Through a Jungian Lens

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Behind the Mirror

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I got this photo from the Forestry Farm in Saskatoon in early June of 2008.  The birds are free to leave, but somehow stay.  Interesting.  This particular bird seems to be focused on looking at its own reflection in the water.  Of course, this is all projection as birds are not humans and don’t have human hang-ups.  I took this photo just because the scene evokes a feeling of peace and beauty.

In another way, the photo makes me think of ego.  Superficially, we often think that looking at self and becoming focused on self is a negative trait.  Yet when one really thinks about it, the ego is all we really know.  Looking in the mirror isn’t necessarily an act of vanity, it may just as easily be an act of self criticism.  What one sees in the mirror isn’t always what is really being reflected by the mirror.  When we don’t see ourselves as is really being reflected, our sight is being affected by personal and collective unconscious factors.  More from Hollis on the theme:

“. . . life is enacted on three levels simultaneously:  consciousness, the personal unconscious and the archetypal or collective unconscious.  We vest much significance in our status as conscious beings, perhaps because consciousness is so hard won and because it constitutes the known.  But the ego, the center of consciousness, is a thin wafer floating on an immense ocean.  We all know this, intuitively and experientially, when we sleep or are stormed by uncontrollable complexes.  But we seldom give sufficient weight to what courses within, think, perhaps, that what we do not know will not hurt us.  This is worth repeating:  what we do not know, controls us.” (Hollis, Under Saturn’s Shadow, 1994, p. 29)

This is some heavy stuff.  What we don’t know, controls us.  It makes me think of the debate happening around issues of privacy in this age of Internet.  For example, the illusion we have that “only” friends, people we have authorised access, can see what we post on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter or other similar spaces.  Another example is this blog site.  Privacy is an illusion.  Cyberspace becomes more and more like the collective unconscious where the mass of humanity is floating beneath the surface.

What lies beneath the surface of this pond?  What lies beneath the surface of identity and perceptions we have of others and self?


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