Monday, November 2, 2009

Modern Man in Search of a Soul - Being Read 2009.11.02

I'm keeping my eyes open for ideas relating to why I have embraced what looks on the surface to be an hypocrisy, that being my great respect for the ideas of both David K. Reynolds and C.G. Jung. Jung's ideas most certainly embrace Reynolds' but not, it would seem, the other way round.

The other day, as I continued to flip'n-read through Modern Man in Search of Soul, I came across a great comment on Alfred Adler's methodology. The
comment supports how my thinking (or is that delusional brain-washed re-iteration?!) has been moving as I examine my apparent hypocrisy in liking both C.G. Jung and D.K. Reynolds. Here's some food for thought:
The Adlerian school [of psychological thought], with it its educational intent, begins at the very point where Freud leaves off, and thus helps the patient who has learned to see into himself to find the way to normal life. It is obviously not enough for him to know how and why he fell ill, for to understand the causes of an evil does very little towards curing it. We must never forget that the crooked paths of a neurosis lead to as many obstinate habits, and that, despite any amount of understanding, these do not disappear until they are replaced by other habits. But habits are only won by exercise, and appropriate education is the sole means to this end. The patient must be, as it were, prodded onto other paths, and this always requires and educating will. We can therefore see why it is that Adler's approach has found such favour chiefly with clergymen and teachers, while Freud's school has its advocates among physicians and intellectuals, who one and all are bad nurses and educators.
Every stage in our psychic development has something peculiarly final about it. When we have experienced catharsis with its wholesale confession we feel that we have reached our goal at last; all has come out, all is known, every anxiety has been lived through and every tear shed; now things will go as they ought. After the work of explanation we are equally persuaded that we now know how the neurosis arose. The earliest memories have been unearthed, the deepest roots dug up; the transference was nothing but the wish-fulfilling fantasy of a child's paradise or a regression to the old family situation; the way to a normally disillusioned life is now open. But then comes the period of education, which makes us realize that no confession and no amount of explaining will make the ill-formed tree grow straight, but that it must be trained with the gardener's art upon the trellis before normal adaptation can be attained.

The curious sense of finality which attends every stage of development accounts for the fact that there are people using catharsis today who have apparently never heard of dream interpretation; Freudians who do not understand a word of Adler, and Adlerians who do not wish to hear any mention of the unconscious. Each is deceived by the sense of finality peculiar to the stage of development at which he stands, and this gives rise to that confusion of opinions and views which makes it so hard for us to find our bearings.

But what causes this sense of finality which evokes such bigoted obstinacy in all directions? I can only explain it to myself on the ground that each stage of development is summed up in a basic truth, and that therefore cases frequently recur which demonstrate this truth in a striking way.
Our world is so exceedingly rich in delusions that a truth is priceless, and no one will let it slip because of a few exceptions with which it cannot be brought into accord. Whoever doubts this truth is of course looked upon as a faithless reprobate, while a note of fanaticism and intolerance creeps into the discussion on all sides.

And yet each of us can carry the torch of knowledge but a part of the way, until another takes it from him. Could we but accept this in an impersonal way — could we but grasp the fact that we are not the personal creators of our truths, but only their exponents who thus articulate the psychic needs of our day — then we should be able to perceive the profound and super-personal continuity of the human mind (45-7 my emphasis).
The main reason I transcribed this was Jung's great slag of Adler and Freud, and those who are drawn to their ideas! Well, not only that. I also love the complex and yet simple way he argues the weakness of singular truths and fixation. (And here is another equivalency with The Dog Whisperer, whose goal is often to break both dogs and owners of fixating.)

And the idea of the non-singularity of truth is an old one, and one that has been addressed by philosopher's and poets alike.

Here is a great example by a contemporary poet,
On the Road Home

It was when I said,
"There is no such thing as the truth,"
That the grapes seemed fatter.
The fox ran out of the hole.

You....You said,
"There are many truths,
But they are not parts of a truth."
Then the tree, at night, began to change,

Smoking through green and smoking blue.
We were two figures in a wood.
We said we stood alone.

It was when I said,
"Words are not forms of a single word.
In the sum of the parts, there are only the parts.
The world must be measured by eye";

It was when you said,
"The idols have seen lots of poverty,
Snakes and gold and lice,
But not the truth";

It was at that time, that the silence was largest
And longest, the night was roundest,
The fragrance of the autumn warmest,
Closest and strongest.

I came across this in one of my absolute favourite books,
News of the Universe: Poems of Two-fold Consciousness, Robert Bly. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1980, p. 116. (The cover shown here is of a recent re-issue; my copy is from more than 20 years ago, and is not as shown.)

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