Friday, August 30, 2013

No Mommy, Daddy, Me

Ever since hearing James Hillman mention in one of his talks that when he did therapy he always tried to make sure his patients talked about their grandparents instead of their parents, I have been fascinated. He said one thing that this did is help move the patient's mind away from so-called concrete events and into fantasy and imagination which is basically all it is anyway. In other words, what I'm hearing him say is our behaviors, habits, and emotions are fantasy based. Here is what he has to say in the Lament of the Dead. If I understand it right this was the final project he was working on before he died.

J.H:"When I was doing therapy, back in another period of history, I always tried to escape the parents, which was the story that the person always wanted to tell me--what their mother did and what their father did. You notice Jung hasn't a lot to say about them anywhere in the Red Book."

Sonu Shamdasani: "There's no 'Mommy, Daddy, me,' as Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari would put it."

J.H: "But to go and ask people about their grandparents and their great-grandparents and imagining all their great-grandparents sitting down at a table. That would be eight people. Could they eat the same food? Could they talk the same language? Could they even sit with each other? But the ancestors in the book--see the reason being that it shows the enormous complexities in human nature and the incompatibilities in human nature. And the fact that your actual parents whom you think cause everything are actually the result of those tremendous incompatibilities themselves. It frees them up too." --Pg. 3, Lament of the Dead

Thursday, August 29, 2013

My Mini Ms. Pac-Man Marathon

Had a good evening yesterday. We went out with family to have pizza at a local spot. I ended up sticking close to two dollars in Ms.Pac-Man. I was taken by it. It brought back all kinds of memories from my days growing up in Beaver Dam (For those of you who aren't familiar this is a small town in southern Wisconsin). There were my friends with me once again giving me advice over my shoulder as I was trying to escape Inky, Blinky, Pinky and Clyde. You see, I was always terrible at video games. I didn't have much interest in them. My friends knew this and they tried to help me out as much as they could and at the same time gave me a lot of shit while doing so. Anyway, I'm still terrible at it. I may have broke 20,000 points once. What interested me though was that towards the end of my mini Ms. Pac Man marathon is that my 14 year old son looked over my shoulder and said: "You know, Dad, Ms.Pac-Man was Dionysus's favorite video game." That makes a dad smile. I know he's learned something in this unschooling adventure we're on.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

From Tittilation to Toxicity in No Time

It's interesting how it all works. Yesterday I mention in a post that I'm right where I need to be. Less than 24 hours later I'm ready to move the hell out of here. Last night around midnight Annie and I are sitting on the couch in the living room feeling a bit romantic. We've shared a few drinks which is rare these days. The kids are sound asleep. The night has got a saltry feel to it. It's 82 degrees in the house. We can hear a pair of fans blowing cool air from outside the windows they've been temporarily placed into. All is going well until the smell of burnt plastic wafts through the air. The romantic feeling is instantly gone and reality hits: We're being poisoned by one of our neighbor's burning barrells to the east or west. Then reality hits again: There is no place to go to escape things like this. The nights over. We go to bed feeling helpless and wondering how this is going to effect our kids.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

My Morning So Far

It's 7AM. It's been a busy morning so far. The kids have been up for an hour or so. I bitched a little to Annie about Scott Walker turning the federal money to help fun Badgercare before she left to carry mail for the USPS. Hayden (4 yrs. old) made a captive toad swim multiple laps in our kiddy pool than released it back into our garden. Now he's making me bacon and eggs with green play doh as Waylan Jennings plays in the background on my 14 year old son's stereo. And as I type this Sophia (1 year) attempts to waddle her diapered-butt across the room a little bit further than she did yesterday. Life couldn't be better. I'm right where I need to be.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Citizens Getting Pushy

One word comes to mind when hearing about citizens working to stop big corporations from destroying their landbase at the city, county, and town government levels: Patriotism. Also it's a sign they've given up on the idea that their state and federal governments will have any success changing the corporations behavior. It's what the spiritual father of our American democracy Denis Diderot had in mind when he said: "If we look to the city rather than the state it's because we've given up hope that the state may create a new image for the city."

Now the question is how long will take for citizens across the country to push hard enough for it to be recognized in the United States Constitution that Nature has rights.

Thursday, August 22, 2013


Reading about sex and intimacy this morning. This quote interested me:

"It's no accident that the word intercourse means both physical lovemaking and intimate conversation."--Thomas Moore, pg.171, Soul Mates

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

How Do They Do It?

Yesterday I was talking to a friend about Thomas Moore's book, Dark Eros: The Imagination of Sadism, which I read two summers ago. During our talk I mentioned to my friend that I'd heard Moore mention in a radio interview that I downloaded last year that he felt compelled to write that book because he'd just started out practicing psychotherapy and a lot of his patients were coming to him with dreams filled with kinky sex, death, and murder. It has always fascinated me how an analyst can handle sitting across from a patient and listen to them reveal the different dimensions of their soul. Well, this morning, while reading James Hillman's biography I ran across this quote in a letter that he wrote to his mother in his early thirties:

"To be an analyst is a hell of a burden, since the questions one must face are not to be answered easily, else the patient himself would have found the answers. Every hour of working with someone involves the whole personality, with all it weaknesses especially in this Jungian method where the two people sit face to face, and not where one does all the talking lying down and the other hides behind a note book out of sight.. So this autumn I have been depressed over facing all the implications of my work, my shortcomings, mistakes...It has never been clear sailing but the difficulties become more apparent as one gets nearer the port. One can only have an effect on the other person if one can experience certain symbols and certain problems and certain wounds. In ancient times the physician was symbolized as having a wound himself, or the same disease as the patient. Or he carried or caught the patient's disease and thus by curing himself cured the patient. Since most of the illnesses brought to the consulting room are the standard illnesses of our day, illnesses which everyone has and shares, I have to work these things in myself before they can be of any use to anyone else."--[James Hillman in a letter to his mother in 1957, pg. 441, The Life and Ideas of James Hillman]

On a different note but somewhat related. Yesterday I ordered Lament of the Dead: Psychology After Jung's Red Book. It was the last project James Hillman was working on before he died.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Writing Down Dreams

This past week or so I've found myself writing down my dreams first thing in the morning. I've been writing in a journal for years now and have never written down my dreams. One thing that I've learned so far is how fast I forget them before I write them down. It seems like I should have my notebook next to the bed so when I wake up in the middle of the night I can get it all down on paper before it slips into nothingness. Ironically, I ran across this quote in the James Hillman autobiography this morning:

"We may also understand our resistance to dreaming as a resistance in our 'natural' nature to Hades. We 'can't remember' go vague, forget to jot it down, or scribble it beyond deciphering, and excuse ourselves by pointing to the obvious slipperiness of dreams. Yet if each dream is a step into the underworld, the remembering a dream is a recollection of death and opens a frightening crevice under our feet."--James Hillman, The Dream and the Underworld.

Yes, indeed Mr. Hillman, they're definitely slippery.

On another note someone the other day had mentioned that when I get done reading Hillman they've got something more immediate for me to read. It was a book about the role religion and Rockefeller money played in colonizing Indians in the early part of the 20th century. At the time I wish I would've asked, what can be more immediate than the souls immanence in a culture that shows very little concern for the soul?

Friday, August 16, 2013

Jung on Yoga And Eastern Religion

Carl Jung on practicing yoga:

"The European who practices yoga does not know what he is doing. It has a bad effect upon him, sooner or later he gets afraid and sometimes it even leads him over the edge of madness."-- Carl Jung, Pg. 346, The Ideas of James Hillman

You've got to wonder if this psychological insight still holds true today to some degree.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Unexpressed Tolerance Felt as Hoplessness

I'm still immersed (captivated might be a better word to use) in the biography titled: The Ideas of James Hillman, by Dick Russell. There are so many new and refreshing ideas in his work I think it would take me a couple lifetimes to understand them all. Also, since I'm learning more about his life I've been inspired to listen to some of the talks I have downloaded of his. I have been delivering mail quite a bit the past couple of weeks so I've had plenty of time alone in the car for listening. I'll share a quote out of the talk titled Myths of the Family below.

"Family love allows family pathology. An immense unexpressed tolerance felt as hopelessness for the hopeless shadow in each. The shadow that we carry as a permanent part of our baggage and which we unpack when we go home."--James Hillman, 32 minutes into disc one of Myths of the Family

This is fascinating to me and I'll tell you why. He's expressed elegantly what happens when we go home to our family. For who better knows our shadow than our families? Robert Bly once said that you usually can't see your own shadow but your family and friends can. Also paralysis is the greatest form of acceptance there is because there is no attempt to change anyone. In other words, the regressive needs of the soul are contained within the family.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


"To make sense of later years and the often absurd predicaments and ridiculous degradations congruent with age, we do well to return to one of the deepest questions human thought has posed: What is character, and how does it force us into the patterns we live? What ages is not merely your functions and organs, but the whole of your nature, that particular person you have come to be and already were years ago. Character has been forming your face, your habits, your friendships, your peculiarities, the level of your ambition with its career and its faults."-- James Hillman, Pg. xv, The Force of Character

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Pray To The Animals

Thinking about animals this morning.

Years ago I heard a story of an American Indian spiritual leader who was in a circle with a bunch of environmentalists who were drumming and singing. One of the environmentalists prayed, "Please save the spotted owl, the river otter, the peregrine falcon."

The Indian got up and whispered, "What are you doing, friend?"

"I'm praying for the animals."

"Don't pray for the animals. Pray to the animals." The Indian paused, then continued, "You're so arrogant, you think you're bigger than they are, right? Don't pray for the redwood. Pray that you can become as courageous as a redwood. Ask the redwood what it wants."-- Derrick Jensen, Pg.132, Thought To Exist In The Wild: Awakening From The Nightmare of Zoos

Monday, August 12, 2013

Thank You Mr. Mussolini

"Fascism should rightly be called Corporatism, as it is the merger of corporate and government power." - Benito Mussolini

Thank you Mr. Mussolini for summing up our current state of political affairs.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Hard Books

In the past my wife has given me a hard time about reading serious books all the time. For example, I read a half a dozen psychology books by James Hillman this winter. It used to bother me to a certain degree. I, of course, thought it was some kind of neurosis or obsession. There just aren't many people around me that read the stuff I read, at least that I know of. It sort of gives one the feeling of an expatriate. It also reminds me of an interview that I listened to with the poet Robert Bly recently. In it he mentioned how our culture has really fallen apart in the last 10 to 15 years. One of the reasons he gave was that no one tackles hard books anymore. It also takes me back to a comment that a guy I work with made a year or so ago: "I don't read because I don't have the time. I've got more important things to do. I'm too busy."

I wish I had more time to read. I don't because I've got responsibilities to my family. Or perhaps it's like I've heard Hillman say in one of his interviews: I'm stuck in family values. Something the republican part and new age Christians continue to hammer home to their followers. If you ever want to listen to a really good talk about family that James Hillman did well ever 20 years ago google: Myths of The Family. Or I could find a way to email it to you.

Here is a quote related to the subject at hand:

"Studying literature or other things is just study, but philosophy is living and is part of you. I sit and think about it all the time. I have tried to get back to reading a novel or two, but just can't [get] interested or started. It is the first time such a thing has happened, I usually have a lot of books I should read and want to read."-- Pg. 212, James Hillman writing in his early twenties, The Life and Ideas of James Hillman

That quote resonates with me. I've always been really attracted to philosophy and can't find the time to start and get interested in a good novel.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Joy Forever

"A thing of beauty is a joy forever."--John Keats

Friday, August 09, 2013

Man Of Action

"The saddest of all America's complexes is its idolatry of the man of action. Will we never leave the frontier stage?"--James Hillman, pg.169, The Life and Ideas of James Hillman

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Writing A Bit More These Days

And because of that this advice by George Santayana to James Hillman about writing interested me after running across it in my morning reading:

"If you to write it is not necessary to be complete (formal education, knowledge) but be in harmony with yourself, read what interests you."--Pg.160, The Life and Ideas of James Hillman

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Children and Childhood

The other day a friend of mine sent me Michael Meade's Alchemy of Fire lectures. And in it he mentioned an idea that I've heard repeated by others (Robert Bly, James Hillman) in the men's movement of the late eighties and early nineties: We Americans idealize childhood and hate our children. Perhaps this explains why funding is being cut for the arts and general education in the public sphere, or how we've made sex into a plaything.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Delivering Mail Again Today

My God, I'm living at the end of the Oil Age and my wife is delivering car advertisements to everyone on her mail route today. Most of the people I've talked to say they take those flyers and walk straight from the mailbox to the garbage can (Notice I didn't say recycling bin) or they take great joy in watching them burn in their burning barrels.

Also, here is a quote out of a 1973 mystery novel that a friend shared with me this morning:

"Our myth has been that our standard of living would become available to all the peoples of the world. Myths wear thin. We have a visceral appreciation of the truth. That truth, which we don't dare announce to the world, is what gives us the guilt and the shame and the despair. Nobody in the world will ever live as well, materially, as we once did. And now, as our materialism begins to sicken us, it is precisely what the emerging nations want for themselves. And can never have. Brazil might manage it. But no one else."--John D MacDonald, The Scarlet Ruse

Monday, August 05, 2013

Not Enough Death

"Our Culture is singular for its ignorance of death. The great art and celebrations of many other cultures--ancient Egyptian and Etruscan, the Greek of Eleusis, Tibetan---honor the underworld....The soul...desires to go beyond, to go ever inward and deeper."--James Hillman, The Dream and the Underworld

Sunday, August 04, 2013

The Bible and Last Sunday's Visit With My Grandparents

Last Sunday I was over visiting my grandparents (My mom's parents) and we got on the subject of gay marriage. Of course the conversation then moved to God and the Bible. The conversation was short. And to close it I repeated a statement that my grandmother (My dad's mom) was fond of saying when she was alive: The Bible was written by the hand of man, so I don't trust it. My grandpa smiled at me and said she was right.

I have never read the bible cover to cover. I've only read bits and pieces, usually opening it up when it has been quoted by an author that I'm reading at the time. Anyway, while reading James Hillman's biography this morning I ran across this quote by his grandfather. He was a Jewish rabbi during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

"We recognize the truth in every religion...We discard the belief that the Bible was written by God, or by man under the immediate dictation of God, and that its teachings are therefore infallible and binding upon all men and all ages... it is the work of man and shares all the faults that characterize the religious writings of bygone ages; its self-evident contradictions, its conflicts with the indisputable facts of science, show conclusively the human and the primitive human mind." [Joseph Krauskopf, Page 66, The Life and Ideas of James Hillman]

A hundred years later his grandson went on to write in A Terrible Love of War (A book I highly recommend):

"To consider the events in the Bible as legends, myths, and stories, or as exemplary lessons for learning life's truths, opens the mind to imaginative speculation, shaking belief in the Bible's revelation of the true words of its God."--James Hillman, A Terrible Love of War

In other words, don't take it literally. I've heard Robert Bly say that angry people have forgotten how to think metaphorically.

There it is, a blog post by 8:30 AM. Now it's time to get a bite to eat, then go out and dig some fence posts in bone-dry, sandy soil. We desperately need a good rain. We haven't had a notable amount of rainfall since late June or early July I believe.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Ruling The World

"Male rule of the world has its emotional roots in female rule of early childhood."--Dorothy Dinnerstein