Notes from Beachy Head.

If you believed the story about Lemmings throwing themselves from cliffs, as I did, for decades, what else are you so sure of that just ain’t so?

Turns out it was a lie. Lemmings do not throw themselves from clifftops. Apparently the whole thing was invented by Walt Disney who wanted to sex up a documentary he made in 1958 called, ‘White Wilderness.” According to Canadian Wildlife and Fisheries the sets were fake, the Lemmings had to be bussed in from Manitoba where they were herded about and finally thrown, manually, into the sea. All in aid of Walt’s ‘True life adventure’ series…..

”The lemmings supposedly committing mass suicide by leaping into the ocean were actually thrown off a cliff by the Disney filmmakers.” R. Woodford.

Meantime the narrator Winston Hibbler trills,

“A kind of compulsion seizes each tiny rodent and, carried along by an unreasoning hysteria, each falls into step for a march that will take them to a strange destiny.”

The lie is as obsessively strange as the story.

http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=wildlifenews.view_article&articles_id=56

The fantasy is more curious and interesting than the motive for deception.

Perhaps it says more about Disney and the culture he was helping to mould than he might have wished. It is the disney generation, after all, that have a taste for marching off cliffs like never before, not the sensible and much maligned Lemming.

Beachy Head is a favourite clifftop for Britons to kill themselves. It even has a beer named after it, ‘Beachy Head’s Christmas Jumper, critisised by families of the deceased as ‘insensitive’. The clifftop is patrolled by chaplains who are about to be de-funded despite awards from the Queen. A gift shop in town sells sombre writing pads of just a few leaves and disposable pens with black ink.

No, that last bits not true, about the shop.

After several tours of combat duty what began to weigh upon me most heavily was not the horror of war, nor what I had done, or seen, or had levelled at me. It was how easy it had been to persuade me to march from the cliff top even without any great desperation to die or madly scribble goodbyes.

Do we have a ‘death instinct’ as a species, or is there something peculiar about a culture that immolates itself on a steady basis? Recently released statistics of US service suicides show that troops are actually killing themselves at a higher rate than are killed by Isis, though the figures seem to be consistent with a shocking three-fold increase in US civilian suicides since 2000.

What is going on?

You might be tempted, along with Walt’s phoney commentator, to postulate that sudden increases in suicides were about overpopulation or some dire tragedy unfolding so desperate we’d die to avoid it, but the evidence points to the contrary. Countries with the lowest GPU and the toughest lives are also the least at risk from suicide. Psychoanalyst and Auchwitz survivor Bruno Bettleheim made the observation of physical and mental extremis that …

‘Despite the inhuman deprivation in the camps there was scarcely ever a suicide.’ B. Bettleheim.

Others are of the opinion that suicide is an act of revenge.

”It is always consoling to think of suicide. In that way one gets through many a bad night.” F. Nietzsche.

though in all fairness Fredrick, a dose of tertiary syphilis combined with the terminal mercury poisoning used to treat the 19th C pecker would wear down anyone’s will to live.

There is a fantastic movie called, ‘Drowning by Numbers,’ a macabre look at the vast grey area between murdering yourself and murdering others. It puts an astute line into the mouth of Smut, an adolescent boy in a family of killers and sycophants who finally hangs himself with a skipping rope,

”to punish all those who have caused great unhappiness by their selfish actions.” Smut

all of which would seem to bear out the anonymous saying..

‘when you commit suicide you are killing the wrong person.’

‘Retroflected’ rage is rage turned back upon oneself, but with the intent to castigate those left behind. I’ve known several people to be saved from suicide by realising how much they wanted to (justifiably) kill their nearest and dearest.

The wish to kill oneself is what Marion Woodman would call, ‘concretisation’, doing on the outside what needs to happen on the inside, doing in the flesh what needs to happen in the psyche, making a symbolic equation between matter and identity. We mistake the pointing finger for the moon and believe it is ourselves that have to die rather than our situation, our self-construct, or a belief system that no longer serves.

”Without dying to the world of the old order, there is no place for renewal, because it is illusory to hope that growth is but an additive process requiring neither sacrifice nor death. The soul favors the death experience to usher in change. Veiwed this way, the suicidal impulse is a transformative drive..”            James Hillman.

There’s an old buddhist saying,..

”if you are going to kill yourself be careful not to harm your body.” anon.

The dying has to happen, by itself, from within. This is trixy for anyone with humungous control issues. In fact, you could say that suicide was a way of trying to cheat death itself by taking on the job ahead of time, when what life you have, when death itself, cannot be something to look forward to as meaningful experience. Suicide is a logical choice of any life lived purely for its own ends and for whom there is no mystery.

On page one of a Google search on the subject you will find www.findangel.org/‎ whose banner runs..

‘Do not try to predict the future,’

It’s an insightful warning to those in their legion whose narcissistic control issues are so enfragiled that they have to know what’s happening next all the time, even to the point of orchestrating their own demise.

‘Live as though you had centuries, then you live hopefully.’ C. G.Jung

We all intuit that there is more to this life than meets the eye, some mystery that the mind cannot fathom, some sense of self that lies outside time and space, unconstrained by the clay of mortal frailty. We have a longing to be aquainted with this realm and can be tempted to hurry the process for want of being fed in ‘this’ world,  forgetting that anything existing outside time and space is, by definition, already here….

The longing to escape is the longing to find meaning irrespective of one’s circumstance and station, meaning which the ego realises it cannot provide for itself, in which it is defeated, but of which it can avail itself by turning, finally, to its own deep roots.

You are the tree not the leaf.

There is an apocryphal story of a Rabbi and his group picked out for torture before death in the Nazi camps. They finally had to dig the pit of their own mass grave. They were stripped and thrown in. Soldiers stepped forward cocking automatic Shmeisers.

‘Well’, said the captain, what have you to say now Rabbi?

The Rabbi replied, ‘ We have one another down here, I am in the bossom of my People and already in the arms of Eternal Life. What about you?’

this article is adapted from my book on self-destructiveness, ‘Going Mad to Stay Sane.’ http://andywhiteblog.com/2016/06/11/going-mad-to-stay-sane-2/

 

The boy who wanted to know Fear.

Some post-doctoral research has recently been done titled, ‘Reconditioning the brain to Overcome Fear.   ”http://scitechconnect.elsevier.com/reconditioning-the-brain-to-overcome-fear/

How scary is that? I don’t fancy being reconditioned. I like me the way I am, warts and all , some of which has been shot at, stabbed and incarcerated. What I really hate is folk trying to get into my soft mushy parts with the AI equivalent of a monkey wrench.

We seem to have forgotten what fear is for.

A story that exemplifies this is, ‘The boy who wanted to know Fear’, or, ‘The boy who wanted to Shudder”.

A man had two sons. The eldest was smart. The youngest was supposedly stupid and made to feel the more so when he expressed as his deepest wish to learn how to shudder. His father and elder brother mock him and turn him out to seek his ‘foolish’ quest.

He spends a night beneath hanged men whom he tries to warm by his fire. He kicks the local sexton down the stairs who’d dressed up as a ghost in the attempt to frighten him. He plays with and kills ghostly cats and dogs that attack him. He plays skittles with skulls and ninepin bones. Corpses revive and try to choke him… Nothing works.

Finally he marries the king’s daughter because of all this ‘courage’. She, on the advice of her chambermaid, fetches a cold bucket of water from the stream full of tiny wriggling minnows and soaks him while he sleeps. At last he learns how to shudder.

The story suggests that there is something about fear that is necessary to human development, that to know fear is a kind of quest.

”Whoever has learned to be anxious in the right way has learned the ultimate.” Kierkegaard.

The obvious bit is that fear warns us of danger. It flags up our fight or flight response. It reprioritises. And if its spiders that scare its  because we’ve already ‘reconditioned’ ourselves not to be afraid of some legitimate childhood horror and  have had to crush authentic being for the sake of going-on-being, an effective strategy that manages to project and concretise undigestible experience.

Our story says that there is something essential about fear, and not just of circumstantial things, but also of objectless…

”…anxiety from below, calling out to each one of us concerning our very being. Learning to be anxious in the right way will involve coming into dialogue with this messenger.” A.S. Soderquist.

The process of growing up means an encounter with the Other, with Not-me. Both the Not-Me out there in the world and the Not-Me in ‘here’, that wells up from beneath, that informs while we sleep, that leaves its trail all through your backyard.

”He who seeks, let him not cease seeking until he finds; and when he finds he will be troubled.” Gnostic gospel of Thomas.

The plague of psychological enquiry is its insistence on trying to understand. Jung himself confessed to..

”..wanting to understand above all else.”

which, given the vastness of the Unconscious, is a bit like being captured by a fascination for cream crackers at a gourmet dinner. All in lieu of the spine tingling realisation that what you are looking for is also looking for you… and won’t be understood precisely because it transcends comprehension.

”It is the duty of the human understanding to understand that there are things which it cannot understand.” S. Kirkeggard.

Which is why characters from the bible are always in mighty dread of one form or another and Arjuna from the Bhagavad Gita begs Vishnu to hide his true face.

”When I see you touching the sky, blazing with many colours, with large fiery eyes, my heart trembles in fear and I can find neither courage nor peace. Be gracious, O Abode of the Universe.”

In the Grail legend we find Lancelot attracted to a room in the castle from which emanates a bright glow. He sees the holy vessel on a silver table, approaches too close and is scalded by a hot wind that stikes him deaf, blind and paralysed for twenty four hours.

So there is something intrinsically scary, something awe-ful, about encounter with Not-Me, and not simply because its bigger than us but because we are changed in the process.

”The hallmark of the transpersonal is that it acts upon us.” S. B-Perrera.

Our hero is not initiated into trepidation by his father, who both fails and rejects him. The contempt of this father is thinly based hostility at the boy wanting his own destiny. Its also the inheritance of a social model based on kingship where father/son relations are mared by power struggles you don’t find in societies that have chiefs.

In modern times we may not resort to the excesses of Edward the third who stuck a red hot poker up his dad’s bum, or even an Abraham willing to slit his son’s throat cos god told him to, but we have ‘lost’ the initiation of sons by their fathers which might better manage life’s fears and prevent us from approaching fear as if it were synonymous with illness.

I went to see my analyst once, shoulders hunched and all sorry for myself, ”I feel so disillusioned, ” I proclaimed. He hesitated a bit and then said, ‘..but that’s a good thing.”

Learning the meaning of fear is essential to resolving any narcissistic adaptation. Fortunately for our hero he realises this and goes looking in the world for what his father cannot provide.

The DSM specifically mentions this curious absence of fear in the Narcissistic personality. The reason is that the Narcissist hasn’t yet had the initiatory encounter with Otherness. Everything is an extension of his world. So there is no loss, abandonent or death. He has yet to experience what Fordham calls ‘de-integration’, the structural unbundling of the Self that is encounter with any altering Other. Jung was fond of saying that good therapy is when the analyst is changed as well….

Our hero does not learn how to shudder from his own efforts. He’s even asleep at the time. But his longing to discover the secret brings him into relatedness with his wife and the ‘Nursemaid’ who sees what is needed and kindly rains on his parade. This sudden awakening is rude and unexpected. It can’t be otherwise since what’s at stake is a paradigm shift in consciousness from self-as-centre to being one-amongst-many, the psychological equivalent of Galileo’s shock that the earth revolves around the sun and not the other way around.

Such realisations are bound to be resisted even while we do our best to enquire into them because of the ground breaking consequences to our perception of reality that is involved. So if you feel stuck you might cut yourself a little slack. Growing is a scary business.

And anyway what could two PhD’s in Engineering and Telecommunications do with research that suppressed fear? I mean, other than weaponise it….

How scary…

 

 

 

Narcissism, Compulsion and the Soul.

There were once two psychiatrists. The one invites the other for dinner. The guest arrives, asks to use the bathroom and disappears for an hour. Eventually he emerges with a knowing look.

”You have a serious obsessive compulsion,’ he says to his collegue, ”there are 542 bars of soap in your bathroom. I know, I counted every last one.”

Of course psychological conditions are bound to overlap but Narcissism and OCD seem to have a special relationship.

Why?

I was watching a Ted Talk, Elizabeth Gilbert, author of ‘ Eat, Pray, Love’. She made the point that people who became very successful had a tendency to go mad and top themselves because they confuse themselves with the ‘Genius Loci’ who served as their muse.

The solution, she said, is to remember that ‘genius’, is its own thing. Not-me.

Very Interesting, but what is your point?

The psychological rule says that when an inner situation is not made conscious, it happens outside, as fate. That is to say, when the individual remains undivided and does not become conscious of his inner opposite, the world must perforce act out the conflict and be torn into opposing halves. ~Carl Jung.

Narcissism notoriously lives out only one corner of (an idealised) life. Both the dark Brother, the less than salubrious aspects of himself, and the unlived potential, The Self, have to be projected…

and then come banging at the castle gates again and again.

And because the contents projected are always the same…

the banging is also the same…

and so interpersonal scenarios are endlessly repeated..

as are ritualised patterns of behaviour behind closed doors.

We live in a time of relative spiritual malaise. We also live in a time of marked obsessiveness and compulsive behaviour.

Could there be a connection?

Its curious that the definition and symptoms listed by DSM5 for a diagnosis of OCD (which includes praying!) sound distinctly like the ritual contents of religious ceremony. These include,

”repetitive behaviours, according to rules that must be rigidly applied.”DSM5

like a church service….

Precisely. Sacramental acts are also, ‘aimed at preventing or reducing distress or preventing some dread event.’

What’s the connection with Narcissism?

Waaal, Narcissism is particularily prone to OCD not just because the dark brother is eternally projected, but because the ego is identified with the Self. This means that there is no real spiritual life.

I don’t get it.

Spiritual life necessitates a relationship with God..

yeees…

but if you are identified with God then there is no relationship. Instead of having a religion, the religion has you…

By the scruff…

And marches its children off to war….

or down to the supermarket for a dozen bottles of bleach and a pack of toothbrushes so you can purify the pelmets of your appartment at 4 in the morning…

or out in the rain to buy cigarretes while every bone in your body is screaming, ‘DON’T DO IT!!’.

or muttering shameful babble to appease the fates whilst not realising that the person next to you on the bus is lookin’ at you strangely…

or washing endlessly in lieu of a genuine cleansing.

”It is not a matter of indifference if one calls something a ‘mania’ or a ‘god’. To serve a mania is detestable and undignified. But to serve a god is full of meaning and promise.” CG Jung

Narcissism won’t share, has no story, nothing to be a part off…

because there is no relatedness or participation in that which transcends it.

And for the want of partness in the greater whole we have compulsive patterning instead.

Like a stuck gramaphone record doing the same thing over and over. Round and round. Instead of meaningful sacrament we have chaotic excrement.

Instead of being drawn we are driven.

The fantasy that we are the captains of our own ships beckons the raven’s claw.

”Whoever sets himself up as judge of truth and knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the Gods.” A Einstein.

For want of having a story to belong in we are caught eternally on the same page.

And more than that, for want of the Principle of Relatedness that gifts us with both belonging and the internal flexibility of a conversation between I and me, we are robbed not just of meaningful context but of our own humanity..

which is perhaps why the DSM5 definition of OCD uses the language of automation, describing the phenomenon as ‘the brain’s junk mail.” Though it significantly acknowledges that OCD is responsible for, ”communication errors among different parts of the brain.” Ie. there’s a problem with internal dialogue.

meaning…?

That without the capacity for self-reflection we are driven along like leaves in the wind.

The legacy of Western Civilisation is effectively the deification of consciousness. Having cast out the divine feminine, the principle that mediates between Logos and ego, the two are bound to get confused…

like when you don’t have a soap dish and so you leave the soap in the bath and it gets all mushy and your mum yells at you?

Exactly, ego gets ‘god-almighty’, which is all very well for a bit…

until the mush begins..

and soon starts behaving as though there were no limits and as if nothing mattered save itself.

The psyche responds with a big fat neurosis to bring about some sense of proportion in lieu of actual awareness. Instead of the cleansing renewal he was hoping for the bath room hero finds himself compulsively feeling about the teensy yet glorified space into which he’s soaped himself.

…pretty sure he’s in there somewhere.

Monkey Business.

When I was a kid growing up in Zambia we used to go visit a local zoo/nature reserve outside Lusaka called ‘Mundawanga’. I privately called it ‘Mundawanka’ because the Vervet monkeys were always masturating…

and would look you bang in the eye while they were at it.

There were a dozen or so males of various ages in a cage the size of your living room, all with their dicks out…..

all day…

every day.

In their cramped and unnatural captivity, all pressed together in a space not suitable territory for one, they had found a neurotic solution to their claustrophobic situation. After all, as every good Vervet knows, the correct behaviour when encounetring someone having a wank is not to encroach. Leave them alone and let them get on with it.

Space and separation…

which is good..

But rubbing yourself raw…

not good.

The monkeys were also great thieves. Loss of territory had led to loss of honour, relatedness and rules of engagement. Everyone was fair game.  Woe betide any young child with a bar of Aero who thinks he can go put his fingers through the mesh and hang on the wire cage. They know about pockets and will fleece you something rotten.

The Single System system, concentrated power in concentrated space, is just like that monkey cage. They all have their dicks out and will rob you in a heartbeat.

Concentrated power in concentrated space breeds paranoia throughout the cage and the need for space which, barring despair, only compulsive behaviour will give you.

Back in the day, some Pacific Islanders ritually killed their kings once in a while. Any one who wanted to be king could nominate themselves. One would be chosen and for a year he would enjoy all kinds of inflated priviledges and being above the law…..

until your twelve months is up.

Then you get handed a sharp knife. Sometimes you get to have sex at the shaky end of a log pile.

And then they start over..

which seems like a very sensible thing to do.

Culturally, the killing of the king brought fruitfullness to the land and life to the people. Psychologically, it induced an encounter with the archetype of Kingship itself, for anyone can step forward. It would be both terrifying in its awesome power and seduction, overwhelming with its fantasy of limitless possibility, acrid with the fumes of death…

…like Galadriel’s encounter with the Ring.

which is why we prefer the Single System system whether its skull cap or dog collar. We can depend upon it to help us suppress our experience of numinosity for the sake of our ontological security.

‘Religion is a defense against the experience of god.’ CG Jung.

We need our all-powerful and oppressive Caesars who constantly behave as though they were above the law, like Gods, so that we need not differentiate too closely between what to render to one and what to render to the other. We do this despite the loss to our own inner journeying and the raw rub of eternally marking time that this will cost us.

It is our version of the Vervet’s neurotic solution. The loss of inner creative space that is the price of abdicating a personal relationship with Psyche leads to endless masturbation, thievery and the kind of frenetic apathy, the aggrieved restlessness that is the curse of any child who is both intruded upon by a parent/state/zoo keeper whilst simultaneously being abandoned by it….

the monkey in the equation develops a quite understandable conscientious objection to reality.

Any moment that might still retain a bit of it must be evaded with all speed..

‘and so he mounts his horse and gallops furiously in every direction… ruthless in the destruction of potentials that must mature in their own form and season..’ F Wickes.

The effect on relatedness and creativity is catastrophic….

I once lived in a tiny English village in which there was a little old lady with a title and a massive house. She had been raised in a cage even more gilded than mine. Her capacity for relatedness was shot to pieces. She was a millionaire but the neighbour’s kids had to pay to use her tennis court. I fixed her flat tyre for which she immediately thrust a bottle of wine at me, unable to bear the bonds of simple co-operation. I had to be paid off directly.

Her grasp of other’s needs was catastrophically warped. A local man found a disraught motorist at the side of the narrow lane that wound steeply up through the village. He was clearly distressed.

‘Are you all right?’

”No, I broke down at the foot of the hill but a little old lady offered to tow me up.”

‘Oh dear, you didn’t accept?’

”Yes.”

‘Much damage?’

…..  All the energy that might have gone into something nourishing builds up and turns back on whatever, or whoever, is handy. The dissociated potential has grown horns and a tail. Genuine feeling or inspiration gets dumbed down into moods, knee jerk reactions and wild low gear ratios.

though the smooth and satisfied surface of the inner millpond that is the inheritance of God’s chosen people remains unruffled.

But without being affect-ed, there is no affect-ion.

No being rooted in love.

and so we too become masturbating monkeys having passed up…

‘the troublesome germ of individual king/queen ship.’ F Wickes.

Around about the time that humanity started caging monkeys they also started caging kids.

sacrificial dormitories.

Mine really did have cages on the windows. Grenade screens. Our pre-eminence as the kids of the White elite rulers made attack from African terrorists (people who didn’t like us taking over their country) a very real threat. I spent many a night standing guard over other sleeping teens, armed with a lee-enfield .303 rifle and listening for any sound.

Bling has this tradition of sending the kids away, as a display of wealth and obeisance to the centralised power. The very real suffering involved propitiates the Gods and eases parental paths to greatness.

Children become fetishistic objects sacrificed on the altar of Bling. Inner Nobility is projected onto glittering others and then chased after. And you do it yourself. You buy into it. I remember my initial pride and the look in people’s eyes when I told them where I went to school. The lurch of respect, the sage nodding, the rush of power whilst simultaneously knowing, completely and entirely, that it was a crock of shit.

where we wanked and stole.

If not each other’s stuff then each other’s pride and dignity, tutored in deception and some being more equal than others.

We think we’re a child friendly society but along with the chihuahua…

”we have the fairly universal civilised belief that a child’s impulses need to be curbed in order to make him social.” J. Liedloff.

This is germane even at the liberal end of the spectrum. We have the basic..

”assumption that the child has an antisocial nature, in need of manipulation to become socially acceptable.” ibid

When this fails, Freud’s infantile sexuality theory sets the seal on the stupid thing breaking itself. Parental influence and cages are written out of the equation. The Church loves it because it chimes so well with original sin. And so for the first time in two thousand years Church and Science agree on something.

You are the bad seed.

So that’s how you will grow.

But not as fast as we can build correctional facilities to house yo’ ass.

 

 

 

Synchro-spam

Synchronicity is orchestral. It orchestrates and has a way of re-shaping

identity,

experienced subjectively, perhaps, as a change of values or aspirations,

”The hallmark of the transpersonal is the experience of being acted upon.” Sylvia Brinton Perera.

Its also true, in a more lyrical way, that we can count on the brass section at the major crossroads of life while the woodwind section is a bit more gentle, everyday kind of thing.

Hopefully.

”Synchronicity is an ever present reality for those who have the eyes to see.”    C G Jung.

You might say that synchronicity was the Universe’s way of….

you are failing miserably to understand

Er,  what I was going to say was, how can we be more aware of..

The best way is to stop cursing yourself for nothing….

and so I thought, lets go looking for it.

Synchronicity will occur wherever I’m all riled up about something because the riteous prick in me will always stir stuff up from the bottom of the pond with some kind of reactive drama…

in need of compensation.

So what has me fired up?

You must contact your insurance/medical assistance business immediately if
you should be referred to a medical facility for treatment.

And its not what you’d think. To my shame its not world hunger or political corruption, its the spam on my blog, the bastard scamsters and hackers that slip under the radar and piggyback me through cyberspace for the sake of a mention. Piano lessons in Singapore, Maths tuition in Queensland.

keep up wrinting.

If you were to apply a little method and actually practice what you have been preaching about  the philosopher’s stone being found on the dung heap, then you could stop angrily deleting it all, but rather treat it as a waking dream and see what meaning might be found.

Perhaps my angst is that I insist on seeing these gremlins as parasites. And why shouldn’t I have a few parasites? Perhaps they could even be useful… the extent of my annoyance suggests it has more to do with me than I would like to admit, so there’s some gem in there…

To become identified with the fixed reference point of the separate self limits our freedom, entraps our creative potency and hinders our compassion.”             P Levy

The thought of approaching my spam as a lucid dream is exciting…. it’s like having a new role…

”and though the soul does not assume the lead by killing off the ego, the ego is demoted, one might say, and given a different assignment in the psyche, which is essentially to submit to the concerns of the soul.” Clarissa Pinkola Estés

Ok so, most of it is pretty standard, what you’d expect, paranoid delusional stuff about the end of the world, preparing for Armaggedon..

some appeal to my male insecurity…

you too can have a longer penis, build this Extender in the comfort of your own home…

Hmm, before or after building a fallout shelter?

Consider the size of your own.

I am, I am, its just that my attention is now on…

cheap wedding dresses.

lots of stuff about cheap wedding dresses, the appeal strangely riding on the premise that you don’t want your wedding to look cheap.

and keep those straps tucked in girls. A stray brastrap could ruin your big day.

What kind of heavy trip is that? You can see it now..

OMG, a brastrap, you’ve fucked up the rest of my life, you bitch.

But the one that really got me…

was an advert for anal bleaching.

What the fuck is this doing in my psyche? Still, not to worry, apparently its quite acceptable in discussion these days and no longer for just porn stars and bridesmaids….

For crying out loud, what is it with the bridesmaids? Since when might a bridesmaid consider having her anus bleached as part of her maidenly duties? And to what purpose? How might it sit in the collective psyche of the dearly beloved knowing such a thing?

I don’t want to play this anymore.

#If you quit, how are you here?

Ok, but it feels….. shitty.

And not just because of the pervy connotations of it, or even the objectification of women, but because this denial of body, this cut offness from sexuality and this weird alienation from self is given the twist of debonair sophistication.

Barbie is still our aspiration.

How long will it be before you can’t show your face in public because you haven’t had your monthly bleaching? Shaving and waxing are no longer enough. Now you have to peroxide your heiney as well.

The ability to combine analytical thinking with imaginative execution is extremely desirable.

Ok, so we’re mocking the superficiality of modern culture, but yet to get the symbolism of all this. The problem is deeper than depersonalisation.

Its about disgust, before it ever occured to you that you are a person…

who might be… depersonalised.

Babies learn most about themselves and the world before the self/other dichotomy opens up. They learn from their kinaesthetic experience, from mouth, smell, feel and how they are held, the visceral cues about whether the Universe is friendly or not.

 
Henri Wallon uses the term ‘confiscation’ (Wallon 1949) to describe the emptiness that seems to be, from a western point of view, an intrinsic part of the developmental process. Confiscation implies that something once present has been taken away and indeed it has.

Baby has yet to learn of Yahweh’s divine truculence with the Great Mother but soon does so from the non verbal cues intruded in the personal mother, the loss of her divine representation bound to translate itself as depression and ennui. Baby is then compelled to join mother in her impoverished psycho-spiritual framework and confiscation is the felt result.

‘The loss which lies at the heart of confiscation is no small matter. It amounts to a revolution of consciousness the crucial feature of which is the decision to mistrust the evidence of our senses.’ ie Nature.  Berman (1989)

 
Baby renounces the body as a way of knowing herself. The shared loss of the numinous feminine container which anchors and enrichens everyday mothering means baby is effectively born into an untrustworthy world which she internalizes, sacrificing her own capacity to apprehend reality.

Symptoms develop.

The obsessive’s preoccupation with ‘dirt’ is primarily a concern about how easily love can be lost, the panic of contamination a prelude to rejection and isolation.

The issues are disgust, tedium and whether or not love can be extinguished by diarrhoea. Baby does his best to fall in line by shamefully accepting that his pooh is intrusive, horrible and damaging. Perhaps even baby himself is intrusive horrible and damaging. What he does is still bound up in who he is.

Unmet needs in baby don’t go away. They manifest in adult life as a craving for instant gratification, passive entertainment, getting loved-up, the feeling of being owed a living and the expectation of having someone to take care of all eventualities.

The symbols are the lottery, the red carpet, celebrity.

In the meantime we are so regressed we have to be told what to do at every turn. Life’s simplest operations are governed for us, all the way down to serving suggestions on packets of salt, advice on how to remove a bottle top (twist!) and those oh so necessary instructions on a joint of beef to remove plastic wrapping prior to putting it in the oven.

This makes fewer resources offered to be robbed.

Sometimes we make apotropaic gestures to ward of feared expectations. Invariably, however,

‘the catastrophic expectation has already happened.” D Winnicott.

We project Armaggedon into the future. Its safer there. The Preppers are too late.

We’re facing the wrong way.

arse about face.

Which is perhaps why Jung once said to Marie Louise von Franz,

”I cannot confess to have solved the riddle of the coniunctio mystery”CG Jung

All of which goes to show how even the greatest minds are limited precisely by the mental identification to which they are bound to fall prey. Jung veiwed it as personal failure not to have figured it all out, forgetting that the hierosgamos, the sacred marriage, is not there to be ‘solved’ anymore than the bridesmaids are there to have their bottoms bleached.

The mystery is not a riddle to be surmounted or sanitised by man.

perhaps if the Unconscious could be approached from some vantage point other than being smart arse enough to suss it out then she would simply reveal Her treasures.

excellent listener.

and the bridesmaids might have their honour restored.

 

Sado-Masochism and the Self.

There is a story about a poor  peasant who was so down on his luck that he did not even have a pair of shoes to wear.

Then, one day, he miraculously came into some money.  He walked all the way into town and bought the finest pair of shoes he could find. There was even some money left over, so he bought a jug of wine and drank it on the way home.

The wine got the better of him before he could get back and he fell into a ditch where he passed out. In the small hours of the morning a coach came by. The coachman saw the peasant’s legs dangling out of the ditch across the road and he called out loudly lest they be run over. The peasant raised a bleary eye, looked carefully at his newly shod feet and shouted back, ‘they’re not mine, drive on!’

What is the moral of this story? What can we make of the peasant’s masochistic invitation?

Whilst Sado-Masochistic traits can be derived from developmental dysfunction rooted in inadequate bonding, it’s also true that there are aspects of S/M that can be addressed from both existential and archetypal points of veiw.

The reputation of Sado-Masochism as a sexual perversion seems easily consolidated by its costumery and paraphanalia which readily convince that this is primarily an erotic phenomena. But a great majority of S/M enactments are common or garden varieties to be found in the psychopathology of everyday life.

Since S/M is about what happens between people it would be better to say that S/M is a perversion of the Principle of Relatedness, of which sexual relatedness is only a part.

You could also say that the Principle of Relatedness, traditionally the preserve of the sacred feminine, has been eroded by the patriarchal to the point that dysfunctional expressions of relatedness are only to be expected. As such they are not ‘deviant’ at all, but the inevitable underbelly of a puritanical culture that values the cultivation of persona over and above a healthy ego wherein some of the aspects of S/M might be better contained.

It might also be added that a culture deprived of the divine feminine, personified by the Great Mother, is going to bleed mothering per se of its sacred context. The ramifications of this for mother/infant bonding and the impact it has on the quality of early life is something we can infer from comparative ethnography which does indeed suggest that the loss of the Goddess has greater consequences for us as inheritors of Western Civilization than we have previously considered.

The child of any epoch or culture instinctively maintains the conditions in which it has learned to be at home. If deprivation and loss of a sacred context is the world we are born into then even that…

”will be maintained indescriminantly as part of development.” Jean Liedloff

This gives rise to our culture’s ‘divine homesickness’, a striving for the experience of Paradise which creates,

”a nostalgia the intensity of which is inversely proportional to the amount of fulfillment encountered in the earliest phase of life.” Mario Jacoby

Longing for the archetypal mother is important says Jacoby because,

” it harbours within it the yearning for confidence in some solid, nourishing ground.” ibid

So, there is something of a false dichotomy between early developmental theory and archetypal psychology. Having said that we can still tease out some specifically existential aspects of S/M and the more obvious psychopathology of ego’s encounter with the Self symbolised by the peasant’s predicament in having to re-invent himself.

One of the most common places we find S/M enactments in ordinary life is in the interactive patterns of narcissists and empaths. I’ve yet to meet a narcissist who didn’t exhibit strong sadistic tendencies, nor an empath who didn’t have masochistic features.

This relational dysfunction is much bigger than the sexual issues they might encompass.

Narcissistic sadism has, as its prime objective, the eradication of the other’s subjective reality. Its purpose is depersonalisation, humiliation, witholding and the refusal to value or accomodate. His doing-unto-others consolidates a fragile identity. I wound therefore I am.

Empathic masochism dovetails this with low self worth, poor boundaries and an unconscious victim mentality that colludes with and allows the sadist’s  ‘bad behaviour’. Identity is rooted in the persona of being done to.

”They are not my legs, ride on!”

Working with these issues from a developmental point of veiw is not enough. If the dysfunction constitutes a nucleus of identity, a core of self-construct, the resolution of it will precipitate existential crisis. Resolving ‘the problem’, is therefor out of the frying pan…

and into the fire.

”Once you have identified with some form of negativity you do not want to let it go and on a deeply unconscious level, do not want positive change. It would threaten your identity as a depressed, angry or hard done-by person. Eckhart Tolle.

So we resist what we want most because it costs us what we know of ourselves to have it.

”For someone who’s natural habitat is the brink of disaster, a giant step into security is as intolerable as the realisation of all he fears most.” Jean Liedloff.

Our poor peasant’s new shoes threaten his entire weltanshauung, his whole veiw of life. He cannot afford to identify with his own good fortune. Having his legs run over would reaquaint him with his familiar bad luck upon which identity has been constructed.

Moreover, in having a taste of his potential, the peasant encounters something of the numinosity of the Self. The miracle of his good fortune, leaving home and his creative adventure into town has the quality of a hero’s quest, part of which is invariably the motif of death/rebirth. If this is not realised in the inner world it will be enacted in the outer.

”Creativity… expresses itself in the ambivalent experience of rebirth through death (or) in sado-masochistic fantasies.” Erich Neumann.

To be more succinct,

”What is not brought to consciousness, comes to us as fate.” CG Jung

The process of self-realisation involves some painful archetypal processes over and above the unearthing of childhood trauma.

”The integration of contents that were always unconscious and projected involves a serious lession of the ego.” CG Jung

Why? Because it involves the recognition that we are not masters of our own houses. This leads either to a positive inflation in which ego identifies with the Self and becomes cruel, inconsiderate and puffed up with power, or a negative inflation in which we feel lower than a worm and deserving of nothing.

Its easier to act this out in our relationships than it is to contain the violent forces that can swing us back and forth between such extremes.

The alchemical tradition, which offers us a metaphor  for the process of individuation, is full of grisly symbolism. The ‘mortificatio’ and ‘putrefacto’ are stages of the journey in which the old sense of identity dies and rots as a result of the encounter with the Self. These ‘torments’ are described as…

”cutting up the limbs, dividing them into smaller and smaller pieces and mortifying the parts.” Rosarium.

This painful process is amplified in Solomon’s ‘Song of Songs’, in which the bride and bridegroom represent ego and Self.

”The coniunctio is both desired and dreaded. From a distance it is the source of all yearning, but knocking at our door it is an object of terror.” E. Edinger.

In Solomon’s song the bridegroom is wounded..

”You ravish my heart with a single one of your glances…”

This acknowledgement between self and ego….

”has a wounding or violating effect.” Edinger.

In Christian iconography this is represented by Jesus on the cross.

‘thou didst wound my heart with one of thine eyes when, hanging upon the cross, I was wounded for love of thee that I might make thee my bride.” ibid

In the Bahavad Gita, Arjuna asks to see Krishna’s true form and quickly regrets it.

”when I see you touching the sky, blazing with many colours, with mouths open wide, with large fiery eyes, my heart trembles in fear and I find neither courage nor peace. Devouring all the worlds on every side, you lick your lips. I implore you, as a lover to the beloved, show me a gentler form.”

We are perhaps used to the idea of sublimation, that ‘lower’, instinctive drives can find artistic, creative expression. So, too, can our potential and the dynamics of the individuation process be lived out in a less evolved, enacted fashion.

”Unlived life does not sit idly on the shelf, it will turn round and bite you.” ML Von Franz

And so we would do well, rather than falling into judgement or inveterate fixing, to ask what step on our path it is we turn aside from and allow compassion for our own faltering that has us live on the outside what belongs in our inner worlds.