Archive for the ‘Eugene Monick’ tag
This is a scene that met my eye two days ago, when I looked out of the apartment window. There is beauty in some of the most unlikely spaces and places. One just has to be open to seeing/feeling/meeting beauty in its various disguises and faces. On the right side is a new building going up that dwarfs all the other buildings in the area including the impressive twin towers of city hall in this Chinese city of four and a half million people. On the lower levels of this new building, the outer walls are of glass. From a distance there is little doubt that this masculine symbol is a testament to our need to create works that seem to magnify the spirit of humankind. It takes a lot of planning to pull off this kind of monument to our collective ego. One needs to begin below the surface, preparing the soil before the first piling is poured. One just can’t start somewhere halfway up the building and expect anything to hold together. If the building is to be sound and safe, all aspects must be given due attention.
The human psyche requires as much care as does the erection of a building. One needs to ensure that all aspects are given the needed attention or else the psyche will suffer all manner of dysfunction. Dysfunction is about getting stuck.
“A man is psychologically an adolescent until his libido moves beyond the simple concreteness of its pubertal focus into accomplishment and individuation.” (Monick, Castration and Male Rage, p. 29)
Getting stuck in a stage is problematic as it interferes with developing healthy relationships with others. The relationships that occur while stuck in a stage such as the adolescent stage, have the dysfunction getting in the way of relationship with psychological balance and depth. The partner in such relationships is hidden behind unconscious projections which beg the owner of the projections to deal with unfinished business. Of course, since this is buried in the unconscious, the owner of the projections becomes a victim of his unconscious projections as much as the person with whom he has partnered in a relationship.
“An adolescent young man moves out and away from his family, but he may also move dangerously more closely in.”
The mama’s boy is an example, the man who somehow doesn’t make the break, doesn’t find other women who initially are mother surrogates with whom he can deal with his oedipal energy in safe ways, to deal with his sexual curiosity. There is a wide range of responses and attachments to mother as boy moves towards man. Dysfunction only sets into place when the boy gets stuck and spins his wheels, stuck in a mother complex or a father complex in which he repeats the same patterns over and over again in spite of not getting satisfaction or a sense of accomplishment.
“The onset of puberty sets a male on course for thirty years. He seeks sexual partners who provide him with self-knowledge and self-expression.” (p. 30)
This image taken last January while I was touring through Vietnam is a good analogy of entering into the depths of the unconscious, into the realm of the soul and darkness in search of treasures. As I make the journey through my personal past in hopes of understanding my present way of being, there is a fair amount of pain that rises up. This is actually something that is good as that pain is about release, the easing of long held in and denied emotions, fears and memories.
And in typical fashion, I received a few words that seemed to meet the needs of the moment; and again, these words are from Daily Om:
“Both emotional and physical pain are messages that we need to stop and pay attention.”
So what is it that demands one’s attention, that demands my attention? As I try to answer this question, I look at the context from which the pain and this message appears to arise. The context I noted was the work of this blog, in particular the issue of masculine transformation as discussed in Eugene Monick’s book.
A child’s dependence upon mother influences how an infant boy learns to identify himself and with what value.
“personal value begins as an inner, psychological reality for the child. This is the initial gestalt of self – or non-self, when negative mirroring predominates – upon which all subsequent experiences are built. Thus, through the interpersonal connections with the mother, the first knowledge of individual existence and suggestions of gender identity coincide.” (pp 26-27)
Of course, from the standpoint of adult consciousness, all this is buried deep underground. One needs to approach the dark opening as it presents itself with the right intention before entering if one is to re-discover any fragile threads that provide a sense of roots. Once in the darkness one is blind and can only feel/sense/intuit the flows of affect and energy. Stirring the contents in the depths of the unconscious one retreats back into the outer world to wait.
When the unconscious has been intentionally disturbed, there is typically a flow of images and affect that emerge through dreams and emotions. It becomes the task of the ego self to note that which presents itself and allow the ripples to begin fitting into the known stories of self allowing identity to become better understood.
Gender identity – how do we understand our real gender identity? We can easily (most of the time) figure out whether we are heterosexual or homosexual in orientation, but we struggle with understanding all the crossed signals, all of triggers that mess up our sexual identity. As men, we often go overboard when trying to prove our masculinity, or we use our gender to assert a sense of power, or we use our partners’ to fill in needs of which we aren’t even aware, needs that come out of our initial experience of self in relation to mother.
And so, the journey of self-discovery as a man must continue.
I took this photo in a cave on one of the islands in HaLong Bay, Vietnam. It is quite graphic and needs no interpretation on my part in terms of what it represents. It was likely the most photographed natural stone formation in the huge cavern that meandered through much of the mountain. Most stopped at this point in the large circle that wandered through various chambers and openings for a longer period of time than at all the other structures that were a photographer’s dream. The fascination was there. Many left the path in order to get the image from different angles. I noticed that women were also among those who stopped for a moment, especially if they carried a camera. As I looked over the gathered crowd taking photographs of the structure, I noticed that it wasn’t just the young adults who were present; also gathered and studying the structure were those who were well into midlife in not into old age. It made me wonder about the fascination with phallos, phallus, the phallic.
The title of today’s post is a variation of Eugene Monick’s book, Phallos: Sacred Image of the Masculine. My copy of this book is sitting on my bookshelf back in Canada, so I am borrowing from Google Books for today’s post. I bought this book a number of years ago, read it and then set it aside. For a while, I thought it might be just a “male” thing, this attention to the human penis. I thought that my interest in the image and the reality of the penis might be somehow an aberration, a signal that I have sex too much on my brain. But then I thought of the images of little boys “playing,” or should I say “discovering” their penis. It is there right in front of our eyes and somehow draws our attention to it over the years. Males are often both proud and ashamed of their penis. We hide the penis and pretend it doesn’t exist; yet at the same time we proudly want to flaunt it, especially for the female that has captured our attention.
This phallic structure was carved out of nature, by nature. The play of light on the structure is all of man’s work. Of course one would have to say that the forces of nature were not intentional in having this structure be phallic in appearance; it is simply an outcropping of stone that has formed over the years. The lights as seen in this image are intentional. But what was the intention? Was it a way to capitalize on the sexual curiousity of humans, a bit of sexual exploitation that would help keep the money rolling in from tourists? Or is there more to it than that? I can’t even begin to guess on the motivation or the intention, but I can see the results and the symbolism that emerges. In my opinion, there is more being said here of unconsciousness guiding consciousness. Religion, art in all forms, and relationships – all respond to phallos, either embracing or rejecting the masculine principle that it symbolizes.
Yet, though we find a way to celebrate phallos collectively in our advertising, in our buildings, in our art; there is a rejection of the physicalness of phallos. Who dares expose their penis in the modern world. Making the presence of the penis obvious via clothing choices is more symbolic of perversion in the public mind than symbolic of energy, virility and the masculine. So we hide the penis behind layers of cloth, the baggier the clothing, the better. And in the process, men become guilty and that guilt is passed down to the young men, the adolescents who become more and more confused about what it is to be a male.
So, am I a pervert, a dirty old man for finding this image and posting it here? Would it not be better to find a more neutral image? Is this simply the fretting of getting older and the fear of losing the energy and vitality of being a “man?”
As I took this photo, I didn’t know what the impulse was, I just knew that I took it for presentation here. So dutifully, I prepared the photo by cropping it and centering the wildflower. And then, I have let the photo sit on my “desktop” ever since quietly in the background while using the other photos you have been seeing here. After a dream during the night which had nothing to do with the photo (or so I thought), when I sat down to keyboard and began to check my e-mail and do a bit of browsing such as a weather forecast check, I felt another headache fill my head. Refusing to reach for a pill, I opened up the blog site and clicked on “new post” and then selected this photo without any inner debate. Today, it chose to presented. Some things are too mysterious for me to wrap my head around and try to figure out. I just accept the mystery and go on from there.
The same thing happened in terms of what text, if any, would I use with this wildflower on a prairie river bank. For some reason, I bypassed most of my usual books of interest and picked up a book I had barely started reading many months ago, a book by Eugene Monick called Potency: Masculine Aggresion as a Path to the Soul.
Potency, that makes sense. The flower is definitely a potent source of new life. And its shape,? As a representation of phallus, it does suggest a heightened potency. At the beginning of chapter one, Monick has a series of quotes which I want to present here before going much further. The actual source (book. page) of each of these quotes is not known, nor do I have the “head” today to go in search of them.
“The most beautiful emotion we can experience is the mystical. It is the power of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead.” - Albert Einstein
And the second quote:
“I think we can say that in and of itself an act of knowledge could never give access to the truth unless it was prepared, accompanied, doubled and completed by a certain transformation of the subject; not of the individual, but of the subject himself in his being as subject.” - Michel Foucault
Now, allowing for the mystical, allowing for the energy and mystery that showed up in my dream, I sense the mystery of the masculine potential, and curiously the feminine energy which pulls the masculine. It is all about “potency.” One talks of a man as being potent in more than in a sexual manner. A man is potent in being able to make things happen, as a man charges first to a finish line, as a man stands tall as hero against all manner of bad guys and monsters. And it is this potency that needs to be drawn upon by a man as he dares to approach the feminine. This potency does not require violence on the feminine, rather, it requires due respect and awe of the “other” which is forever cloaked in mystery as the source and womb of life.
I am reminded of how in how the awe of coniunctio I am both filled and emptied – a paradox and a mystery – and how I feel I have connected with my soul.
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.
As you can probably tell, I have started reading another book. This time, it is by Eugene Monick, author of Phallos: Sacred Image of the Masculine. In the photo above which I took in January, 2008 near the city of Dungarpur, a boy is getting ready to fill his little container with water. A closer look will reveal that the water pump and the base are in the form of a Shiva Linga, the basic representation of Phallos in the Hindu religion. The pump represents linga, an erect penis, from which flows the seed of creation. The base represents the yoni, the womb into which the seed is poured to complete the act of creation.
The top photo implies this god image finds concrete expression in the outer world. Jung defined the psychoid unconscious as existing in both archetypal and physical dimensions, where an aspect of the archetype manifests in the outer world. Eugene Monick has a series of three books published at Inner City Books, which looks at the issues facing men, issues which centre around their masculinity in a world that is becoming less and less friendly to the masculine psyche.
I will come back to this theme later as I read what Monick has to say on a topic which found little space in the Collected Works of Carl Jung.