The genius of Tolkein was not simply that he told a ripping story but that he managed to tap into a rich vein of collective meaning for our time.
A divided, dangerous world in which Power has momentarily eclipsed Love….
Even our spiritual journey can wind up being about ‘gaining’, possessing, wanting the knowledge, rather than the humble journey to return that which is not ours to wield and to make our peace with mystery.
The inheritance of Western Civilisation is an anthology of inflation. We are collectively narcissistic. We crave power and wealth. More than that our society identifies with its God to such an extent that we can impose our freedom on others at the point of a gun without contradiction and subjugate them for their own good.
Doin’ them a favour, innit?
Well, they carn’t govern their frikkin selves, hey?
Moreover we oppress the inner voice of soul because it will not come to heel and refuses to be relegated to the status of an artifact.
And so our aloneness is complete.
The other is ‘nothing but’…
“All modern people feel alone in the world of the psyche because they assume that there is nothing there that they have not made up. This is the very best demonstration of our God-almighty-ness, which simply comes from the fact that we think we have invented everything – that nothing would be done if we did not do it; for that is our basic idea and it is an extraordinary assumption.” CG Jung.
I knew someone who had a terrible rash on her chest and neck that looked like a great burn mark. She scratched at the torment of it endlessly. By and by she spoke of a dragon she dreamt of over and again, some ‘part of her’ she had to ’embrace’. My comment was that trying to integrate a dragon that actually had its own life in the depth of her Psyche would likely result in all kinds of rashes and burns.
Her task was not to ‘integrate’ but to say hello from a safe distance.
The rash improved and she got more humble.
an’ had an inna other….
When a person imagines that the psyche is whatever they know of it and that the Unconscious is ‘nothing but’, then narcissistic strutting and all kinds of symptoms are not far away.
And for as long as the Ring is fought over, for as long as the Unconscious is something we just want to own like jewelery, then love and relatedness suffer. The artery through which love flows will be constricted and the streams of Psyche’s internal dialogue will become clogged.
Despite such cholesterol of the soul we think of ourselves as evolved….
….on the basis that evolution is somehow linear. And so..
we must be the finest and best.
Darwin and Freud had this in common, they both told Victorian society exactly what it wanted to hear. Not only are people not responsible for messing up their kids, our very existence/survival is proof positive of the right to dominate and exploit.
The price we pay for this delusion is a narrowing of our capacity for relatedness. Either I wear the ring and am narcissistically identified with ‘the power’ and thus pre-occupied and unavailable, or you wear the ring and I become your thrall, romantically enslaved to the other.
This bastardisation of the Principle of Relatedness is very different from the subtle nuances of human affection known, for example, to the ancient Greeks who differentiated almost as many different types of love as the Eskimos have words for snow. Ludus, philia, agape, eros, pragma, philautia…
In our time the predominant models of romantic love and narcissistic love seem to culminate in the culture of ‘Bling’, where persons are both idealised as demi gods and then worshipped from afar. They, ‘have it all’, whilst our preoccupation with what is essentially a projection leaves us depleted and feeling worthless by comparison.
Imagine the folk of ancient times trying to grasp our fascination with bards and mummers!
The Ring and its relationship with Mt Doom is a mystery. Returning it as bearer rather than as owner is a real piece of psychological maturity. Mainly, Western Civilisation has been about the revelation of mystery, uncovering it for all to see. The last book of the Bible even goes by that name as if to give additional emphasis to its contents. Its not enough to serve a higher principle. Above all we want to know and be shown.
We cannot know.
”Unpalatable as it may be… the idea of mystery forces itself on the mind of the enquirer, not as a cloak for ignorance, but as an admission of.. the inability to translate what s/he knows into the speech of the intellect” CG Jung.
But, we may press on to where Nature refuses to be surmounted by our own efforts.