The Child and the Shadow

My notes from Ursula LeGuin’s essay about Hans Christian Andersen and Jung, from her book “The Language of the Night”, “The Child and the Shadow”

If the ego “is weak, or if it’s offered nothing better, what it does is identify with the “collective consciousness.” That is Jung’s term for a kind of lowest common denominator of all the little egos added together, the mass mind, which consists of such things as cults, crees, fads, fashions, status-seeking, conventions, received beliefs, advertising, pop cult, all the isms, all the ideologies, all the hollow forms of communication and “togetherness” that lack real communion or real sharing. The ego, accepting these empty forms, becomes a member of the “lonely crowd”. To avoid this, to attain real community, it must turn inward, away from the crowd, to the source: it must identify with its own deeper regions, the great unexplored regions of the Self. These regions of the psyche June calls the “collective unconscious,” and it is in them, where we all meet, that he sees the source of true community; of felt religion; of art, grace, spontaneity, and love.

That mass mind is “stuffed full of the one-sided, shadowless half-truths and conventional moralities”

Jung wrote;” Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.” The less you look at it, in other words, the stronger it grows, until it can become a menace, an intolerable load, a threat within the soul. Unadmitted to consciousness, the shadow is projected outwards, onto others. There’s nothing wrong with me–it’s them. I’m not a monster, other people are monsters.

If the individual wants to live in the real world, he must withdraw his projections; he must admit that the hateful, the evil, exists within himself. This isn’t easy. It is very hard not to be able to blame anybody else.

If one were to deal with his own shadow, he has….grown toward true community, and self-knowledge, and creativity. For the shadow stands on the threshold. We can let it bar the way to the creative depths of the unconscious, or we can let it lead us to them. For the shadow is not simply evil. It is inferior, primitive, awkward, animallike, childlike; powerful, vital, spontaneous. It’s not weak and decent, like the learned young man from the North; it’s dark and hairy and unseemly; but, without it, the person is nothing.

Which is more important? Being cool, winning, and engaging in consensus reality with other winners? Or catching a glimpse of something miraculous, unforeseen, strange or uncanny, full of chance and possibility?

Mingle with Road Crews

“Yes, my consuming desire is to mingle with road crews, sailors and soldiers, barroom regulars—to be a part of a scene, anonymous, listening, recording—all this is spoiled by the fact that I am a girl, a female always supposedly in danger of assault and battery. My consuming interest in men and their lives is often misconstrued as a desire to seduce them, or as an invitation to intimacy. Yes, God, I want to talk to everybody as deeply as I can. I want to be able to sleep in an open field, to travel west, to walk freely at night…”

― Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

Morality, Disgust and Political Parties

“Morality isn’t just about stealing and killing and honesty, it’s often about menstruation, and food, and who you are having sex with, and how you handle corpses.” –Jonathan Haidt

Jonathan Haidt’s research into disgust and politics is fascinating. For example, many conservatives are disgusted by the ideal of gay sex and are therefore against gay marriage. Libertarians tend to have the lowest levels of disgust. I saw a TED talk of his in which he said that most people would find it disgusting to contemplate, but college students are able to consider “eating their pets”. College is an environment designed to encourage openness — the ability to think of things in novel ways, and entertain unconventional beliefs. Here’s a lecture by Haidt on Reason that’s a good intro to some of his ideas.

A Directory of Findery Notemaps (German Cities, Philadelphia, Toronto)

At some point we’ll have a comprehensive directory on Findery, but for now, I’m sticking this here.

Germany
Castles in Germany
WWII in Germany
Deutschland, by Oscar Falcon
Germany of Yesterday

Berlin
To See and Do in Berlin
Berlin Memory Map
Travelucky’s Berlin Eats
Berlin Open Plaques (all in German)
Stay Curious Berlin

Munich
To See and Do in Munich
Munich Memory Map

Frankfurt
Travelucky’s Frankfurt Eats
Frankfurt Memory Map

……………………………………….

Toronto
Toronto Voices
Toronto by Open Plaques
Trees of Toronto
Toronto of Yesterday
Stay Curious Toronto
Toronto Missed Connections
Toronto Memory Map
Home Grown National Park

……………………………………….

Philadelphia
A Love Letter to Philadelphia
Yo Philadelphia
Philadelphia Open Plaques
Yo Philadelphia Sports
Stay Curious Philadelphia
Street Art Philadelphia
Creative Philly
History Happened Here: Philly

Three Great Findery Notemaps

There are so many great notemaps in Findery. Here are some:

Lost Angeles. Weird, interesting, and off the beaten path in Los Angeles, and isn’t Los Angeles already weird and interesting? Next trip to Los Angeles, this is the one I am going to follow.

Changing New York. An amazing walk through history, using Berenice Abbott’s photographs as a jumping off point. Including McSorley’s Ale House, which is still in operation. 

Mermaids are Real. One of my own notemaps, which collects all the notes about mermaids on Findery, for a worldwide Mermaid tour! There’s a bar in Sacramento where a real mermaid swims in a tank behind the bar.

Virgina Woolf, Literature and The Body

Leslie Jamison writes about the body in The Atlantic, and in the article this quote from Virginia Woolf’s Essay “On Being Ill:

Literature does its best to maintain that its concern is with the mind; that the body is a sheet of plain glass through which the soul looks straight and clear, and, save for one or two passions such as desire and greed, is null, and negligible and non-existent. On the contrary, the very opposite is true. All day, all night, the body intervenes…