Enough Theory Already!!

I love Jungian/Archetypal psychology. Let me say that up front. HOWEVER, I am reminded of a comment made by a professor many years ago when I told her that I love metaphor. She said, "Love it, but don't get lost in it." Later I was briefly a part of a Friends of Jung group that would gather and have a speaker about Jungian theory. After a few meetings I started getting uncomfortable because I wanted to yell, "How does this relate to real life?" meaning, just because you can wrap a neat theory around something, doesn't actually change the situation. Not many months after this feeling, the group announced that it was disbanding. I was not surprised.

One criticism of Jungian theory is that it has become so esoteric we begin to sound like a secret cult with code words and secret handshakes, helping the well-to-do to be better-to-do. (They are the only ones who can afford such assisted individuation.) What benefit is there in amplifying a personal or communal tragedy to 15 mythic stories if there is no practical guidance suggested by these myths to help the individual or the community?

I invite analysts, social activists, shamans, etc. who currently use Jungian theory in ways that inform them in the cause of making the world a little better AND ask how they have gone about connecting the theory with real world need, actual usage of theory.  Either reactive or proactive examples would be welcome. Maybe even asking the community for input would be helpful as well.

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  • Well, Ed and Dimitri, here is what Curtis White has to say about the Beast in the Barbaric Heart, Pgs 4/15-

    "There are two things that the Barbaric Heart doesn't get. Fist it doesn't get the value of self-reflection. It doesn't look at itself. It doesn't wonder what it is about. .... [more here]

    Second, the BH doesn't understand, except at the very last moment of anguished recognition, how suicidal its activities are. Edward Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire is full of descriptions of the awful moment of animal awareness when the barbaric realizes it has gone, once again, too far and bought about its own destruction.
    The Barbaric Heart is a pure emptiness, an emptiness that doesn't know itself as empty. It is an emptiness that has turned upon itself. It is a moral black hole. It is a mouth that chews. It eats what come before it. It is a self-destroying hunger. It is a permanent state of war against all others but also, most profoundly, against itself. One part violence, one part plunder, and eventual anguish and regret.

    And on another site, here is a comment of his that also sheds light on the Beast:

    "What environmentalism ought to be developing is a common language of care based not on data and assumptions about the desirability of sustainable economic self-interest but on the best thinking of religion, philosophy and the arts. Even science has a role to play here for the sheer astonishment its discoveries can provide about the history of the earth, the complexity of life, and the gorgeous vastness of the cosmos. Environmentalism’s current emphasis on green economies and sustainability (so skillfully corrupted and made hypocritical by corporations) remains committed to the idea of humans as homo economicus. We ought to be asking the movement to become homo humanus. Humans as the spiritual animal."
    • Wow, thanks for the summary.
      The BH sounds like any system that lacks the humility of self-reflection. I guess we are seeing the BH of corporate short-sightedness in BP. Not like this BH hasn't appeared before now. I'm still waiting for the anguish and regret from BP, but until their money runs out, I'm not expecting it. Sounds like the need to face the dragon Dimitri wrote about.
      The critique of current environmentalist' language is interesting. If you use the language of one position to support another, you might find yourself also drastically limited to the point that you lose the soul of your own argument. Sadly, incorporated religions have lost the numinous corpus and shamanistic understandings are relegated to the primitive (as if that is a bad thing) or, even worse, the entertaining unusual. My bet is with the arts. Philosophy still has trouble reaching people-of-the-prime-time.
      • Yeah, I like the arts that convey the wonder of our world.... in all dimensions!
        • Where is street theatre? I'm surprised some group has not poured oil all over the sidewalk aroung BP's office buildings. Maybe someone has and I haven't heard of it, or any news about protests outside BP offices. Curious. (?)
  • So very heartbreaking.
    Yes, the videos are really a powerful good look at what it going on in the Gulf gash - For many days after the initial news of this 'spill', I could not watch any news about it.
    I grew up in Texas and LA playing on the coasts and rivers. Even back then i would step on 'tar balls' - some natural, mostly not.
    I also love the dolphins and whales -
  • Just watched the two videos and had a visceral wish to cleanse myself after watching and listening. The diving sequence was especially troubling. Thanks for this addition to the discussion. The relationship of storm cloud imagery to the clouds of oil and dispersant droplets was quite powerful. My beloved dolphins in that mess is heart breaking.
  • Excellent point, Ed. I so agree that the 'darkness' must be included, it is in us all, part of psyche and our physicality as well. The Beast lives within me for sure. I will see if I can't sum up Curtis White's idea later on, but for now, have a look at this.
    Phillippe Cousteau To Bill Maher: Even Before Oil Spill, The Oceans Couldn't Take Any More (VIDEO)
  • Good, another book to buy. How did he describe "the Beast?"

    While reading Julie Ann's entry about the oceans (a personal concern of mine as well - my spirit animal is the dolphin) I thought of how those who work in the conscious world (land) will attempt to manipulate the unconscious world (oceans) for our own benefit. We pull up in ourselves or in others what knowledge we desire and then quickly shut off the connection once the conscious needs are met without fully considering any possible ramifications that will not be to our liking. I think especially of some New Age practitioners who really do not know what they are dealing with in that they are so focused on the light side of life, they do not see the compensatory darkness that they are also inviting to the table.
  • Maybe theory meets the road poetically as our angle of interest in approaching the world?
    One of my interests is in human-generated ocean noise (pollution) in the form of sound waves underwater and how they impact life in the seas, the living water from whence we came.
    There are now a few non-profits involved in the public awareness campaign as most of us rarely consider what it is like to live under the surface of the ocean as fish and cetaceans whose eardrums and swim bladders explode with the mid frequency sonar of navy boats and the oil drilling platforms with underwater extractors and shipping lanes full of engine noise prevent them from hearing where other whales, fish, prey and predators are... they also cannot navigate home in the long sea crossings when the sound waves disrupt their underwater songs.
    Even ocean-floor mapping with seismic airgun pings destroys the fragile sponges that grow deep on the seabed. We are rending the fabric of life in more ways than one. A depth perspective can be useful in imaging what life in other realms may need to live - then the scientific inquiry and observation can follow.
    But really, after all the news this morning from the non-profs I get, I ended up donating to The Center for Biological Diversity to support their efforts, usually through litigation, like this:
    "Today the Center for Biological Diversity filed suit against Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and the Minerals Management Service to strike down the agency's exemption of 49 Gulf of Mexico offshore drilling projects from all environmental review. Just like BP's Deepwater Horizon drilling plan, all 49 plans in the suit state that no environmental review is necessary because there's essentially no chance of a large oil spill -- and if a spill were to occur, it would be quickly cleaned up with no lasting damage. The plans involve drilling off the coasts of Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, which provide habitat for many imperiled species, including Kemp's ridley and leatherback sea turtles, sperm whales, piping plovers, and bluefin tuna. And they're the very same areas now being devastated by the BP spill. "

    And also I am doing this - praxis of a sort, from the Center: "We need to stop all new offshore oil drilling, not just delay it. Please take two minutes right now and call the White House to say that a six-month pause on offshore oil drilling isn't enough: We need to permanently ban new offshore drilling. Here's the number: 202-456-1111."

    So my interest in the depths of our world, the health of the oceans, and our psyche, which to me are not separate, lead me to also take some kind of action. Because the suffering is going so far, it also leads me to try to lend support in other ways, as requested by Michael Stocker of Ocean conservation Reseach in his report from Washington DC:
    "Some of the fish network members are from the gulf. “Shock” doesn’t even begin to describe their state. Please keep these men and women, their kids and communities, in your prayers."

    Perhaps the Depth praxis can help us communicate with "the Beast"?
    The Beast, to me, is the essence of The Barbaric Heart - eloquently put forth by Curtis White in his recent book: The Barbaric Heart: Faith, Money, and the Crisis of Nature.
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