Bluebeard, the Secret Hell.

The reason that we arrange to be led by folk we know don’t care about us is that there is an X in the equation which swings things away from what you might think was a more desirable outcome.

We acceed to authoritarian management because there is a covert pay-off. No-one has to do the difficult work of self-realisation.

‘It seems good to Us not to burden you with too many requirements.’ Acts 15;28

It’s okay, you don’t have to find your own way or fulfil any driving ambition. Its alright to be curtailed and told what to do…

because the part of us that minds it has a cunning plan…

to take refuge in the strong arm of he who’d beat you and so, in a very real sense, not be at home when he comes calling. The great thing about abdication is that you get to hold the torch when the castle is burned to the ground.

Alice Miller calls it ‘Identification with the Aggressor’, a process by which a child or subjugated person defends against the precarity of their situation by disocciating from it and forming a psychological alliance with the source of their suffering.

It was named ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ after bank raiders in Sweden took hostages that then became their fervent supporters, even writing to the Prime Minister asking to go with their captors. Hieress Patty Hearst became a gang member of the group that kidnapped her. Natascha Kampuch wept at the death of her jailer and rapist Wolfgang Priklopil, moved into his house and ran his car…

Levy-Bruhl called it participation-mystique, a process of  merging with another, initially observed..

‘in so-called primitive cultures where certain objects treated as holy artifacts were seen as filled with the spirit of their owners or worshipers.’ Gifford

 Without such meaningful totemic relationships that allow a person to be in the presence of their own mystery without being contaminated by it, we in the West do the same with pop stars and celebrity, reality TV and the cult of personality, which despite the high of being one with your hero..
‘can influence a person or group of persons into acting against their own best interest’. (ibid)
Identification with the Great Leader makes all kinds of heroic feats possible though you may not survive them. It wipes out all your troubles back home and replaces them with a fizzing riteousness so potent it can transcend the fear of death and calmly walk wave upon wave of unfaltering youth to the grave.
Sometimes the battlefield’s turf is the quietly carpeted drawing rooms
of gentility rather than the crack and thump of conquest at any price, but still….
‘a person caught up in this spell would rather die or injure him or herself than consider new information that might upend their thinking.’ ibid

Most people know the story of Bluebeard. He murdered his wives one after another and kept them in a secret locked room. He forbids his most recent bride from entering the room on pain of … well, a lot of pain, but she is unbearably curious and sneaks in while he is away…

just a peek…

Too late!

The room is a charnel house of former wives. She drops the key to the floor in horror where it becomes stained with blood that will not wash off no matter how she tries…

Bluebeard finds her out, and sets out to do just what he said he would do…  though she is saved in the last moment by her brothers who show up in the nick of time…

an’ cut ‘Ol Bluey down…

The traditional meaning is that of a cautionary tale,

‘Oh curiosity thou mortal bane, spite of my charms thou causest oft pain and sore regret..’ Charles Perrault

followed swiftly by reassurances that men are not so bad..

‘This a story is of time long pass’d; No husbands now such panic terrors cast; Nor weakly, with a vain despotic hand, Imperious, what’s impossible, command:’ (ibid)

More recently its been given socio-political attention with BB in the role of Patriarch enforcing gender roles with violence, or more psychologically with BB in the role of pathological narcissist. Clarrisa Pinkola Estes calls him,

‘the predator of the Psyche, wanting to sever intuition, a malignant force at odds with the instincts of the natural self.”

Von Franz amplifies this theme, BB is the destructive, murderous animus which must be encountered in order to grow..

”If a woman hasn’t gone through the experience of being trapped by a demon animus she only has unconscious thoughts.”

All well and good but there is a curious detail in the story that snags my attention.. Most of the interpretations are based on later versions of the tale in which the youngest of three sisters falls for his charms because she is naive, or she marries him against his will. But in the original by Perrault there’s neither foolishness nor abduction…

Bluebeard goes to one of his neighbours…

‘a lady of quality, whose two daughters were perfect beauties. He desired of her one of them in marriage, leaving to her the choice which of the two she would bestow upon him….

‘I want one of your children, it doesn’t matter which…’

None of this phases anyone. There is no outrage, no injunctions never to darken her door again. Mother colludes and passes of her kid like a mail-order bride who gradually identifies with BB rather than face how she has been betrayed.

There was nothing then to be seen but parties of pleasure, hunting, fishing, dancing, mirth and feasting. Every thing succeeded so well, that the youngest daughter began to think the master of the house not to have a beard so very blue, and that he was a mighty civil gentleman…

A six year old child, having been persuaded onto her parent’s lap rather than explore the nearby swings and play area, is trying to extricate herself in an ungainly way whilst mother chides her softly like Nursy from Blackadder..

‘Oh you.. banana-brain…’

child’s inaudible muttering…

What are you?… a banana-brain.

more muttering..

‘banana-brain, that’s what you are.’

And you could say its just harmless fun and the mother is ‘joking’ in an extroverted and jovial way. ‘Its just people being what they are,’ you say, but actually its the worst kind of cruelty.. making a child feel stupid for wanting a go on the swings, feeling like a banana-brain in adult life for wanting to explore, embittered and muttering in old age for the life that’s been denied her.

Such throw away lines are how lives are poisoned. Often repeated they become the kernel around which identity is built because our survival compells us to adapt to expectation. So even when she’s free she stumbles, can’t get co-ordinated, making a hash of her liberty, just like… a banana-brain.

Her inner life is destroyed, not by showdowns, punishments or overt rejection but by one thing parodying  another, by the wicked cleverness that can say you are stupid and I hate you with a smile. What’s the matter, can’t you take a joke?

Life is what you make it but more importantly its what you believe it to be. Life will faithfully offer us up our expectations of it, rising to manifest and mirror back to us all our prejudices, secret fears and covert assumptions.

‘We do not see the world as it is, we see it as we are.” Torah

That which we cannot face on the inside comes at us from the outside. Having had her inner life attacked by her social-climbing mother, our heroine learns to attack herself, killing off her sponteneity, deadening her sexuality, stringing up her feelings and hobbling the discriminating function that feelings are there to serve.

When she intrudes upon BB’s inner chamber she is bound to find there some expression of this violation. She is going to find her worst nightmares in the little room because she has entered into this arrangement in terrible bad faith, having sold out her integrity and the possibility of true love for the sake of a life of easy luxury.

BB is certainly a villain, but never pretending to be more or less than he is. There is no deception. ‘I want one of your daughters, I don’t care which.” The poor bride masks over the awful injury this constitutes by following suit, pretending that people and privacy don’t matter, but has to kill off her aliveness and subjugate herself to the tyranny of life’s baubles which will extract their pound of flesh from her one way or another. Her inner world will be attacked on a regular basis.

Life presents us with the face we show it and mirrors back to us inner states normally occluded from veiw.

I once comforted a woman whose husband had just had a heart attack and was at death’s door in hospital… but I withdrew my hand from her shoulder as if bitten by a snake when she wailed, ‘who will help me now?” Her thoughts were not of him, nor her tears about him, but about the burden of her middle-class chores.

Through her tears she then told me a dream that wild dogs had gotten into her lovely white Mercedes convertible and torn all the upholstery to pieces. Her inner life had been ripped out by her paltry material concerns and the utter failure to transcend her own petty troubles.

”We thought it was the outer event that had happened to us, but now see that it is we who have happened to ourselves.’ F. Wickes.

Its curious how much sympathy the heroine evokes, how villainous BB seems to be, polarised utterly with the Soldiers of Light, the brothers who finally do him in. Yahweh fairs much better in the popularity stakes when he puts Eve to the same test. Her curiosity gets her eternal damnation wheras Mrs BB just inherits everything and comes up smelling of roses.

There is no transformation. The dead wives are as much a part of her world as BB himself and killing him off still leaves her with the problem of life denied and the damage done to her personal destiny by the spell which compells her to identify with toxic values rather than her own gut feeling…

which says that people come before stuff.

 

 

Rape Culture.

I was raised a White Supremacist in Africa. I didn’t know that’s what I was when I was little. We simply lived apart from everyone else because we were better than them. Daddy carried shiny guns. Once, when I was eight, I met the children from the mud and corrugated compound nearby. I saw them from the tower window playing in our tennis court and went fuming down, the breaking of bounds half justified by my indignation. How dare they!

The boys were taking turns at rolling around inside old car tyres, all laughter and joy. A clear faced child of six, beaming and bright despite her rags, came towards me holding out something for me to see, her treasure. In her hand was a matchbox and inside that was a penny, protected in cotton wool. Her eyes sparkled, she was rich.

Troubled, I ran home.

A few days later, emboldened by this foray, I went all the way to the bottom of the garden and climbed the fence. Beyond was endless virgin savannah, amazing rocky outcrops, thorn trees and yellow grasses stretching infinitely to the horizon. I walked into the singing wilderness, half dazed with it’s immensity until I lost sight of the house.  I found a great termite mound, as big as a dinosaur. It was awesome.

Then, as I walked around this ancient beast, I saw in horrified amazement that some contractor had dug a trench straight through the middle of it, cutting it in half and killing it. I jumped down into the deep ditch and walked softly into the heart of the Great Mound, deeper and deeper into its Earth until even the African sun grew dim.

In the cool dark ground I found its beautiful central halls, its endless myriad passageways, its intricate chambers. It was a creature so ancient that it was made of Earth and I wept for its destruction. And then I realised that the reason we lived in such a big house and carried guns was because we pumped up white folks did this kind of thing.

What I was to discover was that we also did it to one another. Wanton humiliation and violation of one another were institutionalised in boarding schools like the one I was imminently about to be sent to. The masters carried semi-automatics and birchrods. Ritualised sexual shaming was part and parcel of the culture where boys were given the utmost power to threaten one another’s ontological security.

The masters felt that the only way to contain such collective feelings of being above the law, fostered and nurtured by themselves, was for these special boys to be debased on a regular, on-going and arbitrary basis. So they turned a blind eye to sexual violence because it was good for us. It was a kind of lottery for keeping folk in line with the Gulag understanding of, ‘you today, me tomorrow.’

The Dice fell against me one day. Twenty boys poured into my dorm, shouting and jeering, grabbing and pulling, yanking and tearing, making me strip and forcing me do whatever perverse thing they could dream up whilst they cheered and stamped and chanted.

And it had all been done to them. And would be again. It was normal. It had to be normal in order to equip them with a thick enough hide to strip the planet and its indigenous cultures of its value once they’d been spat out and fast tracked to positions of power in the world.

The end game of  Narcisisstic Sexuality is to wrestle the other’s humanity away from them. It’s done to strengthen inner defences against feelings of incipient, lurking inferiority and self-doubt. It takes the form of compulsively repeated denigration of others, best and most comprehensively expressed as sexual acts of contempt or humiliation.

Failing internal cohesion in the Narcissist is forestalled from disaster by appropriation of the other’s integrity. Its not such an alien concept. The Massai once hunted lion and ate their hearts to give them the strength of lions. Modern day spearing of others is done for the same reason, to magically fill oneself up with someone else’s manna.

You were supposed to be grateful and thank them for it afterwards, relinquishing your true self to the Hive forever in the process. It was about more than submission. It was about colluding with the utter loss of your humanity so that you were primed to do the same to others in a compulsively repeated enactment set to roll through centuries.

But I was saved…

strangely saved, by the Anthill I’d wept for years before as a young boy.

While they tried to extract my treasure, I somehow found myself magically returned to the Great Mound, was once more enfolded in its cool, secret chambers, its hidden protective halls, still and dry in the embrace of dark earth while the hounds snarled, unable to get in from above. It was not dead, after all. And nor would I be.

Rape culture is of more than the vulnerable or the unlucky. The West’s plunder of the third world and of Nature is a commercial form of rape culture. The more obvious motives of greed and aggression get the limelight because we normally stop at moral outrage and something having to be done. We fall short of imagining our need to demean entire nations, harvesting not only their material resources, but their stories, their gods, their connection to the ancestors, their pride and dignity.

Failed nations are named and shamed without reference to the context of that failure which is invariably white supremacist incursion and the sponsorship of internicene conflict. They are shamed in the same way rape victims are shamed. What were you wearing? What were you doing in the path of danger?

Rape culture is not about sex. Its about Supremacy. Its about the need to depersonalise, to demean, to siphon off a person’s qualities like stock, to enviously attack that which is not-me, to accrue that other’s humanity to oneself, which is why being around Narcissism for any length of time is draining and leaves you feeling in need of a hot bath.

Yet there’s something so compelling and charismatic about the suave demagogue, the self confessed pussy grabbers of this world. And what is that? They let us take the route of least resistance. We too can be pussy grabbers, have power over others, take a regressive holiday from our own suffering humanity,  and become perpertrators for a day. Someone to be reckoned with after all, tolerant now of the humiliations meted out from above, by meting them out on those below.

Much of the election aftermath has been about ‘angry voters marginalised by Washington elite” voicing their disatissfaction at being ”forgotten and ignored”.

I  see the proliferation of Rape Culture,…

I see the narcissistic end game of  ‘take what you can, give nothing back’, better suited to pirates and thieves than the land of the free.

”You should have more… and better, whatever you want..”

My mate Boz sports a T-shirt that says, ”Eat the Rich”. I pointed out that to 90% 0f the world he was ‘The Rich’. ”What will you do”, I asked, ”when they come banging on your door with their begging bowls?”

kick their frikkin’ heads in…

yep, that’s what I figgered.

 

 

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?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Going Mad to Stay Sane. Reprint.

Self destructiveness can be a spring board for a soulful life like no other if we can realise the meaning in the message, if we refrain from putting a lid on it with medication or inveterate ‘fixing’.

The book tells the story of King Midas from Greek mythology who wished that everything he touched be turned to gold. He only realises what a curse he’s bought on himself when he embraces his daughter…..

It also tells the backstory, what kind of parents he had and what the family dynamics were that could foster such a terrible desire. How does he live? How does Midas resolve his issues? How does he now approach Dionysus who granted him his hideous wish.

The story uses  allegory to reveal how we grow through adversity and foolishness. It looks at the deeper significance of self-destructiveness, as a symbol of something meaningful that can be transformative.

The book has a new preface by Dr Dale Mathers who is a Jungian analyst with his own new book on the shelf, ‘Alchemy and Psychotherapy’.

Enjoy the book and find new ways to make sense of old patterns.

Books are signed and cost £12 plus p+p.












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.

 

On living up to Expectations.

If a child is expected to fail it will. Kids always live up to their parents expectations, particularly the less than salubrious.

My brother was expected to fail. Of course nobody said as much, they didn’t need to, he was given euphemistic titles such as ‘the practical one’ in the family, which was code for thick as pig shit and he dutifully rose to the occasion. It took being pegged to the antarctic ice through his clothes, sleeping bag and tent for three days of 200mph winds to knock it out of him.

Expectations are powerful because our survival instincts are tuned to co-operation with our group and serve collective values. We are born assuming others know best and give them due credit for that. If it were otherwise we’d not get far past inventing the wheel.

We’re born respectful.

So when God says to Eve don’t eat of that tree what does she understand of God’s expectations? Had there been an explanation it might have been different, something she could make sense of and.. respect. But He gives her no explanation, no meaning in the injunction, without which she hears only a hidden expectation of betrayal.

His command, without reference to her need for meaning, carries an implicit sense that this communication is only about discipline, authority and power. It is not about love.

You musn’t eat the fruit.

Why?

Because I say so.

Who is it for?

Nobody.

Sorry, what is it for?

To see if you would obey.

Not because i might die?

No.

Or because it would give me a tummy ache.

No.

So, just to see if i could be trusted?

yes.

So you don’t trust me then?

Not entirely.

But you made me in your image?

Yeees.

So, either you can’t be trusted, or you’re just fucking with my head.

HTDKYDKH<GDCH<KGCF<JHV<NBVCHGDCTH>UYBFKYTRFKBJFYG

Moab was not Yahweh’s first washpot. The die of sadistic witholding is cast from the Beginning. The interaction with Adam and Eve in a modern setting would have someone calling for a social worker.

The father uses sadomasochistic and manipulative techniques to seduce Eve into behaving as he knows she will with the limited awareness she has prior to gaining  the knowledge derived from the apple. To obey you have to know right from wrong, you have already to have eaten the fruit. He tempts her..

thought the devil did that…?

Well, he finishes the job but its God that puts the idea in her head and makes her curious. His style of communication is actually psychologically damaging. Don’t use the faculty I gave you but do use one I have not.

Eve is trapped, she’s been slipped something under the table and its really ugly, a hefty archetypal gollop of contradiction and bad faith with which she must trip and fall, the sudden condensing focus for God’s ready curses, a toxic parent who gives a child a chore that it cannot perform in order to shame and vent His spleen.

Why is it a trap?

Because she must fail.

The consciousness that God is asking her to exercise is in the apple.

Not in her.

She cannot understand what he means and he knows it.

I watched a man point to a shop sign down in the village and patiently spell the words out letter for letter to his son, teaching him. Problem, the kid was two.

What the hell is he doing? Where is he coming from? What is his purpose?

He feels so good and riteous. He’s fathering….. whilst actively avoiding intimacy and contact. He might have joined the child in his world rather than shoe horning the boy into a narcissistic fantasy of how great a father he is.

The child cannot, with the best will in the world, fulfil what’s being demanded with out abandoning his own reality principle. He looks vacant, trying to make meaning. Daddy expects….something. I don’t know what but he is always right. I cannot understand. I must be stupid….

….which is the unconscious purpose of the exercise.

You will never, never, be as smart as me.

Santa Muerta.

A new divine figure has recently emerged in the poorest barios of Mexico City, Santa Muerta, our lady, the Saint of Death. Apparently She has the power to heal sins that even God cannot forgive, which is why she is so popular in the rougher ends of town.

Now, what is a sin that God can’t forgive?

One he commits himself.

What might that be, one wonders…? You know, given that He is without stain?

Yeah, except that one of his Exclusive Attributes is that he’s the only registered divinity with a washpot, a recepticle for, er.. bathroom leavings..

Moab is my washpot; over Edom will I cast out my shoe’. Psalms 108;9

and for what does Yahweh require entire nations like ancient Moab, to serve such purposes?

Well, a sin that the washpot is for…

Yep, so Santa Muerta is actually soaking up stuff that God can’t  live with in himself let alone forgive in others.

Exactamente. She  responds to that which seems to bind all the other deadly sins together. Depersonalisation, strangely the brainchild of Yahweh himself whose primary modus vivendi is to smite at the slightest show of autonomy in his Bride,  actively depersonalising her. People become chattle and washpots.

Its serious because putting a child’s use to you over and above its welfare is a form of wickedness.

And when its done to splurge pent up feelings or experiences unfinished from elsewhere its worse.

And when I can’t talk to Me, the child-as-object becomes the default position.

The value of the child is lodged in being-of-service, rather than just being.

And the service is to participate in a deluded system that says its more important to be special than it is to be loved.

And that is why it’s a sin in any language you like because it actively attacks the spiritual self of the other.

In the name of love……

The narcissistic encounter requires the active use of sado-masochistic witholding and invasive projective identification. This is inherently depersonalizing because it is specifically designed to attack the self of the other whose value is reduced to the extent they can be bent into a prefered shape.

What Yahweh did with Moab in a single symbolic gesture also gets played out to  with Job whom Yahweh enviously attacks precisely because he is a good man.

Not much incentive to do as your told, hey?

Yeh, an’ ya had a go at Job for nuffink, cos he ain’t done nuffink to you an it was only cos Baelza betted you couldn’t make him say a bad fing, but you knew he was alright cos of the divine omniscience fingy and fucked with his head loads..

Yeh, burned his house down, killed everybody..

Wot, for nuffin, he hadn’t done anyfing bad…

Nop. Job and Mrs Job were totally good.

So he was just torturing them to see what they would do…

Well, he already knew that so he was just torturing them…

Cos  Baelza bet him..

yeh

So he proved himself to Baelza.

yeh

and took his coin.

 

We’re Sending You Away…

When I was first sent to boarding school I was so excited. Soooo excited. Excited. Excited. Excited. After all it would be a full thirty years before some kind soul laid their hand on my shoulder and reminded me that the closest comparisons in the literature were the Nazi’s concentration camps with which I would become fascinated without quite knowing why….

We’re sending you away…

I was being honoured. Honoured, it was a great priviledge. One that would make me a man. ‘Its the best school in the country,’ my father told me proudly, the specks of spittle dancing in the corners of his mouth. Oh, my God, how fantastic. My manhood! A noble and proud and superior manhood was now my sure inheritance.

In my final year of incarceration one of my few friends in that place asked me, ‘Andy, do you  remember the first thing you ever said to me?’                                                                  ‘No.’                                                                                                                                                  ‘Fuck off’.

Start as you mean to go on. How else does the entirely unprotected field the daily maelstrom of feral teenage boys, entirely deprived of feminine contact, fed on inflated visions of their moral ascendency over the entire world whilst desperatly hiving off the underlying shame, humiliation and rejection of being sent away by torturing one another on a more or less continuous basis.

We’re sending you away…..

to play a game, one where you get to be the lords of the universe who will know themselves by being treated as scum and treating one another as scum, where kudos and pride are measured in caprice and malice and you get to know just how much we love you by having nothing to do with your growing up.

By the time I was fourteen I had been beaten with sticks, whips, cricket bats; sexually molested, felt up, and forced to publically have sex with my own bundled bedding. Is that rape? Yes it is.

But then something really weird happened.

I was in afternoon prep. I got called out by the housemaster and motioned to follow him to his house down the hall. I went. He invited me in and closed the door. We went through to the dinning room. He motioned me to sit. I sat. He went away, then came back with a slice of cake on a plate and a glass of coke. ‘It’s your birthday,’ he said, giving me this information as you might assert that Mogadishu is the capital of Yemen.

He put the things down and went away. I ate the cake in silence. Then I drank the coke. Then I waited. Then I got up and left.

I couldn’t think straight for days and that cake repeated on me endlessly until I realised that the reason I was choking so much on my gift was that  it meant  the very best I could hope for in this marvellous world of priviledge was a moment to be envied by everyone else in a room so empty I could hear the echo of my own heartbeat.

Why is this important?

Because the best people going to the best schools of the best religion generally turned out rather badly. And then they run the country.

I just heard ————  ——–  killed himself.

”Last seen in his car…..”

I trawled through his face book page trying to make sense of it. But it already made perfect sense. A narcissistic bully, fed all his life on the myth of his unbounded superiority, entirely invested in power to compensate the desperate and terrible insecurities engendered in being sent away, the worthlessness, the shame, the horror of a world where rape was normal, suddenly got to the point where his denial and compensations ran out of their batteries and as ever with the narcissist if he could not have his quota of being better than, tough at 50, then what else was there but to blow his brains out?

His brother was a terrible bastard. He would walk up and down the line of us little fags in his study, stripped to the waist, up and down, up and down, eventually lashing out violently at …  who knows, someone, maybe you, maybe..no-one. Up and down. Whose turn today? If not in the morning then maybe in the evening. I wound up in the sanatorium, not with bruises but, as I discovered much later, hysterical blindness bought about by acute, ongoing terror.

We’re sending you away….

This blog is a forum to explore the reality of the grown up children who, one way or another, were sent away, rejected or violated. It is also about how we are taught to send away, reject and violate –  the underbelly of  Western Civilisation.

My book,’Going Mad to Stay Sane’, about to have its third edition published, explores the legacy of parents who either invade or abandon their children and what those children can do to re-member themselves.

See the post of the same title below to preorder.

Coming out for the first time later in the summer is ‘Abundant Delicious, the secret and the mystery’, which shows how we can use our woundedness to discover who we are and celebrates the capacity and responsibility of the human spirit to triumph in the face of  the greatest adversity, the split reality of a divided world.