From the psychological aspects of personality theories, we can trace the implications of the impulses which drive us daily in our struggle to cope with the ever-changing world around us. The psychologist Carl Jung believed that there were certain basic mental patterns, or “archetypes” as he called them, patterns of information that exist in all human minds and that they are part of the heritage of humans. He thought that the contact of the conscious mind with these patterns, or the intrusion of these patterns into our consciousness, gave rise to the mythologies and religions around the world.
But what do these things have to do with the development of human personality? What does this esoteric vision of shadowy figures in our subconscious have to do with how we become ourselves? Well philosophically speaking, Jung’s theory seems to involve an ontology that is an extension of the ontology of the external world and right now the ontology of the external world is very messed up.
All month long I have been circling a variety of topics, from biometrics and the effect of new technologies on what it means to be human, to the politics of class and race. And although sometimes my words do seem random, there is as they say, a method to my madness. What I have been slowly but inexorably coming to is the fact that although humanity has changed fundamentally from humanity that existed only a few centuries past, the advent of these new technologies that I have so often mentioned in my posts, although having had an effect on our cognitive processes, the things which are unfortunately at the very core of all human beings have remained the same. In short, we are not evolving as a species despite all the technological marvels that we surround ourselves and interact with. We still contain the seeds of our downfall within us.
In Jungian psychology, archetypes, simply put, constitute the collective unconscious. They are the psychic innate dispositions to experience and they represent basic human behavior and situations. Thus, a relationship such as the mother-child relationship is governed by the mother archetype and the father-child by the father archetype. Many other potent forces are controlled by archetypes such as death, birth, power and failure, and even the religious and mystical experiences in one’s life are governed by archetypes. But it is the Self which is the most important because it is the archetype at the center of the person, his or her totality and wholeness and this compromises the unity between consciousness and unconsciousness. Jung believed that this collective unconscious shared by all humans which explained the commonality of mythological motifs and primordial images. And sadly, the world today is proving just how true this is.
I use this as an example because we as human beings find ourselves in an unprecedented time in our species’ history yet instead of evolving past the continual repetitions and mistakes of the past we seem to be return to the same cycles which have always plagued us over and over again. It seems that we are still ruled by the very things we strive to change about our species and that perhaps these archetypes that Jung talked about are actually true.
Nationalism is once again on the rise; racism and the rhetoric of bigotry in all forms is ascendant; and humanity stands once more at a great spiritual crossroads at which we wait confused and petulant. Superstition in the form of the worship of the very tech that we have created is abundant; no new innovations have occurred in half a century, only improvements on existing technologies. And while these improvements have taken us to places undreamt, we are stagnating as a species and now are beginning to turn upon ourselves like some macroscopic cancer which drains the main body of strength and nutrients, slowly killing that which is us in exchange for the power to multiply out of control and a long-life full of despair. These things have continually plagued humanity since the advent of our species and we don’t seem to be able to shed them no matter how me we try to change ourselves, at least on the outside.
Part of humanity is singular in nature, although the mind seems to be unable to perceive it as such. We look at the world around us believing that perception and will are separate, yet at the same time question the grand disparity that we see communicated between us and our world. Technology was supposed to be the balance which appeared in our world to unify these twin functions of will and perception in order to give rise to another more important function, that of wisdom. But in our dualistic mind and reflected world, this wisdom is still deeply buried and remains trapped in the aimless wanderings of our restless and greedy minds, clouding it with rambling thoughts and irrelevant experiences and clusters of opinions about ourselves and the world which we call ego. It is these blurry abstractions and hazy metaphors which have cursed the human race to forever wallow in a murky pond of its own creation ignorant of the beauty and majesty which lies just beyond the veil. Yes, it sounds like a bunch of psychobabble, but I ask you is it?
The fact is that certain ideas and concepts seem to be deeply imbedded in the collective human mind. Because of the injustice many receive from their fellow man, they draw within themselves and encounter a violent, dark variation of this mind but once again this is a concept that seems to be imbedded deep within the human psyche and has absolutely nothing to do with religious belief or moral development, but instead with the unchanging and never-evolving human psyche.
Human beings believe that they live their life in a conscious manner; that they are aware of their surroundings and know what is going on around them at all times. Yet a deeper analysis of the word consciousness leads to a more confusing thought process than any single human being may be able to grasp. We are only pieces of a greater whole despite what we would like to believe.
So where am I going with this? Sometimes I really don’t know myself yet as I see the world collapsing around me, a world in which I have always found so much to be grateful for, I wonder and I write. There is so much beauty in this world but also so much darkness; there is much good also but now the balance seems to have fallen into the negative. I can’t blame technology despite what I claim, because technology itself is our own creation, something that comes from the same place that hides what it means to be human. The archetypes that Jung talks about may or may not exist but that spark, that creativity, that piece of the divine if you will, does exist but humanity right seems to have forgotten where to find it.
The notorious 19th century magician Aleister Crowley said that “every man and woman is a star,” and by that he meant that we all contain the divine within us. But being the dualistic and contrary beings that we are we seem to be behaving much more like His Adversary lately, than that of the divine.