Wednesday, June 29, 2011

map of the soul: Surface: Ego-Conscious

ego-consciousness is a prime feature of the territory he was exploring.

It is the tool.

Not all that seems true to even the most earnest and sincere investigator's consciousness is necessarily accurate knowledge.  Much that passes for knowledge among human beings is actually, upon closer and more critical inspection, merely prejudice or belief based on distortion, bias, hearsay, speculation, or pure fantasy.  Beliefs pass as knowledge and are clung to as reliable certainties.  "I believe in order that I may understand," a famous remark from St. Augustine, may sound strange to our modern ears today, and this is often the case when people begin to speak about psychological reality.

the ego is the subject of all personal acts of consciousness

a connection to the ego is the necessary condition for making  anything conscious
the ego is a kind of mirror in which the psyche can see itself and can become aware.  The degree to which a psychic content is taken up and reflected by the ego is the degree to which it can be said to belong to the realm of consciousness.

The ego contains our capacity to master large amounts of material within consciousness and to manipulate them.  It is a powerful associative magnet and an organizational agent.  Because humans have such a force at the center of consciousness, they are able to integrate and direct large quantities of data.  A strong ego is one that can obtain and move around in a deliberate way large amounts of conscious content.  A weak ego cannot do very much of this kind of work and more easily succumbs to impulses and emotional reactions.  A weak ego is easily distracted, and as a result consciousness lacks focus and consistent motivation.

The two major attitudes (introversion and extroversion) and the four functions (thinking, feeling, sensation and intuition) have a strong influence upon the ego's orientation as it undertakes its adaptive tasks and requirements.  The ego's innate disposition toward assuming one of these attitudes and functions forms its characteristic stance toward the world and toward assimilating experience.
  Collisions with reality awaken the nascent ego's potentiality and challenge it to relate to the world.  Such collisions also interrupt the psyche's participation mystique with the surrounding world.  Once aroused, the ego must adapt itself to reality by whatever means are available.  Jung theorized that there are four such means or functions of the ego, each of which could be oriented by either an introverted (ie., inward-looking) or extroverted (outward looking) attitude.  After a certain amount of ego development has taken place, the person's innate tendency to orient to the world, within and without, will reveal itself in certain definite ways.  Jung argued that the ego has a inborn, genetic tendency to prefer one particular type of attitude and function combination and to rely secondarily on another complimentary combination for balance, with a third and fourth remaining less used and consequently less available and developed.  The combinations make up what he called "psychological types."

As a rule one of these two best functions is extroverted and the other is introverted, the extroverted function giving a reading of external reality and the introverted function providing information about what is going on within.

Broadly speaking, it is the contents of the unconscious that curtail the free will of the ego.  The Apostle Paul expressed this classically when he confessed: "I do not understand my own actions.  For I do not what I want, but I do the very thing that I hate... I can will what is right but I cannot do it."  Demons of contrariness conflict with the ego.  Jung concurs: "just as circumstances and outside events "happen" to us and limit our freedom so the self acts upon the ego like objective occurrence, which free will can do very little to alter."  When the psyche takes over the ego as an uncontrollable inner necessity, the ego feels defeated and has to face the requirements of accepting its inability to control inner reality just as it has to come to this conclusion regarding the larger surrounding social and physical worlds.  Most people in the course of their lives come to realize that they cannot control the external world, but fairly few become conscious that inner psychic processes are not subject to ego control either.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Bill Withers Liner Notes

"Stuttering is critical," he says, "because stuttering may have been one of the reasons I stayed in the Navy so long -- nine years.  I wasn't quite ready for the world.  It wasn't until I was twenty-eight that I really got a handle on my speech.  I saw that I had an acute fear of what a listener might think of me.  Shyness was part of the emotional mix.  It was also frustrating.  Because of my chronic stutter, people assumed I was sstupid.  I realized I had a gift for language -- I was probably more verbal than those who were taunting me -- but that gift was stifled.  When I processed the fear -- looked at it and understood it -- I found the strength to move on.  I found expression in writing songs.  Blues lyrics seemed too restricted to me.  Blues is certainly in my blood, but my heart required a freer form.  If there had been a commercial mainstream outlet for pure poetry, I probably would have done just that.  Saying something was far more important than musical virtuosity.  Truth is, I lacked musical virtuosity.  So my stuff stayed simple.  At the same time, if I hadn't been protecting something macho deep within me, there's no telling what I might have said lyrically in my songs.
Looking back, I see that as a stutterer I was extremely sensitive.  Any stutterer lives with a lifetime of hurt feelings.  That sensitivity served my songs.  I didn't start this little music career of mine till I was nearly thirty, so there was already a degree of maturity.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Sucker Punch

I saw Sucker Punch with a group of people who do not know anything formally about individuation and Jungian analytical methods.  They were completely at a loss as to what this movie was about... even as an adventure movie, the narrative is discordant and hard to follow.  I counted three different parallel storylines embedded into one girl's journey to personal freedom through Enlightenment. 

By all appearances the movie seems to be about "Baby Doll" but I think that "Baby Doll" is the young girl aspect/ naive feminine side of "Sweet Pea"'s character.  My clue to this is at the point where "Baby Doll" is brought to the asylum and "Sweet Pea" is on stage dressed similarly to how "Baby Doll" is portrayed through the whole movie and "Sweet Pea" objects to the lobotomy as part of the show... And so it is the stage show that is the greater Jungian storyline for the whole movie that becomes cinematic in the rest of the movie through the more obvious "escape" narrative, and then drops into the subplot action sequences that represent the individual "struggles" that "Baby Doll" faces to overcome the physical limitations and the appearence of the obstacles of her growth.

The old man appears plainly as the guide for the girls, Baby Doll the not yet matured feminine aspect, Sweet Pea the individual essence...  In the liner notes for the soundtrack Zack Snyder thanks Richard Bach for his influence on his life, even at times when he doesn't notice it at first.  This is yet another hint to the self-awareness that this movie attempts to realize.  There is alot of discussion in reviews that Suckerpunch is misogynist and shallow, but these reviews fail to see that each character is a representation of a side rather than a fully realized individual and when the whole cast of characters can be seen as one person, the complexity of the film leaps into another category beyond what we are used to films delivering.  I look forward to observing this film's influence on pop culture and it's legacy as an artwork.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Love Lockdown and All of the Lights by Kanye West

It was the Love Lockdown video that I started to really see the depth of Kanye as an artist.  I must have watched this video fifty times before I finally figured it all out.  I knew of his critics calling him a backpack rapper and that he had been denying his "blackness".  And on 808s and Heartbreaks (the album with Love Lockdown on it), we see a very forthcoming Kanye.  And so on Love Lockdown and in the video, we see his ambivalence of what people say about him and how he feels regarding his "blackness".  The Vibe being VIBE Magazine and he's discussing his desire to move on regarding the history of what being black means and opening up to the future of what it could be.  An amazing statement, well executed.

On his next album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, he goes even further into the struggles of Kanye in the spotlight.  A year after the Taylor Swift debacle, and a relatively quiet year for Kanye publicly.  I was paying very close attention to his career at this point and when I first heard this song, I realized... this guy is in therapy!!!  He's talking about shining a light on all the dark sides of his personality.  I wasn't familiar with the shadow aspect and Jungian analysis, but I could see that he was trying to rid himself of the shame he carried around with him. 
After I made this realization, I started looking towards "dark" artists.  I was looking at Goth music, Marilyn Manson, the concept of "grotesque", Baudelaire's Fluer de Mal... and in some of the critiques of Baudelaire I came across a concept of darkness, being a shadow, of something in the way of the light, as a psychological presence.  And so I started to look at this album as a confession, as he says in All of the Lights.

Forever Young by Jay-Z

There's no doubt in my mind that Jay-Z employs Jungian terminology in his lyrics.  It was actually a Jay-Z that I heard him say Young and realized that he just might be saying Jung... and so I started listening to Jay-Z with a whole new set of expectations.  It also caused me to start researching more about C.G. Jung and learn more about how Jay-Z might be using the psychologist's principles to be talking with symbols in his videos and lyrics.  I'd say there is a diamond mine of material to look through, but that my theory is well-discovered, espescially throughout the Black Album and Blueprint 3 and several songs he records with Kanye West.

Friday, June 3, 2011


While this trailer only shows an action thriller, watching this movie through a lens of understanding the individuation concept, this movie is brilliant.  It has addiciton, it has the danger of knowledge in the wrong hands, it has the viciousness that is the modern world in it's pursuit of power and influence over others for personal gain.  The main character goes in and out of his "complete" state similar to the way we experience confidence and paranoia or doubt.  I was really surprised that this movie delivered at such a high level of content regarding a direct interest in the animus.

The King's Speech

The King's Speech is possibly one of the greatest movies I've ever seen.  It is entirely about a man's way of regaining his confidence so that he may be useful to the world.  What more could you ask for?

Notice the quote, "He's scared of his own shadow."

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Shadow Aspect

A Jungian concept that refers to dark aspects of ourselves that we don't recognize and haven't accepted or integrated as being some part of ourselves.  As we grow and our personalities develop, the shadow develops side-by-side with the ego; it is part of the maturation process.  Aspects of ourselves that adults teach us are innappropriate or not to be expressed are disavowed and move from ego to shadow.  Shadow is understood as being both personal (pertaining to an individual) and collective (pertaining to a nation or culture).  One of its values is that those aspects of ourselves which we have learned to neglect or suppress also make it possible for us to cultivate their opposing strengths and virtues.

Every person's psyche is motivated toward wholeness or integration.  This can only happen when shadow aspects of our personality are once again recognized and accepted as equally important parts of all our developmental experiences.  In fairy tales this is most often expressed when "ugly" or misshapen characters (guess who?) turn out, in the end, to have been transformed princes or princesses, who can only become their true selves after someone loves them.

Often our first recognition of the shadow, if we are an observant adult, occurs in seeing qualities that we dislike most about ourselves being expressed in someone else.  We don't recognize them as an aspect of ourselves, rather our experience is usually one of not being able to tolerate some aspect of that "different" or "difficult" person (see projection).

When shadow aspects are released (expressed alchemically as transforming lead to gold), energy that was used to keep them hidden from the ego often provides or supports a great burst of creative energy.