Through a Jungian Lens

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Filling The Spaces For Others With Self

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This photo was taken in a village about an hour out of HaNoi, Vietnam.  On just about every lane and street in the village, racks of paper-thin rice sheets were drying.  Even the temples were being used for their surfaces as an aid to get the “rice paper” dried.  But, of course, the reason for including this photograph here is not for the purpose of telling you about the village, but about relationship and connection.  The playfulness of these children and their curiosity about the foreigner taking the photos, friendships as men walk down the road – these are also pictures of relationship.

As I teach here in China, though I am isolated from most communication by very poor Chinese language skills, it is easy to see that people here are as much into the pursuit of relationships as people in the western world.  What is very interesting how this quest for relationship in built into almost every corner of one’s psyche.  Even a withdrawal into a space away from people contact is about relationship, trying to make a different relationship happen.  But the most overt instances I see here in China occurs on the campus where I teach and on the streets near the campus as well as in the upscale shopping areas where the young people congregate to window shop, be seen, see others and fantasize.  It is spring in ChangZhou and the hormones are flowing.  Eros is alive and well.

“. . . eros is the desire for connection. Surely sexuality may be subsumed under that motive, but eros is richly differentiated and may be found in many venues. … Eros is always present, at least implicitly, when connection is sought . . .  music is erotic; prayer is erotic; violence is erotic; language is erotic . . . the permutations are infinite . . .

Eros is dynamic and shape-shifting.  As energy, it is always going somewhere, seeking to connect, to fill in, to transcend.  Just as Nature, we are told, abhors a vacuum, so our psyche is terrified by emptiness.  Seeking to fill that emptiness, we all too often fill it with ourselves.  Wheresoever space opens, into that hole flies projection.” (Hollis, The Eden Project, p. 34)

I think this is an easier way to understand how even withdrawing away from an “other” is not really drawing away from connection, away from “eros.”  We fill the space designated for “other” with “self.”  And when this is done without consciousness, one is caught in an erotic narcissism.  But when filling the empty space with “Self,” and consciousness expansion that in turns is inclusive of all others, then connection becomes whole or holy, a connection filled with love that is filled with eros as though one has engaged in the holiest of marriages.

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Written by Robert G. Longpré

May 18, 2011 at 6:50 pm

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