There is nothing to add to this. This remarkable woman can speak for herself just fine. I intend for my life to be inspired by hers.
There is nothing to add to this. This remarkable woman can speak for herself just fine. I intend for my life to be inspired by hers.
I raved about Twin Peaks and David Lynch and here he is in a brief conversation with the great Patti Smith. It would be amazing to share an evening with these two, but at least there is eight minutes here and Twin Peaks.
They are both utterly unique artists. If you aren’t familiar with either one – don’t wait.
Patti Smith sang at the Nobel Prize ceremony for Bob Dylan. Of course she is known for much more, but this is a real showcase for her.
It was a brilliant performance, made more human when she restarted, after being overcome by emotion.
There was a time when talking about deep art on television would lead to laughter or derision.
And then came Twin Peaks.
It debuted in 1990 and ran for two seasons. David Lynch and Mark Frost produced the series that broke all the molds, but it’s David Lynch who has to get the greatest credit for the mind-bending originality of the show. He eventually left the show, frustrated by the constraints of network television. After a disappointing second season, it was cancelled. Lynch’s artistic vision was hampered by the network wanting a more traditional resolution to the central story.
The series revolved around the discovery of the body of the homecoming queen, Laura Palmer. FBI agent Dale Cooper, played by Kyle MacLachlan is called to the small fictional Washington town to investigate. Mystery abounds in the town of Twin Peaks and in the surrounding woods. Cooper is not afraid to dive deep into the mystery. Twin Peaks is a mill town full of weird and colorful characters, and intriguing story lines – very soap-operaish at times. The show was addictive because of all those intersecting story lines. But Dale Cooper is both the center of the plot and the moral center of the series.
In a recent brief interview with MacLachlan in Esquire, he describes his character:
Cooper is maybe my favorite character. There is a lot in him that is similar to me: his enthusiasm for coffee, Douglas firs, and doughnuts. He tries to figure out who people are before he makes a judgment about them. He’s the eccentric in the middle of an even crazier world, but he’s your point person. He’s all you’ve got going in.
Dale Cooper is one of the most complex and sympathetic characters in recent memory. He is a good person, with an awareness of the shadow side of life. He is a standout in a richly textured show of fascinating people and mystery. He is our guide, but he is as perplexed by the dark world he has entered, as any of us. But he is a brave explorer.
Twin Peaks was an amazing show for people who had grown up with formulaic shows to entertain you, sell stuff or put you to sleep. Twin Peaks was much greater in its ambitions. It played with depth psychology and it’s major themes, in a highly stylistic way. The music by Angelo Badalamenti with David Lynch, is as important as the visuals. The soundtrack drives the mood and the meaning of the narrative. The Twin Peaks music has almost given birth to a genre of music within the ambient category. There was an explosion of this kind of music composed in the 90’s and early 2000’s, which continues to this day. This music is timeless and often sounds like a moody soundtrack to some movie not seen, but imagined.
The new series just began and it is a wild ride. It is available with on Crave TV in Canada and Showtime in the U.S. I’ve seen the first three episodes. The new series is not a sentimental return to that smaller town of characters caught up in a murder mystery surrounded by soap opera shenanigans and intrigue. The new series is weirder, darker, broader, and certainly it will be deeper. There is apparently 18 hours of this in total and I’ve seen the first three. Characters have returned, with Dale Cooper still number one and we are still in Twin Peaks, but we’re also in New York City, Las Vegas, and a smaller town in South Dakota so far. I recommend that you watch at least part of the first series before embarking on the second, although for some people at least, the second one will stand up on its own. It would really add to the second series if you have a sense of the characters and the moods of Twin Peaks. The actual story lines are less important than the broad outline of the story arc and the explorations of the human journey. Cooper, the central character of the new series remains that, but he’s a lot more complex, as the final scene from the first series suggested.
We’ve come a long way in the last twenty-five years and Twin Peaks has been part of the popular culture evolution. I’m really looking forward to the rest of the new series, but it will not be a simple or gentle journey. Who knows what effect the new series will have on TV and popular culture? But this is not your parents’ Twin Peaks. David Lynch is too original for that.
To fully understand the greatness of Twin Peaks you would have to ignore the last twenty five years of television that was profoundly changed by Twin Peaks and with it, the realization that television could produce art. You can’t fully understand the importance of any person or event after the fact, unless you experienced life before that person or event. Twin Peaks was such an event, but it remains a compelling and entertaining experience. Watch the old episodes – particularly the first season, if you can, before David Lynch and Twin Peaks returns. And if you haven’t already, any of David Lynch‘s films deserve your attention. He is a gifted filmmaker.
Do not read this if you have any intention to see Colossal, a film written and directed by Nacho Vigalondo, from Spain. He also acts, although not in Colossal.
I reveal the entire arc of the movie and my interpretation of the meaning I find in it. I think, as with any piece of art, it is important for you to come to it with your own thoughts and experience as much as possible, to get the most out of it. The artist creates the work, and the audience then shares in the creative process. After you have created your own thoughts and interpretation, it is interesting and expanding to discuss it with others. The personal meaning of any piece of art is ultimately the meaning you discover and create. But that is a process that may never end – great art inspires ongoing creation in the minds of the audience – movies, visual, music, written – all art is fundamentally the same in this.
Colossal opens with Gloria (Anne Hathaway) coming home one morning after partying all night, to her boyfriend’s fancy New York apartment, that she shares. He loves her, but this isn’t the first time and he’s had enough. He’s packed her things and she’s out on the street in shock. She decides to return to her parents’ home in some small town. The house is empty and she sleeps on the floor the first night. Following that fitful sleep, she strikes out to buy an air mattress. On the way home, she meets up with an old elementary school friend, Oscar (Jason Sudeikis) who owns a bar and she starts working there – not the best job for a person with alcohol issues. A reasonable and predictable start for a movie – drama or romantic comedy – there are aspects of both of those genres. But we also have a Godzilla-like monster attacking the capital of South Korea that is central to the movie. Dorothy, we’re not in Kansas.
This movie has elements of a romantic comedy as Gloria reunites with Oscar, who seems on the surface to be a nice guy, who can perhaps rescue her by bringing her back to the real world. We soon see that he has a drinking problem as well. Over time, his character becomes darker, without good intentions for Gloria, but their nature is unclear.
Gloria hangs around the bar after closing every night, with Oscar and his two friends, Garth and Joel, drinking until she blacks out. One morning – or likely one afternoon, she awakes after another night of drinking to find that Seoul, South Korea has been attacked by a giant monster, laying waste to a swath of the city, killing hundreds. Watching the video reports of the monster, she notices that it shares a habit of scratching its head as Gloria does – a nervous tic. Eventually, Gloria correctly comes to the inescapable conclusion that she controls the monster. The monster appears in Seoul when she finds herself at a playground at 8:05 in the morning, waking up after a night of drinking. She is horrified by the destruction that she appears to be causing by her rambling walk around the playground. In kind, the 300-foot monster aimlessly walks through downtown Seoul demolishing buildings and crushing its innocent citizens. At first she is intrigued by the discovery that she controls the monster, but is horrified by the outcome for Seoul.
Soon enough, a giant robot appears in Seoul to accompany the monster and Oscar discovers that he controls that robot, so together they can wreak havoc on Seoul if they wish. But Gloria tries to tell the people of Seoul that it’s all an accident and she means no harm. She is waking up. Gloria stops drinking as part of her transformation. Oscar’s dark side now comes to the fore as he encourages her to keep drinking and when Gloria threatens to leave, Oscar forces her hand. If she doesn’t act in the way he wants, he’ll continue to destroy Seoul and kill, as the giant robot.
There are issues of sexual tension as well – not a big surprise. But it is handled with subtlety. At first it seems that Oscar is interested in Gloria romantically and for most of the movie, it is unclear what their prior relationship had been, although there is a sense that Oscar may have had a crush on Gloria that never went beyond friendship. They seem bound to each other, but without a strong logical or emotional reason, if you simply see them as normal human characters.
In one late night at the bar, Gloria expresses some romantic interest in Oscar’s friend Joel, who regularly stays late drinking, but when that friend awkwardly tries to kiss Gloria, she rebuffs him. Oscar discovers this a moment later, and is enraged by his friend. Oscar’s reaction does not fit his character up until then and it doesn’t seem to fit his unsettling and ambiguous feelings for Gloria. Oscar is not as he seems, as his darkness becomes more apparent.
Another night, Gloria does go over to Joel’s house and they end up in bed – obviously her intent at this point, but it hardly seems like the beginning of a romance. Some reviewers have seen these aspects of the movie as male misogyny and a sense of ownership that Oscar and other men have for Gloria, but Joel is innocent and unsophisticated – she has the power in the relationship. I am not here to defend male misbehavior. But it’s too easy to consider that the movie is about sexual politics. It’s an aspect of the movie, but it doesn’t ring true as a major theme The male characters are not ones to be emulated, and Gloria is the central character, having our sympathy and empathy. But Gloria can hold her own, despite her drinking. She is lost in her self-destructive behavior, but she never comes across as weak. And throughout the movie she becomes stronger.
Colossal goes way beyond sexual politics. It is a profoundly psychological movie, and best appreciated from that view.
Gloria is not simply the central character of this movie – she is the movie. And not from an acting standpoint. Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis both give nuanced and sincere performances, well supported by the other actors.
My take on this movie is that it’s all about the psyche of Gloria and all the characters, are actually aspects of Gloria herself. You can enjoy the movie as a more conventional comedy – drama – monster movie, but it makes the most sense when one recognizes that it’s all about Gloria and her psyche. The other characters and their interactions are not fully formed and there is often a sense of awkwardness. The oddest and most unpredictable character is Oscar, but none of the characters make sense as fully formed people because they aren’t. Some people criticize the movie for this and for the general level of fantasy and absurdity, but many people are able to accept the movie on its own terms, without my interpretation. For me, we are not dealing with conventional characters acting out a conventional narrative, or even a wildly fantastic narrative. This movie is inhabited by pieces of Gloria and her life in a mythic process of growth for her psyche and her soul.
I find a number of clues to this and the most obvious one is that this monster, which is ultimately a vital aspect of Gloria, is attacking and destroying Seoul. In Gloria’s self-discovery, she is coming to understand that she is destroying her own soul. Her partying behavior is a manifestation of her self-destruction that she seeks to change.
Oscar is a complex character whose interest in Gloria is unclear. He doesn’t act consistently interested in her romantically or sexually. He does not make an obvious move in that direction and his reaction after his friend does so, is ambiguous – much more anger than jealousy. Far into the movie, Gloria tells Oscar that she can see that he simply hates himself. Bingo. Oscar represents the part of Gloria that is so self-loathing. He is the aspect of Gloria that hates herself, leading to her self destructive behavior and drinking. Again – all the characters are aspects of Gloria or character props in her psyche and in her self-discovery. It doesn’t make nearly as much sense to see Oscar as a pivotal person in her life if he is simply some guy she went to school with. As a representation of a major part of her psyche, Oscar’s role in her life makes much more sense
This is reinforced by incidents in which Oscar reveals that he knows about Gloria’s circumstances and her feelings. He is clearly not some intuitive and he has only just reconnected with her. He talks about following her on the Internet as she is an employed web writer. If he represents a part of Gloria, he must know her story. Normally this could help Gloria to fall in love with Oscar – “he gets me!” But it’s not how it works here, because Oscar was never destined to play that role in the movie. Oscar knows much more about Gloria than she does about him and he is more interested in her. This mirrors our often oblivious ignorance of aspects of ourselves that can dominate our lives with little or no awareness on our part. Oscar knows that his existence depends upon Gloria – it is not a romantic or sexual connection he feels to Gloria – it is existential. She must remain unaware of his significance and malevolence if he is to remain a part of her. As the movie progresses, Gloria does become aware of Oscar’s nature and the danger he poses to her. He continues to threaten her, but her dawning awareness means that his days are numbered, as long as she continues on her path.
I think it is relevant that Oscar is a robot in Seoul and not a living creature. This points to a fundamental metaphysical difference between Gloria and Oscar. A robot cannot be conscious in the same way a living creature can be. Oscar is not conscious in the same way as Gloria, because he is an aspect of her. Oscar is not a person in the conventional sense – he can be seen as an archetype living within Gloria’s psyche.
At another point in the movie, Oscar’s other friend Garth notices that the monster never looks down as it’s attacking Seoul. The monster is moving unconsciously, without any regard for the environment. Garth thinks that this shows the monster is controlled remotely. This is true. The monster represents the core shadow of Gloria and she is unaware of how she is behaving or for the consequences of her actions. The monster and Gloria are not “looking down”. At first she is ignoring the deeper parts of herself – “not looking down” as she is bent on self-medicating her pain, remaining unaware, and in doing that, continuing her self-destruction.
We never find out the source of her pain, although it is telling that she has returned to her parents’ home and it is empty of people and furniture, with no explanation. Gloria has her boyfriend, who lectures her before he kicks her out and briefly we are exposed to her clueless and uncaring party friends who come into her boyfriend’s New York apartment to party after he has left for work, following his request that she not be home when he returns. Gloria is alone. There are no other people in her life. She must have a back story, but we are never told it, except in a flashback of her and Oscar on their way to school as children.
This is towards the end of the movie when it’s clear that Oscar is not Gloria’s friend in the least. In flashbacks, that are gradually revealed throughout the movie, they are each carrying school projects of cardboard models of a city and Gloria’s is of a Korean city – Seoul. Her model is swept up by the wind and carried off. Oscar gives chase, and catching it, he destroys the Seoul model with his feet, in the same way the monster destroys parts of Seoul, except Oscar’s is a purposeful act of destruction. Gloria’s monster is careless and not conscious in her terrorizing of Seoul. As Gloria watches Oscar from a distance, destroy her model of Seoul, lightning bolts from the heavens illuminate around her and we discover that this was when the monster was born, or at least first revealed in Seoul. The movie itself opens with the monster briefly appearing in Seoul twenty-five years earlier – at that same time that Oscar destroyed the school project, but there is no major destruction of Seoul then, so it’s considered a hoax. The creature simply appeared, frightening some people, and vanished until Gloria reunites with Oscar.
This monster, born of Gloria’s psyche, is not fundamentally bad or destructive, but when animated with the self-loathing represented by Oscar, the monster does become dangerous and destructive in its unaware activity. Apparently, this monster appeared in order to communicate with Gloria when she was ready for the lesson. The monster is dormant through Gloria’s self destructive escapades until she is ready to confront her demons – in the form of Oscar.
Late in the movie, Gloria’s boyfriend turns up in this small town, claiming to have business there. He is really there to rescue her, but that would be too easy. Gloria is on a quest for true personal revelation, to find her own strength. There is a confrontation at the bar with Oscar, Gloria and her boyfriend. Oscar makes it clear that he is a malevolent force in Gloria’s life and is not prepared to see her leave. Oscar is determined that he and Gloria remain bound to each other. If she leaves with her boyfriend, Oscar threatens that he will continue to attack Seoul – Gloria’s soul. She cannot find peace in a simple return to her old life. Gloria has passed the point of return. The monster of self-knowledge, including her destructive patterns, has been revealed and made real to her, so she must deal with that. She now cares about the destruction and carnage in Seoul – in her own soul.
We see Gloria becoming stronger as she confronts Oscar and her demons. She has stopped drinking and this brings her greater clarity. She is still hanging out with Oscar and the two friends, despite her not drinking. At one point, Oscar demands that she drinks a beer and threatens to attack Seoul as the robot the next morning if she refuses. Gloria takes the beer and confidently pours it on the floor. Gloria does confront Oscar at the playground, to prevent his attack on Seoul, but in this realm, he is stronger. Gloria fights bravely, but loses the first round. Oscar is confident of his dominance. This is before the confrontation in the bar with Gloria and her New York boyfriend, where Oscar shows just how self-destructive he is by lighting a massive firework bomb in the middle of his bar. Amidst the flames, we see the beginning of the final showdown between the core of Gloria and her dark shadow in the form of Oscar.
Her boyfriend asks her to fly home with him and Gloria indicates she will. Instead she flies to Seoul to confront Oscar, on her terms. Oscar returns to the playground in the morning so he can attack Seoul as the robot, while Gloria confronts the robot in Seoul. Oscar is unaware of the danger he is in, that Gloria is now in Seoul, as the monster appears in the small town by the playground. It’s as if there is a portal between the playground and Seoul – a portal between our soul and our physical life. Lightening appears over the playground, as it does in Seoul when the monster materializes. Gloria, through the monster, grabs Oscar and as he rises up in her grasp, the robot in Seoul does the same – over the harbor – powerless. Interestingly, the robot could not see, or did not notice Gloria in Seoul as she stood before the robot there. But now floating over the harbor, the robot and Oscar are at Gloria’s and the monster’s mercy. Oscar begs to be set free, but as he pleads he demands that she put him down – “bitch” he cries, in a last desperate attempt at control. But Gloria knows what she must do, and as the monster, she throws Oscar with force and likewise the robot is cast off into oblivion.
The people of Seoul are saved and jubilant. As some people in the movie had thought, the monster was not evil, but ultimately a protector of Seoul. Gloria is spent, but walks dazed into a small empty restaurant bar. The young woman at the bar asks if she’s okay and Gloria says that she has an incredible story to tell. We are confident that Gloria has won the battle. Oscar and the robot are gone.
This is a modern take on the age-old myth of self-discovery and casting off our demons after we recognize them – making them conscious with our awareness, when we can no longer ignore them. Gloria does this by herself. She is the hero of this tale and she requires no male intervention or help. Her demons are represented by males in this and are likely part of her back story, not explored in the movie. As Carl Jung wrote, we have our contra-sexual selves as important parts of our psyche. Woman have their animus and men their anima. This structure makes the movie simpler and stark, dramatizing the confrontations, adding another layer to the story-telling. We can all cheer for Gloria and her quest for freedom from her demons.
And the name of the town Gloria returns to? The town of her birth and childhood? Maidenhead – a sign that Gloria has crossed a major line in her evolution or growth back in Maidenhead, upon her return. Like so many of us, Gloria left her childhood and adolescence behind, yet far from “grown up”. Her unresolved issues continue to rule her life, as they rule our own, until a major crisis or revelation forces us to confront them. Or not. Gloria could keep drinking and partying, with another result. From the resolution of the movie, Gloria was ready for this profound change in her life. She was ready to cross a threshold into real adulthood.
At the end of the movie, when she is just recovering from her confrontation with herself via Oscar, it is left very open what she will do. She is talking to her boyfriend who is back in New York and he is wondering what happened when she didn’t come back to New York with him. She briefly explains she had something else to do, and does not reassure him or us on what she intends, after this disruptive crisis in her life. For me, this was perfect. Gloria is now free to move forward and it is too soon to imagine where that will take her.
This movie is a profound exploration of depth psychology in the triumphant tale of Gloria on her journey to the depths of her psyche and soul in a process of self-discovery, and growth.
Early in the movie, shortly after the monster begins its rampage on Seoul, Oscar says something very telling to Gloria, while they’re watching the reports on TV. “You know you’re watching something that is going to change the course of history.” It does change the course of history for Gloria, as all great myths change us.
The story is also metaphysical. We all have an inner life and an outer life. Many of us accept our inner life as more or less given and largely out of our control. We seem to be pawns of our psyche, our history and experiences. Most of us complain about our outer circumstances – the people, occurrences and circumstances in our life. We expect and wait for our lives to change when the outer world changes. In Colossal, as I believe too in our lives, the outer circumstances are simply and fundamentally the manifestations and props in our own inner struggles. Colossal can be enjoyed and analyzed on several levels, but I think it is more entertaining, makes more sense and has the greatest value when we see it as the journey of a single brave woman as she travels deeply into her own inner world to confront those aspects of her psyche that have been hidden from her awareness and bent on their own existence, rather than her healing and growth. All the components of the movie are ultimately generated by, and parts of Gloria, in her quest for growth, evolution, and redemption.
Colossal can be understood and appreciated at a number of levels – it is about human relationships, gender, addiction, childhood and monsters, and I am sure other levels are there as well. Just as we all have layers as individuals, so too does Colossal. I have explored here the level of the inner psyche of Gloria – what I see as the deepest layer of Colossal.
Nacho Vigalondo has given us a challenging and entertaining film with many layers, deserving our attention. He gives us a modern mythical take on the standard monster movie with a strong female lead. This is a movie that speaks to universal themes within us all. We all have shadows within us, that deny our essential goodness, and these require work to allow awareness of them and explore them if we are ever to become free of them. I look forward to seeing Vigalondo’s other movies. He is an interesting artist who takes chances.
Colossal is a wonderful movie with a deep lesson for all of us. We change our outer world, and our lives, by the inner work that we do. At the deepest level, we do well to see everything in our outer world as providing the input and inspiration for our psyche on our soul’s journey of growth. It should never be the only way we see our life, but it is often the most important way to see our life. The greatness of Colossal comes from it’s metaphorical exploration of vital themes for living – depth psychology on the big screen . Bravo. Great. Movie.
I just saw the movie Colossal last night, starring Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis. Brilliant film-making by Ignacio “Nacho” Vigalondo, a Spanish film maker who is certainly worth further attention after seeing this movie . I am not going to talk much about the film, because it deserves to be seen without too much of my interpretation.
I will be speaking to it in the future. We have our own unique perspective and this movie requires that.
Very briefly, the movie opens with Gloria (Anne Hathaway) coming home one morning after partying all night, to her boyfriend’s New York apartment that she shares. This isn’t the first time and he’s had enough. He’s packed her things and she is out on the street in shock. She decides to return to her parents’ home in some small town, called Mainland. The house is empty and she takes up residence there. On that first day, she meets up with an elementary school friend, Oscar (Jason Sudeikis) who owns a bar and she starts working there, which is perhaps not the best job for a person with issues with intoxicating substances. A reasonable and predictable start for a movie – drama or romantic comedy or both and there are aspects of both of those genres. But we also have a Godzilla-like monster attacking the capital of South Korea that is really central to the movie. Dorothy, we’re not in Kansas.
I was attracted to this movie because I find Anne Hathaway interesting, and she is excellent in this movie. I also like Jason Sudeikis and he is excellent, again giving credence to the truism in acting that dying is easy, comedy is hard. It is remarkable how many comedic actors can show a dark side with great acting, yet so many dramatic actors fall flat when doing comedy. Finally, I was attracted to the description that some gave it as a mashup – I love those and so many movies are boringly predictable that I was intrigued by such a movie – I wasn’t disappointed.
I won’t give a full review or analysis here – I want to see the movie at least once more before doing that. And I don’t want to taint anyone’s view of it by my interpretation. I’ll just leave you with this. This movie is considered by some to be an interesting, fun and sometimes dark exploration of relationships, masculinity and alcoholism. Other people consider the movie to be a bit of a mess – like Gloria. Like any deeper movie, Colossal can be taken at many different levels. But fundamentally this is a deep exploration of the human condition and first and foremost is intended as myth and metaphor, to my thinking. Carl Jung could say much about it. One final note – the city attacked by the monster in the movie is not chosen ironically or without intent. This is a very interesting movie that is well worth your attention if you are willing to look at it metaphorically. It certainly works on other levels, but this is a movie with depth.
In his 1970 book I Seem To Be a Verb, Buckminster Fuller wrote: “I live on Earth at present, and I don’t know what I am. I know that I am not a category. I am not a thing—a noun. I seem to be a verb, an evolutionary process—an integral function of the universe.”
Buckminster Fuller was a futurist, a designer, a scientific shaman, an architect, a writer, a genius. In many ways he reminds me of Carl Jung, his kindred spirit, in the depth and breadth, and fundamentally, in the originality and importance of his thinking, and of the ideas they have both entrusted with us.
I will quote several passages of the book: Metaphysics of Buckminster Fuller by Phillip M. Pierson. Pierson lists himself as a commentator. Most of the book is Buckminster Fuller in his own words, with commentary by Pierson. He interviewed Buckminster Fuller, “Bucky” as many knew him, in 1980 and he obviously has a great deal of respect and affection for Fuller and his ideas.
Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that looks at the fundamental nature of reality. You can’t navigate the world or live your life without metaphysics. You either embrace a metaphysics consciously or unconsciously, but metaphysics is not optional.
Buckminster Fuller’s words are italicized in the following quotations, and all taken from Metaphysics of Buckminster Fuller. Fuller is not the easiest writer to follow. He creates his own words and he uses them liberally. He was thinking on the edge and it shows in his writing.
First, let’s begin with Bucky’s reminder that we are not individuals living a life that is being put before us in the world of space and solids. Rather, we are individuals who are all seeing not what is out there, but what is really inside of ourselves. There is a world “out there,” but on an individual basis it is all “inside us.” I find myself thinking of the couple of times I have testified in court; I was amazed that the others who testified saw the same thing I did, yet we “saw” it differently. We can better understand this when we realize it is not what was out there, but what is colored by our inside self that we actually saw. Bucky wrote: “To explain our sight, we call it ‘instantaneous.’ We say we can see instantaneously. This fact has misled us very greatly. You insist that you are seeing the black-and-white page of this book, do you not? You’re not. You have a brain-centered television set, and the light is bouncing off the page. The resultant comes back through your optical system and is scanned and actually goes back into the brain, and you are seeing the page in your brain. You are not seeing the page out in front of you. We have gotten used to the idea that we see outside of ourselves, but we just don’t do so. It only takes about a billionth of a second for the light to bounce off the page and get in the brain to be scanned, so the child is fooled into thinking that he is seeing outside of himself. And we are misinforming ourselves in discounting the lag and assuming that we see it “over there.’ No one has ever seen outside themselves.”
“What is really important, however, about you or me is the ‘thinkable you’ or the ‘thinkable me,’ the abstract metaphysical you or me, what we have done with these images, the relatedness we have found, what communications we have made with one another. We begin to realize that dimensions of the ‘thinkable you’ are phenomenal, when you hear Mozart on the radio, that is, the metaphysical—only intellectually identifiable—eternal Mozart who will always be there to any who hears his music. When we say ‘atom’ or think ‘atom’ we are intellect-to-intellect with livingly thinkable Democritus, who first conceived and named the invisible phenomenon ‘atom.’ Were exclusively tactile Democritus to be sitting next to you, surely you would not recognize him nor accredit him as you do the only-thinkable Democritus and what he thought about the atom. You say to me: ‘I see you sitting there.’ And all you see is a little of my pink face and hands and my shoes and clothing, and you can’t see ‘me,’ which is entirely the thinking, abstract, metaphysical me. It becomes shocking to think that we recognize one another only as the touchable, nonthinking biological organism and its clothed ensemble.”
“Recognized in these significant identification terms, there is quite a different significance in what we term ‘dead’ as a strictly tactile ‘thing,’ in contrast to the exclusively ‘thinking ‘ you or me. We can put the touchable things in the ground, but we can’t put the thinking and thinkable you in the ground. The fact that I see you only as the touchable you keeps shocking me. The baby’s spontaneous touching becomes the dominant sense measure, wherefore we insist on measuring the inches or the feet. We talk this way even though these are not the right increments. My exclusively tactile seeing inadequacy becomes a kind of warning, despite my only theoretical knowledge of the error of seeing you only as the touchable you. I keep spontaneously seeing the tactile living you. The tactile is very unreliable; it has little meaning. Though you know they are gentle, sweet children, when they put on Hallowe’en monster masks they ‘look’ like monsters. It was precisely in this manner that human beings came to err in identifying life only with the touchable physical, which is exactly what life isn’t.”
Fuller is making bold claims here and I agree with him. There is more to reality than the physical and in fact, fundamentally, the physical is not the most important portion of reality despite the dominant view of our senses and the culture. I’ve been inspired by his comprehensive view of our reality that articulates my own views. I’m beginning with my conclusions here and will circle back to provide a new view of reality, or rather one that does not match the current conventional view of the reality we find ourselves in. This circling back to expand and lay the foundation for my conclusions will come in future posts.
Science has become the Ouroboros and has discovered its own metaphysical tail, which is what I will be talking about in future posts. Reality cannot be explored or even perceived without metaphysics. That metaphysics can either be conscious, or as it is for most people in our culture, unconsciously accepted from that culture. Real consciousness has to begin with metaphysics, which is why so many scientists and philosophers are hostile to even the notion or relevancy of metaphysics. Metaphysics is often dismissed as speculation and essentially crazy ideas that have no bearing on “real” life. Much of that hostility arises because materialist science has such a hard time with consciousness. They either deny consciousness or claim it arose “somehow”.
But you can’t ignore metaphysics. Anyone who dismisses metaphysics is a person whose agenda is to put forth a metaphysics that they don’t want critically examined. Metaphysics comes before physics and physics must ultimately refer to metaphysics – always. In denying metaphysics as valid or important, many materialists, believing only in a physical reality, want us to embrace their metaphysics unconsciously and uncritically. It’s time for each one of us to reject that limitation imposed by some of the high priests of our culture. Each of us must explore and formulate a personal metaphysics – it is the ultimate foundation of our lives and cannot be left to chance or unthinking acceptance.
In later posts, I will provide a startling view of reality from a bona fide, credentialed scientist that provides a firm basis for embracing this new metaphysical view. But in reality, the new metaphysics is an embracing of an older metaphysics, but one that is broader and deeper. The Ouroboros finds its tail. But where does this metaphysics lead us? I’ll just hint at the conclusions for now.
Jung is really the first psychologist to penetrate and confront the metaphysical reality of our existence. To ignore this metaphysical reality is to ignore reality. A psychology that ignores this is arithmetic compared to the calculus of Carl Jung. That is why Jung is so dense and hard to encapsulate. Weaned on a view of reality mired in the physical, we seek answers using that simple arithmetic. We cannot understand the calculus Jung has set before us, using the tools of arithmetic.
Metaphysics cannot be ignored, but instead modern science has embraced a shallow metaphysics and much of psychology embraces that limited view. Jung could not. Jung did not. We cannot, if we are to evolve consciously, because we must recognize the broader metaphysical reality and work with that. Jung is the psychological metaphysician or the metaphysical psychologist. Either term applies to Jung, because since consciousness is primary, metaphysics and psychology are equivalent. They are the Möbius strip that has only one side. They cannot be separated. Metaphysics and psychology are one.
As an aside. I am finding that the Möbius strip is one of the most profound metaphors for many things in life. Things that appear to be dualistic are not, in the way they appear to be. I think this points to the ultimate unity of reality. Male – female is a duality that circles back on itself. Jung recognized the female aspect within the male and the male aspect within the female – the anima and the animus. I think the Möbius strip resembles the Ouroboros in a profound way. There is a simple video showing the Möbius strip. To make one, you simply take a longer strip of paper and tape the ends together, but you rotate one end 180 degrees and this gives you a one sided structure. If the paper is different colors on the two sides, you will see the two colors come together at the joint of course. If you start drawing a line along the strip your pen will eventually reach the beginning of the line without taking the pen off of the paper – one side from a two-sided piece of paper. For me, a profound metaphor. pointing to ultimate unity of two aspects of a whole.
Before Jung, many people hinted at this unity or took it for granted, but they did so unconsciously, without real awareness. They were fish unaware of the water. Moving forward and evolving required us to step out of this metaphysical reality into the current limited view. This limited view was a temporary necessity in our evolution that began with the enlightenment and scientific age. But for those who feel the constraints of this limited view, this view has became intolerable, and is becoming increasingly so. This is the itch inside of so many people. Jung felt this. Many people feel it. I feel it. But Jung had the courage and the supremely inquisitive and rigorous nature to move beyond the materialist metaphysics. It was inevitable that a genius would come along to do this. For whatever reason, this genius was Carl Gustav Jung. It is now our job to continue his work within ourselves to consciously engage with our metaphysical and psychological reality. But again, the Möbius strip analogy describes metaphysical reality. Inside and outside are the same, but given our biases that persist, we must direct our attention inward, which will inevitably lead outward as we travel the Möbius strip.
The journey starts within and the deeper one goes, the higher and further one travels.
“The task is . . . not so much to see what no one has yet seen; but to think what nobody has yet thought, about that which everybody sees. —Erwin Schrodinger
That is what Buckminster Fuller and Carl Jung did. I found this quotation by Erwin Schrodinger, a physicist and pioneer in quantum mechanics, in Metaphysics of Buckminster Fuller at the beginning of the chapter, The Big Picture. Reading that chapter made it clear to me that the brain is a tool of the mind, our consciousness, just as science is a tool of metaphysical psychology. These tools are indispensable but must always be used consciously, with explicit and implicit awareness of their limitations and profound skepticism for premature conclusions.
I will end, again with Buckminster Fuller:
If we take all that we have shared about reality seriously, it should cause us to change our thinking in many ways. Bucky was very clear in saying, like the Buddha, “wake up”—wake up to reality: “Humans still think in terms of an entirely superficial game of static things—solids, surfaces, or straight lines—despite that no things—no continuums—only discontinuous, energy quanta—separate even packages—operate as remotely from one another as the stars of the Milky Way. Science has found no ‘things’; only events. Universe has no nouns; only verbs. Don’t say self-comfortingly to yourself or to me that you have found the old way of getting along with false notions to be quite adequate and satisfactory. So was the old umbilical cord to your mother. But you can’t reattach it and your mother is no longer physically present. You can’t go back. You can’t stay put. You can only grow and, if you comprehend what is going on, you will find it ever more satisfactory and fascinating, for that is what evolution is doing, whether you think, ignorantly, that you don’t like it or do.”
As Buckminster Fuller and Carl Jung made clear, we cannot go back to older ways of looking at the world. We must embrace a new metaphysics – a new way of seeing our world. In future posts I will be setting out the profound reason why our metaphysics has been so limited and essentially wrong. We have been living in an illusion about our perception of reality, and there is a scientific theory that explains why there are powerful reasons to revise our metaphysics. And this comes from the science of evolution itself – not quantum physics. Quantum physics is the smoking gun that points at major problems with our conventional notions of metaphysics, the nature of reality and our perceptions of that reality. This new theory, coming from evolution, presents a much bigger picture of the nature of our illusion. It validates both Jung and Fuller. I see this as really changing the game, but it will certainly take time to be accepted and proven. But for those of us who are ready for this new framework, these ideas open up more possibilities allowing us to go farther and deeper. I hope that this new metaphysics leads to more understanding and acceptance of Jung and his ideas – and to more evolution.
In the Homeric epic, mythological poem, The Oddyssey, Odysseus, the central character was king of the island of Ithaca. I love this poem as a hopeful story for our path.
Travel well. Travel deep.
The poem is by C. P. Cavafy.
As you set out for Ithaka
hope the voyage is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them:
you’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
wild Poseidon—you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.
Hope the voyage is a long one.
May there be many a summer morning when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you come into harbors seen for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind—
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to gather stores of knowledge from their scholars.
Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you are destined for.
But do not hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you are old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.
Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.
And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you will have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.
This phrase resonates in my head. Constantly. For me, it’s poetic. Over three years ago, I posted a comment on another blog that talked about a life crisis that can come in early adulthood, around the age of twenty five. The author called it the “quarter-life crisis”. In my comment, I included the following:
“A good friend of mine had the quote “gradient is the elixir of youth” as his high school write up. At the time that was completely wasted on most of us – myself included. But the phrase comes to me now quite often – maybe it is the recognition of gradient or the awakening to gradient, that is the elixir of evolution.”
I know my friend was referring to skiing – one of his passions at the time – but knowing the person, who remains a good friend, he was also pointing to the broader and deeper meaning, if not consciously. Evolution – change – growth – expansion are all the elixir of youth and really, the elixir of life. Myth and meaning are the the engine and fuel for that evolution. And a crisis can be the stimulus for that growth, but the timetable is variable and unpredictable. Mixing metaphors with abandon, I know. But this is Mashup Soup, at least for now, so wtf.
The institution of science and the materialism it has embraced as the core tenet, has put myth on the margins, as having little relevance to our lives. I seek to correct this error. Myth has remained, albeit diminished in importance in our modern society, not because humans irrationally seek escape into the unreal, but rather we are drawn to the most fundamentally real that is revealed by myth and art.
More to come – much more.