Through a Jungian Lens

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Personal Mythology

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Magnolia in ChangZhou, March 2011

A Chinese magnolia tree in Sunshine Gardens is about to blossom.  This flower bud will become a large pink blossom.  All the white magnolia blossoms are already on display.  Spring in ChangZhou is all about colour and vitality.  Yes, the image chosen today is very evocative of the masculine, something that I didn’t notice when I was busy with the camera taking a raft of photos for a posting on my other blog site, the one which chronicles my life in China as a laowai (foreigner) teaching ESL, a posting about the flowers in the gated community in which I live.  However, once I went over the photos, the masculine aspect became evident.  Using a little editing, the colour and texture made that fact even more obvious.

One of my readers remarked to me once, “What is it with you and erection?” in response to yet another post and photo that highlights the masculine.  I guess the question was really more of a “What is your story that notes these images as you pass through life?”  Each of us has a story, or more correctly, stories that compose the foundation of our identity, of how we see ourselves and how we understand and decode the world.

Well, I’ve been thinking about how I would answer the question posed to me and realise that I have been answering the question about my stories with each of these posts.  The posts are more of a living story telling about my own psyche as if this space was no different from the container of an analyst’s office and that the stories told here are those I could have spoken to an analyst.  Each of the images I have brought here illustrate my personal myth.  I want to call on the words of James Hollis to somehow explain this idea of a personal myth.

“To ask, what is your story? is to be obliged to ask what are your stories, for we are no single narrative.  What is humbling is the acknowledgment through age, repetition and the growth of consciousness that we have less autonomy in the construction of our lives than we had fantasized.  In the end, the chief result of a long-term analysis is not a solution to our dilemma, for life is not a problem, but a progressive unfolding of mystery. The joyful discovery is that our lives become more interesting to us as we discern that we are part of a larger mystery.  This is a proper relocation of the ego from its imperial fantasy to its unique, personal place.  We become amazed witnesses of the great theater wherein we play our part, and are reminded of the progressive incarnation which occurs in even the most modest of moments.” (Hollis, Mythologems, p. 113)

So the answer I have found is that there is nothing “the matter” with me.  Rather, I am discovering, uncovering, my self in a way that is transparent and honest.  There is nothing to hide, nor any reason to hide that which I discover as bits of shadow enter into consciousness and cease being shadow.


10 Responses

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  1. Robert,
    I need you to stop mixing “apples with oranges!” LOL-at least IMHO. In another post here I posted a lengthy quote from Jung, regarding mistaken notions about archetypes; they are NOT determined by “contents,” but by “form.” Contents relate more to a complex. It is interesting, to me, at least, to see people go on and on about archetypes, when they are in fact, talking about complexes. The erroneous path that people go down when they mistake archetype with complex is that they then believe that analysis and understanding of the archetype is what is needed, What is needed is analysis and understanding of the complex. Archetypes are not the royal road to the unconscious, complexes are:

    “[A complex] is the image of a certain psychic situation which is strongly accentuated emotionally and is, moreover, incompatible with the habitual attitude of consciousness.[“A Review of the Complex Theory,” CW 8, par. 201.]

    The via regia to the unconscious . . . is not the dream, as [Freud] thought, but the complex, which is the architect of dreams and of symptoms. Nor is this via so very “royal,” either, since the way pointed out by the complex is more like a rough and uncommonly devious footpath.[ Ibid., par. 210.] Copied from the “Jung Lexicon.”

    Anthony Stevens, in “Archetype Revisited,” explains the process in a simple, straight-forward statement: “. . . Complexes are archetypes actualized in the mind.”(p. 74)

    The stories you write of, it seems to me, are much more indicative of your complexes. If you have never read it, Daniel Dennett(cognitive scientist and philosopher) provides an interesting view of our “stories” at: Though I enjoy his variation on this theme found in his “Consciousness Explained.”

    John Ferric

    March 27, 2011 at 11:32 pm

    • LOL! You are so right, I am mixing up the two words at times. Strange as I do know the differences between the two. Thank you for the link and for the lead to a new book that I haven’t read. Thanks, John.


      March 28, 2011 at 6:18 am

  2. The magnolia bud can easily be interpreted as a symbol of the masculine. But, what I also find interesting is that, as it opens, the feminine becomes more evident – one within the other, one replacing the other.

    Deborah Howard

    March 28, 2011 at 10:06 am

    • Both masculine and feminine with the ONE – I love this. 🙂


      March 29, 2011 at 9:25 pm

  3. Don’t let blog comments steer you away from what you want or need to do!

    Everyone needs to be in touch with the masculine as well as the feminine. Alas, many are not comfortable with masculinity/phallic energy.


    March 28, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    • LOL! MY attention deficit means that I can’t hold to any external motivations. I keep returning to my “self” as that is the path of least resistance, the only path to follow authentically.


      March 29, 2011 at 9:24 pm

  4. Robert, I thought of a friend of mine when I read in your blog that you have another blog site where you chronicle your life teaching ESL in China. This young man, who is earnest and kind, will be graduating from Penn State Univ this year and is serious about teaching ESL in China. I think that he would benefit from reading about your experiences. Would you provide me with the name of your blog so that I can pass it on to him? Additionally, would you have any advice for him? If you’d like to reply to me by email, please do: Thank you in advance for considering this request. Patricia


    March 29, 2011 at 1:31 am

    • Hi Patricia, the blog site is found at As for advice, just that he remains open to other ideas and leave ethnocentric beliefs at home and not bring them to China. I wish him good luck. Tell him to feel free to comment and ask questions at that blog site as they will be welcomed.


      March 29, 2011 at 9:21 pm

  5. Same as above, exactly what my first impressions were. Maculine unfolding to feminine.


    March 30, 2011 at 11:18 am

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