Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Where are we now in history?

I keep coming back to this question - as I've been sitting in a completely weird medical trade-show - which makes me think of the genius of Jacques Tati (there's a wonderful trade-show scene in "Playtime)...

Despite spending my day trapped in this parallel universe, I've had some pretty amazing discussions. Yesterday a discussion with a very bright young woman ranged from the big bang to cybernetics, music, Jung, tarot, sex and Trump (he's practically obligatory these days!). It was the kind of thing that gives you hope for the future - much needed at the moment. The world needs people like her.

Today, I found myself talking to an exasperated doctor who had borne the full monty of managerial pathology and had had enough. He had clearly thought about things a lot, and we talked about Trump, Brexit, psychotherapy and management (how we need psychotherapy in management!), and I asked him the question about where we are in history. He said the 1930s - which I think is the big fear of a lot of people. I expressed my view, which I've been writing about recently, that it may be more like the 1600s, the prelude to civil war, puritanism, and eventual enlightenment. I think it cheered him up - he seemed to enjoy the discussion!

The conversation yesterday evening turned around the mystic symbolism of Trump. I really think this is very helpful. Jung lived through a time when the archetypes were so obvious strutting around the world stage that it helped to make distinctions about the shadow and so on. Overt revealing of an archetype is a powerful moment - and that is what we have now. We can point to Brexit, Trump, the horrible evangelical fanatics, and not only give it a name, but ask ourselves uncomfortable questions about how it has come to be, how the veneer of middle class self-satisfaction could be shattering in front of out eyes, what our role in it has been, and so on. This is all good.

I'm tempted to think that what happened in the 1600s was a kind of Jungian individuation process within society. Again, music helps me. In Tippett's opera 'The midsummer marriage', the main characters, Mark and Jennifer, undergo a ritual preparation before marriage: one ascends to the heavens (light), the other descends into a cave (shadow); and then exchange reverse roles. The villain is (effectively) the Fisher King (called Kingfisher) - a empty-hearted businessman. Trump is very much like him (I encountered him before in my previous workplace). The doctor I spoke to had also been a victim of this kind of character. The point is that this is a necessary process, and despite the confusion and disorientation (particularly in the dark times when everything is shadow), one gradually comes to know what is happening. Mark and Jennifer are ready to get married when they have become whole.

Creativity is a powerful defence mechanism - it may be the only way in which we do not go insane. Yesterday I also learnt about this - This is great... there are amazing things we can do to express ourselves. For all the horribleness around us right now, at some point we will look at ourselves and our technology and see its beauty and extraordinary potential in a way which is quite different from the technocratic nightmare which we are caught in at the moment.

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