Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Collected Essays, Journalism & Letters of George Orwell V2: Begun 2009.03.28

Penguin Books 1970. (No ISBN in my copy.)

Began March 28th, 2009

I stumbled across this while looking for Spengler in a local used book store called Renaissance Books. This is a book I will be dipping into occasionally, with a finished-reading date far in the future, despite Orwell being one of my favourite authors.
This is a book I will pop into when I want a quick read.

I randomly flipped to 'The Meaning of a Poem.' The poem Orwell writes about is "Felix Randal" by Gerard Manley Hopkins.
FELIX RANDAL the farrier, O he is dead then? my duty all ended,
Who have watched his mould of man, big-boned and hardy-handsome
Pining, pining, till time when reason rambled in it and some
Fatal four disorders, fleshed there, all contended?

Sickness broke him. Impatient he cursed at first, but mended
Being anointed and all; though a heavenlier heart began some
Months earlier, since I had our sweet reprieve and ransom
Tendered to him. Ah well, God rest him all road ever he offended!

This seeing the sick endears them to us, us too it endears.
My tongue had taught thee comfort, touch had quenched thy tears,
Thy tears that touched my heart, child, Felix, poor Felix Randal;
How far from then forethought of, all thy more boisterous years,
When thou at the random grim forge, powerful amidst peers,
Didst fettle for the great grey drayhorse his bright and battering sandal!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Development of Personality: CW of CG Jung Vol.17: Finished 2009.04.26

C.G. Jung
ISBN: 0691018383 / 9780691018386 / 0-691-01838-3

Began March 1, 2009

Finished April 26, 2009


Filled with stimulating ideas.
(All citations published with permission of the publisher.)

For example:
If one studies the origins of modern empirical psychology one is profoundly impressed by the fight which the earliest investigators had to wage against the firmly entrenched scholastic way of thinking. Philosophic thought, powerfully influenced by theology ('queen of sciences'), had a decidedly deductive tendency, and over it there reigned a mass of naïve, idealistic preconceptions which were bound sooner or later to lead to a reaction. This reaction took the form of the materialism of the nineteenth century, from whose outlook we are not yet completely freed even today. The success of the empirical method is so undeniable that the splendour of its victory has even begotten a materialistic philosophy, which in reality is more a psychological reaction than a justifiable scientific theory. The materialistic outlook is an exaggerated reaction against the medieval idealism and has nothing to do with the empirical method as such (par. 127).
Of the unconscious we can know nothing directly, but indirectly we can perceive the effects that come into consciousness. If everything in consciousness were, as it seems, subject to our will and choice, then we could not discover anywhere an objective criterion by which to test our self knowledge (par112).
...No doubt theory is the best cloak for lack of experience and ignorance, but the consequences are depressing: bigotedness, superficiality, and scientific sectarianism (intro. p.7).
... It sometimes happens that even important contents disappear from consciousness without the slightest trace of repression. They vanish automatically, to the great distress of the person concerned and not at all on account of some conscious interest which has engineered the loss and rejoices over it. I am not speaking here of normal forgetting, which is only a natural lowering of energy-tension; I am thinking rather of cases where a motive, a word, image, or person vanishes without a trace from the memory, to reappear later at some important juncture. ... For, in the last resort we are conditioned not only by the past, but by the future, which is sketched out in us long beforehand and gradually evolves out of us. This is especially the case with a creative person who does not at first see the wealth of possibilities within him, although they are all lying there ready. So it may easily happen that one of these still unconscious aptitudes is called awake by a 'chance' remark or by some other incident, without the conscious mind knowing exactly what has happened, or even that anything has awakened at all. Only after a comparatively long incubation period does the result hatch out. The initial cause or stimulus often remains permanently submerged. A content that is not yet conscious behaves exactly like an ordinary complex. It irradiates the conscious mind and causes the conscious contents associated with it either to become supercharged, os that they are retained in consciousness with remarkable tenacity, or else to do just the opposite, become liable to disappear suddenly, not through repression from above, but through attraction from below. One may even be led to the discovery of certain hitherto unconscious contents through the existence of what one might call 'lacunae,' or eclipses of consciousness. It is therefore well worth while to look a bit more closely when you have the vague feeling of having overlooked or forgotten something. Naturally, if you assume that the unconscious consists mainly of repressions, you cannot imagine any creative activity in the unconscious, and you logically arrive at the conclusion that eclipses are nothing but secondary effects following a repression. [Tom: again, an example of that logic follows from an assumption, regardless of the truth or appropriateness of that assumption.] You then find ourself on a steep slope. The explanation through repression is carried to inordinate lengths, and the creative element is completely disregarded. Causalism is exaggerated out of all proportion and the creation of culture is interpreted as a bogus substitute activity This view is not only splenetic, it also devalues whatever good there is in culture. It then looks as if culture were only a long-drawn sigh over the loss of paradise, with all its infantilism, barbarity, and primitiveness. In truly neurotic manner it is suggested that a wicked patriarch in the dim past forbade infantile delights on pain of castration. Thus, somewhat too drastically and with too little psychological tact, the castration myth becomes the aetiological culture-myth. This leads one to a specious explanation of our present cultural 'discontent,'* and one is perpetually smelling out regrets from some lost paradise which one ought to have had. That the sojourn in this barbarous little kindergarten is considerably more discontenting and uncomfortable than any culture up to 1933 is a fact, which the weary European has had ample opportunity to verify for himself during the last few years. I suspect that the 'discontent' has very personal motivations. Also, one can easily throw dust into one's own eyes with theories. The theory of repressed infantile sexual-practice to divert one's attention from the actual reasons for the neurosis, that is to say, from all the slacknesses, carelessnesses, callousnesses, greedinesses, spitefulnesses, and sundry other selfishnesses for whose explanation no complicated theories of sexual repression are needed. People should know that not only the neurotic, but everybody, naturally prefers (so long as he lacks insight) never to seek the causes of any inconvenience in himself, but to push them as far away from himself as possible in space and time. Otherwise he would run the risk of having to make a change for the better. Compared with this odious risk it seems infinitely more advantageous either to put the blame on to somebody else, or, if the fault lies undeniably with oneself, at least to assume that it somehow arose of its own accord in early infancy. One cannot of course quite remember how, but if one could remember, then the entire neurosis would vanish on the spot. The efforts to remember give the appearance of strenuous activity, and furthermore have the advantage of being a beautiful red herring. For which reason it may seem eminently desirable, from this point of view also, to continue to hunt the trauma as long as possible.

This far from unwelcome argument requires no revision of the existing attitude and no discussion of present-day problems. There can of course be no doubt that many neuroses begin in childhood traumatic experiences, and that nostalgic yearnings for the irresponsibilities of infancy are a daily temptation to certain patients. But it remains equally true that hysteria, for instance, is only too ready to manufacture traumatic experiences where these are lacking, so that the patient deceives both himself and the doctor. Moreover it still has to be explained why the same experience words traumatically with one child and not with another.

Naïveté is out of place in psychotherapy. The doctor, like the educator, must always keep his eyes open to the possibility of being consciously or unconsciously deceived, not merely by his patient, but above all by himself. The tendency to live in illusion and to believe in a fiction of oneself — in the good sense or in the bad — is almost insuperably great. The neurotic is one who falls victim to his own illusions. But anyone who is deceived, himself deceives. Everything can then serve the purposes of concealment and subterfuge. The psychotherapist should realize that so long as he believes in a theory and in a definite method he is likely to be fooled by certain cases, namely by those clever enough to select a safe hiding-place for themselves behind the trappings of the theory, and then to use the method so skillfully as to make the hiding-place undiscoverable (par 200-2).
*Cf. Freud's Civilization and Its Discontents,Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, XXI (1961; first pub. 1930).

The lecture "The Development of Personality"
is particularly powerful! I wonder if Jung was reacting to something, as there is a great deal of impatience, even anger, in his writing.
For example:
... Our age has been extravagantly praised as the "century of the child." This boundless expansion of the kindergarten amounts to forgetfulness of the problems of adult education divined by the genius Schiller. Nobody will deny or underestimate the importance of childhood; the severe and often life-long injuries caused by stupid upbringing at home or in school are too obvious, and the need for more reasonable pedagogic methods is far too urgent. But if this evil is to be attacked at the root, one must in all seriousness face the question of how such idiotic and bigoted methods of education ever came to be employed, and still are employed. Obviously, for the sole reason that there are half-baked educators who are not human beings at all, but walking personifications of method. Anyone who wants to educate must himself be educated. But the parrot-like book-learning and mechanical use of methods that is still practised today is no education either for the child or the educator (par 284)....
The fact is that the high ideal of educating the personality is not for children: for what is usually meant by personality — a well-rounded psychic whole that is capable of resistance and abounding in energy — is an adult ideal. It is only in an age like ours, when the individual is unconscious of the problem of adult life, or — what is worse — when he consciously shirks them, that people could wish to foist this ideal on to childhood. I suspect our contemporary pedagogical and psychological enthusiasm for the child of dishonourable intentions: we talk about the child, but we should mean the child in the adult. For in every adult there lurks a child — an eternal child, something that is always becoming, is never completed, and calls for unceasing care, attention, and education. That is the part of the human personality which wants to develop and become whole. But the man of today is far indeed from this wholeness. Dimly suspecting his own deficiencies, he seizes upon child education and fervently devotes himself to child psychology, fondly supposing that something must have gone wrong in his own upbringing and childhood development that can be weeded out in the next generation. This intention is highly commendable, but comes to grief on the psychological fact that we cannot correct in a child a fault that we ourselves still commit. Children are not half as stupid as we imagine. They notice only too well what is genuine and what is not (par 286)....
At times Jung moves firmly into the realm of the poetical! (No wonder he is almost unknown in the empirically obsessed age we find ourselves living within.)
Our personality develops in the course of our life from germs that are hard or impossible to discern, and it is only our deeds that reveal who we are. We are like the sun, which nourishes the life of the earth and brings forth every kind of strange, wonderful, and evil thing; we are like the mothers who bear in their wombs untold happiness and suffering. At first we do not know what deeds or misdeeds, what destiny, what good and evil we have in us, and only the autumn can show what the spring has engendered, only in the evening will it be seen what the morning began (par 290).

He has interesting comments on 'Marriage as a Psychological Relationship':

So far as reason or calculation or the so-called loving care of the parents does not arrange the marriage, and the pristine instincts of the children are not vitiated by false education or the hidden influences of accumulated and neglected parental complexes, the marriage choice will normally follow the unconscious motivations of instinct. Unconsciousness results in non-differentiation, or unconscious identity. The practical consequence of this is that one person presupposes in the other a psychological structure similar to his own. Normal sex life, as a shared experience with apparently similar aims, further strengthens the feeling of unity and identity. This state is described as one of complete harmony, and is extolled as a great happiness ("one heart and one soul") — not without good reason, since the return to that original condition of unconscious oneness is like a return to childhood. Hence the childish gestures of all lovers. Even more is it a return to the mother's womb, into the teeming depths of an as yet unconscious creativity. it is, in truth, a genuine and incontestable experience of the Divine, where transcendent force obliterates and consumes everything individual; a real communion with life and the impersonal power of fate. The individual will for self-possession is broken: the woman becomes the mother, the man the father, and thus both are robbed of their freedom and made instruments of the life urge (par 330).