Archive for the ‘Aldo Carotenuto’ tag
“Every relationship has its particular dignity. There is no such thing as an unworthy love or one to be ashamed of, because each experience corresponds to a profound individual need. And if and when it ends there is nothing to regret, because at that particular time the loved one filled our emptiness, no matter what happened next.” [Carotenuto, Eros and Pathos, p. 33]
These are powerful words, words that heal where often we use words that attack the self or other due to feelings of present discord within a relationship. There is no such thing as unworthy love. What we have a hard time understanding that love doesn’t owe us anything other than the experience. We need to learn to accept the gift of love whether it is for a short time or for decades. And, when that gift of love has disappeared into some other place leaving us alone with ourselves in spite of the presence or non-presence of the one with whom we shared love, we need to say thank you for that time of love rather than engage in interpersonal warfare.
As I walked the beach earlier today, I looked at the people along the way. Most were couples; most of those couples were men and women. It was easy to spot those who were in love and those who were in hate. The rest in the middle ground were for the most part, more into themselves than their partners, but not oblivious of their presence. Most of these others were obviously couples well used to each other’s presence.
I have to admit that both my wife and I are still filling our empty spaces with each other. In spite of more than forty years together, the well hasn’t run dry and there is no taking each other for granted. Not unlike young lovers caught in the throes of Eros, of Cupid’s arrows, we need to see each other and be close enough for touch when the need for contact presents itself. In absence of each other’s presence, we are left holding onto something empty.
And when the need for the Other is no longer necessary, when the holes are filled by whatever love was needed and offered? What then?
As I sat and thought about today’s post I realised that I wasn’t really talking about men or women, I was talking about love - Romantic Love. It is the relationship that is magical. Robert A. Johnson has clearly defined this in the introduction of his book, WE:
“Romantic love is the single greatest energy system in the Western psyche. In our culture it has supplanted religion as the arena in which men and women seek meaning, transcendence, wholeness, and ecstasy. . . . Romantic love is not just a form of “love,” it is a whole psychological package – a combination of beliefs, ideals, attitudes, and expectations.” (p. xi)
For the most part, this is what I believed, after all, like almost everyone else, I fell in love and that became my life, the centre of my life, my foundation.
“When we fall “in love” we believe we have found the ultimate meaning of life, revealed in the form of another human being. We feel we are finally completed, that we have found the missing parts of ourselves. Life suddenly seems to have a wholeness . . . ” (p. xii)
It was amazing for me. I had met a young woman only one year younger than myself who was beautiful and had that magical quality that gripped me, possessed me. By some grace of the gods and goddesses, I became a magical other for this young woman. Three hours after we met I proposed to her and she accepted. The emptiness and meaningless of life disappeared, was sent to some far corner of the universe and bound up with chains and locks, tucked into a dark closet from which escape seemed impossible. There was no questioning of what had just happened. We believed and that was all that mattered. Then life happened.
I fell in love with her and she fell in love with me. Two strangers from different cultures, even different parts of the country, were held captive by the magic of Eros, that god who represents desire, that yearning for someone that evokes life energy. Two strangers met and joined. We thought we knew each other; not the surface knowing, but a deeper knowledge. ”When we abandon ourselves to the power of Eros, all previous points of reference are impaired or swept away.” Aldo Carotenuto tells it like it was for both of us in his book, Eros and Pathos. For both of us, all our guards and protections had fallen away leaving us stunned with the power of Eros that coursed through our veins.
And so began, for both of us, the journey of a man and a woman who had discovered in the eyes of the other, a magical other.
Well, the Eden Project seminar series is now done and it is time for me to find another focus for my Jungian interests. One of the big “take aways” from working with a Jungian analyst as seminar leader and eleven others (four women and eight men as seminar participants), was the realisation that we did more than study a book, we also built relationships based on shared interests and passions. Living in a new city with a population of 1,000,000 it isn’t easy getting to know people let alone people who have a curiosity about Jungian psychology. As a special “extra” for me was the discovery that one of the participants belongs to the same “sangha” that I have recently joined and that at least three others have a strong interest in meditation and Buddhism. This adds a lot of extra energy to the dialogues in which we engaged during, between and after seminar sessions.
Now, I have opened up a book that has sat for a long time on my bookshelves waiting for an opportunity to gift me with more thoughts to chew on. The books is The Vertical Labyrinth, by Aldo Carotenuto, a Jungian analyst who lived and worked in Italy. I have read his book Eros and Pathos quite a number of years ago and have hopes that there is much in the book that will enrich me, nourish me so to speak. And, as expected, the opening pages let me know that I hadn’t made a mistake in choosing this book at this time.
Carotenuto begins with looking at an artist and as he speaks about the artist, I heard echoes of myself and what has been my experience too many times over the past decades. Listen:
“Fame pursued this man, but strangely enough this success was completely separate from the feeling he had about himself. For some time he had been troubled by the suspicion that he was dissembling, that he was not, so to speak, up to the situation. . . . the only way to deal with this distressing feeling was complete inactivity. He would have, of course, liked to go on painting, but the block was total: a sad farewell to creativity, a wish for death, the tragic and painful confrontation with his own failure.” (Carotenuto, p. 7)
It is strange how many, including myself, can be seen by others to be very successful, appearing to have life exactly where we want it but beneath the veneer of success is a mantra that denies this success as a sham, a magician’s trick of using smoke and mirrors to disguise the “truth” as we know it, that we are about as unworthy as it is possible to be. When the weight of this self-defined truth gets so loud that we can’t block it out, we crash and freeze. Feeling disappears and we are only left with the voices in the head that come from some dark, inner black-hole. It is a problem of ego, an ego that has lost touch with the foundational inner spirit. It is about loss of soul (or perhaps better expressed – denial of soul) and a loss of relationship to the inner self which is the source of a meaningful life. Carotenuto goes on to say:
“This is a sufficiently common experience that can strike anyone, man or woman, particularly at certain fundamental moments of existence. Perhaps it could also be called fear, but a special kind of fear, without well-defined outlines and endowed with almost mysterious characteristics, paralyzing in part and in part propelling. It is a fear that has to do with the world and with our own being in the face of it. But the world is infinite and gives us no response.” (ibid)
And this takes me right back to the Eden Project and how our desperate search for Magical Other which shifts from parent, to spouse, to work, to authority, to religion and to leaders who have all the answers can never give us what we so desperately search. By projecting to an Other, out these somewhere, we only find a response of silence for that Other who has the answers is found within our psyche. We can express it in art, in music, in dance, in work, in prayer, in so many countless ways – but, can only connect with it within our psyche. Waiting for the world to respond leaves us desperate and abandoned in the returning silence which only tells us that we haven’t been heard or that we are undeserving of being heard or that we are a figment of our own imagination. And, in response to the deafening silence we crash.
We crash and that could be the best thing that has ever happened to us. As Carotenuto has said, “paralyzing in part and in part propelling.” Propelling us to act. The old expression comes to life, “when you find yourself at the bottom, the only way left is to go up.” We are forced to either give up and call it quits, or to begin to fight back to win our soul and our meaning for existence.
I enjoy watching the sunlight dance on top of water as if it is caressing a beautiful woman that constantly changes while giving the appearance of staying the same. The light of the sun fights its way through the branches of trees that border this particular small river. It is a wild scene, raw with its untamed nature.
“When we abandon ourselves to the power of Eros, all previous points of reference are impaired or swept away. Love makes lone wolves of us because we are less in tune with others and less able to communicate our experience. The only possible language is that of art or poetry. Its mysterious alchemical powers enable us to express what would otherwise remain forever hidden.” (Aldo Carotenuto, Eros and Pathos: Shades of Love and Suffering, p. 17)
I know I have often remarked here, that water represents the unconscious and that light represents consciousness. Consciousness cannot exist without unconsciousness as though the unconscious gives birth to consciousness which in fact it does. In search of consciousness, we look outside of ourselves for answers. And, in order to oblige us, the unconscious that is buried within is projected onto others, onto the world as a whole. What our unconscious projects, we see and recognise as a significant “other.” We fall in love with the person holding the projection, a person who in turn is often ripe because of their own psyche which acts as a hook for our projections. And so begins a wild ride fueled by Eros.
Okay, thanks to my readers and their interest in various post-Jungian authors from whom I have been drawing various quotes, I am taking the time to list some of my sources. As you can tell, the photo is a peek at a two shelves which contain most of my collection of Inner City Books, a series of books written by Jungian analysts that is published in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Daryl Sharp is the editor of the series as well as being one of the major contributing authors. Needless to say, I have most of the books in the series.
Two important books in the series by Daryl are:
- Jung Lexicon, and
- Digesting Jung
Daryl’s other books that I found especially interesting were:
- Personality Types
- Getting To Know You
- The Secret Raven
- Living Jung
- Jungian Psychology Unplugged
- The Survival Papers
- Dear Gladys, and
- Chicken Little
James Hollis is another contributor to the series with:
- Swamplands of the Soul
- The Middle Passage
- Under Saturn’s Shadow
- On This Journey We Call Our Life
- The Eden Project
- Creating a Life
- Tracking the Gods, and
And now, some of the remaining books in the Inner City Books series:
- Archetypes and Strange Attractors by John R. Van Eenwyk
- The Analytic Encounter by Mario Jacoby
- Eros and Pathos by Aldo Carotenuto (and others)
- The Dream Story by Donald Broadribb
- Circle of Care by Warren Steinberg
- The Jungian Experience by James A. Hall
- Jungian Dream Interpretation by James A. Hall
- Phallos by Eugene Monick (he has two other books in the series)
- The Mystery of the Coniunctio by Edward F. Edinger (and others)
- On Divination and Synchronicity by Marie-Louise von Franz (and others)
- Liberating the Heart by Lawrence W. Jaffe (and others)
- The Psyche as Sacrament by John P. Dourley (and others)
I will stop with this listing as otherwise this blog post would become too long for one post.