonal forces, he/she is unconsciously carried along by them, and this herding effect only magnifies the dangerous potential of mass movements. All unconscious conflicts have a dual nature: subjective and objective, personal and social, creative and destructive. Their opposing tendencies converge in the psyche, and they determine our actions. How we perceive and evaluate them will decide our future.” — A Mid-Life Perspective: Conversations With The Unconscious

As I wrote in my last post, the political landscape has changed since Jung shared his observations in 1957. Spiritual values, however rudely conceived, appeal to a fast-shrinking minority whose leadership is increasingly irrelevant today. But, the facts of nature that science would educate us to are no more incorporated than were the religious ideals of two thousand years ago.

The compensations for the repression of the soul, the reality of the individual, are reflected in impersonal ideologies: emotional harbor for the mass social units under the direction of those manipulating them for their own ends. But, as Jung wrote:

The rulers… are just as much social units as the ruled… distinguished only by the fact that they are specialized mouthpieces of the State Doctrine. They do not need to be personalities capable of judgment, but thoroughgoing specialists who are unusable outside their line of business. State policy decides what shall be taught and studied.

Today, rather than a “State policy”, we might say a “majority ideology”; though those vying for it are so polarized that a single policy can’t describe the conflicting ideas in them. Jung’s observations still apply:

The… doctrine is for its part manipulated in the name of… policy by those occupying the highest positions in the government, where all the power is concentrated. Whoever, by election or caprice, gets into one of these positions is subject to no higher authority; he is the… policy itself and within… limits… can proceed at his own discretion… He is thus the only individual or, at any rate, one of the few… who could make use of their individuality if only they knew how to differentiate themselves from the… doctrine.

They are more likely, however, to be the slaves of their own fictions. Such one-sidedness is always compensated psychologically by unconscious subversive tendencies. Slavery and rebellion are inseparable correlates. Hence, rivalry for power and exaggerated mistrust pervade the entire organism from top to bottom… to compensate its chaotic formlessness, a mass always produces a “Leader,” who… becomes the victim of his own inflated ego-consciousness.”

Modern conditions are more complicated than George Orwell’s ‘Big Brother’ once suggested, though their effects are the same. The concentration of power is more diffuse; the “Leader” more a figure-head for those behind the scenes dictating policy through the buying and selling of influence. Mass media and commercial manipulation accomplish the same goals more easily through benign subversion than threat and intimidation. Still, the facts of its unconscious reality will sooner or later be impressed on an inflated ego.

This development becomes logically unavoidable the moment the individual combines with the mass and thus renders himself obsolete. Apart from the agglomeration of huge masses in which the individual disappears anyway, one of the chief factors responsible for psychological mass-mindedness is scientific rationalism, which robs the individual of his foundations and his dignity. As a social unit he has lost his individuality and becomes a mere abstract number in the bureau of statistics. He can only play the role of an interchangeable unit of infinitesimal importance.

It’s an historical fact that only the individual’s creative responses to collective conflicts point the way to different perceptions of them. The personal “neuroses” of today are the conscious psychic functions of tomorrow, and as more and more individuals are forced to confront themselves through them, so they may create a new attitude to the psychological facts of our conditions. But:

Looked at rationally and from outside… it seems positively absurd to go on talking about the value or meaning of the individual. Indeed, one can hardly imagine how one ever came to endow individual human life with so much dignity when the truth to the contrary is as plain as the palm of your hand…

Under these circumstances it is small wonder that individual judgment grows increasingly uncertain of itself and that responsibility is collectivized… and delegated to a corporate body. In this way the individual becomes more and more a function of society… whereas, in actual fact, society is nothing more than an abstract idea… The State [the ideology] in particular is turned into a quasi-animate personality from whom everything is expected. In reality it is only a camouflage for those individuals who know how to manipulate it.”

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Knowledge and Understanding

Centuries of spiritual idealism which sought to develop the soul have… convinced us that we have only to believe in it to achieve it – for those who can still believe. For those who can’t, a new ideal of material progress now discards the too-taxing task of looking inward as not worth the effort…  Ever more advanced technologies draw us further outside ourselves and into devices. Instant access and constant exposure to the subliminal effects of marketing and advertising cultivate unconscious emotions so paradoxical that what is meant to emancipate and connect also finds us dependent and alienated — our most personal and intimate needs indistinguishable from carefully instilled, pre-packed desires.“ A Mid-Life Perspective: Conversations With The Unconscious.

That consciousness may be spiraling out of control and in danger of losing itself in its own subjectivity, is apparent when viewed from an historical perspective. Important though the sciences of the humanities may be for our education, it’s a mistake to confuse knowledge with understanding. Jung wrote in, Civilization In Transition:

In view of the fact that, in principle, the positive advantages of knowledge work specifically to the disadvantage of understanding, the judgment resulting therefrom is likely to be something of a paradox. Judged scientifically, the individual is nothing but a unit which… could just as well be designated with a letter of the alphabet. For understanding, on the other hand, it is just the unique individual human being who, when stripped of all those conformities and regularities so dear to… the scientist, is the supreme and only real object of investigation.”

Why this is so is frighteningly evident today– not because of the recent advance of science itself but in our use of it. Unless you’re a politician, the people you know are mostly decent folks whose self-deceptions far outweigh any conscious ill-intent to others. But, magnify those seemingly insignificant projections times four billion and re-collectivize them according to ideology, and they morph into world catastrophes waiting to happen:

Scientific education is based in the main on statistical truths and abstract knowledge and therefore imparts an unrealistic, rational picture of the world, in which the individual, as a merely marginal phenomenon, plays no role. The individual, however, as an irrational datum, is the true and authentic carrier of reality, the concrete man as opposed to the unreal ideal or “normal” man to whom scientific statements refer.

That we all have such unrealistic, rational conceptions of ourselves could become clearer  – if we applied our scientific education to our own activities:

What is more, most of the natural sciences try to represent the results of their investigations as though these had come into existence without man’s intervention, in such a way that the collaboration of the psyche… remains invisible… So, in this respect as well, science conveys a picture of the world in which a real human psyche appears to be excluded — the very antithesis of the “humanities“.”

As Jung explained, the paradox results from a psychic condition in which ego is possessed by one function.  This, he described as a new stage of consciousness. The unconscious functions formerly projected into the deity are introjected and felt as personal qualities. The result is an identification with intellect in which ego is “puffed up” or inflated: the self-fulfilling prophecy of the old biblical warning in modern guise.

Under the influence of scientific assumptions, not only the psyche and the individual man and, indeed, all individual events… suffer a levelling down… a process of blurring that distorts the picture of reality into a conceptual average. We ought not to underestimate the psychological effect of the statistical world-picture: it thrusts aside the individual in favor of anonymous units that pile up into mass formations. Instead of the concrete individual, you have the names of organizations and, at the highest point, the abstract idea of the State as the principle of political reality.”

The current political reality has changed somewhat since Jung’s observations in 1957 — but their bases haven’t. Instead of “the State”, we might refer to vying ideologies paralyzed by conflicts of progression and regression that now find us at a standstill; an unconscious reality is in open rebellion.

Instead of moral and mental differentiation of the individual, you have… the raising of the living standard. The goal and meaning of individual life (which is the only real life) no longer lie in individual development but in the policy of the State [the ideology], which is thrust upon the individual from outside and consists in… an abstract idea which ultimately tends to attract all life to itself. The individual is increasingly deprived of the moral decision of how to live his own life, and instead is ruled, fed, clothed, as a social unit, accommodated in the appropriate housing unit, and amused in accordance with the standards that give pleasure and satisfaction to the masses.

(Next: Political Reality)

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Back to Basics

In 1912, Einstein introduced his theory of special relativity. One experiment he devised to test his intuition that time and space might be relative to the observer was surprisingly simple:

He set two cameras at either end of a train platform. A car was prepared so that a small explosion triggered at the mid-point of the platform, and the cameras then photographed the explosion at the instant of its detonation. The exact times were recorded at each location; a difference was found between them.

We’re familiar with the impact Einstein’s theories had on science. He proved that time and space are relative to the observer and also to motion. He revolutionized existing conceptions of energy and paved the way for modern technology.

In the same year, C.G. Jung introduced his theory of psychic energy: an analogy of Einstein’s physical discoveries. He showed that perception is relative to the individual; that our human objectivity is not what it appears to be. His ‘subjective factor‘ is still little acknowledged today even by psychology, much less science, a century since. Each in his own field showed that any depth perspective of nature is counter-intuitive.

Einstein’s later theory of general relativity turned Newton’s assumptions about gravity upside down. He proved that the gravitational effect of a body in space is proportional to its mass; that its effects are not immediate but relative to the speed of light. Jung’s studies of complexes again had remarkable similarities with the physical concepts. 

The mass, or value, of a complex of ideas determines the gravitational effects of an instinctual function. The more vital the function, the more its energy draws psychic material to it, creating a complex of emotionally charged associations. Though the function itself is common to all, its subjective value is relative to the individual, and this general principle is borne out by experience:

So much so that the idea of complexes is now used in everyday speech. One may have a ‘power complex’ or an ‘inferiority complex’ or a ‘sexual complex’. It’s part of what makes us unique; a visible form of psychic energy which is expressed in symbols or symbolic behavior.

Jung showed how images reflect natural functions; that the unconscious psyche expresses them in this symbolic picture-language. Much as one might interpret an unknown language through the comparative analysis of the associations and context of certain words and ideas, he discovered basic themes which recur in the myths and symbols of all people. These analogies reflect our common structure.

Personal values both conceal and reveal the dual nature of symbols according to individual disposition. More general perspectives are partially determined by a favored subjective function such as thinking or feeling, and also by the attitude-type. In the extraverted type, the weight of value lies in the external world. In the introvert, the accent is on the internal ‘object’. These, combined with the unique nature of consciousness, are the pre-conditions of perception. 

It’s not exactly a paradox that physical discoveries and their psychic parallels are so unevenly acknowledged. The complexities of self-observation depend on laws which are just as objective as those governing any natural process; but because the subjective mind is unique, they can only be inferred through a process of self-analysis in which the unconscious supplies the objective material for comparison. Few outside observers have the ability beyond their own projections to evaluate the effects of individual development.

Jung’s concepts were as revolutionary as Einstein’s. They’re even more vital in the wake of technological advancements. The quantum physicist is motivated by the same human fears and insecurities as in biblical times — but can he conceive a psychological equivalent of ‘E=MC²’? (Maybe: Psychic energy=concrete thought x the evolution of consciousness²?)

The rational perspective only magnifies the split between an artificial reality and an unconscious psychic one which would guide us in a natural direction. That nature’s inborn wisdom exceeds conscious knowledge is apparent to a reflective mind. But, the ego-projections behind ideological and political disputes make science and technology as dangerous as it is productive. Where is the science of the mind?

Ego-psychologies based on collective norms have failed to deliver. The tension between conscious and unconscious has now reached epic proportions. There are special reasons for this which standardized methods can’t address. That spiritual reflection might be as basic a demand as biological and social ones is beyond their purview.

Spiritual development, the extension of consciousness and not just intellect,  is opposed to the world of the senses; it’s that opposition we’re facing now. Jung conceived a model over a century ago which outlined our modern conflicts. To make any sense of them requires psychological knowledge and reflection, not just conscious belief or rational assumption. 

Jung demonstrated that the religious factor is a vital human function. Has it just disappeared, or have the symbols changed form? The old religion was ineffective to the extent that ego identified with its own compensations. Do we think we understand what that means and what it’s for any more than what E=MC² means to the inner beast that exploits the knowledge in it? 

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Psychic Relativity

Science has proven that nature operates by the law of opposites. Jung based his psychology on that basic fact, and alchemy provided much philosophical material for his research.

It’s best illustrated by analogy, and Goethe was a master of its poetic form. His story of Faust, the alchemical doctor who confronted his inner opposite in a ‘pact with the Devil’, was a continuation of the symbolic tale of conscious development which earlier appeared in Job:

The bargain between Jehovah and Satan foreshadowed a personal dialogue with the spirit in which consciousness began to take an active role. Developmentally, it meant a capacity for choice, to question and doubt —  even the authority of God, so that man could participate in his own fate.

The depth of Goethe’s experience was described by Jung as a spiritual advance; a foreshadowing of the religious task confronting modern man. As with Job, a new perspective of the inner world and the personal responsibility it carries with it, means a confrontation with collective values.

Faust’s inner journey begins when rational thought no longer serves the purposes of development. He feels the dark influence of the earthly spirit: “No dog could live thus any more!/So I have turned to magic lore…” It signals the mid-life stage when the paradox of individuality asserts itself.

The spirit’s energy exceeds consciousness; as it steadily accumulates over the first half of life, it can be frightening when it first emerges: this spirit confronts Faust as he reflects on the the depth of its symbol: “…what a pitiable fright/Grips thee, thou Superman! Where is the soul elated?/Where is the breast that in its self a world created?/… Is it thou, who by my breath surrounded,/In all the deeps of being art confounded?

This inner challenge is not a one-time experience; it informs a subtle invasion of consciousness that makes Faust question the primacy of collective values. The creative power continues to work in him as he strolls home with Wagner, his rational counterpart. Suddenly, a black dog appears and circles around them curiously. Faust senses a strange connection to his dark preoccupations:

He seems in magic nooses to be sweeping/Around our feet, a future snare to bind.” The rational part sees only the thing itself, and Wagner responds: “I see he doubts, he’s timidly around us leaping/Two strangers — not his master — does he find.” Faust perceives its symbolic portent: “The circle narrows, he’s already near!” Wagner can’t see it: “You see a dog. It is no spectre here.

Faust befriends the black dog and lays a cushion for it behind the stove in his study. He begins translating the Bible into his beloved German. He ponders the first line, ‘In the beginning was the Word’ and concludes: “It seems impossible the Word so high to prize, I must translate it otherwise.

So begins Faust’s confrontation with traditional religious philosophy. The black dog begins to sniff and snarl behind the stove. Suddenly, it swells into a terrifying beast in a cloud of smoke, red eyes glowing through the mist. Faust casts a spell, and out of the vapor steps Mephistopheles (he with the cloven hoof) dressed as a scholar. Faust asks who he is:

Mephistopheles:The question seems but cheap/For one who for the Word has such contempt,/Who from all outward show is quite exempt/And only into beings would delve deep.” Faust senses his uncanny power and again asks who he is:

“Mephistopheles.  Part of that Power which would/The Evil ever do and  ever does the Good./Faust.  A riddle! Say what it implies! /Mephistopheles.  I am the Spirit that denies!”                                                          

Faust is confused: “You call yourself a part, yet whole you’re standing there.” Mephistopheles: “A modest truth do I declare./A man, the microcosmic fool, down in his soul/Is wont to think himself a whole.

He explains: “… part of the Part of Darkness which gave birth to Light“; the ‘haughty’ light which ‘disputes the ancient rank of its mother’, the unconscious guiding principle which Faust’s rationalism has attracted through the “chance” meeting with the earthly, animal spirit.

Goethe’s intuitive nature met the spirit through the inner opposite; a profound increase in man’s moral awareness: the recognition of two opposed yet related principles which Christian philosophy has divided into two irreconcilable halves. A new stage of psychic evolution was forming. 

The identification of good with conscious desire and evil with the fear of what opposes it results only in unconsciousness. That they’re two side of the same coin is not only a paradox of the unconscious psyche but of life itself. 

The world is smaller today even than in Jung’s time; the more pressurized and compact technology makes it, the greater our adverse impact. The damage we’ve done to our environment in just the last century seems only to predict a darker future than any past history has seen.

I read an interview with Stephen Hawking in which he said that man’s future is in space; that we must accustom ourselves to the idea that we will one day live on a distant planet. He was as convinced of it as any religious zealot’s dissociated ego-projections into the unknown.

Who would want to live on a dead planet in a plexi-glass bubble, subject to a mass of artificial contraptions contrived to keep you alive? What would it say of us to have sacrificed the beauty and mystery of a living Eden for the dry, arid pursuit of a dissociated intellect — and for not much more than self-worship and the projected fear of our own natures? Which witch is which?

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