Monday, October 31, 2011

Existing in New York City: Fulfilling My Destiny

Foto by tgw, New York City 2011
The Psyche; the Soul: Fiction or Fact

James Hillman just died. Who the heck is James Hillman? Well, James was a remarkable human being, a Four-Square Jungian whose tome of important recognition almost won him a Pulitzer Prize. James was the founder and high-priest of Archetypal Psychology.

James was born in 1926. After serving in the Navy in WWII, he went to the Sorbonne first, then Trinity College in Dublin, ending up getting his PhD from the University of Zurich where he studied with Carl Jung and that way got involved with the Carl Jung Institute from which he earned his analyst's diploma and then became the first Director of Studies, a position he held until 1980 when he came back to the USA and settled in Texas.

What is Archetypal Psychology? It's a wee bit beyond Jungian psychology--far out in the world of the soul, or as Hillman used it, the psyche.

From Hillman's Wikipedia entry:

"Archetypal psychology is a polytheistic psychology, in that it attempts to recognize the myriad fantasies and myths (gods, goddesses, demigods, mortals and animals) that shape and are shaped by our psychological lives [pure Jungian thinking]. The ego is but one psychological fantasy within an assemblage of fantasies. It is part of the Jungian psychology tradition and related to Jung's original Analytical psychology but is also a radical departure from it in some respects.

"Whereas Jung’s psychology focused on the Self, its dynamics and its constellations (ego, anima, animus, shadow), Hillman’s Archetypal psychology relativizes and deliteralizes the ego and focuses on psyche, or soul, and the archai, the deepest patterns of psychic functioning, "the fundamental fantasies that animate all life" (Moore, in Hillman, 1991)."

I love that: "the archai, the deepest patterns of psychic functioning, 'the fundamental fantasies that animate all life.'" Human beings searching for this thing they call the soul. And Hillman comes to the soul the right way, through Western philosophy, of course going back to Plato. Plato insisted the "good" in man was what led him toward a god (perfection), what led him toward higher planes, what led him toward heaven--a simple ancient way of explaining the superior nature of some MEN--Plato's world was a male world--and the inferior nature of others. Plato owned slaves. Slaves were necessary in those days in order for the capturers of slaves to progress, build their cities, etc.--just like slaves built early New Amsterdam and eventually early New York City.

Some things Hillman taught were brilliant in terms of Jungian progressive thinking. From an interview with Scott London (see, Hillman brilliantly deduces the current situation in psychotherapy:

I'm not critical of the people who do psychotherapy. The therapists in the trenches have to face an awful lot of the social, political, and economic failures of capitalism. They have to take care of all the rejects and failures. They are sincere and work hard with very little credit, and the HMOs and the pharmaceutical companies and insurance companies are trying to wipe them out. So certainly I am not attacking them. I am attacking the theories of psychotherapy. You don't attack the grunts of Vietnam; you blame the theory behind the war. Nobody who fought in that war was at fault. It was the war itself that was at fault. It's the same thing with psychotherapy. It makes every problem a subjective, inner problem. And that's not where the problems come from. They come from the environment, the cities, the economy, the racism. They come from architecture, school systems, capitalism, exploitation. They come from many places that psychotherapy does not address. Psychotherapy theory turns it all on you: you are the one who is wrong. What I'm trying to say is that, if a kid is having trouble or is discouraged, the problem is not just inside the kid; it's also in the system, the society."

Yes, Hillman is right, the problem is not YOU--the problem is SOCIETY.

Before I got into Sociology (the "science" of common sense), I dabbled in Psychology--especially a course in Experimental Psychology. Due to the teacher I had, I found the course boring as hell. First of all, the environment was a factor: the class room was hot, stuffy--this in the days before every building and home had to have air-conditioning--plus the decor of the classroom was what in those days was called "eye-ease" green, which in my way of thinking meant the color "eased the eyes" into sleepiness. Plus the professor spoke so softly it was truly hard to endure one of his lectures without at some point in it, finding yourself wandering off into dreamland (it could well have been a dream analysis class). I used to have to take 2 caffeine tablets (No Doze tablets they were branded) before each class and even then, it was hard to stay awake. What I did learn in Experimental Psychology was one experiment where what you see is not what somebody else sees. In regards to this statement, one experiment involved colors and their influence on our desires. You know, for instance, that red is a very influential color in many aspects of our lives: Satan, for instance, is red--from the fires of his environment, one assumes. The current drink: Red Bull, emphasizes the fact that if you down one of these little cans of reconstituted Gator Ade, you'll have the energy of not just a bull, but of a red bull, a charging bull, a bull snorting fire. How I wish I had been under the tutelage of a thinker like James Hillman.

Here's some more brilliant thinking from Hillman via the Scott London interview:

"Hillman: I've found that contemporary psychology enrages me with its simplistic ideas of human life, and also its emptiness. In the cosmology that's behind psychology, there is no reason for anyone to be here or do anything. We are driven by the results of the Big Bang, billions of years ago, which eventually produced life, which eventually produced human beings, and so on. But me? I'm an accident — a result — and therefore a victim."

From whence comes trauma?

Now dig this from Hillman:

"Hillman: Yes, we worship the idea of the "self-made man" — otherwise we'd go on strike against Bill Gates having all that money! We worship that idea. We vote for Perot. We think he's a great, marvelous, honest man. We send money to his campaign, even though he is one of the richest capitalists in our culture. Imagine, sending money to Perot! It's unbelievable, yet it's part of that worship of individuality.

"But the culture is going into a psychological depression. We are concerned about our place in the world, about being competitive: Will my children have as much as I have? Will I ever own my own home? How can I pay for a new car? Are immigrants taking away my white world? All of this anxiety and depression casts doubt on whether I can make it as a heroic John Wayne-style individual."

Hillman's gift to American Psychology he called "the acorn theory." From the tiny acorn comes the mighty oak. This he conceived as a myth, based on Plato's saying all men are born with a destiny--or what Plato called a paradigm. The soul to Hillman like Plato is the prime mover in that destiny--which in some instances is called "the calling." A calling within your character that supposedly leads you to your destiny and from which the beauty within you is revealed.

One final gem from Scott London's interview with Hillman:

"Hillman: I think we're miserable partly because we have only one god, and that's economics. Economics is a slave-driver. No one has free time; no one has any leisure. The whole culture is under terrible pressure and fraught with worry. It's hard to get out of that box. That's the dominant situation all over the world.

"Also, I see happiness as a by-product, not something you pursue directly. I don't think you can pursue happiness. I think that phrase is one of the very few mistakes the Founding Fathers made. Maybe they meant something a little different from what we mean today — happiness as one's well-being on earth."

Yes, Amen, and all of that, Mr. Hillman. Economics and Economists are fucking up all our destinies no matter where we find ourselves existing. Even in the pits of the worst society in the world there is still that calling, that acorn within us that wants to grow into a mighty oak, that which is our destiny.

I studied Economics on the college level and later over at the Henry George School. As a Sociologist, I found Economics so deceiving. Economics (and Sociology for that matter) is based on statistics and oh how statistics can be made to lie. And I refer you back to my post on the deceitfulness of clinical trials in the establishment of new medicines--and all clinical trials are are statistics--measuring values. That the end result is "sort of true" means the whole concept is false from the very beginning.

I have always known my calling. I've known I wanted to be a writer from childhood. Did I want to be a successful writer? Not necessarily. I just wanted to write. I'm driven to write. The New Age is against me, of course, since today's young writers are totally off my page with these electronic books and these graphic novels and multilingual poetry. If I've failed as a published and self-sustaining writer, I succeeded in fulfilling my destiny. From my acorn has evolved the mighty oak that I am in my own imagination--like this blog--a novel blog whose main character is me,

for The Daily Growler

A Little Taste of American Art:
Just Swing, 2001
Just Swing, 2001, by Lauren Camp (1966- ).
"Why do I make art about jazz? Because I love the way the music makes me feel.

"I am intrigued by the complete sound that comes from several instruments collaborating. I love the education I've gotten from listening and reading and looking with a critical ear and eye. When I listen, I hear colors and shapes. The sounds I hear are the designs I make with my threadwork. The colors I hear sometimes take my breath away. I like the friction of the colors and the way they sparkle like the music. My art form gives me a way to "play" what I hear – a chance to doodle and delight.

"When you think about it, jazz is just like me – creative, improvisational, sometimes moody, sometimes whimsical, curious, demanding, constantly in motion, roots in the blues but head in the clouds, fearless, fanciful, free."

Lauren Camp

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