Archive

December 19, 2016

LIBIDO AND THE ARTIST

paperwhitesDearest All~

Artists are reputed to be iconoclastic folk, a little odd in their ways. Their bodies and minds open to the essence of life. Even if the art-making means finely tuning the intellect sans feeling. But instrument of mind is best when open to viscerally, emotionally and intellectually resonating with an observed object, instead of narrowly intellectual encounter.  The best of artists give birth to expressions of mind and soul that can profoundly affect our perception. Many say an artist reflects what is, and the viewers then see themselves in the reflection. The artist then shifts point of view, projects the image from a different vantage– and viewers have an epiphany as we alter our angle as well.

Artists open doors to our imaginations, lead us to a world beyond by finding just the right color, wording, limb in motion, gesture caught in time, or making a form timeless on an exquisite surface or in space.  Picasso said the audience of an artwork adds the third act of creation.  (The first and second act belong to the artist’s vision and depiction.) Our belly softens or tightens, hearts lift, throats swell, silence closes in as external noise drops away. We know the artist has discovered something ineffable and has guided our attention to it and we recognize the wonder.

Words may not translate it but deep in our souls the truth of the experience is there. The best nod of respect is to leave saying: I don’t quite get it (or I do). The discovery of something new resonates deep within me. I know what it is but I do not have all the words to explain it. Another kind of epiphany may be:  Of course, I knew that all the time but never knew I knew it. I had never thought to express it that way. It is so clear!

I had this experience when visiting the Rothko Museum in Houston, Texas. Mark Rothko’s large paintings hang on the wall of a circular room. The room is dimly lit and there are benches so that you can sit for a long time gazing at rectangular works composed only of what looks like a single, simple color. At first, the idea seemed ridiculous. But when I relaxed, I was drawn into dwelling. I was not looking at Rothko’s color so much as listening to it. The color came alive– not moving but seemingly breathing. Three layered colors or variations in the one color evoked an harmonic. It was a mystical experience that lives on in my mind and my body to this day. I will not try to describe further. This artist found something beyond everyday perception and I was privileged to glimpse it. It changed me.

http://www.npr.org/2011/03/01/134160717/meditation-and-modern-art-meet-in-rothko-chapel

There is also art that is not so ineffable but just as praiseworthy for its insight and execution. The fine artist and the working professional, while doing the same work, belong to different leagues. The master has cultivated the ability to travel through deep worlds and come back to consciousness. Their counterparts in the commercial art world are not paid to plumb deeply into their minds, nor are they so disposed. Both, however, listen deeply to their worlds of mind that nest within each other.

No matter what realm an artist inhabits, the mind needs to be disciplined to keep focus as layers of conditioned thought peel away. All artists seek to discern truth undistorted by personal feelings or habits; firstly, like a good journalist who discards unquestioned points of view, and then like an impeccable warrior willing to leap into the uncharted imagination.

The labyrinth of the imaginal world is not a thinking place. It is autonomous. Brain is silent. It does not meddle. Now the artist is free to see. The wise one properly applies meditation and approaches mind with reverence.

Next time, I want to introduce you to the four levels of consciousness.  Here’s a sneak preview: Waking Consciousness, Dreaming Consciousness, Deep Sleep, The Beyond.

I also want to tell you about the Bards of Druidic Culture whose lineage goes back to the Stone Age. They carry the dreams of ancestors in their epic poetry and channel advice to kings and queens in early Europe. And yes, this all connects to the experience of our own time; its paradox, its violence, its reach for the stars and beyond.

Happy Holidays, everyone! May your new year be bountiful in inspiration and creative pursuit!

My next post will be on January 2, 2017!

Your loving friend, Peggy

🎴

Archive

December 12, 2016

Dearest All~

On this snowy evening, I would like to share some notes on the libido. I do not have time to weave theses notes into a tidy essay. However, I think they compel just as they stand. First, let us review the through-line of my previous letters so you can see why the content of this one connects to the others.

On November 9, I suggested the West was cycling through a spiritual upheaval that occurs every thousand years or so. This doctrine is called millenarianism.  On some level we sense it since a generation of young people are called millennials.

Historically, a turn in the century turns up stress because we perceive we are venturing into the unknown. As one thousand-year cycle ends and the next one starts, stress peaks.  The past and the future collide. Our second millennium (per the Gregorian Calendar) coincides with vicious outbreaks in many countries, including our own, where some of us have elected a tacky tyrant. Others work to restore the wounded and reset our course before it’s too late. I introduced stories of the Trickster to illustrate how Trump-era upheaval can unexpectedly offer a lens for observing our dilemmas.

On November 14, I continued the theme of viewing social and personal upheaval with conscious objectivity. We can inquire into the meaning of global change: How does it affect relationships with our world neighbors? How do we conduct trade, cross borders, conduct principled business, access affordable education, invent responsible technology, and deal with health care, environmental health, economic health, climate change, and war if necessary. To proceed sensibly we first need to know how our psychology. How is the human mind nourished and healthfully strengthened, and how does it get infected?

This is not rocket science. Our ancient ancestors probably knew the fix by the time they dropped out of the trees. The point is, we are on the edge of vast change in all these domains, and there are 7.4 billion souls eking out a life on this planet. Yet 87.5% of the world’s ten-year-old girls are denied education, health care, and safety.  We cannot be irresponsible about our mental hygiene. A greedy agenda, cavalier attitude, or willful ignorance makes life unsustainable.

We have a world-wide psychic migraine. Hence, the first line in the notes: Man is his own huntsman, his own sacrifice, his own sacrificial knife. Thus, Dualism produces Psychic Conflict.

Self-knowledge is realizing the mind is fallible and the heart is not always valiant. Self-knowledge is necessary to survive. Divest yourself of false wrappings. Become better aware of your unique psychological sphere.  The tales at the end of this letter are about Anansi the Spider. It’s an African tale wherein God sees his false wrapping and King Janaka must face his as well.

On November 21, I talked about the essence of evil and its counterpart, beauty; the instincts to destroy and create. To manage the highly charged relationship between the two urges, we must learn to enter the unconscious with respect and harness energies in discord. Require balance between them, otherwise we blindly follow the desire to dominate and control, either by devouring or by oblivious play. The tale about the Shiva and Parvati represents a coming into balance of opposing yet complementary forces.

On November 28, over the Thanksgiving weekend, I took a breather and related the story of two wise men who went on a ramble. The Rabbi thought Elijah responded nonsensically to hosts who provided bed and board but Elijah reminded him that Life had a hand in the game and directed the play for reasons of its own. His lesson is to trust the arc of Life. In the meantime, my friends, observe people and events in Life with conscious objectivity.  As my old philosophy teacher used to say: Everything is just right!

On December 5, I lifted the curtain on one of our cReative asyLum discussions and shared a transcript about ego inflation, touching evil, our shadow side and its home in the unconscious, ethical action, accessing and processing self-knowledge, the value of myth in this process, how libido is involved and what artists do to nourish others’ souls; build the architecture of culture which accommodates the collective essence of souls.  We ended our discussion realizing that libido yielded the fruit of creativity. To harvest those fruits we need to freely journey through its domain and back to consciousness. The vehicle that brings insight back to consciousness is: Image, Symbol, Myth.

Today, on December 11, I share notes on the libido with you. Libido is a deep layer of the unconscious that is usually out of reach for the ordinary person unless one is inquiring, relentlessly curious. What is it? What is its origin? How does it work? Why is it necessary?  These are first notes. Just a taste, if you will. We will go deeper next time. We are theoretically adventuring into the mysteries of deep mind. (For the real personal adventure, go into therapy). I want to show you its marvels, both wondrous and ominous. I want you to look at the world that you inhabit, observe the comings and goings of people and events with conscious objectivity. If I show you the rules by which the mind functions then maybe, hopefully, in time, you will be able to decode the cipher of human behavior. You may be able to connect the dots between action and consequence, even predict outcomes because you will have the multi-dimensional mind game down. As artists, you may become inspired to build new myths, soul food for a culture, safe accommodations for the essence of the personal/collective soul.

Your loving friend, Peggy

NOTES ON LIBIDO

Reference: SYMBOLS OF TRANSFORMATION: Collected Works of CG Jung, Vol 5

Simply put, libido is psychic energy that lies deep in the unconscious, its contents are not perceptible to consciousness.

Paragraph 446

Man is his own huntsman, his own sacrifice, his own sacrificial knife. Thus, Dualism produces Psychic Conflict.

447

Instinct wars with instinct. We rage against ourselves, suffer from ourselves, from the spirit of the age, from an objective, impersonal cause that rises from our own personal collective and archetypal unconscious which we have in common with all people.

448

The libido sinks into its own depths, lingers in the depths of its own memories, (ancient, collective, archetypal) in the source of its origins, the paradisiac state of its own infancy from which we are driven by the law of time. (Sweet feelings of home and childhood; Debussy–The Sunken Cathedral.)

Connecting with the libido is union with oneself. Locate raw images within oneself, break open.

Nietzsche broke open with Zarathustra, Jung broke open with The Red Book, St John with End of Days. Aztecs broke through with crucifixions, as did the oldest of Sufis who punished their flesh to reach God, Inanna’s descent to the underworld where she died and rose- as did the Christ, the sacrifice of Odin, St Sabastian.  All are images or symbols, humans involved in ritual  who projected the psychology of the time either by personal event or through the creation of  artists’ imaginations.

Libido is the creative power. It brings forth the useful and the harmful, the good and the bad. It is Life-Force.

It can only be released into consciousness by fantasy images.

It is desire (not necessarily sexual).

It is unchecked by any authority, moral or otherwise.  Images, symbols fly from the libido to consciousness in 1/20 of a second.

It is appetite in its natural state – hunger, thirst, sleep, sex, emotion.

It is autonomous– “…it knows where it ought to go for the overall health of the psyche.”

Where there is lack of libido there is depression. It has backed up in order to stir unconscious contents – to confront conscious attitudes.

The energy left over from this activity cannot be transferred to a consciously chosen activity (object). It is fastidious in its direction and will move only when the right direction for health is chosen.

The task in psychotherapy is to discover the natural direction of a person’s libido energy.

449: Body and Psyche Top– of Pg 294

Think of nesting dolls– only infinite in number (remember “infinite” is not a number).

Top Pg 295

Contents constellate increasingly introverted, regressed to latency, and beyond primordial.

Archetypes are enriched with individual memories

Imperceptible to conscious mind.

Archetype is always a primordial image representing the need of a given moment. It is numinous (hyper-real) because it is imbued with the energy from the libido.

Archetype attracts to itself the contents in consciousness that will render it perceptible, therefore capable of conscious realization. Thus, illumination/revelation.

To repeat the experience, ritual is developed to compel the unconscious to regress. Ritual can occur as magical ceremonies, sacrifices (Aztec crucifixions), invocations, prayers et cetera.

As mother is the source of all life, libido is the source of life within; a maternal psychic womb. Mother is the fertile center of one’s own psyche.

Entering union with oneself, entering the maternal womb of the mind stirs fear of incest thus, repulsion. These undifferentiated unconscious fears are the cause of backlashes against women. Women are unconsciously perceived to be potential annihilators. This view of women is the complimentary opposite to their being the fertile source of Life. Thus, Dualism.

Therefore, we have resistance to enter the libido imagined to be a furnace or retort where we [ego] fear “burning up”.

However, if we resist observing our conscious thoughts and feelings objectively, resist locating images that symbolize influences that shape and pattern our thinking, we will harm ourselves. Hence, voters believe the strongmen.

There is a saying: If thought can go wrong, it will.

The ouroborus  is a symbol of individuation; breaking the wall between conscious mind and the unconscious to discover the truth of ourselves.  This is the purpose of psychotherapy.

screen-shot-2016-12-11-at-8-20-02-am

Individuation happens when one becomes wholly oneself; there are no psychological dependencies on one’s parents or children, others, the state, religion, or God. No begging bowl

One does not conform but stands independently, thoughtfully, considerately, in respectful relationship to all things.

To break open resistance means facing the fear of psychologically “burning up” in the realization of the consequences of one’s distorted thoughts; not to overcome distortions but to become familiar with them to develop a healthy working relationship with oneself.

449

Libido sinks to the navel where it first entered the body. In Indian philosophy, the belly below the navel is the true psychic center, the site where dream originates.

Under stress, the psyche flows back to this space. Libido can get stuck, psychic energy does not flow freely. Then one becomes nothing, moribund, seriously ill.

But journey into the libido (the underworld) can be a plunge into the fountain of youth – libido awakens.

Symbolic Story from the Visnu Purana

  • Visnu sank into a profound trance.
  • He brought forth Brahma, enthroned on a lotus.
  • He rose out of Visnu’s navel, bringing him the Vedas which he had diligently read (creative thought is born from introversion)
  • However, Visnu was absorbed in his dream and did not see that a mighty flood had come upon the world. (The world of the mind is flooded and destroyed through introversion.)
  • A demon arose, taking advantage of the confusion. He stole the Vedas and hid them in the depths.
  • Brahma aroused Visnu who changed himself into a fish. He plunged into the flood, fought the demon, conquered him, and retrieved the Vedas.

Visnu is a symbol; he sustains all Life. It is in his dream that we all exist.

Brahma is wisdom. He sees all. He meditated the Vedas (books of psychogical/spiritual relationship between humankind and God). His meditation brought the books into being.

450

The myth shows how libido can steal into the psyche, the unconscious.

screen-shot-2016-12-11-at-8-57-30-am

Through introversion and regression the sleeping contents constellate. These contents are archetypes, primordial images fat with personal memories. Introverted libido is imperceptible to conscious mind. Imagine, for example, that a crystalline structure of thought is saturated in a solution and its structure can be seen. The constellated archetype eg mother, father, wise old man/woman, and child in all their various incarnations of good and evil in the forms of parents, gods and goddesses, tricksters, benevolent helpers, healers, demons, et cetera are dyed and each archetype presents itself (you can only manage one archetype at a time) according to  the need of the moment.

Myth: The hero, Theseus is stuck in the earth. Hercules comes to free him. (Theme of individuation)

455

The aging king is reborn through woman.

NEXT TIME: Libido and the Artist.

🎴

 

 

Archive

December 5, 2016

cxas-2016

Dearest All~

It seems my attempts to be brief in my letters to you are challenged. I can’t be blog-brief about all that is going on. For that I apologize. However, I did not anticipate we would all be thrust into a national discussion about America’s future. And so many of you are scared out of your wits that Armageddon is nipping at your heels like a nasty little reptile. So, you beautifully demand dialogue as we struggle to understand what we perceive to be a phenomenal turn of events.

I thought it would be timely to share with you a cReative asyLum dialogue inspired by the book Memories, Dreams, Reflections by CG Jung, that occurred November 21. cReative asyLum members meet twice a month. One of those meetings is dedicated to reading and discussing works by philosophers and psychologists who get excitedly curious about deep mind.  asyLum members, as artists, create works that are not just entertainment. Thus, our dialogue this month focuses on ego inflation, and the necessary partnership of good and evil as it continues to play out in our recent presidential election. We end our discussion with an insight and a direction that we are excited to take as good citizen artists. I think you’ll like it. Hang on and read the whole unedited conversation. It will be like your being in the room for the first time. By-the-bye, we are 15 members, half of whom are talking on video-conference call because we live in other states and sometimes are working in other countries. The remaining half are sitting in the “the room” on Maplewood Avenue in Chicago.

Your loving friend, -Peggy

Transcript of cReative asyLum meeting held on November 21, 2016

I suggest we begin with the dialogue that occurred amongst Steven, Leandro and Nick. I synthesized their points and emailed them to you.  Is that where we want to start or is there something else you would like to introduce as a topic?

Is there any possibility to overview the Open Discussion conversation? Everyone must have been pretty shocked at the election.

The beginning of the conversation was a reaction five days post-election. We talked about newsworthy topics and fear, …. It’s hard to go back to the feeling of that night. By the end we talked about how to deal with the fear.

It came around to asking the question why we felt thrown off our centers. And Peggy coached us through it. It’s OK- we do not know what is going to happen. It’s alright. We do not live in a dictatorship…

Yet.  (Laughter)

How do you feel about that first chapter in the reading… about Jung’s comparing ego inflation of the public and the welcoming of dictatorship with a concept described in the Old Testament of angels falling (Book of Enoch) signifying something new coming into the collective consciousness?

Jung continues by saying that today, dictators are elected or promoted because people do not have self-knowledge…….

 Let us look at MDR Chapter XII, page 327.  At the beginning.  He is talking about Christianity…

What is remarkable about Christianity is that in its system of dogma it anticipates a metamorphosis in the divinity, a process of historic change on the “other side”. It does this in the form of the new myth of dissension in heaven, first alluded to in the creation myth in which a serpent-like antagonist of the Creator appears, and lures man to disobedience by the promise of increased conscious Knowledge. [Knowledge of good and evil]  The second allusion is to the fall of the angels, a premature invasion of the human world by unconscious contents.  The angels are a strange genus: they are precisely what they are and cannot be anything else.  They are in themselves, soulless beings who represent nothing but the thoughts and intuitions of their Lord. Angels who fall, then, are exclusively “bad” angels. These release the well-known effect of “inflation” which we can also observe nowadays in the megalomania of dictators: The angels beget with men a race of giants which ends by threatening to devour mankind, as is told in The Book of Enoch.  

Do you remember that being discussed in Archetype of the Apocalypse?

So here we have the Fall of the angels from heaven as symbols for unconscious contents coming into people’s minds, then the inflation, and then the devouring. Sound familiar?

Yes, as a pattern in today’s news events…the election itself.

The third and decisive stage of the myth, however, is the self-realization of God in human form, in fulfillment of the Old Testament idea of the divine marriage and its consequences. As early as the period of primitive Christianity, the idea of the incarnation had been refined to include the “intuition of Christ within us”.

So that is the ancient view of the significance of the Messiah- as the intuition of “Christ” within us. In other words, an intuition of something greater than ourselves lives within us.

Thus the unconscious wholeness penetrated into the psychic realm of inner experience, and man was made aware of all that entered into his true configuration. This was a decisive step, not only for man but also for the Creator– Who, in the eyes of those who had been delivered from darkness, cast off his dark qualities and became the summum bonum (the greatest good).

I’ll stop there. How can we apply this to today’s political events?  Talk to anybody about the election or about … they will probably say: I don’t know how or why that happened.

I have a hard time relating it to today’s political situation. But later in the chapter it creates the potential for the unconscious within the inner experience, the inner experience of God by the individual sets up a polarity between what is noble and not noble. I can’t make the leap yet to the demagoguery.

It seems to me that the Alt-Right are the race of giants in terms of inflation and threatening to devour everything. Starting with Trump…my god, guys did you see Colbert’s Election night show on Showtime? It opened with a piece of animation – cartoon Trump is spoofed at the dinner by Obama and he memory flashes to being berated by his father. The cartoon continues to follow Trump after the dinner where he plots to overthrow Obama and Clinton.

That newsreel clip was shown on Choice 2016 (PBS) and a similar suggestion was made. I suppose it is a warning about stinging a narcissist. But we must take these cause/effect suggestions lightly. He was campaigning at the time.

I’d like to go back to what Steven was saying, or maybe I am responding to my own experiences. Where it relates to our political situation begins at the top of the next page in the book on Pg 329:

….evil can no longer be minimized by the euphemism of the privatio boni. Evil has become a determinant reality. It can no longer be dismissed from the world by circumlocution. We must learn how to handle it, since it is here to stay. How we can live with it without terrible consequences cannot for the present be conceived.

In any case, we stand in need of a reorientation, a metanoia. Touching evil brings with it the grave peril of succumbing to it. We must therefore, no longer succumb to anything at all, not even to good. A so-called good to which we succumb loses its ethical character….Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol, morphine, ….or idealism.

I think that bumps into some of Steven’s talking points and Leandro’s points in the email dialogue. I am sorry, I am leaking right now.

Are you all right?

I am feeling very skinless right now. I feel the potency of what all this is, is very present right now. I can feel it everywhere right now. I think it is almost as painful when people are attached to what they see as good as it is painful to witness…I mean, living in Texas the idea that the former governor is being considered for a cabinet position. I am not sure which is more painful–when people are self-righteous or when I watch things like that and I view them as evil. They are both very potent and it is exhausting. It is in the midst of company like this [cReative asyLum] that I realize my pain– it comes close to the surface. Otherwise I am pretty defended.

I’d like to read another passage. It’s amazing how everything we are experiencing is in the text. Even though my experience is not the same as yours… Pg 332 at the bottom:

Today we are compelled to meet that question; but we stand empty-handed, bewildered, and perplexed and cannot even get into our heads that no myth will come to our aid although we have such an urgent need for one. As the result of the political situation and the frightful, not to say diabolic triumphs of science [WWII and the Atomic Bomb], we are shaken by secret shudders and dark forebodings; but we know no way out, and very few persons indeed draw the conclusion that this time the issue is the long-since-forgotten soul of man.

Our humanity. It is remarkable that he is describing so closely what it is we are experiencing. …”Whence comes evil?”

What is he calling out for, do you think?

A way of understanding what self-knowledge is, the structures of the conscious and the unconscious as pre-existing formats, the structure of Self, and how to hold yourself in the world.

To me, he is saying forget it. You are not going to know what is going on – get familiar with what is going on inside of you. The only thing to rely on is your Self.

I was thinking about inflation. It nags at me that we are always talking about Trump Trump Trump. And all the people who voted for him are kind of using him. Maybe it is not about him. It’s about …It made me think about Jung’s Answer to Job where he says Yahweh does not exist without man. And maybe it’s a chicken egg thing and Trump is just an empty figure head and the consciousness that got him to where he is, is the real issue of the situation. I think that is the inflation- I don’t think it is Trump.

Inflation on whose side?

The consciousness of people who voted for him. How he got there. He ate the mana of the audience and rode that into the White House. When I saw A… today and he told me he was up in Michigan with a Native American, a Black man, a White man, a Chinese person and they had all voted for Trump.

What is the mana, do you think?

Um.  It brings me back to the first sentence: “What is remarkable about Christianity is that in it’s system of dogma it anticipates a metamorphosis in the divinity, a process of historic change on the “other side”. (Pg 327).  Then he says a dissension in heaven … lured man to increased conscious knowledge. So maybe whatever this mana is, people are waiting for something to break into consciousness. I don’t know if I’m reading this right….

Can we follow this thought and develop it?

Yeh.

Let’s do that.  What’s trying to break through? What is happening today? What is this tumult, turmoil, discontent?

Are some people in this country more conscious than others? If the answer is yes, we can go from there. If the answer is no– what does that mean? Everyone is using the word division and polarization. But what does that mean? Are we all trying to get on the same page, get homogenized? Are our moral compasses under scrutiny– bringing our hate out from the shadows.  Our shadow is just about the most important thing, isn’t it? Maybe we can embrace our shadow side on a national level. We can allow our shadow to be a beacon. I saw a video on Facebook where somebody in a nice big white SUV was berating guy for being  an Arab, calling him all kinds of horrible names and the guy videoing the event said something and the guy in the SUV said that Trump was now president and he could say whatever he wanted. So maybe the shadow side is coming into consciousness. That goes back to what Tere said, to be careful of idealism. Wasn’t that what got Obama into the White House…a lot of idealism. Boy isn’t that a set of freakin’ polar opposites.

At the risk of taking us into a tangent, my question is: This guy berating the other guy. Is that really his shadow side or is it just cruelty? That’s not what the shadow is necessarily.  It is what we are afraid to acknowledge in ourselves– good and bad. It is something we are afraid to understand.  I think we need to be clear on what we mean by the shadow.

I remember reading a book on the shadow.

[Our shadow side lies in our unconscious, that is, the shadowy parts of our mind where aspects of our personalities are difficult to see. The shadow may include undesirable qualities such as dishonesty or peevishness. More positively, leadership, power and intelligence, sometimes just as hard to acknowledge. Good or bad, the shadow side is the side of ourselves that we cannot see so easily.]

The author, I think, had somebody stay at his house for a certain length of time. He was the perfect host. His guest finally left. He went to the store to buy a plant. He found himself being a total jackass to the clerk at the plant store because he had to be so together while his guest was staying with him. All his pent-up frustrated energy onto the clerk surprising both himself and the clerk.

Trump is the consequence of the Obama administration. There is a restraint to the Obama administration. People’s dissatisfaction, latent anger built up and spilled into the ballot box for Donald Trump. No?

For some people maybe, but that guy in the white SUV wasn’t spewing in an uncharacteristic moment. He was probably an awful person.

Do you guys think the Trump election can lead to a better outcome for America?

I do. I actually do. I didn’t think so last week. I think something had to give. Like an illness. It had to come up. If Clinton had been elected it wouldn’t have come up for another 4 to 8 years. So maybe it would be less potent coming up now than in another decade.  When Peggy wrote, go into the feeling of being so afraid– and I thought how the heck does going into the feeling have anything to do what was going on with the craziness that I am trying to understand and I was focused “out there”.  But when I did go into the feeling I saw… this might actually evolve….not in the short run but it may evolve…

Put your finger on what you think the process of change might be. Right now, there is a toxic, fascist dynamic…

When I get mad at somebody, I just get mad and I’m righteous and then it just burns out. It’s finite and then I feel stupid and then I am more aware of what I said…

Everybody seems to be recognizing that there is a building up of energy– a pent-up-ness that has been released. But it is such toxic s—t. Trump became the release valve for that.

Is it possible that he being the release threw us into the retort? I feel like his being elected is not the end-point. We seem to have a fever. When we have a fever it’s like the body is purifying itself. It feels like it’s going to be a long arc.

What’s a retort?

Remember the image of the baby [homunculus, or very small person] inside the sealed glass flask at the alchemist’s workshop? The homunculus was about to be consumed by the flame underneath and transformed into a purified being. He would sweat out all his impurities. There are similar drawings from medieval times where a King is encased in a glass coffin with a fire beneath. He sweats out his impurities and for all intents and purposes “dies”. The Queen then appears with the aqua vitae- the water of life- and restores him. He is transformed. The ashes of his impurities remain in the coffin.  When we face a fiery ordeal, we can consciously use it to transform.

I’d like to bring in Leandro’s email question. Why are people so quick to respond to negative emotion? Why is fear bigger? It’s like the fear and the anger need to be met first before we can go further.

When you talk about it like that, it sounds like an evolutionary, biological question. It’s about how we evolved to survive: adrenaline, fight or flight.  Probably why the second responder to arrive on the scene is usually the cooler head.

How do we change so that transformation takes place on a larger level?

The guy who was making the video of another guy in an SUV was really calm. He wasn’t triggered by that guy. Just listening to him rant. We all have triggers. The other day I was on a job-site. He was really trying to help me but he kept telling me to calm down. I could feel my fists ball up. And this guy didn’t have any teeth and no jaw. So I said to myself–this guy is from a different circumstance and generation, you’ve been facing this all of your adult working life, right now you are feeling hyper-sensitive. Pre November 8, you would have let it roll off. Why are you getting pissed off. Do you want to act on it? There are all these questions you ask yourself. Or I could have said F— you, stop telling me to calm down. Then what would have happened?  You do have to ask yourself all these questions. You can let the anger come up and look at it, or not show it at all so the person in front of you never has to know it is there and you can have an entire conversation with yourself and decide on how to deal with it.  Anyway. Later on, I just complained about it and got it out of my system.

I think there is a quote on Pg 329 in the center: “The criterion of ethical action can no longer consist in the simple view that good has the force of a categorical imperative, while so-called evil can resolutely be shunned. Recognition of the reality of evil necessarily relativizes the good and the evil, likewise, converting both into halves of a paradoxical whole.”

A lot of people are calling this political event a populist thing. But it is a throw away term. It (garbled) and it poses as part of the strategy but the concept of populist does not answer the question Peggy posed: How did we get here?

My mind is going to the role that Clinton played in all of this. People were uncomfortable with her academic stance. She was vanilla. She didn’t galvanize anyone toward an idea. Whereas, Sanders and Trump were opposites, I am suggesting this. I am not saying I am right. They fit together as opposite poles each with dramatic flare.

When you look at Trump as being used by this inflation…

Used?

I feel like he is being used. He is just an entity. He’s a hollow hairdo. There’s nothing there.

He is a bottomless empty pit. He has no convictions.

I am confused. Are you removing agency from Donald Trump?

Yes.

Yes. He is a hollow human. He has only survived on being in front of an audience, selling an audience.

I feel like his head is like this:  (describes a balloon of hair with her hands) and there’s a marble that just bings around like it’s in a pinball machine. A little bead of a thought gets triggered and just bounces around in a vacant space.

I fear your description of Donald Trump if you generalize him or metaphorize him in ways that take away his responsibility and his leading a specific movement or making specific requirements… I know we are speaking emotionally about this and we are speaking about the psyche, but something in me is responding to the lack of keeping him as a person and a movement in place. It makes the impact of what has happened more overwhelming without …

So basically, you are saying, if you remove agency from Donald Trump and you render him a hollow hairdo, then doesn’t it make the people who voted for him even scarier?

I know you are not advocating leaving mind on the table and not attacking everything that he stands for.

But what I’m saying is – what he stands for goes with whatever way the wind blows of whoever voted for him. What does he stand for? Did you see Alec Baldwin on SNL? He said, Ok, we don’t have to convict Hillary. OK, we won’t repeal Obama Care. OK, the wall is going to be a fence now.  The people he surrounds himself with, we should all be scared of that.

Is this an inflation of you as you are approaching the problem of Donald Trump? Making the problem of Donald Trump much greater than it should be.

I think the inflation is with the people who voted for him.

On the flip side, because we are talking about the paradoxical whole, in an attempt to have an ethical response and a human response to him, are we allowing the inflation as well. The negativity gives room for his power.

All the negativity that we are projecting onto him, we should be just making this about the issues, not making it personal to him. The inflation of the people who voted for him, that’s emotional and we can’t reason with that kind of emotion.

May I read something? Bottom of Pg 330

Therefore, the individual who wishes to have an answer to the problem of evil, as it is posed today, [1950’s] has need, first and foremost of self-knowledge…,

Which I think is what you guys are talking about…

…that is, the utmost possible knowledge of his own wholeness. He must know relentlessly how much good he can do, and what crimes he is capable of, and must beware of regarding one as real and the other as illusion. Both are elements within his nature, and both are bound to come to light in him, should he wish–as he ought–to live without self-deception or self-delusion.

So what we have is a man in the White House, potentially, who is devoid of an ideology other than the ideology of winning for winnings sake. And he has no self-knowledge or he wouldn’t be turning himself into a spectacle in front of the whole world. He is living with self-deception and self-delusion.

And you have to call out the delusion that IS Donald Trump because the world is so fraught with it…hard to see it in the politicking. So, (to the other member) we agree.

The most encouraging thing I’ve seen this week are people saying we have to have real conversations with each other. We have to reach out in a way we haven’t before; destroy the idea that only media can bring information to us. That we have to know people and converse with them. The fear that this political movement feeds on is greatest when people are isolated. I feel most afraid when I feel isolated and alone.

Doesn’t that speak to..knowing the people around you is a variant or an extension of self-knowledge.

Yes, it’s a way to discover…getting out of the echo chamber.

And it becomes more individual. It takes a lot of guts to stand face to face rather than yelling from your car as you are driving away. If there’s a whole group of people with picket signs on one side and another group of people on the other side with their pickets screaming at each other it becomes a whole different narrative.

I was reading on FB people’s responses to Clinton. One woman had a video of her – and she interpreted that Clinton did not want to use the word God. She saw this as an assault on Christian views and that it was the end of Christianity. And I thought, wouldn’t it be so cool if we could find that woman, knocked on her door and started to talk to her. How will I understand something so foreign unless I talked with her. Here is a young woman who is afraid her Christianity will be ripped away from her.

Be careful, she may have a gun behind the door.

Remember early on in our group, we’d be talking about all “those” people and we learned how to discuss these issues without doing that, thinking that way. It’s taken a long time. Asking questions, being more personal. It’s hard to dismantle all the emotion of blind thinking? It’s like talking with a cornered raccoon. I remember talking about X who thought it was funny shooting at police officers. Talking with him personally about it. Have you lived like that? Have you been assaulted by the police? Who do you know who has died? Take it away from the Roman arena of politics.

I think this is great, talking at this level. But the people who voted for Trump are not talking about what we are talking about. I think we are in the minority of this. We are talking about self-knowledge but they are out of the game on that. I think they are buying something that is really simple. As far as I know of America, America always sold the American dream, to have your house, to have your car, to have a comfortable life. That’s what Donald Trump is selling when he says “Make America Great Again” … a society where you have all the things you want. I was reading in the articles we were sending each other; most people are saying we want to get more money. It is simple. Combined with the concept of “trickle down” that is so installed in this society, if we make people rich so it will trickle down to those who do not have money. I have friends who say, “I can be rich too. I can be a millionaire.” They buy this dream and Trump is telling them that he is going to make it happen.

I have a question then, how do they erase all the nasty things he has said. Is it financial poverty or poverty of spirit?

I think so. I am not saying it’s not good to be comfortable. Everybody wants to have a good house, a good car. We are accustomed to that. I think people are feeling that through the years America has become not what it was. And I don’t think it is going to go back to that and that is the painful part of what the people are feeling. And this guy is raising all this nationalism, we are going to be the first in the world and we are going to liberate other countries. It’s not going to happen. Even if he does want to do it, that’s painful. My experience (in another country) it happened exactly the same, it has happened so often, I am tired of it. I accept it unfortunately, any place that I go I am a minority. Not too many people think the way I want to think. I am blessed to have this group here in the United States.

It’s not like we are all walking around talking like this…

Yes, it’s good to try to converse. It will take time. I hope …

I agree, we are in the minority about having this level of conversation. Only 20% of eligible voters voted for Trump. Ideologically, we are not in the minority. To me, this feels like a coup. It is a weird fringe minority that is in power. We choose not to ignore the denigration of people.

It’s interesting it is a peddling of an old and now outmoded myth.

Yes, like we’ve just returned from WWII– victorious.

Yes the cars with the fins.

Yes, Bernie is the new dream, if we are talking that way. Whereas Clinton was saying – let’s push on. There’s no need for change. And that isn’t true and didn’t feel true to people and that’s why she lost.

I think it is fascinating that you expressed amongst all of us, the fear that Donald Trump would win. You came from another country. As we talk about the American dream, why did you come to this country? What were the circumstances?

I came to play jazz music and this was the place to do it. I wanted to learn the roots of jazz music and that’s what I did. First problem I faced when I came here was most of the people didn’t know about jazz music. Then I get into a network of musicians who did know about it. They are working on it, creating. Main reason was music.

Still, it was a dream of a way of life which was protected by the music.

Mmmmm. No.

I needed to develop jazz music and join musicians here. And the economic situation in my country wouldn’t let me survive as a musician. To stay in my country I would have to change my career. I am not more vulnerable than any one of you. I really wanted to vote but I am not a citizen yet. Why do you say I was the first person to be worried about Trump? What did I say that caught your attention?

…the speed of the feeling of fear.

Ah.  That is not related to Trump. Those fears are related to me. I want to work on that. No matter where I am, the fears will get tricked. That philosophy that makes me react, that reaction is hard to stop. I don’t think the energy is bad or good but to use the energy– it’s just energy– but to think about what is happening and what you are feeling and that you are about to react…to think, why am losing the energy because I am not using it? That’s my question. It feels like I am not using the energy when you do all that thinking. I did not react. Probably worth it. But where did that energy go?

Do you ever use that energy and channel it into your music?

Wow. I never thought that.

It never fueled you to practice more or become more disciplined? More polished? Better version of yourself.

If I did I never used it consciously.

You need to be shown how. Here’s what I learned about Peggy, I heard her specialty was Creativity- when I went to see her, I learned how to channel all my energy into creative thinking and production.

I think you started to say that when you said, “it’s just energy.” In other words, energy itself is a life force. When neutral energy is pushed through a contaminated filter, such as a destructive thought, bias, belief and so on, negative choices and behaviors can follow. Something in your reptilian brain snaps, reacts. The tongue comes out and the little moth is dinner. But you can take that raw energy and stream it through another filter– like your composing, or developing your business, or your relationships. Experimenting with that energy is play.

Yet we have been taught to be rational. When our rational mind overrules instinct, everything grinds to a halt. Creative thinking vaporizes. Although reason and instinct need to be in balance, there may be a kind of asymmetry where instinct can play while reason observes at a safe distance.  Instinct can also create evil. When in balance it infuses its edginess into play by giving it its backbone, its intelligence, its daring insight. 

There is something Jung is suggesting: Pg 331 top.

In general…most people are hopelessly ill-equipped for living on this level [without self-deception or self-delusion], although there are also many persons today who have the capacity for profounder insight into themselves. Such self-knowledge is of prime importance because through it we approach that fundamental stratum or core of human nature where instincts dwell. Here are those pre-existent dynamic factors which ultimately govern the ethical decisions of our consciousness.

Now down to the bottom of Pg 331

Evil today, has become a visible Great Power.

The political far right and fascism are ideologies that constrict social inclusiveness because fear of the “other” is trending.

One half of humanity battens and gets strong on a doctrine fabricated by human ratiocination [rationalization]; the other half sickens from the lack of myth commensurate with the situation. The Christian nations have come to a sorry pass; their Christianity slumbers and has neglected to develop its myth further in the course of the centuries. Those who gave expression to the dark stirrings of growth in mythic ideas were refused a hearing; Gioacchino da Fiore, Meister Eckhart, Jacob Boehme, and many others have remained obscurantists for the majority. The only ray of light is Pius XII and his dogma*. But people do not even know what I am referring to when I say this. They do not realize that a myth is dead if it no longer lives and grows.

[* Prior to Pope Pius XII proclaiming the “Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God”, the ordinary Roman Catholic parishioner had to settle for the feminine presence as an abstraction in Church dogma, an idea to be inferred.  In the Trinity the feminine was imbued in the Holy Spirit, which was symbolized by a dove representing wise guidance. The dove image reinforces the idea of maternal wisdom of holy mother, the church. Hence, the inferred feminine. The other two Gods in the Trinity are God the Father (Yahweh) and God the Son (Jesus).

When Pius XII conferred upon Mary, mother of Jesus, a place in the Godly realm he opened a way for the Catholic Church to exalt a feminine presence that people can pray to, venerate, but not worship. His edict proclaimed that Mary’s body and soul were “assumed’ into heaven, where she now sits on the right hand of God.  She is the “venerated blessed virgin”.  Her biography is steeped in myth which Pope Pius validated in an essential way.

All the great religions have stopped growing their myths. People don’t have new stories built on the old. Indian philosophy has thought of nothing new since the rishis perceived the Vedas thousands of years ago. The Tao has not moved its concepts into a modern time. Confucianism, Judaism, Islam. It is difficult to get up in the morning and go to work with handy myths that carry us through a tough day. The old myths are fine and juicy but they are not very relatable to our time.

It is my opinion that what is happening is old myths transmogrify into spectacle, whether it is “The Passion of the Christ” or “Game of Thrones” – horror stories that are hollow. But the stories themselves are so good they hold up. However, as teaching stories, their depth of meaning is driven out.]

Continuing on Pg. 332

Our myth has become mute, and gives no answers. The fault of it is not in it as it is set down in Scriptures, but soley in us, who have not developed it further, who, rather have suppressed any such attempts.

I was listening to CBS News this morning and they had as a guest, the actor from the Broadway show, Hamilton who gave the sermon on the mount to Pence the other day. Asked for an apology by Trump, he refused. He said: Art is not about entertainment, necessarily. It is about raising consciousness. It is about developing culture. This is what we do as artists.

I watched the AMA awards. Sting was performing at the end after he received his award. I laughed because of what he chose to play and sing. He was sending out a message. He played “I’ll Be Watching You…” Every breath you take, every move you make…. He was sending out an SOS. The songs were subversively political, not preaching– they were just songs.

What is the myth we are living in now?  I feel like we are living in a mythical time.

What if we began the story of today: Once Upon a Time….

I think it would begin with a birth and a death….

Maybe we have to talk about the death first.  But death of what?

The death of the American Dream.

Maybe the dream was an illusion.  

The realization…

…that fear and terror that are not always negative.  Out of it, something else grows. It depends on what the people do with it. There is always possibility.

Why do we need a myth…?

I think we opened Pandora’s Box. The myth I see in the world is about Pandora’s Box. It is opened and everything comes flooding out.

Didn’t Jung say that we are too rational and we need myth. I think myth is helpful.

Is it helpful because we got out of a dialogue about Clinton, Bernie, and Clinton. What if we take them into neutral storyland so that we can see It more clearly?

Does anyone here believe in the American Dream?

I keep thinking about myth as relying upon belief systems and supernatural beings… What if we were to expand our time-frame. I am thinking about the Trickster stories that Peggy tells. They seem to be about ego inflation, which is so much what we are talking about tonight.  Instead of inventing a new myth we should go to the Trickster-Being whose sole purpose is to break up the rigidity of beliefs and release the libido*, the physical energy of it, as opposed to this locked up cognitive understanding of Me as an ego-being.  Sometimes it lightens your spirit too, to read myths. It’s hard to take yourself seriously, when you put space into our everyday experience. I feel like we are turning into white dwarfs.

[*Freud viewed libido as the source of sexual energy that roots in the deep unconscious. Jung, on the other hand, viewed the libido as the source of all life energy that roots in the deep unconscious and is invaluable as the repository of ancient memory (archetypes).]

Oh God.

I agree with you. I think what you are talking about is a deprivation of oxygen. The broader view that myth gives does not box us into one way of looking at it. And so we get paralyzed in fear.

OK, so you have this moment that is operating in a fuller sense. You want to respond in a certain way but because we are so socialized, civilized we work on all these different [cognitive] layers. Where does the energy go? I think there is something vital about how a myth communicates information. Rather than depleting energy it puts space in it. It gives you an alternate shape to your experience. And that shape comes from a time before Eisenhower taught us to see the American dream. Myth gives an opportunity to access other aspects of ourselves that are not locked into a cognitive reflex.

I found these flowers in the trash at the Four Seasons. I took some home and arranged them.

Aaaaah.  Those were in the trash?

The difference is between my showing you the flowers and you guys’ visceral response to beauty or cruelty or ugliness. It wasn’t your brains that responded. It was something else. That’s what myth is, I think.

I think they are the baklava of the flower world…the Ranunculus.

Any closing words?

(General chit chat and joking around)

I heartily encourage you to honor your time for doing your art work.  This is your time to try orienting toward mythology. Tere, there is no way anybody could have said better what you just did about mythology and its usefulness. Myth nourishes the soul.  That’s what Jung is saying. We are forgetting about souls as organs needing psychic nutrients. Otherwise, our appetites grow and we deplete ourselves and the Earth too. We talk about Trump but we are also talking about the numerous dictators around the world who are soulless.  So, maybe that’s what artists do. We bring back nourishment for the soul, beauty and insight with a little daring-do. Maybe you can be mindful of that no matter what you make.

🎴

Archive

November 28, 2016

Dearest All~

I hope you all had a lovely holiday. At the very least, a good lie-down. At the most, a frolic with family and friends, good eats in the tradition of autumn harvest-looking-forward to a long winter sojourn. I think that is the celebratory spirit of the passing season.

In between frolic and good lie-downs I prepared the garden for winter, hired the chimney sweeps who found I was about to burn my house down. Fixed that. Cleaned the inside of the house from top to bottom. Hence, my letter to you is my holiday from pondering Evil vs Beauty or vice versa, if you like that better. Along with my winter prep, I took time to do some good reading.

I just finished Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by JD Vance.  This book is a timely must-read. Vance hails from Appalachia and the rust belt of the midwest and illuminates the mindscape of rural American citizens. It is a page-turner. l finished this read feeling grateful for his affection for the people tinctured with his respectful skepticism about some of their choices in living.

Now I am reading The Once and Future King by T.H. White.  It is a delight in active imagination, written with great heart and laced with archetypal characters who do not realize they are shaping the character of the soon-to-be-king, Arthur. The young boy is under the tutelage of Merlyn, his teacher and protector. His natural empathy matures into compassion. Adventures abound as he is transformed into various species of living things by Merlyn’s wizardry.

I found a little story in White’s book that Merlyn tells the Wart (Arthur) I thought would be great to share with you. It is about Elijah and the Rabbi. I Googled the story to see if it’s in fact recognized as an allegory and sure enough there it lay amongst a hundred others. The recording follows my letter to you.

http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/404895/jewish/The-Rabbi-and-the-Cow.htm

Bless you all! Thank you so much for all the love you share in your emails, cards, and most welcome visits. Please do not be upset if it takes me a little time to reply. Got to have my lie-downs, you know.

Your loving friend, –Peggy

Archive

November 21, 2016

THOUGHTS ON THE PSYCHOLOGICAL ROOTS OF EVIL AND VIOLENCE

Part 1: An Overview of Our Dual Nature:  A Prep for Future Letters

Bear with me, this letter might be a little more serious than usual but it’s intended to describe a few concepts to let us understand the upheavals in our world. In weeks to come, I want to talk about how a society can become psychically infected, the underpinnings of terrorism and fascist states, how the creative person can use imagination and conscious work to stay calm and well organized and contribute to restoring balance. The recorded tales and myths I plan to pass along here seem mild and sweet. But do not be deceived, a little sugar makes a bitter truth a little bit easier to swallow.

Dearest All~

In The Red Book, CG Jung describes evil as an appetite that cannot and will not be satisfied.  It pursues beauty to spoil it, devour it.  And beauty is not a thing and does not live in things. It is the cause of aesthetic play where all seriousness vanishes and unlimited possibility opens. Beauty is a feeling of delight that we project onto an object.

Evil and beauty, the urges to destroy and create, are unconscious drives that react to each other. Each harbors a little bit of the other’s vitality that keeps them in eternal partnership. They belong to the original nature of human beings and they will exist as long as we have bodies.

Why? It’s how we are built. All this is factory installed. Everything in Nature is an interrelated system of coexisting opposites. One side of Nature needs the other for the whole of Nature to support itself. The negotiation for dominance between any two energies animates existence.  Power and love. Life and death. Day and Night. Up and Down. You and Me. Everything in Nature has dual aspects– including our selves, bodies and feelings, intellects and spirits…our consciousness. We are dual-patterned beings that are part of Nature’s dualist system.

The urge to destroy or create can become magnified, swing out of balance. When evil’s appetite spoils beauty’s play or when beauty overdoes its play, and threatens to smother evil, we experience a highly charged contact with something frighteningly archaic under the shadows of our unconscious.  Doors open to something feral.  Until the need to destroy in either respect is replaced by an equivalent intensity, we will continue to blindly follow an awful urge to dominate and control.

Broadening our range of consciousness redirects this raw energy and that is a taxing achievement. It is painful because observing the destructive urges that lie in the depths of our unconscious are not welcome sights– at first.  However, when we put our egos aside, that is, fears or thoughts about ourselves that glorify or demean, the journey becomes very interesting indeed.

First, we need to discover how to enter our unconscious mind. Our psyche relaxes and slowly admits us to the inner sanctum when we are respectful and curious about the truth of ourselves.  Second, as we explore the shadows, insight comes in and the urge to harm is understood and thus loses its hold. Our brain automatically corrects the error in thinking that domination and harm are alright. Our body relaxes. The adrenal energy of fight, flight, or paralysis dissolves. An attentive psychotherapist is an invaluable navigator in this process.

Since the penchant for destruction is inborn, it will not actually go away. Instead, with conscious observation of this impulse, our perception of its value transforms. We see clearly the part that evil plays in the whole pattern of psychic processes. Because we understand it we can harness its dynamic energy to produce verve, humor, exuberance, decisiveness, willful and wise energy, and the courage to accept our natural being as it is. The urge to dominate, control, and harm may still rise but now we grasp its potential deadliness yet choose not to use it.

To Be Continued…

Your loving friend, –Peggy

The following is a story of Shiva and his wife, Parvati. It makes the point that both Shiva, lord and god of all creation and destruction, and Parvati (also known as (Shiva’), his partner imbued with love, playfulness and beauty, meet their comeuppance, see their failings, and stand down.