At the Party: My Selves and Sundries,” with author Kristina Dryža”
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July 7, 2022 at 6:52 pm #74747Stephen GerringerKeymaster
Author and archetypal consultant Kristina Dryža joins us once more in Conversations of a Higher Order, for a discussion of “At the Party: My Selves and Sundries,” her most recent MythBlast essay.
This thread is your opportunity to share your questions, comments, and observations about Ms. Dryža’s essay with her, and with the rest of us. I’ll start us off, but this is not an interview; Ms. Dryža would much rather hear from you than me, so please don’t hesitate to join the conversation.
Kristina – I am intrigued that your essay opens with the remembrance of a party Joseph Campbell attended – particularly relevant, given the following:
My experience is that I can feel that I’m in the Grail Castle when I’m living with people I love, doing what I love. I get that sense of being fulfilled. But, by god, it doesn’t take much to make me feel I’ve lost the Castle, it’s gone. One way to lose the Grail is to go to a cocktail party. That’s my idea of not being there at all.
My sense of it is that you have to keep working to get there. It may take a little while. Even when you have gotten there, it’s easy to get flipped out, because the world has things it wants you to do and you have decided not to do what the world wants.” (A Joseph Campbell Companion, 76)
Joseph Campbell was a college professor and a writer, his wife, Jean Erdman, a renown dancer, choreographer, and founder of the Open Eye Theater; between faculty teas, publisher’s mixers, arts festivals, fundraisers, and so on, the Campbells attended more than their share of such functions. Your description of the various party postures, the “mores, . . . mannerisms, and maneuvers” in play, suggests why Campbell didn’t exactly view such parties as his bliss. Conversation at cocktail parties generally skims the surface; the structure and setting just isn’t conducive to deep and intimate exchanges.
Your essay offers practical guidance on how “to keep working to get there,” including honest self-observation and leading with the heart, which allows us to step beyond the shallows and engage with ourselves and others at a soul level, and leave the party behind.
But I am curious – knowing how he felt, how had Joseph Campbell managed to endure all the parties he had to attend throughout his lifetime?
Here is what he says on the subject:
A ritual is the enactment of a myth. And through the enactment it brings to mind the implications of the life act that you are engaged in. . . . This is the sense of T.S. Eliot’s “The Cocktail Party.” A cocktail party is a ritual. It is a religious function in that way, and those people are engaged in a human relationship thing. This is the Chinese idea, the Confucian idea, that human relationships are the way you experience the Tao. Realize what you’re doing when you’re giving a cocktail party. You are performing a social ritual.” (Collins, Tom: “Mythic Reflections: Thoughts on Myth, Spirit, and Our Times,” In Context: A Quarterly of Humane Sustainable Culture, publ. by Context Institute, Winter 85/86, I.C. #12, emphasis mine)
Wouldn’t you know, he mythologized it! Approaching a social obligation as a ritual does shift the experience; what a wonderful tool.
But Campbell’s observation about cocktail parties triggers another epiphany: to borrow his metaphor, even if you have discovered the Grail Castle, it is possible to lose it! “Even when you have gotten there, it’s easy to get flipped out.”
As unsettling as that realization is, I find it oddly reassuring to learn that even Joseph Campbell would lose focus from time to time.
Over the decades I have experienced my various hero journeys, with their accompanying realizations, initiations, and insights that have changed my life for the better; however, these periods have been punctuated with passages where I have been pulled off course, caught up in my personal drama, and felt like I’d lost my way. It does help to know that none of us, not even Joe, lives there all the time.
I think that’s an important message to convey.
Would you mind speaking to that briefly? Have you had that experience, where knowing what you know, nevertheless some circumstance, experience, or relationship knocks you off kilter, triggering a funk and leading you to question yourself, question everything? When that happens, how do you find your way back?July 8, 2022 at 6:48 pm #74755
I hear you, Stephen!
There are so many times that I can’t seem to mobilise power, even though I know better. But often I don’t really know better because my mindset is using aggression to try and get things done and I’m living from a fear-based mentality.
But it’s about putting to bed this idea of trying to become some sort of fierce, armoured, Amazon warrior woman because when I’m in my left brain, I can’t feel my body. I’m trapped in the death rattle of the left brain versus the flow of the right brain. And that’s when I know it’s time to give up the battle and accept life on life’s terms … to be with the world as it is … for what it is.
The whole point of any therapy is for the therapist to accept the client as they are. It’s being a master of that Gestalt psychology phrase that ‘any attempt to change is bound to failure.’ But who am I if I don’t change? And how does not changing feel in my body, rather than asking the question as an abstract thought? But keeping it really simple, I know that I won’t change until I do.
And it’s about quitting trying to change and constantly self-improve and instead embracing who and where I am now. Constantly thinking that I have some other better life to live is the issue. It’s that thought, which is so toxic, and keeps me trapped at such a long distance from my body.
It’s also avoiding those elementary, self-help articles with headlines such as, ‘Why you know better, but have the inability to do better.’ We can’t better or improve something that’s meant to die. The one who can’t do better is the one who must die. Metaphorically, of course. But often we keep efforting to maintain a circular life and not a spiral one. A spiral life moves us up and forward but often we feel stuck because we’re trying to stay in the same groove. It gives us security, but yet again, we’re doing our very best to try and keep an old dimension alive that wants – and is scheduled – to die. So, to answer your question, how do I find my way back? I keep dying again and again and again.
Anyway, I look forward to being in all forms of dialogue and topics with you this week – Kristina.July 12, 2022 at 4:57 pm #74754
Forgive a sidetrack Kristina and Stephen…
Speaking of the Grail Castle, I just saw yet another “modern adaptation,” of the legend through the BBC fantasy youth series “Merlin.” (Now on Netflix) It was an interesting twist. There were 3 characters on the journey instead of one. They represented Strength, (Gawain), Courage (Arthur) and Magic (Merlin.) (Episode “eye of the Phoenix) The one thing, which reminded of Campbell was when the bridge keeper said the equivalent of “the rules are different and not everything is as it seems.”
The only difference was that the idea of the journey having to be done alone is presented as “an old locked-in tradition.” ie “it’s always been done this way.” Except this time, Three are needed for this quest, which ends up being Merlin’s not Arthur’s.
The trident sought by Arthur has no significance something else does So the trident was the “appearance of honor” (Arthur completes that.) But Merlin’s gift from Fisher King a vial of water from Avalon was the real depth…
Okay to bring that back around maybe…hehheh…maybe it’s like looking for the depths of soul below the surface of all parties and interactions.
Maybe we all long for that…especially with each other?
I love what you said Stephen:
“Your essay offers practical guidance on how “to keep working to get there,” including honest self-observation and leading with the heart, which allows us to step beyond the shallows and engage with ourselves and others at a soul level, and leave the party behind.”
That feels like the heart of Kristina’s essay.
That’s the challenge isn’t it? To leave the party behind (“the shallows”) and “engage with others at soul level?”
I think that’s why some people enjoy “one on one” interaction (maybe with different people.”) There’s a little less static and noise and a chance (hopefully) to communicate on a deeper level with each other.
Though I must say, when there is good music at a gathering, sometimes I dance. And that makes me feel that glimmers of soul are sometimes just waiting to be noticed. Music can have a profound beautiful effect on groups of people. Strangers and people of different backgrounds can all know and share the words to the same song. Or dance to it together.
I can certainly understand how Campbell might have felt about the social rituals: the mores and gestures…
That brings another thought to mind about navigating in a world, which dotes and indulges in “instant” and sometimes demands it.
disclaimer: instant can be a lifesaver too. I understand that.
But instant also equals etiquette today. Or seems that way to me.
I wonder if sometimes that could lead to mistaking the surface for the soul? Nothing wrong with etiquette but what happens when the mannerisms are taken to be the soul? The appearance rather than the heart or river beneath?
Yes it’s true, there can be annoying grandstanders in the world.
But it amazes me how sometimes conversations between people can become all about the surface: watching to see how long each person is talking, counting how many times each person interrupts, waiting to judge, or react, giving lectures on the mores of group conversation (which now I’ll think of as ritualized conversation) all the musts and must nots…it could be exhausting, especially for those who already come with kindness in heart soon to be replaced by “what will they think of me?”
I have this strange feeling, that a connection to that deeper soul (or river beneath) would kind of take care of all of this…and bring to awareness a shared soul connection (that which we seek within ourselves and with others)
Maybe it’s not the collective party…
But the collective soul…or universal Soul…and it only takes awareness. A perfect visual metaphor of group soul is watching the dancers of Alvin Ailey. Wow. It pours into the audience right off the stage.
It is interesting how Joseph Campbell speaks of the loss of the Grail castle related to the “world demanding things of a person.” Makes sense. It’s a challenge to metaphorically walk in more than one world.
Though maybe the party unintentionally gave the wrong directions or advice about how to get to the castle or attain/maintain entrance?
Because the social more was about not asking questions (as a matter of etiquette and honor.)
But as some philosophers both East and West have said…sometimes one’s “cup” needs to be emptied (poured out)
For new awareness to come…
The problem is when you have an empty “cup” at a party (or in life) someone may always be refilling it, but there is no guarantee that substance will be wisdom or awareness.
Discernment is needed (a lovely non-reactive awareness.)
And yes, I can understand about drama frustration and other emotions inside and out pulling one off course or Down into the mud at times. I can relate even when the beauty of the other still waits around me. It’s easy to become stuck on those swirling muddy, eddies.
We are human, it’s understandable.
Maybe I’ll just imagine a hymn to the river or dance when the music calls.
I really love it, when I see people of all ages and backgrounds “come together,” spontaneously out of their own souls without any need for think tanks or blueprints.
It’s truly beautiful!
And I could imagine that Possible. Somedays it feels far out and far off.
Maybe I’m just a dreamer.
But who knows? We have all seen glimmers of it in our own life experiences. Or so I like to imagine.
Thanks for the essay Kristina. 🙂July 14, 2022 at 6:17 am #74753
I always love a sidetrack, sunbug!
I love that idea of three on the quest! It makes me think of how the thinking, feeling and willing function each need to go on the journey, not only one of them. Or that past, present and future each have a role to play on the quest. None is more important than the other. Or body, mind and spirit. The tripartite function is crucial. Strength, courage and magic shall be the banner under which I ride out today!
To your comments on the party, my mind jumps to Jung’s ’spirit of the times’ vs. ‘spirit of the depths.’ “The spirit of the depths even taught me to consider my action and my decision as dependent on dreams. Dreams pave the way for life, and they determine you without you understanding their language. One would like to learn this language, but who can teach and learn it? Scholarliness alone is not enough; there is a knowledge of the heart that gives deeper insight. The knowledge of the heart is in no book and is not to be found in the mouth of any teacher, but grows out of you like the green seed from the dark earth. Scholarliness belongs to the spirit of this time, but this spirit in no way grasps the dream, since the soul is everywhere that scholarly knowledge is not.” ― C.G. Jung, The Red Book: Liber Novus
Reading your words I realise how much I need to empty my cup and so I don’t want to write back – just as you say, for the sake of being polite – but I will take the stillness that your words offered me and allow them to be a vitalising water. Thank you for this gift – Kristina.July 14, 2022 at 1:49 pm #74752
Thank you for your kind and heart felt response Kristina.
All the best to you.July 15, 2022 at 6:18 pm #74751
Kristina, so wonderful to have you back. Your deep dive into aspects of our relationships; (social as well as personal); concerning the ritual of a party that everyone has been discussing leads me to a couple of questions that have deep resonance with me lately and I think may offer some added seasoning as we are exploring our inner world. The “Shadow” is one, Eros as related to our inner drive concerning the idea of fate/destiny and also its’ possible connection to the way we see ourselves as you mentioned concerning the understanding surrounding “therapy”, is two; and three is the curious one: “synchronicity” or things that pop up out of nowhere as if a message sent by “The God’s”; that either wreck-havoc or provide illumination of some sort. (I’ll try to explain this odd mixture concerning our individuation process and hopefully you might be able to provide some helpful insights.)
We know that from a Jungian perspective the Shadow is a dimension of ourselves, not just something evil or destructive thing but may also contain great undiscovered potential if understood and realized properly. (So possibly as a messenger that connects us with our inner drive to express itself or put another way the combination of the “self” as ego and the “S”elf as archetype and regulator of the entire psyche); whether through our goals, our relationships, our identity related pursuits, our desire to understand our existence within the world around us; and that often some element or situation and will intervene in our path out of nowhere to either inform, transform or cause mischief or even worse tear through what we’ve been doing leaving us baffled to reconstruct a new path forward. (Please forgive the ragged attempt here for I know this may be confusing, but I’m trying to hold this explanation together so that it makes sense; so please bear with me.)
Now one school of thought is that this “phenomenon”; for lack of a better word; is actually a (manifestation) of one’s inner wish and that we have been pulled off track; and this “trickster” element; (again for lack of a better term); appears to in a way re-direct us. (Sounds confusing, I know.) But this out-of-nowhere force could also be seen as “Cupids Arrow”, as “fate” telling you to take another path and start all over again, or it could be a “Power Drive” awakened or destroyed; or any number of other things that interrupt where one is headed, whether by intent or by not being aware of what our heart may be telling us. A clue might be “Adler’s drive to power” that Joseph mentioned as opposed to the unaddressed life wish or even romance. (Stay with me.)
So we have the introvert/extrovert expressions of the psyche which in later life may switch sides because career goals may have been attained and now, we have what Joseph called: “disposable Libido” or (psychic energy); that Joseph says needs a place to go; (and where is that but down into the unconscious stirring up all those unaddressed issues that have been laying dormant ready to be awakened and either cause trouble or inspire new life. Perhaps “enantiodromia”, but not sure how much of this concept applies.
(Still with me?) So now we get to “synchronicity”; or what we might call meaningful coincidental moments of chance; where something comes out of nowhere as a sign, signal, message or notice to get your attention. (And yes, I can provide an example of something that happened recently if needed; but that would further confuse my humble explanation which is already top-heavy as it is.)
Now we get to “divination”; which in Jungian themes could be the psyche’s attempt; (like the migration call or summons of animals to go where they are supposed to); as if a message from a mystical realm that tells them this is what I should do. Some might call this fate or destiny or something else entirely. But we know that things like Dream tending, tarot cards, I-Ching coins or sticks, as some examples or forms of divination are helpful to many people who feel they would like additional helpmates to discover if they are headed in the right direction; (whatever that thing is that feels right for them, or is missing, or again in Jungian terms: “intuition”; this would be one of Jungs’ 4 functions: thinking, feeling, sensation, intuition).
We get “lost” in the world of masks; and Joseph mentioned in Diane Osbon’s book: “Reflections in the Art of Living – A Joseph Campbell Companion”; as I think Stephen was referring to – that one way of: “not being on track or to get sidetracked is to go to a cocktail party”; which I would interpret as getting side-tracked off one’s Bliss Path. But Joseph often used metaphors in a number of different ways. So, my point is that in this tremendously complex world we are trying to navigate we need all the devices we can get at our disposal; whether by having our astrology chart read, or having a tarot reading, throwing the I-Ching, or following “synchronistic” clues as I just mentioned. Because we live in two worlds of the inner and the outer, and we must learn to reconcile them together. Jung was hugely interested in the occult, and indeed (Jungs’ sidekick, as it were): Marie Louise Von Franz; has written extensively on this topic in her book: “On Divination and Synchronicity”; and I’m hoping you may have some interesting insights to offer on my clumsy patchwork inquiry. Sorry my attempt at this really is such a mess, but I’ve been trying to figure out how to put this into words for days now ever since your essay first posted.
Again, so very glad to have you back among us with your warm and caring spirit; And that the Sun may someday again shine to heal the darkness those around you are enduring in Ukraine. Namaste
As a quick addendum reference concerning Joseph’s interpretation and ideas of Jung’s thoughts and his own applications these can be found in more exacting detail in Audio Lecture II.6.I – “Modern Myths of Quest”. This lecture has been especially helpful in breaking down Jungian themes and marrying them with Joseph’s ideas because he states much of his thought somewhat differently than in his other Jungian lectures.July 15, 2022 at 11:16 pm #74750
Here is a quick example of the different ways Joseph uses a metaphor that can often get confusing in different texts. I mentioned a reference to a quote I was a bit uncertain about concerning his thoughts about a “cocktail party”. Here was the one I remembered from Osbon’s book: A Joseph Campbell Companion on page (76); which I think was referencing something somewhat different than what everyone was talking about.
“My experience is that I can feel that I’m in the Grail Castle when I’m living with people I love, doing what I love. I get the sense of being fulfilled. But, by god, it doesn’t take much to make me feel I’ve lost the Castle, it’s gone. One way to lose the Grail is to go to a cocktail party. That’s my idea of not being there at all.
My sense of it is you have to keep working to get there. It may take a little while. Even when you have gotten there, it’s easy to get flipped out because the world has things it wants you to do and you have decided not to do what the world wants. The problem is to find a field of action to give you that inner satisfaction so that you are not thrown out.”
Now this may or may not address “part” of what Sunbug was pointing out concerning the Arthurian context she was discussing, but the fact that there are so many versions of the Arthurian mythos, and that Joseph had his favorites which he often referred to I think some of these can get confused with others as to their reference points which Joseph utilized so often.
This sort of thing drives me crazy sometimes because Joseph’s body of work is so huge it often becomes difficult when something he said has several different sources, and often the subject matter in one is referring to something very different from another; or even worse can be interpreted in a number of different ways. At any rate I wanted to clear up what I was referring to in this particular context. The one above I used concerning the Jungian Lecture I left a description title and location for is a perfect example. Joseph spoke on a number of occasions using both Jungian and Arthurian themes, and it’s easy to get confused sometimes about what is where and which one means what. (Yes, I know that quoting and footnoting is a good way to cut down on the confusion so that’s why I left the above clarifiers. Again, my apologies for any confusion.)July 22, 2022 at 2:21 pm #74749
James, my apologies for the delayed reply. I’ve been away at a festival for a week deep in the Lithuanian forest and only now returning to connected life! It’s called Yaga Festival and it’s all about Modern Rituals: https://yaga.lt/
But anyway, to your thoughtful comments. I’ve often found that crossroads are the best place for magic because all roads are open and the chances for synchronicity – and possibility – are greatest. It’s also a reminder that our salient, superpowers are relational and collaborative. They’re embodied and magical, folkloric and sacred, and involve a commendation from the heavens. It’s why it’s crucial for us to navigate by synchronicity, intuition, dreams, and our imagination. And to take the moon’s wisdom into consideration too.
These two luminaries, the sun and moon, symbolise the eternal and temporal, so we must think, feel, and do synchronistically, not only causally. It’s about taking an appreciative, fractal fluency into our approach. A collaborative model of all giving, all receiving, which often can’t be comprehended by the intellect. When we attune ourselves to the collective weaving of life, it’s easier to surrender to what we hold sacred and trust our intuition more than our ego’s sense of timing. We abandon artificial certainty.
And the more weightless we are in our psyche, the more we can engage in synchronicity. When we’re carrying too much chronos time in ourselves we’re too heavy – too weighted with excess psychic baggage – to be moved at light speed … and to move ourselves in kairos time across the chessboard of life.
Until the next dialogue – Kristina.July 26, 2022 at 1:24 am #74748
Kristina, please forgive my tardiness in thanking you for your very considered reply. Yes, you were “spot on” in your advice about “crossroads” as I had a feeling you would be. Last week I woke up in the middle of a dream thinking I needed to ask you about this; so, the “synchronistic” aspect was in full play. Your message was a wonderful moment of confirmation that the intuitive path I had been following was providing many of the internal answers I had been seeking, and I’m very appreciative for the time you spent in answering my query.
For several years now my individuation quest has taken me in an entirely different direction than I could have possibly imagined, and yes, there have often been questions about where I was going. Jung says: that “conflict” is often a clue or sign that resolution is close because the transcendent function is holding the tension between two opposing forces and the question is always: “can you hold the tension?” until the “Axiom of Maria” is revealed. That 3rd thing that provides a 4th is not easy because if it was then why go through all that turmoil? Of course, as the saying goes: “the fates lead him or her that will, those that don’t they drag”. So glad and grateful I asked you, and so kind of you to respond in such a sensitive and thoughtful way.
May your days since your return from your retreat be full of sunshine and meaning. Namaste
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