Monica you said something just now that I think nails what many of our anxieties are sensing what much of the fear and animosity that is linked into today’s media driven world when you said:
“But we live in a world focused on talking where most people are in their digital caves”
We realize of course that this is not just on social media, but “it’s that stuff” we carry with us throughout our day to day lives. It’s a mixture of “emotional baggage” that wants expression, and it follows us home and in our dreams. It’s fear and anger and hurt and terror and all kinds of things that are constantly stimulated by being held inside. Sometimes we can push these things down deep where no one will see them; only later to find out they haven’t really gone anywhere; we just don’t want to deal with them because it’s just too uncomfortable or painful or traumatic, and then as time passes, we think things disappear. And when we get our emotions involved; (especially the passionate one’s); “they come out and play”; and in many forms. Experiences, apprehensions, anxieties, excitement; or the flip side of: (depressed) pain, remorse, sorrow, and most definitely anger. “Repression” now has its’ revenge for keeping these things locked-up when they are asking to be seen and understood.
Why do we feel these things at certain times and not at others? Why is it we feel so inhibited in sharing certain things and not others? Why must we close ourselves in with social media talking to people we may never actually meet; and yet at the same time share secrets with our friends but make sure they are not to be exposed to the outside world? I was glad to learn you are writing a book about the “active imagination” because I think so many people are deeply suffering right now, and this could be so helpful.
Someone you might find of interest; (if you don’t already know about him); is the work of Mario Jacoby and his work on the: Shame/Anxiety archetypal complex and how it affects “self-esteem”. He was head of the C.C. Jung Institute in Zurich where he taught analysts for about 10 years and wrote several books including ones on: “transference” Individuation and Narcissism, and childhood development concerning basic patterns of emotional exchange; but the one that hit me like a bombshell was called: “Shame and the origins of self-esteem”. He was surprised no one had ever covered this subject because he felt it was so important. I am certainly no analyst, but it was a revelation in my own life; and I mention it since you might find it of interest as you are compiling your new book. (One example of this influence can be seen as The Dragon that lives within us that Joseph talks about with Bill Moyers; but certainly not the only one.)
Daryl Sharp’s work is what has been helping me the most in unlocking Jungian themes and ideas because he spent his life writing close to 30 books in making Jung accessible because it’s so difficult for many of us to absorb the deep complex ideas and put them into context in daily living. Many people are familiar with his “Jungian Lexicon“; but even that is sometimes a bridge too far unless you already have some background in this area. Yes, there are ton of books on Jungian concepts and that’s fine, but we are also talking about Campbell too, and Joseph didn’t consider himself a Jungian per say; but used him as a reference point.
I mention Mario Jacoby because work like what you are doing is desperately needed and people don’t really know how to talk or communicate with themselves in this kind of way. If you say “Dreamwork” to someone most often they might roll their eyes and sarcastically say: yeah, right! And if you say something like: “Senex/Crone”; they might not understand what you are trying to communicate. But the world is changing, and we must change with it or perish. Teenage suicide for instance has now become the most explosive epidemic ever seen in childhood development. Where I live it has become the second leading cause of teenage mortality; next to gun violence. Every night on the evening news are stories about domestic abuse and people going off on the deep end where tactical police units are called in; yet, back on Facebook things are safe, whereas you mentioned: “we are closed in our digital safe-places where we can become our safe “digital” selves. (Yes, the world can be a scary place to confront, and we should be mindful because others may be stressed just as we are.) Especially now as toxicity has become a kind of social disease or pandemic itself.
Adults are now threatening teachers and parents who take an opposite side to a political position like school shootings, or Covid protocols, or voter issues and this madness is no longer a “White Elephant in the room” to be ignored. Yes, there are efforts at social programs, but these I seriously think will not be enough because most of the time these efforts; (although well intentioned); treat the symptoms and not the causes. (So back to your book); Inner work has to be acknowledged and implemented or no traction forward will (realized) within the individual because they won’t know; (at least to some extent), what is driving or affecting them from within. (That is to say if I’m understanding correctly what your book is focusing on, I think your work in this area I would be invaluable.) Anyone can go to self-help bookstore and find something that tiptoes around the edges; but because this is such a complex and deep subject someone familiar with Joseph’s work the way you are might be able to provide a deeper understanding to the general public of how to “connect-the-dots” so to speak in this area between Joseph and Jung. (Maybe you have other thoughts about this, so forgive me if I’m off base about your topic.)
So back to the original topic at hand about aging. Joseph Campbell’s work in my personal opinion was a game-changer in helping people to begin to understand and realize, (as Joseph put it) what is ticking in them by following one’s bliss; (which for many of us has meant even deeper explorations into understanding of our lives’ truer meaning and purpose. People are not robotic automatons working in little cubicles with nothing to look forward to except retirement. And what a Myth is, was just the starting point. But “what is your myth? is the question” we all need to be asking in today’s chaotic stress-filled existence. And so many people are just lost groping for something to hang on to when at least some of the answers may be right in front of them.
One of the things Joseph talked about in the later stage of life was a kind of reorienting or reformatting one’s ideas about themselves. The persona becomes an issue to be dealt with in a new and different way, and the focus of your life changes because not only are you aware of your impending demise, but you are still hanging on to things that may not be appropriate for the stage of life you now find yourself in. Joseph uses the examples of being concerned with trying to stay young instead of enjoying what your life may have already given you. In other words, if so, much of your time was spent thinking about what you were going to do, you are missing the positive results of the life you’ve had. He doesn’t say give up and quit, he’s saying look at your life in a new way because the real rewards are here.
In Diane Osbon’s: “Reflections” on page 88, Joseph says this:
“The image of old age is a bit deceptive, because even though your energies are not those early youth—that was the time of moving into the field of making all the big drives—now you are in the field, and this is the time of the opening flower, the real fulfilment, the bringing forth of what you have prepared yourself to bring forth. It is a wonderful moment. It is not a loss situation, as if you are throwing something to go down. Not at all. It is a blooming.”
I know this response was perhaps a little jumbled and wandered off a bit from where the topic may have been originally intended. But I was very glad to hear of your new project and will look forward to reading it when it comes out.
Also, as an addendum I’m including a Jungian piece about “Shame” because I seriously think this archetypal influence is so profound. For those who may be interested Jung called it the “soul-eating” emotion; and I think for many may unlock a door long hidden from view concerning the makeup of many complexes and the way many people respond to fear, anger, and toxicity. It is an anxiety driven archetype that can be traced back to infancy; and its’ effects are subtle and powerful at the same time. Complexes grow over time and archetypes are the drivers.
Again, thank you Monica for your all your wonderful insights and I’ll be looking forward to your thoughts on these humble offerings.