Foundation for a New Consciousness,
chapter 3 Copyright © 1987 John Caris
Copyright © 1987 John Caris
Let us pretend that we are outside on a clear, smogless day. Looking up at the sky, we watch clouds of many shapes float by. Each cloud has its own shape and may remind us of familiar objects and people whom we know. Some clouds are constantly changing their shape; now we see a rabbit and now a duck. If we become wistful, we might say that life is similar. Like the clouds, it is on the move, forever changing. Life is a process; we move from birth to death, experiencing many changes. Some people might even say that life is a cyclic process and that we move to analogous points on the spiral of life.
Clifford Simak's novel Destiny Doll illustrates the subjectivity of our life. Sara Foster, big game hunter par excellence, is in search of her greatest game yet, the mysterious Lawrence Arlen Knight, who may be nothing but a legend. She hires Mike Ross, macho spaceship pilot, guide, and galactic explorer. With several companions they land on a planet from which there is no escape. On this planet they find a trail leading to the legendary Knight. After many hair-raising adventures they reach the entrance to a valley where they believe he lives. As they travel into the valley in search of his residence, Mike is reminded of his school days. He remembers the lesson on ancient Greece and its heritage of classical beauty. With this frame of mind he experiences the environment. Along the valley's rocky slopes perch small villas built of shining marble, or so it seems, and they have the clean lines of Greek architecture. Even the sunlight fits his image of Greece. Finally, they see a gleaming villa with the sign "Lawrence Arlen Knight." On the porch stands an old but still hardy man, whose white hair and beard flow gracefully over his clean toga. The strong and vigorous Arlen Knight beckons them, and Mike knows at once that the legend is true, for everything here matches his image of what it should be.
Arlen Knight invites them into his abode and during the conversation he talks about his life and the paradise that he has found here in the promised land. He tells them that places are waiting for them in the valley and that they too can live in similar fashion. At this point a nonhuman member of their group named Hoot shouts "Mike"! As Mike stands up, Hoot directs some mind force at him and the place and the man change drastically. The shining villa becomes a dirty hovel that is falling apart. Broken furniture is strewn about the grubby room, and Arlen Knight himself is nothing but "a walking corpse."
The idea of one object or event experienced from more than one point of view is expressed in many art works. In fact, the arts have always played the reality-illusion game. In reality a painting is only colored paint smeared on a surface, yet we can see many different objects, and our view point shapes the total experience. Henry David Thoreau in his essay "Life Without Principle" expresses the matter thusly: "If a man walk in the woods for love of them half of each day, he is in danger of being regarded as a loafer; but if he spends his whole day as a speculator, shearing off those woods and making earth bald before her time, he is esteemed an industrious and enterprising citizen. As if a town had no interest in its forests but to cut them down!"
The title of Simak's Destiny Doll refers to a doll that the group finds during its journey. When Mike finds the doll, he sees it only as a stick of wood with some fiber tied to it. Another member of the group, Friar Tuck, notices it and recognizes it as a doll. Its face is barely human, but it expresses sadness. For Friar Tuck the doll is a sign which only he is able to understand. At the end of the story, when Mike, Sara, and their two robot companions are surrounded by monstrous beasts intent upon killing them, the secret of the doll is revealed. They realize that the doll is a sign, a gateway to another dimension. At this point Mike's consciousness is radically transformed. His mind becomes a focal point, blending the four of them together. With such focused energy they step into another dimension and a new life.
Brian Aldiss dramatizes the subjective quality of point of view in Report on Probability A where each character experiences one facet of total reality. The novel centers on three men--named G, S, and C--who are watching the house of Mr. and Mrs. Mary. Each of the three is stationed at a particular point relative to the house and can only observe the activities from that location. Although their experiences differ because of their viewpoint, they have one thing in common--a copy of William Holman Hunt's painting The Hireling Shepherd, which acts as a focal point for their descriptive reports of the activities occurring in the Mary's household. (A picture may or may not be worth a thousand words, but it can be a window opening onto another reality.) G, S, and C do not realize, however, that they are being watched by sentient creatures living in other dimensions. In fact, what the three men observe is mysteriously communicated to those other dimensional beings, who to complicate matters are watching each other watch G, S, and C. Here we have a multidimensional reality with many individual nodes of subjectivity. But who watches the watchers? The reader, of course, is drawn into the story as an observer who may or may not understand the total picture. Yet each reader is only one more subjective node who must rely on the reports of others. What really is happening in the Mary household? Can we ever actually know if we are always on the outside looking in? A basic duality of knowledge concerning our inner and outer experiences arises here. Aldiss presents an elegant finale. For one character does have both types of experience--a microcosm reflecting the macrocosm. Mrs. Mary knows what is happening inside her household and she also knows what is being reported. She has a secret telecommunication screen, an eye opening onto the cosmos, and so she is able to watch the watchers--all of them--watching her household!
In his novel The Martian Chronicles Ray Bradbury deftly shows the power that mental images have. When the second earth expedition lands on Mars, the four astronauts are not given the joyous welcome they expect until they are shuffled off to the insane asylum. The Martians are telepathic, and for them hallucinations are contagious. Captain Williams tries to prove that an actual spaceship carried him and his three crew members to Mars, but the Martian psychologist Mr. Xxx believes only that Captain Williams' delusion is the most vivid and intense one he has ever witnessed. Williams' delusion is so powerful that Mr. Xxx experiences a "real" spaceship. He goes inside it, taps on the walls, tastes it and smells it. In fact, Mr. Xxx congratulates Captain Williams and calls him "a psychotic genius." The third earth expedition to Mars carries a crew of sixteen who are cautious because they do not know the fate of the earlier expeditions. They land on the edge of a small town, and each crew member sees the town as a replica of his home town. When they enter it, they discover long dead relatives and friends living there, for the Martians are using telepathy. The childhood memories of the crew are so sharply focused that they seem real. The crew makes a deadly mistake and accepts the beguiling appearances.
Art has always conveyed statements about human nature. These statements can be understood in two senses: who are we as human beings and why do we exist? The artist gleans insights about these two questions by focusing upon both the outer world and the inner one. Knowledge about the physical and psychological processes are blended so that the artist can express ideas about human life. Even though the difference between the two worlds is always assumed, the artist is primarily concerned with their connection and their influence upon each other. The making of an art work forces the artist to be conscious of this basic duality, which is inherent in the fabric of reality. Because artistic form and content always go together, the balance between the two is a valuable clue for historians. For example, impressionism began in the 1860's and continued on into the 20th century, leaving a strong influence on future art. Impressionist painters carried on the traditional concern for light and its ability to make, modify, or illuminate forms and shapes, yet their ideas and techniques were quite different from the trend that dominated painting since the Renaissance. They made three major changes. They discarded the need of an illusion of a 3D space that allows the viewer to move around in. The focal point was moved closer to the actual surface of the painting, and so the viewer's ability to see distances was reduced. The mental construction of visual images was shared with the viewer, who was forced to participate at least on the unconscious level.
In the 1890's a movement counter to the impressionists arose. This painting style was the expressionists, who were more concerned about the artist's personal responses. The difference between the two styles centers on the emphasis given to either the outer world or the inner one. The impressionists examined the way that the mind perceives the external world while the expressionists explored the inner workings of the mind. They demonstrated the way that the mind shapes and interprets the external world. These two styles considered together illustrate the duality inherent in reality. Hidden within this duality is the concept of subjectivity. Each mind has a part which is a subject that experiences a world of objects and things. Both painting styles in their own manner focus our attention on human consciousness.
Ancient people usually did not feel alienated from their universe. As Blaise Pascal once wrote, "Man is a thinking reed." The physical body may be frail when blasted by nature's power, yet the mind has the potential to find the vertical path. The mind has the power of free will and so can rebel while the body cannot. The writer Albert Camus, showing artistic spirit, portrays Sisyphus in a modern setting. According to ancient legend Sisyphus was punished by the gods for rebellious behavior; he had to push a large rock up a hill for eternity. His body has been sentenced, but as Camus points out, Sisyphus' mind is able to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Sisyphus, conscious of his activity and his suffering, surmounts the physicality of the rock and laughs. He recognizes the nature of the Divine Comedy.
By following a vertical path we can think of the mind as a microcosm of the world. Modern science, in rediscovering the use of analogy, is expanding its knowledge of the mind. Starting with the physical level, the brain, science draws analogies between it and the computer. Here is a clue to the budding influence of the new technology. The industrial revolution of the 19th century designed its technology as an analogue to the body. Electronic technology is matched to the electro-chemical dimension of the brain. And as it develops, better understanding of the mind will occur.
Let us inspect our consciousness, starting with the sensory level. The eye does not receive a complete and whole image which is then transmitted to the brain intact. Scientific evidence indicates that the opposite is true. Light reflecting from an object strikes the eye. A photochemical action occurs that triggers an electrical, chemical action through the optic nerve to the occipital lobe. What is transmitted is an electrical impulse, that is, energy, Once this energy reaches the occipital lobe, it is stored as information. The brain does not store a picture; it houses basic information about the object. Yet when we experience the object, we see a whole image. The brain puts together the proper data to form a conscious image.
Any painting is an excellent illustration, for it exemplifies the activity of mental construction. The eye sees patches of color, yet the mind sees forms that are usually recognizable. Georges Seurat's painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Grande Jatte uses the technique of pointillism. Instead of blending colors on a palette, he clusters small daubs of different colored paint on the canvas so that the viewer's mind mixes them. Claude Monet uses patches of color to suggest recognizable forms, and the viewer's mind usually sees them as such. In his painting On the Bank of the Seine, Bennecourt reflections on the water look "real" yet upon close inspection they are found to be only color patches.
The same physical activity occurs with the other senses too. Although the brain receives and records electrical energy, the mind experiences odors, tastes, sounds, and tangible qualities. Johann Sebastian Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor is only a series of electrical discharges in the brain, yet the mind experiences the grandeur of a musical form spreading outward to fill even the high spaces of a church.
Let us now add the psychological process. When we see a particular color like red, we often experience a definite emotion like happiness, passion, or anger. What emotion do you associate with blue, yellow, and green? With shapes too we associate particular feelings. A curved shape gives us a feeling that differs from one given by an angular shape. Compare the curving lines of a painting by Peter Paul Rubens with the sharp, angular lines of cubism. Once we add the total background of our life--all of our experiences, expectations, and attitudes--we become aware of how complex the psychological dimension is.
Electronic technology provides us with devices to measure and manipulate the brain. The complex system of biorhythms which govern the body are mirrored on a micro-level by biorhythms of the brain. Recent research indicates that brain rhythms are signs of mental processes. Some of these rhythms, like alpha waves, are manipulated for the benefit of the individual. A machine that detects alpha waves has gained great popularity in part because one can use the machine to learn how to turn the alpha wave on and off. This is only one sign that modern psychology is moving toward the mystical state to better understand the human mind, for alpha waves are increased during meditation. Another rung to our vertical ladder has been added because we can now compare two different dimensions--an electro-chemical process with a state of consciousness.
Astrology has been gaining popularity perhaps because of a deep subjective need. Astrology, of course, is astronomy as practiced before the advent of modern science. Astronomy views the world as an object and as devoid of any subject. Its assumptions are analogous to the industrial revolution of the 19th century: understand the mechanical operations of the universe seen as an object. As astronomy collects more and more data however, the awareness is arising that these assumptions are not quite true, that a new renaissance of science is on the horizon. Astrology assumes the existence of the subjective as an important operating principle of the universe; it also posits the micro-macrocosm concept, that is, the universal pattern which connects. The essence and operation of each planet or constellation affect human affairs. This is not only a sign but also a causal influence.
In his novel Macroscope Piers Anthony uses astrological concepts. The title denotes a device (a type of scope) that scans and interprets a unit of matter called the macron. With the macroscope the characters of the story are able to tune in broadcast frequencies from different parts of the galaxy and gain advanced knowledge. On this level the story is straight science fiction, but Anthony, adding several more dimensions, creates a complex dramatic structure that has a vertical axis. The use of astrology permeates the story, and the type of consciousness required for it produces the dramatic structure. The reader is introduced to the basic concepts early in the story and so is prepared for the final chapter where the four main characters are caught up in a personal vision shaped by astrological symbols.
The astrological wheel or natal chart can be viewed as a mandala. The pattern of symbols reflects the structure of a person's mind. By delving into the symbols, one gains a better understanding of the basic self. The horoscope, focusing on the hours, opens onto another dimension. Time is of the essence in astrology because a person's horoscope is fixed by the time and location of birth. It is as if a photograph of the planets had been taken at one's birth. This photograph shows where the planets were in their eternal cycle. Thus, several levels of rhythm are linked--the planetary rhythm with the mental and bodily. It is this mixing of the subjective and objective that modern science has difficulty contending with. In the spirit of modern science perhaps we should look into the validity of astrology. Try it out. Experiment with our own horoscope. Does it help us understand ourselves any better? The proof is in the eating of the cake.
Another bridge between the brain and mind consists of recent research into dreaming. Humans have always been fascinated by their dreams; in many ways the dream world is another reality. It is a world dominated by symbols and intense emotions, and it can contain signs which, when correctly interpreted, will increase our survival chances.
American Indians, among others, believe that the dream world is as valid, as practical, as real as the everyday waking state. Psychology does view the dream state as an important part of mental activity; it believes that the dream content can reflect the unconscious. American Indians take a giant step when they view the dream world as another reality, one which is linked to the mind and is on par with the waking state. So shamans use the dream world for acts of power that affect and shape the waking state reality. It is as if there are two equal realities, the waking and dream states; and the human mind links them together, manipulating the experiential content. The Sioux Black Elk, as recorded in Black Elk Speaks, tells of the importance that dreams have for Indians. When a young boy, Black Elk had a very intense symbolic dream, but he was too frightened to tell anyone about it. When he was seventeen, Black Elk began to get signs that the time was at hand to tell his dream. He had realized that the vision's power could not be used until the dream was performed as a tribal ceremony. During the vision's enactment Black Elk looks up at a cloud and again sees his dream. He is amazed that the vision in the heavens is so bright and clear, and then he realizes that it is more real than the shadow drama which the tribe is performing.
In her novel The Lathe of Heaven Ursula Le Guin presents the issue in an extreme form. The hero of the story, one George Orr, is troubled by his dreaming. Once in awhile, quite unintentionally, Orr's dream becomes true. So far fairly conventional. We all have had dreams which in a certain sense become true. Perhaps, we dream of a new job or of traveling; later we travel or find a new job. But Orr's dream is more than that. When he awakens, his dream is the present reality. Only he realizes that reality has changed because he was at the source of the dream. Everyone else believes that the present world is the way it always has been. So Orr is troubled by his dreams, at least those that change reality. He becomes a patient of a psychologist, Dr. Haber, who is involved in dream research.
Dr. Haber is constructing a machine that will trigger and amplify dreams. It records the physical processes occurring in the brain during dreaming and is able to duplicate these processes. When Haber discovers Orr's ability to dream effectively, he manipulates Orr's dreaming so that the new reality will improve Haber's position in society. He becomes the director of a large research institute and is world famous for his dream machine. Finally, the dream machine is refined so that Orr's mental state during his effective dreaming can be imposed upon another person. Haber selects himself as the subject. He will now dream effectively. But his effective dream nearly destroys the world, for nothing has meaning and the universe nearly collapses into the void.
Dr. Haber symbolizes a particular type of consciousness which his dream world reflects. In a world without a subject nothing has meaning: things are; they do not mean. It is a subject which gives meaning to the world. Symbols in a dream guide one to a subjective basis of the world; symbols are the gateway to the stars. Haber, however, is not interested in a subjective basis but only in an objective level which, he hopes, he can manipulate for his own advantage.
Le Guin has pinpointed the crux of a serious contemporary issue--the relationship between scientific knowledge and human affairs. Should humans place moral restrictions on the search for and the use of knowledge? The experiments in genetic engineering are now raising the issue. The DNA of a living cell can be extracted, the chain broken apart and rearranged with or without new ingredients. The simple E. coli bacteria can now be transformed into a cancer-producing organism by changing its DNA. What are the moral and social concerns of such knowledge and its use?
Bela Bartok in his opera Bluebeard's Castle portrays the mind as both an interpreter and reflector of the world. Drawing on the legend of Bluebeard, Bartok transforms it so that the listener's mind is opened to new dimensions. The stage is designed as a circular Gothic hall with seven large doors. When Bluebeard and his bride Judith enter the castle, she experiences the overpowering darkness and desires to open the castle to light. As soon as she notices the seven locked doors, she wants them opened. One by one the doors are unlocked, and Judith discovers what hides behind them. First is Bluebeard's torture chamber--scourges, fetters, racks, and thumbscrews--all blood-encrusted. Next, Judith finds Bluebeard's armory--ghastly weapons of war. Behind the third door is a treasure chamber, but all the jewels and wealth are smeared with blood. The fourth door opens onto a beautiful garden and the fifth onto Bluebeard's domain--his forests, fields, and mountains. Judith notices, though, that both are tainted by blood. Behind the sixth door are unmoving, mournful waters--Bluebeard's sorrows.
The seventh door Bluebeard is determined to keep locked forever. But Judith's curiosity is whetted, certain now that the seventh chamber contains the bloody remains of her husband's former wives. After much pleading, Judith forces him to open the seventh door. She is surprised as she watches her husband's three former wives parade into the Gothic hall. Bluebeard sings to them of his love and reverence. Each of the three wives represents a stage in his life. The first represents morning, the second midday, and the third evening. Judith is overawed by this ceremony. Bluebeard then turns to her and commences adorning her with a crown and mantle, singing, "She, the fourth, I found at night fall." Judith is terrified, responding, "Have mercy. Listen. I am still here." When the ceremony is completed, Judith, arrayed as the Queen of the Night, enters the seventh chamber.
The audience has experienced the transformation of a fairy tale into a mind drama. The objective and subjective are mixed. The impersonal and objective structure of a fairy tale is fused with the subjective imagination of the artist. The audience hears its own subjectivity speaking. The drama's symbols open doors in the audience's mind.
The fairy tale or fable is a prime example of a story containing two dimensions. The child reads it on the literal level but experiences it unconsciously on the psychic level. The adult is aware of both levels simultaneously. Cinderella is a story that begins sadly and ends happily, yet it also reflects natural processes, like growing-up.
Some scholars look for an even deeper meaning in fairy tales. By comparing many versions of the same story, they uncover common elements that, when linked together, form a symbolic pattern. In The Lost Language of Symbolism, Harold Bayley notes that the symbolic pattern in Cinderella relates closely to many ancient myths. As Persephone has Demeter, so Cinderella has her fairy godmother, who provides her with new garments and a way to leave her lowly state. Clothing has often been used as a metaphor to portray change. Adam and Eve put on fig leaves after eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. When Ishtar, the Assyrian equivalent of the Egyptian Isis, leaves her heavenly estate and travels down into the underworld, she passes through seven gates. At each gate she takes off a garment, and when she reaches the underworld, she is nude. While returning to her heavenly abode, she replaces each garment as she goes through the gates.
The quality of a fairy tale is mixed with a modern setting in Lewis Padgett's story "Mimsy Were the Borogoves." Two children, seven year old Scott and his two year old sister Emma, are in possession of alien educational toys. These toys were projected into their world by an inventor, working on time machines, who lives in a different time and dimension. Scott finds the toys, and he and Emma become engrossed in the strange thought patterns that the toys require. These thought patterns are unconventional, and when the parents discover the toys and the changed behavior of their children, they call in a psychologist. The children, though, are constantly learning from the toys, learning strange and unusual logical patterns. Finally, when the children solve the problem posed by the toys, they step into another dimension, leaving their parents behind. Emma finds the solution by correctly interpreting the opening stanza of Lewis Carroll's poem "Jabberwocky."
'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
This is the poem that Alice reads after she has stepped through the looking-glass. It is printed as a mirror image; Alice holds it up to the looking-glass so that she can read it. She does not understand it but thinks it pretty. "Somehow it seems to fill my head with ideas--only I don't exactly know what they are!"
All toys and games require a particular form of thinking. They instruct and entertain--the best type of education. Look at the popular and influential game Monopoly. Played widely since the 1930's, it conditions the player to a specific pattern of consciousness. Now in the 1980's there is a new game Anti-Monopoly, which has a purpose and uses a strategy opposed to Monopoly. Compare other popular games like chess, scrabble, bridge, or poker. Each one has its own thought process. Even infant's toys teach things like motor coordination and pattern arrangement, and some toys train the child to play the proper sex or career role. Every society approves those toys and games which reinforce its values and customs. The habits imposed through these games reflect that behavior which society approves. Yet changes can occur in society by the introduction of a game containing a new type of consciousness.
Perhaps, the pinnacle of game-playing as expressed in story form is Hermann Hesse's The Glass Bead Game. The game is one of immense mind power; the spiritual values and ideas of all ages and all cultures are blended together in an act of simultaneous existence. It is as if the mind has transcended all limits of the everyday world and is looking down on earth and watching the stage performance of human existence--past, present, and future. On the allegorical level the story reflects the imagination's power; a key is given that will allow one to understand the basic self. From the dramatic tensions that shape and form the story arise a sharp and lucid view of the human predicament. One dominant theme is whether the mind can survive by sitting in its closet, playing its clever and ingenious games? Or must it immerse itself in the totality of life, however painful that might be!
At the age of 50 Harry Haller believes that he has satisfactorily analyzed his psychological problem. There is Harry, middle class raised and middle class bound, and the Steppenwolf--primitive, instinctive, and ready to tear out the middle class bowels and devour them for dinner. Harry, however, learns differently from the Steppenwolf Treatise, which the unknown man gave him near the old wall with its electric sign; not until Harry enters the Magic Theater, though, does he actually experience his true nature. An intellectual analysis is one thing, but a guts level response is another. The Magic Theater has multiple stages, and upon each a different performance takes place. Harry chooses several performances. Putting on the role appropriate to each, Harry realizes the actual multiplicity of his nature. He is more than Harry or Steppenwolf or the product of the two. His personality is like a diamond with many facets--each reflecting a particular hue, together making the rainbow. What Harry recognizes is that each role is a set of images, and these images generate a specific environment. Although the environment is psychological, it is projected onto the external world and so shapes the world to fit Harry's expectations. No wonder he has difficulty extracting himself from his self-imposed duality, for he finds the duality mirrored in the external world.
Arthur Kopit in his drama Indians demonstrates how this power of the image has worked historically. The drama takes stereotyped images of the American Indians and opens them up for public inspection. In scene five Geronimo enters the center ring of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show through the tunnel cage traditionally used by the big cats. Once inside the big cage Geronimo shouts his credits to the audience. He is a murderer and rapist--a primitive savage, a wild beast. Buffalo Bill then enters and, acting as the lion tamer, calmly confronts Geronimo; then turning his back, he leaves the cage while Geronimo remains tense and shaking. The comic exaggeration thrusts the stereotyped image around, revealing its subjective quality.
In scene seven Kopit uses the play-within-a-play technique. Here, enacted for the special viewing of the President and the First Lady, is the basic cowboy and Indian story. The three cowboys--Buffalo Bill, Wild Bill Hickok, and Ned Buntline--discover that evil Indians have captured an Indian maiden and are planning dastardly deeds. We can imagine what they are planning to do to her. But Kopit turns the play inside out. Wild Bill Hickok decides that he does not want to play himself as Buntline's script directs; if he must play himself, then it will be as he really is. First he stabs Buntline with a bowie knife, and then he lustfully attacks the Indian maiden. Unheard of in typical cowboy movies. At this point the Indian maiden reminds us that she is neither an Indian nor a maiden. She is actually an Italian actress. And as our thoughts focus on images of a voluptuous, sensuous Italian actress, we become aware of our own stereotyped images. Here Kopit's drama is performed within the magic theater of our mind. Like Harry, we experience the power of our mental constructs. For those who see Indians as savages or beasts that is the way they are. No doubt some Indians respond as such, which only reinforces the stereotype, "I told you so!" And all those Indians who do not respond as such become invisible.
This multiplicity of personality is also illustrated in Piers Anthony's Macroscope. The main character Ivo Archer appears to have a split personality. Others know him as Ivo, an average and rather nondescript person. Yet, there is Schon, the hidden personality. Schon was the only personality until age five when he found it necessary to disappear and replace himself with the personality of Ivo. Schon is a genius, but definitely immature. Ivo, no genius, gains maturity and so is able to survive in the world. Maturity, as Anthony defines it dramatically, is a process whereby one learns how to cope with life, while genius is potential ready to be actualized. Without maturity genius is actualized in a childish manner. So far we have the split personality of Steppenwolf. Ivo, however, has not successfully adapted to the world when the novel begins. He has developed an alter ego that he uses for escape into a fantasy world. This fantasy ego is based upon a historical person, Sidney Lanier, an American poet of the 19th century. Ivo prevents psychological disintegration by switching on this personality at the appropriate moment. As Ivo is a survival device for Schon, so is Sidney one for Ivo. Probably, one could develop a long series of such personalities.
A further issue is raised, though. What is the basic self? Is Schon more basic than Ivo because Schon was the original personality? Or does the multiplicity suggest that the basic self is hidden? Perhaps, it is the multiplicity itself. Hesse's novel implies this idea. A multiple personality is similar to the theory of relativity, at least on the surface. Trying to find the true personality is like trying to discover the correct frame of reference. It all boils down to where one is at. Both ideas shock the modern mind which holds to an absolute position: there is only one personality that is constant and permanent. Until recently though, women have been allowed to be changeable. Perhaps, men can learn from this.
Stepping beyond the shock of such a stereotype, we discover a clue about the mind, a clue so obvious that we seldom recognize it. Ancient science does posit a permanent, basic self. Yet it also posits a multiplicity. Actually, this is only an apparent paradox, for the multiplicity applies to the ego which, as Sigmund Freud defined, is that part of the mind which deals with the external world. Carl Jung does provide for a basic self lying beneath all else. Jung, we should remember, gained considerable wisdom from his study of alchemy. Two basic alchemical symbols are the king and queen. The magnum opus is accomplished by the alchemical marriage of the king and queen. As Jung correctly discerned, the alchemical process is applicable not only on the laboratory level but more importantly on the psychological level. In fact, with the rise of modern science alchemy split into two branches--modern chemistry and mystical psychology. Jung brings mystical psychology into the 20th century by constructing a scientific frame of reference for it. It is this framework that supports research into psychic phenomena. The king and queen symbols reflect the cosmic duality on the level of the human mind. On the physical level male and female express this principle. Most of us are aware that both male and female exhibit masculine and feminine characteristics. Jung provides a mental structure for those who need a modern approach; he designates these characteristics as anima and animus; each sex has its opposite psychological side.
The implication here is that the human mind is androgynous. Ursula Le Guin uses this hermaphroditic idea in her novel The Left Hand of Darkness. Earthman Genly Ai is an observer on planet Gethen/Winter, which is divided into two societies, each the opposite politically and economically of the other. The natives of the planet are hermaphroditic. As Genly Ai reports, "My efforts took the form of self-consciously seeing a Gethenian first as a man, then as a woman, forcing him into those categories so irrelevant to his nature and so essential to my own.''
Most of the time the natives are male, but following a cycle they become female and can be impregnated by those who are still male. Thus, inherently within one individual is the dual potential, and so too even earthman Genly Ai can change, not physically but psychologically. The duality is more easily seen if we define masculinity as assertiveness or an out-going energy flow and femininity as receptiveness or an in-going energy flow. Is not the student receptive and the teacher assertive? Does not the catcher receive the baseball from the pitcher? As we live, we are constantly oscillating back and forth, giving and receiving. If the obvious is so simple, why are the majority caught in their psychological trap? No doubt the set of images we have built up around the stereotypes of male and female imprison us.
Harry Haller experiences this duality when he meets Hermine, who reminds him of his boyhood friend Hermann. Children tend to be androgynous, not exuding sexual distinctions until adolescence, and we often label childhood as a time of sexual innocence. Hermine acts and Harry receives. She realizes that he needs someone to take command and make decisions. After she takes charge, Harry becomes more involved in living. Yet Hermine tells him that he will kill her, and so he does in the Magic Theater. This is one reason he is finally condemned and sentenced.
Hermine is a derivative of Hermes, who is the patron deity of alchemy. In Latin the name is Mercury. When the mercurial principle is slain by the sulphuric principle, the volatile has become fixed. The slaying of Hermine symbolizes the fixation of Harry's mercurial principle. As the ancient Greeks learned from the Dionysiac mysteries, the non-rational cannot be conquered and bound by the rational. Although we associate the rational with masculinity, we need to realize that it is puny and weak when confronted by the non-rational.
These symbols, whether drawn from alchemy or psychology, describe the basic structure of the mind. Hidden somewhere in the mind is the prime material for producing the philosopher's stone. What Jung calls the self is analogous to what ancient science calls the soul. The self is the gateway from the modern psychological domain to the ancient and mystical domain, that of the soul. The self is still a psychological construct while the soul is the center of the living creature. Because the psychological domain is part of the body, it is associated with the ego. Ancient science uses the body-soul principle with the body having an ego as the mental go-between with the world. Because modern science focuses only on the physical world, psychology must be limited to the ego and the unconscious processes. It cannot deal with the soul, for the soul is only in the body, not of it. Alchemy, however, does operate on both levels.
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