know that neurons are distributed not just in the brain. The whole body
is mindful. Descartes almost had it right.
His pivotal dictum, Cogito ergo sum, wasn't complete. "I
think, therefore I am...embodied," would have opened more pertinent
philosophical ground. Instead, holiness became disembodied wholeness;
and it took centuries to remember that mind creates body as a woman
gestates a child within herself.
you're an artist is where the difficulty begins. The initial surge
Then you spend the rest of your life trying to produce what that
moment promised to deliver
arrived tonight. We met at a conference at Pacifica
Graduate Institute, where she was one of the speakers.
We had dinner, and tomorrow
whole day together.
is unusually hot. But after a month with my arm shrouded
in a black sling, I finally
"Her hair in sweet disorder."
My shoulder continues
to its new configuration.
Like falling in love,
familiar patterns are unbalanced
while reaching toward a more
Rosen, psychiatrist, professor, co-author, and old friend,5 was
here today with his partner, Lanara Roell. Over plates of steaming
fish, they told me of the dinner they recently had with Mark
Unno, whose work I know well.6 Afterwards,
we walked around the Japanese Garden. In one pond, the colorful
flanks of carp look like the cambered rays of Maori face paintings.
Lanara, who lived in New Zealand for over a decade, bent as if
to touch the country she left behind, as it swam away.
It used to be
that as soon as the unconscious is in the
picture, no law could regulate purification or reassure the ecologists.
Those of 'nature' and those of 'culture'. Unless the unconscious is
already an ecosystem regulated by so many laws; and so the
elders were keepers and singers of their tribe's history
They didn't watch reality shows, they were reality-in-depth. "To
float on the surface does not necessarily mean to survive."7
It is in the
nature of the gods not to survive. Our oldest mythologies tell
us this. Our salvation doesn't depend on resurrection but recycling.
In a world that's become a model of mobility, it's easier to pack a
mummified deity in one's baggage than to poetize on indigenous visions.
environment-friendly approach would be to worship biodegradable
gods; deities that, when no longer relevant to the cultural
climate are, with proper ceremony, returned to the earth.
this in mind on a muggy midsummer's day, I cross the
trail to its shadowy side. In the distance, a few slim
white legs of last winter's snow cling to the southern
flanks of Mount St. Helens. Yesterday, the Green Man
stuck his leafy tongue out at me and laughed. Today
he's somewhere else, stalking sacral ghosts in which,
without initiation, we continue to believe.
recently I read, "The belief that one possesses
truth makes possible that highest and purest life.
need belief in truth...,"8 it
made me realize that philosophy must have a stake on
the cusp of current concerns. It is not that Nietzsche
here, it is that
he's irrelevant. We have moved past truth into curiosity.
When asked how he and his wife met, Derrida said, "The
story I can tell is always inadequate to the story
I want to tell."9
So that the true story is left in abeyance.
could it be otherwise, as a story has no beginning or end?
The biologist Rupert
Sheldrake wrote, "But then something amazing happened about fifty
thousand years ago—the beginnings of art, such as painting
in caves."10 At
best, origination is a trope, one that Derrida wrote against.
Sheldrake didn't write "beginning," but "beginnings." I assume
he perceived that art had many beginnings, as it has been found at sites
not only in Southern Europe, but in Southern Africa, Australia, the
Levant...in fact, everywhere early human settlements have been excavated.
As "the force that through the green fuse drives the
is the force that drives the human psyche.
From Peter Bishop's
review of Peter Mattheissen's The Snow Leopard, the diary of
the naturalist writer's trek through Nepal to the Crystal Monastery,12 I
have gained fresh insight into Matthiessen's genius, which,
like the best journal writers, elaborates "fact" by injecting "fiction"
directly into the textual body. "Exotic food is named
and eaten, customs are observed, crazy weather is endured.
Timetables, dates, names
of ships and of hotels are clearly recorded. But it would
be a mistake to assume thereby that The Snow Leopard is
factual while Matthiessen's novels are fiction."13
Bashō also novelized facets of the mundane, especially in his classic,
Oku no Hosomichi ("Narrow
Road to the Interior"). We know this because Sora
Kawai, his traveling companion, kept a separate, more factual, record.
There is no pure annotation, as the brain reconstitutes reality by mixing
fragments of mnemonic notes. And while a group of observers will never
agree on everything, literature agrees on nothing.
centuries later, Hayao Kawai, the first Jungian psychotherapist
to practice in
Japan, delivered a talk on Hua-yen (Kegon) Buddhism, stating
that its core principle is: "All
things continually and simultaneously manifest themselves
a whole. The philosophy of Hua-yen calls (this) ontological
reality 'Interdependent Origination.'"
A few days
ago, in the Friendly House lounge, an organ went off in a man’s
pocket. When he pulled a phone out, with Bach still playing,
the room became less friendly, as without spatial clues, voice
level is usually louder than if the one being addressed were
present. Which is why Bach, to glorify his invisible god, wrote
for such a loud instrument.
was named because everything
perceivable through human senses takes part. Natural space experienced
through hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting and touching. By means of
the smallest possible interventions, living, three-dimensional natural
space is re-organized, unlocked and put under tension. Reorganisation,
of course for a finite period of time. One day, in
the technology’s infancy voices sounded phony, and progressive
improvement in vocal quality only added to the untenable illusion
days of dry near record-breaking heat, Thor knocks me awake
with his blunt hammer, Zeus is busy tazering a faultless
thunder rattling windows
feels like a personal assault.
been dreaming of making a sculpture from long thin pieces
of wood I'd painted with red enamel. But it wasn’t
finished, and people were angry because it wouldn't be
ready in time for a particular rite. "In time," I
thought. "What does this mean?"
noon, the church's electronic bell is dull besides a figure
of Christ Crucified that shines like gold in a flawless perihelion
glow, as he had never spoken less than a pearl of wisdom,
a polished allegory, a gem of prose; no Freudian slips, and
only an occasional pun. While the Elder Gods had passions,
weaknesses, neuroses, and sometimes royally screwed up. In
a forthcoming book, Susan Rowland quotes Laurance Coupe on
the 18th Century mystic poet and artist William Blake:
set himself the task of revitalising the Christian
myth; indeed, he was one of the first believers to conjecture
that the story of
Jesus really was a liberating myth, not
literal truth. Far from seeing the bible as the last
word—indeed, the ultimate Word—he
felt able to rewrite it totally according to the dictates
of his imagination,
which he took to be a spiritual force."15
elaborates on what Coupe calls "radical typology," suggesting
that it "sees the recurrence of mythic stories as generative
of meaning without presupposing any particular meaning. Radical
is a way of exploring for new meanings. Allegory/logos
is a way of stabilising meanings."16
critique of poststructuralism is that it postpones ultimate
meaning in favor of an endless chain of signifiers. However,
what actually occurs is that avenues for the creation of
new meanings, visions, and art that revitalize the culture
are surveyed. But when the sacred veers from the profane,
Rowland says, "the only remedy is to change the myth."16
morning. Gauzy-green trees are awake and absorbing the low clouds. Because
we sense a mystery beyond our limited consciousness, we create gods
and the myths that relate their existence. To reinforce their tenuous
position, some people declare that
Mayan shamans ritually used hallucinogenic enemas. The enemas 'probably
made of mead, tobacco juice, mushrooms, and morning glory seeds' would
not cause nausea and could induce a trance state far more quickly and
potently than oral methods of a "calling." Robes
are designed, rites, texts, dogma, preaching, chanting,
burning incense, building temples and ringing bells...all
this and more is bound into what we call a religion.
Jung wrote: tHAT "every
closed system of religion has an undoubted tendency to suppress
the unconscious in the individual as much as possible, this
his fantasy activity. Instead, religion offers
stereotyped symbolic concepts that are meant to take the place
of the unconscious once
and for all.18
Jung, who spent
much of his career mining the rich symbolism of Christianity, is addressing
how creativity is blunted by the psychic walls religions build around
themselves. But his sting goes deeper. He says that the mission of
religion is to subsume the unconscious itself. Then Jung seems
to contradict himself, calling religions "the guardians and custodians
of symbolical truth," that have "been robbed of (their) efficacy
is not against religion, or science, both of which play a central role
in his psychology. Jung is attacking their bombastic claims to singularity.
Monotheism cannot admit it is but one link on a long chain of mythologies
the psyche continues to create, while scientists know their theories
thrive only within the whorls of their methodology.
to smell a
McKenna said, “I think any reasonable person can conclude that
the redemption of the world, if it’s to be achieved, can only
be achieved through magic." Thinking of the woman I love,
who is far from here today, I notice a branch that describes the
proximal, the shared, the embodied, repetition, and the ineffable…are
all concerned with presence, which is to say proximity. And each
in various ways in a metaphysical discourse, the quest for ground
the graceful curve of her neck,
the smooth knob of a tree that defines the arc of her shoulders, and
two leaves fallen upon each other remind me how her lips sensuously
part. Now I take pictures as an invocation, so that in their pixels
she may magically reappear.
once watched Tibetan monks making a mandala out of
sands. After working tirelessly for days to complete "the mind
of the Buddha in three-dimensions," the lamas purposefully swept
it up, casting the sand into a body of water, diluting the unity that
exemplifies the "monotheistic fantasies of the senex
Jung wrote that,
like archetypes, mandalas are instinctive, instructive, and self-healing.21
But a mandala is not meant for the contemplation of this world. It is
not like astrology, tarot, tea leaves, or the I Ching. It neither predicts
nor explains. It is an open door without a room to enter. Like consciousness,
it has no destination.
T.S. From, "The Wasteland."
2- Abraham, R. In, R. Sheldrake, T. McKenna, R. Abraham, The Evolutionary
Mind. Rhinebeck, NY, 2005. (Terence McKenna died in April, 2000.)
3- Jeffers, R. From, "Bixby's Landing."
4- Keats, J. From, “On Sitting Down to Read King Lear Once Again.”
5- Rosen, D. and Weishaus, J. The Healing Spirit of Haiku. Berkeley,
6- Weishaus, J. "The Butterfly and the Mushroom." Review of
M. Unno, Shingon Refractions: Myoe and the Mantra of Light. Boston,
MA, 2004. The San Francisco Jung Institute Library Journal. February,
as soon as the unconscious: J. Derrida, "Biodegradables: Seven Diary
Fragments. Critical Inquiry, Summer 1989.
8- Nietzsche, F. Unpublished Writings: The Period of Unfashionable
Observations. (Summer 1872-Early 1873) R.T. Gray, Translator. Stanford,
9- Derrida, J. Derrida. K. Dick and A.Z. Kofman. Jane Doe Films,
10- Sheldrake, R., McKenna, T, Abraham, R. The Evolutionary Mind.
Rhinebeck, NY, 2005.
11- Thomas, D. From, "The Force That Through the Green Fuse Drives
12- Matthiessen, P. The Snow Leopard. New York, NY, 1978.
13- Bishop, P. "The Geography of Hope and Despair: Peter Mathiessen's
The Snow Leopard." South Australian College of Advanced
Education, Magill, Summer 1985.
14- Kawai, H. Buddhism and the Art of Psychotherapy. College
Station, TX, 1996. Developed from a lecture in the Carolyn and Ernest
Fay Series in Analytical Psychology, Texas A&M University, College
everything perceivable: Nils-Udo, "Towards Nature." In, H. Besacier,
Nils-Udo: Art in Nature. Paris, France, 2002.
15- Coupe, L. Myth. London, England, 1997.
16- Rowland, S. Jung. In MS, 2008.
17- Bishop. P. All quotes from: Dreams of Power: Tibetan Buddhism
and the Western Imagination. London, England, 1993.
that Mayan shamans: "Howls From the Bowel." Discover,
18- Jung, C.G. Symbols of Transformation. Princeton, NJ, 1990.
the proximal, the shared: R. Coyne, Technoromanticism. Cambridge,
19- Eliade, M, The Sacred and the Profane. Boston, MA, 1959.
20- Hillman, J. The Dream and the Underworld. New York, NY, 1979.
21- Jung, C.G. Mandala Symbolism. Princeton, NJ, 1973.