The New Old Age” with Monica Martinez, Ph.D.”
- This topic has 13 replies, 5 voices, and was last updated 10 months ago by monicamartinez.
July 28, 2022 at 12:19 am #74679Stephen GerringerKeymaster
Dr. Monica Martinez joins us from São Paulo, Brazil, where she holds a PhD in Communication with a specialization in Jungian Psychology, to discuss her MythBlast essay, “The New Old Age” (click on title to read).
This is a conversation and not an interview. I’ll get us started, but this thread is your opportunity to directly engage Dr. Martinez, asking questions and sharing comments and observations with her, and with each other.
Monica – In my mind, A Joseph Campbell Companion is an example of what I call “spoken Campbell” – works derived from interviews, lectures, and conversations, rather than his more elaborate and academic written works. Though I very much love the logic, scholarship, and pages of detailed reference notes that accompany The Hero with a Thousand Faces or the four volumes in The Masks of God series, the delightful conversational nature of, say, The Power of Myth interviews or the Companion make Campbell’s ideas accessible to a much broader audience.
Unless you have aged tremendously since the last time I saw you, those Golden Years still lie in your future; of late, however, I am just now entering that stage, having recently been designated a senior citizen (just for bureaucratic purposes, I tell myself). I understand when Campbell asserts “the image of decline in old age is a bit deceptive,” but decline there is, and it does take one heck of an adjustment. Campbell’s work (and Jung’s) have definitely helped me adapt to and embrace the inevitable.
Before diving too deep into a discussion of old age and death (which I find more fascinating with each passing day – as you put it, citing Diane Osborn, as “a goal toward which one can strive”), I’d like to circle back to the resonance you find between Campbell’s vision and Jung’s concept of individuation. Not everyone who is drawn to Joseph Campbell’s work is familiar with Carl Jung – so could you take a moment to describe , best as you can, Jung’s idea of individuation?
Or rather, your sense of what Jung means (considering one could write full-length books on the subject). How would you briefly explain what individuation is to someone who does not know Jung’s work?July 30, 2022 at 12:43 pm #74692
Thank you for the kind welcome, Stephen.
In fact, as time goes on, I am increasingly appreciating these works derived from interviews and lectures, as they make me feel immersed as if I were listening directly to these inspiring people.
I shared with very few people, but now in July 2022 I took advantage of my academic winter vacation to work on a book project on Jung’s active imagination method, reviewing the world literature on the subject and also conducting a self-experiment. And one of the ways to do that is to let yourself imagine having a conversation with a person, and to my total surprise – and skepticism at first – Jung presented himself to the conversation. Deep down, from a psychic point of view, we are talking to or about other parts of ourselves, levels of a higher order, if you will. In a sense, the experience turned out to be much like reading books like A Joseph Campbell Companion. A delightful and lively conversation, sometimes agreeing, sometimes not, with our interlocutor, as when we do with a book that engages us.
What excites me about scholars like Campbell and Jung is that the word “experience” unites them. Both were extremely erudite, in a way we probably never will be, but both were on the road, so to speak, not limited to intellectual concepts.
So, for me, these conversations like the ones provided by Campbell’s book go beyond broad audiences, as they speak to all of us in a more intimate and personal way. As if these wonderful insights into life and death were being whispered into our ears. From soul to soul.
As for the Golden Years (lol), in fact (or hope) I may not have aged tremendously since we saw each other at the last Campbell Foundation meeting in Vegas in 2019 (of which I have fond memories of meeting Team Campbell), but I think the pandemic has provided an intense process of introspection that made some of us tap into the Wise Old Man / Old Woman archetype. There is a difference between this and the Old man / Old Woman archetype. The second in general tends to be grumpy, full of pain, resentments and bitterness. The first, on the other hand, is equally full of pain — because what really ages is the body, not the psychic part –, but also full of wisdom, respect and sweetness for life. I agree with you: “Campbell’s work (and Jung’s) have definitely helped me adapt to and embrace the inevitable.”
In a sense, talking about Jung’s individuation process touches, but is not limited to, the discussion of old age and death — which as Campbell said is the mystery that governs life, from birth to death, from womb to tomb.
The simplest way I think to synthesize Jung’s idea of individuation is through the opening sentence of his book “Memories, Dreams and Reflections, compiled by Aniela Jaffé: “My life is a story of the self-realization of the unconscious”.
Meaning that he was brave enough to let down the ego’s guard and let the self do his job for him to become who he truly was. What is the ego? Campbell once explained it very simply: what I think I know, what I think I like and don’t like, and so on. They are constructions. And buildings can be undone, redone, renovated if we allow it. What is the self? Well, this totality of who we are also touches the mystery.
I think Campbell was deeply aligned with Jungian concepts, as he also says that “The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are”. But Campbell also shows us the way, when he says that living evokes our character, that is, it cuts away our illusory rough edges and allows us to the possibility of developing our full potential as human beings.
The other day I was listening to a wonderful podcast by Michael Meade, who is also dedicated to mythology studies, and he said “life teaches us to be who we are”. At the end of the day, life is the remedy for our neuroses, if we can lower our resistances down and humbly listen to its lessons.
Well, as a good Italian-Brazilian, I don’t know if I managed to briefly explain what individuation is to someone who does not know Jung’s work. Tough question… (lol). But I strongly recommend the reading of “Portable Jung“, a lovely book edited by Campbell.
I’m sure we can build together in this chat room what we think this principle of individuation and other Jungian notions are for us today.
Bliss to all,
Monica MartinezAugust 2, 2022 at 1:44 pm #74691
A warm welcome back Monica, and what a terrific topic you and Stephen have started off with.
Joseph Campbell and Carl Jung together make quite a pair of resources to draw from concerning how an individual can make sense and meaning from one’s life, especially given the complexities and confusion a person can encounter in today’s modern and technically driven society that has a tendency to ignore and dominate man’s inner world. And indeed, since Covid many of the things that have driven man’s search for identity and spiritual harmony have been negatively impacted in a social context through all the misinformation and disinformation surrounding politics and social media that it’s so easy to get disoriented and lost in the forest of our own complexes and lose our way.
Diane Osbon’s wonderful book: “Reflections on the Art of Living – A Joseph Campbell Companion” was an incredible helpmate in tying together so many loose ends and pulling them into a cohesive narrative when many of us first encountered Bill Moyers interviews with Joseph in “The Power of Myth”. It was truly lifechanging and helped to bridge and make comprehensible so many unanswered questions that modern society and standard religious themes were just not addressing. Then came Carl Jung as Joseph began showing how man’s inner psyche held many of the clues needed to unravel and address many of the problems people have encountered throughout a human lifetime.
So, what do these have to do with (me?); one might ask? Well, as we began to find out quite a lot it seems; and as the next book; a collection of Campbell’s lectures; was released: “Pathways to Bliss”; some of themes that Joseph utilized throughout both his teaching career and as a world-renowned Mythologist and writer became accessible in a larger context than were covered in Moyer’s 6-part video collection; and along with Osbon’s book more of Jung’s ideas were now added to the mix. These ideas for many of us were revolutionary; especially if you were brought up surrounded by a culture with strict religious: “Thou Shalt” directives. And the idea that your own story, your unique individual identity, your “personal myth” were just as valid as any religion was mind-blowing to say the least. Not only that, but that you had a Hero’s Journey ahead of you to find out what this thing was, and that it evolved over time. (The left-hand path is a perfect example of the threat to orthodox religion this realization posed.)
So, now we get to Jung’s idea of “Individuation” which both you and Stephen mention and I was wondering if you could talk a bit about something; Juan; another member brought up in a separate conversation recently concerning how easy it is to lose our “Ariadne Thread” and how it relates to our “Labyrinth” where our “Minotaur or Dragon” lives; and how in “later-life” this becomes a major concern because of what’s buried in the unconscious and wants its’ voice heard. (Yes, as we find out, this is a late life issue of huge importance.) And I say this because one of the things Joseph mentions is the Shadow as vehicle of this voice also contains “untapped values and goals” that have not been expressed. All those dark secrets and pain from early childhood that have been “repressed” are now stirring in later-life because this stage is about finding “meaning”. This is a standard mythological motif and may as a metaphor provide a window into one’s inner suffering that will come calling whether we like it or not. The question is: “will we listen to what it’s trying to tell us?”
I very much look forward to exploring this idea with you because as an analyst you will have a unique perspective that could be very helpful for many of us struggling with these kinds of things. Again, so good to have you back. NamasteAugust 2, 2022 at 8:12 pm #74690
Thank you for the kind welcome, James!
You brought to the discussion topics of very high value!
I kept thinking about the leap in the civilizing process that you mentioned, from “Thou Shalt” to “What is your personal myth?” I imagine sometimes it must have been simpler for people to simply follow the pack back in, let´s say, the Middle Ages. Now we are invited to endlessly investigate what our individual perspective is. In fact, as you said when you mentioned Juan, it is very distressing to follow Ariadne’s thread by ourselfs. And yet, if we don´t dare to do so…
On the other hand, how fascinating it is when we get it right and get even a glimpse of what our personal myth is. Such a joy!
Just today I was thinking about the shadow you mention. This Sunday I was attending my monthly drawing course and the teacher said something that stunned me when I was trying (with a lot of effort, I must confess) to draw a simple little white box: “Everything that is solid casts a shadow”. It hit me like lightning: there are no separations. Let’s befriend our shadows, our dislikes, what we don’t like about ourselves. Only Peter Pan didn’t have one shadow and Wendy kindly managed to sew one to his feet to make him feel real, complete.
I like Jung’s perspective of looking less at our past, our traumas (the “whys)”, and more forward (the “for what purpose”). According to Jung, the psyche does not have this notion of finitude that our physical body has. As long as we are dreaming our myth(s), life seems to go easier (or less difficult) to most people.
As an analyst, I try day by day to follow what Jung said: ‘Know all the theories, master all the techniques, but as you touch a human soul be just another human soul.” More and more I understand that this is what has a potential to heal.
Looking forward to keep sharing thoughts!
@monicamartinezpsi_enAugust 2, 2022 at 10:41 pm #74689Stephen GerringerKeymaster
Good to hear you are writing a book about active imagination!
I came to Jung through Campbell, many decades ago, and fell in love with the depth of the ideas Jung expresses in his writing. Much like Campbell’s work, at the end of almost every paragraph of Jung (or sometimes even just a single sentence), I need a moment to sit and and simmer for a few minutes to absorb what he just said – and, also like Campbell, Jung is one of those rare authors that, when I re-read something I might have read several times in the past, I find new thoughts and ideas unfolding.
However, one of my frustrations with Jung at first was that, though he refers to active imagination a lot, he doesn’t really describe how to do it. For that, I had to go elsewhere, and eventually discovered useful works in English by Robert Johnson, Mary Watkins, Robert Bosnak, and others that offer ideas on the process but the closest I came in Jung’s writing were references to his confrontation with the unconscious in Memories, Dreams, and Reflections.
That changed when I discovered his Dream Analysis: Notes of the Seminar Given in 1928 – 1930 by C.G Jung, and the translation of Children’s Dreams: Notes from the Seminar Given in 1936 – 1940. Between the two, that’s nearly 1200 pages of intense, thorough training psychiatrists in working with dreams over the course of these two multi-year courses. They are given dreams to study, and then in each session he poses a series of questions to them, offers guidance, and takes their questions. There are so many other useful works I’ve studied on dreamwork, but, at least in my experience, none so valuable as these.
But not everyone can read Jung. Though there’s more to choose from today than there used to be, I believe it’s so important to make active imagination more accessible.August 3, 2022 at 3:11 am #74688
This is beautiful, the Jung quote and your words Monica: “Know all the theories, master all the techniques, but as you touch a human soul be just another human soul.” Carl Jung
Monica: “More and more I understand that this is what has a potential to heal.”
How is it, that the things which seem simple also feel the most profound?
I love the one on oneness of this expression of connection. Think John Lennon sang something about “recognizing your brother, everyone you meet.” It reminds me of that too.
”As you touch a human soul, just be another human soul.”
What I love about this is it’s not overwhelming…it’s a beautiful starting place of compassion…the great hidden in the small.
I think it’s hard today, because everyone is thinking about every/all/one and loving everyone and taking care/helping in the world…all the quantity…and it is wonderful! Yet can also can be challenging.
But here, Jung gives the example of just being present for another human being and recognizing the human in each other. That brings in a raw and beautiful realness.
And makes this feel reachable…and brings one right into the present moment…
here is another human in front of you.
”as you touch a human soul, just be another human soul”
Monica: “More and more I understand that this is what has a potential to heal.”
Beautiful.August 3, 2022 at 1:31 pm #74687
Stephen, in fact there is no book by Jung on active imagination. Rather there is a canon of more important texts where he recorded the matter. In English, the one who did a very good review was Joan Chodorow, in Jung on Active Imagination. And now I’m in the editing phase of my book, which also includes books and articles in Portuguese on the subject.
Incidentally, I didn’t even have plans to delve into this subject of active imagination, but Murray Stein’s 2022 book, Four Pillars of Jungian Psychoanalysis, acted as a trigger. He suggests that there are four fundamental pillars of Jungian psychoanalysis (see that he lists analytical psychology among psychoanalysis, which makes sense to me but causes a lot of noise among scholars). The individuation process, the analytical encounter, work with dreams and active imagination. We can question whether the first two are in fact pillars, since the individuation process takes place with or without the analyst’s intervention (although more consciously, of course, with analysis); the encounter between the professional and the analysand, in different measures, also occurs in other schools of psychoteraphy; as for the dream, we use different techniques, but the Freudians also use it in consulting rooms and so for; but the active imagination… For me it became clear that it is the great Jungian legacy and still very little studied. And since I like calls to adventure…
To be short, it seems the triad Geschehenlassen (letting go); Betrachten (considering, impregnating) and, finally, Sich auseinanderstzen (confronting oneself with) is the pillars of it, so to speak.
So, once in the process, it is essential to open up to it, letting it happen without trying to interfere or lead the active imagination (Geschehenlassen). We can use something as a starting point, like an image from a dream, but without the intention of directing the narrative. Next, it is vital to take into account what the unconscious is trying to convey (Betrachten), remembering that as it is the symbolic world, the message will never be understood in its entirety – and that’s okay. In this way, the translation of letting oneself be impregnated by the content is more reliable than trying to interpret it. Finally, the time comes for the struggle, that is, for the confrontation of the conscious with the unconscious itself (Sich auseinanderstzen). Which means that it is not necessary to accept everything piously, but that the act of reflecting and pondering, sometimes in a decisive way, can be the indicated path. As Jung did, and is recorded in the Black books and Red book.
But, like everything else in the Jungian method, it is the individual experience that must be observed and welcomed, without too many conceptual straitjackets.
And yes, Jung is an author quite complex to read and try to understand. By the way, one of my favorite excerts of all the literature I have reviewed is in Chodorow book, when she refers to Tina Keller. There it goes:
“It is not a simple thing to present Jung´s ideas on active imagination. In his writings it is almost as if he invites different inner voices to speak. As the scientist, he presents his ideas in a clear understandable way. But then he turns to explore another perspective that may seem to contradict the first. Sometimes he is the poet, weaving words of haunting beauty. Other times, ancient prophets and mystics seem to speak through him. When the Trickster appears, his writings may seem deliberately ambiguous, even vague. Just when you want to hear more, he says something like: I must content myself with these hints. The reader may be left in a state of questioning and wondering, turned back to his or her own imagination. Dr. Tina Keller, a member of Jung´s early circle in the years 1915-29 wrote a wonderful memoir that describes the beginnings of active imagination. Here she sheds light on Jung´s multi-faceted approach to important ideas:
‘I feel privileged that I met C. G. Jung in the times where he was searching and had no definite formulations. I remember how I said: ‘But what you say today is just the contrary of what you said last week,’ and he answered: ‘That may be so, but this is true, and the other was also true; life is paradox.’ It was a most stimulating experience.’ (Keller, 1982, p. 282). (CHODOROW, 1997, p. 3).
It seems that definite formulations doesn´t go along very well with active imagination for the images seem to have a life of their own.
@monicamartinezpsi_enAugust 3, 2022 at 1:41 pm #74686
Hello dear Sunbug,
You are absolutely right
“And makes this feel reachable…and brings one right into the present moment…”
But we live in a world focused on talking, with its myriads of social networks, where most people are in their digital caves, as the South Korean-born philosopher and cultural theorist Germany Byung-Chul Han says.
So it is a blessing when we find somebody to be fully present in front of us, simply listening. Or we can do the same for someone. Just be there, no matter what.
As Campbell said, we live in very interesting times.
MonicaAugust 3, 2022 at 7:39 pm #74685
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.August 5, 2022 at 8:00 pm #74684
Monica, you may have missed my reply above these last couple of days; but if you will please check your private messages box because I found a PDF of Jacoby’s book: “Shame and the origins of self-esteem”; along with a short clip of him and Murray Stein at a Jungian seminar you may find of interest. Jacoby’s book: “The Analytic Encounter – Transference and Human Relationship” is highly regarded, and Stein goes on to describe part of this theory in the last half of the clip. You may already be familiar with much of this anyway as an analyst; but I thought it interesting enough to show both Jacoby and Stein together since there is so little footage of Jacoby that I could find.
Apparently, Jacoby also knew James Hillman as well, but I don’t have anything further I can share at the moment about that. (Since most of this information is not specifically about Joseph Campbell, I posted the material there.)
Again, thanks for your sharing all your thoughtful insights and I’ll look forward to hearing your impressions at some point when you are able to stop by.) NamasteAugust 6, 2022 at 5:50 am #74683
I wonder about the role that a kind of “active” participation with the world, before the world recognizes you as a full-grown and capable individual, regardless of your actual capabilities, plays on the predilections of the psyche.
Social action, especially the kind where you are engineering a mismanaged situation, in the hopes for a greater good seems to have a high whiplash on a 25-year old.
Perhaps because the age is stigmatized with making of bad decisions, incapability of self-accountability and general indifference to the “Realities” of society, it puts a young adult in the spot of “they-don’t-know-what-they-are-doing/talking-about”.
Thank you for this article; both my parents are about halfway thru middle age and I was disappointed that my mother does not look at aging as a beautiful and natural process; one that is freeing and not an end of “a life worth living”. Gentle as I may, I try to let her know that age is one’s power- that certain windows, certainly, do close; however it also ushers in the opening of many doors.
As a question to you, Dr. , do you think this process of “individuation” (I rather like to call it “growing up in mature child”) is at all apropos for one who has not reached the cusp of the “Golden Years” ?
How much social action should I commit to? What does a 25-year old who feels like an 83-year old do when coming up against the forces that hold up the walls that so clearly are destroying the experience of Life for many, many Beings (sentient + sans-)?August 9, 2022 at 2:57 pm #74682
Thank you for your message (my apologies for the delay in answering). It is indeed a rich colaboration to the discussion.
You know, that is why my favorite Campbell´s book is “The Masks Of God Vol. 04 Creative Mythology”. I read it in Portuguese, so the translation back to English might not be exactly the words he used, but I guess the idea goes through:
It is where Campbell says:
In the context of a traditional mythology, symbols are presented in socially preserved rites, through which the individual must experience or simulate having experienced certain perceptions, feelings and commitments. In what I call “creative” mythology, on the other hand, this order is inverted: the individual has an experience of his own – of order, horror, beauty, or even mere joy – which he seeks to convey through signs; and if your experience had any depth and meaning, your communication will have the value and force of a living myth – obviously for those who receive it and react to it on their own, with empathy, without impositions. (CAMPBELL, 2010, p. 20).
Here Campbell meets Jung again, who thought there is no more important work that an individual can do than being whole, so he/she can help others simply by being who he/she truly is. Easy to say, hard to do.
MonicaAugust 9, 2022 at 3:05 pm #74681
And it is indeed difficult for us to see our parents aging, insn´t it?
As per your question to you, I am not sure if I were a 25-year old again (who felt older too back then) I would do anything different than I did. I suppose that Campbell and Jung would say it is about going through life with conscience of its stages, but not being afraid to make mistakes and moving forward if we do. We always make mistakes, it’s part of life, we are human. How we dust ourselves off and move on is what makes the difference. Anyway, being a child when children, being young when young, being an adult when adults and, finally, being a wise old man or wise old woman when the time comes to be so. No shortcuts. It’s not a definitive answer, I know, and it is open to dialogue, but it’s the one I would give myself if I were 25 today. Living the present moment, that is the bless.
Monica MartinezAugust 9, 2022 at 7:28 pm #74680
Monica, thank you so much for your insights in compressing what I was attempting to get at.
You shared from Joseph:
“In the context of a traditional mythology, symbols are presented in socially preserved rites, through which the individual must experience or simulate having experienced certain perceptions, feelings and commitments. In what I call “creative” mythology, on the other hand, this order is inverted: the individual has an experience of his own – of order, horror, beauty, or even mere joy – which he seeks to convey through signs; and if your experience had any depth and meaning, your communication will have the value and force of a living myth – obviously for those who receive it and react to it on their own, with empathy, without impositions. (CAMPBELL, 2010, p. 20).”
To which you summarized:
“Here Campbell meets Jung again, who thought there is no more important work that an individual can do than being whole, so he/she can help others simply by being who he/she truly is. Easy to say, hard to do.”
And indeed, following that “Path that is no path” into your dark forest and finding that thing you are looking for that helps you to realize who you truly are, not that image of identity you get from society, but that sense of character you get from your own experience that tells you: “this is who I am”; not what you get from social or economic systems that we must come to deal with in order to live a full and rich life as much as we are able. The persona mask that must be taken off at the end of the day and put back on in the morning is not who you are but what you do as Joseph mentions and it’s kept in the wardrobe.
That is to say the person who has a career during the day also comes home and takes out the garbage and washes the dishes and helps the children with their homework. We are to know and realize this deeper aspect of ourselves that meets our deepest despairs and rises to its’ challenges the best way we know how, as you so insightfully articulated above.
It’s funny you should mention this, perhaps a bit of synchronicity is involved here, but it’s interesting that I was sharing this particular clip with someone earlier today because it illustrates much of this very same idea about how one’s myth is a mirror that lets you know where you are. (That is to say you have your mythical template; and then you have your own unique path to get there.)
And if we are able to find our bliss and live it then we will become, at least in the larger sense, who we were meant to be as a manifestation of our own unique individual Self. Jung mentions somewhere: “We are in a constant state of becoming.” Perhaps this is at least part of what he meant. (A bit rough around the edges, but hopefully close to what you were saying.)
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