Archive for April, 2009
I couldn’t resist this photo opportunity. Pronghorn Antelope are plentiful in the countryside and at times walk into the edges of our small town. I took the photo on Earth Day, an appropriate photo indeed. A lot of earth along with animate life in terms of the antelope and two Canadian geese in the distant background which are sitting in the field. Truly, this scene would make for a great dream scene.
Dream work is an essential strategy for anyone who is determined to become more aware of themselves in order to function better in the outer world. I admit to having an active dream life, so many dreams that it became impossible for me to deal with them all. It’s a good thing that one is not required to do so. Dreams have their purpose, and for the most part, their purpose lies outside of the need for our attention to the dreams.
Yet, some dreams do attempt to make us aware of things brewing within, especially when we are involved in a process of change. So, I do record some of my dreams, especially when I feel a need for understanding a change in my attitude, my mood. Then begins the work of looking at the dream to try to understand why the dream has caught my attention. I understand that I am the dream. By that, I mean that all the characters and all of the props within the dream are different aspects of self. I look for resonances based on what has been happening in my outer life and associations from my past. Dream dictionaries are avoided like the plague. Daryl Sharp in his book, Digesting Jung, describes why such tools are useless:
There is no fixed meaning to symbols or motifs in dreams, no
valid interpretation that is independent of the psychology and life
situation of the dreamer. Thus routine recipes and definitions such
as those found in traditional “dream dictionaries” are of no value
whatever. Nor are exercises aimed at controlling or manipulating
the content of dreams, as some claim to do. There is no convincing
evidence that this is possible, nor would it be desirable even if it
were, for one would thereby lose valuable information about oneself
that is not available otherwise. (Daryl Sharp, Digesting Jung, 2001, page 78.
It’s just me and the dream, the dreamer and the dream.
I took this photo during one of our frequent stops while travelling. We were on our way to Agra in order to see the Taj Mahal and get our required photos of that famous site. However, for me, photos such as this are more “vital.” I wish I had known their language so that I would have been able to communicate with them and find out just what kind of men they were. Were they shy? Were they men who analysed? Were they dreamers? I’ll never know.
And as I would like to find out as much as I can about people I meet, I also want to know more and more about who I really am. Last post I talked a bit about Carl Jung’s approach to typology and how I understood myself to be an introverted intuitive type of person. There is no doubt that I am predominantly introverted in my attitude. What needed clarification for me was determining the dominant function – thinking, feeling, sensation, or intuition. Naturally, since I am interested in Jungian psychology, I turned to what Jung had to say in Psychological Types, volume 6 of his Collected Works. It didn’t take too long for me to decide that I would be typed as an introverted intuitive.
I then looked further afield and decided to take the Meyers-Briggs, a type test based for the most part on Jung’s work. There was a difference in there were four sets of continuums – extrovert/introvert, thinking/intuition, feeling/sensation, and judgement/perception. Taking the test I was typed INFP, that is an introvert with dominant functions of intuition, feeling and perception. Lately, I’ve returned to Jung’s original approach as it is simpler and it encourages me to focus on the reason for using typology. Daryl Sharp sums it up quite nicely in his book, Personality Types:
Being consciously aware of the way I tend to function makes it possible for me to assess my attitudes and behavior in a given situation and adjust them accordingly. It enables me both to compensate for my personal disposition and to be tolerant of someone who does not function as I do – someone who has, perhaps, a strength or facility I lack myself. (Daryl Sharp, Personality Types, 1987, page 91.)
Another look at a possible approach to the SoFoBoMo project with “tunnel vision” as a theme. This time I edited the photo to be “almost” black and white. Why? I am trying to see if there is a tension between colour and black and white that would “add” a sense of the tension one finds when dealing with the unconscious.
There isn’t much chance that I would ever look at a photo without looking behind the photo to see the photographer and “where” the photographer is “at” in terms of the psyche. After all, this blog is called Jungian Photos for a reason. I look at life with my built in filters no different than a camera’s filters.
Polarity is about tension. There is a tension between good and evil, black and white, masculine and feminine just to name a few polarized dynamics. A person’s typology is described in terms of tendencies toward various sets of polarities: introvert (I) versus extrovert (E), thinking (T) versus feeling (F), intuition (N) versus sensation (S). People are never static in terms of personality. They do however, find themselves a resting state which they return to to unconsciously, a place of comfort.
For example, I could be considered to be somewhat of an introvert even though I worked in a public forum quite capably. I do participate in public and community and family functions, extrovert activities. However, I need quiet time, alone time in order to recharge my psyche, my energy.
On the plane between thinking and feeling which tries to describe how one arrives at a decision, I tend toward the feeling end of the continum. On the plane between intuition and sensation, I find that the majority of the time, I strongly tend toward intuition. If fact, intuition is the most dominant of the four functions making sensation the weakest of the functions. So, using the Jungian model, I would have an introverted attitude with a dominant (or superior) intuitive function with an auxiliary feeling function as my primary “type”. Of course that doesn’t mean that I don’t use the other two functions as it unlikely for almost anyone to have an “absent” function.
As I made the trip to Saskatoon in order to pick up an item, I decided it was a good time to practice more shots for the “tunnel vision” project for SoFoBoMo. Along the side of a road, not too far from a farmyard, this early 1970s halfton was parked on the side of the road, for sale. A typical scene in the Saskatchewan prairie landscape. I am sure that if the truck had the ability to tell its history, it would be able to tell dust filled tales of work and play.
I am satisfied with the result of the photo which lifts my hopes that I will be able to get enough photos for the “tunnel vision” project. Still it would be nice to be able to use software to create the effect rather than relying on the camera lens attachment. I so want to follow though with this “vision”
Engaging in life is easiest when there is a vision, a sense of direction and purpose from which we derive meaning. Being able to see beyond the moment which is prosaic, often filled with dull pain or indifference, is critical. No vision reduces one to a state of darkness, depression. It’s a matter of survival.
I am again practicing for the start of the SoFoBoMo project, this time working with a new minitripod that gives me a lot more stability, an Optek T25. I like it! As I have mentioned before, the guiding theme is “tunnel vision,” an effect I get using a Digital Concepts 3X telephoto lens attached to my Sony DSC-H50 camera. The effect occurs due to an extended plastic barrel that is attached to the camera, a tunnel.
That said, there are issues. I can’t get consistent black to frame the circular photo. Light somehow seeps in to contaminate the pure black. I need to practice more as it seems to change in intensity depending on the direction of the primary light source. I need to get this problem fixed or accommodated before my personal start date in mid-May.
But then again, the shadow is always problematical. It seems weird that one could actually look at light contaminating the shadow. Typically one thinks of how the shadow contaminates our ego, acting out and embarrassing us. We see this in our world, how a policeman is caught taking bribes or how a religious person is caught with their pants down molesting young boys. These types of outbreaks of shadow, of the unconscious, contaminating the persona are shocking for us and make the newspaper because of the shock value.
Imagine this in reverse where a hired killer inexplicably misses an easy kill. Now why would I even bring this into the picture? Well, the shadow contents are not ALL negative. Much of what is consciously repressed as one grows up is positive. People do bury dreams, skills and attitudes. The poetry, the music, the art – lost as one loses belief in these aspects of self that are buried deep until they are lost from our consciousness. We come to believe that our “self” is mundane, plain and without much value at all. As these buried aspects of self attempt to escape confinement from our personal unconscious, they contaminate our outer self resulting in confusion to say the least, they leave us feeling a sense of loss – soul loss.
Another photo from India, this time from Jaisalmer. Actually, the photo was taken just outside of the city at a cenotaph. It was January, 2008 in the late afternoon when the sunlight was accentuating the golden colour of the sandstone used to build most of the buildings in Jaisalmer which led to the city being called the Golden City. Besides the ornate memorials, there were a number of small piles of rock marked with a single stick, often with a red rag attached which indicated where ashes had been interred. The urn above is a symbol of sacred containment, a feminine symbol.
The psychoanalytic/psychotherapeutic encounter is also a place of sacred containnment. The dialogues between other and self in the pyschoanalytic/ psychotherapeutic container are held as sacred, not the stuff of common communication. There would be no purpose is taking the contents out of the container with the intention of engaging others in a dialogue about the contents as context would not be present. By context, I mean the tension of the moment being shared in the psychoanalytic encounter. For me, this carries on to most of my interactions with others. I have learned to keep my counsel. The sacred containment, temenos, of authentic “I-Thou” interactions prevents contamination. Translated, when dealing with the psyche of others, keep it confidential. It’s more than about therapist ethics.
I took this photo on January 30, 2009 on the northern Yucatan shore. To see marines walking a quiet, sunny beach. Why were they there? There is a war on drugs, a conflict between various drug cartels and assorted law agencies including the military. Conflict – it’s real, but what is it really? A few more words from Daryl Sharp have made themselves leap forward to catch my attention as I search for answers for conflict within my own life:
Any conflict situation constellates the problem of opposites.
Broadly speaking, “the opposites” refers to ego-consciousness and
the unconscious. This is true whether the conflict is recognized as
an internal one or not, since conflicts with other people are almost
always externalizations of an unconscious conflict within oneself.
Because they are not made conscious, they are acted out on others
through projection. (Digesting Jung, Daryl Sharp, 2001, page 37.)
Ouch! This was a tough lesson to learn. And, I don’t yet know if it is fully learnt. Any argument with my wife has been based on projections of my anima onto her, or her projections of animus onto me. Thinking about it this way, any “personal” conflict, I have learnt to understand that there is no victim, this is again about “self.”
Of course, the conflict becomes active when the “other” provides a “hook” in order to snag the projections. No wonder one becomes so confused, so depressed, so drained of energy. We wonder: “Where did all that shit come from? Why did I say that? Did I really do that?” And then, in the aftermath, I am left to attempt to work out what my inner shadow world is trying to communicate to my conscious self. Do I listen to these constellated complexes or do I return to projection and lay the blame outside of my “self?”
This photo was taken just outside of the city of Dungarpur, Rajasthan, India in January, 2008 using a Sony DSC-H5 digital camera. When I saw these two vehicles, a tuk-tuk and a jeep approaching as I walked down what I had thought would be a quiet country road, I was amazed.
As a Canadian I was used to one car, one person. This photo makes me think of how most of us think of ourselves as one, our ego self. Sure we can come to understand that we wear different masks in different situations such as dad, worker, son, friend, colleague, community member; but beneath these masks, we have a core self that we feel we know. Needless to say, it is a shock to find that beneath the level of consciousness, our unconscious is quite filled with a whole cast of characters that we can call complexes. At the core of every complex one finds an archetype. We get to meet this cast of characters usually in our dreams.
I was fortunate to have become acquainted with Daryl Sharp, a Jungian analyst living and working in Toronto, Canada. Daryl spent part of his youth in a town in Saskatchewan called Lanigan, a town where I was a high school teacher for twenty years. We never met face-to-face, however we did meet here in cyberspace over the space of a few years. Daryl set up Inner City Books which publishes books written by Jungian analysts. Some of my favourite books are those written by Daryl. An interesting book called, Digesting Jung, has been made available as a free PFD download which you can obtain here. He begins this book with a great description of complexes:
We like to think we are masters in our own house, but clearly we are not. We are renters at best. Psychologically we live in a boarding house of saints and knaves, nobles and villains, run by a landlord who for all we know is indifferent to the lot. We fancy we can do what we want, but when it comes to a showdown our will is hampered by fellow boarders with a mind of their own. (Digesting Jung, Daryl Sharp, 2001, page 9)
It wasn’t that many years ago that I was faced with meeting a number of my boarders, something I would have rather not done at that time. I was a good teacher, father, husband, coach and friend. Life seemed to have finally found a solid foundation after having put in my dues in schooling and learning the skills of the trade of teaching and learning the role of father to three. The way forward seemed clear and filled with promise. As a couple we planned into the future. The past was buried beneath decades and layers of business. Of course, when one tries too hard to bury the messy stuff, to deny the errors, the missteps and the shame; the shit will eventually hit the fan and there goes all the planning in the world. Yes, I found myself deep in the shit I had stuffed into the dark corners of my past, into the unused spaces of my mind. Naively, I assumed that I had effectively dealt with my “issues” and was now reaping the rewards.
Well, it’s been about fifteen years since these boarders started to mess with me and my life. Now, I don’t even try to deny them their space and attention. And, life is better. It is messier, there is no denying of that fact. But, it is better for that as I am becoming “fuller” as a person, not just a shell. I am adding depth. I do realise that there is a long way to go before I again get my shit together in order to become as whole as I can be. Knowing that I’m getting there gives me the courage to continue arm-wrestling with the complexes. I am learning to like myself.
This is important as now I can be a better brother, father, husband, friend and even teacher though I am no longer in the classroom. Now, I am thankful that these boarders crashed the doors down and made themselves at home in my conscious world.
I took this photo in the early morning hours of January 14th, 2008 in Delhi, India. As I was visiting other sites whose authors were also taking part in the SoFoBoMo project, I came across a LiveJournal site by kaadian showing a scene from India. The visit led me to go back to my photos from India and I immediately found this particular image which speaks of “shadow.” Since my upcoming project is all about shadow and projection (tunnel vision) I saw a link again between this space and the project. Of course, it doens’t take much to get me to thinking and wondering, usually out loud so-to-speak.
Two adult men and three boys on a rubbish pile, a home of sorts and a way of life for these males. They are a society’s visible shadow, the collective unconscious shadow. They are a product of the collective, living out what is consciously suppressed by the upright citizens of the collective. Anything that is repressed will find and outlet, a projection. And the person or group that is the receiver of the project, the scapegoat who carries the sins of the society.
I have finally decided on a format for my new book. It is a continuation of sorts from what I had started with the small booklet that is accessible from my eBooks link to the right. This book will have a minimum of thirty-five photos and will likely be about forty pages in size. As part of the SoFoBoMo project, it must be completed within thirty-one days from the taking of the first photograph to being published as a PDF document. I am confident that I can complete the project within that time frame.
With each photo I intend on placing a suitable poem, likely a Haiku poem. I am undecided as of yet about facing each photo page with a brief commentary about an appropriate Jungian concept. I look forward to ideas from those who read here.
In many ways, this work will become a visual exposé of how I understand my “self” at this point of my personal journey of individuation. Perhaps it is to be a therapeutic work as well, an exercise of active imagination, an exercise that looks at shadow, what lies behind the persona that others see and understand as “me.”
I am curious as to which complexes will present themselves as I wander with the camera and then select the photos for the book. Once the choices are made I will attempt to answer questions that will explain each photo in terms of the four functions, both my dominant functions of intuition and feeling and the inferior functions of thinking and sensation. It is in this way that I hope to shed some light and awareness about my personal shadow. Carl Jung writes in Aion (Collected Works Volume 9ii, “The Shadow”, paragraph 14):
The shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego personality . . . . To become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real.
This is my rationale for invoking the quaternity of typology functions in this process. I wonder what will be coming out of this study which will become my next book?