My primary thesis is that humanity, and each of us, is evolving with the rise of Eros over Logos. The latter has largely dominated for the last few hundred years in particular, and primarily over the past few thousand years. I believe we are entering a turbulent period where we will see many changes as Eros reasserts its power and strength. Logos will take its rightful place as a necessary and strong partner with Eros, rather than trying to dominate Eros. Both processes and approaches will be fortified by this divine marriage of the feminine and the masculine.
Woman’s consciousness is characterized more by the connective quality of Eros than by the discrimination and cognition associated with Logos. In men, Eros … is usually less developed than Logos. In women, on the other hand, Eros is an expression of their true nature, while their Logos is often only a regrettable accident.
[“The Syzygy: Anima and Animus,” Carl Jung Collected Works Volume 9ii, par. 29.]
This quote comes way from the excellent website by Frith Luton, a Jungian analyst living in Australia. She has a great deal of well organized information on Jungian concepts. I am working on my own posts on the major concepts in Jungian thought, but I give Frith full credit for informing me. You cannot understand Jung without knowing the major concepts and definitions he uses, but it is really not that complex to get started, although a few lifetimes would be required to digest everything Jung wrote. That is certainly not necessary, however – any sincere attempt to play with and understand the Jungian ideas is more fruitful than almost anything else I am aware of in psychology. Jung cracks open the bones and examines the marrow of our souls and psyche. It’s a lot more fun and helpful than reading a web article on “The Nine Keys to a Happy Life”.
Crap – digressing again. Where was I? Evolution – right. We are evolving and we need support and guidance for our souls, higher beings, deeper selves – whatever word you want to put on that part of you that yearns for meaning and the marrow of life that Jung exposed. Where do you find your purpose in life? Where do you find guidance from deep within yourself. Where does that voice within you come from that warns you that your boss is up to no good? Or that person you just met may the most important person you will ever meet? Or you were born to be an actor even though your parents and your boyfriend think you should go into engineering?
The unconscious is the reservoir of knowing that serves you in these ways and countless others. Jung considered that you had a personal unconscious and there is a collective unconscious that we can all tap into. Since Jung is central to my thesis, I’ll be talking about these a lot. Our personal unconscious and the collective unconscious are essentially an enormous library of ideas, thoughts, feelings, archetypes, myths, history, and possibilities that we all have access to, but how do we access them?
Art and dreams are both ways to access this unconscious material, in the invaluable process of making the unconscious, conscious, which Jung considered to be critical for our personal growth, and peace of mind. I cannot speak directly for visual artists, musicians, performers, or any other kind of artist, apart from a writer. If I am an artist, it is confined to writing, but I think the essential act of artistic creation is basically the same for all artists. And if truth be told, I think that we humans are all artists, or at least potentially so, if we apply ourselves.
I cannot really say where the words, ideas and emotions of my writing come from. I can wake up at three in the morning with ideas that force me to get up to record them. I will sometimes tell myself I am too tired and I will remember them in the morning, but my mind refuses to rest until I write them down. That can last an hour or more. Other times I will wake up restless and start reading something – perhaps from the day before, or I will randomly open another book. I can then feel compelled to make notes on what I am reading. I seem to think of things with my head, but not really. It is not like solving a logical problem at work, which is a more sequential process. But the creative process, in art, or anywhere, is poorly understood. I like that because it seems to have a magic that defies easy analysis.
So art can be a source of transmission from the unconscious to the artist. But the fun of art is that it does not remain with the artist – at least the artist certainly hopes not. The artist presents the piece and then the audience receives it with their own understanding. Hopefully a piece of art sparks something creative within the audience and something new is created. Art is a personal experience of the artist and of the audience.
I’d like to give an example of my interpretation of the cover art of a song I recently posted. This was a song I really liked when I was younger and I rediscovered it just a week or so ago – I think through my unconscious – I can’t even remember the exact path of it.
The song is by 10cc – Feel the Benefit and here is the post I made on it.
The cover art picture was by the brilliant team of Hipgnosis – who made some great cover art for music albums. I spent more than a few hundred hours listening to the music in my bedroom gazing at this art – not just this one for Deceptive Bends – to be clear.
Now I am going to give my interpretation of what I see and get from the picture above. This is not anything more than my personal understanding of what this means to me right now. I did not make these connections when I bought or listened to the album many years ago. Attractive half-clothed women have never required any more justification in my mind, and I am sure I was satisfied with that at the time, but now, with my writing and appreciation of Jung, I see much more.
I see a deep sea diver, fully suiting, carrying a limp, but alive woman. Presumably, he has rescued her from the depths of the water, since he is wearing the apparatus required to dive deeply. Deep water is a wonderful symbol for the unconscious – both personal and collective. The man went down there and found the woman and brought her up. She is obviously very strong to have survived without the suit that he required. I see the woman as representing Eros, in the Jungian sense. The man represents Logos. The woman is free of constraints and in her virtually natural state – almost naked – very exposed and vulnerable, yet again, obviously strong to have survived. She has a natural vitality that cannot be ignored, and certainly a sensual nature that is clearly exposed here.
The man is suited up, almost like a robot. His humanity is completely covered up and obscured by the suit, which is almost a machine – man made. He dived into the water, but was not really touched by it – certainly not as the woman was. He has saved the woman at some level, or perhaps he wants something from the woman. He may want and seek her vitality – her life force. He strikes me as caring, but I may be projecting more than I am seeing. The narrow window through which the man is able to see the outside world is very limited. In that suit, the man is almost entirely exposed to his own inner world (the world of ideas for Logos) and cannot see or perceive much past that small window. The woman, Eros, is exposed to a much greater knowing of the outside world than the Logos of man. But again, the man has saved the woman so he values her – Logo is not entirely cut off from Eros, from life. He may not know why he is attracted to Eros, but there is no denying it.
So that is what I receive from the picture. I’d be surprised if the artist had similar thoughts, or perhaps he did. That is irrelevant. Each viewer brings their own experience, thoughts, and feeling to bear on the art and creates their own meaning. There is no right or wrong.
A year ago, I probably wouldn’t have come up with the same ideas or notions of this. A year from now I might see something different. That’s art, which some might feel is intimidating or you might think I’m just making up silly ideas that the artist never intended – pure fabrication on my part. You could be right – I don’t care. Art does not require justification or explanation – ever.
But let’s move to dreams. Everyone dreams. You may not think so, but you do. You just may not remember them. Dreams are freaky and fascinating. They are mind-bending and creative and they arise within you. Their source is the unconscious – the personal and the collective. Their purpose? I think it is clear that they have the great purpose of informing and animating our personal growth – like art – helping to being the unconscious to consciousness. You live within this giant library of knowing, feeling, archetypes, myths, etc and dreams help to crack open a book or two, or three, every night. Life and biology are efficient and purposeful – to support our lives and our growth, since life without growth is stagnation and death. I will write a lot more about dreams but I am eager to try to spark some interest. It is never too soon to attend to your dreams. Jung believed that dreams do not tell us things we already know – there would be no point or advantage to that. Dreams are designed for discovery – like art.
Assume that dreams are trying to tell you something important and valuable for your life, but ultimately you must do the work of interpreting and understanding their meaning for you. Playing with a dream is fun, but a challenge. Write down your dreams as soon as possible. Try to record as much detail as you can – even minor details can be important to help in understanding. I am personally working with a Jungian analyst to help me in my process of individuation – the personal growth of a person leading to the discovery of the Self. I have written on this and will write a great deal more. Dreams are personal to you. Do not buy a dream analysis book and use that to understand the personal symbols. There are great archetypal themes and patterns in dreams, but assume nothing without experience and thought. Play with the dreams and your ideas about them. Hold the thought of a dream and perhaps you might dream some clarification in the near future. You will get better with practice.
Working with a Jungian is invaluable in understanding your dreams better. As you attend more to your dreams, you dream more and better – move vividly and more interestingly. It is as if your unconscious is responding positively to your beginning to listen more to it, which makes sense. Your psyche and unconscious are rewarding each other in the process of following dreams with greater interest.
To give you some idea how this can work, I am going to briefly describe an important dream for me.
I am in Portland Oregon for a meeting and I leave the course to do some touring. I am in a small car that seems conventional, but becomes a small hovering car – very cool. So I am zipping around exploring and follow a road for a while, but turn off into a garden shopping area. It is like a beautiful garden with a number of interesting shops. I head into one that is largely gardening materials – maybe no big surprise. I am zipping around in my cool little hover car, when a very large black dog comes bounding at me from the back of this store. The dog is not threatening, but is aggressively coming at me and comes behind me and clamps his jaws around the back of my neck so I am immobilized. I am in no pain or discomfort, but I cannot move my body or my head. The dog has me in his grip. I call to an older man at the back of the shop where the dog came from, but he ignores me. The dream ends with the dog clamped around my neck – just holding me.
At first, my analyst was concerned about the dog, but I made it clear that at no time was I afraid of the dog. He was concerned about my lack of fear, but I understood that the dog was not trying to hurt me – at all. I was never in any danger. We both came to the conclusion that my zipping around in a small hover car was sort of how I operate at times – moving from idea to idea and seldom sticking with something long enough to see it through. The dog was perhaps part of me, or part of something beyond me, that was telling me to ATTEND! Pay attention to what is before you. Do not allow yourself to be distracted! Stop and pay attention – this is for your own good. The dog was not there to hurt me or even to intimidate me, but to serve me.
Now this is a simple dream, but the image of that dog has stayed with me and I consider that dream and that dog to be a great teacher for me, that I am taking to heart. Attend! Pay attention! Stop succumbing to distractions that don’t serve you! Now that is a valuable dream. I have since had many others, but the elegance and force of this dream has stayed with me powerfully.
I cannot emphasize how important both art and dreams are to fuel and inspire our growth and evolution. Play with both of them. You can’t get it wrong. If you miss the message the first time, or the next, or the next, or for years, your unconscious and the collective unconscious will never tire of trying to bring important material to your awareness. Art and dreams are powerful, yet subtle. I see art as a form of cooperative dream between the artist and the audience member.
There are other ways we receive such information and knowing, but you can’t go wrong by starting with art and dreams.
Another great song from 10cc – I posted on them before. I’m not going on about interpreting this song except for the album cover showing a man (member of the band) carrying a woman up from the depths. I see this as Logos finding and carrying Eros up from the watery depths of the unconscious where she resides. She may be a little worse for wear, but she is alive and obviously strong to be rescued by a man who needed a deep diving suit to reach her. But don’t let too much analysis ruin the art.
Feel the Benefit
From Vanity Fair magazine, comes another example of evolution in the world culture, brought to us by and through art. Haifaa al-Mansour is a Saudi film maker who is connecting with Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein most famously, but much other writing as well, in al-Mansour’s latest movie. She found that she can relate to the pioneering spirit of a rebel like Shelley, living in a conservative culture that is only comfortable with women leading a very narrow life, largely determined by the masculine dominated culture. Contemporary Saudi Arabia seems worlds away from 19th century England, but essentially not so much. Rigidly structured societies that actively discourage, and prohibit individual and psychologically rebellious behaviors and ideas have many more similarities than differences. And often women are in the vanguard of the changes that help to free and heal men, as much as women, as the culture and society evolves.
I think men are often less aware of the cultural restraints on our human freedoms, so it often becomes the task of women to become conscious of those constraints and to push beyond them. I suspect too that men, more in touch with Logos, than Eros, consciously or unconsciously are more likely to believe that the rules of culture are logical, valuable as traditions, and important for stability. Since women tend to have more cultural restraints on their behavior, and they can see what men are permitted to do, without society falling apart, they are more likely to rebel against those cultural restraints. We all benefit from that process of evolution.
click on the graphic to go to the Vanity Fair article
Our lives are immeasurably enriched by art and by such artists, who rebel and explore more deeply. I believe art is as important as our DNA, and will be writing about that in the near future.
More music to help in the contemplation of life, the universe and everything…
Sunrise Projector – by Tycho
Since we can not escape nature
We attempt to placate it
Modern civilization stems from the simple act
Of placing seeds and plants into the ground
Houses and fields are especially
Being volunteers with, with citizens [?] of the, of the [?]
When the plants are ready for harvest
We invest so much time and energy in tending our plants
We must stay around to enjoy the fruits of our labor
Modern civilization stems from the simple act
Of placing seeds and plants into the ground
Plants into the ground
Plants into the ground
Plants into the ground
Plants into the ground
Houses and fields are especially
As I’ve consistently said here, and found in my own life, no thinker is more important in the last five hundred years, than Carl Gustav Jung. But the breadth and depth of his thinking makes it a challenge to discover and understand the essentials. Jung is very well known and very popular within a small part of our culture, and his influence is everywhere in our culture, but that’s not well known by most people.
Jung is best known as a psychologist, but the current materialist approach to science in general, and to psychology specifically, marginalizes Jung and it’s hard for people to discover Jung on their own. Many people, if they know of Jung, may think of him as a student and colleague of Freud, and think of him as simply some psychologist of the past, no longer relevant for today.
Great thinkers, like Jung, explore and set out a body of work that has such deep relevance to humanity that it is impossible for their work not to remain important to be rediscovered by subsequent generations. Plato, Aristotle, and Shakespeare aren’t some old guys who can be dismissed – they produced great works that speak to the essential core of the humanity within all of us. Jung is the same for me. I can get chills and tears from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and Jung’s Red Book, as much as from The OA.
This video is an excellent introduction to Jung. It covers the most important areas that Jung explored. Near the end of the video, gender is discussed, which was important to Jung and to me as well. Women around the turn of the last century, when psychology was just beginning to gain momentum as a science, were often diagnosed with “hysteria”, which today would be recognized and describe as anxiety, or a neurosis. When one reads these stories, without looking at it through a more discerning lens, and I would use my lens of deep evolution, it is easy, yet simplistic to see how these women were delicate creatures. Strong people and men would not suffer in this way. But when one looks at this from a more Jungian (and deep evolutionary) perspective, it seems much more obvious that women were suffering in greater numbers and to a greater degree, because society was and is denying the feminine, in complex ways. But if you are not familiar with this Jungian view of gender, do not consider it to be male-bashing or simplistic gender wars. There is much more going on in all of this and there are no villains or saints – rather we are all products of our society and I would say our evolution.
But generally, women are less supported, in many ways, by the psychological and social environment than men. It’s not so much a man’s world, as a dysfunctional masculine world, with many implications way beyond gender. Our society has continued down this path, that really began a few thousand years ago, although the feminine is being recognized somewhat more in some ways. But psychological problems are much more balanced now – and not in a good way – women aren’t doing better, men are doing worse. Men have caught up to women. Anxiety, neuroses and the use of psychotropic drugs is growing and virtually endemic in our society. Our unbalanced society is affecting men as well as women, because as Jung pointed out, men and women contain both the masculine and feminine. I’m thinking now that over the last century or more, women have been the canaries in the coal mine in our society, but now men are being affected as well. This video is thought provoking even for a person well versed in Jung.
There is a lot here. Leanne Whitney is wonderful in her passion and her intelligence. She has a PhD in depth psychology and works with people using that education along with yoga and craniosacral therapy. She’s also written a book – Consciousness in Jung and Patañjali, where she writes to reconcile Eastern and Western thought. Sigh – another book I will have to order soon.
The interview is by Jeffrey Mishlove, a psychologist himself, with an enormously broad range of interests and a great interviewer who brings out the best in his guests. Mishlove had a long running American public television show (PBS), called Thinking Allowed and now has a new series available on YouTube – New Thinking Allowed. His interviews are highly recommended and I’m sure I’ll be referring to more in the future.
This video is a wonderful exploration on the treachery of Logos, when one remains in Logos. In our current culture, and at our current evolutionary stage, it is too common to remain in Logos and that is the danger. Logos is not a problem, unless you refuse to move beyond it, to Eros. That is the problem we are confronting now. But I am convinced that we are in the process of correcting this limitation in human consciousness, as I first put forward here, in my central thesis. Humanity is evolving and Eros rises as Logos is put into its proper context. That is the challenge of our age. That is the challenge that Carl Jung explored and dedicated his life to.
I think Lynch is correct. I think most artists are very reluctant to put words or explanations to their art. Obviously Lynch does talk and I have little doubt that he talks about his film with his actors, technical crew etc. Language cannot be avoided in most situations, but you have to be aware of its limitations and the very real treachery of not keeping that in your consciousness. Logos is not wrong, but it carries many limitations that need to be recognized and constantly in one’s thoughts.
For an artist to explain her or his work to the audience is particularly dangerous because it cripples the creative process. Art is a collaboration between the artist and the audience. The artist may have a very conscious notion of the meaning, but perhaps not so much. In any case, the beauty, magic and power of art is that the receiver of the art creates meaning in their own mind from the piece. A painting or a movie may inspire ideas, feelings and soulful explosions within a person that the artist could not have imagined in their wildest dreams. And those are just as real and much more meaningful for that viewer than anything the artist might say in words. The artist speaks through her painting and words would adulterate the magic by stifling the creative process within the viewer. Logos looks for answers and wants certainty. Eros, the soul of art, invites creation and mystery, that never ends.
“As soon as you put things into words, no one ever sees the film the same way, and that’s what I hate you know. Talking – its real dangerous.”
The treachery of language is that Logos seduces us into believing that perfect precision is possible with language. The conceit of language is that one can find the right words to express truth – a 100% mapping of perception and communication to reality. One always tries to communicate as well as possible. And when you’re designing a bridge or building a car engine, precision is something to aim for, and Logos is the tool for this. But when you build that bridge in the real world and the engine goes into the car to drive, the chaos of reality – the area of Eros begins to dominate. You don’t abandon Logos or ignore it in those domains, but you can’t overvalue it either.
Language does not need to be tossed aside, although there are certainly times for that. Two lovers can have a wonderful conversation, but there comes a time to stop talking. Awareness of the limitations and danger in language is never to be forgotten or minimized.
Logos is not the enemy or even an enemy. Language is certainly not bad – it’s an amazing tool that we constantly use – obviously. The problem arises with our unconscious use and engagement with language – overvaluing it as a means to arrive at and communicate with the truth.
I’m going to end this with a movie that is an ode to the limitations of Logos and of language. 2001: A Space Odyssey is an amazing movie. It has no dialogue for the first 25 minutes nor for the last 23 and no dialogue for a total of around 88 minutes. The dialogue is very spare and most if it is relatively banal conversation that simply drives the story. The major ideas and themes of the movie do not rely upon Logos, but Eros.
The movie was written by Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke who said:
“If you understand ‘2001’ completely, we failed. We wanted to raise far more questions than we answered.”
Arthur C. Clarke
Ah. Eros. And true art. The marrow of life in all it’s mystery and wonder.
I first saw the movie, as a kid, in a hushed movie theater, with my best friend. He was a year older and he thought the movie was stupid. I did not understand the movie, but I was awestruck. I wasn’t sure what I’d just seen, but I knew it was really important for me and the movie has stayed with me ever since. I realize now that this movie profoundly spoke to me in the language of Eros, and that is why it remained with me so deeply. This is a movie that embraces mystery and Eros. Its creator, the great Stanley Kubrick, said very little about the movie as David Lynch advises, but the major theme that he intended is revealed here, but that theme is such an enormous mystery itself, that Kubrick is simply letting us in on the scope of his movie. We still bring our own meaning to the art. The following video is an excellent short piece on the movie that gives away little, but does explore some of the major themes. It does not try to explain the movie in a neat and tidy package – it leaves that for the viewer, as it should. I hope it inspires some people to see the movie who do not know of it. or are not attracted to science fiction. 2001 is simply art.
interestingly, the video discusses Kubrick’s strategy in the film. He uses Logos to tell the story of Eros, because he knows his audience is predisposed to Logos and he must use that tool to arrive at his deeper story of Eros. That is precisely my thesis. Logos must be recognized and used as a path to Eros, to deeper meaning. The divine marriage of the two will lead to our further evolution, and this is a story of evolution – deep evolution.
The face of this astronaut is the face of a man in being called to Eros, confronting Logos, and the need to rise beyond it. Eros rises.
Evolution can’t happen in a straight line. Life can’t be lived in a straight line. You might aim for a straight line, but you have to accept the curves and the curbs as being inevitable and even desirable – really. Evolution is a process of discovery and experimentation, blind alleys and surprising detours. My Logos mind understands this, more or less completely and hates it – at least most of the time. My ego is starting to get it, although it has a ways to go. My Eros mind is totally cool with it. We’re all making it up as we go along. Here’s a song I rediscovered in my collection and I appreciate it now more than I ever did. Take it away Spiritualized – gotta love that name.
Here’s another great Spiritualized song – exploring the neo-psychodelia-gospel genre of music – if that ain’t a mashup…
Here we have a small step in our human evolution, but we need to recognize and celebrate the small steps. It’s easy to become cynical or discouraged – in our own lives and in society and humanity in general. Our egos, driven by Logos, are biased to see problems, because that’s what our left brain is best at dealing with…sort of. When you’re a hammer, you look for nails. And big surprise – you can find them. Your left brain is a hammer of Logos. Ask any carpenter – hammers are useful, but not for everything.
But I digress, as I am prone to do. This story is of women moving into traditional Mexican Mariacha bands. Humanity is evolving and gender roles and identity are a big part of this evolution – both as a driver and as a manifestation and feature. And all is well.
Viva la evolution!