The section of Jung’s (2009) writing that I have chosen speaks to the use of words and expressions of metaphor as a reflection of our past. Among the symbolic psychological references found in this statement are descriptors that carry religious associations and connotations. I present them here not as a reflection of any particular belief system, but as a reflection of the many facets of the psyche. In my eyes, Jung’s statement also captures the complexities of the addictive experience, where through metaphor the reader may symbolically glimpse what this experience entails. When I first read this section, I was taken to a place of recollection; to look back at what one had experienced and witness the glimpse of hope. I would like to note that I am not writing on the literal meanings and intentions of Jung’s statement. I am speaking to the memories and affect that are evoked from metaphor. I have provided a brief introduction regard the concept of metaphor in a previous post on July 29, 2012, Metaphor and Symbol: An Expressive Medium.
Poetry can be interpreted “as a privileged medium for the way human beings most meaningfully deliver their lives to one another” (McDargh, 2011, p. 452).
The addict seeking wholeness is inevitably pulled at and torn from the fragmented state, hopeless and estranged in a sea of indistinguishable matter. The addict defines existence through fantasy and meanders amongst dissociative states that allow for the intolerable affect to remain seemingly manageable. Yet the intolerable is managed by disconnecting and an avoidance of intrapsychic material. The metaphor “is the very foundation of all poetic expression” (McDargh, 2011, p. 453) and it would behoove us to learn how to hone our skills that help us identify the metaphors that arise spontaneously. On June 24, 2012, I wrote Devoid of Hope, which captured the depth of hopelessness and pain within the addictive experience. Jung’s statement below illustrates what might await us if we are able to move through the feelings of despair. It is both easy and tempting to forget that addiction is a form of chaos that becomes embedded in the meaning and understanding of life. If the addict is able to regain a sense of meaning and identity, and not become swallowed up by the chaos of the addiction, a new understanding of the past can emerge that is immense and profound in ways that concrete thinking make intangible.
Lamarque (2009) cautions us on our ontological interpretations of poetry, stating “that poems cannot be treated just as strings of sentences or phrases waiting to be assigned meanings. They are not merely texts. Identifying poetry rests on more than just linguistic or textual facts” (p. 412). It is the symbolic medium of metaphor that allows for the unconscious content to be revealed, unrefined, raw, and volatile. From here I choose to see Jung’s (2009) statement, the chosen excerpt, if you will, as a piece of poetry:
My soul, where are you? Do you hear me? I speak, I call you—are you there? I have returned, I am here again. I have shaken the dust of all the lands from my feet, and I have come to you, I am with you. After long years of long wondering, I have come to you again. Should I tell you everything I have seen, experienced, and drunk in? Or do you not want to hear about all the noise of life and the world? But one thing you must know: the one thing I have learned is that one must live this life.
This life is the way, the long sought-after way to the unfathomable, which we call divine. There is no other way, all other ways are false paths. I have found the right way, it led me to you, to my soul. I returned, tempered and purified. Do you still know me? How long the separation lasted! Everything has become so different. And how did I find you? How strange my journey was! What words should I use to tell you on what twisted paths a good star has guided me to you? Give me your hand, my almost forgotten soul. How warm the joy at seeing you. Let us thank the life I have lived for all the happy and all the sad hours, for every joy, for every sadness. My soul, my journey should continue with you. I wonder with you and ascend to my solitude. (2009, p. 232)
Akhtar, S. (2000). Mental Pain And The Cultural Ointment Of Poetry. International Journal of Psycho-Analysis. 81(2), 229-243.
Jung, C.G. (2009). The red book. (M. Kyburz, J. Peck, & S. Shamdasani, Trans.)London, England: W.W. Norton & Company.
Kellogg, D. (1995). Desire pronounced and/Punctuated: Lacan and the Fate of the Poetic. American Imago,52(4), p. 405-438.
Lamarque, P. (2009). The Elusiveness of Poetic Meaning. Ratio. 22(4), 398-420.
McDargh, J. (2011). Imagining the Real: The Art of Poetry and the Art of Pastoral Attending. Pastoral Psycholgy. 60, 451-465.
© All Rights Reserved
Erik J. Welsh, PhD
– Author of The Addiction Complex