Poet unknown, but I found a copy of this very same poem in Chapter 55 of a Timeless Place.
For a dear friend who shared this poem recently. I love its imagery and was inspired to animate parts of it with Archetypal Animations.
Have a beautiful and soulful day.
Following are sources for the images and music used to create each Archetypal Animation. All images for this blog come from Pixabay and all music is from Spotify. To hear the music, just click the little sound box in the upper right-hand corner of each animation.
You can follow my Pixabay account to see collections of spectacular photos I have encountered in my searches for images for Archetypal Animations. And follow mySpotify account for meditative and powerful playlists of musicians I have discovered in my search for musical soundtracks for Archetypal Animations.
My small insight in animating parts of this poem is:
Keep moving forward no matter the weather inside or outside.
Every emotion, feeling, and mood is rocket fuel powering us ever forward through new beginnings and endings on our endless and indestructible journey through the feeling of being.
It is only through the dark that we know the light.
It is only by descending to our deepest depths that we can reach our highest heights.
One more insight, actually it is a synchronicity between working on this poem and a movie that my husband and I watched last night. We saw a BBC version of Great Expectations. Neither of us had ever read Charles Dickens book nor seen any of the movies made about it.
Both of us were spelled bound by the convoluted beautiful tale Dickens weaves through all his stories. We were particularly captivated and appalled by Miss Havisham.
"Humiliated and heartbroken, Miss Havisham suffered a mental breakdown and remained alone in her decaying mansion Satis House – never removing her wedding dress,..." -- Wiki
Here is a sense of the depth of despair she has descended to and refuses (or cannot) let go of in this complicated story.
Her endless pain bends and distorts her until she appears more dead than alive, more witch than beautiful maiden, which she was. Still she clings to her unendurable pain, the consequences of which ripple through and define the rest of her life and beyond.
I listen to a lot of Alan Watts, and he talks a lot about letting go because there is no way to hold on to it. It can be pleasure, pain, money, status, whatever it is a person is tempted to hold on to. He also talks about peaks and troughs. You can’t have one without the other.
I immediately sought to find an example of what would happen to a human being who only held onto pleasure. A person who refuses to see, feel, or know their own pain. I could not think of a literary example, but my mother-in-law sprang to mind.
I realized a person who holds on to pleasure also is beaten and battered into more of a monster than a human being by this force–for pleasure is an energy just as pain is energy. We feel these energies as emotions inside of us.
A person who clings to pleasure becomes dim, shallow, and cruel. They become a person who takes pleasure in other people pain, misfortune, and sorrow. They have forgotten their soul needs food to grow and that consuming someone else’s pain is a pretty poor substitute for their own.
To grow, a soul needs to sink into the depths of being a mortal being. Denying their own pain and suffering, cuts them off from other people and slices themselves in half. A person who clings to pleasure becomes the same type of pitiful monster that Miss Havisham becomes due to clinging to her pain.
You can follow my journey in exploring what happens to a person who clings to pleasure through my Big Sky Series.
I recently finished watching Wallander on my local PBS station that playback back to back episodes for over a month for their Thriller Thursdays. I had begun watching Wallander years earlier (probably 2016 when it first came out), but due to public television fundraising or something like that, I never saw all the episodes until now.
I decided to animate key lines of this poem by creating moving musical archetypal images–the ones that have become my signature artwork on this site. Archetypal images as explained by the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung. He suggests archetypes are archaic forms of innate human knowledge passed down from our ancestors. Kendra Kelly writes in an article for the verywellmind, “Jung believed we inherit these archetypes much in the way we inherit instinctive patterns of behavior.” Indeed, Jung further postulated that archetypes are mirror images of instinctual responses that have been modified by conscious awareness. An archetype is an unconscious collective reservoir of information of what happens to people each time they make a choice to act different from what nature would have otherwise dictated through instinctual responses.
Indeed, archetypes form a psychological body much in the same way that ears, eyes, nose, arms, liver, spleen, and heart form a physical body. Just as individuals can choose to treat their bodies in different ways (e.g., some people recreate by doing drugs while others find joy and relaxation hiking outdoors), individuals fill the void of possibilities that an activated archetypes opens up inside of them in different ways (e.g., some people act on violent, criminal impulses others choose to direct their anger and rage in less violent and destructive ways).
See this well-written article about Carl Jung’s views on Crime and the Soul. And so without further ado, here is the Half-Finished Heaven by Tomas Tranströme along with my individual interpretation of images activated by each line.
The Half-Finished Heaven by Tomas Tranströme
Despondency breaks off its course.
First Archetypal Image for First Stanza
2. Anguish breaks off its course.
Second Archetypal Image for Second Stanza
3. The vulture breaks off its flight.
Third Archetypal Image for Third Stanza
4. The eager light streams out, even the ghosts take a draught.
Fourth Archetypal Image for Fourth Stanza
5. And our paintings see daylight, our red beasts of the ice-age studios.
Fifth Archetypal Image for Fifth Stanza
6. Everything begins to look around. We walk in the sun in hundreds.
Sixth Archetypal Image for Sixth Stanza
7. Each man is a half-open door, leading to a room for everyone.
Seventh Archetypal Image | Seventh Stanza
8. The endless ground under us.
Eight Archetypal Image | Eight Stanza
9. The water is shining among the trees.
Ninth Archetypal Image | Ninth Stanza
10. The lake is a window into the earth.
Tenth Archetypal Image | Tenth Stanza
Winter Solstice | Ancient Pagan Day of Ritual for Peoples of the Northern Worlds
While the winter solstice marks the “beginning of winter” in the Northern Hemisphere as marked by the longest night of the year. The same day is marked by people in the Southern Hemisphere as the beginning of summer as they experience the longest day of the year.(See article in Business Insider for a full view of the nature of time and light as experienced by life on Earth).
Across the Northern Hemisphere, peoples of all times and cultures and religions took note of when the dwindling light finally relented its steady march to darkness and turned the other way. Earth probably owes this time honored pattern to a collision with another planet thought to be about the size of Mars. This colossal collision s a hypothesized to have occurred way, way back at the dawn of the creation of our solar system when an ancient planet called Theia collided with early Earth about 4.5 billion years ago. The impact knocked ancient Earth off its axis titling it so that it wobbles back and forth with the Northern Hemisphere facing towards the sun for six months and then the Souther Hemisphere. It also is thought to have created the moon and could have been a critical conveyor of water to our planet. [Image from Universe Today | A Cataclysmic Collision Formed the Moon, but Killed Theia by Evan Gough | 2/2/16]
Due to our fantastic ability to focus consciousness like a beam of light, humanity has built up a vast reservoir of knowledge like this, but our ancestors were no less clever–they simply had different ways to explain what they were experiencing. Especially significant events such as the dwindling of sunlight that made food hard to find and increased the need of ancient man to find shelter. If Earth one day never wobbled back to warm the Northern Hemisphere, it would spell doom for millions of living organisms that inhabit these realms of the planet.
Just a small representation of the diverse celebrations marking the return of light to the Northern Hemisphere include:
Saint Lucia’s Day, Scandinavia.
St.Lohri, Northern India.
Soyal, Hopi of Northern Arizona. .
Yule, Northern Europe.
Santo Tomás Festival, Guatemala.
Saturnalia, Ancient Rome.
There are many more Winter Solstice celebrations in the Northern Hemisphere besides these. In my previous blog, Satan’s Sister & Santa Claus, I explore the colonization of these vast, diverse Winter Solstice celebrations as the ancient roots of Western Civilization stretched far into the northernmost regions of Europe, and then far beyond to become a dominating force around the world imposing a worldview that “sees humans as dominant over nature and feels natural resources should be used for the benefit of humanity. The western worldview puts man first and declares human beings as superior to all other living and non-living things in the environment. ” — Environmental Worldviews: Western & Deep Ecology
For the ‘civilized’ Romans colonizing northern Europe long ago, this is where the barbarians lived. Even today, their fear mixed with disgust and desire to control and gain more loot for themselves looms large in the psyche of modern Western man. Conduct a Google search of barbarian, and you will find tons of images of primal Germanic-Nordic warriors.
All this is a long way of saying that we are complex beings with written histories that are highly biased to glorify the conquering tribes. Or if not completely conquered, the assimilation of whole groups of people into a larger and/or more technological advanced group. But we also have psychic histories that are stored in the collective well of consciousness, the one Carl Jung helped to bring into the sphere of the long, narrow beam of Western consciousness.
Here, nothing is lost or forgotten. Here, a completely soft-spoken, normal, well-adjusted modern man can turn into a barbarian in a split second when some sleeping archaic archetype is trigger into action. When we fail to grow as conscious beings, we can easily succumb to the power of our sleeping psyche.
Consider Robert S. Palmer, 54, of Largo, Fla. who pleaded guilty in October to assaulting law enforcement officers with a dangerous weapon during the Jan 6 assault on the Capitol. The Washington Post reports that he had thrown a fire extinguisher — twice — a large plank and then a four- to five-foot pole at police before he was struck with one rubber bullet. At his sentencing, Palmer said, “I’m really, really ashamed of what I did. I was horrified, absolutely devastated to see myself on there.” — Fla. man sentenced to 5 years for attacking police, the longest Jan. 6 riot sentence yet by Tom Jackman, 12/17/21
He will now serve 5 years in prison for his actions that he himself is ashamed of committing almost a year ago. How does an average, law-abiding citizen go from a normal man to a berserker capable of murder?
The Old Norsemen knew how. They cultivated and embodied a whole class of warriors known as berserkers. Men who put themselves into a trance-like fury making them furiously violent and out of control. — Wiki Berserker | Images from Wiki and Google Berserker search
Got to admit that there are striking similarities between depictions of ancient Norse berserkers and the Jan 6, 2021 riot at the Capitol–mainly furious white men in a rampage. This is the ugly under belly of Western Civilization beaming brightly for all to see. The barbarian is alive and well in modern times. It has not been vanquished nor destroyed in the minds and psyches of modern men and women. It only needs to be tripped or triggered to roar vividly back to life.
And so, here we are back to the barbarian. This is why I choose the poem by Tomas Tranströme for on this shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere we are reminded of our finite time on Earth and the question begs to be asked what kind of life do we wish to choose for ourselves, for our loved ones, and for everyone else. It is all connected–individual actions are connected to collective actions that are connected to our shared reality.
I like Tranströme’s poem because it mines the deep archaeological cervices where valiant, cowardly, noble and ignoble parts of our all-too-human-soul lie forgotten but very much ready to take over control of the reins guiding our thoughts and actions in the world. His poem helps modern men and women who scarcely have a moment to think a thought for themselves anymore to pause and sink deeper into who they really are as living, conscious beings on a miraculous planet chock full of life.
This is what ancient Winter Solstice celebrations paid tribute to–the miracle of life on Earth. This is something all humans everywhere and through all times felt and perceived and celebrated. It is what the early Christian missionaries understood and so moved the birth and celebration of Jesus to this time of year to harness and redirect this powerful flow of collective human consciousness. It is what Tranströme’s poem hints at, very delicately but in a dynamic, compelling, numinous way. This shortest day of the year is an opportunity to feel and remember who and what we really are.
The interpretation of Half-Finished Heaven by the London Buddhist Centre is different from my interpretation as captured in the animated musical images above. However, rather than negating my personal interpretation, the Buddhist Centre’s interpretation widens and broadens the archetypal image that offers a glimpse into a room for everyone as captured by Tranströme’s seventh stanza of his poem. This room is the rich reservoir of humanity’s collective consciousness–as illuminated by the light of our collective conscious attention and as sleeps in the depths of our collective unconsciousness.
What follows is not a detailed analysis of the images above but rather an accounting of what used to create them. The power of an archetype always lays inside of you and what is evoked in your heart and mind. [Note: My division of Tranströme’s poem does not necessarily conform to his original publishing of this poem as available in The Half-Finished Heaven: Selected Poems and other publications featuring Tranströme’s work.]
“If we want to know what clouds of affliction mean & why they are sent we can’t flee away from them in fright with closed ears & bandaged eyes. Fleeing from the cloud is fleeing from the God’s love behind the cloud.”
“What is the meaning and symbolism of Yule on the Wheel of the Year? Yule is the time of the rebirth of the Sun at the winter solstice, a time for parties, gift-giving, and more. Join our virtual discussion group on Zoom or follow our livestream on your YouTube channel.”
“The confabulation of pagan and Christian symbolism for the Winter holiday. “It is not the birth of the Sun but rather that of the Son.”
“When the Church became ascendant in the Empire, it did all it could to squelch the festival, but like many popular pagan customs, it was so integrated into many daily lives that it inevitably influenced how Christmas, by then assigned to the same calendar day, was observed.“
Music for the Feature Archetypal Image is Magic Forest — Winter Solstice on Ice. This is a beautiful song filled with mystery, wonder, and magical being in a world full of life.
This video is a Tribute to Cider. She is our beloved dog who we lost suddenly and tragically two days before Christmas of 2019. She was 11 years and 1 month old. She was a senior dog, but she was full of life and acted like a puppy always. Our illusions about reality can break and shatter into millions of tiny pieces so suddenly, and how they prevent us from really seeing reality. Hang on to all those who you love be them people or pets or our beloved planet Earth. I began these drawings 7 months before Cider’s death.
Music for the archetypal image of despondency is My Friend by NKOHA, which is beautiful, haunting, and enchanting–capturing the sweet silence of despondency and the betrayal of something sacred that often leads to this powerful emotional force within us.
Second Archetypal Image | Second Stanza
Anguish breaks off its course.
Digital album cover forAnguishby Anguish Design and Layout by Paul Romano Sculpture by Darla Jackson
The missing face of this figure is especially poignant and evocative of the powerful emotional currents of anguish.
Music for the archetypal image of anguish is Anguish by Devil Airlines. It is particularly chilling and haunting as it captures musically the terrible cycle of captors and captives that leaves so many people in warped and mangled states of anguish.
Image from: Ruby the Turkey Vulture | Portland Aududon — In 2007, a woman called the Wildlife Care Center to report that a friendly Turkey Vulture was hanging around her property near McMinnville, Oregon. It had flown down to the ground and thrown an acorn at someone’s feet, slept on the woman’s porch, followed her around and into her barn, and jumped onto her arm.
Have a bone to pick with the scraggy vulture? Just remember they’re vital as nature’s waste disposers – which is why their decline is very bad news…
Music for the archetypal image of the vulture breaks off its flight is OST: PURPLE EYES ~ Pachislot Akumajo Dracula Lords of Shadow. I chose song for its sound, which is edgy, uncanny, unearthly, eerie, which are all qualities that an image of a vulture can evoke–after all they are a bird strongly associated with death. And so is count Dracula come to think of it. Perhaps this stanza of the poem suggests even death breaks off its path in the light of life.
Fourth Archetypal Image | Fourth Stanza
The eager light streams out, even the ghosts take a draught.
Music for the 4th archetypal image is from Spooky Mall by LIL Runners (Available on Amazon Music). I felt the sample I found to have the perfect mix of mysterious, spookish, and uncanny, which felt right for this 4th stanza of Tranströme’s poem. I am afraid you have to have Amazon music or listen to the sample embedded in the animation above.
Fifth Archetypal Image | Fifth Stanza
And our paintings see daylight, our red beasts of the ice-age studios.
Darting eyes and busy hands create a captivating narrative between otherwise staid figures, each of which is richly clothed in meticulously painted combinations of color and texture. La Tour has taken on a theme popularized in Northern Europe by prints and in Rome by Caravaggio: an old Roma (traditionally known by the derisive term “Gypsy”) woman reads the young man’s fortune as her beautiful companions take the opportunity to rob him. — Visit the Met Museum online to learn more about this painting
I lost this one… sorry
Sunlight–reflected and refracted–paints an ever-changing color composition.
Created by artist Bob Miller, this classic Exploratorium exhibit is a “live” painting that uses light from the Sun as its palette.
Post by Chris Chalk on 29th January 2017 about painting
The confluence of light and paint seemed important in this stanza.
Image from Ice Age Wiki: Rudy is a Baryonyx that lived in an underground world during the Ice Ages. He makes his appearance in Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs where he is the main antagonist. I am pretty sure this stanza is referring to cave paintings but something adorable and deadly caught my attention with this image, and so it found its way into this animation. Perhaps a nod to man’s deadly ice-age, dinosaur side laying asleep deep inside his psyche until something triggers it wide awake!
Another image of Rudy who appears through mist to Buck.
I really love this red dinosaur!
Music for the 5th archetypal image is from The Velociraptor Song from Press Play Picture House. Watch out! This song really gets in your head!!! I love it, and I feel it really does speak to a feeling buried deep in this stanza of Tranströme’s poem. I think he is hinting at the ancient, primal parts buried deep inside of us and barely illuminated by our individual small flickering flames of consciousness. They really can catch you inside the deep recess of your soul, the parts hidden in the dark.
Sixth Archetypal Image | Sixth Stanza
Everything begins to look around. We walk in the sun in hundreds.
And don’t miss my blog about Naked Athena and her power.
Image from Crowd Png Image File – People Crowd Walking Png, Transparent Png I liked the long and endless feeling that this image adds to the animation
Music for the 6th archetypal image is from by Thomas Bergersen – Cry (Sun). This is a powerful, compelling, hair raising symphony of voice and musical instruments that captures an endeavor, which is what this stanza makes me think of and feel.
Seventh Archetypal Image | Seventh Stanza
Each man is a half-open door, leading to a room for everyone.
“Everyone who lives life intensely has, at one point or another, experienced what I like to call a half-open door. We know it can get complicated, butwe only get one shot at life and at finding what really makes us happy while living it. Part of our happiness depends on knowing which doors to shut and which to fully open. It’s extremely healthy to remember that a half-opened door is half-opened happiness.“
Image from: Door | Spremberg, Germany, Urban Exploration
Here are some other spectacular photos on this site —
Music for the 10th archetypal image is At the End A mix for the end of the world part. 1 The National Parks. This is an awesome song and perfect, absolutely perfect for this last stanza of this amazing poem.
We Are Indeed Tranströme’s Half-Finished Heaven
We the people of this beautiful Earth. And winter’s fading light is a stark reminder of our own fading life–for no living being exists forever. Each of us has a limited amount of time to be (truly be) in this Half-Finished Heaven or this Half-Finished Hell for both are possibilities inside of us. And we choose, as conscious living beings, which one to inhabit moment by moment.
It is because of this dwindling light of life that each of us must face that I would like to dedicate this post to my dear friend Brian Bergman. He passed away suddenly 4 months ago to this day. I only found out last week that he had died. This is a video that he helped me make back in 2016. We always talked about making more. Life is precious and fades too fast, just as the setting sun almost disappears during the winter months.
Be well. Take care. And Happy Winter Solstice to you on this good and longest night!
Satan’s sister slithers through fields of drying, souring souls…
Seeking sinners to pluck and pulverized into a poison…
Santa’s Spiked Glögg
That she uses to spike Santa’s holiday Glögg.
Archetypal Image Analysis
First Archetypal Image:
Is Satan’s sister good or bad?
Your answer is unique and utterly up to you based on your attitudes, beliefs, upbringing, and current circumstances. At first, as I searched for images of what Satan’s sister might look like, I had no idea of what I might be looking for.
I wondered whether she should look ugly like a wicked witch, gender neutral, or bewitchingly beautiful.
I stumbled upon Félicien Rops (a Belgian artists who lived between 1833 – 1898) finding his uncanny image of Satan. I found it on a poetry website and immediately thought–sure this could be what Satan’s sister looks like–sinister, sterile, and scary.
I felt I was definitely on the right track, but sought a clearer image. As I searched for one, I stumbled upon Pyramid Girl. I knew at once this was a better rendering of Satan’s sister. She is beguilingly beautiful and utterly alien at the same time–a spine-chilling duality exists about her.
Then, I found another Pyramid Head Woman in a field. This was the next line of my poem, which sealed the deal this was the image I was searching for.
I have never encountered Pyramid Woman before, but obviously she is well-known by others and depicted as a victim and an invincible warrior. I felt this duality was another key aspect to be embodied by Satan’s sister. I found two more images embodying these qualities created by an artist at the Stan Winston School of Character Art. Here I learned her apron is made of human skin, very creepy indeed and a perfect outfit for Satan’s sister.
The last image used in the archetypal animation just grabbed me. I suppose it is all the gold and skeletons. Satan’s sister would certainly be involved in collecting the dead. She would also be a devilish seductress–beautiful and scary at once.
So this is the process for how the first archetypal animation was created.
What does it mean?
That is something for you to fill in.
During his life, Carl Jung came to understand all human beings share common archetypal patterns of behavior and belief as demonstrated through customs, rituals, and myths. Certain recognizable psychological patterns and images appear over and over again between cultures and times. They live deep inside the psyche of all human beings and contain collective memories that pop into action when of specific circumstances and situations are encountered. They act much like instincts do, but archetypal patterns are more like instincts altered by consciousness.
Jung described archetypes as empty templates ready to be filled by the psychic forces triggered into action by external events. These invisible templates provide imprints of all the possibilities and consequences of choices and actions triggered by the situation.
The music for this archetypal image provides vital context and background like a fantastic fabric for space-time beings to experience things. This music is fabulous, providing texture, vibrance, and life to the image. It is Moon Runner by Dance With the Dead.
Second Archetypal Image:
Does she sunder souls for pleasure?
Again, the answer is up to you.
In creating this image, my search took me into the realm of mythic goddesses. It did not take long to understand many of the goddesses associated with death carry the blade of time with them. Death is inevitable as a mortal being and the goddesses associated with death embody this reality.
The Goddess Kali is the Divine Mother in Hinduism and known to be fierce and cause destruction of all evils, including ignorance. She is considered to be the master of death, time and change. When I found this image of Morrighan, my search focused in on the Celtic and Nordic goddesses of death.
“Morrighan is also known as Phantom queen or Morrigu. In Irish mythology, she is known as the Goddess of Death, who is associated with mainly war, battle, and death. She is also famous because of her foretelling death in the battle. Because of her association with war and battles, she is also known as a great warrior who determines which warriors walk off the battlefield.” — 21 Gods & Goddesses of Destruction, Death & Underworld
Hel is another goddess of death rising from the myths of the Nordic peoples.
“She is the ruler of the underworld and death. She is the daughter of Loki and Angrboda. Her appearance is pretty hard to explain, but it is half blue and half flesh-colored with some gloomy texture downside. She has a hall called Eljudnir, and it is a strong belief in Norse Mythology that it is the hall where mortals go who do not die in battle but of natural causes or sickness.” — 21 Gods & Goddesses of Destruction, Death & Underworld
This is another compelling rendering of Hel drawn by LeneMa7991.
And this is another depiction of Morrigan that I found on the website of The Druid Way.
Another goddess of death I found was Delire. She is not the goddess of Death in general, but instead the goddess of the Fallen, much like the valkyries of Norse mythology.
Back to the Eastern Mind
The last element of the archetypal animation is the music, which circles us back to the eastern mind and the wisdom of the upanishads that are treatises on Brahman-knowledge, which is knowledge of Ultimate Hidden Reality. I chose the song Al Bid-Aya by Jedi Mind Tricks from their album The Bridge and the Abyss. It is haunting and beautiful and utterly perfect for this topic if you listen to their official video of this song.
Third Archetypal Image:
Why is Santa’s Glögg spiked?
For the third archetypal image, I baffled myself with its own imagery. Why is Santa popping into this otherwise dark and haunting poem? And why is Satan’s sister spiking his holiday Glögg with the broken up bits of sinners?
Perhaps Santa is serving somewhat like a cosmic hero of goodness and good cheer. He has so much of it, he is able to consume dangerous amounts of collective sin down to the dregs on behalf of all of us to ease our misery and allow for a time of good cheer. This though made me think of Dumbledore who drank the poisoned water so Harry could destroy a ‘horcrux’–a thing of great evil that if not destroyed would led to the downfall of everyone they know and love.
This last archetypal animation is the most elusive to take accounting of for it veers straight into the Christmas season–a time when many people make a considerable effort to show a spirit of good cheer and collective good will. Why? Because it is a time when Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus; however, as an excellent Washington Post article points out, ‘Dec. 25 is not the date mentioned in the Bible as the day of Jesus’s birth; the Bible is actually silent on the day or the time of year when Mary was said to have given birth to him in Bethlehem. The earliest Christians did not celebrate his birth.‘
This article further states the first celebration of Jesus’ birth took place ‘around 200 A.D. — to have taken place on Jan. 6. Why? Nobody knows, but it may have been the result of “a calculation based on an assumed date of crucifixion of April 6 coupled with the ancient belief that prophets died on the same day as their conception,” according to religionfacts.com.’
It was moved to December 25 to piggy back on pagan celebrations (such as “The Golden Bough”) that occurred during this time. Especially as practiced by the fierce and wild tribes of northern Europe–the Celtics, the Norses, and many other germanic tribes who celebrated the shortest day of the year, which signaled the return of light to their barren and frigid northern lands.
Good Olde St. Nick
Christmas underwent a further transformation with the elevation of St. Nicholas as a patron saint of Christmas. He was a real man, a Bishop, who lived in the fourth century in a place called Myra in Asia Minor (now called Turkey). He was known for helping the poor and giving secret gifts to people who needed it.
Christmas took another dramatic turn with the popularization of Santa Claus as the legendary man who encircles the world in one night flying in his sleigh to give good boys and girls around the world presents and delights. Holiday specials such as Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town, which showed the transformation of the real man St. Nicholas into the superhero Christmas giver of cheer and goodwill worldwide.
Santa Claus Is Coming!
It is a delightful Christmas story. One I watched every year as a child for Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without Frosty, Rudolph, and Santa Claus!
So what is up with this spiking Santa’s tea with the broken up bits of sinners, obviously people who were not on Santa’s Good List to get toys and presents at Christmas time.
Santa and Dumbledore
Is this image referring to the self-sacrificing ability of some individuals who are capable of far more good deeds than the rest of us to ease our burden for a time?
This idea reminded me of Dumbledore drinking the poison water so Harry could destroy another ‘horcrux’. Perhaps Santa and Dumbledore represent a certain type of individual, or better yet, these characters are archetypes of a powerful curative force that lives inside of us and allows a human being to endure pain and suffering, even unto death, for the good of others.
This seemed to be on the right trail and so the images I found included these.
This definitely could be Santa enjoying a holiday Glögg left out for him. Then, images of Dumbledore to establish the connection between the two.
The Purpose of the Poison
And of course Dumbledore drinking the poison, which turns out to be the most important image and article of everything explored here.
Clark is getting at the division raging inside of ourselves. Jung also spoke of this inner divide saying:
“The greatest sin is to be unconscious.”
— C.G. Jung quotes from Quotefancy.com
Our world is very complicated and most of us are taught to operate in it like very small, spoiled children. We are taught to not question the system but to go to work at nine, come home at 6, squeeze all the housework, time with children, spouse or friends into 4 or 5 hours, go to sleep, wake up and do it again. Why? So we can be good consumers for the system that we must depend upon to sustain us or else we can’t go on.
But should we really want to go on? Is our current system of a modern life really so great? Is it so glorious and so out-of-this-world that we are willing to commit to most of our adult life to being good and obedient consumers? Is that what we really want?
Alan Watts often posed this question, what do you really want? Do we really want to play the social games of who is the boss, who can have more and who should have less, going to work at places that are mind numbing and super boring only to get laid off when we get too old or its not convenient (Nomadland captures this reality brilliantly).
What Do We Really Want?
For most of us living in modern Western societies, we wake up one day (at the far end of 50 something) and realize–my life has been a great big drag.
If we ever wake up, we may realize we’ve been consuming and entertaining ourselves to death. Thus, the passed out Santa Clause by the fire place.
The final element of this archetypal animation, a musical piece with a diabolical edge –the Evil Christmas Carols.
Nevertheless — Please Have A Very Happy Holidays However You Celebrate
This show originally aired on Mar 24, 2017 on Snap Judgment. A description of it appears below. I have chosen to highlight this story here for two reasons: 1) schizophrenia runs in my family and because of this understanding another person’s experience of reality is essential, and 2) what is real anyways?
Western culture’s understanding of reality is severely (even fatally) lopsided. To successfully navigate the collective challenges our world faces in the coming decades (e.g., climate change, political upheavals, economic reversals and hardships, pandemic, water shortages, food insecurity due to climate change and unfair economic conditions, etc., etc.), we need to reconnect to our inner worlds, to who we really are deep, deep down beyond the fading illumination of our fragile ego’s consciousness rays of knowing.
Description of The Three Christs of Ypsilanti: In 1959, psychiatrist Milton Rokeach brought together three schizophrenic men who believed they were Jesus Christ, hoping to cure them of their delusions. But over time, his methods became dangerously amoral.
Thanks to Richard Bonier and Ronald Hoppe for their help. Additional thanks to Peter Shyppert as the voice of Milton Rokeach.
You can buy The Three Christs of Ypsilanti, Rokeach’s book, right here.
Before The Three Christs Of Ypsilantiaired on Snap Judgement, a tragic and compelling story about a mother’s quest to find her disappeared son aired. Glynn Washington introduced this story with a quote everyone likes to say when they are trying to one up someone else’s reality. The infamous quote is:
“The truth! You can’t handle the truth!”
But no one remembers where this saying was first said. Glynn tells us where it was first said and that what was said after this notorious saying was said, the more important idea followed and this is what we have forgotten… what everyone has forgotten when we get into arguments over The Truth.
The Map to the Disappeared is essential listening if you are at all interested in understanding truth at the deepest levels of being.
Carol Anthony touches on the samerelativeness to reality as the psychiatrist Milton Rokeach came to realize in his misguided experiment devised to cure the three schizophrenic men of their delusions that they were each Jesus Christ (The Three Christs of Ypsilanti ). In her book The Philosophy of the I Ching, Anthony writes:
"The entire business of the I Ching is to re-affirm our knowledge of God as the higher power, not only as a vague, intuitive knowledge, but as a conscious, practical, intimate, everyday knowledge. This means that we materialize the reality of God out of the mists of our unconscious into the full reality of consciousness. We may know intuitively that someone we love is unfaithful to us, but when this knowledge surfaces by evidence into consciousness, it produces such a shock that it is hard to understand the difference between these two sorts of knowing. We may know someone is dying of cancer for a long time, but the fact of their death produces an unexpectedly strong emotional response. How do we explain this? When the ego leads our personality, the conscious mind disbelieves what we intuitively know; moreover, the ego insists that conscious reality is the only reality--in this case it does not want to believe that death exists. When death, the objective fact happens, the conscious mind is unprepared, and the ego disappears in the ensuing shock. One's knowledge of God is similar. In the beginning of self-development, we know about God intuitively and theoretically; we may have occasionally experienced the higher power, but afterwards we gave rationalized the experience as some quirk of our imagination; soon, it seems it never happened at all. Our intuition of God, through this process has become dimmed. Through self-development, however, we come to experience the reality of God as an everyday fact of life. We experience God directly, not only in small ways, but in big ways, so that even the smallest errors of perception are swept away. This daily relating to the higher power gradually erases every particle of doubt." -- p. 60-61
Drilling even deeper down on the relativeness of reality that we experience as human beings, Alan Watts beautifully illuminates just how profound relative reality is between human beings in his Tribute to Carl Jung, who had just died on June 6, 1961. Watts and Jung knew each other and were friends. Despite pursuing very different vocations, both men shared profound understandings of deeper truths hidden inside the heart and soul of all men and women, regardless of when in time they existed or where they existed in the world. These deeper, darker truths are a result of man becoming conscious in the sense that he knows when he is happy or sad enabling him to focus this self-reflective form of consciousness like a spot light or a laser to do things in the world and to take very focused, specific action to achieve narrowly focused goals.
In his tribute to Jung, Watts focuses on a speech Carl Jung gave to clergy men. While Carl Jung was not a pastor, his father had been, and so he knew the doctrines of the Christian faith and religion in a very cognizant, conscious, heedful, mindful, sensible, and sentient way. In a gentle but enigmatic way, Jung challenges the pastors to think beyond the bible stories and Christian doctrines they preach about every day.
He invited the clergy men to step beyond the pale of their Christian beliefs and traditions and onto a new bridge of understanding he had helped to build in the Western world as one of the early pioneers of psychoanalysis (Freud) and analytic psychology (Jung). Carl Jung understood that Western mind needed this new science of psychology to understand things that the Eastern mind had understood for centuries.
Watts understood this too. This is why he focused on this speech Jung gave to the clergy men. Watts reads most of this speech in the video below and explains why it was probably the most important work Jung left behind for his fellow human beings. Watts understood how important it was (and continues to be) to challenge the percepts and premises upon which the modern Western world is based upon. The Western mind remains incredibly focused and fixated on its abilities to perceive, apprehend, learn, discover, and figure out how the outer world works, and this is a powerful ability that has enabled Western culture to gain dominance in the world and emboldened its belief that Western man was meant to reign supreme over all living beings and things. However, this is an exceedingly lopsided system of belief that will end in disaster for all living beings on Earth as the whole world stands on the precipice of existential threats capable of producing mass extinction events that could take out the human race forever.
The Eastern mind holds the key to our global existential predicament. This is what Jung came to know through his work as a psychologist and was confirmed when he came to know Richard Wilhelm who was the West’s foremost translator of the I Ching. And this is what Alan Watts emphasized in countless lectures. And it is the meaning behind the title of this blog The Three Christs of Ypsilanti and the Buddha. We need each other to survive in the coming century that is going to require great outer knowledge of the world (which the Western mind has excelled) as well as require great inner knowledge of the world and human nature (which the Eastern mind has excelled).
The world today needs skilled consciousness astronauts just as much as it needs astronauts of the cosmos. The challenges inside (especially for the Western mind) are just as great, if not far greater and unpredictable as the challenges of exploring and understanding outer space.
Carl Jung Quotes | Just What Is Consciousness
“God is a force that acts inside you.” — Carl Jung
“Be silent and listen: have you recognized your madness and do you admit it? Have you noticed that all your foundations are completely mired in madness? Do you not want to recognize your madness and welcome it in a friendly manner? You wanted to accept everything. So accept madness too. Let the light of your madness shine, and it will suddenly dawn on you. Madness is not to be despised and not to be feared, but instead you should give it life…If you want to find paths, you should also not spurn madness, since it makes up such a great part of your nature…Be glad that you can recognize it, for you will thus avoid becoming its victim. Madness is a special form of the spirit and clings to all teachings and philosophies, but even more to daily life, since life itself is full of craziness and at bottom utterly illogical. Man strives toward reason only so that he can make rules for himself. Life itself has no rules. That is its mystery and its unknown law. What you call knowledge is an attempt to impose something comprehensible on life.” ― C.G. Jung, The Red Book: A Reader’s Edition
“Nobody can fall so low unless he has a great depth. If such a thing can happen to a man, it challenges his best and highest on the other side; that is to say, this depth corresponds to a potential height, and the blackest darkness to a hidden light.” ― C.G. Jung
“The erotic instinct is something questionable, and will always be so whatever a future set of laws may have to say on the matter. It belongs, on the one hand, to the original animal nature of man, which will exist as long as man has an animal body. On the other hand, it is connected with the highest forms of the spirit. But it blooms only when the spirit and instinct are in true harmony. If one or the other aspect is missing, then an injury occurs, or at least there is a one-sided lack of balance which easily slips into the pathological. Too much of the animal disfigures the civilized human being, too much culture makes a sick animal.” ― C.G. Jung
“…the mind that is collectively orientated is quite incapable of thinking and feeling in any other way than by projection.” ― C.G. Jung
Carl Jung never said: “There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own Soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” What Dr. Jung said in two separate and unrelated statements was: “Seldom, or perhaps never, does a marriage develop into an individual relationship smoothly and without crises; there is no coming to consciousness without pain.” ~Carl Jung, Contributions to Analytical Psychology, P. 193
“People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own souls. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” ~Carl Jung, Psychology and Alchemy, Page 99.
“It is not I who create myself, rather I happen to myself.” ~Carl Jung, CW11, Para 391
“Only that which acts upon me do I recognize as real and actual. But that which has no effect upon me might as well not exist.” ~Carl Jung, CW 11, Para 757.
“Here each of us must ask: ‘Have I any religious experience and immediate relation to God, and hence that certainty which will keep me, as an individual, from dissolving in the crowd?'” — Carl Jung, CW 10, Para 564
“For when the soul vanished at death, it was not lost; in that other world it formed the living counter pole to the state of death in this world.” ~Carl Jung, CW 16, Para 493
“Behind a man’s actions there stands neither public opinion nor the moral code, but the personality of which he is still unconscious.” ~Carl Jung, CW 11, Para 390
When Nietzsche said “God is dead,” he uttered a truth which is valid for the greater part of Europe. People were influenced by it not because he said so, but because it stated a widespread psychological fact. ~Carl Jung, CW 11, Para 145.
Yet it [Nietzche’s “God is Dead”] has, for some ears, the same eerie sound as that ancient cry which came echoing over the sea to mark the end of the nature gods: “Great Pan is dead.” ~Carl Jung, CW 11, Para 145.
“All opposites are of God, therefore man must bend to this burden; and in so doing he finds that God in his “oppositeness” has taken possession of him, incarnated himself in him.” ~Carl Jung, CW 11, Para 664.
“It is quite right, therefore, that fear of God should be considered the beginning of all wisdom.” ~Carl Jung, CW 11, Para 664.
“Both are justified, the fear of God as well as the love of God.” ~Carl Jung, CW 11, Para 664.
“The East bases itself upon psychic reality, that is, upon the psyche as the main and unique condition of existence.” ~Carl Jung, CW 11, Para 770.
“You’ll see what I’ll do son,” the old woman caterwauls.
“I’ll go to Tahiti and buy a thing!“
“I’ll buy a thing so you won’t have anything!”
That Won’t Solve Anything
“That won’t solve a thing mom.”
“I don’t care,” the old woman howls as her hands wave wildly in mid-air.
I Don’t Care…Just as Long as You Get Nothing!
“Just as long as you get nothing!“
“And your good for nothing brother gets nothing!“
“I’m going to spend everything!“
What About the Grandchildren?
“What about the grandchildren mom? Don’t you care about them?”
“I don’t care about them.”
“I don’t care about anyoneor anything,” the old woman growls as she devours her vowels.
“I only care about me, me, me, me, me…“
They’ll Get Nothing
“They’ll get nothing.”
“You’ll get nothing.”
“Nobody will get anything expect me!”
“You’ll see son!”
“I’m going to go to Tahiti to spend everything on a thingjust for me!“
With that,the Old Lady Smiles
With that, the old woman smiles.
She smiles the same old, worn-out smile she’s smiled for 89 years.
She’s smiled that smile so many times, it’s creased permanent lines into her thin, translucent skin.
Even when she’s not trying to smile, you can see that creepy, old, tired out smile.
The Son Sighs
The son sighs and looks down at his knees.
He watches a dust bunny creep across the floor.
Only silence rebounds in the empty, desolate house full of dust ball for nothing living dare stirs in a place like this.
All he ever wanted was a reasonable mom who could show a smidgen of love, but she had none to give.
OneBeautiful Moment of Silence
But in that great big beautiful moment of powerful, creative silence, a smile springs to his face.
Then, he pulls out his phone and says:
“OK mom, when do you want leave to Tahiti? I’ll book it one way for you need not return because for you to spend everything on a thing in Tahiti I’ll need to sell the house that way you can spend everything on a thingjust for you!”
AndThat is the End of the Story
And that, my friend, is the end of the story for you see, the son finally knew his horrible mom, the one who’d wrecked his childhood and ruined his manhood, was finally going to be gone, gone, gone, swallowed whole by her insatiable greed!
One More Thing
This is a highly distilled, and frankly absurd, dramatization of something I observed (but then again, maybe not). Real life is always much more complicatedthan a fanciful story such as this. However, such stories can be useful in identifying archetypal emotions and forces that constantly play inside for every human being (be they still human and not some other thing) has good and fowl forces vying for our time, attention, and action in the world.
The Moral of the Story
The moral of this story is:
If humanity continues to spend tremendous amounts of time and precious reservoirs of conscious attention on matters such as these, then the mounting issues swirling around impending catastrophic climate change will never be addressed, nor meaningful action taken. In the end, we will all be swallowed by our pride, self-absorption, vainglory–be it at the personal-family level or interpersonal-community level or be it between states and nations. We will all suffer the fate of our unconsciousness.
Carl G. Jung writes: “Western man has no need of more superiority over Nature, whether (this nature be) outside or inside (i.e., one’s inner nature). Has has both in almost devilish perfection. What he lacks is conscious recognition of his inferiority to the Nature around and within him. He must learn that he may not do exactly as he Wills. If he does not learn this, his own Nature will destroy him. He does not know that his own Soul is rebelling against him in a suicidal way.” — p. 83, Psychology and the East
What will you do with your precious plot of consciousness today? More importantly, what will you do with your unconsciousness?
Sometime last fall, while biking, the word Sisyphus popped into my mind. I did not know what it meant. I knew it was familiar, but I could not remember why. It’s a weird word. Not a word you hear on a daily basis, not even a word you hear on a decade basis, unless perhaps you are a scholar. But, it kept popping into my mind randomly at least a dozen times or more into the beginning of 2021.
I Was Just Looking for Something Good to Watch
I was looking for a new series to watch on Netflix. I’d finished a score of good series, and then hit a patch of bad ones. I wanted something good…something I could sink into and get lost inside. I was looking for something like the shows I had recently finished watching such as:
Outlander: I never read Diana Gabaldon‘s books, but once I started watching this series, I was hooked. I was trying to find a replacement for Masterpiece’s Poldarkseries based on Winston Graham’s books, which is absolutely amazing. And when I saw Ronald D. Moore was producing this series, I was intrigued because his last big hit series was the updated Battlestar Galacticaseries, a TV drama I loved immensely in the 70s, and Caprica(this tells the tale of how that fictional human civilization fell by showing how the Cylon androids took over their worlds, but then it got abruptly and cruelly canceled before the whole story could be told).
Outlander does not disappoint from the very first episode onward. Its characters are complexed, nuanced, and compelling. The series does not rush the story, reveals each character honestly and humanely, and tells the tale in a captivating, mysterious way. Each season builds upon the last one. The characters grow as the times change around them. The difficulties and battles feel real and vital. Each character has layers of complexities that influence their choices and actions, just like real people do, making the story relatable; indeed, a symbol that transforms the complexities encountered in novel and unexpected ways. And isn’t that what you are really hungry for when you sit down to watch a story?
His Dark Materials
His Dark Materials: I never read Pullman’s novels but I loved the Golden Compass, which was made for the big screen in 2007. However, due to the financial crisis of 2008/2009, the next parts of this series never materialized. Then in 2019, HBO teamed up with BBC to reimagine this fantastic tale for the smaller screen/TV. They did an amazing job translating a complicated story to the screen. I found it believable, compelling, and thrilling. The characters are complicated. You think you’ve pegged one as evil and then realize later critical nuances that force you to reconsider your views. They mystery of the story is revealed slowly and unevenly, so you have to guess or imagine for yourself why this or that happened. Each new character has something new to offer in understanding the whole story. The special effects add to the story rather than overly dominate it.
I love this scene where the researcher and scholar Mary talks to Dust, then she realizes the Dust itself are the Angels. (From His Dark Materials | Season 2, episode 4. The Tower of Angels).
She asks: “Angels are creatures made up of shadow matter of dust?”
The Mysterious Something answers: “Yes.”
Mary further inquires: “And shadow matter is what we call spirit?”
The Mysterious Something replies: “From what we are, spirit, from what we do, matter. Matter and spirit are one.”
Mary asks: “You’ve always been there?”
The Mysterious Something says: “Making, stimulating, guiding.”
Mary queries: “So does that mean angels have intervened in human evolution?”
The Mysterious Something answers: “Yes.”
Mary asks: “But why?”
The Mysterious Something says plainly: “Vengeance.”
Now, I wonder what that means? I didn’t find out in Season 2, so waiting for Season 3. But after that exchange, Mary starts working with the I Ching–which is our world’s equivalent to the Golden Compass from Lyra’s world. Because of Mary, I got the I Ching for my birthday and learned to read the yarrow straws. I supposed that now I too am talking to the angels.
I use good TV drama like a support system, especially during this year of COVID where social distancing has put so many of us into isolation to extremes. My own Indra’s Network was already partially destroyed and broken. The connections I still maintained with friends and family were sorely stretched by time and distance. They were incredibly nourishing when time and attention permitted, but these moments were punctuated by long bouts of silence and little to no meaningful interactions with people who care.
Good stories, powerful dramas are ways I have found that soothe and nourish my soul, especially during times when kindness and caring human contact is in short supply.
As I was working on this blog, Liz Cheney spoke before Congress on the eve before the impending vote tomorrow (5/12/21) to remove her from her leadership position as the 3rd most powerful Republican Leader in the House. Republicans are doing this to her because she took a stand not to support Trump’s Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen from him. She named Trump as the chief sower of doubt in the hearts and minds of Americans.
The Dark Force
By the way, the I Ching says doubt is the Dark Force. Now, who is being a superhero here in the United States on this very day of May 12, 2021? Who is growing the fabric of time and space rather than ripping it to tiny shards of broken light?
The Tibetan Book of the Dead
The Tibetan Book of the Dead warns the soul of a dying individual not to follow the illusionary images and lights they have created inside of themselves and then projected into the world around them. They did this because they did not understood their true Self in life. They did not descend and understand their true identity as a space-time being. They did not understand the meaning and purpose of life. Death is a time thats unravels the net of confused pain each individual becomes entangled within throughout the course of their life on Earth. To not do so, condemns the eternal soul to return again and again and again–sometimes (perhaps often) as a lesser being in order to learn the lessons not mastered in the life before. This returning can occur again and again for the world of rock and buildings and money and power is like water–it continually flows, dissolving everything in time.
Those who use the power of the Dark Force may indeed achieve tremendous riches, success, and power on Earth. However, all this will turn to dust and scatter into nothingness at the time of death. Nothing here is permanent. At death, we lose everything. Nothing that we thought is real is real. If we don’t let go of everything we have clung to in life, the tiny light of consciousness every human being is born into at the beginning of their life will be born into another painful life, again and again and again.
Those who peddle in doubt and fear can live 10 billion, million lives, each one diminishing his/her original source of light until there is nothing left of that light.
Leonard Cohen narrated a beautiful documentary about the practices and wisdom contained and known within the Buddhist tradition. It is elegant knowledge, beautiful knowledge. It shows how we can grow as space-time beings, as we are suppose to grow, rather than collapsing into smaller and smaller living beings.
“People make hell realms out of their own anger. They make worlds out of passions, out of envy or complacency. We project our emotional states, and then believe it is the real world. But no matter what, everyone longs for compassion. Everyone wishes to be awake. So the best thing is to develop genuine compassion for all living beings and for ourselves too. And our compassion should extend beyond our friends and family and the people we like. It must extend to all people and to all living beings.” — From Documentary about The Tibetan Book of the Dead
This is how to wake up as a living conscious being.
The OA: This series is a mind-bending SyFy fantasy that often leaves viewers with more questions than answers. Word has it this is one of the reasons this show was cancelled after season 2 when 5 seasons were planned. Apparently the average viewer does not have the attention span or interests to dabble in complexity–perhaps this is the inevitable end to Carmel Marvel storytelling–everything has to be blunt, not complex, and nothing left to the imagination, much less to dabble with moral ambiguity. I loved this series. I guess I drank the Kool-aide and became part of its cult following late. And I agree with 110% with Brit Marling that storytelling in America has become not as good as it could or should be.
When the show was cancelled, one viewer went outside of Netflix’s headquarters and held an 8 day hunger strike. Refinery29 interviewed her and wrote a compelling article about why she did this.
“We are living in a time where it seems that things are going to go very badly,” explains Young in front of the Netflix building in Hollywood, where she has been protesting since August 15 and hunger striking since August 19. “The response to that has been ‘Okay, we’re going to make darker, grittier television.’ But in times of darkness, light is most important, and The OA is filled with light. We need something to let us know, ‘Yes, we can do something,’ because all the media around us is telling us that these are dark, grim times and there is nothing you can do about it.”
Created by Brit Marling and creative partner Zal Batmanglij, The OA tells the story of Prairie (Marling), a blind woman who returns after years in captivity with her sight restored. Season 1 of the series mostly exists within the narrative that Prairie tells a group of soon-to-be friends about her time in captivity and before it, in which she transcended time and space and found herself in alternate dimensions. Along the way, the show tackles themes of trauma, and of the importance of a human connection amongst it. Young isn’t wrong about The OA being different: There’s a hopefulness to The OA that is unmatched by more gritty prestige TV offerings like The Handmaid’s Tale, Westworld, even Game of Thrones.
Learning about this woman, Brit Marling and Zal Batmangli came and brought her water. Afterward, Brit posted this about her reaction to OA’s cancellation and how storytelling in America has become not as good as it could or should be.
This is no small thing that Emperial Young and Brit Marling are drawing our attention to in this protest and post, particularly this part: “… the role of storytelling and its fate inside late capitalism’s push toward consolidation and economies of scale.” This is a post about Sisyphus: Is Late Capitalism and its push towards consolidation and economies of scale perhaps not the rock Sisyphus not pushing up the mountain getting it to the top after great effort only to have it fall back down to the bottom again and again and again.
Invisible City (Brazil): This is a new Brazilian fantasy that is streaming on Netflik television series created by Carlos Saldanha that is based on a story co-developed by the screenwriters and best-selling authors Raphael Draccon and Carolina Munhóz. It is in Portuguese, so you have to read subtitles if you are only an English speaker. I was born in Brazil and once knew Portuguese, but have forgotten all of it. I loved listening to the characters speaking in Portuguese. It felt familiar and lovely. It is a musical language and the music in this series is alive and vibrant. I soon forgot I was reading subtitles and got lost in the rich and depth of storytelling unfolding through this complex, invigorating story. The characters are treated with dignity and respect. The puzzle of the drama unfolds in surprising reveals that add depth to the story and bring this mysterious world into vivid view.
Glitch (Australian): This is an older series that begins with a bang when a police officer and a doctor face an emotionally charged mystery as seven local residents inexplicably return from the dead. It is three seasons long, and the first two open up so many innovative ideas and possibilities, but season 3 falls flat on its face and destroys all the wonder and the miracle being explored, in my opinion. I am glad I watched it because I learned what I do not want to do as I write my tale.
I was so bothered by how they ended this series, I went on online to see if others were too and found this great blog: Old Ain’t Dead | Reviews of movies and TV focused on women … specifically Season 3 (so if you intend to watch Glitch, save this site for later because there are definitely spoilers, including my comment there).
Carmel Marvel Syndrome
When it comes to science fiction and fantasy, I have come to realize I am picky, and not all are the same. In fact in the United States, we are suffering from what I have come to term the Carmel Marvel Syndrome. It is a widespread a syndrome that is dumbing down how stories are being told in books and reimagined on screens. The good-bad divide in Carmel Marvel stories is stark, uncreative, and boring. Nothing is left in-between–you are either the good guy or girl or you’re the bad one. The bad ones almost always lose in the end, but you get there in terribly unimaginative, brutal, evil ways…as the good guy or gal finally finds a morsel of moral or spiritual strength and prevails. Romance is reduced to uninspiring sex scenes that clearly come from basal fantasies of pale males.
What bothers me most is Carmel Marvel storytelling is that they are not honest to the characters. They tend to stripe away their complexity and humanity and force them to do things against their character’s moral underpinnings. Yes, imagined characters have moral underpinnings, they are real and must strive for meaning, purpose and dignity too. I am not going to explain this now, but Carmel Marvel stories like to put their characters into highly contrived situations that they would never do unless forced to by their bored and uninspired creators. They are put into these situations purely for entertainment reasons, which really translates to money. Because Carmel Marvel producers and creators hope for billions and billions of viewers–and they think only highly fantasized modern gladiators well do this. After watching such a sickly story, nothing sticks or stays in the psyche or soul from the story. That is because there is nothing real there. There is nothing nearing the human experience of meaning, truth, reality, or wonder. Everyone knows these types of stories are junk food for the soul. They are cheap imitation of images meant to trick, deceive, and fill you up with a whole lot of nothing, just like if you ate only Carmel candy for all your daily nutrient requirements.
So let’s get back to that word Sisyphus that kept popping into my mind.
After being disappointed by another Carmel Marvel HBO series, I switched back to Netflix to hunt for a new series to watch. That’s when a 2021 Netflix out of South Korea caught my eye. It was called Sisyphus! Normally, I would have put it on my To Watch Later list since it required reading subtitles again. But because of the synchronicity, I thought what the heck, go for it!
I loved it! And I discovered that I love the Korean way of telling stories!!!!
The fabric of this story is rich woven with little bits of gold and silver throughout the 16 episodes. Each one takes the viewer on a journey, revealing a little bit more in surprising ways that adds depth to each character, even the evil ones. The villains have backstories that are as complex as the heroes. Villains and heroes alike are treated honestly and no high tech short cuts are used to substitute good storytelling. Throughout the 16 episodes, the viewer enters a journey (a world) that grows more and more complex as you go: you grow as the characters grow.
Sisyphus masters the art of subtle storytelling. This is a subject I briefly touched upon early in my blogging efforts in a blog questioning if Collective Transformation Possible. In it I talk about the Black Magician and the White Magician and their roles in our human psyche. I drew them while listening to a Chinese business-financial scholar talk about Trump’s power play back in 2018 with China on trade. (It’s didn’t end well by the way… this power play Trump tried… for Americans or for Trump who placed the livelihood of hundreds of small soybean and other farmers in jeopardy.)
Dr. Peter Chen pointed out Western ideas of negotiation are quite different from Eastern ideas. He said in Chinese, the most similar word they have to negotiation is tánpàn, which means talking and judging. For the Chinese, it is considered the dark side of economics with the East preferring to focus on conversation when working out deals. However, there are huge differences in how conversation is conducted by a Western diplomat versus an Eastern diplomat. By Eastern standards, Westerners are considered low-context communicators (i.e., direct and forceful, which can be considered very rude by Eastern standards). Eastern culture dictates a much more high-context style of communication, which is reserved, relies more on body language, and is based on relationships.
This why I loved Sisyphus. They tell this story using a much more high-context style of storytelling. I also love listening to the actors speak Korean. Every word they utter is full of meaning, purpose, and emotion. The tone and way a word is said is more important than the word itself. You understand a song by how the singer sings it, so too with Eastern languages. They are full of images, meaning, context, and emotion. And isn’t that what we are really craving in watching or reading a story? Deep meaning and purpose? Sure, lots of people will say they just want to escape into something entertaining… but if you discover something about yourself and others while doing so, isn’t that a whole lot better. Stuff that stick to you and makes you a better individual… helps you grow as a conscious living being?!
Even though we deny how powerful and essential good storytelling is in Western culture, we are starving for good, wholesome, spirituous stories that fed our souls as well as our fractured, confused minds. Stories that awaken sleeping spirits needed to defeat doubt: the force that splinters our psyche and traps us in endless delusions and illusions that only make us smaller, meaner, and contribute to the demise of all life on Earth.
A new friend I’ve made during runs with Pumper (another mom of dogs and kids) recommended another Korean Netflix show called Crash Landing on You. I didn’t think I would like it better than Sisyphus, but I love it even more. The depth of each character grows and spills out in unexpected ways in each episode. And don’t miss the little peaks at the very end after you think the episode has concluded. Not always, but often, they show you something not shown earlier. It is often something that fills in a gap and fills out the depth of the character–how they are thinking, perceiving, and acting in the world. How they are transforming through time and space.
My friend Fabian Navin has just posted something very insightful about why I loved this show. The Facebook embedding is not working, so I am copying below what Fabian has posted (go to his site above to see more of his posts):
*Warriorhood in Marriage and Relationship* Conscious fighting is a great help in relationships between men and women. Jung said, “American marriages are the saddest in the whole world, because the man does all his fighting at the office.”
When a man and a woman are standing toe-to-toe arguing, what is it that the man wants? Often he does not know. He wants the conflict to end because he is afraid, because he doesn’t know how to fight, because he “doesn’t believe in fighting,” because he never saw his mother and father fight in a fruitful way, because his boundaries are so poorly maintained that every sword thrust penetrates to the very center of his chest, which is tender and fearful. When shouts of rage come out of the man, it means that his warriors have not been able to protect his chest; the lances have already entered, and it is too late.
Michael Meade has suggested that both marital partners begin by identifying the weapons that have come down through their family lines. Perhaps the woman has inherited the short dagger, used unexpectedly, and the spiked mace, which she swings down late in the argument onto the foot soldier’s head. The husband may have inherited a broad sword, which he swings when frightened in large indiscriminate circles; it says “never” and “always.” “You always talk like your mother.” He might add the slender witticism spear to that.
Some people also use the “doorway lance.” When the argument is over, and the woman, let’s say, is about to go to work, the man says: “By the way,” and the lance pins her to the doorframe.
Man and wife might say which weapons he or she plans to use in the particular fight coming up. During such preliminary conversations the man’s warrior and woman’s warrior are welcomed in the house and honored. A good fight gets things clear, and I think women long to fight and be with men who know how to fight well.
When both use their weapons unconsciously or without naming them, both man and woman stumble into the battle, and when it is over the two interior children can be badly wounded. The adult warrior inside both men and women, when trained, can receive a blow without sulking or collapsing, knows how to fight for limited goals, keeps the rules of combat in mind, and in general is able to keep the fighting clean and to establish limits.
Marie-Louise von Franz once told a story about a woman friend. “This woman had gone through several marriages. Each marriage would go well until an argument came. Then she would throw a fit, and say damaging things. The terrible quarrels would continue, and finally the man would leave. One day we heard she had found a new husband, and we said, ‘Oh-oh, here it goes again.’ But something else happened. A few weeks after the honeymoon, the same old quarrel arrived and she brought out her poison and said terrible things. The husband turned pale, but to her surprise, said nothing, and left the room. She found him upstairs packing his bags. ‘What are you doing?’ she said. I know,’ he said, ‘that I am supposed to act like a man now and shout and hit you, but I am not that sort of man. I will not allow anyone to talk to me in the way you have, and I am leaving.’ She was astounded. She asked him not to leave, and he didn’t. The marriage is still going on.”
This story is not perfect. If a woman has a fair argument, it is not right for the man to leave; he should stay and fight. But von Franz’s use of the word fit implies that her friend had a habit of going over the line into possession. Her fits belonged metaphorically to Kali’s realm, rather than to the human realm. Men cross that line often as well. The inner warrior can tell a person when the partner is on this side of the human line, and when on the other side.
Marion Woodman remarks in The Ravaged Bridegroom, “Anger comes from the personal level, rage from an archetypal core. . . . The rage in both sexes comes out of centuries of abuse.
If it is taken into relationships, it destroys. Attacking each other in a state of possession has nothing to do with liberation.” The interior warrior in both men and women can help them to fight on the human plane. If men and women have only soldiers or shamed children inside, they will have to settle for damaging battles constantly. ~Robert Bly, Iron John: A Book About Men
I am totally hooked now on the Korean way of telling stories!!
The stories we tell can liberate us or chain us to the rock we must push up the mountain of life only to watch it fall back down, again and again and again, like poor old Sisyphus. Who do you want to be in life? How are you going to become the best version of yourself, a better person than you have been so far? How will you grow you fragile light of consciousness and help others do the same?
— Myths Are Passages Channeling Energies That Can Hold Us Together or Tear Us Apart
The Storytelling Species: Makers & Players of Reality Bubbles
Part 4 in The Storytelling SpeciesSeries
The truth of any civilization is that it is not a monolithic, inanimate thing. Human civilizations live. They are complex living entities that are fed and sustained by each individual living within it. Because of this, civilizations can die when they become sick or too rigid to flow with the pressurizing forces of time.
Many years ago, long before humans where considered human, the motivation to live together in groups was pretty straight forward—survive. Lots of species on Earth live in groups or herds or packs or flocks because it is beneficial to individual survival. Of course, individual sacrifices are required to live harmoniously in groups. For example, there always seems to be many more low status individuals than high status individuals in a group. However, overall the enhanced survival benefit of being in the group rather than outside of it tends to be a powerful motivator.
The structure of groups and how they operate is determined primarily by instincts. There are lots of similarities in instinctual responses between species because all life has had to adapt to common environmental challenges on Earth, making lots of similarities of group life between species. But, there are plenty of examples of uniquely tuned instincts species have evolved to equip them to thrive in very specific niches, making very unique group structures–consider what it would be like to live inside a beehive.
What Are Instincts?
I will let Dr. Robert Sapolsky tell you about instincts and how human beings are exactly the same in these fixed action patterns as any other mammal on Earth, but also utterly unique in how we use fixed action patterns to do things as individuals and groups. He is a professor of biology, neurology, and neurological sciences at Stanford University. He has possesses an impressive body of field research and artfully combines his mastery of his field with a charismatic ability to communicate with others, allowing him to make complicated concepts understandable to just about anyone.
This is one of his shorter talks that it is well worth listening to if you have ever wondered about human behavior and why we do the things we do. In this talk, Dr. Sapolsky dispels every myth of how humans are unique and different than animals; however, in each instance where we act exactly the same as everyone else here on Earth, he also points out how we do it bigger, more extravagantly, and ostentatiously than any other animal on Earth, and that makes us utterly unique.
Living in groups is one of the things we do as humans that is utterly different than other animals on Earth. When we live in groups, we do it with pizzazz and with style. We like our groups to proceed in a manner and approach that generates vast, complicated, and intricate social systems that operate more like ecosystems, allowing the humans existing within them to seemingly live outside of or beyond the constraints of nature. No other animal lives quite like humans do in groups–that is for sure. Our precocious ingenuity has allowed us to occupy just about every livable niche on the planet. And when we encounter a non-livable niche, we can change it so we can live there too!
Stories of Hermits
It is possible to live utterly alone as a human being and still survive. There are many stories of hermits and monks who have lived alone for years, decades, their entire adult lives. Many are fabled to do this in order to overcome and master their most primal fixed action patterns. But some simply do not want human interaction or the entanglements that human relationships entail. These are important stories. However, our current collective story is not one about a world populated by 7.8 billion hermits. I doubt Earth could even sustain 7.8 billion human beings living utterly alone and unconnected to each other.
For a modern true tale of a man living utterly alone, Snap Judgement tells a riveting tale titled The North Pond Hermit.
Snap Judgment Description:
There was a legend in central Maine, about a hermit who had lived in the woods, unseen, for 30 years. Then, in 2013, the police arrested a man named Christopher Knight.
Produced by Joe Rosenberg, original score by Renzo Gorrio & Andrew Vickers
Why Do We Need to Care About Instincts?
To me, this is simple. If we do not bring our conscious awareness to bear on our daily lives, we are destine to act based on fixed action patterns (e.g., deeply encoded urges, impulses, and instincts). When we live in an unconscious manner, we do not feel and thus cannot fulfill our full potential as a human being. We live rather as our parents, forebears, and ancestors lived seldom taking a moment to consider if what we are doing now, what we have been taught to do and think and believe, is right for the moment we are living in.
When we do not bring our conscious awareness to bear on our constantly changing circumstances, our preprogramming is bound to kick in and run wild. Acting in this way stagnates our spark of consciousness as individuals and as a species. It can even make us lose consciousness, going backwards as an individual or a group (devolving rather than evolving).
In addition to instincts, human beings (being so darn clever and unique in how we live in groups) also bring cultural precepts, religious doctrines, community rules, and all the decrees, commandments, and directives deemed necessary to live in big, complicated societies and civilizations. We willingly agree to abide by these rules whenever we join a new group or alliance or club or clique. It’s the price we pay as human beings to belong to things we think benefit us in some way or another. In highly technological, modern societies, this can add up to be a lot of groups to which an individual must belong. If a person is not careful, this sort of belongingness can end up sabotaging the amount of and quality of consciousness that can be brought to bear, without fear or favor, to our situations, circumstances, struggles, and challenges encountered in life.
When we act unconsciously to our circumstances, we often fail to apprehend, understand, and act in ways that are needed to maintain harmony in our life and in the lives of those around us. Instead, we often end up acting no better than a troop of baboons. However, because we are human, we tend to put highly creative and imaginative spins on making our lives more miserable and difficult than they need to be, if only we would have brought a little more attention and consciousness to the situation, which would have allowed us to see the bigger picture and understand the interconnections present in all events transpiring here on Earth.
Stories Act Like Glue Holding Complicated Groups Together
So what keeps us from tearing each others faces off (like baboons can do when their status is provokedby a young upstart or lower status member)? What allows us to work together in more or less harmonious ways within our massive social conglomerations?
Religions have long served a fundamental role in creating and maintaining cooperative groups. Sports can unify and unite groups, even pull different groups together in friendly competition. Food is a great unifier too, so is music. And so are stories, especially mythical stories that activate numinous content in our psyche (I’ll talk more about this in a moment).
Here are some of the foundational stories that have helped create and define Western Civilization. It is a list put together by the BBC of the top 10 stories of Western Civilization. Let’s look at a few:
1. The Odyssey (Homer, 8th Century BC)
Bethanne Patrick, Contributing Editor of Lit Hub, says, “I believe the journey of Odysseus defined a streak of individualism particular to Western culture that has led to much change in the world – good and bad.”
Kenneth W Warren, Professor of English at University of Chicago, agrees. “The Odyssey has provided the architecture for the quest narrative and template for characterising male and female virtue in ways that shape, enable, and limit our storytelling habits into the present.”
Novelist Beverley Naidoo hones in on: “The multiple stories within Odysseus’ 10-year journey home after the Trojan war, while faithful Penelope waits for him and son Telemachus seeks him, have seeped deep into our cultural consciousness. The human elements within this myriad of stories continue to resonate down the centuries, allowing endless reinterpretation.”
Jenny Bhatt, writer and Contributing Editor at PopMatters calls it “the first widely-read political novel in the US” and “the first work of fiction that openly addressed the cruelty of slavery, human exploitation, the lopsided legal system, the entrenched patriarchy, the need for feminism, and more.” It became one of the most popular books of the century – in the US and abroad – and is credited with radically altering the perception of slavery, with many voters noting its influence on the abolition movement. Its human focus and call for empathy struck a chord among readers.
Author and novelist Roxana Robinson says it “told the story of slavery through the eyes of the enslaved, and was one of the first novels to show black characters as fathers and mothers, parents and children – human beings, who were living under inhuman conditions.”
3. Frankenstein (Mary Shelley, 1818)
Nilanjana S Roy, novelist and Financial Times columnist, points out: “Frankenstein influenced scientists as well as writers… [and] speaks to the modern fear of the creations that spin out of our control”;
Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel, which celebrates its 200th anniversary this year, is “the quintessential story of the modern world” says Roger Luckhurst, Professor of Modern-Contemporary Literature at Birkbeck College, London.
The compelling story of the scientist who brings a creature to life has become one of the most enduring images in modern literature and beyond, and the monster serves as the “ultimate metaphor”, says Lena Wånggren, Research Fellow in English Literature at the University of Edinburgh.
4. Nineteen Eighty-Four (George Orwell, 1949)
There is an “uncanny accuracy” says Jean Seaton, Professor of Media History at Westminster University, in the book’s definition of modern tyranny: “Now more than ever, we seem to live in the framework it identified… Even the author’s name – ‘Orwellian’ – conjures up a world of thought control. Its precision about the mechanisms of propaganda and the machinery of oppression has got it banned by every authoritarian regime: they are scared of its power to name horror. It is a handbook for those who want to resist.”
All those who chose Orwell’s masterpiece seem to agree on one thing – the novel’s scary prescience. “Big Brother gets all the attention,” says novelist and columnist Nilanjana S Roy. “But it’s the rest, the eagerness to join mobs, to obey, to hurt, that he caught so unforgettably.”
Or, as BBC Culture Editor Rebecca Laurence succinctly puts it: “The ultimate 20th-Century novel becomes the ultimate 21st-Century novel. Terrifying.”
5. Things Fall Apart (Chinua Achebe, 1958)
Telling the story of the colonisation of a Nigerian tribe from the point of view of an African, Things Fall Apart explodes stereotypes about Africa and brought to life the true impact of cross-cultural misunderstandings. Achebe said that “this was the first time we were seeing ourselves, as autonomous individuals, rather than half-people, or as Conrad would say, ‘rudimentary souls’”.
The European colonial narrative could never be the same after this was published. “It’s an empowering African novel: it brought African experience to the world like no other African fiction has”, according to Dominica Dipio, Associate Professor of Literature at Makerere University in Uganda.
By changing the filter through which the continent was seen, “The novel showed readers what an African world looked like when it was not being reduced to canned images animated by racist assumptions,” says Ainehi Edoro-Glines, a Nigerian academic. “Achebe’s innovation was to change the conventions of modern storytelling so that instead of seeing darkness any time readers looked at Africa, they’d see what every novel was designed to show – a complex representation of life.”
6. One Thousand and One Nights (various authors, 8th-18th Centuries)
“It gets at the primordial human desire for the story that never ends – which can very easily stand for life that never comes to an end.” Ahdaf Soueif, novelist, writer and commentator, points out: “Many characters, motifs and quotations (‘Open Sesame!’) from this set of stories within stories have become common parlance across the world.”
“It’s the deepest of wells,” says novelist and columnist Nilanjana Roy. “In medieval & modern times, from writers to singers and film-makers, we never stopped drawing from it.”
Critic Muneeza Shamsie admires “Sheherazade’s courage, intelligence and confidence and fact she succeeds, asserts the power of storytelling and imagination over tyranny and terror – a concept which has strongly influenced the ideals and ideas of our world.”
Lena Merhej, a comic artist from Lebanon, picked the book “because it gives a subversive voice to a woman that uses it as a weapon for her survival.”
To see the rest and read all of the reasons why these stories were selected, go to the BBC Culture page (note book images come from this page as well).
We Are An Unfolding Story
One could even say the United States’ Declaration of Independence is a collective story of the highest order and complexity that all its citizens (and even its non-citizens for no country or civilization operates in a vacuum no matter how powerful they have grown) play out every day. And so as it is played out, it is written–an unfolding story through time in space.
Manoush Zomorodi introduces him this way: “And it has been a year of thinking how our actions affect our neighbors, a year of realizing that many of our systems do little for the most vulnerable among us and here in the U.S., a year when the population further splintered over what it means to be an American. And so how do we talk about all this stuff without alienating each other? How do we move forward collectively? And what is our civic duty in the 21st century? These are big questions. And so on the show today, we’re going to explore ideas about How To Citizen with Baratunde Thurston. He’s been working on and thinking about this topic for years. And he recently came out with a new podcast series appropriately called How To Citizen.“
Through this episode Manoush and Baratunde explore some of his notable podcasts and TedTalks. The first individuals he brings up is the lawyer and civil rights activist Valarie Kaur and what she calls Revolutionary Love. He tells Manoush, “I picked Valarie as the opening voice in the podcast series, the How To Citizen podcast. I wanted her to offer a spiritual invocation to the whole idea of what it means to citizen as a verb. And that means to commit to each other.”
Thurston highlights something Valarie talks about, which is “In order to love others, see no stranger. We can train our eyes to look upon strangers on the street, on the subway, on the screen and say in our minds, brother, sister, aunt, uncle. When we say this, what we are saying is, you are a part of me I do not yet know. I choose to wonder about you. Number three, in order to love our opponents, tend the wound. Tending to the wound is not healing them. Only they can do that. Just tending to it allows us to see our opponents, the terrorists, the fanatic, the demagogue. They’ve been radicalized by cultures and policies that we together can change.“
Another person they highlight is
Thurston says, “So yeah. So to empathize and identify with the idea of hurt and pain and to acknowledge that I have played a role in probably someone else’s life where I was the opponent – to extend that to others, that’s when it makes sense to me, and it’s not just this masochistic endeavor.”
The next person Thurston brings up is Eric Liu (who he likes to call Mr. Democracy).
Thurston tells Manoush, “Yeah, I had been talking about this project of How To Citizen for years in some form, and I saw his talk at TED about making civics sexy again and these Civic Saturdays events and sermons, all this kind of religious faith language. But the faith was not in an all-seeing, all-knowing deity. It was in very fallible human beings and our institutions.“
There is much more to this talk and all of it is well worth your time to listen to in full or to read the transcript if you are interested in a healthy, diverse, thriving, democratic system. But this is why I am zeroing in on language and storytelling. We tell the stories through our thoughts, words, deeds, and actions (or non-actions). We are writing our living systems as we live it.
It is hard to keep a democratic nation. It is hard to balance differences (e.g., different perspectives, needs, desires, beliefs) as expressed and lived by lots and lots of different people from all over the world who have come to live in the United States. In the TedTalk mentioned above, Liu says: ” Democracy works only when enough of us believe democracy works.”
It takes work to keep a democracy. One of the most memorable points Liu made was out democracy does not automatically spring from constitutional rules but from the inner workings of civic spirit–that is us. We all contribute to the quality of this spirit and whether it is healthy or not.
I know it is hard to stay informed and to pay attention to all the things a complicated society like the United States of America requires its citizens know, but this sort of knowledge is important for the system to continually sustain and renew itself. It is tempting to clamp down and claim that one’s own personal set of principles or beliefs are the only ones to follow to move forward. It is hard to compromise and walk another’s path.
Moments of Illumination& Seeing More of the Story
One of things I think the COVID-19 pandemic has illuminated is weakness in our existing systems of being around the world. Many of these weakness can be traced back to individuals living unconsciously; people choosing to live in narrow channels and closing themselves off to points of views that are not in alignment to their preconceived ideas and beliefs; people who refuse and are unwilling to see the world from someone else’s perspective–to put themselves in someone else’s shoes.
An interview with Kai Ryssal of MarketPlace demonstrates vividly what is happening to millions of people who have lost jobs and feel like they have been forgotten, even thrown away by our current system of being in the world. A brief clip from this interview that drills down on the fissures in our system and collective way of doing things that is doing us in as a collective is the following:
Ryssdal: When we talked last time, I don’t even remember what I said, but you in essence said you felt you had been forgotten and overlooked. And just to break the fourth wall a little bit here, we kept in touch and you sent us a text in January that said, and this is you now, “I feel so astonishingly betrayed by the systems responsible for protecting and providing for our nation.” Do you as a guy on the lower rungs of the income ladder in this country, do you feel any hope that it’s going to get better post-virus?
Cairns: You know, I really don’t see a lot of silver lining. We are so eager to get back to normal that we’re probably going to ignore a lot of the lessons learned from this pandemic. You know, restaurants and bars are already trying to go back to business as usual. Customers, people in general, definitely want to just go right back to normal. And without some sort of structure, some sort of system in place to help facilitate people taking things easier, I don’t see how this is going to get much better in the future.
Ryssdal: But Neil, if a bar or restaurant opened up around the corner from you and said, “Hey, we can give you 25 hours a week,” would you do it?
Cairns: Probably. Yeah. I don’t think I’d have a whole lot of choice, and that’s exactly the problem — we should. You know, providing for people in situations like mine, like those who are in worse positions than mine, to be able to stay home, to choose when to go back to work in a way that is best for them, I think is really important, and I don’t see any indication that we’re gonna make any attempt to do that.
How toTell Better Stories
To tell better stories, we need to see each other–everyone. The PBS NewsHour explores this idea in the rising occurrence of hate crimes against Asian Americans. In large part, Trump ignited and inspired this collective hate to be acted out in cruel and brutal ways. He gave a green light to let this hate rip through the delicate fabric that holds us together as an utterly unique collective–something that has never existed on this Earth below at this level, but only if we can keep it, as Thurston so beautifully expresses in the TedTalk above.
In the PBS piece, it is said:
“The absence of knowledge is a way of keeping people fighting each other.” Missing in History – The void of knowledge of Asian Americans has and is being replaced by garbage – caricatures of Asians being animals, disease infested, monsters.”
“The problem is invisibility. Justice is not a zero sum game. Justice is a fabric that extends across all communities.”
To tell better stories, we need to see more of ourself by embracing moments of illumination (often triggered by a crisis, a setback, a disaster) to boldly go where we have not yet ventured inside ourself, the realms where our invisible self dwells. Sometimes to tell better stories means we need to see the biases we harbor, the prejudices we protect, and the injustices we perpetuate. Other times it means seeing the power we have lost because we have projected onto someone else. But when we see it exists inside of us too, we grow stronger, we heal, we become more whole inside–we grow as a conscious being. When we finally see we are the thing we hate, we can even transform.
HiddenBrain did a beautiful piece on the power of stories in transforming ourself.
Description: The Story of Your Life: “We can’t go back and change the past. We can’t erase trauma and hardship. But what if there was a way to regain control of our personal narratives? In the second part of our series on storytelling, we look at how interpreting the stories of our lives — and rewriting them — can change us forever.”
The Power of Myth
This is the power of myths and storytelling. They show us ways to channel the intense energies that surge inside of us when we are provoked by our circumstances. These energies begin as instincts but what consciousness allows us to do is to sees these energies rising before we act on them. This ability gives us a moment to choose an action different than what our innate instincts would otherwise dictate that we do.
In the heat of the moment, many of us may well act on the instinct triggered. However, when we do bring our conscious attention to these moments, we can alter our instincts in a great variety of ways. This is what Jung calls archetypes. They are mirror images of instincts but altered by consciousness. This allows the energy to flow forward in any number of different ways different from how they would have otherwise contained in nature. The number of variations of rising instinctual responses are as vast as the number of human beings who have chosen something differently.
These are the stories of Gods and Goddesses from every culture around the world. These stories tell about what befell a God or Goddess after choosing an altered instinctual response to a situation encountered. Each God and Goddess embodies qualities and energies of our most primal, basic instincts. Together, instincts and archetypes make up the building blocks of the human psyche.
Jung came to believe archetypes are empty templates that we fill anew each time we alter our instinctual responses triggered by circumstances we encounter. They are fluid, flexible, and powerful like water. When we meet our situations and circumstances consciously, we live mythic lives.
A Few Modern Stories Offering Strong Modern Mythic Images to Ponder
A new Netflix series I have loved watching is Invisible City. The trailer says, “What if the legends of your childhood are living in plain sight?” Which of course, they are. This is a beautiful drama that weaves in the destruction of the Brazilian rainforest and its people and animals with Brazilian Folklore entities and deities. Season 1 explores what happens if one of these vital entities gives up.
Previous Post in Storytelling Species Series | Part 3: Death of the Father
Next Post in Storytelling Species Series | Part 5: Collective Storytelling: Who Is Q & What The Heck Is the Plandemic and Anti-Vaxxers All About?!!
Synchronistic stories are like bread crumbs I like to gather for a rainy day when I can ponder them more deeply and seek out the connections (to me, to others, to the moment). They are stories or conversations that have gotten me thinking about things beyond what I would normally ponder in the business of surviving another day. During these extraordinarily abnormal times, synchronistic stories are especially good to contemplate. Who knows, perhaps they hold the key to a new idea, an insight, or understanding how to move forward in a difficult moment. Here are a few more stories that got me thinking about how having a boring life isn’t so bad…if fact, highly desirable.
“Writing Forces You to Think Through Things” — Now is a Good Time to Think Things Through
“Young people often have this desire to try to make their life interesting,” says actor, author, and director Ethan Hawke. “Life is so interesting all by itself. You do not have to try to goose life.” He’s pictured above in Paris on Nov. 25, 2019.
Words of Advice
While on book tour in Berlin, Hawke met a German editor who gave him some advice: “He said, ‘The problem is you’re having the same dilemma that famous writers have at the end of their career … You are not a famous writer — you are a famous person who’s writing.’ “
The editor suggested he just embrace it. “He advised me on my next novel not to run away from it, but to run into it … and then, of course, it took me 20 years to do it.”
On why he framed the story around Shakespeare’s Henry IV, a play he performed in 2003
I started trying to do King Lear, but I’ve never performed King Lear, and I realized that I just wasn’t intimate enough with the play and that the play’s themes didn’t speak to my themes that I wanted to write about. You know, Henry IV probably explores fathers and sons and masculinity and the attempt to arrive at some kind of, quote unquote, manhood or adulthood about as well as literature can do. And that was what my story was.
So I kept kind of coming back to Hotspur. One of my favorite things about acting is seeing yourself as your character’s lawyer and defending his position. And in the novel, I have this sense that William is trying to prove to himself — that he’s the good guy and he’s trying to do the same thing for his character and there’s something kind of wonderful about that realization.
On revisiting a difficult time in his life – he was performing in Henry IV around the time his marriage to Uma Thurman ended
I had a lot of growing up to do, and one of the things that I really love about writing is it forces you to think through things, and think through situations, and create a fictional universe where you can see things that maybe you can’t see inside your own life. That’s what the title is about, you know, “a bright ray of darkness” is the unity of opposites, so to speak, that we learn by suffering.
On the complex relationship between celebrities and their fans
I’ve spent so much time thinking about this because I experienced celebrity young. I’ve had a desire to break that glass wall. … When I look at Michael Jackson, or Elvis, or any of these people who have reached extreme celebrity, it’s like they’re in some isolation tank and they’re just going mad. And we’re watching them, kind of loving watching them die.
When everyone else is staring at you, it’s hard not to start staring at yourself like them. You start to see yourself in third person. You start to be writing the narrative of your life and it’s just a toxic way of thinking.
And yet, it’s fun to sell out a theater. It’s fun to get a standing ovation. It’s fun to move people and have them tell you they were moved. So the positives are this huge high and the negatives are just people chopping at your ankles. It’s been very confusing throughout my life.
Danny Hensel and D. Parvaz produced and edited this interview for broadcast. Beth Novey adapted it for the Web.
Threads from Facebook – Weaving Stories Together to Understand Things
I shared this post on January 27, 2021 in one of the last remaining groups I belong on Facebook, adding the following comment:
Truth… wisdom… bearing witness to the world as it is… does this what the image conveys… perhaps… I am getting attacked right now for making an artistic, celebratory video on the inauguration of Biden and Harris… someone asking where are the fact checkers… (perhaps they meant to say where are the fantasy checkers?).
I suspect he was referring to the stories that inspired the raid and sacking of the Capitol on Jan 6, 2021. It was an insurrection inspired by lies, misinformation, and fantasy. An alternative world created by alternative facts that compelled people to believe that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump, and then it didn’t take much to poke at this fantasy and pop the mind bubbles making them burst into a deadly reality. How much of our human world is shaped by fantasy and by beliefs that we’ve ceased to examine critically by using all our human faculties of thinking, feelings, sensation, and intuition?
These things (beliefs, story, fantasy) become shortcuts we hold inside our mind to explain reality. So cherished they can become, we can be inspired to act on our short cuts for reality. If they are lopsided and out of whack with reality, bad things tend to befall all humans involved. This is the danger of creating alternative worlds inside our minds that become more precious to us than the world we share with each other.
The only antidote is to grow your mind, your light of consciousness by using all your conscious abilities: critical thought, feeling, sensation, intuition.
The original post came from: Chaim Mendel * January 25 at 7:00 PM * If there were one philosophical truth that you could teach everyone in the world, what would it be? What is the most interesting philosophical question?
An Online Conversation
The following conversation ensued. It is a story. But it takes an open mind to explore and unlock the possibilities explored.
That’s what we are here to help each other do—unlock our inner possibilities.
All of us have infinite inner possibilities, but we must squeeze them out one at a time as we travel through space and time.
Being an ancient species and new species at the same time, we confront many paradoxes, obstacles, and challenges as we try to remember who we are and what we are here to do.
Many tools of insight and understanding have been developed by every people and all civilizations to help people find, cultivate, and grow their inner power. Most are cloaked in mystery and numinosity. Most have been lost to modern man.
This conversation explores the wisdom of the Tarot and traces its deep, enigmatic roots.
I’ll have to look that image up on Google I guess because I have no idea what it means other than cross daggers in the wheel of progress.
Not exactly sure, but the nine swords are symbolic.
Occultism … And perhaps a progression of the (still alive) nine swords meme tarot card (fantasy stories)
Auntyflo says about the Nine of Swords: “When the Nine of Swords becomes present in your reading there is an experience in your life that you are going to need to analyze very carefully.
Focus on your priorities and keep moving. This card is representative of ill tidings coming your way. Sometimes life throws us curveballs that exist for the purpose of giving us the experience of working through the problems that they create and this is the case for you at this time. Often this card is depicting some kind of loss that has thrown you completely off of your normal routine.
The image that is depicted in the Rider-Waite deck shows a woman waking up in the dead of night in despair. Her head is in her hands and there are nine heavy swords hanging over her head. This is symbolic of loss, suffering and sometimes misery or oppression. This card could be symbolic of a loss of a loved one either in an end in a relationship or a death. When you have gotten this card in your reading you will need to take a step back emotionally and take a look at your situations as they currently are.
If you are experiencing this level of loss and you are right in the middle of grieving this could be hard to do. But this card tells you that it is important for you to keep focused on your end goal primarily because for one thing it will help with your grief and for another you will find that even though this is a difficult time, much growth will come as a result of you having the strength to keep on moving. You will definitely need to prioritize because you will not be able to take on very much right now, so what you do take on needs to be gentle and easy for you to handle. When you prioritize then you are giving the pain something positive to transform into, and often times pain and suffering can be excellent motivations. You need a distraction that will help you get through your grief. Immerse yourself totally and trust that you know what you need to do to succeed. At this point, the higher mind can take the wheel, and you should allow it to. Healing is found when one connects to their higher source energy.
Right now the combination that can be found in Knowledge and in Wisdom should be treated as interrelated. You cannot carry out a responsibility without the knowledge necessary to do so and you can’t be truly informed or knowledgeable on anything without the assistance of responsibility. There is a copasetic relationship here that cannot be denied. At this point in the Suit of Swords, you must take the responsibility inherent in the Knowledge that is at your fingertips so that you might get through this devastating time unscathed.
The time to fine-tune your personal philosophy and set goals for this lifetime is now. Even though it may be difficult to do so, there is nothing healthier for you at this time then to focus on improving yourself in life. Take the time now to consider how you are putting yourself down and being counterproductive, what is causing you suffering at this time? What is causing you to be depressed?
During this time of COVID-19, we are all experiencing deep loss and most probably depression at some level. Go to Auntyflo to read more of this ancient wisdom contained within the cards of the tarot. She explores The Nine of Swords in Love,The Nine Of Swords As Feelings, The Nine of Swords in Health, The Nine of Swords in Work and Wealth, Nine of Swords Advice,Nine of Swords Outcome, and Reversed Meaning – Nine Of Swords (this is like Runes of Ancient Nordic cultures. I was writing about runes and reversed meaning at the time my father died two years ago.)
Note : I am an atheist, but the card is interesting indeed: “If there were one philosophical truth that you could teach everyone in the world, what would it be? “
Summarize Philosophy to One Truth
The Desiderata seems to find a balance with metaphysical Naturalism … Humanism … Desiderata (things that are desired)
GO PLACIDLY amid the noise and the haste and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.
This is such deep, beautiful wisdom. Sage advice for how to live a boring but deeply meaningful, productive, shining life. I told Colin this was gold. I never heard of it before. Thanks to Colin digging deeper, my post (which I had not thought very deeply about) suddenly went much deeper into a vein of wisdom I would have missed had Colin not paid attention and contributed this work above.
Tarot Cards, Major Arcana & the Kabbalah
Then, Barry Kort continued the dive, going further back in time and space.
The Tarot Deck (especially the Major Arcana) come from the Kabbalah. Originally the 22 cards of the Major Arcana were illustrations of 22 passages in a generic life story. I’m not sure of this, but I think Colin’s version of a life story is what he calls a Journey Map.
A 20th Century secular version of a generic life story would be found in “Passages” by Gail Sheehy.
By Journey Map or Quest Map is for a specific journey of one endeavor. I will be explaining the various “maps” in the next while. Defiantly cognitive sense-making tool. Not a solution to life, that is 42. (22 for Dave M)
Thanks for your interest.
There are many variations on illustrations for passages in a Life’s Journey. Here, for example, is a kit of cutout illustrations for “Life’s a Journey.”
Here is an artisan in Italy who makes custom Tarot Cards for any passage in a Life Journey.
By the way, ‘Tarot’ is ‘Torat‘ spelled backwards.
In Hebrew, ‘Torah‘ and ‘Torat‘ are the same word, meaning ‘Theory‘ or ‘Science‘.
If you want to say, “Epistemology” in Hebrew, you say, “Torat Emet” (literally the Science or Theory of Truth).
The reason for adding the consonant is so one can understand two successive words where the first word ends in a vowel and the second word begins in a vowel. So you don’t say “Torah Emet” because it would sound like “Toramet.” Adding the extra ‘t’ helps separate the two words when they are spoken aloud.
So don’t be tormented by “Torah Emet” but say “Torat Emet” to mean Epistemology — the Science or Theory of Truth.
The Fool’s Journey
The totality of a generic life journey is known in the lore of the Kabbalah as “The Fool’s Journey” and it’s illustrated by the 22 cards of the Major Arcana.
The totality of a generic life journey is known in the lore of the Kabbalah as “The Fool’s Journey” and it’s illustrated by the 22 cards of the Major Arcana.
«The Fool’s Journey is a metaphor for the journey through life. Each major arcana card stands for a stage on that journey — an experience that a person must incorporate to realize his wholeness. These 22 descriptions are based on the keywords for each major arcana card.»
“We begin with the Fool (0), a card of beginnings. The Fool stands for each of us as we begin our journey of life. He is a fool because only a simple soul has the innocent faith to undertake such a journey with all its hazards and pain.
At the start of his trip, the Fool is a newborn – fresh, open and spontaneous. The figure on Card 0 has his arms flung wide, and his head held high. He is ready to embrace whatever comes his way, but he is also oblivious to the cliff edge he is about to cross. The Fool is unaware of the hardships he will face as he ventures out to learn the lessons of the world.
The Fool stands somewhat outside the rest of the major arcana. Zero is an unusual number. It rests in the exact middle of the number system – poised between the positive and negative. At birth, the Fool is set in the middle of his own individual universe. He is strangely empty (as is zero), but imbued with a desire to go forth and learn. This undertaking would seem to be folly, but is it?“
The Nine of Swords
Barry Kort relays: «When the Nine of Swords becomes present in your reading there is an experience in your life that you are going to need to analyze very carefully.
Focus on your priorities and keep moving.
Sometimes life throws us curveballs that exist for the purpose of giving us the experience of working through the problems that they create. Often this passage is depicting some kind of loss that has thrown you completely off of your normal routine.
The image that is depicted in the Rider-Waite version of the Tarot Deck shows a woman waking up in the dead of night in despair. Her head is in her hands and there are nine heavy swords hanging over her head. This is symbolic of loss, suffering and sometimes misery or oppression. This card could be symbolic of a loss of a loved one either in an end in a relationship or a death.
This passage tells you that it is important for you to keep focused on your end goal because for one thing it will help with your grief and for another you will find that even though this is a difficult time, much growth will come as a result of you having the strength to keep on moving.»
How to Grow Your Mind Space: N.E.M.E. — Notice | Engage | Mull | Exchange
It is altogether fitting and significant that this thread is an instance of “N.E.M.E.” ~ Notice / Engage / Mull / Exchange.
Just as in “The Grapes of Wrath,” we’re all fermenting the same w(h)ine, but affixing different labels to the bottle.
Have to take a side note here: The Whiniest Heroes In Movie History (whiners might just play a critical role for humanity)
He’s ranked #10, but I like the picture.
Whiniest Quote: “It just isn’t fair! I’m never gonna get out of here!”
Though Luke grows into one of the greatest heroes in the galaxy, he begins his days as a rather angsty, reluctant teen. His journey is a rough one and he is rarely afraid to let those around him know it. His list of complaints is so long that whole compilations have been made that show off his whiniest moments.
The 22 Cards of the Major Arcana are similarly numbered by the 22 letters of the Hebrew Alphabet.
Each card of the Major Arcana corresponds to a major passage in the life of a typical person on a typical Life Journey.
The remaining numbered cards within each of the four suits of the Minor Arcana — Swords, Pentacles, Wands, and Cups — correspond to specific Cognitive-Emotive States that a person may find themselves in somewhere in the midst of any given Life Passage in their Life Journey.
Re the unknown symbolic card deck, they were beautifully drawn, and it might not have been Tammy.
I remember the ‘alphabet code’ and thought it was an interesting creative tool for idea catalysts.
Let me see if my link still works to the article Tammy wrote.
Lovely Virtual Conversations — The New Collective Way of Sharing Time
Barry Kort shared two lovely interviews (and you can find a third at The Wisdom Factory) related to this conversation, but also uniquely different.
I really liked Heidi we had some fun talking and we had a little bit of a dispute going with our takes on Jordan Peterson although I agree with a lot of what Jordan Peterson’s academic work. At least I think I do.
One thing to note about Heidi is that she always had a hard time understanding Doug because he would use such flowery language and go on and on and she would try to get him to get to the point or explain it in a way somebody could understand/I don’t have a hard time understanding Doug for the most part although I do think he stays at a high level where more concreteness could help with verifying understanding.
We did several shows on the alphabet code hopefully I’ll have my query database running soon.
I’m starting to become more of a video producer than programmer and plus I got several other things on the go like this guy who’s giving me a lot of grief in a difficult conversation coexistence group I’m in.
Around the world, people are grappling with the risks posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. How do our minds process that risk, and why do some of us process it so differently? This week, we talk with psychologist Paul Slovic about the disconnect between our own assessments of risk and the dangers we face in our everyday lives.
Shankar Vedantam says, “Our feelings are shaped by stories, images, and the people we are with. (…) Our sense of control determines our sense of risk. Take for example calculating our sense of contracting and getting COVID-19. We perceive that we have greater control going to a restaurant and thus might believe we have less of a risk getting COVID there while we perceive less control of making the vaccine and thus perceive this as more dangerous to us.”
Psychologist Paul Slovic says, “The modern world has a whole range of dangers much different than the world in which our brains evolved, which were inside hominoids who were living in caves. (…) There is no gatekeeper in our brains that vet feelings. This was very adaptive a long time ago helping humans survive by accessing their instincts at a moment’s notice (e.g., hearing growl in the grass). There was no time then to analyze every possibility. But our feelings do hijack the mind and this can be dangerous in our complicated modern lives that have Collective Consequences that are very different than Stone Age Consequences. (…) Take example wearing a mask to reduce the risk of transmitting COVID. We don’t see the consequences of taking such a collective action right before our eyes, and thus may underestimate the harm of not wearing a mask to ourself and others. If we then choose to not wear a mask, the virus wins and spreads and mutates. But, if we wear a mask and pay attention over time to the results of lots of people also wearing masks, we see the collective benefit and reduction of the spread of COVID-19. But many people don’t connect long-term results with short-term sacrifices, and thus continue taking wrong action. This is the same phenomena playing out in taking right action to reduce the harmful effects of the coming massive, global climate change.”
This podcast is profound because to explores how our feelings shape our actions in the world. Often they do so in ways we are very unconscious of, but they do so in ways that have huge impacts on our shared reality.
Psychologist Paul Slovic says, “We tend to help others because we feel good when we can do something that makes a difference. But when we realize there are others who we cannot help, then bad feelings enter our minds and this dampens our empathy capacity and lessens our action to do something. This is crazy because we should do what we can where we are at with what we have.” For more, see Arithmetic of Compassion.
And BEWARE how Save the Children has been coopted by QAnon to hook people into crazy beliefs. More about this soon in The Story of Q.