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Red Bull joins the wise

Monday, June 11th, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — red bull expands on pascal, takes us deeper into instinctive / archetypal thought ]
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I came across a powerful paragraph in Beyond a joke, a piece witth the enticing subtitle, “The brain holds many secrets that admen would love to learn – not least, how to change behaviour. Rory Sutherland explores how comedy rouses the grey matter.” Powerful, in that it connects, at least for me, with at least three major quotes from “wise men of old” from here and beyond:

The reason for this glaring discrepancy is that the part of the brain used to write economic papers is not the part of the brain that chooses a drink. The part of my brain that causes me to chug a can of Red Bull on the way home from work has a logic all of its own.

**

You remember my old DoubleQuotes format?

I used it to make various kinds of connections beyween two quotes? Well, I’ve come to feel its clumsy visually, takes up too much space — breaks the train of thought it’s embedded in rather than illuminating it? But the concept, the holding together of two ideas in close juxtaposition, still seems extraordinarily useful to me.

So here are elements of that para, juxtaposed with sayings from Blaise Pascal, Christ, and the Tao Te Ching — quite a variety of “wise” sources:

  • The heart has its reasons reason knows not of.
  • The part of my brain that causes me to chug a can of Red Bull on the way home from work has a logic all of its own.
  • The part of the brain used to write economic papers is not the part of the brain that chooses a drink.
  • The way that can be named is not the true way.
  • The part of the brain used to write economic papers is not the part of the brain that chooses a drink.
  • In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you.
  • Christ, Lao Tze, and Pascal! If the correlations are as powerful as I take them to be, and even if you omit the “many mansions” one which is I’ll admit bit of a stretch, that’s a power packed para.

    And the “many mansions”? It may be a bit of a stretch, but I think it adds a certain audacity to the whole — jazzes up what’s alreadt strong with an intriguing elan — what do you think?

    **

    The Bollingen classic:

    Jolande Jacobi, Complex/Archetype/Symbol in the Psychology of C. G. Jung

    **

    I mean, please comment, eh?

    Heather R Higgins on Jordan Peterson, from The Hill

    Wednesday, June 6th, 2018

    [ posted by Charles Cameron — a direct share of Higgins‘ piece, How philosopher Jordan Peterson will change the world ]
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    How philosopher Jordan Peterson will change the world


    © YouTube

    Your first sign that something different is afoot: the event is immediately sold out. The second clue: scalpers want over $500 for rear orchestra seats, and over $1,000 for prime. Yes it’s New York. But this isn’t “Hamilton”. It’s a bloody lecture.

    And when you get there, there isn’t just one line around the block — there are two, one running in either direction. The audience to this beyond-sold-out event is disproportionately male, many young. And in line you overhear references to Jung, identity politics, biology, responsibility, faith, Nietzsche, the importance of not lying, and Solzhenitsyn. Whoa.

    Why is Dr. Jordan Peterson, clinical psychologist and professor at the University of Toronto, who recently gained meteoric attention in taking on the thought police and their language criminalizing legislation in Canada, attracting such a huge following of devotees, and eliciting both hatred and real fear among ideologues?
    If you’re a young man, there’s a good chance you’ve experienced socially-approved condescension, because, well, it’s all patriarchy and social injustice and men are privileged (unless they are also part of an approved minority or sexual/gender orientation).

    Young men hear falsehoods peddled as “truths”: That the sexes are not only equal, they are the same in everything but reproductive organs, and that any differences between males and females are socially constructed. That their opinion on any issue of gender is inherently inferior due to their Y chromosomes. That they are implicitly biased, and must have this bias “trained” out of them.

    Additionally, they have observed a movement, where emotions matter and facts don’t, that shuts down critical thought as unsafe, and silences debate through vilification.

    They know these things are wrong. But they don’t know why. They are parched for understanding, hope, and purpose to their lives. And into that desert comes the clear water of Dr. Peterson.

    The first reason Peterson has had such impact is that this is no ordinary psychologist or professor, staying in his narrow lane. Peterson not only is extraordinarily intelligent, but also widely learned. Listening to him is like wrapping your mind with a Paul Johnson history, an interdisciplinary, intercultural, time-traveling tapestry of transcendent themes and truths — where evolutionary biology, history, literature, philosophy, psychology, music, art, religions, culture and myth are all interwoven.

    People find him because of viral YouTube clips, where he dismembers sanctimonious ideologues with a mike-dropping command of fact and logic; they stay for two hour lectures on psychology, mythology, and religious texts — there are more than 400 hours online — on their new-found quest for understanding and meaning.

    Peterson’s focus for decades has been what drives human beings to do evil, particularly the great evils of the 20th century, from Auschwitz to Soviet gulags, as well as helping people have agency over their own lives and the ability to endure and transcend the inescapable suffering of life.

    That empathy makes him singularly effective and compelling: unlike most intellectuals’ arrogant pieties that are driven more by resentment than concern, Peterson is obsessed with actual human suffering. He cares deeply about real people, and particularly the unnecessary suffering caused by others, about which he becomes passionately angry. The high purpose of doing what he can to prevent the evil that human beings do — whether out of malice because they believe there is no meaning to life, or through lofty intentions because that is the price of their putative utopia — permeates his work.

    His third atypical quality is exceptional humility. For Peterson, growth comes from constantly questioning himself, and being open to seeing another person’s point of view, even where the disagreements are profound.

    In consequence, for all the attempts to pigeonhole his beliefs, he can’t be neatly put on left or right, Christian or not. To him routine questions are complicated, and modesty is called for.

    If he does have defining principles, they would seem to be recognizing complexity and nuance, applying deeper wisdom than simplistic materialist explanations, being absolutely truthful, refusing to lie, and speaking out — whatever the cost — against those pernicious ideas and efforts that will hurt others. And because he has been teaching for a long time, he is skilled at taking grand concepts and challenging ideas and accessibly transposing them into everyday lives.

    People may not like what Jordan Peterson says, but he is hard to disagree with. He serves as a role model for many, teaching them that facts do matter, to not assume conventional wisdom is right, to not be simplistic, and that it is not intentions that matter, but consequences.

    Even more importantly, for many individuals, he reconnects them with responsibility for their lives, giving them agency and purpose — and not just for themselves, but in the effect they will then have on the world around them. Peterson is very insistent that each individual decision moves the entire world closer to either heaven or a bottomless hell. Because those aren’t just theoretical places we may go to after we die, but apt descriptions of the worlds we create around us.

    Peterson is in part a font of self-help wisdom, a modern Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, drawing not on faith but on Jung, Nietzsche, Solzhenitsyn, biology, evolution, psychology, and learned wisdom, perceived through myth, religions, and history, all to provide better ways of being.

    But he is also a cultural force. He is the scourge of simplistic, pernicious pieties, including: bias and social oppression as the presumed causes of inequality of outcome, equality of outcome as an unquestioningly desirable and enforced goal, identity as a subjective choice and the sexes as the same, patriarchy, white privilege, implicit bias, safe spaces, affirmative rights, postmodernism, nihilism, neo-Marxism, and identity politics.

    As Peterson gets better known, he seems to find fewer and fewer on the left who will debate him. That’s no surprise — watch the debates that do exist, and be reminded of the attempted mugging of “Crocodile Dundee”, when he smiles pityingly and says “That’s not a knife. THIS is a knife,” before reducing his assailant to a quivering blob.

    But those who like orthodoxies that would limit the speech, ideas, and freedoms of others in order to enforce a social construction of their own should be afraid. Like the boy who had the courage to tell the emperor he had no clothes, or like Alexander Solzhenitsyn, whose lone voice of truth helped topple a totalitarian empire, when this too crumbles, Jordan Peterson will be seen as the courageous catalyst that exposed the lies and made us a wiser people.

    Heather R. Higgins is CEO of Independent Women’s Voice, an organization promoting conservative free market solutions that advance prosperity, freedom, and greater choices. Follow her on Twitter @TheHRH.

    **

    Shave off a dozen percentage points for over-the-top, and you have what I’d consider the single simplest and best account of Jordan Peterson and the reasons for his astounding popularity — which inckude a refusal to concede anything much to nuance and an a considered and measured indifference to applausee or dismisal alike. Having found a pair of great teachers in Jung and in his clinical patients keeps him deep and humble respectively. And he saves me a whole lot of work I thought was my obligation, while stretching me intellectually — not always an easy feat, although the comments section here certainly keeps me on my toes.

    I am almost as grateful to Heather Higgins for this introduction as to Dr Peterson himself, the introductee. Brava,bravo, bravo!

    Time In all his tuneful turning (i)

    Thursday, March 15th, 2018

    [ by Charles Cameron — Stephen Hawking, RIP, and synchronicity? ]
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    Connsider these high-popularity responses to Stephen Hawking‘s death:

    Sources:

  • USA Today, Hawking’s death, Einstein’s birth, and Pi Day: what does it all mean?
  • Time, People Think It’s an Interesting Coincidence That Stephen Hawking Died on Pi Day
  • **”

    The Time article focused on the internet:

    Some people on the internet think Stephen Hawking couldn’t have calculated a better day to die.

    Calculated. Like it.

    The 76-year-old theoretical physicist, one of science’s most famous luminaries died on March 14, also known as National Pi Day — an annual day for scientists and mathematicians around the world to celebrate the value of pi that even includes deals on pizzas and actual pies. Suffice it to say that the noteworthy coincidence was not lost on the internet.

    The date of Hawking’s death — 3/14 — is significant because 3.14 are the first three digits of pi, a bedrock of geometry. Specifically, it’s the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. Naturally, the fact that science’s big celebration overlapped with the day the life of the party left us is making people geek out about the details.

    As soon as news spread that Hawking died early Wednesday morning in London, people were quick to connect the dots.

    Connect the dots, eh?

    **

    And here’s the complete USA Today article:

    So, is there some mystical theory explaining how noted astrophysicist Stephen Hawking died on the same day Albert Einstein was born, which also happens to be the day we honor the mathematical constant Pi?

    Nope. It’s just all one giant coincidence.

    Hawking died at 76, his family confirmed early Wednesday. He was considered one of the world’s foremost theoretical physicists, developing critical theories on black holes and writing A Brief History of Time to explain complex scientific concepts to the masses.

    That’s it. Nope, in a word. Nope. There is no “mystical theory explaining how noted astrophysicist Stephen Hawking died on the same day Albert Einstein was born, which also happens to be the day we honor the mathematical constant Pi”.

    That’s decided without consulting Pythagoras, Newton, Johann Valentin Andreae, Hermann Hesse‘s Joseph Knecht, or any of a dozen other worthies I might name..

    **

    But note: Warren Leight adds another datapoint and brings the circuit to completion:

    Galileo, ooh.

    It seems worth recalling at this point that pi is an irrational number.

    **

    Where do we go from here?

    First, note that Warren Leight posts that Hawking died on the 14th, in a tweet dated the 13th.

    One of Leight’s commenters challenges the whole coincidence chain:

    He died March 13th

    Leight’s response to that challenge could also serve as a response to mine:

    It depends on how and where you measure time

    Time is circular, date is relative..

    **

    God save us, here’s a game ref:

    Is that Johann Sebastian Bach?

    Kidding.

    **

    May the extraordinarily, ceaselessly curious mind of Stephen Hawking rest at last in the balm of peace.

    **

    And my title, Time in all its tuneful turning?

    It’s from Dylan Thomas, approximately. He wrote, in this masterpiece, Fern Hill:

    And nothing I cared, at my sky blue trades, that time allows
    In all his tuneful turning so few and such morning songs
    Before the children green and golden
    Follow him out of grace…

    I want to suggest that Dylan Thomas is at least as great a thinker about time as Stephen Hawking, and Fern Hill is my proof text to that effect. I’ll explain why in part ii of this post.

    Poetic or magical phrasings in otherwise realist contexts

    Saturday, February 3rd, 2018

    [ by Charles Cameron — featuring SWJ, Uma Thurman, and an outbreak of sheer alchemy – !! — on MSNBC ]
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    Poetry is irrepressible.

    Often confused with things people print with broken lines, poetry is a view on things, an angle oblique to reality revealing an archipelago of plausible, interesting deeper meanings, not behind but within the everyday.

    Under that definion, poetry is irrepressible, while the broken line stuff is failing, almost dead, precisely because it so oftten lacks authentic poetry.

    Here, then, are three examples of the elements of poetry visible emerging from the dense forests of the prosaic, as the Mayan temples emerge from the Guatemalan forest in this National Geographic image:

    From Exclusive: Laser Scans Reveal Maya “Megalopolis” Below Guatemalan Jungle.

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    Small Wars Journal:

    vegetation and the night can come to be seen part of the enemy, a similar view can emerge concerning civilians

    So: “the night can come to be seen part of the enemy” — true in terms of personal experiences of war (we’re talking Vietnam here) no doubt, but also mythic in its resonance, in a way that’s inseparable from its practical, field reality: night as darkness, the unknown, mystery, terror, all providing a cloak for sudden attack.

    From Preventing the Barbarization of Warfare: The USMC CAP Program in Vietnam in the Small Wars Journal, not a source renowned for poetry — or “poetry” for that matter.
    **

    New York Times:

    There’s divinity, and then there’s celebrity:

    Uma Thurman is certainly a star, maybe more —

    Her hall features a large golden Buddha from her parents in Woodstock; her father, Robert Thurman, is a Buddhist professor of Indo-Tibetan studies at Columbia who thinks Uma is a reincarnated goddess.

    — a goddess, with a lower-case “g”?

    From Maureen Dowd, in This Is Why Uma Thurman Is Angry

    **

    MSNBC, The Beat:

    This is no doubt the most astonishing.

    Bringing the moon and the sun together always makes me happy.

    From Ari Melber on The Beat yesterday, at 47.12 almost at the very end of this clip:

    Sheer alchemy, out of the Tube, out of nowhere! Bringing the sun and moon together is the conjunctio, subject of Carl Jung‘s last major work, Mysterium Coniunctionis, and symbolized by the union of sun andd moon, king and queen, gold and silver:

    The middle image, showing the coniunctio, is from the Rosarium Philosophorum (1550): Jolande Jacobi describes it thus in her book The Psychology of C.G. Jung:

    The alchemical conception of one of the stages of the coniunctio. Here the ‘king’ and the ‘queen,’ who may be taken as Sol and his sister Luna, appear as symbols of the primordial psychic opposites, masculine and feminine. Their ‘marriage’ is meant primarily in the spiritual sense, as is clear not only by the words of the middle band spiritus est qui vivificat, but also by the dove as symbol of the spirit, and according to the ancients, amor coniugalis. The primordial opposites confront one another in their naked, unfalsified truth and essence, without conventional covering; the difference between them is evident and ‘essential;’ it can be bridged in fruitful union only through the intermediary of the spirit symbol, the dove, the ‘unifier’ which intervenes from ‘above.’ The branches held to form the cross, the flores mercurii, and the flower hanging down from the dove’s beak—all these symbols of the process of growth illustrate the common effort of man and woman in the living work of the coniunctio.

    Borrowed from Yin, Yan, the Tao, and Wholeness.

    For Ari Melber, out of the blue, to come up with this expression of his “happiness” at “bringing the moon and the sun together” is a stunning instance of the breaking though of the prime symbol of sheer alchemy into an MSNBC news program — in the midst of the Trump / Mueller controversy!

    **

    Had enough?

    Rest assured Inside a Bookshelf at This Genius Hotel:

    A magical — peacetime — way of nightt..

    Anti-Muslim converts to Islam — Enantiodromia!

    Sunday, January 28th, 2018

    [ by Charles Cameron — balancing explanations — psychological, sociological, anthropological ]
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    Carl Jung‘s definitions of enantiodromia read:

    In the philosophy of Heraclitus it [enantiodromia] is used to designate the play of opposites in the course of events—the view that everything that exists turns into its opposite….

    I use the term enantiodromia for the emergence of the unconscious opposite in the course of time. [CW 6, 708 & 709]

    **

    There could hardly be a clearer set of instances of this individual psychological principle than this, as reported by David A Graham in the strong>Atlantic yesterday:

    The Strange Cases of Anti-Islam Politicians Turned Muslims
    Three recent incidents seem to highlight a quirk of sociology.

    More details:

    Last fall, Arthur Wagner was part of something remarkable: His political party, the anti-Islam, anti-immigrant Alternative für Deutschland, entered the Bundestag, becoming the first far-right party in the body since the 1950s. This year, Wagner has done something even more [ .. ]remarkable: He has converted to Islam and left AfD.

    Even stranger, Wagner is not the first person to leave a far-right, anti-Islam party in Europe and become a Muslim. Arnoud van Doorn, a member of Geert Wilders’s Dutch Freedom Party—which is another far-right, anti-Islam party—left it in 2011, converted to Islam in 2012, and soon after made hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca Muslims are obliged to make at least once in their lifetimes. And in 2014, Maxence Buttey, a local councillor for the National Front (FN), France’s analogous far-right party, converted to Islam and was suspended from the party committee.

    In the United States, a grisly story made headlines last year when an 18-year-old former neo-Nazi in Tampa who said he had converted to Islam confessed to killing two (apparently still) neo-Nazi roommates, though that case is so grotesque, and the use of violence so far from mainstream Muslim practice, that it defies comparison to the European examples. (The suspect also shouted a nonsensical, non-Muslim phrase.)

    In all cases, the shift from anti-Muslim to Muslim is counterintuitive.

    The same article quotes friend JM Berger, commenting after the Charlotesville shootings —

    The process and structure of radicalization and extremism are the same in different kinds of movements, even when the content of the extremist belief is different (such as with neo-Nazis and jihadists)

    — all this as part of a sociological explanation of conversions to and from extremisms.

    **

    The sociological explanations are well-represented by these paras:

    There seem to be some people who are joiners, eager to become part of larger groups. Almost everyone will know someone like this, perhaps someone who is constantly searching for new social groups or joining new organizations, or perhaps even a spiritual seeker-type who flirts with a succession of faiths. The cliche about the “zeal of the convert” exists for a reason.

    According to Michael Hogg’s uncertainty-identity theory, people seek to reduce questions about who they are, where they fit in the world, and how people view them. “One way to satisfy this motivation is to identify with a group (a team, an organization, a religion, an ethnicity, a nation, etc.) a process that not only defines and locates oneself in the social world but also prescribes how one should behave and how one should interact with others,” Hogg writes.

    I don’t think these sociological explanations really conflict with Jung’s theory of enantiodromia, but the latter seems more exact – “turning into the opposite” rather than “showing a propensity for eextremes” — because in my view, Jung’s version hits the mark so exactly.

    I’m too fatigued to fisk Graham’s article more extensively, but my main point is that enantiodromia is “closer in” than the sociological motive, focusing in the indiviual rather than the group.

    **

    Issues of this kind crop up quite frequently. IMO we need some kind of useful understandings of the boundaries between anthropology and sociology, and of the complex relations of both with psychology.


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