Through a Jungian Lens

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Reality Replaced By Words

with 2 comments

This is one of the scenes I met with yesterday at WuZhen in ZheJiang province which is just south of JiangSu province where I live in China.  Taking photos of water and boats is something I am drawn towards, something that isn’t necessarily planned consciously.  And as usual, there is nothing about these kind of photographs that are about recording an event such as the event of yesterday which involved five foreign teachers being shown an ancient water city.  Of course, I did take event photos as well as the photos that were simply moments of communion with unconsciousness, the collective unconscious as well as my personal unconscious.

I use Twitter and Facebook, two forms of social media, in order to connect with a larger world as well as reading a number of online newspapers.  The words are sometimes overwhelming and confusing.  It is easy to get lost in the words, in the constant flow of data that by its expression assumes a legitimacy.  Yet I find the truths that run rampant do not fit together well, more often than not, they contradict each other.  Images, words, sources, voices – – – all proclaim their truths.  How can they all be truths?  Wading through the flood of words, I hear voices that proclaim themselves to be masters, gurus, and leaders.  I also here voices in panic as they echo the voices of the experts whom they come to trust.  “God is punishing Japan!” is a chant taken up by many fundamentalist Christians talking to other fundamentalist Christians.  “The world is coming to an end!” proclaims another group who study the stars and planets.  I just shrug my shoulders and shake my head at these pronouncements and move on to search for something more rational to read.  Yet, the echoes of these leaders found in others almost desperate to find something to hold onto is troubling.  Words are powerful.

And so again, I look for other words to find something that resonates, something that will bring balance back for me.  And, I find words from C.G. Jung, words spoken in 1959:

“. . . the danger that faces us today is that the whole of reality will be replaced by words.  This accounts for the terrible lack of instinct in modern man, particularly the city-dweller.  He lacks all contact with the life and breath of nature.  He knows a rabbit or a cow only from the illustrated paper, the dictionary or the movies, and thinks he knows what it is really like – and is then amazed that cowsheds “smell,” . . . (Jung, CW 10, par. 882)

Words and voices and images that are not experienced in context are dangerous.  I think of what is occurring in Libya knowing that there is a rebellion, even a revolution that has now engaged many nations.  The planes, the bombs, the fear are real.  Death is real.  I felt the anger of the world on Twitter, an anger that is polarized with no one sitting in the middle.  No one knows where the middle is anymore, a middle ground for the psyche and spirit of a people connected by culture, language and history.  Outsiders rant, take sides, supply military weapons to the side of their choice and the encourage their team to kick ass.

All of the noise lets me know that consciousness is missing, that darkness assaults darkness breeding even more darkness.  And we look at each other with the belief that we are more conscious than ever because of media, because of words.  Personally, I need to be immersed into nature, into the numinous where babble is silent.  I sense that it is only there that I can find a reality that isn’t so easily contained and explained, a fuller reality/

 

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Written by Robert G. Longpré

March 20, 2011 at 2:32 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Robert,
    I am wondering if you are, perhaps, “channeling” Bonhoeffer? Sorry for the length of this quote, but it seems to me offer support for what you write in this post.

    “Folly is a more dangerous enemy to the good than evil. One can protest against evil; it can be unmasked and, if need be, prevented by force. Evil always carries the seeds of its own destruction, as it makes people, at the least, uncomfortable. Against folly we have no defense. Neither protests nor force can touch it; reasoning is of no use; facts that contradict personal prejudices can simply be disbelieved – – indeed, the fool can counter them by criticizing them, and if they are undeniable, they can be pushed aside as trivial exceptions. So the fool, as distinct from the scoundrel, is completely self-satisfied; in fact, he can easily become dangerous, as it does not take much to make him aggressive. A fool must therefore be treated more cautiously than a scoundrel; we shall never again try to convince a fool by reason, for it is both useless and dangerous.

    If we are to deal adequately with folly, we must try to understand its nature. This much is certain, that it is a moral rather than an intellectual defect. There are people who are mentally agile but foolish, and people who are mentally slow but very far from foolish – – a discovery that we make to our surprise as a result of particular situations. We thus get the impression that folly is likely to be, not a congenital defect, but one acquired in certain circumstances where people make fools of themselves or allow others to make fools of them. We notice further that this defect is less common in the unsociable and solitary than in individuals or groups that are inclined or condemned to sociability. It seems, then, that folly is a sociological rather than psychological problem, and that it is a special form of the operation of historical circumstances on people, a psychological by-product of definite external factors. If we look more closely, we see that any violent display of power, whether political or religious, produces an outburst of folly in a large part of mankind; indeed, this seems actually to be a psychological and sociological law; the power of some needs the folly of the others. It is not that certain human capacities, intellectual capacities for instance, become stunted or destroyed, but rather that the upsurge of power makes such an overwhelming impression that men are deprived of their independent judgment, and – -more or less unconsciously – – give up trying to assess the new state of affairs for themselves. The fact that the fool is often stubborn must not mislead us into thinking that he is independent. One feels in fact, when talking to him, that one is dealing with, not the man himself, but with slogans, catchwords, and the like which have taken hold of him. He is under a spell, he is blinded, his very nature is being misused and exploited. Having thus become a passive instrument, the fool will be capable of any evil and at the same time incapable of seeing that it is evil. Here lies the danger of a diabolical exploitation that can do irreparable damage to human beings.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison pp. 7ff.

    John Ferric

    March 21, 2011 at 12:23 am

    • Hi John, thanks for the quotation from Bronhoffer. Who know? Perhaps I am unconsciously channeling all sorts of people – you know, being connected unconsciously with the collective unconscious and all.

      rgl

      March 21, 2011 at 12:45 pm


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