Archive for November, 2009
While at my brother-in-law’s home at Oyster River on Vancouver Island I got a shot of this little guy, a Dark-Eyed Junco. He was one of a small crowd of birds that was busy at the bird feeder. It reminded me how some people like to hang out over coffee simply because they enjoy being around people, liking proximity and the opportunity to add their voices to the mix even though the content of the conversation is often trivial. This bird was definitely an extrovert.
Unlike the Blue Heron, the Dark-Eyed Junco is focused on the bird feeder. Life for this Junco is centred on the bird feeder. I had hoped to get a better photo, but light conditions were poor as our time on Vancouver Island was marked by dark gray skies and lots of rain. I ended up taking a number of photos through the window. Adding to the difficulty was the busyness of the scene. The Junco was one of three different sets of birds vying for dominance around the bird feeder.
when orientation by the object predominates in such a way that decisions and actions are determined not by subjective views but by objective conditions, we speak of an extraverted attitude. (Jung, CW vol. 6, par. 563)
It is actually a different way of looking at the world, understanding it and navigating through it. I am amazed that the two types manage to co-exist. I wonder if those who operate through objective viewpoints are ever able to understand those who orient themselves to the world via subjective viewpoints?
This is a Great Blue Heron, a common bird in the lower mainland of British Columbia and Vancouver Island. This guy was sitting on the top of a tree near the entrance to Stanley Park in Vancouver as though he was some cynic standing disdainfully aside and above the common throng below. He definitely wasn’t a “people person,” an extrovert. In a way, he reminded me of myself – getting older and more watchful of the world at a somewhat safe distance.
Here I have used the masculine in describing this bird. But, the truth is, this introverted attitude or extraverted attitude is not something that is gender-related in the least. Nor, does this attitude have anything to do with social class or education or age. As C.G. Jung noted:
Such a widespread distribution could hardly have come about if it were merely a question of a conscious and deliberate choice of attitude. In that case, one would surely find one particular attitude in one particular class of people linked together by a common education and background and localized accordingly. But that is not so at all; on the contrary, the types seem to be distributed quite at random. In the same family one child is introverted, the other extraverted. Since the facts show that the attitude-type is a general phenomenon having an apparently random distribution, it cannot be a matter of conscious judgment or conscious intention, but must be due to some unconscious, instinctual cause. (Jung, CW vol. 6, par. 558.)
Thinking on this, I come to realize that I have often erred in being critical of others when it comes to attitude as others have too often erred in finding some deliberate negative intention because of my introverted attitude. I do not deliberately stand outside the crowd. It just happens naturally. It isn’t about intention, it is about avoiding extra anxiety that the crowd induces. It isn’t about a self-perceived superior attitude, it is about space so that I don’t get lost and become invisible even to myself.
I am beginning to see where this look at psychological types using C.G. Jung’s work is taking me. The intention was to re-investigate the topic here with conscious intention; unconsciously, it is again about re-self discovery.
I took this photo on the eastern coast of Vancouver Island in between Courtney and Campbell River at a place called Oyster River. The beach wasn’t your typical beach where tourists would go for some sun in the summertime, rather it was a wild place, a place that lends itself to reflection. I find it interesting in which scenes attract me. I guess that it is more about who I am than about the place itself.
Places in themselves are just that, places. It is us as humans who attribute an affect to these places. And there is no doubt that our personality or typology has a huge influence on how we experience any given place, especially our “attitude types.” I have an introverted attitude as opposed to an extroverted attitude.
The attitude-types … are distinguished by their attitude to the object. The introvert’s attitude is an abstracting one; at bottom, he is always intent on withdrawing libido from the object, as though he had to prevent the object from gaining power over him. The extravert, on the contrary, has a positive relation to the object. He affirms its importance to such an extent that his subjective attitude is constantly related to and oriented by the object. (Jung, CW vol. 6, par. 557.)
I am drawn to this scene as it lets me escape into a safer inner space, or if you want, an outer space that is not bound by stuff in that space. An extrovert would find interest in the content of the photo rather than the mood of the photo. Seeing this, it becomes easier to understand why I have so few people photos posted here. The images have a numinous power for me that lead to something behind, beyond the contents of the images.
I have been away from home for ten days visiting family in British Columbia, Canada. During my absence, I had attempted to schedule some posts which continued the theme of living and thinking in the northern reaches of Saskatchewan, Canada. Also, during that absence, I managed to take a good number of photographs which serve two purposes; one of recording the visits with family and their related activities, and for the purpose of allowing scenes to capture my attention such as this photo of a ferry coming into port at Horseshoe Bay, BC. Most of the days spent in B.C. were filled with rain. However, when it was time for a long walk, the rain let up and I was able to use the camera with no worries of damage to the camera. For the next while, I will be using these photos for the blog posts.
Well, it has been a year since I started this WordPress Blog. I had wondered at the time whether or not this would evolve into something worthwhile or would it soon find itself resting in a dust bin gathering cyber cobwebs like previous attempts. This attempt was a deliberate attempt to change how I would be present, not so much a journal of my comings and goings where I would relate the boring bits of daily like as it would be a place where I could think out loud. I knew that I couldn’t do this without including a photo with each post as photography was much too important in the process I was and continue to live. Over the period of the year, I have somehow managed to write 321 posts. A number of these were scheduled posts which would allow the process to continue while I was away from Internet access, busy with other things. And, somehow, this site has had 10,210 visits not including my checking into the site to check for comments or appearance. Needless to say, this is somewhat surprising as the topic of Jungian psychology is not exactly high on anyone’s agenda.
The process of sitting down to the computer and preparing photos and then reflecting has become a treasured process for me, a way to affirm that I am a writer and not just someone who thinks of being a writer. And so, with this first post that will begin a second year of blogging, I move forward.
This is the last photo in the Northland series, photos from 2005. I took this photo on a weekend, like most of the autumn and early winter photos. Weekdays were filled with work in the school, the band office and the education office. During the week, what little time was left was usually found in darkness as darkness came earlier in the north. In this photo, I managed to catch children at play in the snow even though it was quite cold outside. Being so far north, the snow never got too deep because of the cold temperatures. Yet, in spite of the cold and the weak light, there was still a desire, a spirit for play.
My experience of the northlands in 2005 was more about approaching the soul than it was about being the Education Manager for the reserve. It was as if, the process which was rough and at times brutal, was an illustration to me of the power of alchemy, of the work of transformation. And I emerged transformed. I emerged perhaps more aware of my own soul.
… soul … eludes reductionistic definition; it expresses the mystery of human life; and it connects psychology to religion, love, death, and destiny. It suggests depth … (Thomas Moore, cited in Hillman, Blue Fire, 1989, p. 5)
The first snows of winter on the Dene First Nations reserve of Fond du Lac. It is amazing how the land changes its complete aspect when blanketed by fresh snow in early winter. The land becomes a fantasy land, a fairy land. The reality of cold temperatures can’t compete with the vision which beckons us to enter. The silence becomes deeper and softer in comparison with the silence of the bush that existed in spring, summer and fall; a more muted silence. This is a place of magic, not a place of messy humans. It is a place of promise.
The promise one is given when beginning the journey, the inner journey into darkness, is real. There is magic and mystery that will serve to protect and guide one in search of healing one’s soul. Let the journey begin.
In a moment of stillness, a thin film of ice forms even though the sun’s rays are present. There is beauty in the crystallization of the surface waters. The moment is one of relaxation, one of tranquil acceptance of the coming winter. Yes, there will be cold and ice. But for now, it is time to sit in the sunshine and to drink in what remains of the sun’s warmth.
Life on the reserve was in tune with nature. During moments when the weather stormed, the community was extremely agitated. When moments such as this appeared, the community breathed a sigh of relief and found a way to smile.
The end of autumn in the north often comes in through protest with winds howling and the water protesting the cold that wishes to submit the world into one of frozen silence. Though the temperatures drop below freezing, the wind and water work together to keep at bay the beginnings of ice crystals forming a shroud over the northlands. But, only for so long. This railing against the dark night is for nought, winter will come.
It is interesting how people fight against being shut into themselves. For someone such as myself who finds silence, the lack of crowds and stillness somehow refreshing and energizing, this fight is as present as for those who are more extrovert. Quietness isn’t about being at home in an inner world, it is more about one’s manner of presence and participation in the outer world. The inner world is not a place to become at home. The inner world is a dangerous place filled with all the shadows, ghosts, monsters, gods and demons; its a world also filled with all that we can ever know of perfection, a place so perfect it hurts. And intuitively we fight against the descent, storm against being consumed and changed. Ultimately, we know that we can’t emerge being the same person, something will be lost.
With mirror images such as this scene from a bay of Lake Athabasca, the eye and the mind are often drawn into the fuzzier version of the image, one that because of its fuzziness or numinosity hints at something more. One learns that life is not always what it appears to be on the surface. The concrete realities presented through the senses of sight, touch, taste, feel and hearing often deceive more than they illuminate truths. Perhaps it is because of our experiences of being deceived that we either retreat into money, numbers or words as the ultimate truth; or we begin to search for a fuller truth by looking at the fuzzy edges, one that is more satisfying to the soul.
A plane is coming in for a landing at the small airport just outside of the Fond du Lac reserve community. There are no roads that are maintained allowing the outside world to penetrate too deeply into this northern settlement. At times during the year, a trail can be navigated by those unconcerned about the torture on their vehicle, a journey of hundreds of kilometres through an empty landscape, empty of human presence. And, during the summer, boats serve as the predominate form of transportation between communities along the stretch of the lake and river. This place exists in relative isolation and because of that, has a measure of insulation from the larger southern society.
Images such as this one seem to work a magic within me. Whether I have taken a photo of such a scene or simply allowed a scene to be witnessed, the images are powerful as they work often unspoken within my psyche. James Hillman, a post-Jungian speaks and works from his understandings of Jungian psychology, from a viewpoint he calls Archetypal Psychology. As withing Jungian psychology, Archetypal psychology understands images as psyche (“image is psyche” – Jung, CW 13). Hillman states:
… the soul is constituted of images, that the soul is primarily an imagining activity … (Hillman, Archetypal Psychology,1983, p. 6)
With this in mind, the photos I take have ceased being a recording of time, people, place or event; the photos are more than factual pieces of evidence that indicate my presence on the opposite side of the camera lens; the photos are also about imagining, about connecting with a larger, archetypal world, an alchemical inner world. In discovering these scenes, I continue the journey of self discovery in relation to the larger whole.