Archive for the ‘collective shadow’ tag
This is a detail from one of the buildings found in the Imperial Palace of Hué, Vietnam, an imitation palace of Beijing’s Forbidden City. I have to say that the idea of a “Forbidden City” is one that is very intriguing and very apt when one thinks of the “self.” The forbidden city in Hué is much smaller than the one in Beijing. I am fortunate to have been able to wander through both of these palace grounds. Needless to say I was not able to see everything in either place with many areas marked as off limits to the public. The doors were locked tight and the windows were boarded up with decorative shutters keeping the contents “in the dark.” One begins to wonder if the idea is to keep outsiders away or to “contain” the shadows within the darkened buildings and rooms.
Hiding places within, places where we keep our secrets. And being human, over time we almost forget the secrets are there and forget how to unlock the barricaded spaces. It comes as a rude shock to ourselves and those around us when somehow the contents long barricaded away in the shadows find a way to ooze out, usually at the most inopportune time where it causes us no end of grief, embarrassment and shame. We get to see a lot of this now because of the social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and My Space. Twitter has “exposed” shadow stuff twice in the past few weeks, once in terms of Canadian politicians and the second time by an American politician. Once exposed, the contents are quickly withdrawn and hidden away but the damage has been done.
It is somewhat easy to understand how our “stuff” leaks out to mess up our best intentions and our well-laid plans; but, it is not so easy to understand that the “forbidden city” within not only contains our personal repressed contents, but is also home to the collective shadow. Again the political world serves as a good example. Major political parties are based on ideologies and polar versions of what the world is supposed to be like. Imagine each political party as an extravagant structure such as the building in the photo above. It looks attractive and as though it has substance. Yet when one waits long enough there is stuff that oozes out to alert one to the real nature of the political beast that has claimed this palace as its home. In listening to the individual voices that adhere to the political party we get to see that collective shadow.
As a wandered through new countries and cultures in search of my “self” I am learning that there are a lot of secret places to discover within my own psyche, in my personal forbidden city.
Some of my paintings aren’t taken from my dreams such as this one above. This one is what emerged when I allowed my conscious mind to let go of control in order to see what would appear. Active imagination is an important way to access the unconscious contents. Here, the same scene is viewed from two moods, one is content, the other is depressed. The image tells me that at any given time, the same world exists in different dimensions. For my purposes, one highlights the masculine aspect of sun and the other highlights the feminine aspect of moon.
This is important stuff for me. Not only does it talk about the polarities within my “self,” it also talks to me about typology and how opposites both attract and repel in terms of relationships. The mystery of the “other” always remains a mystery and therefore allows attraction to survive in the long term – this is what the inner self wants and needs. Yet, the frustration also remains and gets in the way of the wants and needs of the outer self. I want quite, you want voices. I need voices, you need quiet. One is both satisfied and frustrated at the same time.
This polarity of a fractal world is externalised in community and in the broader outer world. What the world needs and what the world wants are often at odds. Sadly, it falls to the lowest common denominator where consciousness, itself needs to negotiate to the lowest common level of understanding. That leaves the collective shadow, the collective unconsciousness a large sphere of influence. This is when bad things happen collectively. We see it today in the news, we have seen it in the past when one man’s personal shadow is fed by the collective shadow which in turn raised the level of acted out shadow by the collective. If you don’t believe that a fractal world exists, look at the polarities in the newspapers, look at your community, look at your relationships – finally, look within.
The whole is made up of all the parts. There are no parts to be cast off. We are both shadow and light, god and devil.
Just an update to today’s post. It is time to now give out treats so I want to wish all a Happy Halloween, or a hallowed eve for All Saint’s Day. Either way, it is a time for the archetypes and shadow figures to come out and play.
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.