Archive for the ‘China Dinosaur Park’ tag
Looking through the photos taken last week for a photo to go with today’s post, this photo jumped out at me. I took this photo for my grandsons who had come to visit last time I taught in Changzhou. This is a scene from China Dinosaur Park, a new section added to the park since their visit. The scene makes me think of what “Hell” might look like.
There is no doubt in my mind that as doubt comes, the loss of certainty opens up a path to the repressed unconscious, and to depression. It is about loss, at least it was for me. I lost the certainty of structured religion. With the turmoil of being a youth at the time, the loss left me in a dark place. Of course, there were other factors as one would expect. The things in one’s life are interrelated.
“When and if faith as fanaticism is overcome, the results are not always unqualifiedly beneficial. Patterns of depression and emptiness can follow the loss of whatever solace was previously offered by the so-called faith – though paradoxically the depression may be accompanied by rage at the sacrifices made to the dubious God of such faith and his strident moral demands, now felt to be hostile to fuller expressions of human life and spirit.” (Dourley, The Illness That We Are, p.18)
When one puts one’s trust in a religion and then begins to become a more conscious being as he or she works hard to honour the symbols and promise of the religion, and in the process becomes aware of the darkness of that religion which translates to being betrayed, anger is a natural response. But the anger demands action for resolution.
“Victims of “sacrosanct unintelligibility” are thus often faced with “no-win” options. They can grit their teeth and cling fanatically to a burden of “revealed truth” which finds no experiential resonance in themselves. This splits them between the demands of their faith and the demands of their humanity and potential maturity. Or they are driven, often by inner demands for a fuller and more balanced life, into patterns of denial. In the language of their own impoverished theological options such denial is described as “atheism.” Not infrequently this carries with it a lingering guilt for having abandoned what may have been, after all, the one true revelation – all the truer precisely because of its unintelligibility.” (Dourley, The Illness That We Are, p.18)
It is as though one is damned of one does and double-damned if one doesn’t stick with one’s religion. Either way, one is effectively trapped in a hell.
As I was wandering through China Dinosaur Park here in Changzhou on Halloween, I saw these three gigantic figures carved into the side of a desert hillside (all artificial of course), a scene which evoked the world of the gods and goddesses of Egyptian history. My first impression was that these were all representations of “Set,” the God of Chaos (also known as Seth and Setan -> Satan?). Symbolism, symbols – it is all about the need for symbols in our life for meaning to emerge. Without symbols to point towards something “more,” we are left in chaos.
Maybe the need for symbols is what has driven me in my pursuit of images with my collection of cameras. I would like to say that I am a photographer, but I am not. I simply use the camera and have no interest or energy to “study” the art of photography as an art. I just want to use the camera to capture images that appear to me as symbols. Otherwise, the camera is just a recording tool that documents places visited and the life of my family. Symbols, images and the numinous allow me to trace a thin path through chaos into a sense of meaningfulness.
“To Jung the loss of the symbolic sense was a catastrophe for both individual and society. It meant that the healing and religious disciplines of his time, themselves cut off from their own deepest resources, blocked their practitioners and devotees from them also. The consequences appeared, on an individual level, in the widespread occurrence and experience of meaninglessness, depression and neurosis, and socially in the outbreak of new epidemics of faith (often in political form) as the unconscious offered demonic configurations of mass-mindedness to fill the gaps left by the demise of the traditional religions.” (Dourley, The Illness That We Are, pp 15-16)
I see what Jung saw in my own backyard. Quiet Saskatchewan is now a hotbed of black and white fundamentalism, new versions of something that is supposed to be Christianity are appearing at the same time as others are retreating to rules and forms of religion of the past. All proclaim their “truths” that have been pared to a plain and stark set of words, a belief system that lacks the numinous. Religions are angry and seeking economic and political power, especially the new iterations of old religions. Under the appearance of strident purpose, chaos is rampant.
I see and hear this and I know that the only way through this is an individual path. As much as I would like to lead or follow a surge of others who would heal the human soul and the collective spirit, I know that all I can do is to find meaning as a unit of one. And in doing so, I must carefully watch out of the side of my eye for Set and his threat of chaos.
I don’t know if this photo connects with the current theme, but for me, it begged to be included. I took the photo at China Dinosaur Park. Though the dinosaurs are all “constructed” and the scene is “staged,” the sense of a time before man, before consciousness. And, I wanted to include the photo simply because I like it for all of its artificialness. After all, even our churches are only artificial representations of what we experience within our human psyche.
Another look at the image changes my mind and I see something arising out of the primordial earth, a trinity of hooks which appear ready to snag and hold fast the unwary, like some trap set by an ancient human race.
“The problem sketched here is particularly acute among the world’s currently reigning monotheisms: Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Here three distinct and transcendent Gods with three distinct revelations – each with absolute claims to universal implementation as the condition of humanity’s salvation, and with immense numbers of devotees – face each other in a shrinking globe with obviously increasing enmity. Though this enmity may be less evident (though not always) in their sacred texts and interpretive theologies, the loss of life attendant upon these faiths, reported almost daily in the media, should make this enmity impossible to be concealed any longer, even from the eyes of faith.” (Dourley, The Illness That We Are, p. 11)
For myself, the draw to any of these “faiths” has been ruptured beyond repair. At this point in my thinking and my life, I don’t have the same hope as Dourley has in terms of Christianity, or any religion, coming to grips with this harsh truth and making the necessary changes to transcend its “present configuration” in order to become a more inclusive assembly of humanity.
Our illness is manifested in our unwillingness to take individual responsibility for our own souls, for our relationship with others. Our illness is pathological in that we make our collective responsible for our individual well-being and in making the “other” collectives holders of all the evil that we refuse to see in ourselves.
I went to China Dinosaur Park last night. Here in China, Halloween is becoming a modern festival that has absolutely nothing to do with the roots of the festival as in its origins – almost the same as in North America. While in the park, I got this photo which at first was destined for the discard basket. However, something stayed my hand from “clicking” on the mouse to delete the photo. Somehow, this image felt closer to the roots of Halloween or Samhain than any photo I have yet taken. in the foreground just left of centre is a young Chinese girl who has the name, Angel. In the centre background is a tunnel-like structure from which she had just emerged and which two others are still passing through.
These are details from the real world, real time which I thought I was photographing. But somehow I tapped into a different place and time. And this other place and time is what Samhain is all about - the end of the “lighter half” of the year and beginning of the “darker half.“