Friday, April 27, 2012

Go Forth Under the Open Sky

"The Peace of Wild Things", by Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

View of the Baltic, by Caspar David Friedrich

"Thanatopsis", by William Cullen Bryant

To him who in the love of Nature holds
Communion with her visible forms, she speaks
A various language; for his gayer hours
She has a voice of gladness, and a smile
And eloquence of beauty, and she glides
Into his darker musings, with a mild
And healing sympathy, that steals away
Their sharpness, ere he is aware. When thoughts
Of the last bitter hour come like a blight
Over thy spirit, and sad images
Of the stern agony, and shroud, and pall,
And breathless darkness, and the narrow house,
Make thee to shudder, and grow sick at heart;—
Go forth under the open sky
, and list
To Nature's teachings, while from all around—
Earth and her waters, and the depths of air—
Comes a still voice—Yet a few days, and thee
The all-beholding sun shall see no more
In all his course; nor yet in the cold ground,
Where thy pale form was laid, with many tears,
Nor in the embrace of ocean, shall exist
Thy image. Earth, that nourished thee, shall claim
Thy growth, to be resolved to earth again,
And, lost each human trace, surrendering up
Thine individual being, shalt thou go
To mix forever with the elements;
To be a brother to the insensible rock,
And to the sluggish clod, which the rude swain
Turns with his share, and treads upon. The oak
Shall send his roots abroad, and pierce thy mould.
Yet not to thine eternal resting-place
Shalt thou retire alone, nor couldst thou wish
Couch more magnificent. Thou shalt lie down
With patriarchs of the infant world,—with kings,
The powerful of the earth,—the wise, the good,
Fair forms, and hoary seers of ages past,
All in one mighty sepulchre. The hills
Rock-ribbed and ancient as the sun; the vales
Stretching in pensive quietness between;
The venerable woods—rivers that move
In majesty, and the complaining brooks
That make the meadows green; and, poured round all,
Old Ocean's gray and melancholy waste,—
Are but the solemn decorations all
Of the great tomb of man! The golden sun,
The planets, all the infinite host of heaven,
Are shining on the sad abodes of death,
Through the still lapse of ages. All that tread
The globe are but a handful to the tribes
That slumber in its bosom.—Take the wings
Of morning, pierce the Barcan wilderness,
Or lose thyself in the continuous woods
Where rolls the Oregon, and hears no sound,
Save his own dashings,—yet the dead are there:
And millions in those solitudes, since first
The flight of years began, have laid them down
In their last sleep—the dead reign there alone.
So shalt thou rest; and what if thou withdraw
In silence from the living, and no friend
Take note of thy departure? All that breathe
Will share thy destiny. The gay will laugh
When thou art gone, the solemn brood of care
Plod on, and each one as before will chase
His favorite phantom; yet all these shall leave
Their mirth and their employments, and shall come
And make their bed with thee. As the long train
Of ages glide away, the sons of men,
The youth in life's green spring, and he who goes
In the full strength of years, matron and maid,
And the sweet babe, and the gray-headed man—
Shall one by one be gathered to thy side
By those, who in their turn shall follow them.

So live, that when thy summons comes to join
The innumerable caravan which moves
To that mysterious realm, where each shall take
His chamber in the silent halls of death,
Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night,
Scourged to his dungeon, but, sustained and soothed
By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave
Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch
About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.

[boldfaced mine]


There I am, the closest I can get to the wild. It's been a busy few weeks, with more of the same ahead - but I, and you, can escape into the wilds of the mind, shedding stress and obligation as a cat sheds its winter coat.

Nature. Love it recklessly. And breathe.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Sights

Over Spring Break, I went to Boston. Here are pictures:





Lots of interesting buildings tucked in among the streets.

Entrance to Harvard Besen Institute.

View over the Charles River
Some more buildings:





Idyll:


No trolls here.

-

I've finally begun drawing again. Some character sketches that belong together I won't share just yet, but after the math STAR test I decided to make some doodles on scratch paper.

Houseboat, as suggested by classmate SF

Plane-forest

Aquarium-train, with fish as suggested by PZ

Finally, my favorite:
Submarine Cake

Friday, April 20, 2012

Jungian Psychology: Individuation

On the process of becoming a person.

-

The goal of Jungian therapy is to achieve “wholeness of the personality”, or the apotheosis of man: Jung’s term is individuation.

This is done by linking the unconscious and conscious, and it is necessary in order to differentiate from the masses. On this path, there are specific parts of the unconscious that must be confronted.

The shadow is the repressed side of the psyche, in darkness, which develops from the ego’s rejects; it can also be called the “alter ego”. As with much in Jungian psychology, there are individual and collective forms. It is often projected onto others.

Confronting the shadow is accepting the darkness inside; however, the shadow is not all bad.

Next is the anima or animus, which is the contrasexual “soul image”. There are individual and collective forms. Internally, the anima/us is experienced through dreams, etc.; externally, it is experienced as a projection onto someone else, which can cause disappointment as the real person rarely matches up with the projection.

It is the opposite of the persona because it connects the ego with the inner world, rather than the outer, and personifies the “fourth function.” Confronting the anima/us leads to withdrawal of the projection.

The patient must come to terms with archetypes, keeping in mind that the unconscious has goalless purpose.

Returning to the patient’s own gender, s/he confronts the “wise old man” or “magna mater” archetype, exploring his/her gender back to the primordial image which has both good and bad.

These archetypes are what Jung calls mana personalities, images of great power. As such, unless the self is distinguished from the archetype, hubris results.

If the conscious can assimilate unconscious contents, then the psyche will achieve a new balance. Crucial in this path is the self, which is the midpoint between the unconscious and conscious and, ineffably, encompasses both.

When it is found, issues with outer and inner reality are resolved; however, finding it is difficult because that shifts the center of the psyche.

The patient must endure tension between normal life and the uncovering of the unconscious. As the personal unconscious is lessened, the patient is freed from the ego’s petty little world.

Self-realization is the path to meaning, or Weltanschauung (philosophy of life). The uniting symbol is the synthesis of opposites on a higher level, a balance when inner and outer realities are equal in trueness.

Jungian psychology can be related to religious initiation rites, except that the individual chooses his Weltanschauung. It is also comparable to alchemy, because it leads to self-realization and the transmutation of the base into the noble.

Yoga also has parallels to Jung’s method, because it demands psychic power and concentration, the detachment of the conscious, and a need to see into the inner world to achieve spiritual unity and mastery of the spirit over the body. Jungian concepts are related to other Eastern concepts, such as mandalas and the Tao.

Self-realization is an ethical choice. It offers the collective an individual who cannot help but be responsible and tolerant of others, because his experiences have had him confront inner darkness.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Welcoming

The barge cuts through the water
Easy, soundless, like a tiger breathing
(And there might be one,
Ten paces back, close enough to jump -
But don't look behind you)

(Never look back)
The train of mourners, weeping and wailing
On their boats, smaller and unadorned
For they are not the sacrifice,
Not the gift delivered into the palm of the jungle -
Their voices rise and fall, rise and fall
Counterpoint to the bright birds shrieking
And only these you see, as they flit
Tree to tree, bank to bank,
Garlands in motion for your canopy -

For you look ahead, straight ahead
As the river winds back and forth
Not because it is lost, but because
It wants to bewilder you
Dazzle you with flowers bold
Whose perfume, when they open,
Swallows you, makes your head
Spin and your eyes see only
What is not there

Surely the tigers are not real
Nor the ridged back
The enameled tail, flicking -
No crocodiles keep pace with your barge
Floating serenely, serenely, down the river
(Down, always, to the heart of things)

The mourners are silent now
Or you cannot hear them through the haze
One by one the flowers open
Violet, orange, magenta, red
Signs planted just for you among the reeds
Secrets only for your ears,
Bursting in eagerness to share their burden

(Selfish things, flowers) You go
Beneath the arch of heavy leaves
The bright birds, bright fruit as one
No mourners follow you now, their boats
Unmarked by blood promised and delivered,
Voices trapped, for here there is no sound -

The barge cuts through the water
Easy, soundless, like the tiger's breathing,
The blinking of the crocodile's great slow eyes,
The opening of a thousand flowers,
The hush, as the one the jungle has been waiting for
Finally arrives.

--

Written March 2012. Portfolio piece.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Jungian Psychology: Dreams

"The dream is a little hidden door in the innermost and most secret recesses of the soul, opening into that cosmic night which was psyche long before there was any ego-consciousness, and which will remain psyche no matter how far our ego-consciousness extends."
-C. G. Jung
What have I learned?

-

Ways to reach the unconscious include association method, analysis of symptoms (i.e. by finding out memories related to problems), anamnestic analysis (reconstructing the development of the problem), and analysis of the unconscious - for example, through dreams.

Dreams use material from the conscious and memory to the deepest parts of the unconsciousness, speaking a “language of images”. Their function is that of the unconscious as a whole: compensation.

Interpretations of dreams must rely on the patient’s individual situation, conscious, and context; further, analysis must be carried over a series of dreams. Assumptions are dangerous.

Dreams that originate from the contents of the unconscious are often strange, difficult, and important because they signal upheavals in the unconscious that if not resolved can cause problems.

They can be reductive (make base) or prospective (anticipate success); they can lead to the “land of childhood” composed of both individual memories and collective instincts.

To analyze dreams, the amplification method can be used. It is more structured than Freudian free association, but uses the same general process to get to all possible meaning of dream contents.

Reductive interpretation, by contrast, traces dream contents back to one complex point that answers the question, what is the unconscious trying to tell you with this dream?

Vivid, detailed dreams belong to the personal unconscious while simple dreams belong to the collective unconscious. They often signal an over-differentiated conscious.

(While it is important in the process of differentiation for the conscious to move away from the unconscious, it is dangerous to deny instincts: the “infantile contents” must be raised to consciousness and integrated. Work with the individual unconscious comes before work with the collective.)

The dynamic tendency of the unconscious sends dreams and other content into the conscious, where they then affect the unconscious. It is always active and combines material in new ways; thus, it can be a guide. Dreams express the inner truth “as it is.”

On the subject level, the contents of the dream interpreted as symbols of the dreamer’s inner reality. This level makes use of projections, in which the unconscious projects its contents onto an object; the projection must be integrated with the subject.

Those whose individual psyches are not differentiated as incapable of recognizing their projections as such; hence, gods.

By contrast, introjection is when contents go from the object to the subject, as in adaptation of the outer world to suit the inner. The object level of interpretation says the dream contents show different aspects of something in the dreamer’s outer environs.

Symbols are images with both expressive (express the psyche) and impressive (influence the psyche’s activity) character.

They express the ineffable, that which cannot be explained adequately in words. Because they originate in both the unconscious and conscious, they address both as well and cannot be fully brought to light.

Individual mythologies are made of unconscious symbols, often linked to the collective unconscious. The active imagination, or imaginatio, is the process in which the contents of the unconscious are translated into images/symbols. It is related to shamanism.

-

Next: how to become an individual.

Sleep well.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Monday After Break

You know what they say in math about assuming.

-

I am in an exceptionally good mood as I write. What has happened?

  • Seeing friends after spring break
  • Hitting the G with three ledger lines at the end of a seventuplet sixteenth-note gliss
  • Studying for chem for perhaps the first time this semester and understanding everything we need to know for the test
  • Finishing my twelfth lap moments before the bell rang in PE
  • Log laws
  • Minimal homework
  • A very good practice, which I ended by playing melodic gorgeous songs
  • Writing solid essay paragraphs
  • Awesome dinner
  • The Plague
  • Catching up on blog reading
  • Writing a shark in the Utopia Project
  • Affectionate cat
  • Fresh air from the open window
  • Listening to this song over and over again:

Shine
Looking for the golden light
Oh it's a reasonable sacrifice
Burn burn burn bright

-

Thank you, world, for the Monday after break.

--

I need a celebration post once in a while. Friends, smile.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Jungian Psychology: Concepts

I mentioned a while ago that I've been introducing myself to Jungian psychology. It is now about time to conclude this "unit" and move on - but how could I do that without sharing what I've learned?

-

Viewed simplistically, the human psyche is a series of concentric circles. At the center is the ego; then, the sphere of consciousness, the sphere of the personal unconscious, and the sphere of the collective unconscious (primordial reactions). The unconscious comes first; eventually, we grow into consciousness.

Functions of the conscious: thinking (logically interpreting the world) and feeling (emotional interpretation), and sensation (“the sense of reality”, details) and intuition (inner meaning).

In every individual, one or another of the four functions is predominant, with the others falling in afterward hierarchically. The fourth, or “inferior”, function is in darkness, or in the unconscious.

Attitude types: describe how a person reacts to outward stimulus.

Extraverts orient themselves based on the outside environment, while introverts tend to recoil and orient themselves on the self. The conscious is one of these, the unconscious is the other; this causes strife when a person projects the negative traits of his unconscious on others.

Persona: the part of the ego that is turned outward, facilitating contact between the ego and the outer world. It must contend with the ideals had of a person by himself and by society, and with “the physical and psychic contingencies which limit the realization of these ideals” (Jacobi 28).

When the persona becomes rigid, the person’s real character can wither away; problems also arise when others (parents) attempt to force a persona onto someone else, or when the collective consciousness exerts too much influence on the persona.

Unconscious: forgotten and repressed material makes up the personal unconscious.

Surrounding the personal unconscious is the collective unconscious, some parts of which can never be made conscious. This is related to the “central energy” that penetrates through all the layers that lead to the individual psyche: animal and human ancestors, ethnic groups, nations, etc. - what Jung called “the whole spiritual heritage of mankind’s evolution”.

Complexes are parts of the psyche that have escaped the sphere of consciousness and may wreak havoc on it because of their great energy. However, they can also be useful as stimuli to psychic development.

Archetypes are primordial images in the collective unconscious. They are themselves stable, but change depending on the viewer as they become conscious. Another way of seeing them is as instinctive reactions or patterns of behavior, akin to the inborn knowledge possessed by animals.

As the archetype becomes illuminated, or more conscious, they become more detailed and personal. Indeed, the individual becomes more aware (called Bewusstwerdung, which means approximately coming to consciousness or awakening) primarily through differentiating.

Archetypes can be circumscribed by metaphors, but not definitively explained; they connect individual suffering to humanity’s.

Psychic energy describes the intensity of psychic processes; it is dynamic and reflects drive/will. Opposites regulate the psyche and preserve the equilibrium or conservation of psychic energy.

However, transfer of energy back and forth between the unconscious and conscious down a gradient is necessary, as a complete equalization of energy leads to stagnation. In this case, the consciousness needs to intervene in the psyche to bring about a reversal.

Value intensity refers to how much an image in the psyche is charged with meaning. Psychic energy flows from the tension between “nature and spirit”, or instinct v. individual response.

Progressive movement, directed by the consciousness, allows a person to adapt to life and solve conflicts; regressive movement is the process in which the contents of the unconscious rise to the surface, and reflects an adaptation to the inner rather than outer world.

Synchronicity is coincidence without causality (being related by cause and effect), as when an inner perception coincides with outer events.

Finality is another concept that subverts causality. It describes the striving for an unknown goal. In analysis, causality is analyzed by looking to the past, while finality is analyzed by extrapolating from the present to the future.

-

Next: dreams.

-

Sources:

Chalquist, Craig. "A Glossary of Jungian Terms." Terrapsych. Web.

Jacobi, Jolande. The Psychology of C. G. Jung. 1973 ed. New Haven: Yale Univ., 1973. Print.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Revising Utopia Project, part XIII; or, Story Therapy

Lately I have been having a crisis of faith.

I've been reading books about fairies and magic powers and rides across silent lakes to glimmering courts of forest denizens. I stood outside on Saturday feeling, for perhaps the first time since fifth grade, that dragons could descend on me.

This is all good. But, as I whirled under the garlands of forest berries, as the bushes parted to reveal a path heading to Baba Yaga's hut, I turned, and outside the ring of light I saw a vast ocean. On it were a fleet of mismatched boats, and in those boats were the people of the Utopia Project.

Their hungry eyes burned me; their sails flapped listlessly under the unfull moon.

Come back, they told me. Please.

I wavered. I did not want to trade the dancing slippers and silken gown for the rags and the bilgewater; the intrigues of the fairy court seemed to me more vital than the power struggles carried on in those innumerable boats.

Better, I thought, to have food you cannot eat than to have no food at all.

I had fallen out of love with my story.

-

How do you reverse such a situation?

Story therapy.

-

I have it easy. I am revising a story already finished: if I get lost in the forest, I know that I will find my way to the end somehow.

I was burning during the first draft. The story was in my blood; I was going at such a pace that I knew, for sure, for certain, that I would finish. My question in recent weeks was how to get back to that feeling.

Aside from brute stubbornness, I had help from two things. Take them or leave them.

1. Invocation.
2. Music.

-

Invocation:

I have in the past few days started a scene from the POV of a character I do not particularly like. She is whiny, she is weak, she wants power without working for it - and she gets it. Her good traits are gifted, not earned.

Because I have been reading Jung (a three-part series of posts on that coming soon; the first is this Friday), I saw that she forms part of my Shadow - the ego's rejects. Meaning I can reclaim her.

I am not religious, but I felt as though I was calling on some power when I realized this as I was journaling yesterday. I will not here copy exactly what I said, because that will make it lose its power, but you must know that it was deliciously melodramatic. And it may work.

When I wrote her today, I found that there is indeed something in her that is admirable. There is something I can understand, and with that foothold I can perhaps come to inhabit this character, to wear her skin.

-

Music:

When I wrote the part of the story I am revising now, I was in eighth grade. In fact, it was almost exactly two years ago now.

My favorite bands were Breaking Benjamin and Three Days Grace. There was one song in particular that seemed to embody everything my story was about:


So I listened to it. And it pulled me back into that thirteen-year-old self, who loved the story unconditionally and who was beginning to accelerate, to smash into that glorious summer 2010 that brought over 60,000 words.

I needed to be that girl. I still do need to be her, when I am writing, at least in part: my (hopefully) improved writing skills added to her energy, her enthusiasm.

Her faith. In the story, and in her as the right person to transmit it.

-

Some stats:

Scenes finished since last time: 7

Words: ~20,000

What I say to myself: Sink in.

--

Good night and good writing. Expect Jung.