Archetypes and Metaphors

Referring to my Aug. 5 post: “We Do Not Yet Understand,” I had that avatars theme looping through my noggin yesterday.

The concepts of archetypal symbology coupled with the words “LIFE as Metaphor” kept archetypesslipping into the avatar scenario playing in my head. To me, archetype theory is a very important subject.  I’ve been fascinated by C.G. Jung’s theories on archetypes for decades.

Caroline Myss also provided a great exposition on the subject in her own book, Sacred Contracts: Awakening Your Divine Potential. I recommend those reads to anyone wishing to explore the subject further.

sacred contracts.jpgI’ve always felt that there was far greater importance to the archetypes theory than most folks acknowledge, so when all my afore-mentioned thought tangents converged—the archetypes symbolism merged with the avatar imagery while LIFE as metaphor phrase kept bouncing between my ears, I recognized the significance of the union.

Let’s consider that WE are avatar archetypes (set players with a game plan) per Jung and Myss; and as archetypes we are here exploring certain life themes (If you are not familiar with archetypes Myss explains over 70 archetypes on this page:  https://www.myss.com/free-resources/sacred-contracts-and-your-archetypes/appendix-a-gallery-of-archtypes/ ).

Those life themes are the “tasks” we are assigned for this life experience—tasks that create learning situations where we explore our reactions, emotions and thought processes pertaining to how the symbolic archetype that we represent (i.e., victim, warrior, savior, …etc.) views and responds to the potential situation.wheel.jpg

The primary, personal archetype that WE represent would naturally perceive the situation a certain way (i.e., victim/perceives a possible threat, warrior/ perceives a hearty challenge, savior/ perceives the sacrifice necessary to intervene,…etc.).

So how that archetypal avatar (meaning YOU or ME) would react to the situation would be dependent on the clarity and strength of our self-concept besides our own interpretation/perceptual filter of what was happening to us.

But then how does the LIFE as metaphor come into play?

Per www.dictionary.com, “A metaphor is a figure of speech in which a term or phrase is applied to something to which it is not literally applicable in order to suggest a resemblance,…” .

metaphors.jpg

Okay, …but to me, a metaphor goes beyond a “suggestion of resemblance,” it creates a word image packed with emotional residue/personal memories used in the sentence to convey a deeper association to the subject matter than the literal statement can carry on its own. It touches a deeper part of us than the cerebral description can muster.

So when I repeat the phrase LIFE as metaphor, I mean LIFE is far deeper than surface appearance “doings” and is only the superficial representative of a greater implication; or what we do in our daily living is only representative of something we may not be able to comprehend any other way.

LIFE as living metaphor means that our daily doings are symbolic representations of the greater reason that we are here exploring these scenarios as specific archetypal avatars.

We aren’t just players in the Grand Play of LIFE, we are also the directors of the actions and playwrights of the endings.

Our main problem is that we don’t comprehend our multi-functioning capacities in the larger picture.

I asked in the previous posting on avatars what our 7-D SELF gets out of watching our 3-D self struggle around with these challenging situations. I’ll ask it again a different way using a metaphor:

theatre.jpg

What does the playwright get out of writing, casting, directing, and watching his/her play being performed?

Advertisements

Tom McCarthy

Tom McCarthy.jpgI don’t just love a good book. I really love a good writer because writing is both a skill and an artform.

In today’s world there are a few masterful wordsmiths who can not only turn a memorable phrase, but who can fully immerse you into their illuminating narrative. Those are the ones I applaud and whose talents I honor when I blog about them.

book.gifAgain while browsing the NEW BOOK section of the library, I ran across Satin Island by Tom McCarthy. Amazing! It’s subtle, distinct, but covertly deep as the Mariana Trench.

Tom McCarthy is definitely a “Writer’s writer”—one who electrifies the mundane with rich philosophical underpinnings masked by dry British understatement.

Without a doubt, LIFE is truly metaphor—and McCarthy’s every word becomes your symbolic stepping stone from banality to profundity, amassed under the guise of simplistic reporting of daily life around him—assessing the journey from here to there and back again.

His main character in this novel is called “U”—no name, just “U”. You got that, right? U is YOU, not directly of course, but by inference and association. He’s very Ericksonian (as in Milton—the great hypnotherapist). And his boss’s name is Peyman (yes, “pay-man”). I laughed when I finally got that.

Here’s a quote from the book cover about the novel’s contents: …”U., a ‘corporate oil slick.jpganthropologist,’ is tasked with writing the Great Report, an all-encompassing ethnographic document that would sum up our era. Yet at every turn he feels himself overwhelmed by the ubiquity of data, lost in buffer zones, wandering through crowds of apparitions, willing them to coalesce into symbols that can be translated into some kind of account that makes sense….In Satin Island, Tom McCarthy captures—as only he can—the way we experience our world, our efforts to find meaning (or just to stay awake) and discern the narratives we think of as our lives.”

It’s not an adventure novel—unless your adventure lies primarily in finding meaning from all aspects of your life. He starts with U sitting in Turin, Italy—or more appropriately in the Torino-Caselle airport waiting for a plane home. First sentence is this: “Turin is where the famous shroud isShroud.jpg from, the one showing Christ’s body supine after crucifixion….”

A few sentences later he tells how the Shroud of Turin myth was debunked by carbon-dating, then says, “But that didn’t trouble the believers. Things like that never do. People need foundation myths, some imprint of year zero, a bolt that secures the scaffolding that in turn holds fast the entire architecture of reality, of time… We see things shroudedly, as through a veil, an over-pixellated screen.”

And that’s the gist of his novel: he works for a corporation that makes its living selling a narrative of what contemporary life means so that other corporations can profit from the data in some way (while obscuring the actual ecological damages being done to the planet).

His boss, Peyman, makes a living selling “narratives”—does that mean the narrative is truth or simply whatever Peyman is selling? U asks himself that question.

Overall, McCarthy’s descriptions are kinetic and animated— by the 3rd page into the book I had grabbed my pencil to tag descriptive sentences. One of my favorites involved snoop“double-bumping over a railroad track.”

Will this novel be the book for everyone? Probably not. But for fellow writers who blushingly marvel at a colleague’s writing skills, there is much to admire about Tom McCarthy.

Shifting Timelines

RCWAgain, been reading lately and have another Robert Charles Wilson book in process. Evidently I enjoy his writing style and skills.

I won’t mention which book it is at this point, but it is one of his earlier ones where he isn’t quite as subtle dipping into his extensive bag of tricks. It’s much easier to see how he’s introducing the characters, settings, and scenarios then interweaving them into the storyline.

Mid-way through this one I realized what an excellent teaching tool his books can be to frog disectcreative writing students—no matter the age. It just takes a little extra time, a few margin notes and a coil notebook to trace all the components as you read through it. Lay the gathered info out like an old-school frog dissection if you want to see what’s inside it—pinning those guts out onto the matrix-cardboard, gore everywhere—all over your desk—all over your shirt—all over the notebook.

Then using a white board to display each chapter (represented by small sheets of paper spaced evenly across and down the board), and using some colored yarn for each significant character, one can track character introductions, interactions, and crescendos across the entire whiteboard—which represents the entirety of the novel. This can be very revealing of an author’s intentions and message.

stephen kingIn novels where the narrator (voice and tone) is the main character, it is easier to follow character timelines—because you basically have one point of reference, but when the perspective is more omniscient or limited omniscient, it is more difficult to effectively regulate the writer’s tone and tempo. Then more obvious time descriptors are often used as headers, such as: “a day later”, “the year after this”, “two years prior,” etc.

Exposing too much information too soon makes for clichéd writing; but offering toodark night little information during early chapters creates reader confusion and lack of interest. So it becomes a balancing act of what and who is introduced when and where.

The big question the writer must always answer is the WHY of what, who, when, and where.

WHY is this character appearing early, middle or late in the story? What makes that character significant to the situation as well as to the integrity of the book itself? There are many ways to tell a story—why is the writer using this method? What’s his rationale?

For instance, right now the Wilson book I’m reading is a story about time-travelers, and as one might imagine, scenes switch all over the proposed timeline represented: present, past, future, past, present,…until you start to wonder aloud: “Wait,….which present am I in? The present in the past or the present in the future, or IS THERE ahere and now PRESENT at all?”

I think that might have been one of his themes for this particular novel: “Is there really a PRESENT?”

It’s interesting to me, because that is the same question that I’m sometimes asked when conducting hypnosis Past-Life Explorations with my own clients.

Mid-journey, the client can be describing to me the events and feelings that she is experiencing during a particular past-life situation in a different time and place—a different body—a different setting—a different country, while I sit in PPFthe chair beside her in the NOW. And to the client who is effectively bi-locating in two places at the same time, she may be asking herself or me, “Which PRESENT am I really in? Am I there? Am I here? …..Where is the present?

Well, as the narrator of this story and my client’s tour-guide through her then-current Past-Life Exploration, I simply tell her: We are right here, right now …wherever that is in your timeline because the PRESENT is a constantly moving target.

It comes. It goes. Yet it still remains…the PRESENT, ….at least as we know it.

Memorable Reads

There are spells when I’m a voracious reader. Every two weeks or so I’ve been going to the library—which is really an excellent library with continual supplies of NEW books, both Fiction and Non.

What I’ve noticed is that lately there are some fine quality Fiction books (as well as Non-Fiction—which are usually coleridgemy favorites) available; and then there are some, how shall I say it, less than well-written books with flashier covers and more provocative lead lines. Those tend to be more melodramatic and trite, and unfortunately, they are quite predictable by mid-story.

As a writer myself, I can admire and marvel at a writer’s skill in not only telling a story, but I also like to note the techniques used to create that story’s setting, how the main subjects’ character traits are defined, and how the author handles the passage of time.

Skilled writers are masters of the subtle details hidden between the covers. They can be tricky—like a sleight of hand artist palming a lesser card mid-deal and replacing it with an ace. A flick of the wrist and an unsuspecting eye could miss a persuasive key stroke.

There is far more to a quality novel than just rolling out a somewhat believable plot. Voice, tone, and tempo are all important factors to how a story is told. It’s a lot like that slogan “Destination is not what is important in life—it is the journey along the way.”

readerA good writer can make it a revelatory journey—show you the terrain—the winding curves, the bumps and potholes, the vegetation massed along the side—help you feel comfortable or uncomfortable with your tour guides who are describing scenes, and allow YOU to form your own opinions on what is really occurring in those faux interactions and situations where the main characters are challenged by extreme emotions or passions.

Ensconced in the telling, you even become the helpless witness when they eventually succumb to their own character flaws, allowing the story to play out like a true Greek tragedy—rich in pathos.

So I want to mention that reading-material wise, I was very impressed with The Affinities by Robert Charles Wilson. the affinitiesIt is a bit Sci-Fi but not a far stretch for the possible future of social and cultural evolution where emotional attachments and character tendencies become group-based behavioral classifications. The book is more so a group character study (philosophical and psychological) than action-based, but it is so well-written that I will read it again just to take notes on how Wilson transitioned characters, defined settings, and massaged the passage of time.

Another good book (non-fiction that reads like fiction) is A Death on Diamond Mountain: A death on diamondTrue Story of Obsession, Madness, and the Path to Enlightenment, by Scott Carney, which is a masterful telling of truth and hard-gathered facts as if they were unfolding before you. An investigative journalist allows us to see behind the smoking mirrors of a popularized religion.

So how can you tell good writing from mediocre tries at such?

Good writing is easily distinguished from lesser attempts because it is effortless to read and yet deeply satisfying in effect—a bit like a spicy-hot Italian Sausage Pizza that lingers on your palate long after the meal is done.

Every after-burp is a reminder of its potency on your very being.

River Rocks

rocks in riverSo many ways to look at this title…but only one to follow. Kind of like the subject matter contained here that I metaphorically likened to “River Rocks.”

I have a favorite online astrologer that I follow: Tom Lescher (Astrology for the Soul https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5OGanHCos14 ). I’ve mentioned him many times as someone I find extremely accurate in overall energy readings as associated to the planetary alignments of the time.Tom

Whenever I feel something strange or intense in the overall energies around us/affecting us, I listen to his weekly video and usually hear an astro-explanation from him that substantiates what I’ve been kinesthetically noticing. (In a sense, he reassures me that what I am sensing energetically is ‘right on.’)

And because I’ve listened to him so many times and he’s been so reliably accurate to what I had been noticing, I keep listening to him week after week.

But a few months ago, one of his protégés who I shall not mention, caught my ear and I also listened to his vlog for awhile until I began to notice something very different between the two astrologers: a difference in the accumulated wisdom from age and experience, and a lighter (higher frequency)-energy attitude used to deliver the information.

In other words, the younger protégé was a poor substitute for the original, because life does that ‘thing’ to us during the process of living: it ‘seasons us’ the way only time and experience can. It broadens our perspectives and grants us compassionate witnessing.

river rocksThat’s when my mind showed me the image of a rounded, palm-sized, white stone—a river rock that had been tumbled and pounded along the stream bed by torrential rains, flash flooding, and by all things violently affecting the flow and force of a river.

Or to put it more simply, the white rock’s original rough edges and sharp corners were now rounded off from time and river-bottom travel.

That once jagged-edged stone was now smooth to the touch and felt very comfortable in the palm of my hand. That’s the after-effect of being bounced along a rocky, river bottom—you lose all those sharp edges.

To me listening to Tom is like holding that river rock, and his reports are softer, more humorous and compassionate, yet still substantive and real. He keeps his energy light and flowing, and refrains from getting “preachy” with you because he’s been there himself where we all are, and he gets it. It’s more of a been-there, done-that, sharing-the-information-report with friends, than a proselytizing opportunity for an egoic neophyte trying to stand out in an over-populated, astrology-reporting community.

The river rock image I mountain streamsaw in my mind ALSO epitomizes that LIFE may not be as predictable and gentle to us as we often wish that it were, but you eventually learn to tumble along with the flow until those rough edges wear away. Then we can roll more easily during the water’s occasional turbulence instead of catching in every crevice that might snag at us.

Ultimately we learn to ride and tumble along with least resistance to the torrid current around us, until we reach a destination more to our liking; or we may eventually catch an inquisitive eye and find a kindred, fleshy palm to nestle into. Then we can employ a new mode of transportation for a time.wisdom

But wherever it goes, a river rock rolls on and on, because the journey never really ends. Only the terrain changes once in awhile.

Making Meaning

If there were a recipe for living successfully and there were willing cooks to concoct it, how many fragrant loaves of “meaningful lives” would there be?breads

(It’s a trick question really.)

In essence I’m asking does living successfully equate to living a meaningful life?

Perhaps the answer might vary and lie more in the eye, mind, and body of the perceiver.

ordinaryI mention this here because I discovered long ago that I could write about any topic that flitted between my ears, and that each one would be EQUALLY important to me since every aspect of our existence on this earth is ripe with miracles and meaning. It’s just that some of the more mundane things that we experience daily are simply too familiar for us to recognize their genuine significance.

To me, meaning is something that shouts “IMPORTANT” to us in some way; but meaning by its very nature also implies that it might be more of an aesthetic/spiritual importance than a material one.

So the next question might be: Does living successfully imply a spiritual or a material standard of success?

Again for that answer, I think it would be up to the perceiver who would consider what “success” means to him or her.

Personally, time has shown me that material success and monetary pursuits are enticing challenges that can indeed offer greater opportunities for experiencing a variety of “things” that money makes possible.meaningful life quotes

But creating a meaningful life has little to do with material/financial success. In fact, a money-based focus usually obstructs feeling genuine meaning in our lives and often pits our higher intentions against egoic pleasure.

To a deeply-spiritual person (and I’m not saying deeply-religious as it’s not the same thing), spirituality is a connection to a source of energy and inner nourishment far greater than earthly confines can provide us. Material items and possessions simply cannot rival that depth of inner satisfaction.

To a deeply spiritual person who feels that intense connection to a power far greater than his earthly presence—who feels his spirit’s transcendence far beyond the body it inhabits—to THAT person, a meaningful life will be viewed as a successfully lived life, and vice versa—a successfully lived life will be a meaningful life.

To all others who do not feel that amazing higher connection to something far greater than themselves, I do not know whcartoon on meaning-Calvin and Hobbsat their answers would be, but I am thankful that mine would be considered one and the same.

So if all of life is considered a miracle, then all aspects of our lives are mini-miracles, and they should be considered as such—all are equal in value and equal of consideration.

All are fair game for meaning exposition. The quest is to simply uncover it.

Honoring the Senses

This morning I saw the clouds approaching from the western horizon, but at that distance I couldn’t cloud bankdetect their speed. It really didn’t matter to me because I knew there were tasks to be completed today and endeavors to attempt. My mind had set its own agenda for this small window of “work opportunity” and was not going to be deterred by distant possibilities lying outside its “being productive” intention.

As I donned the clothes appropriate to the industrious labor awaiting me, I looked once more out the open window at the fast-advancing cloud front, and then caught the whiff of something distinct and easily recognizable—the scent of rain in the air. Now my wavering mind said, Hmmm, …maybe these work clothes won’t be needed after all.

It wasn’t long past that thought that the first “tinks” and plops” sounded as large rain drops hit the window glass and the AC unit housing beneath it—audio verification to what the visuals and olfactory senses had first alerted me: Yes, rain was on the way and some was now here.

rain puddleJust to be certain, stepping out the backdoor, I raised my palm to the sky and received yet another wet affirmation that the distant possibility preventing outside laboring had just become an actuality. My kinesthetic sense had made the final verdict loud and clear—yes, it was raining. (Yeah!)

My mind then released me from its industrious intentions—there would be no sense of guilt or shame at my outside inactivity when legitimate reasons (like it’s raining) had magically developed for me to now sit in front of my computer and write. One could even call it Divine Intervention if one wanted to stretch it a bit. And I did—I stretched it a lot. That’s why I’m sitting here now.

This morning’s rain event might seem a little mundane to even mention as a blog post, except I suddenly realized that the only human sensing device that I didn’t use this morning to determine my future actions was to stand outside with an open mouth to the sky and await a rain drop landing on my tongue—to taste it. That’s when it occurred to me what all was at play during this simple morning reassignment.

Our brain, the most amazing central processing unit (CPU) ever created, uses our individual sensing units to layers of braindecipher our surroundings, create mental intentions for our appropriate reactions to them, and then it sends electrical impulses out to our muscles for our physical responses.

Our minds have created extensive databases of information mainly based on our previous cause/effect actions that create desirable or undesirable consequences for us. The mind uses that behavioral pain/pleasure gauge continuously throughout each day and night to guide us in moment by moment responses.

Our memories, tinged with past emotional attachments to the situations that we have already faced, are the basis for that present-moment perspective filter we use to view the desirability or undesirability of each situation now before us.

brain 1The five senses and the emotions (which are both the energetic and the body chemistry reactions to whatever we encounter or perceive) alert the brain—and more accurately, alert the layers of the brain with their own individual functions and purposes to the overall CPU’s operation: from specific brain stem functions, to limbic functions, to cortex functions, and so on. There’s a lot going on up there that we take for granted until something doesn’t function as well as we hope that it would.

So when I first underplayed the importance of something as simple as a slight change in morning intentions or plans, I stopped myself in my tracks, and said, “Whoa, …look what really happened—look what my engirl in raintire body’s sensing devices told my mind for it to “let me off the hook” from doing that hard labor this morning. Maybe I should take just a moment to honor those sensing devices I’m so blessed to have and be glad that I’m not out there getting soaked to the skin—which I process as undesirable.”

There you have it—all this to say, “I wrote because it rained.”