Archive for the ‘nietzsche’ tag
This man is a grandfather who is often standing outside of his restaurant not too far from the apartment. I see other members of the family usually sitting inside the restaurant during the slow hours between meals when the university students are busy with classes. Obviously, he is Muslim and his restaurant offers the typical Muslim meals that are wallet friendly for university students. The main staple is noodle soup, chicken or vegetable stock, no pork.
He is who he is. Each time I see him he appears to be comfortable with himself, accepting who he is, where he is, and how he is. This seems to be a common thing here in China. It is as though there is less agitation to be someone else, somewhere else. There is a sense of peace, acceptance and even harmony. I would not describe this as “settling” for less that what one could be or should be. Rather, a calm realisation that regardless of situation, one is left with accepting who one is.
And in seeing this, sensing this in those who are around me here in China, I find that I am in the same state of being – I am comfortable with myself, with my self.
“When a man can say of his states and actions, ‘As I am, so I act,’ he can be at one with himself, even though it be difficult, and he can accept responsibility for himself, even though he struggle against it. We must recognize that nothing is more difficult to bear with than oneself. (‘You sought the heaviest burden, and found yourself,’ says Nietzsche.) Yet even this most difficult of achievements becomes possible if we can distinguish ourselves from the unconscious contents. (Jung, C.W. 7, paragraph 373)
I originally took this photo as part of a collection detailing the YanCheng area which is a site that recreates part of Changzhou’s history that goes back at least 2,500 years. The tower is representative of something that normally would have been found in the Ching and Ming dynasties. However, when I took this photo from a high point, it leaves me feeling that I am looking at a portal that leads down into the earth.
The only gift I remember getting from my maternal grandmother was really not a gift, but a book I got from my maternal grandfather upon my grandmother’s death, was a book called The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri. I was a teenager at the time and the book filled my “Catholic” head with images that rivaled those from my dreams. If anything, the images highlighted the inner images that came from within me. It wasn’t long after getting and reading this book that a complete stranger, an adult male that I had never seen before, stopped me on a street in downtown Ottawa and told me that I had to read Thus Spake Zarathustra by F.W. Nietzsche.
My mythic dreams, these two books, a depression and a loneliness that came from moving too many times in the first 17 years of my life and attending too many schools in different provinces and cities had marked me, had prepared me as though I were some alchemical stew, for a rebirth. There was no way for my upward into a new life until I had plumbed the depths where the old would be transformed as though in a cauldron over a huge fire.
“If energy shows up in a dream image, then it already exists in the psyche of the dreamer. The invisible has been rendered visible. The task of consciousness is to begin to consider this energy, to weigh its presence and to incorporate it into the conduct of daily life. The dream has brought gifts which are continuing to this moment. Before one can deepen as a person, one must visit the depths within. We cannot ascend without first descending. (Hollis, Mythologems, p. 74)
There were so many “Ah-ha!” moments in the reading of these two books and the inner images from my dreams that found a voice in my music and my drawings at that time, that I risked all. The most telling moment for me in that time of my life was the moment when I stood on a bridge over the Ottawa River and debated my journey with my Self. I chose to continue this journey, but with one proviso, I would be a different person. Standing on the bridge in the early hours of the morning I stared long into the dark waters. With the decision made, I threw all that I had on me, into the dark waters as though these “things” would serve as a sacrifice of my old life so that I could ascend into a new life.
This is the third in the series of 1970s photos. Again, like the others, this one is located at the University of Saskatchewan, in the commons or bowl area. Like the first one, this one was part of an exhibition I was featured in during August of 1979. I took the photo because of the play between light and shadow. Little did I know that thirty years later I would still be caught up in this drama of light and shadow.
In 1979 I wasn’t yet aware of Carl Jung or Jungian psychology. I was however, long familiar with those who had some part in forming a foundation of thought for Jung. I had studied Nietzsche since the mid-sixties, a typical “flower child” of that time living in the city of Ottawa. Joining Nietzsche in filling my head with strange ideas were Spinoza, Whitehead, Kierkegaard, Leibniz, Sartre and a host of philosophers, especially in the field of existentialism.
I was not so typical a teenager underneath the “flower child” appearance. Like this fire hydrant, there was a lot of hidden depth and pressures, just waiting for a valve to be turned. The paths to the unconscious were laid and it became more about controlling explosions of the unconscious than about mining the unconscious for increased self-awareness. That task was waiting for the second half of life.