April 29, 2022 at 5:12 am #74856Stephen GerringerKeymaster
Bradley Olson, Ph.D. – writer, depth psychologist, editor of JCF’s MythBlast essay series, and host of Pathways with Joseph Campbell, the flagship program in JCF’s MythMaker Podcast Network – is with us in Conversations of a Higher Order to discuss his MythBlast thought-piece: “The Boundary-Blurring Nature of Myth” (click on title to read).
This is an opportunity to share your impressions, questions, observations, and insights about this week’s MythBlast with Dr. Olson (and each other). I’ll get the ball rolling, but where we go from there will be determined by your participation.
Bradley – Thank you for this illuminating rumination challenging what has become a default setting for so many:
As you point out, boundaries can be useful, whether addressing emotional and psychological trauma, or simply trying to establish an appropriate work-life balance – but so many today seem to expect hard edges and crisp distinctions between one thing and another in everything – distinctions that don’t exist in nature.
Though I agree there are geological features that sometimes act as barriers – mountains, oceans, deserts, rivers – I’d also suggest it’s the human mind that regards these as boundaries: birds, mammals, the wind, rain, clouds and such don’t seem so convinced. (Even among humans these same geological features, such as steppe and ocean, have also served as conduits for trade, as well as the dissemination of cultural ideas and innovations.)
At the same time, blurred boundaries are very much part of the natural world. To our eyes, we see a clear distinction between land and sea, or a tree and the world around it – but a closer look reveals the ferment of activity and exchange occurring along the edges where leaf meets air and root meets earth.
In The Hero’s Journey, Joseph Campbell observes, “I spent a long time with intertidal biologist Ed Ricketts, in that area between low and high tide [1931–32].” Ricketts cut a figure larger than life — a Renaissance man with a passion for biology, drawn to explore the margins, whether the elegant, unique, complex life in the tidal zones along the Pacific coast where earth and sea collide, or the writers, artists, prostitutes, bohemians, and bums inhabiting the dark corners and jagged edges of civilized society.
Campbell acknowledges Ricketts influence in shaping his understanding of mythology as a function of biology. The relatively young Joe Campbell, having dropped out of grad school and traveled to California, spent many a day helping Ricketts gather lab specimens in the tide pools on the California shore, eventually sailing with him on a collecting expedition up the Pacific coast to Alaska. During their journey they passed the time in lengthy discussions of everything from quantum physics to a novel theory of Ricketts’ that would eventually appear, in Steinbeck’s and Ricketts’ Sea of Cortez, as non-teleological thinking:
If one observes in this relational sense, it seems apparent that species are only commas in a sentence, that each species is at once the point and the base of the pyramid, that all life is relational to the point where an Einsteinian relativity seems to emerge. And then not only the meaning but the feeling about species grow misty. One merges into another, groups melt into ecological groups until the time when what we know as life meets and enters what we think of as non-life: barnacle and rock, rock and earth, earth and tree, tree and rain and air. And the units nestle into the whole and are inseparable from it . . . all things are one thing and that one thing is all things — plankton, a shimmering phosphorescence on the sea and the spinning planets and an expanding universe, all bound together by the elastic string of time.
It is advisable to look from the tide pool to the stars and then back to the tide pool again” (The Log from the Sea of Cortez, 178)
Hard to be more blurry and diffuse than that – which may not seem so unusual coming from a writer like John Steinbeck, but Ricketts was a scientist whose ideas influenced and informed the field of deep ecology. Certainly resonates with your description of myth as
perpetually blurring boundaries . . . Myth constantly smudges the edges of ourselves and the world, it blurs boundaries between the material and the immaterial, between gods and humans, between past, present, and future, between ethics and morals, and between emotion and catastrophe.”
This, for me, is the key take-away from your essay. Indeed, I’d go so far as to say that it’s that sense of blurred boundaries that gives myth its power.
At the same time, I’m often perplexed today – something you and I touched on in a conversation in this forum back in October. There is another sizable segment of American society, a spectrum that ranges from New Age spiritualists on one end to QAnon conspiracy theorists on other, who also embrace a chaotic, blurry vision of the world.
What distinguishes the embrace of blurred boundaries contained in myth from the fuzziness of their realities – where do you draw the boundary?
😉April 29, 2022 at 5:32 pm #74880
You give, yet again, another great introduction that well frames the substance of my MythBlast on the boundary blurring nature of myth.
You’re right to say that the boundary blurring nature of myth is what gives it its power. I think that endowment is what makes myth, myth. Which is why, I should add, literalizing myth is its death. Myth can’t be myth without being fuzzy, confusing, and ineffable. Because myth is blurry, it quite naturally insists that we turn it over and over and around and even, if we can manage it, inside out; to examine it from as many perspectives as possible in order to generate some understanding of this remarkably abstruse artifact referred to as myth.
I like that you pulled Ed Ricketts’ thoughts into this conversation: “all things are one thing and that one thing is all things…” This is the essence of thinking mythically, and it requires us to develop that double vision I’ve mentioned in past CoHO conversations. When vision and perspective shift, as they must do to compensate for the blurriness, we learn more about “the one thing” to which myth is trying to introduce us. Of course, we never learn enough, never experience enough to say, eureka! We may have those transcendent moments in which we feel we know the mystery, but as soon as we begin to think or talk about it, it’s gone, and we plunge back into ignorance.
You bring up another interesting issue by mentioning that a “sizable segment of American society, a spectrum that ranges from New Age spiritualists on one end to QAnon conspiracy theorists on other, who also embrace a chaotic, blurry vision of the world.” I think that to observers like ourselves, their beliefs, attitudes, and practices seem blurry by virtue of their irrationality, unreasonableness, and ease with which they deny and subvert consensual reality and social contracts. But in fact, from inside those spheres there is nothing fuzzy or blurry at all. Both ends of the spectrum, from New Age gurus to those who insist JFK Jr. is going to return, messiah-like, and assume his rightful place at the right hand of Donald Trump, know for certain that their beliefs are not beliefs at all, but are undeniable facts, and that they have apprehended a deep truth that others are simply not smart enough or too indoctrinated to consider, let alone see. From their perspectives, they see everything with an eagle-eyed clarity and focus. It is a way to avoid the irksome nuanced nature and uncontrollable messiness of life, and it’s not a very long voyage from there to insisting that some sort of authoritarian response is the answer. Just one of the reasons why Campbell insisted that myth was not a toy for children.May 2, 2022 at 2:09 pm #74879
Bradley, synchronicity has it that this morning, before I read your essay, I was thinking about bounderies and separation. It occurred to me that a distinction can be made between the two. A boundery can be crossed; whereas a separation, cannot. Or to put it in another way, a separation that can be crossed becomes a boundery. A boundery does not imply separation. A separation implies a rupture, a breaking off. It has a permanent quality to it. Anyone who has gone through a divorce understands this. This distinction seems to me to have profound existential relevance. Our myths of creation, whether religious or scientific, speak of a beginning that starts with a separation. Between chaos and order, darkness and light, a big bang or a primordial cell separating from its watery environment by means of a fatty membrane. I wonder how different would the narrative be if instead of speaking of separation we spoke simply of bounderies? Would it help alleviate some of our existential angst? Would it make a difference if we accepted bounderies as existential and organic reality and separation as a conceptual and psychological phenomenon? In other words, nature sets boundaries but does not separate us. It is we humans that insist in separating.May 2, 2022 at 4:15 pm #74878
I think you’re right about this, Juan. A boundary can be thought of as a mark, a symbolic declaration that this space, here is this, and that space there is that. It is, essentially, symbolic. Just as the boundaries of nation states disappear as one pulls farther and farther away from the earth. I like your nuanced differentiation of boundaries and separation. Separation creates a rift, a cleft, and functions, it seems to me as a deficit. So yes, I think you’re right that we would have a very different narrative (not just creation, gender, race, etc., but of just about everything) if we thought about ourselves and the world in terms of boundaries (which are often permeable) as opposed to separation or rupture. The latter even sounds painful, doesn’t it?May 2, 2022 at 6:28 pm #74877
Bradley, so glad to be back with you, this is a great topic and one that addresses, at least in my mind how one thinks about some of Joseph’s major themes concerning how the individual interprets their inner world and their relationship to the outer world in which they are enclosed. Boundaries and the way we see them have much to do with the individual’s interpretation of their reality and how they navigate their life. And indeed, one could say these boundaries may be quite difficult to keep separate as they have a distinct ability to cross over each other throughout a human lifetime and the life crisis that are often a huge part of the dilemmas or gordian knots they must sort out.
Right from the beginning of the child’s evolutionary stages the individual is forming an identity and the way they see themselves which will have a distinct impact on their decision-making process throughout the course of their life. This process of inner growth continues through every type of decision they make will have to do with how they can navigate these inner lines that define where so many things begin and end. Also, there is the matter of how many of these definitions can change as well. (My name is so and so, I was a child and now I am coming into adulthood, what am I going to do with my life, and then later getting married and becoming a parent, and still later after that of coming into retirement.)
Conflicts between ideas of definitions and their resolution are also involved with the blurring of boundaries. I am a parent, but also part of a relationship which now becomes “a we” instead of an “I”; and (we) now have a child we are responsible for. Just the idea of marriage is enough to complicate this whole idea of what “me or I” represent; not to mention how the child understands who they are to become. (Relationships can really complicate self-perception matters even more so; but back to the individual identity.)
I think Joseph’s idea of the Hero and the alchemy involved of the individual becoming who they can be through the Journey/Adventure process; that of answering the individual’s inner “call” to seek this thing outlines at much of the root of the human dilemma. By that I mean that throughout one’s life there will be tests and problems to resolve with no clear lines of where one thing ends or another begins. There will be Dark Forests and no visible paths to follow, only the inner thing that drives you and you must follow this “Bliss” thing that gives you meaning and purpose; that is if you’ve chosen the “path that is no path” and much of the time you have absolutely no idea of the: “what, where, or how” all of this is going to turn out or where it will lead you or what you are doing. (As the famous baseball catcher, Yogi Berra, once said: “When you come to a fork in the road take it.”
Today, more than ever I think Joseph’s theme of the Left-Hand Path of the Hero has life restoring and vivifying qualities at a time when the world seems to be coming off its’ railings. This is very different from the Right Hand Path of the Village Compound, which is to say, if you have based your life decisions on what is talking to you from your insides; your bliss path of being true to yourself and your own value systems instead of what others are telling you what is right, then your life will reflect that.
So often I think people get tied up in emotional knots where lines and boundaries become so blurred they have no idea how to get out of the “House of Mirrors” they are enclosed in. They are deep in the Labyrinth Cave and have lost their Adriadne Thread and their Minotaur lies deep in the center waiting for them and they feel lost and alone with no way out. And I think Juan’s point about “Synchronicity” has an excellent connection to this topic point about boundaries and blurred lines.
So much of my life has been tied to this inner metamorphosis, and it wasn’t until late mid-life through an encounter with a “synchronistic moment” I came across Joseph Campbell, and a path forward opened up that I have been following ever since. Each of us has a story, and Joseph’s idea of a “personal myth”; (which is what much of this idea is about), was truly life changing. For some religion will work for them, but religion can also cause huge problems within human peaceful co-existence; not to mention the individual ideas about their own meaning and purpose.
Easter and May Day is always a difficult time for me; especially this year because it was 50 years ago my mother committed suicide; (the particulars I will not go into). And all these last few days there have been continuing clues tapping me on the shoulder as reminders I needed to revisit it; some from my family and the most powerful being the suicide of a famous music celebrity; (Naomi Judd); just before she and her daughter were to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. More than ever it helped me to reconcile the relationship between one’s outer and inner world; that of the outer self-image of persona and the inner world of one’s own self-esteem and the questions that were posed from their results. I say this because both this person and my mother suffered from deep debilitating depression, and I had also suffered from this condition for much of my life as well. The good news is that Jung and Joseph have helped me in ways that none of the earlier treatment I had gotten as a child had even come close to working. And indeed this was definitely true for my mother as well for she slipped out of her treatment facility determined to end her pain after close to two decades of treatment. No one in my family was spared from the emotional turmoil that was connected to her life. (And Suicide and Depression has now become a major problem which is finally being talked about. But there are still many miles left to travel before society will truly understand the depths and seriousness of these issues that surround this aspect of the human condition.)
In my humble opinion Joseph Campbell’s themes offer real hope for the future, and I can only say how much his work has truly helped me over the years and will continue to do so until my journey’s end. This is a great way you have framed this subject Bradley, and I definitely look forward to what you and everyone has to say about it.May 2, 2022 at 8:00 pm #74876
Blurred bounderies, blurry vision and fussy reality. Interesting stuff. It makes me think of quantum mechanics. Maybe it is the nature of bounderies, if they are true to nature, to be fussy. Maybe it is the fussiness what makes them bounderies. Bounderies between clearly defined edges. And now I think of the dual reality of light, which after a long scientific tantrum period, we have been forced to finally accept. Which it goes to show, by the way, that the surest bet is always reality, not theory. It appears that between the well defined and understood light wave and the well defined an understood particle (the photon) sits a fussy and incomprehensible wave function, which we may think of as a boundery. It would appear, then, that nature, at its most fundamental level, uses bounderies as transitions. Not divisions. No gaps. If that is the case, the only reality that separation has is in our heads, as a conceptual and psychological reality. But I don’t want to chase that idea any further.
How do we explain the QAnon, New Age and the scientific thinking phenomena? I would agree with Bradley that in all these cases the individuals in each camp truly believe in their own reality. But this does not make sense to us rational thinkers. Isn’t there only one true reality? Unless we get rid of the quantum dimension of fuzzy transitions and quantum collapses, I am afraid, the answer is no. If we choose to believe that the QAnon reality cannot become an experiential reality for the rest of us, we might be up for a surprise. We can understand all three phenomena (rationality, irrationality and religiosity) as quantum collapses at the society level. Nature is true at all levels. Further separation is not the answer to the problem. We need to borrow a page from nature, get out of our conceptual and psychological separation wagon, which some may argue is but an illusion (but with teeth) and begin to bridge bounderies.May 3, 2022 at 1:49 am #74875
I love this.
And this: Myth, because it exists and functions between opposites, becomes an important point of entry, not just to imagination and the unconscious, but to the discovery of the capacity and potential of the human being. But mythology can assume this function only if we cease to understand myth as a relic, as a curiosity, a just so story, a religion, or any other clearly defined, bounded concept; to the contrary, it moves in and through and around life, disclosing that Will ‘O the Wisp quality of the vital spark, the élan vital. Mythology is not merely a museum-like repository of normative or once-orthodox narratives. Mythology is the final destination of singular thought and experience; the sublimely confounding creations that cannot be repeated, and which are diminished by attempts at replication. That’s why when we read myth, it matters little from where the myths come nor their historical context, we never fail to be moved by them.
Ah, the “elan vital!” The “liveness,” of myth!
That conjures in my mind that myth is or could be “timeless,” “ageless.”
And THAT blurs all those boundaries. Behind the veil of the literal formation of myths and stories (through time and place/space) rests something else…another energy at play?
Speaking of boundaries and nature, if you forgive my purple moment Bradley…I heard a reference to Nature as “boundless.”
I find this very interesting also in reference and comparison to the “bounded hermetic life,” which cannot always escape encroachment of the messy every day world.
Yet in reflection Nature is also perfectly capable of encroaching right back on that messy everyday world.
Weeds and ivy and even flowers overtake abandoned buildings.
Grass and flowers persistently push up through sidewalk cracks.
Maybe the perspective is different for each person whether one goes to nature as an escape into an ordered enclosed retreat? Or to experience the expanse…the horizon? Which is more bounded nature or the chaotic human world? Or does nature blur those boundaries as you say.
There is an interesting essay written by the illustrator John Howe about boundaries and edges in Nature…though his words seem to work on a separation “nature everything we are not…”
But something has changed in humans…because in modern times “we talk about nature,” instead of “to Nature.” But in that line right there he blurs the boundaries!
I really find your last paragraph very poignant and moving…it’s as though you have taken myth out from under the microscope counting dust particles and it can “breathe again.”
If myth is Boundless and transcendent…then why…do we…?
Joe Campbell’s take on the modern world and the need for the inner myth and journey is in many ways heart wrenching as well as inspiring…
How does one go OUT to go IN in a world, which constantly emphasizes boundaries? And gates?And yes, I certainly understand necessity!
But it’s not easy!
One certainly feels for people of all ages who live in this complex and sometimes confusing and confounding world!
So Joe had the pulse of that, especially when so many “outer journeys,” are limited to “vicarious,” or “audience participation.” Then the INNER journey MUST call. For the sake of the Soul or Higher Self. And the Greater Universal Connection.
I only brought up John Howe, because Stephen mentioned Ricketts and that blurring of boundaries…I think it keeps the wonder in it.At least that’s how I remember my Mother introducing the world to me, and teaching me…through the lens of wonder.
There are several thought provoking responses from everybody! James, Juan.
I think Juan is right about giving things a different perspective…changing from separation to boundaries and then noting that blurring…it changes the whole energy…and that would be very interesting to see.
Well I’ve wandered on here.
Loved this essay Bradley!May 3, 2022 at 2:19 am #74874
Am sensing those blurry edges can hold a bit of irony and paradox as well? Laugh. 😉 We all do the best we can I guess!May 3, 2022 at 4:07 am #74873
You wrote, “Each of us has a story, and Joseph’s idea of a ‘personal myth’…” and it’s in this “each of us has a story” business that boundaries really start to blur and adds to the stew of confusion regarding the self. The story isn’t clear at all, and often there are many (and many conflicting stories) that we hold at once that seem to tell us who we are. And personal myth is something that I’ve written a lot about over the years. It’s something I think Campbell gets right, but it’s not generally understood this way in the myth community. Personal myth is, in the final analysis, the working on us of the archetypal. The archetypal begins deep within, in the unconscious aspects of the psyche, and moves (and moves us) out into the world through symbol, metaphor, and (often bitter) experience. Often people talk about archetypes, but they don’t speak to the archetypal, and instead speak in stereotypes, which come from the generalized outside into the particular inside of people. The stereotypical is much too bounded an experience. The archetypal begins with a barely defined form, a mere skeleton that is filled in by experience, self-reflective thinking and personally resonant images. The archetypal images and the personal mythology that results from them are generally not found by the individual experiencing them to be very “sexy,” nor do they generally tell our story the way we would like other people to see us. For instance, the densely muscled bodybuilder ego, for instance, might like to identify with Herakles or Adonis or Achilles, but in reality the muscle serves as armor to protect a weaker, lamer, inefficacious, yet sensitive and creative Hephaestus-like nature.
This may have been a bit of the mark as it addresses your response, and I’m so sorry to hear of your family’s experience with depression and suicide. Things are, as you say, getting better, but there is still so much stigma and self-loathing attached to these kinds of illness that we don’t encourage and help the suffer to learn how to see in the dark (as you have done, by the way) and let go of the idea that we need to be whole and unbroken. We become more whole when we are able to accept our brokenness; and we can then begin to build the ladders and supports that help us when we find ourselves in these places from time to time.
Warm regards to you, James.May 3, 2022 at 4:27 am #74872
I can’t really speak coherently to the issue of quantum physics, so I’ll leave that to you and others more schooled in that discipline. But it does possess an interesting quality in that phenomena that at first appear blurry, become more clear the more we develop the ability to observe it. That’s a powerful lesson for me. It teaches me not to form an opinion too quickly, not to be too sure that what I observe is the reality I’m being presented with. It’s a useful metaphor. And as you are about to see, I will quickly disregard it :0 (not really, but I am aware that the ice I’m on is getting thinner.)
Here’s where the QAnon and some similar, so-called New Age thought goes off the rails for me. First, I find it riddled with sophism and, to a large degree, solipsism. These approaches to living are not really interested in anything remotely like consensual truth (admittedly, when we start to talk about truth, we’re already on a slippery slope), informed conversation–let alone debate, or constructive reconciliatory strategies to better, not just their own lives, or their own country, but other lives around the planet, too. For these and other reasons, I just can’t take them seriously.
Movements like this are especially appealing to those who long to be other than who or what they are; they want to be rid of an unwanted life, an irksome existence, a too weighty humanity; they have failed in terms of finding the ability to create the kind of life they think they should have been able to live, and they find no hope of life being different for them in the future. These sorts of movements appeal to those who feel cheated by life, that they have been prevented from succeeding by hypothesized outside forces or some massive conspiracy instigated by minorities, a secret, wealthy cabal, or a “rigged system.” The indispensable book to read on this is Eric Hoffer’s True Believers. “The fanatic,” writes Hoffer, “…is usually an unattractive human type. He is ruthless, self-righteous, credulous, disputatious, petty and rude.” He is willing to “sacrifice much that is pleasant and precious in the autonomy of the individual […] The true believer is eternally incomplete, eternally insecure.” Movements like these are the only way for some to quiet the inner voices of doubt and uncertainty, and by joining a mass movement they hope to lose their frustration and seem to give themselves a new self, a new identity, and a different, less problematic life.
You put it best when you wrote, “Further separation is not the answer to the problem. We need to borrow a page from nature, get out of our conceptual and psychological separation wagon, which some may argue is but an illusion (but with teeth) and begin to bridge boundaries.”
Thank you very much for your contributions to this thread. You bring important perspective and issues to the table!May 3, 2022 at 4:30 am #74871
This may have been a bit of the mark as it addresses your response, and I’m so sorry to hear of your family’s experience with depression and suicide. Things are, as you say, getting better, but there is still so much stigma and self-loathing attached to these kinds of illness that we don’t encourage and help the suffer to learn how to see in the dark (as you have done, by the way) and let go of the idea that we need to be whole and unbroken. We become more whole when we are able to accept our brokenness; and we can then begin to build the ladders and supports that help us when we find ourselves in these places from time to time. Warm regards to you, James”
(Bradley, thank you so much for speaking directly to this aspect of the topic in such a profound and meaningful way for it addresses “exactly” what I was humbly attempting to get at. And you are most kind in the way you have done so.)May 3, 2022 at 4:52 am #74870
Sunbug, it’s nice to hear from you. First, let me express my appreciation of your nice comments on the essay. Second, there’s a lot in what you’ve written to unpack. Let’s see if I can do it justice.
You’re right to say that myth is timeless and ageless; in fact, one of the fundamental aspects of myth is its ability to blur boundaries of time and space. I also agree that nature–which is, I think another word for the élan vital, the life principle, or as Campbell sometimes referred to it, “the dynamism of being”–is life itself. Somewhere along the line, we got tired of being “playthings of clouds and wind,” as Goethe put it in one of his poems, and decided to take matters (matter) into our own hands and separate ourselves from the natural world, an ultimately doomed project, I think. As you point out nature encroaches on our “civilized” boundaries all the time. But here’s the thing: I think nature is both the wilderness, the rivers, the seas, etc. and at the same time it is the city, the farm, the clearing made for the cottage. Human beings are products of nature, and it follows that the productions of human beings are also natural. The mistake we humans make is in the forgetting of that actuality.
So once again we find ourselves, as you note in your next comment, in the position of irony and its double vision, and paradox. Whenever we encounter paradox we can be sure the archetypal is at work. It is my position that myth is often paradoxical, and always ironic, and the way to deal with it is not so much a dismantling or a relegation to the dustbin of human imagination, but instead to see it through the eyes of wonder, to see it through the lens of play, to be amused at the irony and awed by the paradox.
Thanks for playing along!May 3, 2022 at 5:16 am #74869
You’re welcome, James, and thank you.May 3, 2022 at 12:41 pm #74868
Joseph Campbell once said that if you want to change the world, change the metaphor. Bounderies do not separate; they connect. That one works for me. Thank you, Bradley, Stephen and everyone else for the stimulating conversation and wonderful insights.May 3, 2022 at 1:59 pm #74867
Bradley, after a night’s sleep it occurred to me that there may be others who are exploring their own inner terrain, (as it were), and since this is your area of expertise you might have thoughts or suggestions that might be of help to those who might want to expand their inner quest further.
For instance, Stephen and many of us have been talking about various tools we try and utilize like personal writing and dream work as just two examples, and of course getting better acquainted with Jungian themes as well as going further into Joseph Campbell material. (You may have particular books or authors you like, or perhaps certain techniques to open these kinds of things out more.)
Dennis Patrick Slattery, whom you probably already know has written extensively about these types of approaches in writing and has just mentioned a particular book on his blog he has been recently reading called: “Opening Up by Writing it down – How expressive Writing Improves Health and Eases Emotional Pain” by James W. Pennebaker and Joshua M. Smith; and then of course there is his own great book about exploring one’s inner personal world called: “Riting Myth/Mythic Writing” – Plotting your Personal Story”. Sam Keen, whom Joseph collaborated with at Esalen for his yearly seminars wrote a great book with Anne Valley Fox called: “Your Mythic Journey”. These are just a few examples to give a better idea of my question to which these works mainly deal with concerning learning about one’s internal road map, you might say, in a way where the individual could frame these kinds of aspects of one’s inner life to get a better sense of their own inner personal dynamics that are at work instead of just regular straight forward Jungian material. Technique oriented kinds of things where a person can connect the dots or learn to read these blurred lines in a way they can call their own. Stephen Larsen’s: “The Mythic Imagination” is another work you may already be familiar with; but what are “your” favorites if you have any that come to mind.
I’ve being reading a lot of Daryl Sharp’s books for a while now and one of the things I really like about his approach is he makes Jung’s ideas much more accessible with humor. Let’s face it, Jung is complex and complicated, and Joseph’s video clips; (like Psyche and Symbol for instance); come as close as anything I’ve seen to making Jung’s concepts understandable in day-to-day vernacular; yet putting these ideas to work in one’s life is definitely not an easy task to say the least.
Going to your local bookstore most often one is steered toward the self-help section with all kinds of new age material; (not that some of that isn’t helpful); but often one is left more confused when they leave than when they first arrived. One has to do the “inner work”, which often can be emotionally draining; and to find something one loves to do to express themselves is of course much more enjoyable but also at the same time can keep one from addressing the more difficult task at hand of looking at one’s unknown face and as Joseph said acknowledging that what you are dealing with is not always an enjoyable or pleasant thing to integrate into one’s life. But as you mentioned if we can accept and embrace that we are broken, perhaps finding those ladders out of those deep holes and mending those painful inner wounds that so desperately need our attention can produce the kind of alchemy we need to better understand how to navigate between all these blurry lines we have to confront in our day to day lives.
I really liked what you were talking about concerning the inner reconstruction one has to do to better understand that there are no illusions one can keep about oneself if they are to move forward. No superman or magic wizard is going to swoop in to save the day; but that doesn’t mean, as you suggested, that we can’t see the wonder in life if we can but figure out how to look for it in the proper way and bring that into our lives.
I won’t go on about this except to say since you deal with people who are struggling all the time you might have some things you like to recommend that you think might be helpful. And again, thank you so very much for such an enriching and rewarding discussion.
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