our greatest blessings come to us by way of madness Phaedr. 244a

2012/06/02

bound with withies: from Negative Capability


A few more things from my archives... clearing out old zipdrives, dropping old weights, unburdening, hoping to fly again. 

See -- what I realize is that I thought I could isolate myself and immerse in writing fiction. Become mere mind, storyteller, all about dramatic narrative. But the feelings and reactions to living still happen, and they come as blurts pedantic, indignant when repressed. And more -- though I can look away from pain, I can't be mind without body. I speak to you, Asclepius. Please: keep me in time. 

 “In that hour, weary of life, men will no longer regard the world as the worthy object of their admiration and reverence."
 ~ on the inevitable end of Egyptian religion, Hermes Trismegistus to his disciple, Asclepius
So. Weary is not the way.
We pass the word around; we ponder how the case is put by different people, we read the poetry; we meditate over the literature; we play the music; we change our minds; we reach an understanding. Society evolves this way, not by shouting each other down, but by the unique capacity of unique, individual human beings to comprehend each other. ~Lewis Thomas, The Medusa and the Snail
~~~~~~~~~~

You, if you were sensible, 
When I tell you the stars flash signals, each one dreadful,
You would not turn and answer me
"The night is wonderful."

Even you, if you knew
How this darkness soaks me through and through, and infuses
Unholy fear in my vapour, you would pause to distinguish
What hurts, from what amuses.

For I tell you
Beneath this powerful tree, my whole soul's fluid
Oozes away from me as a sacrifice steam
At the knife of a Druid.

Again I tell you, I bleed, I am bound with withies,
My life runs out.
I tell you my blood runs out on the floor of this oak,
Gout upon gout.

Above me springs the blood-born mistletoe
In the shady smoke.
But who are you, twittering to and fro
Beneath the oak?

What thing better are you, what worse?
What have you to do with the mysteries
Of this ancient place, of my ancient curse?
What place have you in my histories?  

~DHLawrence


bound with withies
Sent: 3 May 2003


It's been interesting, these five years in the Midwest, giving me an angle to see things. Except for missing those of you I've been lucky to know, I won't be sad for a moment to go. Yet I know for a fact that you can never really leave.
A bit after college, I moved from Washington, DC to an alternative community in Maine where we tried to free ourselves from the corporate controlled world, the media, the oil. One morning I sat on the steps of the geodesic dome I lived in, hand grinding my co-op coffee, thinking that since I was 8 hrs up the coast of Maine in one of the poorest counties in the nation, I was living  a real alternative—that I could be Thoreau, Franklin, Blake, and all my rabble-rousing heroes. There, out on the craggy rocks where the light first hits the USA, we were ex-teachers, ex-accountants, ex-grad students, and artists, people interested in developing and living with alternatives; people who saw the great waste generated by modern life as simply misplaced resources that needed to be recycled. We wrote Vista grants, redid the local library, taught in the schools, and the people who stayed on there winter after bitter winter really have made life better for everyone in that threadbare land.
Happily hand-grinding my morning coffee, I sat in the sunshine, yoga breathing pure nature, delighted that the black flies had gone for the year. And then I heard something. It came through the woods from beyond where you can see: the sound of a marching band playing Stars and Stripes Forever. I sat up, squinting. What could this be? I thought I was surrounded by wildlife, bears and endless trees. But it turned out that it was the local high school marching band gearing up for the 4th of July, just kids who watched network TV and wanted cars and McD's hamburgers and tapes of songs they heard on the radio. McLife. There was a bus that pulled up once a week at the one small diner at the crossroads they called town, and the destination on the flap above the driver's head said New York. Many of them would end up on it—and the ones who stayed behind sought to import as much of New York there as they could.
Slowly I learned that even in alt.communities there were people at the co-op who felt more equal than others, people who came from money (Connecticut, mind you) who thought they should work less than others because they were more used to leisure and therefore work was harder on them. People who hated churches yet looked down on those who didn't attend the weekly Sufi dancing... people who looked at you with disgust if you didn't roll your own tortillas.
One morning, I found myself sitting with the ladies of the women's group, all of us in long imported Indian dresses, scarves around our heads, and I watched them nurse their lovely babies. Each and every baby had an Indian print kerchief around its little head. I'm all for old Mr. Gandhi, but I doubt the people of India saw much return for the labor in our cotton dresses. Nor did I feel comfortable as one mother blushed, feeling failed, as she told us that her baby's earache wasn't responding to the herbal concoction that worked for everyone else. She knew she was doomed to fail, and had been so ever since having a c-section. I commiserated with her in silence. I, too, was feeling doomed and failed, without even a c-section—because I had morning sickness. What was wrong with me? Moreover—I was feeling guilty for smuggling an occasional ginger ale in from the local bait store (it settled my stomach), for I knew I would be shunt if that even got out—just as sure as the Sunfall family had forever fallen from grace when they were seen in Bangor at the Dairy Queen.
Seems there's always someone around to call you a hypocrite.
Slowly, and then more quickly, it dawned on me that you can't escape. I realized that no matter where you live on earth—even off in the midst of sandstorms—that it's just a matter of time before there's a McDonald's down the road from you.
So what am I left with, idealism exhausted, aware of knowing nothing? Nothing grand. Just simple things: to try keep from becoming these machines we serve, to establish and maintain individuality while still contributing and belonging to the community. I know nothing, but still I sense that where we've gone really, really wrong is in thinking we are masters of Nature rather than part of it... forgetting that symbiosis is, after all, the principle of what endures. 
But whatever happens, we'll get over it. Because we aren't masters, and all the little tin gods who are now making such misery—all the blowhard liars of FOX news and hate radio—all the baseball caps in pick-up trucks and monster SUV's—they will all simply dry up and blow away like everything else. They can dismantle the Federal government, Constitution, Bill of Rights, write books, make wars and leftbehinder movies, project Jesus in the sky—but that's all it will be: their own projection.
We will all be replaced.
Above all I thank the gods that children will rebel. Enough of them will always tend to sweep the hands off their shoulders, like those nursing babies with those Indian kerchiefs, and some will manage to do some good. I've tried to enable my own rabble rousers, and have been happy to mostly stand back and share their unfolding, giving them the mental, spiritual, and physical space to do that safely—to the best of my ability. But lastly, I am in accord with the below... and I leave it with you today with a great joy that all of you have lived in the world at this time. I salute the light in you and know it illuminates the darkness.

With heart, Deborah 

Jung wrote a letter on 9/14/1960, nine months before his death. Maybe he gave it to the wrong person -- but there's little doubt he was speaking to us all.

Excerpt:
[...] my main tenet contains nothing more than: Follow that will and that way which experience confirms to be your own, i.e., the true expression of your individuality. [...] None believes in the blossoming and unfolding of the individual as the experimental, doubtful, and bewildering work of the living God, to whom we have to lend our eyes and ears and our discriminating mind, to which end they have been incubated upon for millions of years and brought to light since about 6,000 years ago, viz. at the moment when the historical continuity of consciousness became visible through the invention of script.
We are sorely in need of a Truth or a self-understanding similar to that of Ancient Egypt, which I have found still living with the Taos Pueblos. Their chief of ceremonies old Ochwiay Biano (Mountain Lake) said to me : 'We are the people who live on the roof of the world, we are the sons of the Sun, who is our father. We help him daily to rise and to cross the sky. We do not do this for ourselves, but for the Americas also. Therefore they should not interfere with our religion. But if they continue to do so (by missionaries) and hinder us, then they will see in ten years the sun will rise no more.' He correctly assumes that their day, their light, their consciousness and their meaning will die, when destroyed through the narrow-mindedness of American Rationalism, and the same will happen to the whole world, when subjected to such treatment. That is the reason I tried to find the best truth and the clearest light I could attain to, and since I have reached my highest point and can't transcend any more, I am guarding my light and my treasure, convinced that nobody would gain and I myself would be badly, even hopelessly injured, if I should lose it. It is the most precious not only to me, but above all to the darkness of the creator, who needs man to illuminate his creation. If God had foreseen his world, it would be a mere senseless machine and Man's existence a useless freak. My intellect can envisage the latter possibility, but the whole of my being says 'No' to it...
*****
***

from my oldest daughter when she was an undergrad:

Today I was walking in the Christ Church gardens and was stopped by an elderly woman sitting on a bench before a huge expanse of green meadow, full of thrushing long grass and honey-colored bulls... She asked me where I was from. She said that she could tell I was an American from the way I carried myself as I walked. Her name is Zoe Petersen. She sits before the swaying grass from dawn to late afternoon, writing poems about the simplicity of accepting nature. I sat on a damp bench with her for an hour, reading the poems she says she intuitively felt she must write. She never studied poetry, she said. She grew up in Switzerland and has been in Oxford for the past thirty years.
She draws individual blades of grass in the meadow, listening to their collective thrush. I told her of how ill modern philosophy makes me at Oxford. She agreed that most people don't see themselves reflected in nature.
****MOM I don't feel inspired at all here and I just feel trite and stupid!!!!*****
I cried as I read about the skeleton woman, sitting in the Trinity lab this morning. It reminds me of the Estes' depiction of the woman whose father allowed her hands to be cut off by the devil. I have founded a goddess cult here with my Oxford friends. There is this tremendous need amongst young adults to give voice to experiential pain and the treatment of those introspective and female. My young friends here have such a desire to use words to allude to spirit and love and synthesis with the energy surrounding them. They so adore the words goddess and divine and ecstatic. They are just aching to be part of a mystery cult. And I think we've created one. These friends have been the skeleton woman-both in a general sense and as individuals. They are aching to connect in terms of shared pain.
Yesterday I walked up to them and said that we should change the meaning of the word companion to 'those who break chocolate together'.
 *I don't know where this is god-damned going Mom!* 
There is an incredible interest in the Sophia cult amongst young people. It has originated in a third-wave feminism and popular female music artists sharing their pain on a mass-scale. These mass-culture developments provided an education, a starting-point for liberation from mass values that they never were exposed to growing up. My friends here don't have mothers who tell them that 'Truth is beauty, and beauty is truth.' They have mothers that tell them: 'You shouldn't wear your glasses, you need to look more fun.'
If I shared the essence of my mother's confidence in nature with these gorgeous little friends, I consider my life given tremendous value. My mother handed me back my hands every time she told me she couldn't understand why someone was cruel to me, every time she told me that I was magnificent because I was me. She was the one to tell me that I was beautiful in every way.
What use are any of us to each other if we can not delight in our collective and individual beauty? There are young people that want the Sophia cult, there are young people-lots of them-who have never been told they were beautiful in every way. There are so many facing a laughing devil, crying on bloody stumps of arms. Thank you for your most gorgeously integrative work. Baudelaire once wrote that good poetry has a power of sorcery and your poem conjured up a spirit of agony and beauty. Thank you for that gorgeous experience of life force.
yours,
e

(I have all her letters from this time. The child who looked out a window one night when she wasn't even 5 and told me 'there are stars in the sky so far away that you can only see them in your mind.')


*********
response to a letter:

Oh, you're going to zap me with penicillin and pesticides. Spare me that and I'll spare you the bomb and aerosols. But don't confuse progress with perfectibility. A great poet is always timely. A great philosopher is an urgent need. There's no rush for Isaac Newton. We were quite happy with Aristotle's cosmos. Personally, I preferred it. Fifty-five crystal spheres geared to God's crankshaft is my idea of a satisfying universe. I don't think of anything more trivial than the speed of light. Quarks, quasars - big bangs, black holes - who gives a shit? How did you pure logic / techs con us out of all that status? All that money? And why are you so pleased with yourselves?    ~Tom Stoppard, Arcadia
Which is also to say -- why assume I'm against technology and progress and growth because (like Jung) I think we have something to learn from such as the Taos Pueblos? Jung frames it as a "truth or a self-understanding similar to that of Ancient Egypt." And the rest of what the chief says in that excerpt is very much to the present point.

What have we lost -- and need to re-learn?

Setting: Abraham and his son. The knife in the air. And now? We have that human reflex / instinct / condition of talking to the inner voice.

But must we bargain with it as well? We're doing it all the time. It's taking the place of our life, this bargaining. Is this peculiar to the Yahweh tradition? Is it built into the mindset of having a distant god that must be pleased? Because having that makes us give away responsibility for the outcome. And that means we give away the responsibility for living life. Our own living.
When did this come, this immobilizing stepping back from life? It's the religion of victims. God is whatever created and creates. Does it ask me to come begging to it, trying to make deals? 
It seems to me, unless you're asking for strength and love, that that's what you're doing in most prayer. It seems to me that a creator created me to be exuberant in what it made me. That my exuberance itself is the prayer and offering it seeks from me. If it leaves me to define my space and actions, to schedule my curiosity's impulse to longing as my being's best guide, then I should do that with the best energy I can muster. Who am I to question what god has made, and what god has made of me? Living. That's the best praying I can think of.
What is our marriage with death to be? Like Psyche, our dark lover whose face we can't see, the mystery we come out of and will all yield to, our sublime friend there in the unconscious at all times? Or is death hated and belittled? The latter makes our living pointless, all just a test for some greater deathlessness. Yet to be deathless is to dance in and with and through our season. To understand we're never lost or alone or even here. We're never not in the act of love.
The answer to this, that endless act of love -- a state -- is to find the deity again in ourselves. In each other. In this flesh and blood of a living earth.
We move with the stars and heavens. Do you know that pendulums go mad during eclipses? Einstein would love it. He knew he didn't have it. He knew it was more... that it's all of a piece.
Sure, of course, Christ is of the higher mysteries, that tradition we see in the Greek, Orphic, Mithraic. (Jung does great leg work on this. It's why the Nag Hammadi scrolls were taken directly to him; else, like the Dead Sea Scrolls, it would have been a bear getting them into the light day.) But it's a mockup of an Old Testament prophecy that never even existed that he's been dressed in by our present theocracy of Leftbehinders.
What kind of world would I want? What system? As Franklin said, most any would work if the people are responsible, if they follow that simple golden rule. The no holds bar of present day corporate capitalism would have disquieted George Washington to no end. But law and order -- how to inflict that on the world? Truth is, they're dying for it. They'd love it, having half a chance as a decent existence and a system of justice. Terrorists? They quickly lose their taste for self immolation when you give them a sense that others are trying to make things just, and if you allow them to have something to lose. Put yourself in their place and solutions abound. It's what McNamara teaches -- and he learned these truths through long bloody sacrifice.http://www.policyscience.net/mcnamara.pdf We should listen to him.
Teh crazy Muslim radicals(tm) have their counterpart extremists represented in most all major dogmatic religions. We wouldn't want to put them to the test. Timothy McVeigh went to his death reciting Henley's Invictus (the nerve, when Henley really did have something to overcome; when Henley truly was the brave captain of his soul), thinking he did god's very good work.
But when I say we aren't the good guys, I'm thinking of the ways we've used intelligence to undermine, destabilize, radicalize other cultures. It's the way it has worked for some long time. Iran is the perfect recent example, the things we did in setting up the Shah and his repression. It did get out of hand -- setting the stage for what happened with the Ayatollah: the dispossessed have nothing to lose. Afghanistan and our work to recruit the most radical Muslim mofooks we could find to throw off the Russian's inroads at modernizing that culture have now come back to roost.
But these aren't the stories one finds on FOX news or even the networks. But it's all there to find. It's in archives, the books of people-who-went-looking. The first thing Bush did when he got to the White House was block Reagan's papers form being released. This was long before 911. Then he proceeded to stock his staff from the very people who razed central and south america when his dad was vp. Negroponte to the UN? Whata slap in the face. I remembered goons like him from writing letters for Amnesty International back then. (And with him ruling intelligence and John Bolton at the UN, they can make up any WMD scenario, sell any war they like.) A third of the forces in Iraq were (are?) mercenaries, working for private companies like Blackwater, though they're paid by the Fed: our tax dollars at work. And the old boy networks, the Halliburton, the Carlisle, Bechtel --- the usual suspects -- got all the billons of contracts without even bidding.

The powerful never does the dirty work. Instead it sets a native people against itself and lets it do it for him.

But it's not up to me to teach anyone history, or how important it is to go back and do your own research, to go to primary sources. And it's not up to me to teach Jung. I decorate my space with things I find truth in. It's just art, an open diary, trying things on, speaking because it's a "monument to a moment's existence" on a certain level. The stereotypical understandings of what Jung thought are just that. It's why he said he was glad he wasn't a Jungian. The New Age. He had thoughts on that, but they were grounded in a very broad learning ( he was most of all a scholar) , and they were his working out of possible models for intuitions of patterns in designs. What I draw as his perspectives that speak to me I cobble and blurt. The music moves you and you get up and dance. (This is how I dance.) I think reading his later works directly, and maybe the orientation in Shamdasni's new history are about the best grounding in Jung, imho and for my purposes. I'm not an analyst and not even especially interested in that work. Jung was much more than just that. And much more than any New Age or second sloggings of him will ever yield.
Well. That is a fine rant. But -- you asked. You might feel compelled to compare and contrast.
And yes, that was me grinding the coffee. It's been a long strange trip, yes?

Just -- it's alchemy. But forget the dissolve. We need coagulate.


x's deborah
~~~~~~~~~~
            


June 12, 2003
But the individual as the only carrier of life and existence is of paramount importance. He cannot be substituted by a group or by a mass. Yet we are rapidly approaching a state in which nobody will accept individual responsibility any more. We prefer to leave it as an odious business to groups and organizations, blissfully unconscious of the fact that the group or mass psyche is that of an animal and wholly inhuman. What we need is the development of the inner spiritual man, the unique individual whose treasure is hidden on the one hand in the symbols of our mythological tradition, and on the other hand in man's unconscious psyche. CGJUNG 
Therefore virtue requires only that we desire it, since it is in us, and arises from us. For when the soul maintains its intellectual part according to nature, virtue exists. And [the soul] maintains it according to nature, whenever it remains as it came into being, and it came into being beautiful and perfectly straight. ... Being upright, for the soul, is [to have] its νοέρον ('the intellectual part') according to its nature, as it was created.  ~Greek Vita Antonii 20.5-7 (2x), ed. G.J.M.Bartelink, Sources chretiennes 400, Paris 1994

This accord according to nature. The Vita Antonii is now almost 2000 years old, expressing an idea of accord that was ancient even then.  
It's time to go back, pick up the thread, follow it out of the maze, away from kings and tribal mass-minds that facilitate monsters.
Getting closer. Thanks for listening.
x's
Deborah

The psychological processes, which accompany the present war, above all the incredible brutalization of public opinion, the mutual slanderings, the unprecedented fury of destruction, the monstrous flood of lies, and man's capacity to call a halt to the bloody demon - are suited like nothing else to powerfully push in front of the eyes of thinking men the problem of the restlessly slumbering chaotic unconscious under the ordered world of consciousness. This war has pitilessly revealed to civilized man that he is still a barbarian. . . But the psychology of the individual corresponds to the psychology of the nation. What the nation does is done also by each individual, and so long as the individual does it, the nation also does it. Only the change in the attitude of the individual is the beginning of the change in the psychology of the nation. ~CGJUNG (CW7,4, trans, mod.)
The symbols of the circle and the quaternity, the hallmarks of the individuation process, point back, on the one hand, to the original and primitive order of human society, and forward on the other to the inner order of the psyche. It is as though the psyche were the indispensable instrument in the reorganization of a civilized community as opposed to the collectives which are so much in favor today.... 
CGJUNG The Psychology of Transference


Re libido:
I don't mean to be invidious--but Purgation: Is that not a centerpiece of Freudian theory?  A closed system of forces/energies playing off one another. It always seemed so mechanical, venting and repressing. What is its relationship to eternity, to our experience and intuition of the mystery we came out of -- and go back into?  I don't feel it.  Jung seems a living system, the unconscious a creative matrix, not a receptacle of repressed content. It is that from which we develop. Libido as something akin to Eros is a reading readily compatible with Jung.
Jung writes:

"...the term "libido," introduced by Freud, is not without a sexual connotation, an exclusively sexual definition of this concept is one sided and must therefore be rejected.  Appetite and compulsion are the specific features of all impulses and automatisms.  No more than sexual metaphors of common speech can the corresponding analogies in instinctual processes, and the symptoms and dreams to which they give rise, be taken literally.  *The sexual theory of psychic automatisms is an untenable prejudice.* [that's their beef, yes?]  The very fact that it is impossible to derive the whole mass from a single instinct forbids a one-sided definition of libido. I use this term in the general sense in which it was understood by the classical authors. [...]
 We can say, then, that the concept of libido in psychology has functionally the same significance as the concept of energy in physics since the time of Robert Mayer. (See my "On Psychic Energy,"**
CW5, SYMBOLS OF TRANSFORMATION
[** in cgj CW8]

And with energy, we're back to ambivalence, back to Eros: the force that moves the sun and all the stars.
Fascination is a psychopomp, mediator between mortal and immortal, the conscious and the unconscious. Is its movement not libido?  It says that to me.  I never felt Freud going all the way with this meaning.  The Full Monty that encompasses all things.  Freud pulled back from that.  Fell off his chair.
Jung wrote of Freud, and to a great extent it's still applicable:

The historical conditions which preceded Freud were such that they made a phenomenon like himself necessary, and it is precisely the fundamental tenet of his teaching-namely, the repression of sexuality-that is most clearly conditioned in this historical sense. Like his greater contemporary Nietzsche, Freud stands at the end of the Victorian era, which was never given such an appropriate name on the Continent despite the fact that it was just as characteristic of the Germanic and Protestant countries as of the Anglo-Saxon. The Victorian era was an age of repression, of a convulsive attempt to keep anaemic ideals artificially alive in a framework of bourgeois respectability by con­stant moralizings. These ideals were the last offshoots of the col­lective religious ideas of the Middle Ages, and shortly before had been severely shaken by the French Enlightenment and the ensuing revolution. Hand in hand with this, ancient truths in the political field had become hollow and threatened to collapse. It was still too soon for the final overthrow, and consequently all through the nineteenth century frantic efforts were made to prevent the Christian Middle Ages from disappearing altogether. Political revolutions were stamped out, experiments in moral freedom were thwarted by middle-class public opinion, and the critical philosophy of the late eighteenth century reached its end in a renewed, systematic attempt to capture the world in a unified network of thought on the medieval model. But in the course of the nineteenth century enlightenment slowly broke through, particularly in the form of scientific materialism and rationalism.
This is the matrix out of which Freud grew, and its mental characteristics have shaped him along foreordained lines. He has a passion for explaining everything rationally, exactly as in the eighteenth century; one of his favourite maxims is Voltaire's "Ecrasez l'infame." With a certain satisfaction he invariably points out the flaw in the crystal; all complex psychic phenom­ena like art, philosophy, and religion fall under his suspicion and appear as "nothing but" repressions of the sexual instinct.
Sigmund Freud in his Historical Setting
CGJUNG CW 15

2 June 2004
Joscelyn Godwin in Harmonies of Heaven and Earth writes:
The Song of the Angels is their Gnosis; or, to put it another way, what they know cannot be spoken, only sung.
This tradition has been continued by two myth-makers of our own time. In J. R. R. Tolkien's The Silmarillion, the first chapter is entitle 'The Music of the Ainur', and it describes how 'Eru, the One, who is called Iluvatar' declared a mighty theme to the Ainur ('the Holy Ones. that were the offspring of his thought'). Iluvatar said:

[Of the theme that I have declared to you, I will now that ye make in harmony together a Great Music. And since I have kindled you with the Flame Imperishable, ye shall show forth your powers in adorning this theme, each with his own thoughts and devices, if he will. But I will sit and hearken, and be glad that through you great beauty has been awakened into song.
Then the voices of the Ainur, like unto harps and lutes, and pipes and trumpets, and viols and orgam, and like unto countless choirs singing with words, began to fashion the theme of Iluvatar to a great music; and a sound arose of endless interchanging melodies woven in harmony that passed beyond hearing into the depths and into the heights, and the places of the dwelling of Iluvatar were filled to overflowing, and the music and the echo of the music went out into the Void, and it was not void.]
I love Philo's (Philo of Alexandria 20 BCE-50 CE) dance as he processes the special nature of the "poetry":

God is an author in whose work you will find no myth or fiction, but truth's inexorable rules all observed as though graven on stone. You will find no metres and rhythms and tuneful verses charming the ear with their music, but nature's own consummate works, which possess a harmony all their own. And even as the mind with its ear turned to God's poems, rejoices, so the word in harmony with the meanings of thought and in a way approaching it, is necessarily glad. [...]
The Creator says that He knows that the uttered word, being brother to the mind can speak, for He has made it like an instrument of sound to be an articulate utterance of our whole complex being. This Logos, both for me and for you and for all men, sounds and speaks and announces our thoughts, and, more than this, goes out to meet that which reason has thought.

The music analog. What they know cannot be spoken, only sung.

Music is the effort we make to explain to ourselves how our brains work. We listen to Bach transfixed because this is listening to a human mind. ~Lewis Thomas

"Never speak it," the old magicians cautioned. Ineffable, paradoxical, impossible to be grasped in pure conscious thought.

The concept of logos in Heraclitus, Philo, the Platonic, as well as the broad personification of such concepts reflected in daimon, genius, eidolon... all relate to an awareness of the origin of consciousness (and, ultimately, the differentiation and relationship between ego and Self). The early Greeks who prized oral tradition were followed by those who were long suspicious of written things, who felt it was the direct connection to the gods speaking through us that was important. Like Beauty, the concern was to mainline the Forms: a direct experience of the Forms (or Logos as Philo, a mystical Greek Jew, defines it), as opposed to the written word which could never be better than twice removed.
It's as if they were too aware that the conscious mind we define ourselves by had not long been broken off from the unconscious, an awareness of consciousness so new and so threatening--exciting, I suppose--that it inspired myths of eating at the tree of knowledge, woman and her snake... (sadly, the misogyny floating around at least since Homer).
Consciousness moved individuals to "think from their own center" as opposed to the reflex of tribal dogma. But to deny the shadow sublimated within its workings, to hamstring investigation of it--to disallow mystery; it's what Jung is writing about in The Spirit Mercurius (CW 13). He cautions:

[It seems to me that Augustine apprehended a great truth, namely that every spiritual truth gradually turns into something material, becoming no more than a tool in the hand of man. In consequence man can hardly avoid seeing himself as a knower, yes, even as a creator, with boundless possibilities at his command. The alchemist was basically this sort of person, but much less so than modern man. An alchemist could still pray: "Purge the horrible darknesses of our mind," but modern man is already so darkened that nothing beyond the light his own intellect illuminates his world. "Occasus Christi, passio Christi." That surely is why such strange things are happening to our much lauded civilization, more like a Gotterddmmerung than any normal twilight.
Mercurius, that two-faced god, comes as the lumen naturae, the Servator and Salvator, only to those whose reason strives to­wards the highest light ever received by man, and who do not trust exclusively to the cognitio vespertina. For those who are unmindful of this light, the lumen naturae turns into a perilous ignis fatnus, and the psychopomp into a diabolical seducer. Lucifer, who could have brought light, becomes the father of lies whose voice in our time, supported by press and radio, revels in orgies of propaganda and leads untold millions to ruin.]
This last bit we see today in the self-fulfilling prophecy of the Rapture and Millennialism, a cult's unwavering conviction that only they know "the natural order", which is to say, their definition of their God's mind, the Word as only they, the saved, can hear it.
The Greeks had plenty to say about those who thought themselves god's equals, able to speak music. So would Philo.
Piaget described the process of consciousness evolving out of unconsciousness in the individual. In the same way, levels of consciousness evolve in humans, both self-awareness and awareness of the process itself. Like any evolution, the process can go either way--thus the scary collectives Jung and Bruno address.
I caught a snip of movie from just after the WW2, a melodrama in which a boy supposedly watched films of the Nazi Holocaust. The voice over told him that Hitler was opposed to Christianity, that he planned to wipe it out. It also said that 'perhaps' the greatest harm was done to the Jewish people. Perhaps! But the truth was that there were good people of Christian faith who stood against Hitler. Most did not. Hitler was himself an Millennialist. The "hand of the dead on the shoulder of the living," making choices to that inner voice of Divinity they identify with -- when they're not calling it the devil.
They rewrite History. Once again.
Philo was spared by Constantine's PR man Eusebius because he had some utility in forming the Church Canon. Where are the sources for that tradition he extrapolates? Gone. Yet too developed to have been only his ... and so it goes on, sublimated into the Kabbalah and magick.
Jung didn't view the unconscious as a cesspool needing to be purged, pulled up in buckets and dragged to destruction, but as the dark living ground of all creativity. Individuation is about centering, working at a stillpoint in accord with an  ineffable nature, "an instrument of sound to be an articulate utterance of our *whole complex being*." Thus, Rationality alone, pure Thinking fx, becomes a blinding light, a sneer too ready--just as pure intuition degrades easily to superstition.
For all our pure intellectual light, we don't begin to know much about time or space or matter or where they begin or end. http://www.biophysica.com/quantum.htm In science, we build the model, not the thing. In revealed religion, we project ourselves as Deity.
We get down and wallow in the mud we came out of (mud made of stars); we dance, we are irrational. We are body, and our thoughts are more than body. We can map out chemicals and genes, we follow neurotransmitters and the formation of memories. We can give pills to wipe memory out of the conscious mind, and we understand that each time we draw a memory up, we also rewrite it. But there is no chemistry that accounts for the sudden understanding of a concept. There are no chemical, electrical changes in the ah-HA, the momentary leap of the heart.
Symbiosis, balance, accord: we're dying for it.

What is the use of a religion without a mythos, since religion means, if anything, precisely that function which links us back to eternal myth? ~CGJUNG

Summa felicitas,
 Deborah



from deb
Greeks
Have been thinking lately that The Word is Maya. That this is also--has ever been--the fx of Eros.
What I love about the Greeks is the way they make it all move -- quicken: the soft feet, the long strides, the Helen of the soft cheeks, the rage of Achilles, the Aphrodite of the long eyelashes and beautiful rear-end. And the wretched things of shame, mere bellies! LO. Take us there!
Of course that's all very romantic, the "Greek" composite...
REVERENCE
BILL MOYERS: How do you define reverence?
PAUL WOODRUFF: I think reverence is the capacity for awe in the face of the transcendent.
BILL MOYERS: The transcendent being—
PAUL WOODRUFF: It's whatever we human beings did not create: God, justice, the truth...
BILL MOYERS: Beauty.
PAUL WOODRUFF: Nature, beauty.
BILL MOYERS: Death?
PAUL WOODRUFF: Death is one of the most awe-inspiring facts of our lives. And I think complementary to the awe in the transcendent is a felt sense of our own mortality and our own limitations, our own tendency to make mistakes.
BILL MOYERS: How does this create reverence?
PAUL WOODRUFF: Realizing the— the distance between us and the ideals which we see as transcendent is the essence of reverence. Recognizing that, you know, we are— we are born to die and between the time we're born and the time we die, we'll— we'll probably make a number of significant mistakes, and realizing that this is true of other people as well as of ourselves, that we have a common— a common humanity and are all in the same way vulnerable. It's the virtue in— actually, in both the Greek and the Chinese system, I think, that protects the people who are most helpless from the people who are most powerful. When a victorious soldier kills a prisoner, that's a failure of reverence. When a ruler refuses to hear a suppliant, that's a failure of reverence.
When you're utterly helpless, if you're an old person in a hospital, if you're a lonely minority teenager stopped on a road late at night by a policeman, you really have nothing between you and— and a terrible fate but the— what I would call the reverence of the powerful person in your life at that moment. The best clue to how reverent we are is how we treat the weakest people around us.



From: mike dickman
Sent: Tuesday, November 23, 2004 3:37 AM
Subject: Re: [Negative-Capability] Emailing: essene 
>>deb wrote: funny how all the other gods get their old haunts blown up, innit?>> 
*i think ALL gods get their haunts blown up or out of recognition sooner or later...
ANYthing that remains within the purview of samsara is subject to coming INTO existence, and therefore to aging, changing, running out of energy and disappearing back out of it - that's how being works (which also, incidentally, gives the lie to Enoch and - hence - the rest of it)... It's not a question of evil 'coming into' the world, but that as long as we read the ons and offs as good and bad rather than simply as open and shut, we are hoist with our own petard... On/off is inherent in the world, the 'ten thousand things', because on/off IS the yang and the yin, the weave (which what 'tantra' means) of which the universe is woven...
Some things wink in and out of existence in (what seems to us) a mere eyeblink (but may well be subjective aeons as far as they're concerned). Others seem to us to take forever (but may well be an eyeblink to something else)... Look upon my works ye mighty and despair!...
All of which is running round in circles - samsara. Then there is the vastness of ultimate time/space, where none of this is of the least moment at all... It comes and goes like the mental static in our own brains, like the ebb and flow of winds and tides, and is part and parcel but of no ultimate significance...
From there something can be done to help. Otherwise we are like two non-swimmmers drowning each other in our hopeless desire that we can help the other be saved. We just pull each other down.

*** from deb:
Thank you for this.
Well. I don't question its purpose, its why. It just is. The field of opposites and the flow of energy, the "gradients" you describe: seems to my lack of thinking that the flow is what it's for, if for has any meaning. Beyond this, as Jung said, it's all a new type of peripatetics. I guess that's the dance.
And so we walk in the circles. Is it to get out of them? Is it about us, the wheel, some ultimate thingy, as in undoing some mistake, some dark seed that fell into matter, Sophia's son, Sauron's model, who thinks he's the only god? That's so egocentric. I think we just walk is all. Because (and the because is simply the human making meaning: it's what we do. Instinct.)
Because:
THIS:
*Our individual moments of compassion --
*that one moment when Sisyphus's boulder is still, just before it changes direction --
*that sympathy and seeing self in other that ultimately jacks up and allows the frenzy that lets the Ring take itself down Mt. Doom:
THAT is our own, our heart, our breath.
In The Red Book, Jung's "guide for much of the time was the only-half imagined Philemon, the wise old man whose influence convinced Jung there are things in the psyche which I do not produce, but which produce themselves and have their own life."
"That which is creative creates itself." John Keats
x's
deb
*****
mike writes
Well. I don't question its purpose, its why. It just is.
Actually, what's important is that it has two ways of 'is-ing'...
One just sweeps you away and gets you caught up in the flicker of on-offs, your thoughts solidifying even as you think them, and then spawining new ones, as infinitum - all of them solid and turgid and impossible to work with.
The other is to realise the fountain of becoming - the richness of the display and its inherent emptiness as a single gesture - and not to get *caught up* in the creation of the saga, but (as Lao-tzu says) to simply remain with source, or (as the Buddhists say) not to lose sight of the fact that wave is inherent in the ocean, the cloud innate to the nature of the sky... You don't have to dissolve the clouds or stop the waves; just understand them for what they are.
Then, instead of being dragged round in circles, you walk of your own free will, and - because you can now walk with both hands free - you can chopwood, draw water and hire foolish wise men to bring snow so you can fill the wells with them. It's for *them* you walk, *not* because you're constrained by your own bewilderment to do so.
The field of opposites and the flow of energy, the "gradients" you describe: seems to my lack of thinking that the flow is what it's for, if for has any meaning. 
*Meaning it certainly has - it is the endless source and display of great bliss - the very body, speech and mind of the innermost teacher... If you become attached to perceptions and emotions, turning them into something that they are not, the fountain dries up, the images freeze, the 'radiance' dims - dulls! - and you are left with a world that is actually only your own perception, no matter how real it seems. I'll give you an example: This morning I dreamt that Vera had finally had enough of me and wanted me out... This is the dream as I noted it in my 'diary'...
"... I wake to hear Vera still downstairs.
The kids are somewhere upstairs with me, shocked into utter silence.
I make my way down. She's in the bare front room next to the long, dead stairway that leads almost directly to the front door.
I tell her I'll accept her divorce terms and leave.
She regards me with utter contempt as I try to get one tiniest spark of recognition from her, but everything I do is just another sign of my uselessness.
Finally, as I go back up to get my stuff and realise I'll be leaving the country too (what reason is there, now, to stay there?) I ask for the phone numbers of two friends which she says she'll leave for me.
I know my salary for this will cover my immediate needs, but now realise that I'll probably never see the kids again, either, and, as I walk back into my room to pack, burst into heart–broken tears
..."
Blah, blah blah!...
At this point, I awoke, and she was just coming into the room to get dressed. I told her the dream and she took me in her arms and held me very tight and said "I love you, you nutter. I'm not about to divorce you!" So it's just a dream you might say, or interesting dream, or what is that dream trying to tell you? but what it IS telling me is that I'm projecting insecurities (and securities) (and every other possible mental 'movie') I hardly even know I have on everything, all the time, and that what I see of anything I actually do see is generally long gone by the time I've waded through all my references surrounding it. The dream 'reality' (because it IS reality when I'm dreaming it) makes me feel 'heart-broken', 'scared', 'bad'; the waking 'reality' (because it IS reality when I'm awake in it) makes me feel 'better', 'safer' and evn 'good', but what is there actually between them?
They're both experienced by me as me and my world and the only thing I can say with absolute certainty about either of them is that I experienced them. I cannot lay claim to the veridicality of either experience - I simply had them.
Suzanne sent that letter the other day with the Goethe quote...
"I have come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element.
It is my personal approach that creates the climate.
It is my daily mood that makes the weather.
I possess tremendous power to make life miserable or joyous.
I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration.
I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal.
In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis is escalated or de-escalated, and a
person is humanized or de-humanized.
If we treat people as they are, we make them worse.
If we treat people as they ought to be, we help them become what they are
capable of becoming."
This is the whole point... Whether experience is veridical or not is neither here nor there. What is important is what you DO with it, and - even more particularly - why.
Beyond this, as Jung said, it's all circular. A new type of peripatetic, he said. I guess that's the dance.
*Have you ever read the gnostic Hymn of Jesus?
And so we walk in the circles. Is it to get out of them? Is it about us, the wheel, some ultimate thingy, as in undoing some mistake, some dark seed that fell into matter, Sophia's son, Sauron's model, who thinks he's the only god?
* I often quote the poem by Hakuin concerning Tokuun hiring foolish wise men to bring snow and then filling wells with them, don't I? What is this ultimately about? He 'comes down from his seat of marvellous attainment' and does something utterly dimwitted - Why?
Because the foolish wise men think it's wise is why, and because he knows that the only way to get beyond their foolish wisdom is to go along with them, to join with them, to be one with them in their stupidity and their lostness... That any attempt to intervene from "without" is doomed from the very outset; that you have to be one with them if your wisdom is the real wisdom that manifests only as loving kindness and compassion.
Walking round in circles, or being dragged round them by the nose, serves no purpose whatsoever except as a pointer that something is not as it should be.
We tend, whenever things go wrong (or even go right), to look into something outside ourselves as the cause ...and as the effect... So-and-so did such-and-such and now *I* am experiencing such-and-such a result which I either like or don't like... I am the victim of this, that and the next thing... One of the major "satoris" (if I may grace it with so elevated a name) in my brief life was suddenly actually hearing a verse of Dylan's song 'I Shall be Released' and understanding what it meant.
    now yonder stands a man in this lonely crowd
    a man who swears he's not to blame
    all day long i hear him shouting so loud
    crying out 'i was framed'

"That's RIGHT!" I shouted at myself. "That's WRONG!" - and I knew I had been doing that ever since I could remember. Been trying to stop ever since .-_-.
Because:

THIS:
*Our individual moments of compassion --
*that one moment when Sisyphus's boulder is still, just before it changes direction --
*that sympathy and seeing self in other that ultimately jacks up and allows the frenzy that lets the Ring take itself down Mt. Doom:
THAT is our own, our heart, our breath.
 *Yes. Nothing to do with ends-in-view...
Just do what you can (I had an amazing realisation the other day that Vera is one of the VERY few people I know who actually DOES *DO* what she can, rather than expostulate about it or cringe before it - explains why I love her so) 

In The Red Book, Jung's "guide for much of the time was the only-half imagined Philemon, the wise old man whose influence convinced Jung there are things in the psyche which I do not produce, but which produce themselves and have their own life."
*Hmmm.
I hae ma VERRRRY strrrenuous doots!... But if this meant in the same vein as the Keats quote, you mention ( "That which is creative creates itself."), then yes... Hand-knitted... The point being how you choose - what you choose for - your wool!