As you can tell, I took some liberties with the photo I took at WuZhen. Using Photoshop, I went in search of what I was seeing in this scene, a mood and perhaps even place that existed as a layer under the scene caught by the camera. It is as though there was an alter universe peeking out at the edges of “reality.”
So what did I see in place of a few tourists on a canal boat in a tourist area celebrating a Mythical China? I saw colour, a coolness that hinted at an approaching darkness touched with sadness, a sense of almost being lost. I looked at the scene before the shutter clicked capturing an image and saw the faces on the boat, faces which evoked a sense of souls being transported across the river Styx en route to Hades, a realm of darkness, chaos and possession and annihilation. Three faces in this photo, the woman sitting in the open doorway with a look of resignation, another face framed in the window staring at me giving the impression of a ghost, and the face of the boatman carrying a determined look – there is no evidence of joy.
Gratia tua illis succurrente
Mereantur evadere judicium
Fac eas de morte transire ad vitam
Et in memoria aeterna erit
Lord, have mercy
By the help of Thy grace
May they be enabled to escape the judgement
Grant them to pass over from death to life
And they shall live in memory everlasting.
Tantus labor non sit cassus
Ne me perdas
(Such travail must not be in vain
Do not let me be lost)
Cor Contritum quasi cinis
Quem patronum rogarturus?
ne me perdas
(My heart is as though ground to ashes
To which protector shall I appeal?
Do not let me be lost)
I found this song by accident while looking for an article referencing the River Styx and immediately saw how it fit here. I was prepared for the accompanying music to be Gregorian in mood and sound and was rudely jolted by a harder sound, one that evoked K.I.S.S. (Knights In Satan’s Service). The words to the song, the image, the music – all pointed me towards something beyond me, beyond what I expected in terms of my personal shadow. I guess that this isn’t surprising when each day I hear more and more of what appears to be the collective unconscious let loose in the outer world. And in watching and listening, I sense my own powerlessness in relation to this collective unconscious.
“Whereas the contents of the personal unconscious are acquired during the individual’s lifetime, the contents of the collective unconscious are invariably archetypes that were present from the beginning.” (Jung, CW 9ii, par. 13)
And so, like the woman in the boat, I wonder where we are headed as a collective. All I can do, is search my own soul and deal with my own personal moral challenges knowing that I am on this boat that will take me to another way of being hoping that I don’t get lost on the way.