Through a Jungian Lens

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Modern Man is Destined to Become a Disappointment

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This is my brother-in-law.  He is a good man, a very good man.  Somehow, he is now for the most part, alone.  He suffers from a work-related condition not unlike Alzheimer’s.  His children have long left home to build their own homes while he remains in a small rural farming town in which he was born and where he spent most of his working life, where he raised his family, where he had his dreams.  He was a man more connected to his roots than I am.  He didn’t challenge the status quo and was loved in his community.  Strange how I use the “past tense” in talking about him, but the truth is that his condition has changed everything.  And for the most part, he isn’t even aware of any of this.  Whatever gains in consciousness he had mastered have slipped back into the shadows.

I have to admit that I worry about losing the small gains that I have made.  I worry that I will “settle” for less and be left with nothing.  I don’t want fame, but I do want to make a difference in the world that my children and grandchildren will have as an inheritance.  But at what cost?  In achieving this goal will I have lost the threads that have connected us?  Does this journey demand even this from me?  But if I turn back and say no more, will this failure to follow up on what calls me result in my becoming a wasted and depressed man that no one wants to be near?  So many questions, so many doubts.

It is true that modern man is a culmination, but tomorrow he will be surpassed.  He is indeed the product of an age-old development, but he is at the same theme the worst conceivable disappointment of the hopes of mankind.  The modern man is conscious of this.. He has likewise seen how all well-meaning governments have so throughly paved the way for peace on the principle “in time of peace prepare for war” . . . [snip] . . . And as for ideals, neither the Christian Church, nor the brotherhood of man, nor international social democracy, nor the solidarity of economic interests has stood up to the acid test of reality.”  (Jung, The Spiritual Problem of Modern Man, Modern Man in Search of Soul, 1933)

The idea of modern man being surpassed is a good thing.  I don’t believe a man could be considered modern if he was preoccupied with being remembered as the greatest, the wisest, or whatever.   But to think that the modern man would be that instrumental on the world stage would suggest that no ordinary mortal could ever become a modern man.  Yes, the modern man would be a disappointment to those who knew him for his very existence mocks all that they cling to as beliefs.  A wife would believe, rightly, that she was abandoned for some crazy idea.  A community would believe that he had wasted his talents which could have been put to better use in the community.

The church in Krasne, a Ukrainian church south of Wynyard is where the photo above was taken.  For my brother-in-law, this place of his childhood, though mostly abandoned, provides a place of peace.  It is interesting to me that stripped of power, what remains likely holds a truer face of spiritualism.  The promise of the church wasn’t really delivered until the conditions holding the church eroded enough to allow the promise to be set free.

I have to admit that as I look out onto the world and see the economic terrorism being practised by the first world countries on the rest of the world; and as I see social democracies shift increasingly to the right taking on a hard and angry face against those who would dare to believe in a concept of sharing; and as I see armies grow stronger and deadlier weapons being created; and as I watch nature being tortured by those who are intent on wresting another dollar from the earth regardless of the effect on the planet, as I see religious strife, especially between Christian and Muslem – I have to admit that I feel that we humans are on our way to the next global disaster that will feature warfare on the grandest scale yet.

Have we not learned anything as a collective?  No wonder modern man can only end up disappointed after giving so much.


4 Responses

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  1. My Mother is 91, and has only recently been placed in a rehab/care facility. She suffers from some sort of dementia, and seems to be unaware that she is dying. She is angered by the circumstances that she is in and we see that anger as her refusal to go gently into that goodnight and encourage her in that pursuit.

    Years ago, I took a volunteer course in being a hospice care-giver. In it, we were shown a video of a young woman, also a song-writer and musician, who was dying of cancer. She had written a song about her present circumstances and it haunted the video and my own person in particular.

    Although, due to circumstances, I never did do the hospice care-giving, I never forgot the message of her song: “Help me to learn how to do this dying, and I will teach you how to live.” (my paraphrase, sorry).

    Inevitably, Modern Man must become extinct, even as he emerges. We singally must strive to emerge, to give birth to that which must then define us as extinct. You honor your brother-in-law even as he disappears into the shadows. I can only desire that I will have helped someone else to learn a bit about living, so that they will do the same for me.



    March 26, 2010 at 9:29 am

  2. Thank you, for the site addy. I went to it immediately. Whew! You are so right, right, right! I am a published poet, used to moderate the longest established poetry group in the region. She is reading yes, but damn she is singing a song we all might want to take the time to hear. Thanks again, I needed that renewal this morning.



    March 26, 2010 at 10:39 am

  3. I ask myself these same questions.

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