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Reply To: “Love Will Make You Do Crazy Things,” with Mythologist Norland Téllez

Robert Juliano

Let me first begin with the lesson Diotima teaches Socrates in Symposium. My translation comes from the book Plato: Complete Works edited by John M. Cooper and is different than the one you used. Instead of “correct opinion,” my translation has “correct judgement” which is between, not ignorance and wisdom, but ignorance and understanding:

It’s judging things correctly without being able to give a reason. … Correct judgment, of course, has this character: it is in between understanding and ignorance.

Diotima also expands on this in-between saying that “Gods do not mix with men” and, instead, it is spirits who facilitate the connection reminding us of the daimon (δαίμωνdaímōn, “dispencer, lesser god, guiding spirit, tutelary deity”), though it is not clear to me how much the ancient Greeks differentiated the daimon (e.g., in Philemon’s Sermons, there are daimons and half daimons [e.g., the dove of the spirit]), and the “spirits who facilitate the connection” sound like half daimons. She describes these spirits as being “messengers who shuttle back and forth between the two, conveying prayer and sacrifice from men to gods, while to men they bring commands from the gods and gifts in return for sacrifices.” And she says that everything spiritual is in between god and mortal.

In the lesson, Love is held to be between mortal and god – one of the spirits. And it facilitates the movement from the mortal seeing beauty in a given thing upward to seeing Beauty itself; from the particular up to the divine Beauty.

However, this in between is not where I want to be on this issue. I want to remain strictly on the mortal level of things. I am, in this context and at this moment, completely uninterested in the spiritual in-between or the level of the gods. I want to remain with the “human, all-too-human.” My reason is that bringing in expressions from other than the human realm (e.g., the image, symbol, metaphor) can blunt the impact of the events in question. Sharp words and reason, however, can get to the types of subtleties and needed judgements that images cannot reach, either due to the emotionality of the image or to the limitations of what the image can express. We understand such views from the work of Dr. Wolfgang Giegerich and other scholars of PDI (Psychology as the Discipline of Interiority). Crucially, for now, I am uninterested in the “correct judgement.” I want to stay on the realm of understanding, not between understanding and ignorance. I do so because I feel it is premature to immediately bring in expressions from the higher realm. For me, I want to use understanding as a step toward the in-between realm. I want to first do the kind of legwork that requires (i.e., gathering facts, reading opinions, reflecting, analyzing, etc.). I am not yet ready for and haven’t yet earned the passage to the in-between.

There was no beauty or subtlety in what Will Smith did. No saving image, no foundering hero, no tragic figure. On the contrary, it was an ordinary man who used cold hard reason in executing his action. I don’t want the expressions of the higher realms to blunt the full impact of that observation. He acted like a common thug dressed in a fine black suit. And as a long time admirer of his talent, I am deeply disappointed!

Crucially, what hasn’t been discussed very much here are the statements that he made after he returned to his seat. Those statements looked planned to me (i.e., planned as he returned to his seat and possibly as he was planning to stand up and go on stage). I didn’t see any authentic emotion when he made those profanity-filled statements. They looked to be statements formed by cold hard reason, the cold hard reason being applied to how those statements would be interpreted, not necessarily the statements themselves.

In the Apocrypha addition to Luke (Luke 6:5) contained in the Codex Bezae Cantabrigiensis, it says “On the same day, seeing one working on the Sabbath, he [Jesus] said unto him: ‘Man, if indeed thou knowest what thou dost, thou art blessed: but if thou knowest not, thou are cursed, a transgression of law.'” Now, by some such as Jung, this has been discussed in the context of knowingly committing evil because one has found it is the correct action for the circumstances instead of blindly following what is held to be right which would be the wrong decision in that context. I believe Will Smith knew what he was doing. But, is he blessed? Certainly not!

Finally, let me respond to your statement “For today, in the case of a psychotic break, we don’t literally believe that the devil made them do it.” On the contrary, some do, even in modern depth psychology. Some hold such figures to be real (Elijah tells Jung in his Black Book experiences that he and Salome are real, not symbols). Consider the following: In 1936, Jung published a deceptively simple but highly controversial 15 page paper entitled Wotan. As a view of Germany at that time compensatory to the existing view of the state of that country based on economics, politics, military strategy, etc, Jung held that it was the German people who were in a state of being seized (ergriffen) by the Germanic god Wotan (Norse: Odin). Now, we could simply say that was a metaphor or image. However, if you read the Black Books carefully, Jung has multiple confrontations with a figure Jung later realized was Wotan. Now, Jung held that it was not Dionysos who held Nietzsche, but Wotan. Interestingly enough, Jung himself encountered Wotan in his Black Book experiences (January 6, 1922 and January 2-3, 1923), and we are told by Dr. Sonu Shamdasani that Jung, unknown to him at the time, had encountered him when he was but a child.

Thus, sometimes we do, indeed, see our symptoms such as experiences of psychosis as being the manifestation of a given figure like the devil, and not in a metaphorical way (i.e., we say the devil literally was involved). Now, whether it is to the patient’s benefit to always psychologize this is unknown to me.