Tag Archives: ego

… give the poor ego a break …

Image by Daphne Jo Grant, created for my poetry collection in 1993 -Gapsy Truth.

Image by Daphne Jo Grant, created for my poetry collection in 1993 -Gapsy Truth.

I’m all for shielding the Ego from moral experts who succumb to counter-transference. Proverbs, turned inner voices, instruct: Put yourself last, be considerate, don’t let people down, adapt, respect trade-off laws, keep promises – the inner voices more or less prescribe what’s in your best interest to feel, think and do.

Noisy commotions, muddling any sense of ‘I.’

The poor ego not only holds awareness of our multifaceted reality, but is driven to distraction by conflicting demands, assumptions, chimeras of grandeur, bouts of doubt, all drowning the whisper deep down – ‘Who or what am I really ?’

‘Part of me suspects that I’m a loser, and the other part of me thinks I’m God Almighty.’  – John Lennon

John summed up the typical seesaw compensation attempt. Adding insult to injury, self interest is blamed for our social ills. Even astute spiritual wisdom falls flat when it fails to appreciate the ego’s task – to daily create new order out of chaos, attempting a compromise with reality. No wonder people become nervous wrecks when their temporary identifications are threatened, no wonder fierce defences are constellated. The battered ego-agent screams silently – I’m only loyal to my familiars.

Some familiar rituals guarantee a  child experiencing rejection, physically, emotionally or intellectually, will self-reject for failing the expectations of its superiors. Welcoming or neglecting, early responses by adults we depend upon set foundation for our personality. Break that mirror and you’re on your own.

Maps serve us as orientation, they don’t convey territory. S. Freud’s map of the psyche is powerful. Think of the Id as a Launchpad to stars. What Freud omitted is a higher unconsciousness, our inner guidance and intuition, later introduced by C. G. Jung and A. Assagioly

Freud’s ideas deserve studying. His terms slipped into common speech like brands and became tangled.

Leviathan

Leviathan

Take the ego construct. Sandwiched between the powerful gratification-force of the Id, in need of gentle and firm boundaries, and a cultural Super-ego, with its rules and regulations, the Ego has the unrewarding task of mediator. The Id, at worst, is a heap of misery dragged along, withholding its energy, while the Super-ego, at worst, hijacks personalities like a psycho terrorist, know–it-all, manipulator, fanatic …  having abandoned the powerless inner child with its distressing and embarrassing need for acceptance and love.

And let’s not fool ourselves, distorted ideals attach themselves to well-disguised tyrants in the collective psyche, slumbering, until the day when circumstances conspire.

Children who grow up anxious to placate, or are bent against authority, invent ingenious strategies for survival. Fragile or strong, balanced or torn by extremes, developing a personality is an art form, assembled from layers upon layers of impressions and accumulated memories. Only increased awareness lessens over-identification and softens defences.

‘The paradox of the arts is that they are all made up and yet they allow us to get at truths about who, and what we are or might be’. –   Seamus Heaney

creative recycling

creative recycling

creative recycling

creative recycling

Young children need space to playact, and adolescents need safe outlets for their natural aggression, opportunities for intense experiences, and encouragement to explore their self-image. The houses of identity we create, however basic or twisted, position us in space and time. They have windows allowing a view, and doors through which to venture into a wider world and align our personal myth to a greater myth.

The problem is clearly not the personal ego, but its cultural super-edition, coloured, at least in the west, by mechanistic templates that regard nature as enemy to be conquered and controlled.

Reprimands like selfish stem from a period when inducing guilt was a convenient social formula. Today this approach is counterproductive. Educational practices must catch up with the nuclear age and the fresh metaphors for space and time. New dimensions arise in our consciousness, compelling us to re-think:

Escher's Relativity

Escher’s Relativity

Relativity theories freed perspectives and brought a climate of moral liberty. In a psychological sense, moral advice became repugnant, which explains why western minds begun to question aspects of religious dogma. A way was opened towards looking inside, and individuation, in a Jungian sense.

Quantum physics has widened our vision further, and brought deep spiritual turmoil through new speculations that suggest a symbolic reality of consciousness that over a hundred years ago would only have been imagined by a minority – mainly mystics.

The Digital revolution has upset linear time and is gradually transforming our relationship with time and space, leading us to ask, ‘What is real?’

A mould, no matter how inadequate, is necessary for any new-born. Judging behaviour without acknowledging the initial and well-meaning intentions underlying the formation of personality will only strengthens neuroses, instead of allowing the acceptance of one’s imperfect self-creation, with a nudge towards a gradual softening of defences.

‘Form is a relic of eternal potential.’ – Fazal Inayat-Khan

This post contains excerpts pulled from past articles that were never published.

10 Comments

Filed under Blog

… the house-guests of body electric …

SHE calls me body electric. SHE – incarnate as hu-wo-man – oh the mystery – and such hard problem for the scientists who establish evidence of truth via the elimination of untruths. Meanwhile they identify my parts, their functions and complexities …

I’m a miracle, my ears perk at the slightest sound – the little groan in the joints of wood and brick when the house moves a fraction as the weather swings about, soft tweet of a bird, the hum of fridge and its sudden shudder, a rumbling pipe, creak of loose floorboards, or the faint scrape on the stair in the middle of night, when the tip-toeing lodger sneaks to the kitchen to pinch a little honey. Not my concern, I only notice. Exquisitely attuned to my network of neurons, I pick up irregularities, tiny fluctuations of mood, unfamiliar smells, odd tastes, taut muscles … the chatter of Jego, but more of him later.

Magic-Leila's wings02Whoever I house, I prompt stretching exercises, crack joints to unblock energy, flex shoulder-blades that still mourn their wings, and shortly massage cold fingers-tips, my antenna for vibes. I rejoice in my multitasking, my handling of objects with skills no programmed AI creature could ever hope to achieve. With the unfailing accuracy of a spy, I pick up signals against the faint background buzz of the blood river and readily adjust to spheres beyond my skin palace.

And SHE – my occupier – revels in the fleeting novelties of my gift, the senses – the paradox of pain and joy, where humour lurks between tears and laughter, moments with friends, bliss in a garden, like pruning branches for light to fall through foliage. SHE loves light. A breeze lifts the smoke of a roll-up, diaphanous shapes flow illuminated against a sunbeam until the shade swallows the spectacle, fluorescent spider webs, and blossoms fall.

Spider, 3

I have bouts of melancholy, made aware that my fine architecture is only a short, temporary abode for my occupier. It saddens me when SHE pays no attention to my signals, or is absent, travelling in abstract realms.

One day she’ll be gone altogether, leaving me behind. There’ll be no more breath and currents flowing through my organs, cells, brain — switchboards to her mind-spheres. Will she take along her impressions and associations?

I perceive phenomena in passing, pure and simple, with an artist’s sensibility. Semi permanence is the business of Jego, a sophisticated but battered and nervous entity that draws conclusions from what my senses transmit.

Example – SHE lets me drive a car to visit a friend. On instinctive pilot, I allow Jego to grab surplus energy. He elaborates on what he perceives through my senses.

That pub, why did the new owner paint it dark grey? A monstrosity, insulting the eye, aesthetically revolting, this must be someone’s idea of a cool concept, what a waste of paint!

Escher's_RelativityThough amusing, his habit of sending spam into mind-clouds affect my equilibrium.

I draw attention to a stomach-cramp. Jego quickly analyses the cause before chasing another thought. It’s marvellous, and thoroughly compulsive, how he creates realities, juggles thoughts, day and night, unless SHE attempts a pause – counting breaths, reciting mantras to calm my overexcited synapses, or diligently monitoring Jego’s pranks to get him to focus on something coherent and creative.

On occasions he achieves concentration, calms, then we all relax into harmony, and for a short while a crystal-clear comprehension dawns …

Ah – we are dancers in a hologram – oh – who’s in charge?

Here Pomp makes an appearance, an intuitive entity, a messenger born of many traditions, with equally many names and disguises, a channel to the universal psyche. Though Pomp is not in charge, he knows stuff, and brings a tribute, the remembrance of an unfathomable awareness behind timeless intelligences every particle has contributed to, is essentially part of …

‘We are more than dust,’ SHE confesses, ‘and to fulfil our purpose I must embrace you, little body electric, and partake of your pain and joy.’

‘What about Jego?’ I ask.Dore - Jeune_Mendiant - desat

‘Poor chap, either he’s praised to heaven or cursed to hell. Some spiritual experts blame him for everything, and label him the greatest obstacle to higher evolution. It’s evidenced what happens to children we treat like that … we must be gentle with Jego.

His task is the hardest. In time, if we model tolerance and patience, he’ll learn to create more coherent realities.’

Her kind words calm me, and make me feel all warm and fuzzy.

Neti neti – not this, not this – no description suffices – what prevails is supreme consciousness, unidentified and unidentifiable, slipping in and out of embodied existence like a wind of light.

Though it gives us equal joy and pain, do you like your body electric?

birds-1a.jpg

And are you on a warpath with your neurotic ego, or do you exercise patience?

‘There is a strange frenzy in my head, of birds flying, each particle circulating on its own. Is the one I love everywhere?’ 

~ Rumi ~ transl. Coleman Barks.

14 Comments

Filed under Blog

… the mystery of character versus genre …

Flicker, flicker, speed, speed – time is flying – here is a genre – an inviting golden bowl – let’s drop a story into it. A well-defined genre promises the best route to financial success for many aspiring writers.

the golden bowl of genre Human traits that make up characters are unfathomable in their combination, which is why we traditionally veer to an index of types. The adage of the writing guru – don’t tell, show – suggests character is revealed through traits that imply qualities. Traits fascinate us, but if they are mechanical in their emotional and logical processes, they seldom surprise. In such case the page-turning tension must be provided by the plot.

During the nineteenth century’s advent of psychology and individuation many writers moved away from the Greek model of plot-driven stories. Curiosity shifted to the complex inner life of characters and their individual way of creating meaning was employed to unfold narratives.

The search for a unique self beyond the collectively orientated ego personality is relatively new, and while time-engraved archetypal energies hold us in their emotional grip, we have now psychological maps to help us become more conscious of their compelling powers, more conscious of our personality, which, for the writer, informs their fictional characters and opens new worlds and new choices. Irrespective of the rich psychological and scientific knowledge available to us, the process of character formation present us with the greatest mysteries of our time – as exciting as discovering new territory, new planets, new eyes on the universe.

Here I am making up a scene from scratch:

He stiffly dragged his feet along the polished marble floor of the shopping mall, his head forward as if pulled by a rope, though his eyes did not focus forward, nor up or down, they swivelled, left, right, left right, alert for what? Alert for anyone who might observe him? Nobody did – apart from one person who sat still on a seat moulded into the stone replica of a toy train. She raised her eyes from her book and looked straight at him …

Now as reader, and as the writer of this entry into a scene without blueprint for a story, I’m curious – where is he heading, where is this going? I search for a deeper layer, a narrative unfolding from the mysterious core of the character walking through the mall. I want a substance to chew on, to extract a flavour from his unique world.

The woman’s stare broke his set rhythm of surveillance. His face contorted in fear, his feet lost touch with the marble floor, sailed on air, while his arms flattered like duck wings failing to lift. All he could think of before his fell flat was – she knows, she knows I’m not present in this body. All he perceived were veins of light in a glittering darkness. He chose to vacate.

Are you hurt? While approaching the sprawled body of the man, the woman shot a stern glance at her boy who stood by guiltily. She had noticed him drop the sweet wrap. She had noticed the man stepping on the slippery cellophane. She had caught his eyes – and what she saw in that instant had made her shiver …  

I’m not going to follow up this scene. Anyone who reads this is welcome to do so. It would give me a thrill.

We all enjoy our stock characters and their antics, types set into situations and conflicts we can readily identify with, heroes we can like, villains we can despise. We enjoy themes that fall into definite genres that entertain us away from tedious daily concerns. I’m not knocking these stories. I enjoy them myself.

But hey you, all writers out there, why not take a risk and be drawn to the mystery of the unpredictable that challenges you to think in new ways, why not evoke characters who, even while using known containers, allow their (your) unconscious past and future to fill in the content, characters who explore their personal experience to a depth where it becomes universal, characters who play with time and space and are directed from their inner spirit, even when it requires a new container?

In my writing, I like the adventure of discovery, a nut to crack. I like to allow my character to walk ahead and unfold the story, and if it spills over the frame of a convenient genre, so be it.

P1100981And here my little gripes with how-to-does:

The advice-filled internet spheres turn and turn like gyres.

Answers sum up being and are full of promised abundance – yet they are dead.

Questions sum up becoming and are full of challenging limitations – yet they are alive.

 

 

‘One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.’

Andre Gide

8 Comments

Filed under Blog