Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Of Kairos & Chaos; Sin & the Self; Envy As Projection; & Enlightenment By Protoplasm

[This is an expanded version of the essay above, Enlightenment By Protoplasm. What I have included in this piece is an autobiographical account of my own psychological/philosophical/theological/literary journey from the American South where I was born and raised into self-exile/hopeful salvation to New York City. If one does not want to read such personal material preferring to read more objective content then read the shorter version of the essay above or skip through the first two sections below for the important quotes and my comments upon them]

[A ceramic sculpture of a desirous, protoplasmic deity from pre-Columbian Oaxacan culture in Mexico exhibited in the Museo de Antropologia of Mexico City. Photo by Warren Falcon, August 2009. Click on the image to enlarge it.]

For Mat emerging from the Hudson "Drink",
an old sailor's term for the fathomless bottom.

Here at the beginning an admonishment from
the American master seer, beholder of the Behemoth
in the "Drink"--

"A man thinks that by mouthing hard words
he understands hard things.
" -- Herman Melville

***********************************************************

"And God created great whales." -- The Book of Genesis

And life itself told me this secret – ‘Behold’, it said, I am that which must overcome itself again and again.”
- Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra

That I may reduce the monster to
Myself, and then may be myself

In face of the monster, be more than part
Of it, more than the monstrous player of

One of its monstrous lutes, not be
Alone, but reduce the monster and be,

Two things, the two together as one,
And play of the monster and of myself,

Or better not of myself at all,
But of that as its intelligence,

Being the lion in the lute
Before the lion locked in stone.

--Wallace Stevens, The Man With The Blue Guitar XIX, from The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens, Alfred Knopf Inc., 1993: pg. 175.
Online link to the poem:
http://www.geegaw.com/stories/the_man_with_the_blue_guitar.shtml ,

A mood of universal destruction and renewal has set its mark on our age. This mood makes itself felt everywhere, politically, socially and philosophically. We are living in what the Greeks called the KAIROS - The Right Moment - for a “metamorphosis of the gods”, of the fundamental principles and symbols... So much is at stake and so much depends on the psychological constitution of the modern human.”
-C.G. Jung, The Undiscovered Self

"Kairos is the ancient Greek word meaning the right or opportune moment (the supreme moment), it signifies a time in between, a moment of undetermined period of time in which something special happens." --from The Threshing Floor Radio Show-August 17, 2009 -Randy Maugans, Mystery #3: Time

"
K
airos is the passing moment in which something happens as the time unfolds...it is a small window of becoming and opportunity. One of the origins of the word comes from shepherds watching the stars. As the night progresses and the stars turn in the sky, they appear to rise and then fall against the horizon. The moment when a star has reached its apogee and appears to change direction from ascending to descending is its kairos." --
Corrigall, J, Payne, H, Wilkinson, H (eds), About A Body, 2006: pg. 201


****************************************************************

Future pacing:

"
W
hen a revolutionary spirit confronts his contemporaries, the violence of his contempt for banalities, for the dead weight of worn out traditions, for dead symbols as D. H. Lawrence called them, causes antagonism and resistance. Fear paralyzes understanding." --Anais Nin, from the Introduction to Antonin Artaud, Man of Vision, Bettina L. Knapp, First Swallow Press / Ohio University Press edition 1980, from the Preface, pg. x

[I would add to this truthful observation that the contempt of the symbols, the archetypes themselves, is evoked from the incorrect and arrogant attitude of calcified fundamentalisms--religious, political, and more--which insist on the "dead weight of worn out traditions." Jung warningly pointed out that we get back from the Unconscious the attitude that we give It. The archetypes can, will and do revolt against human hubris (inflated unconscious identity with an archetype) and unleash personal and collective whirlwinds upon one and many. Archetypes are not "dead weight" nor dead even in the traditions. That which make the traditions dead is human fundamentalism, reification, concretism, "the fallacy of misplaced concreteness" (Alfred North Whitehead's astute and clinical diagnosis) where one mistakes one's model for reality, in this case one's institution/religious tradition is mistaken for, nay, insisted upon being the Thing Itself, God, THE one and only authentic expression/incarnation of the Sacred Dimension. There are sins the fundamentalists haven't even thought of yet--real ones!-- that of fundamentalism itself which is the reduction of symbols, living vibrant energy portals leading into archetypal dimensions, to concrete signs. Reductivism (signs) serves in science and many disciplines but not at all in the realm of myth, religion and depth psychology. For those thoughtful readers who are interested I highly recommend a good and thorough study and practical understanding of these two prevalent fallacies, concretistic and reductive, which can be found clearly explicated in Edward F. Edinger's Ego and Archetype, Individuation and the Religious Function of the Psyche, Penguin Books, 1972, pgs. 110-117 (and the rest of the chapter, for that matter).

On the other hand, postmodernism has no respect for traditions, another form of hubris which infuriates the archetypal psyche. And yet the above observation is also true, a counter-balance to the barnacled piers/peers of traditions who worship the structure and not that which created and enlivens, or once did, those structures. The surgically insightful Zen admonishment of "making sure that when one is pointing a finger at the moon that one does not mistake the finger for the moon" speaks directly to all this. -- Warren Falcon]

Warren's words future pacing still:

In this short essay I attempt to explain envy as a projection phenomenon not only of aspects of the personal self but also, and more importantly, of the transpersonal Self which seeks, as Jung propounds, to experience incarnate material existence in all of its myriad manifestations, especially in the unfolding dynamism which is
sin, its repercussions and redemptions, integrations and transformations. The sacred dimension seeks descent into matter and not the opposite, escape into transcendence. I also attempt to introduce the reader to Edward Edinger's insightful dream and explanation of the basic value of protoplasm, its transpersonal purpose in humans-as-protoplasm which via consciousness can see through its basic lusts and concupiscence, what historically has been called sin, into the archetypal world.

Furthermore, since this a blog spot and by nature is about personal beliefs and opinions allow me to make a few preliminary and autobiographical comments in advance of what follows below:

"While the South is hardly Christ-centered,
it is most certainly Christ-haunted."
-- Flannery O Connor

The novelist with Christian concerns [for the other than Christian though spiritual reader read "spiritual concerns"] will find in modern life distortions which are repugnant to him, and his problem will be to make them appear as distortions to an audience which is used to seeing them as natural; and he may be forced to take ever more violent means to get his vision across to this hostile audience. When you can assume that your audience holds the same beliefs you do, you can relax a little and use more normal ways of talking to it; when you have to assume that it does not, then you have to make your vision apparent by shock — to the hard of hearing you shout, and for the blind you draw large and startling figures.
— Flannery O'Connor [From the Flannery O'Connor Special Collection, via EDSITEment-reviewed Internet Public Library]


Please note that I am essentially a theologically-oriented creature as many U.S. born Southerners are whether they want to be theologically oriented or not for where biology/nature is and has been, theology (that which explores and addresses the religious dimensions of human existence) was and is soon to be present. When I moved out of the South and the evangelical Christian subculture and into New York I did not realize, indeed, how almost totally other is a theological orientation in New York. I moved here to escape the theological evangelical South to encounter the secular, liberal, and hopefully liberating North and found to my dismay further alienation for rarely did I find an individual in the city who understood at all why I was so god-haunted and harangued (apart from people, say, from the Muslim world, the Far East, Africa, Mexico and Central America and other cultures).

Fortunately I quickly found the Jungian analyst I had come to the northern and universal metropolis for. Even though there was a whole new language to learn, that of Jungian psychology, it still felt warmly familiar and allowed me to keep my theological orientation while bringing it out of the Middle Ages (which frankly most of the Western world and most certainly the USA still stubbornly lives in) and into modernity. Jung's entire oeuvre was to bring those once vibrant archetypal dimensions now mostly denatured and calcified by fundamentalist and, yes, even liberal Judeo-Christianity--along with many other religious traditions--into hopefully renewing, living, vibrant conversation and dynamism with the still revolutionary Renaissance era's cosmology-changing impact upon the still prominent and reactionary (for they do not willfully nor easily yield to the new ones) Medieval worldview of Europe, the U.S. and much of the world while producing our modern, now postmodern civilization, this Titan born of that era when, as Jung profoundly and insightfully observes, "the gods fell out of the heavens and into the psyches of men." Soon Frankenstein was born, the first or proto-cyborg, and the still now- more-than-ever pertinent question as to "what hath humankind wrought" with the new and ongoing discoveries of the sciences, their insights and occlusions of increasingly materialistic, earth-centered, humanisitic worldviews.

Tracing my own personal journey, perhaps more glyphic than mythic, wrestling with and trying impossibly to deprogram my intrinsicially theological orientation, with Jung's help, his writings, and my analyses with Betsy Halpern and now ongoingly with George Elder along with daily study of the work of many Jungian writers, chief of whom is Edward F. Edinger, the"American Jungian", I now fully embrace the anachronistic theological bent of my temperament. My use of distinctly theological words and concepts may sound strange, quaint and old fashioned to many readers, even turn off and alarm them, but here I explain how and why I've come to value the language although its old uses and abuses need to be reframed and revitalized in order to assist in helpful homing and orientation in an increasingly secular chaotic world as it undergoes a sea change of cosmology, what Jung calls the "kairos", the fullness of time where a new cosmological orientation and epoch is forming before our very eyes. Civilizations and individuals have been and are continuing to undergo tremendous disorientation during this reorientation toward what we can as yet see is the new cosmology coming to be. We have hints of it in our dreams and, yes, in our nightmares, as well. Only a few have comprehended the scope, depth and impact of Jung's epochal vision and work, of how he can assist individuals and perhaps human culture in finding a meaningful orienting center in the midst of this inexorable, wrenching and transformative turn of the global, cosmological wheel.

Now, just out of the 2oth century and just into the 21st century, we have a new dispensation in the wheel turning from biology to theology now to the dispensation of
psychology. By psychology I mean the depth psychology of Carl Jung which incorporates and builds upon both biology and theology in the scientific exploration of depth psychology. By scientific I mean the objective study of the history of images and symbols throughout human history and what they reveal of pre-conscious archetypal dimensions of existence. These dimensions, primal pattern inherent in nature [further explicated in the next paragraph], are revealed in myths, past, present and future, those hinted at in dreams of individuals and cultures. From careful, prayerful and hopeful attention through the lens of the Imaginal to personal and collective dreams of culture we may begin to glimpse the new cosmology but "through a glass darkly".

For many years in reaction to my personal experience of fundamentalist Christianity as propounded by the evangelical subculture I rejected many traditional theological concepts and words such as
sin and evil but have returned to a new use of the old words thanks to the profound work of Carl Jung in his discovery of the depth dimensions from which all human experience comes--the collective unconscious which is really real--thus Jung's phrase "the reality of the psyche" which is ultimately mysterious yet accessible and available to us via images, symbols and always present though often not acknowledged archetypal energies, those primal patterns of consciousness which shape and reshape psychic reality (all reality as humans know and experience it is psychic reality for there is no way to get outside of psyche in order to perceive and experience reality otherly). These universal patterns express themselves mercurially in myriad and often contradictory forms in as many people and cultures as currently exist and have existed. One continually seeks via dreams, culture and the dreaming of culture the ongoing creation in human societies from depth dimensions new faces of the sacred from which the individual and communal society take their shape and expression. Human consciousness has a history continually unfolding and evolving in time.

For those seriously interested in studying more about this unfolding history of human consciousness I highly recommend the works of Carl Jung, Erich Neumann, Mircea Eliade, Rudolf Otto, Joseph Campbell, Edward F. Edinger, Ken Wilber, Michael Washburn and Lionel Corbett. Also, a thorough enough study of the history of Eastern religions will reveal that these religions are sophisticated psychologies exploring for 3000 years the nature of Mind (psyche).


******************************************************


Of Kairos & Chaos; Sin & the Self; Envy As Projection


"
M
y life is a story of the self-realization of the unconscious. Everything in the unconscious seeks outward manifestation, and the personality too desires to evolve out of its unconscious conditions and to experience itself as a whole. I cannot employ the language of science to trace this process of growth in myself, for I cannot experience myself as a scientific problem."

"What we are to our inward vision, and what man appears to be sub specie aeternitatis ["
under the aspect of eternity"], can only be expressed by way of myth. Myth is more individual and expresses life more precisely than does science. Science works with concepts of averages which are far too general to do justice to the subjective variety of an individual life."

"Man's task is...to become conscious of the contents that press upward from the unconscious. Neither should he persist in his unconsciousness, nor remain identical with the unconscious elements of his own being, thus evading his destiny, which is to create more and more consciousness. As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being. It may even be assumed that just as the unconscious affects us, so the increase in our consciousness affects the unconscious."


--C.G. Jung, Memories Dreams, Reflections, Vintage Books, 1989, pgs. 336


Y
ears ago I went to the brilliant and unique Jungian psychic Llorraine Neithhardt for an intuitive reading where she spoke to me of envy, more specifically, of self envy where some part of the self envies some other part of the self. I understood her vaguely and was more concerned with specifics of her psychic predictions regarding my immediate crisis at hand for which I had chiefly gone to her. However, through the years I have pondered off and on her remarks about self envy and seemed to understand enough that parts of self could and do envy other parts of self, say, deprived or abused parts would envy other parts of self who were well-fed/nurtured, self sufficient, etc. OK. Got it. Meanwhile what about my landlord and the eviction notice?

In my past month of travels in Mexico knowing that this month's newsletter was to be about envy I thought much about envy and remembered Llorraine's emphases in more than one reading about self envy. I've come to my own understanding of the phrase by altering one letter in it--by changing the lower case 's' in self to a higher case capital 'S' thus making the phrase Self envy. Then suddenly a more Jungian view of envy came into view. This in brief is what I have arrived at:

Envy is a projection phenomenon. When one envies another one is actually envying a projection of the Self upon the other person. By Self, capital 'S', Jung indicates the central archetype of the totality of human personality based upon and within mysterious depths and origins of transpersonal Psyche. It is understood that all people, places, things, events and activities which catch projections of self, the personal self and the archetypal Self, have hooks for these projections upon which said projections attach. If the goal of Jungian psychoanalysis is wholeness-- a more inclusive integration of parts of self, positive and negative, harmonious and conflicting--then that which we envy in another person is symbolic of some aspect of personal self and the Self we have yet to recognize as part of ourselves much less to integrate as such. An important part of the hard yet meaningful work of Jungian analysis is consciously recognizing such projections, acknowledging them as from our own psyche, personal and transpersonal, recollecting/withdrawing them attempting to integrate these previously or ongoingly projected aspects of the self and Self into our greater personality and wholeness. This is simple enough to say but not at all simple to actually do. The doing involves always painstaking and many "crow eating" years of hard work but well worth the effort and strain to do so in terms of growth in consciousness and individuation. In Jungian psychology one is not striving for moral perfection after all but for psychologicial wholeness and integration. One has a relationship to one's own darkness--sinfulness if you will--as well as it's opposite and is not identified with one or the other but is aware that both constitute part of one's greater self and wholeness. In enduring this tension between the opposites which make up ourselves the psyche produces a resolving third thing out of both authentically different (unique to the individual) and unifying.

Thus when I envy another person I am envying some aspect of self and Self which I am not in conscious touch with and thus have "seen" it projected upon that other. Projection is an unconscious dynamic of the psyche. We cannot not project. It is spontaneous and "up from the psychic depths". We can wake up to projections and then take responsible actions to acknowledge, reclaim, try to integrate or at least live with what we have taken back, and then proclaim it in the world as part of ourselves and, importantly, as part of the Self now incarnated being lived consciously in the world.

Enlightenment By Protoplasm--
One's Dreadful Yet Sacred Responsibility


"
T
he unavoidable internal contradictions in the image of a Creator-god can be reconciled in the unity and wholeness of the Self as the coniunctio oppositorum of the alchemists or as a unio mystica. In the experience of the Self, it is no longer the opposites "God" and "man" that are reconciled, as it was before, but rather the opposites within the God-image itself. That is the meaning of divine service, of the service that man can render to God, that light may emerge from darkness, that the Creator may become conscious of His creation and man conscious of himself...That is the goal, or one goal, which fits man meaningfully into the scheme of creation, and at the same time confers meaning upon it. It is an explanatory myth which has slowly taken shape within me in the course of the decades. It is a goal I can acknowledge and esteem, and which therefore satisfies me."

--C.G. Jung, Memories Dreams, Reflections, Vintage Books, 1989, pgs. 338

In speaking with a Jungian analyst about the above recently he reminded me of a Jungian viewpoint that humans are essentially "just conscious/newly self-conscious" protoplasm. Protoplasm are basic single-celled life forms, elemental organisms driven instinctually to strive, survive and propagate. Most of what humans call or have called sin in terms of human behavior are expressions of our fundamental instinctuality as drive driven creatures who like protoplasm seek food, sex, comfort, shelter, safety, soothing and power and, when we can get away with it, by any means necessary.

Jungian analyst Edward Edinger has written of this basic protoplasm that we humans are but with an all important distinction from other protoplasmic forms of life. He arrived at this crucial difference from a personal dream he had where he sees a pulsing protoplasm like all other protoplasm only this protoplasm has a hole in it through which Edinger could see through and to another world with " a landscape stretching toward a horizon", the world of the transpersonal, archetypal psyche. Edinger concludes that persons do not overcome their essential protoplasmic selves by ethical, moral and spiritual self improvement programs but by consciously embracing the protoplasmic self and in so doing discover the hole or window into the transpersonal "other world" which is within this incarnate physical world. One does not transcend the instinctual "sinful" self so much as arrive at the greater meaning of it via the "hole" or "window" discovered and seen in and through protoplasm itself. Protoplasm can lead to the discovery of depth dimensions of existence which is the Psyche. This is a sort of Jungian tantric view that the way out of bondage and identity to mere and powerful and always present protoplasm/instinctuality is through conscious accepting embrace of it. Edinger explicates:

Some associations to [his dream of protoplasm with the hole where he saw another world, a landscape stretching to a horizon] were these: The one-celled organism reminded the dreamer that life is carried by discreet, individual units, the cells...Protoplasm was described as the basic life stuff, the source of all biological urges to survive. We might consider it the seat of concupiscence and desirousness of all kinds. The pulsation brought to mind the ebb and flow of the tide, systole and diastole, and the alternation between day and night. The hole in the center of the cell reminded the dreamer of the rabbit hole which was the entrance to another world in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. The fact that the cell was empty recalled a passage the dreamer had read in Jung to the effect that traditional religious mandalas have the image of deity in the center but that the center of modern individual mandalas is usually empty. The over-all effect of the hole was described as a window looking into another world...The dream give us a picture of a Monad [a single solid unit of One] in its biological form, the cell. The cell is composed of pulsating protoplasm signifying the psyche's basic hungers, lusts, and urge to live. At the very center of this trembling mass of concupiscent desires is the window or entrance to the other world, the archetypal psyche. The implication is that one gets a glimpse of the other world by piercing to the center of protoplasmic urges, certainly not by rejecting protoplasm [with all its primal concupiscence and urges]. In other words, the experience of individuality as a transpersonal fact is found at the very center of personal, selfish urges to power, lust, and self-aggrandisement." -- Edward Edinger, Ego and Archetype, Individuation and the Religious Function of the Psyche, Penguin Books, 1972, pgs. 174-175


Again, Edinger's view sounds very much like tantrism. 'Sin' or the natural innate protoplasmic thrust of life for more of life, Freud's Eros principle, is seen through to its archetypal dimensions as drives toward individuation and incarnation of the archetypal Self, basic compulsions toward wholeness which do not shut out any part of itself including the profound protoplasmic drives which human culture in its evolution came to call 'sin'. From this I venture to say, and blaspheme by proclaiming, that in sin is the proto-Self.

Consciousness is the means by which individuals can become aware of that which is symptomatic and symbolic of in 'sin' and thus begin the hard work of shadow integration, recollection of and integration of self with Self. Everyone can, does and will sin but to consciously not push it away and to dare to peer at it, embrace it then contemplate and at times enact it to find the hole, the window, into the archetypal dimensions can lead to greater humanity and wholeness reframing and understanding envy and other sins as potential means of grace which in a Jungian sense means individuation and wholeness where one is consciously aware of his/her protoplasmic, transpersonal self--one is a sinner; one is a sin eater, consciously, boldly, humbly so.

Eating imagery always implies assimilation and integration of that which is to be eaten thus one grows and expands from the darkly numinous meal which is incarnate and conscious human existence. An apt mythic image of this is depicted in the kaballistic tradition which asserts that when the Messiah returns there is to be a grand banquet with a meal to be eaten. That banquet feast is to be none other than the leviathan which Job saw in a vision when God revealed His dark, unconscious protoplasmic side which had put Job through such hell. Sin's origins suggested in this and other myths are in the deity [sacred dimension] itself.

In this dark light Wallace Stevens' poem quoted above now takes on a a more somber urgency at once absurd and deeply meaningful, a nuanced noir inflection of dreadful yet sacred responsibility:

That I may reduce the monster to
Myself, and then may be myself

In face of the monster, be more than part
Of it, more than the monstrous player of

One of its monstrous lutes, not be
Alone, but reduce the monster and be,

Two things, the two together as one,
And play of the monster and of myself,

Or better not of myself at all,
But of that as its intelligence...

Here, in a Jungian light, intelligence means consciousness, will intact, self aware, enlightened but not liberated from but to the task.


It is this promethean task laid upon humans to consciously see this monstrous shadow of God, to bear the vision and the reality of It, to willingly eat portions of It, and in so doing transform not only personal shadow but the very shadow of God. This is not for the faint of heart nor is it about to become a popular theological view, especially in the pop religious movement of the New Age with its "denial of evil" or that slight of hand dismissal of it as the "lack of good", the privatio boni of Catholicism. When elderly Jung was asked in a final interview about his personal realization of the shadow of God as the origin of evil, of man's duty to bear It and assimilate what he can of It for self and Self (God), and how he, Jung, could live with this he replied, "I live in my deepest hell." And then he fell silent.


This is a most profound religious calling and duty. Few will accept it. Few can bear it. But consciously bear it some must and nevermind failure of the task. One tries. Repeatedly.

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