The Uninvited Guest.

Carl Jung tells the story of a man who came to see him in despair. He had just married his fourth wife and was anxious it would go the way of the other three, as though he was driven by a compulsion to destroy his intimate relationships. Jung asked about the three former wives and it turned out they were all sculptors.

Jung chuckled and said, ‘Well its simple, you have to manifest the creative part of yourself and stop getting your wives to carry such intolerable expectations.” So the man became a sculptor and managed to protect his marriage from the vengeance of a muse grown to angry destruction in the wings of life’s pageant.

What cannot come in by the door will climb in by the window. When others live out our dreams for us it ends badly but the divorce courts might prove to be the least of a person’s concerns .

After all the creative principle,

”does not take a man by the hand and lead him right up to Paradise; she puts him first into a hot cauldron where he is nicely roasted for a while.” Von Franz

..the choice not to be roasted is really a decision to be eaten up a different way… The muse becomes dark and forbidding..

you have never given her a chance of expressing herself, and therefore she has become inhuman and brutal.”ibid

but with poetic intent, for your pleasure and delight…

When inner choices are restricted some kind of compensation is bound to ensue in its concretised and less conscious outer form. We may then manage to turn our consumerism into an index of success and prosperity rather than experience it in its original form as a compulsion born out of inner hungering and unfulfillment but it will still taste like chewing gum and smell like burnt rubber.

By their nature, Single System Systems discourage the kind of errant wandering necessary for Individuation. We are free in the way captive baboons cling to the bars of their cages when released into the wild. Children are not encouraged to think, to follow their own destiny, to really choose, and so you have 68 different types of snack instead to pour all your creative energy into and, having energetically shortlisted and brainstormed, arrived at the difficult choice twixt Wispa and Mars.

”Here the Crocodile god, Inertia, presides. He invites you to share his sunny log and, as you contentedly bask in the sun, he obligingly swallows the energy that might otherwise disturb your sleep.” Frances Wickes.

Its easy to forget that the archetypal principle associated with creativity and embodied by figures like Dionysus or Loki are gods of madness as well as gods of abundance. Put clinically, emerging potential ‘de-integrates’ ego structures. One way or another it disrupts the human realm, arriving always in a great chaotic clamour that cannot help but make a mess of things..

and that’s when he’s in a good mood.

Analyst Lyn Cowan suggests masochism is a distortion of the principle of submission to higher wisdom. Perhaps sadism and what passes for ‘ordinary’ cruelty can be distortions, sometimes horrendous, of creative buds that fail to fruit when higher wisdom is not acknowledged, Dionysus, Render of Humans, grown angry and petulant.

I once new a man with a string of anti-social convictions, a text book psychopath with very little interest in what was going on around him or in any creative venture until he’d had three lines of coke and half a dozen Intergalactic Gargle Blasters whereupon he would spontaneously weave metered poetry around the evening’s events in perfect rhyme.

Next day it would all be forgotten.

It seemed that much of his anti-social meanness was about more than what he might have suffered as a child, it was the vengeance of his creative spirit that was only allowed out to play once he was massively disinhibited.

Collective inhibition, which persuades us there is nothing we do not know that is also worth our effort, is the same beguiling voice that then offers us a compensatory outer world of dazzling novelty, everything new, improved, and yours by right.

For life to be good it has to be easy. We want it easier as though the worth of life could be ascertained by how little you had to put into it….

as though there was an inverse relationship between meaning and getting your trousers on. Generally speaking our highest ideal is not to have to do anything. We work so that we can take time off from it. We do it today to be free tommorrow.

Life-as-a-journey, with its glassy, jaundiced eye perpetually upon some future goal rather than upon life as it happens, gets upgraded to life-as-vacation, at least it should be if only the lousy world would cut you some slack and let you trough through that bucket list you’ve been nursing.

as though life’s fulfillment could not take place without riding shotgun in the Paris to Dakar rally or walking the ten tors of Dartmoor. So what we want to happen next is seriously going to mess with what happens next. It’s a form of dismissive and limiting attachment that ultimately makes an old grouch of those whose creative life has been made dependent on time and money.

”People who have a creative side and do not live it out are most disagreeable. They make a mountain out of a molehill, fuss about unnecessary things, are too passionately in love with somebody who is not worth so much attention, and so on. There is a kind of floating charge of energy in them which is not attached to its right object and therefore tends to apply exaggerated dynamism to the wrong situation. M.L. von Franz

In the Samuri tradition, warriors were expected to hone their skills in calligraphy, poetry and painting. This was not just to garnish their CV, it was psychological hygiene to make sure that unlived creativity did not sour and devolve into indiscriminant pointyness.

In the West we’re busy cutting these outlets from our curriculum. They can’t be quantified and take too much effort. When would you ever need to play a bassoon? What use is a pen and ink drawing? Will making a kite put food on the table?

So we demure and go back to the T.V. where nothing is required of us….exulting quietly that our sloth is really a measure of frilly cuffed sophistication. Of course one might think of  ‘leisure’ as a well earned reward for hard work but that still somehow fails to address the truth that for many, life’s highest value can be measured in days spent comatose on a beach with nothing to do till dinnertime.





The Politics of Masochism.

Masochism is not a trait of Western Culture that is immediately obvious. Yet if you try to tease it out, like the rag end of plastic I recently found in my veg patch, you might find yourself there all afternoon, digging, sweating, tugging. Mounds of earth everywhere.

Out of all the election fever, the rhetoric of politicians and the hype of the media, one anecdote in particular grabs my attention. Its the moment when Mr Trump asks an audience of Iowans, ‘How stupid are the people of Iowa?’

That in itself was remarkable. Its a novel strategy. Normally politicians try to woo their voter, make them feel good about themselves. Mr Trump does the opposite. He actively humiliates them. But the truly amazing thing was what happened next. His ratings improved in Iowa.

How is it possible?

What’s going on?

”Why do men fight for their servitude as stubbornly as though it were for their salvation?” Gilles Deleuze.

The answer is that there is a strong Masochistic trend in our collective consciousness, which, contrary to popular belief, has little to do with sex.

”Masochism is not a mere perversion, but a reflection of the soul in its tortured, most inarticulate moments.” L Cowan.

Mr Trump has unwittingly hit upon a Big Secret. His slogan, ‘Make America Great Again’, hinges upon the same principle as telling the Iowans how dumb they are. It mobilises the passion of having been done to, the lynch pin of Masochism. It says, ”you have been denied, robbed, bought low, subjected to the will of powerful others”. His message hooks in to how the West unconsciously feels about itself, that life has short-changed us somehow, a collective ‘truth’ which we are sorely tempted to reinforce by voting into power those who can then be guarenteed to abuse us.

We do the same in the dysfunctional relationships of our more private lives, staying on for years, putting up with the other’s behaviour, feeling hard done by, never stopping to ask, ‘what am I doing?’

The extent of Sado-Masochistic relating in the West as a dominant form of interaction was largely suppressed by the early schools of psychology who preferred to represent it as a flamboyant perversion so that it need not be recognised as something endemic or, for that matter, rife amongst those respectable gentlemen themselves.

Kraft-Ebing, big boss of the Neuro-Sciences in Vienna who first relegated Masochism to the ‘Perversions’ was the same chap who stonewalled Freud’s original and beautifully expressed, ‘Aetiology of Hysteria’, which clearly stated that neuroses were the result of childhood abuse.

Kraft-Ebing was horrified at the suggestion that children are harmed by their parents. He ostracised Freud until he changed his mind and substituted the drive-conflict theory which made the patient responsible for their own difficulties. He did the same with Sado-Masochism. Its the patient’s fault and its all about sex.

Curiously and for the record, the feted and popular Kraft-Ebing also thought of recreational sex as a perversion that required ‘treatment’, not to mention masturbation for which he had some cures  of Inquisitional proportions, including the application of white hot irons to children’s privates, metal mittens, bed restraints and spiked cages to safely house your unmentionables.

Western Powers-that-Be, dissatisfied with projecting  inferiority onto other nations and subsequently enslaving then to make the point, have also visited denied shadow onto the very young who are powerless to then resist what are in fact the unconsciously enacted fantasies of the Establishment.

And yet this still doesn’t explain the prevalence of Masochism in our society or why its so prolific in our cultural mind set as to swing voters in middle America, nor does it account for the emerging split between Empaths and Narcissists or the prervalence of addictions, alcohol consumption, gorging of all kinds, the endgame of which is invariably humiliation.

”I drink to drown the shame of being a drunk”. anon

Culturally endemic, ‘low self-esteem’ is the energy daily drained from us by the critisisms and judgements that we masochistically level at ourselves. Its the feeling of being a slave to the dollar, the sense that your esteem is measured by the affirmation of people you don’t actually respect, the wish as well as the fear that you’ll be ‘discovered’, found out, shamed.

A story that might help put all this in context comes from the Plains Indians, the story of the Jumping Mouse.

The Jumping Mouse was an adventurous sort. Alone amongst his brothers and sisters, he was determined to explore beyond the shade of the tree where they lived. The others begged him not to go, fearful of the black spots in the sky that wheeled above them.

But Jumping Mouse was brave and one day he set off. He scampered all day until he reached a pond occupied by a large wise looking frog.

‘Have I reached the edge of the world?’ he asked, panting.

The frog laughed kindly, ‘if you jump high enough, you will see a far off mountain. The top of the mountain is as close as you can get to the edge of the world.

Jumping Mouse jumped for all his worth and glimpsed the top of the mountain. He was determined to reach it. At the edge of the plain he asked Buffalo to carry him across.  Buffalo agrees but for the price of one of his eyes. The Jumping Mouse plucks it out and climbs up. At the foot of the mountain he asks Fox to help him get to the summit. Fox agrees but at the price of his other eye.  Jumping Mouse plucks it out and climbs up.

Delirious with excitement and pain, Jumping Mouse makes it to the top. He stands there for a moment, then hears the awful whirring of great wings above him. Mighty talons crush his body as he is whisked away. He prepares himself for a last final scream of agony when his blindness gives way to rushing sight and from his throat comes the call of Great Eagle.

Following your own star is not only full of suffering but demands sacrifices that will seriously impact you. The Gods invariably want something.

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

The feeling of being subjected to the will of the Self is often an intrinsic part of spiritual awakening, being presented with a path that wasn’t part of your plan.

Contemporary Jungian analyst Lyn Cowan points to this commonality between Inner Revelation and Masochism, they share the experience of being subject to the will of the Other. She asks whether its not likely that if this aspect of our spiritual life is denied by Structures not too keen on folk having their own experience, then its bound to come out somewhere else in your life.

”It is not a matter of indifference if you serve a mania or a God. To serve a mania is detestable but to serve a God is meaningful (because) it is an act of submission to a higher spiritual being. When the god is not acknowledged, mania develops and out of this mania comes sickness.” C. G. Jung

Alexander Solzhenitsyn was of the opinion that the Soviet people needed to have Stalin as their leader because they had not suffered enough. The senseless anguished purging of the people enabling them better to see themselves in one another’s eyes, to realise their common humanity and hold it sacred.

The Oligarchs oblige us. Everyone knows perfectly well that Oligarchs prefer to stay that way and can only do so at your expense. In Orwellian fashion Free Trade Economy becomes the means to make the rich richer, the poor both poorer and less free until some mega-plague comes along and concentrates lines of inheritance for a while.

So while everyone argues for one candidate or another I  would like to step back and ask, ‘what is it in us that gives such tacit approval to a two horse race between the uber-rich whose primary purpose is to shore up their interests whilst we’re so busy being done to as a trade off for staying at home under the tree where the black spots wont get us?