Through a Jungian Lens

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Modern Man Going Against the Grain of a Modern World

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When out with the camera I sometimes get lucky.  For example, I was out to a site where I was helping with some shovelling work preparing some ground for a cement pad.  Across the way was a squatter’s home with bit of a yard surrounded by barbed wire in which a little boy was playing.  Soon afterwards his sister came out to run around with him.  Neither of them wore clothing.  There was no shame, there was simply two children with only the intent of enjoying the moment.

It makes for good photography but one has to take care not to intrude or to present such innocence in a manner that would be taken as an improper and immoral act.

It was with this eye to being careful that I made sure that “sexual” overtones were excluded.  And so what is left is thus closer to perhaps and original Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.  Only in this case, Eve would be the older of the two.  I know, this goes against the grain of everything we hold as sacred in the Christian world.  But, perhaps this is necessary.  Perhaps it is time to challenge the status quo and to point to something deeper and fuller, something more inclusive and balanced for all of humanity.

“And now we must ask a final question.  Is what I have said of modern man really true, or is it perhaps an illusion?  There can be no doubt whatever that to millions of Westerners the facts I have adduced are wholly irrelevant and fortuitous, and regrettable aberrations to a large number of educated persons.  But – did a cultivated Roman think any differently when he saw Christianity spreading among the lower classes?  Today the God of the West is still a living person for vast numbers of people, just as Allah is beyond the Mediterranean, and the one believer holds the other as an inferior heretic, to be pitied and tolerated failing all else.  To make matters worse, the enlightened European is of the opinion that religion and such things are good enough for the masses and for women, but of little consequence compared with immediate economic and political questions.” (Jung, The Spiritual Problem of Modern Man, Modern Man in Search of Soul, 1933)

It has been seventy-seven years since Jung published this essay.  Yet in all of that time, the picture he has presented here has not changed very much.  The Christian God is still in charge in the bastion of the Western world; and, Allah is still invoked in the Middle East in living prayers.  If anything, today the fundamentalists on both sides are at worse odds with each other with the Jewish fact of Israel tucked in between them.  The “European” attitude, is now the cultured western-world attitude that stands outside of national politics in favour of fat bank accounts to allow them cultured lives of conspicuous consumption.

And modern man?  Is there such a thing as modern man as envisioned by C.G. Jung?  Is perhaps the hope and wish of those who find an attraction to Jung’s version of psychology simply a way to rationalize their own situation of being out of sync with the world?  I know that for myself, it isn’t -as far as I can understand it- a way to explain my own strangeness in this world, my dis-ease with the world.  For myself, the words of Jung have resonated with some deep interior aspect of self that is not yet fully conscious within my psyche.  Because of that resonance, I accept the validity of these words and see that I do have a part, albeit a small one, to play in this ongoing story of humanity.

And because of all of this, I can forgive myself for following a different drummer, going against the grain of this modern world.

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