Archetype in Action Organization
- Parent Category: Tools to Change Society
- Category: Literature
- Created on 25 May 2015
- Last Updated on 25 May 2015
- Published on 25 May 2015
- Written by Stephanie Pope
- Hits: 238
I sit down this morning to begin writing my Friday essay. I notice there is a lot of talk about happiness psychology or positive psychology these days. Positive Psychology, a kind of clinical and supplemental psychology pioneered by Martin E. P. Seligman, Director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Positive Psychology Center, focuses on psychological interventions that are supposed to increase individual happiness.
This notion that applies a therapy to the status of a qualitative state suggests in a causal way that the happiness happening to people as a result of these interventions can be measured, evaluated and further controlled. Happiness, not a subtle organ of the psyche like other psychological terms such as ego and shadow and anima imply, nonetheless acquires psychological status; albeit something abstract and metaphysically invisible and not a thing at all, happiness suddenly has ‘thing-ness.’ Happiness or bliss, as Joseph Campbell liked to call it, is no longer solely a qualitative perception of an emotional, fluid and energetic state or mood according to this viewpoint.
Happiness is now likened to an enduring state as if it were a scientific phenomenon that can be measured and quantified, made to order and made to last. If you are not happy in your life, you can be. If you are happy but it is not satisfying enough, you can get happier than you are getting now.
It appears getting happier is important to Americans –as important as losing weight. So now you can go on an emotional diet and lose your unhappiness, too. Just like taking off weight the weighty unhappiness you feel and carry around with you can be shed. The suggestion is that your unhappiness is not good for you. You better do something about it.
Once you are convinced of this you can be taught how to shed your unhappiness. You can sign up for happiness intervention therapy and start being happier today. (!) Like the war on obesity going on in our cultural psyche, there seems to be a war on unhappiness being waged. It appears happiness is of considerable value to Americans. Like all valuable things before a consumerist heart and indifferent world, happiness is packaged to sell.
I, for one, have begun to wonder about this fear of unhappiness. I’m wondering if happiness is inherent in the hero archai itself. To the early Olympian hero go the laurel and the admiration in all. And I can’t help thinking again of the Bill Moyer’s interview with Campbell in the Power of Myth Series made for public television. A moment occurs when Campbell says the general advice he gives his students is “Follow your bliss.”
Campbell’s bliss or happiness was the study of myths. The greatest one, Campbell thought, was the story of the hero. Somewhere in these same interviews Campbell shares the idea we all identify to the hero role. He shares something Otto Rank thought about the birthright of the hero. The hero image is handed each of us in our very birth. It is part of our deep nature of being and Campbell thought that story a story most worth sharing. Since myths are the great stories, our hero story is the one people will tell about us after we are gone. They will try to encapsulate our deepest being, our true language, in a story.
In view of becoming happier I now shall like to think of that hero story as a story most often told post humorously. Humor lightens the grave story, which the hero story was literally. It was the story told over the burial mound of the hero. A humorless myth will have been an unhappy tale. Apparently, no American today will have wanted to be remembered like that. To be remembered without humor will have meant not having lived as meaningful a life as the happier (and probably skinnier) life people today are able to live. Nowadays, you can’t be too thin, too rich or too happy.
This morning I found the originating journal that publishes the results of Seligman’s study and which underlay and legitimate the first programs offering post grad degrees in this kind of clinical training through the University of Pennsylvania. The article containing the findings of Seligman’s study is published in the July-August, 2005 issue of American Psychologist. I am saving the Adobe formatted article so I can consider it carefully and over a period of time. This means I may have just begun a new essay series. Let me try to explain.
Not very long into the article I am thrown out of the findings when I come to the part about doing this study and this intervention and compiling these results via the internet after never having interviewed person to person with anyone at all. The talking cure, Freud’s name for what we call soul-analysis, no longer seems to require the foundational bond between oneself and one’s therapist as persons. Ones ‘self’ is one’s therapist! One will have been taught this therapy, will have constructed this reality and will compensate one’s conscious knowledge of one’s own plight of unhappiness by replacing contact in this depth wisdom with another kind of artifice. It is a supplemental therapy not meant to replace other clinical therapies for depression. The results of the study are documented in a very small convenience sample consisting of white, well-educated and financially comfortable but mildly depressed folk. Such folk are more motivated than other kinds to become happier. They also do not have the oppressive, darker social ills, ills like violence and poverty to contend as part of their personal context. In other words, their hope is not as challenged.
To make matters worse I went to the movies to see Pan’s Labyrinth a few days prior. Now there is a psyche that can use some happiness psychology! “Wait!” I thought. Is it possible the movie and the psychology appear on the national scene congruent a growing unhappiness-malais clouding over these beautiful and spacious depth-skies behind the eyes of Americans? I thought of the outcry over decisions to escalate war with Iraq, the current number of war casualties and even more far reaching, the number of serious war injuries to the bodies and bodied psyches of young men and women returning from their tour of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are about to resume civilian life. They will want a job, an education, to get married, have and raise children, go to Disneyland. Many will have to go after these experiences under the duress of severe and painful bodily injury.
Forget about depression for a minute. What about the image? Does the image of happiness therapy anticipate this darker anxiety? On the inside, the world I can feel in my heart is real. On the outside the world I can touch is real. Happiness therapy is an artifice and another more constructed kind of knowledge. It is not like the wisdom body that is my deep and heroic relation. Yet, taken together do these images express something darker in make-up roiling underneath throughout the archive in our collectivity as national soul?
I cannot help thinking the whole of it anticipates in projection something absurd. The war in its un-accomplishment is absurd; the psychology in its clinical construction and measurement is absurd; the unending downward darkening principle containing the soul of the movie touches upon something absurd.
In the hero’s myth the myth of the unhappy hero contains the image of an absurd hero; the story is a perversed story. The adventure is an absurd adventure. It is brought to bare here through the realization in one of what one is now to be rid. America is unhappy.
Next Week The UnHappy Hero, Part Two: What is Happiness?
Previously published on mythopoetry.com: Making Poetry of Myth, Myth and Poetry by Stephanie Pope. To read the full series immediately, follow this link.
Photo credit: Six Unknown Soldiers
Teacher, essayist, poet and cultural mythologer, Stephanie has a BA in education from Walsh University and a master's degree in mythological studies from Pacifica Graduate Institute. She teaches DreamWork & Musing Life on line through mythopoetry.com. Between 2010-2012 she is editing, producing and publishing Mythopoetry Scholar Ezine vol 1-3.
- Parent Category: Tools to Change Society
- Category: Wake Up Calls!
- Created on 18 May 2015
- Last Updated on 18 May 2015
- Published on 18 May 2015
- Written by Katharine Hayhoe, Director, Climate Science Center at Texas Tech
- Hits: 475
Published on May 5, 2015
Climate change is one of the most pressing issues facing the United States and the world. Over the coming century, it is expected to affect agriculture, energy, health, infrastructure, natural resources, national security and water availability. This assessment, which represents the most up to date and comprehensive overview of climate change impacts on the U.S., provides critical input to planning and policy at the state and national level to reduce the human influence on climate and adapt to future change.
Katharine Hayhoe, Ph.D., is director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech, part of the South-Central Climate Science Center. Her research focuses on developing and applying high-resolution climate projections to evaluate the future impacts of climate change on human society and the natural environment.
Hayhoe has published more than 70 peer-reviewed publications and served as lead author on key reports for the U.S. Global Change Research Program and the National Academy of Sciences. Hayhoe is currently serving as lead author for the 2014 Third U.S. National Climate Assessment.
Hayhoe earned a bachelor’s of science in physics and astronomy from the University of Toronto and an M.S. and Ph.D. in atmospheric science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at http://ted.com/tedx
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- Parent Category: Tools to Change Society
- Category: Movies, Theatre, TV & Videos
- Created on 17 May 2015
- Last Updated on 18 May 2015
- Published on 17 May 2015
- Written by Skip Conover
- Hits: 438
“Science will take you from A to B but …
Imagination will take you everywhere.”
Seven Word Review:
“Oh Yeah! She passed! Are we ready?”
Ex Machina is an ode to the infantile fantasies of men everywhere, who are unable to imagine themselves in a mature relationship with a mature living woman. It is part of a genre, of which Fifty Shades of Grey is another example. Ever since Hugh Hefner made nude photographs respectable with Playboy, we have been cultivating the objectification of women in polite society. This is the Shadow side of men’s psyches, which imagines that it does not need to share life with a real woman.
The process has been maturing for at least seven decades, but lately it has seemed to progressively darken, with pornographic ideas and images in mainstream theatres, and the darker side of pornography condoning slave farms, where women are trained in submissiveness, and BDSM is the order of the day. Instead of teaching our young men that these Shadow contents exist but should not be manifested in the real world, because of the Puritan head-in-the-sand taboo against discussing sexuality, we have the entire Republican Party of the United States, not to mention our professional sports organizations, literally condoning rape of young women.
And we can see where all of this leads. In other cultures, where these kinds of ideas were carried far too far centuries ago, for a variety of reasons both good and bad, women are simply entirely ignored, thus halving the psychic energy of such nations to advance their interests in world commerce and interactions generally. It’s no wonder American power has surged ahead, because we have started to respect women more in the last century, but the regressive forces of the Republican Party want to bind our feet once again, to give countries that condone honor killings and the like a better chance to compete; or at least, so it seems to me.
The fantasy of America’s immature young men seems to be to earn a billion dollars by some stroke of luck and timing, hide behind NDAs, and then live a wonderful pretend life with beautiful women at their beck and call, without worrying too much about later generations, and no aging allowed.
The vacuous faces of Caleb and Nathan say it all. Neither is interested in having a mature relationship with a real woman. Both want to know whether Nathan’s experiment with Ava can be a substitute for a real woman, without any of the trials and tribulations of real life. Caleb and Nathan seem to think they can escape all of that!
Don’t get me wrong! I loved the movie! It is indeed the masterpiece that Michael Berkowitz suggests in his erudite review. I’m thrilled Hollywood is gradually turning away from bigger and bigger gasoline explosions, and toward an exploration of psychic issues, which really matter for our future.
There are some profound ideas here. Chief among them is the idea that the psyche really matters and means something. Nathan describes its importance in several different ways. He explains to Caleb why Jackson Pollock could not have produced his paintings from his left-brain, and Caleb readily agrees, as if every nerd would understand what Nathan was talking about.
I cannot explain it. For the longest time I saw small pictures of Pollock paintings, and I could not understand what people saw in them. But, when I saw a real one at the Boston Museum of Art one time, I spontaneously burst into tears. From then I know that Jackson Pollock’s psyche communicated directly with my psyche, though I was 10 years old when he died. Mr. Pollock said to me, “That’s what I’m talkin’ about,” and my psyche responded, “I understand completely!”
Later, Nathan describes the black and white woman, who lived in the black and white room. She knew everything about color, but she had never actually experienced it. This is where deciding everything based on rationality falls short. Only the experiential side of life can provide meaning, and you can’t have that without giving the feminine principle its full due.
To understand the significance of the ending of Ex Machina, you need to give credit to this quote from Dr. Carl G. Jung:
“… What most people overlook or seem unable to understand is the fact that I regard the psyche as real.”
¶751, Answer to Job, C.G. Jung
Writer and Director Alex Garland has given us the opportunity to experience this for ourselves. He has pointed to the future and one of the most important next frontiers of human research and endeavor. What is the psyche? What does that little brain mean?
If you doubt me, go see the movie to the end, then stand back and observe your own psyche as it extrapolates out the possibilities opened up by the ending. Once you experience that, you will believe in the psyche, and who knows, you may even get interested in exploring that unexplored universe.
The end is the beginning!
"The World hangs on a thin thread, and that is the psyche of man. Nowadays we are not threatened by elementary catastrophes. There is no such thing as an H-bomb. That is all man's doing. We are the great danger. Psyche is the great danger. What if something goes wrong with the Psyche?
"And so it is demonstrated to us in our days, what the power of the psyche is of man. How important it is to know something about it. But we know NoThing about it.”
Dr. Carl G. Jung, “Face to Face with Carl Jung”
Skip Conover is an international businessman, author and artist. He is a Founder of the Archetype in Action™ Organization. You can follow him and his work on Twitter using @skip_conover or on Pinterest. Skip's latest book is Political Psychology: New Ideas for Activists. He is also the author of Tsunami of Blood.
- Parent Category: Tools to Change Society
- Category: Movies, Theatre, TV & Videos
- Created on 16 May 2015
- Last Updated on 16 May 2015
- Published on 16 May 2015
- Written by Michael Berkowitz
- Hits: 645
Caleb is a lucky guy. As the movie Ex Machina begins, he's just won the contest conducted by his employer Bluebook, the world's largest search engine. The prize is for Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) to spend a week at the super secretive mountain retreat of his company's brilliant, prickly CEO Nathan (Oscar Isaac), testing Nathan's Artificial Intelligence creation Ava (Alicia Vikander).
Nathan's retreat is a stark modernist palace cum fortress in a remote natural paradise. Since the helicopter is forbidden to land anywhere near Villa Nathan, Caleb is dropped near a stream which he must follow to reach the CEO's stunning outpost. Director Alex Garland's camera cross cuts throughout the film from house to lush surrounding scenery, not so much for relief as for juxtaposition.
The job at hand for Caleb is not so lush -- outside of Nathan's drunken binges. Nathan's charge to Caleb is to test his creation to determine whether her intelligence is actual or simulated... the Turing Test. Can Caleb judge whether Ava's responses are those of a database-bound artificial intelligence or humanoid? Or is Caleb himself an other-than-human creation? But then the question is not only who acts in what fashion, but what does it ultimately mean to act human and where does it lead?
Meanwhile, our own intelligence is tested, as well. The clever score, the spare modernist sets of Nathan's house, the freighted dialogue between the three principals, all signal conflict and danger. But who will carry the threat of dramatic tension -- Nathan the genius, cynical, ego-maniacal creator; Ava the seductive Artificial Intelligence longing to be free; or even Caleb himself, sown with self-doubt and all too human longings. Is it trust or lust that is misplaced. Who to believe and who to betray?
Writing Director Garland unfolds the plot steadily but economically. He gives the principals a strong framework to explore questions of intelligence, creation, freedom, progress and relationship. Caleb and Ava are brought along slowly in the shadow of Oscar Isaac's Nathan. Under-appreciated for his understated performance in A Most Violent Year, Isaac is the fully realized embodiment of the high IQ, flawed street wise savant. Garland's writing, while not equisite, is clear and bold, an advance over his good work in 28 Days.
It should be noted that his grandfather Sir Peter Brian Medawar, 1960 Nobel Prize Winner in Medicine is the acknowledged "Father of Transplantation." Not only do the themes of transplantation echo through the family, but Medawar was characterized by Richard Dawkins as "the wittiest of all scientific writers" and by Stephen Jay Gould as "the cleverest man I have ever known."
But more than his debt to science, Garland clearly owes the Greeks! Aeschylus developed Deus ex Machina, the sometimes improbable intervention of the gods, to resolve dramatic conflict, particularly those lost causes which needed rescue. Euripides used it to a fault. Director Garland uses it to reflect on his all too human creatures, both man and machine, asking us what is intelligence and what is artificial.
Who gets to play god? Will our human qualities, Nathan's self destructive brilliance or Caleb's blinding emotional need, save us or doom us? When god itself is a human construct, we must ask ourselves who then will rescue us?
Previously published at The Huffington Post on May 7, 2015.
Michael Berkowitz has worked on various political and social movements beginning with Civil Rights Movement in the South during the 1960s. He was a senior manager in San Francisco's Planning Department for many years and later worked as an urban planning consultant for eighteen years in China (PRC). A former planning commissioner for the City of Berkeley, he also served as a business agent and organizer for the Service Employees International Union. Berkowitz holds master's degrees in history from Stanford and Yale. He has appeared in four movies . . .though none in a starring role and served as a supernumerary with the San Francisco Opera for 17 years without getting to sing a single note!