Archive for the ‘images’ tag
Images. Dream images, photo images, art images, nature images, nightmare images – messages from the unconscious as much as they purport to be snippets of conscious reality in one form or another. Images are numinous.
This photo was taken at Angkor Wat. As I walked across the bridge crossing the moat leading into the main grounds of Angkor Wat, I noticed the typical gate keepers, a buddha-like image backed by a cobra-like structure with five heads or naga. Because these gate-keeper structures were quite damaged, I wasn’t too interested in capturing a lot of photos of them. However, in passing them, I saw this image carved on the back of one of them. This image captured my interest and triggered an unthinking part of me that I’ve come to respect. I allow that unthinking part of me to guide the camera and the taking of photos. The “Why this photo?” question follows much later when I empty the memory card and review the photos to cull those that have no resonance of some form for me.
“Imaginology is the study of theimagination, and imaginologists are students of the imagination. Other psychologists study drives, the ego,objects, or the self. Jungian psychologists study images. The emphasis on the imagination is what is unique about Jungian psychology . . .” (Michael Vannoy Adams, Imaginology: The Jungian Study of the Imagination, July, 2006)
It is no wonder that I resonate with so much of Jungian psychology. Images are vital to how I interact with the world. The images aren’t only those found in my photos, they are also found in music, in my words, in my dreams, and in the appearance that I present of my self to the world; images are also found in the way I speak to others. In a way, this makes for some difficulty for others in trying to connect with me. Most want it short, straight and simple – basic common language with basic common sharing of information. For whatever reason, this doesn’t work well for me and I end up a quiet bystander when others around me are chatting and connecting. It is work for others to cope with my way of communicating, with the content of what I want to say, to share. My words are used to point towards an idea that often refuses to sit still long enough to be contained in a simple and straight forward manner for others.
Jungian psychology opens a door for me, a pathway that connects me with others who share a similar understanding so that I can speak with images and with metaphors with some hope of being understood. But even then, it is work to dig beneath the images of photos and words to hear what I am saying, what others are saying in response. One of the issues that I have, one that makes it harder for others to follow me, is the power that images have in terms of capturing my attention. It is difficult for me to “stick” with a theme such as the current theme of the masculine. Others write it off as ADD rather than as my nature, my way of being in the world, my way of being in relationship. With Jungian psychology’s orientation around images, I can see myself as a whole being rather than as a dysfunctional being best understood in terms of the DSM-IV.
I want to thank one of my readers for sending me the Adams article, a paper presented at the “Psyche and Imagination” conference of the International Association for Jungian Studies as a “pdf” file which you can read here. Thank you, John (a pseudonym as per his request). I want to visit this paper again, and soon, here at Through a Jungian Lens.
There is no doubt that the four weeks I have spent in IndoChina has been one of that has been a period that has flooded me with images, many of them striking deep within my psyche. The images that have struck the deepest continue to work on my psyche as though it is in a forge being tempered as part of some alchemical experiment of one. One of my readers, Ariaga, has mentioned that she has noted a change in the way I write, perhaps in what I write. I don’t know if this is true or not, but I suspect that she is correct as I think all who dare to allow the world to engage with the self would change in spite of one’s intention to hold fast to the old self.
I notice that I have basically put my camera away for the past few days while in Nha Trang. Walking to the beach and along the edge of the ocean is decompression time for me, a time out so-to-speak. Later today I will be back in Ho Chi Minh with my camera for one last immersion experience before flying off to China on Friday. It will be interesting for me to see how the week following my return to Changzhou will be reflected in my posts here. I know that I will continue to use the photos from IndoChina here for some time. I have a few books I want to look back into on my return and see where the photos and the words combine allowing me to better understand what my intuition and the camera have given to me as gifts. And of course, this will be shared with you
This is the scene I was greeted with as the car pulled into Chhong Kneas where I was to board the fast boat to Phnom Penh. The image of the rising sun was a welcome one and I wasted little time in taking too many photos, something that seems to be a growing problem. Since I began this journey through IndoChina three weeks ago, I have taken more than 9,000 photos. I have created a nightmare task for myself in trying to reduce the images to those that are “keepers.” The biggest problem is that I don’t yet know what to use as criteria to make the decision. I guess the best bet is to leave most of the images in the archives until “time” has worked within me as a sort of distillation process so that I can “see” more clearly. That said, this image has no worries about surviving the cut.
I can see why people in other cultures and even my own culture have found the sun to be so compelling. In the past few days leading up to the taking of this photo I had bee having vivid dreams that allowed very little rest. As I mentioned earlier, the bombardment of images on my psyche has left me exhausted and almost adrift. Since taking this image, I seem to have calmed down within so that last night I was finally able to sleep and wake up rested. It is as though, like the sun, I have ascended out of the underworld, a place of sensory and psychic overload, in order to find a bit more clarity in my life.
On the boat ride down Tonle Sap Lake, I talked with a young British man called James. The conversation was curious as it seemed to avoid all the typical tourist talk of sights seen and places visited. Rather, we talked of purpose and meaning, relationships and projections, and psychology. Part of our talk centred on the work of Viktor Frankle and Martin Buber. The meeting was definitely one of those precious “I-Thou” moments. Parting was made without parting words as they weren’t needed. The ripples of the meeting will work their magic for both of us for a long time. Interesting. It was as if I have woken up again, just like the sun has risen again.
I took this photo yesterday evening and was pleased how just as I saw the possibilities, aimed and shot, this image appeared. As I write this, I am tired, very tired. My sleep is as busy as my day with images overflowing in all directions. Sometimes I think it is best if I find a way to be quiet and just let the images speak their own language. Yet, I feel compelled to pull words out from within me, not knowing what I will say, but trusting to the impulse.
I feel somewhat like this young man, casting my net out into the waters of the unconscious, in hopes of netting something that will feed me, and perhaps feed others. So, I continue this journey of images through Indochina. The images will bring ripples to my psyche and result in moving me further down a road I know I am supposed to be travelling.
I took this photo just outside of the Forbidden City within the walls of the Citadel in Hué, Vietnam yesterday afternoon. Obviously, the photo wasn’t part of the record file of the UNESCO site, but an image that has its own life. This journey through Vietnam is one that has several purposes for me. The first is an escape from the “sameness” of everyday life in my home in Changzhou, Jiangsu, PRC. The second is the love of travelling and capturing images of what I see. A third purpose is to understand something about “others.” And the most important, to meet my unconscious self that peers out in some of the images and scenes before my eyes and the camera lens. This photo falls into the last category. I have another purpose for taking images, that of capturing scenes for use as teaching tools, ways to help my students see a different world in a way that connects with them. I guess I must be a teacher at heart as well as by profession.
Today’s image is an invitation to look within, with a different eye. There is a comfort given that says what is to be found beneath the level of consciousness is connected to what is found in the conscious outer world. The perspective changes for one’s outer world when gets to add depth to what we experience and see in the outer world.
I went looking for a photo in my archives, one that would suggest presence under the ego-self, and I found this one of fish swimming in one of the pools of one of the many parks in Changzhou. The idea I have in mind is one of “acknowledging” that there is energy beneath the conscious surface of our lives. I think that most of us “fear” that which is hidden in the murky darkness that lies beneath our conscious awareness of self. That fear prevents most of us from “connecting” with that inner shadow world. Many of us look to something to divert our attention from the shadow-land; television, exercise, sex, eating, travelling, work, drugs, alcohol – the list is endless. The objective is to hone in on the “real” world and hope that the shadows and the figures in the shadow-land disappear as if just a bad dream, a nightmare. Yet, a few dare to turn around and look back into the shadows and acknowledge the energy that lurks there.
“. . . the great god Fear, a god who holds sway over many a soul. Who cannot identify this god will end by being governed by it unconsciously. . . . To personify the god is to acknowledge that it is not only powerful but that one can come into some sort of conscious relationship to it. The god Fear, unacknowledged becomes a tyrannical murderer. To personify the god brings the possibility of assimilating the contents into consciousness and thereby removing their demonic power. When a person is in the grips of the demonic, and the crowd reinforces that energy, the ordinary individual has little purchase on consciousness.” (Hollis, Mythologems, p. 96)
Over the past two days a new story has come out of Arizona, or rather an old story that has taken on a new look. The god, Fear, erupted into presence as a number of people were killed and more injured in a politically charged arena. No one is listening as the rhetoric of polarity politics rages. The same god, Fear, is seen in the churches, in the government chambers, in the actions of nations “standing on guard” with weapons ready. The same god, Fear, has convinced people to give up freedom on thought and expression in schools in order to ensure that only the “right” words are spoken to our children, words that deny other ideas, other beliefs.
I have to admit that I am sorely tempted to join the activated and heated yelling in hopes that someone will listen and change their minds about the “right to bear arms” as those arms are used to kill, to punish, to threaten. But, I know that one can only hear when one is ready. To rail uselessly only provokes a demonic response. Read again the reports that came out of the medicare debates in the U.S.A. and you will see what I am talking about.
I see Fear working his magic here in China. This isn’t about one country, but about humans not acknowledging the shadow within and thus falling into the role of projecting the demon onto others. Mob mentality feeds on this. Watching the world, I am not the happiest of campers.
On one of my innumerable walks, I passed by a new housing community that featured about a dozen skyscraper high rises and a collection of two and three story complexes and homes. Standing at the edge of the community was a short two story building that was like a miniature castle. It wasn’t a home, though. I saw this tiny thing as quite pretentious in its location. One would have expected it to be the tallest of the structures rather than one of the shortest buildings.
The image taken and then left on the computer with other photos from the walk, it was soon forgotten. Then, while looking for a specific photo, I saw this one again and decided that it had something in it that merited another study. So, I cropped it to see what emerged. The first thing to stand out was the phallic symbol. Ah-ha, a photo for the series of posts that I want to do on the theme of the masculine. I then left the image on my desktop screen until I could place it in its appropriate folder that I have set up for the images that might be useful for the theme. yet, I never did drag the photo to the folder and it stayed on the desktop staring at me.
Today, I began to think of writing my blog post after checking my morning e-mail and reading my Twitter and Facebook pages in order to see how family and friends were doing. Before deciding on today’s topic, I somehow chose this image to be here.. I trusted that the words would find their way here. Besides, I could always change the image later. Then, I turned to Mythologems and soon found the reason why this photo belongs here:
“Looked at archetypally, a god is the image that arises out of a depth experience, an encounter with a mystery. For this reason, divinity is always renewing itself. How could it possibly be fixed? It is energy, not image. The image is only the transient husk of divinity. Divinity floods the husk, renders it numinous, and when the human ego seeks to fix it, worship it and constrict it in service to its own ego security agenda, the god “dies,” which is to say, leaves the husk to reincarnate elsewhere. This is the meaning of the “death of a god” motif, which may be found in the ancient mythologies of all peoples, long before Nietzsche’s mid-nineteenth-century pronouncement.” (Hollis, Mythologems, p. 91)
The phallic imagery in these words “fit” the image I have brought here. Of course, I don’t equate “god” with “phallos,” but I do see the metaphor of being filled and being emptied, about being a “husk” and about worshiping the image instead of the energy. It has to come back to the energy. The mating of self and other in which both are “filled” to create a holy marriage followed by a small “death,” that is part of the imagery. It isn’t the swollen membrane that deserves worship, if one must worship, it isn’t the holder of the energy be it a penis, Allah, Yaweh, Baha u llah, Krishna, Buddha, Confucius or whoever; it is the energy which gave rise to these holders of the energy that one must honour. For me, it is about honouring and not worshiping the energy that arises from the depths, a place where “self” and “Self” become one.
This is an early December photo from Hong Mei Gong Yuan (Red Plum Park) in Changzhou. This is a beautiful setting suitable for any god or goddess.
“We think we can congratulate ourselves on having already reached such a pinnacle of clarity, imagining that we have left all these phantasmal gods far behind. But what we have left behind are only verbal spectres, not the psychic facts that were responsible for the birth of the gods. We are still as much possessed by autonomous as if they were Olympians. Today they are called phobias, obsessions, and so forth; in a word, neurotic symptoms. The gods have become diseases; Zeus no longer rules Olympus but rather the solar plexus, and produces curious specimens for the doctor’s consulting room, or disorders of the brains of politicians and journalists who unwillingly let loose psychic epidemics on the world.” (Jung, Cw 13, par. 54)
“The gods have become diseases” . . . I guess that about sums it up. These words were written quite some time ago, yet it is as if C.G. Jung is looking at today’s world and events with these words. These words trigger a series of thoughts within me. What a statement to make, “the gods have become diseases”!
Or, could one say that those who re-discover the gods are themselves suffering from disease (dis-ease)? What it took for me to find a place for the idea of the gods, a recognition of the spiritual centre within “self” was a”breakdown” that allowed me to take “sick leave” for “treatment.” I had to be broken before I would allow myself time to think and feel again. Strange how midlife crises have become a dividing line between life externalised and life that includes “Self.” How many, like myself, have embraced a spiritual centre with the crisis of midlife bringing them to a halt in the outer world? I know that many have ignored the call to an inner self and respond to the crisis of midlife with affairs, new toys, fundamentalist adherence to some religion or political belief.
These words of Jung’s open up a huge world of questions for me. I will need to take time to think about these words a lot more if I am ever to find a way to express my response to them in some meaningful way.
It was nice to see colour in the sky. Most of the time, the sky is bland, a curious range of very pale blue or soft gray smog. I took this at the end of the afternoon, yesterday. I was busy with entering the latest set of marks into its appropriate spreadsheet when I looked up and saw the colours. Over the next fifteen minutes, I took a few different shots so that I could have one that would be posted here. At that time, I didn’t know what the post was going to be about, but I did know that this was the photo that would be featured in this post. I go with intuition, instinct, gut-feelings more often than not. I guess you could say I just open the gate enabling whatever wants to come through in order to find a voice.
I looked up and saw colour, heard something that was beyond the range of my limited hearing. And like all humans before me, that act of looking up filled me with wonder and awe. I”knew” that something transcended the limits of my consciousness. Those colours appeared moments before light sifted into darkness and night. Those colours appeared as though a view of tension being held between night and day, between consciousness and the unconscious. And in that tension being held, the sense of transcendence into the “third” was highlighted. How can one not know that there is a God?
“Suffering is the condition on which we live. And when it comes, you know it. You know it as the truth. Of course it’s right to cure diseases, to prevent hunger and injustice, as the social organism does. But no society can change the nature of existence. We can’t prevent suffering. This pain and that pain, yes, but not Pain. A society can only relieve social suffering, unnecessary suffering. The rest remains The root, the reality. All of us here are going to know grief; if we live fifty years, we’ll have known pain for fifty years. And in the end we’ll die That’s the condition we’re born on. I’m afraid of life! There are times I – I am very frightened. Any happiness seems trivial. And yet, I wonder if it isn’t all a misunderstanding – this grasping after happiness, this fear of pain …. If instead of fearing it and running from it, one could … get through it, go beyond it. There is something beyond it. It’s the self that suffers, and there’s a place where the self – ceases. I don’t know how to say it. But I believe that the reality – the truth that I recognize in suffering as I don’t in comfort and happiness – that the reality of pain is not pain. If you can get through it. If you can endure it all the way.” (Le Guin, The Dispossessed, p. 50)
The scenes I meet on the street are somehow captured in Ursula K. Le Guin’s novel, The Dispossessed, which I am reading as an e-book. I generally read e-books borrowed from a library back in Canada for some diversion and as a way to fill some of the hours when not teaching, writing, walking or doing related school work.