Modern Man Going Against the Grain of a Modern World

When out with the camera I sometimes get lucky.  For example, I was out to a site where I was helping with some shovelling work preparing some ground for a cement pad.  Across the way was a squatter’s home with bit of a yard surrounded by barbed wire in which a little boy was playing.  Soon afterwards his sister came out to run around with him.  Neither of them wore clothing.  There was no shame, there was simply two children with only the intent of enjoying the moment.

It makes for good photography but one has to take care not to intrude or to present such innocence in a manner that would be taken as an improper and immoral act.

It was with this eye to being careful that I made sure that “sexual” overtones were excluded.  And so what is left is thus closer to perhaps and original Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.  Only in this case, Eve would be the older of the two.  I know, this goes against the grain of everything we hold as sacred in the Christian world.  But, perhaps this is necessary.  Perhaps it is time to challenge the status quo and to point to something deeper and fuller, something more inclusive and balanced for all of humanity.

“And now we must ask a final question.  Is what I have said of modern man really true, or is it perhaps an illusion?  There can be no doubt whatever that to millions of Westerners the facts I have adduced are wholly irrelevant and fortuitous, and regrettable aberrations to a large number of educated persons.  But – did a cultivated Roman think any differently when he saw Christianity spreading among the lower classes?  Today the God of the West is still a living person for vast numbers of people, just as Allah is beyond the Mediterranean, and the one believer holds the other as an inferior heretic, to be pitied and tolerated failing all else.  To make matters worse, the enlightened European is of the opinion that religion and such things are good enough for the masses and for women, but of little consequence compared with immediate economic and political questions.” (Jung, The Spiritual Problem of Modern Man, Modern Man in Search of Soul, 1933)

It has been seventy-seven years since Jung published this essay.  Yet in all of that time, the picture he has presented here has not changed very much.  The Christian God is still in charge in the bastion of the Western world; and, Allah is still invoked in the Middle East in living prayers.  If anything, today the fundamentalists on both sides are at worse odds with each other with the Jewish fact of Israel tucked in between them.  The “European” attitude, is now the cultured western-world attitude that stands outside of national politics in favour of fat bank accounts to allow them cultured lives of conspicuous consumption.

And modern man?  Is there such a thing as modern man as envisioned by C.G. Jung?  Is perhaps the hope and wish of those who find an attraction to Jung’s version of psychology simply a way to rationalize their own situation of being out of sync with the world?  I know that for myself, it isn’t -as far as I can understand it- a way to explain my own strangeness in this world, my dis-ease with the world.  For myself, the words of Jung have resonated with some deep interior aspect of self that is not yet fully conscious within my psyche.  Because of that resonance, I accept the validity of these words and see that I do have a part, albeit a small one, to play in this ongoing story of humanity.

And because of all of this, I can forgive myself for following a different drummer, going against the grain of this modern world.

Upheavals Both Personal and Collective

As usual, it is hard to pass by another iguana when walking with the camera.  For me it was interesting to see how this iguana found in a tree was more intent on “going to ground” even though it was warm and sunny.  Usually I see these iguanas making a place for themselves as close to the sun as possible so that they could bask in the warmth of that sun.  And when the heat of the sun fades, the iguana heads back into the bowels of the earth in order to find warmth, a warmth of both the earth itself as well as that warmth which has been captured from the sun, stored in the darkness beneath.

Sun darkened.

Sun darkened.

I don’t think I am much different from an iguana at this point of my life.  In the daylight I seek to capture as much sunlight and warmth as possible, a warmth that is reflected in my darkening skin.  At night I retreat into an underworld, the world of dreams.

Night and day, consciousness and unconsciousness, soul and spirit, body and mind.  These things are at the centre of my universe for the moment.  I have no interest in the outer world for the most part at this time.  The world is too chaotic with too much upheaval evident in society as well as with the planet itself.  Does the planet’s condition reflect itself in the psyche of the collective?  Or, is it the other way around?

“Great innovations never come from above; they come invariably from below, just as trees never grow from the sky downward, but upward from the earth.  The upheaval of our world and the upheaval of our consciousness are one and the same.  Everything has become relative and therefore doubtful.” (Jung, The Spiritual Problem of Modern Man, Modern Man in Search of Soul, 1933)

There is little doubt in my mind that the arrival of midlife and the crises I faced in terms of identity, value, soul and relationships were upheavals that not only rocked my world but also the world of my family, my students and my community.  Of course in the descent to the depths of my personal underworld I encountered all the sins visited upon me as well as those of my own commission.  I needed to come face-to-face with these things that shamed me.  One of the curious outcomes of this time of crisis was a flowering of sorts of my presence in the outer world of the community.  I was able to contribute to two books in the field of second-language education, was elected to serve on the provincial executive for French Language Instruction as well as the Guidance and Counselling Association.  I also managed to complete my Masters in Education.  On the sidelines I painted, wrote poetry and owned and co-managed a Jungian On-line discussion group.  Who said that crisis meant retreat?  I do give credit to all of this to the opening of the gates which had been holding the unconscious contents at bay.

I didn’t become famous in any way, but I did become more present and active with the upheaval of the personal unconscious.  Somehow I don’t think it always turns out well.  I was lucky that I had some understanding of the human psyche at least an intellectual understanding.  When the dam broke and the shit-filled contents started to swirl around, I was able to grab a few lifelines and point myself in the right direction.  One of my brothers wasn’t so fortunate.  When the dam broke for him, he broke.

Knowing that there is a collective psyche as well as a personal psyche, it does offer some hope that out of the current upheavals that are plaguing most of the world, something will be born, some idea, some process, some collective will.  And with this innovation, we can collectively begin to heal our world and our place in it.  Yet, I am wary.  My brother also points to another darker end.  And then I wonder if the Mayan end of times and the end of times according to Revelations drawing near?