Tag archive for truth

Be true to your depression: James Hillman

The late great Jungian analyst James Hillman, on depression. Christian myth, the soul, and the path depression offers to those who experience it. 

From his compilation A Blue Fire:

"Depression. Because Christ resurrects, moments of despair, darkening, and desertion cannot be valid in themselves. Our one model insists on light at the end of the tunnel; one program that moves from Thursday evening to Sunday and the rising of a wholly new day better by far than before. Not only will therapy more or less consciously imitate this program (in ways ranging from hopeful positive counseling to electroshock), but the individual's consciousness is already allegorized by the Christian myth and so he knows what depression is and experiences it according to form. It must be necessary (for it appears in the crucifixion), and it must be suffering; but staying depressed must be negative, since in the Christian allegory Friday is never valid per se, for Sunday — as in integral prt of the myth — is preexistent in Friday from the start. 


James-Hillman2010Depression is still the Great Enemy. More personal energy is expended in manic defenses against, diversions from, and denials of it than goes into other supposed psychopathological threats to society: psychopathic criminality, schizoid breakdown, addictions. As long as we are caught in cycles of hoping against despair, each productive of the other, as long as our actions in regard to depression are resurrective, implying that being down and staying down is sin, we remain Christian in psychology. 

Yet through depression we enter depths and in depth find soul. Depression is essential to the tragic sense of life. It moistens the dry soul, and dries the wet. It brings refuge, limitation, focus, gravity, weight, and humble powerlessness. It reminds of death. The true revolution begins in the individual who can be true to his or her depression. Neither jerking oneself out of it, caught in cycles of hope and despair, nor suffering through it till it turns, nor theologizing it — but discovering the consciousness and depths it wants. So begins the revolution on behalf of soul."

If this is a path, it's pretty clear why it's not often taken. I always sensed there was some reason I didn't like the Christian allegory. Never understood so clearly why before.

Or, as Robert Frost put it, 

The best way out is always through. 

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The egoist and the altruist: Javier Marias

The Threepenny Review has fallen in love with the Spanish writer Javier Marias. Every issue for the last year has included an essay of his; this summer's issue begins with his startling piece on egoists.

Here's his conclusion. Note that he seems to consider all writers to be egoists:

…the great virtue and advantage of the egoist [is] his capacity to observe without experiencing any obligation to feel pity. It is said of generous, altruistic people that they are capable of putting themselves in other people's shoes and of understanding their needs, but this can inevitably give rise to a high degree of confusion: the altruist — who is, deep down, a stickler for the rules — ends up believing that everyone's desires and needs are the same, and thus performs a kind of leveling process, the effect of which is to make these individuals replace their possible previous desires with others that the altruist considers universal. Now, that is precisely what no one wants, since our most authentic desires are unique and untransferable and, often, unconfessable. The egoist, on the other hand, tends to know himself through and through and is never likely to confuse himself with someone else, still less usurp antoher's personality. And because he is not equipped to place himself in that other person's shoes, he will never cease to see other people as individuals with their own interests and desires, which he deems to be as worthy or respect as his own. The egoist will be able to discriminate because he doesn't compare or involve himself with others. The egoist weighs his words, his actions, and his power, and when he does so, even though his objective is always his own best interest, and although one might say that, as a whole, he lacks scruples, the advantage is that he will behave with urbanity, civility, and tact, and can at least calim to be free of the two gravest and most widespread sins of our age: proselyetism and messianism. This egoist is one of the few people who is not trying to convert or save someone, and is, therefore, one of the few capable of seeing the truth. 

Javier Marias

(Don't know if I agree: Don't some egoists — say, Bill Clinton — want to convert or save people? But it's certainly thought provoking. Wonder who Marias is really thinking of…himself?) 

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Climate quote of the week

Henry David Thoreau, way ahead of his time, as usual…

It takes two to speak the truth, — one to speak, and another to hear. 

[from A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, the Wednesday chapter]

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A President: Somebody Who Will Tell You the Truth

By God, an issue has cropped up in this three-person race for the Presidency, and two candidates have shown themselves ready and willing to become Panderer-in-Chief, and one has not.

Numerous commentators have made the point:

James Fallows:

The pandering and ignorance-across-party-lines represented by the John
McCain-Hillary Clinton united front for a temporary reduction in the
gasoline tax should make Americans hold their heads in their hands and
moan. No one who has thought about this issue thinks that it will
actually reduce prices or — more important — help the the people
disproportionately hurt by $100+/barrel oil and $4 gasoline. And to the
extent it has any effect on America’s long-term approach to energy
policy, transportation, oil dependence, and climate change, the effect
will be perverse.

Ezra Klein:

Policy is hard. Lots of people come to different conclusions.
Unanimity is rare. Except on this gas tax holiday. Just about no one
thinks it a good idea. Conservative economists loathe it, liberal
economists loathe it, energy experts loathe it…it’s shameless
pandering of the worst sort. So is the media going to create a scandal
around McCain’s pander? Around Clinton’s copy-pander? Will they hound
them at press conferences, run segments about the derailed "Straight
Talk Express," bring on pollsters to ask whether Americans are tired of
being lied to?

Well, not quite.

Tom Friedman:

It is great to see that we finally have some national unity on energy
policy. Unfortunately, the unifying idea is so ridiculous, so unworthy
of the people aspiring to lead our nation, it takes your breath away.
Hillary Clinton has decided to line up with John McCain in pushing to
suspend the federal excise tax on gasoline, 18.4 cents a gallon, for
this summer’s travel season. This is not an energy policy. This is
money laundering: we borrow money from China and ship it to Saudi
Arabia and take a little cut for ourselves as it goes through our gas
tanks. What a way to build our country.

To his credit, Friedman then goes on to explicitly credit Barack Obama for resisting this pathetic pandering to the least-intelligent of voters. And yes, Obama deserves credit. If he loses, because he refuses to indulge in this nonsense, all I can say is — he gave us credit. Go Barry!

"That’s what you need from a President. Somebody who’s going to tell you the truth."

I ain’t ashamed to support that.


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