Friday, July 29, 2011

Shiff, Shalit, and The Cycle of 'Life'





Benjamin Shiff's painting Life 
on the cover of The Cycle of Life

A primary tenet of my perspective on the journey through life, as I describe in the newly published The Cycle of Life, pertains to the confluence of fate and destiny, and how conscious choice and the unexpected turns of the tide flow together. How do predetermined fate and individual destiny cohabit in one’s life, how does fate determine one’s prospects, and in what ways can the individual determine the course of his or her possibilities? Everything is foreseen, and everything is laid bare, yet everything is in accordance with the will of man, says the Talmud. Likewise, as Jung observed, something that remains unconscious in the individual psyche, may become manifest as external fate. Sometimes, what has powerfully constellated in one’s psyche, yet remains below the level of consciousness, may materialize in physical reality.

Little did I anticipate that this would become apparent in my search for a cover image, the face of the book. I traveled along rivers of time and traversed cultural continents, ending up, so it seemed, with a coverless book in my hands. Then, in a sudden bliss, I remembered a painter whose name was at the tip of my tongue. As I extracted his name, Benjamin Shiff, from the layers of my memory, I was reminded of the balance between lyric harmony and pensive concern, which characterized the dream-like painting I recalled.







As I traced the pictures on Shiff’s canvas, my eyes fell upon his painting Life (1990). Undoubtedly, I had found the grail. I understood that the frustrations of my journey had not been in vain, but were, perhaps, the psyche’s signs along the road to the picture of life’s transition. The candles’ soft light of life is poised against the painful inevitability of burning out. Yet, as long as they burn, there are shades and colors; there are the distinct faces of transient existence, and there are those of obscurity, hidden in distant nature; there is a lyrical melancholy, as well as a tense harmony. The pain of death and extinction reflects the subtle strength and beauty of life. Only an unlit candle will never burn out. A fully lived life extracts the awareness of its finality. Freud claimed, succinctly, that the ultimate aim of life is death. Mortality as the ultimate boundary of physical existence, serves as the container of human life.

In the paintings of Benjamin Shiff, the contrasts are subtle, and the opposites often blend into a tense yet congruent whole. Contrasting elements of identity, of earthly and heavenly, matter and spirit, float into each other, combining into one whole; together, yet distinct, united, yet separate - is this perhaps the human condition, as rendered in Shiff's exceptional self-portrait, 'my condition as a human'?






Sometimes the pain is hidden behind a crucified smile. What is crucial emerges from within outward appearance; conflict and struggle blend into harmony and tranquility. In one of his paintings, crucified love hovers over the wide-open mouth of anguish. Elsewhere, the light of innocence and naïve faith is contrasted with the complexity and fragmentation of knowledge.








In the aesthetics of Shiff’s paintings, light and hope merge with pensive sadness. The ordinary becomes thoughtful reflection, in which dream-like interiority finds tangible expression. There is always something hidden,secretive and elusive – a riddle, like a dream we do not understand, which calls us back, to search, to reflect and look ever deeper.

I came across Benjamin Shiff’s painting Life in May 2011, only to learn that he died in March. As it turned out, not only did we live but half an hour apart, but his daughter, Orit Yaar, is also a Jungian analyst. I knew Orit, but had no idea that she was Benjamin Shiff's daughter. With the sadness of having lost the possibility of meeting Benjamin Shiff, the “sad optimist,” in life, I hope that his painting Life, which provides The Cycle of Life with its face, will serve as a candle honoring and reflecting upon his life and work.

I wish to thank Shosh Shiff, who granted permission to feature this profound painting on the cover of The Cycle of Life.

The Cycle of Life can be ordered directly from Fisher King Press, from your local bookstore, and from a host of online booksellers, including amazon.com.
Fisher King Press publishes an eclectic mix of worthy books including Jungian Psychological Perspectives, Cutting-Edge Fiction, and a growing list of alternative titles.
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    Friday, July 15, 2011

    In with the old, and in with the new!

    Are you a certified Jungian analyst who would like to resurrect an out-of-print book? Over the years a number of fine Jungian publications have fallen by the wayside. Perhaps these books were published ahead of their time, before the collective could receive the concepts offered, when those old king patriarchal values and religious fundamentalisms demanded blind faith and restricted the acceptance of matriarchal values and the exploration of the unknown.

    Fisher King Press is of the belief that many of these out-of-print Jungian publications have an eternal quality and should be brought back into their own. If you have such a book -- preferably a new or extremely clean copy in scannable condition -- and would like to have it back into print, send word to queries@fisherkingpress.com

    Keep in mind that we have international distribution and our titles ship from fulfillment centers in the U.S., the U.K., and Australia.
    Fisher King Press publishes an eclectic mix of worthy books including Jungian Psychological Perspectives, Cutting-Edge Fiction, and a growing list of alternative titles.
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      Thursday, July 7, 2011

      Eros and the Shattering Gaze: An Introduction

      Eros and the Shattering Gaze: Transcending Narcissism
      I want to be able to fly. I want to hover around you like a 
      winged Cupid in attendance on his Goddess.(1)

      From The Golden Ass by Apuleius. Lucius here pleads with his lover, a witch’s apprentice, to steal a magical potion so that he can be transformed into a god. Instead, he is given the form of an ass and must submit himself to an existence as a loathsome beast of burden.

      We live in a time and culture predisposed toward life at the surface. Ours is a society that privileges eternal youth and beauty, consumer-driven instant gratification, and narcissistic preoccupation with self-centeredness, not self reflection. Like Narcissus we often look no deeper than the reflection in the mirror, seeing only skin-deep beauty, never daring to know our own—nor the other’s, inner depths.

      Contemporary thought has attempted to respond to this cultural climate that, in the words of Stephen Frosh, “[fights] against the deepening of relationships [and love], against feeling real.”(2) Psychoanalysis, analytical psychology, and philosophy have addressed the contemporary individual’s crises of the heart, separation from authenticity, and repudiation of the other. They offer a variety of viewpoints on the problem of narcissism, from its ontological and healthy conformations to its pathological forms, and its grandiose illusions leading to growth or to defense.

      Jacques Lacan’s notion of the mirror stage helps us to understand the essential alienation inherent in narcissism and its search for perfection in an idealized image of another. Lacan describes a moment in infancy when the six-month-old child “recognizes” himself in the mirror and falsely identifies the reflection as an image of the unified wholeness and mastery he does not in fact possess. In that moment, the infant, with his smiling mother’s assent, is lured into an illusion of false certainty and omnipotence that splits him off from his fragmented body/self with its accompanying experiences of terror and uncertainty.

      Lacan’s conception of the mirror sequence describes the way a mental construction of a perfect, alienating identity can originate, separating the infant from his own insufficient self image. The I itself that takes form here is an artificial representation, a self split between its idealized mirror image and the raw truth of human existence.(3) It is not difficult to imagine, then, how this narcissistic ideal can be later projected onto objects of desire who mirror this ideal.

      Narcissism is not limited to the psychology of individuals. American culture, politics, and its recent national wounding uncannily mirror these narcissistic phenomena. The Patriot Act and the War on Terror can be seen as unconscious fantasies enacted upon the world stage. In this post-September 11 world many individuals err on the side of security and rigid borders, thereby sacrificing freedom, relationality, and dimensionality. Nor is narcissism merely a contemporary phenomenon. Literature and history provide ample illustrations of the historical and cultural contexts underlying the problem of narcissism and the way it is transcended.

      The essence of narcissism is the repudiation of the other in its differences. Sometimes this takes the form of appropriating the other under the guise of romantic love, and sometimes it takes the form of casting out the other to protect the vulnerable self. In these pages I attempt to present a theory of the transcendence of narcissism, in which the humble capacity to love comes about through the surrender of the self to the shattering truth of the other.

      • • • • •

      Western culture’s most ancient tale of love, “Psyche and Amor,” which forms part of Apuleius’ The Golden Ass, will introduce us to these dynamics. The story features a leading man—Amor, the very personification of Love—whose amorous desires are so embedded in narcissism that he never dares to reveal himself to the object of his passion. The couple, Psyche and Amor, remains suspended in a dark fusion removed from life until Psyche has finally had enough; the illusion is pierced and shattered, and loss ensues. Emerging from his state of wounding, Amor comes in a new way to the side of his beloved, the mortal human Psyche, his act signifying the inner “awakening of the sleeping soul through love,” as James Hillman puts it.(4) How many hundreds of modern romantic dramas follow in the train of the Tale of Psyche and Amor, telling the story of the selfish or hardened man who uses everyone, then loses everything, but then finds a woman from whom he learns how to love?

      More than a millennium later, the tales of medieval courtly romances portray the fate of lovers whose longing for oneness can be realized not on earth but only in their sacrificial death and reunion in Heaven. These are tragedies portraying an idealized longing for true love that can never be sustained in our flawed human condition.

      The blissful fantasy of everlasting union merely conceals the face of narcissism. This romantic ideal privileges the allure of the lovers’ paradise over the enduring struggles in human relationships in all their vicissitudes. These are the romantic fantasies of a happily-ever-after ending, illusions ultimately deriving from childhood experiences. Time and again, lovers plunge blindly into brief enthrallments that are doomed to failure, yet hold fast to their unquestioned, cherished beliefs, and to a faith in an idyllic innocence that is inevitably shattered. Young lovers blindly enter marriage with the fantasy that romantic love will endure forever. But predictably, when the burning fires of first love’s desires have cooled to warm embers, many men devalue the apparently known quantity at home and look to a passionate love affair with a mysterious other, in which to be absorbed. For the narcissist this process signals the avoidance of human relationship in its fullness, rife with difficulties, limitations, and ethical responsibilities, in favor of the grandiose illusion of ecstatic oneness and freedom from all pain.

      Ultimately the narcissistic avoidance of the difficulties of life arises in response to a primal experience—the inevitable wounding and loss suffered in the earliest infant-mother relationship. Thus narcissistic dynamics are deeply impacted by the experience of trauma. Psychological wounds too devastating to bear are reflexively partitioned and buried, while simultaneously, reactionary wars of retaliation against one’s pain are staged in order to provide safeguards from disavowed shame and profound vulnerabilities. Throughout life grandiose fantasies in all their forms will magically supplant the experience of unbearable vulnerability, literally obliterating it.

      These clinical themes are richly amplified by cultural signifiers found in the myths and mysteries of antiquity and from the medieval Tales of Courtly Love through the literature of the mystics and Romantics, to Gothic horror stories and modern romances from contemporary popular culture. These provide the historical and cultural contexts for the contemporary problem of narcissism as well as its transcendence.

      As we will see, Levinas’s postmodern philosophy describes the way the encounter with the ineffable Face of the Other shocks and deconstructs the sameness and narcissism within eros, freeing the subject to assume an enduring responsibility for the other from which new and transcendent capacities to love may be envisioned.

      • • • • •

      My theory of the transcendence of narcissism is based on the work of two men: C. G. Jung and the philosopher Emmanuel Levinas. Jung’s theory of the complexes illuminates two vital concepts that are threaded throughout this book: the ego’s primitive identification with the negative or overly positive aspects of the Mother, and the relationship of the puer aeternus, the eternal boy, with his split-off counterpart, the senex, the old man. We can see how these complexes come about by observing the characters in Apuleius’ The Golden Ass, which contains the immortal “Tale of Psyche and Amor.” The path through which they are overcome leads from the romantic, narcissistic, predatory preoccupations of what I call the mother-bound man to the wound that shatters the isolation of his standpoint. Through the work of the transcendent function this shattering may culminate in the emergence of empathic dimensions of emotion and a humble yet still masculine standpoint.

      One of the ways this book contributes to the development of contemporary analytic psychology is through the cross-fertilization of Jungian and contemporary psychoanalytic ideas. For instance, I argue that narcissistic defenses arise not after the development of the complexes, but prior to them. The puer aeternus psychology described by Jung comes into being in reaction to the narcissistic defenses that have appropriated the infant’s most archaic, unsignifiable complex—the mother. These narcissistic defenses encapsulate the infant’s ego, protecting it from experiences reminiscent of its original loss of maternal containing. Another original area of contribution may be found in my analysis of the Grail Legend, where I view von Eschenbach’s Parzival through the lens of eros development in its dual guise, as both a narcissistic and wounding process and one that is relational and healing.

      The work of the French philosopher Emmanuel Levinas provides the second major source for my theory of how narcissism may be transcended. A traumatic encounter with an utterly unknowable, transcendent Other(5)—sometimes initiated by analytical work or psychotherapy—may violently shatter the narcissistic illusions that maintain, among other things, the individual’s endless, romantically driven projections and erotic fantasies. There is therefore a painful, even violent, yet redemptive potential to the wounding. Levinas’s postmodern philosophy is essential to an understanding of this kind of encounter with the Other by a subject; he too emphasizes its capacity to decenter the ego’s “solipsism”—the belief that the self is the only reality and the only thing that we can be certain of. Levinas attempts to describe this shift from an ego-centered view of the universe as something that defies understanding or category. All religious experience perhaps stems from such a primordial awareness. His ethical philosophy, informed by the Holocaust in which his entire family was murdered, centers upon the “relation of infinite responsibility to the other person.”(6) Levinas provides a profound insight into the dangers of how individuals can be so easily subsumed in the vision of a tyrannical utopia which he often refers to as a “totality.”

      To Levinas, the Other is unknowable, ineffable, ungraspable, tormenting, enigmatic, infinite, irreducible, sacred. Its mere trace can only be glimpsed interpersonally or intersubjectively—a term defining a psychological experience created between individuals. The Other does not originate in the psyche. It is infinite, already there, before subject or object exists, and our subjective awareness of it comes through the primacy of its impact upon us. It transcends subjective being, defies our concepts or categories, and cannot be engulfed or appropriated by ego consciousness.(7)

      As Levinas would say, the trace of the Other is glimpsed in the irreducible “face of the human other,” who is revealed in (her) vulnerability, sacredness, and nakedness.(8) In Levinas’s ethical view, one’s responsibility emerges from the trauma he feels for the useless suffering and destitution of the one now standing before him. He is taken hostage to the guilt of surviving when the other is stricken. He is even compelled to wish to substitute himself for the other, to put himself in (her) place—but it is too late. This is the torment of which Levinas speaks—the unavoidable responsibility to the other invoked by the shattering Other. It is impossible to evade this summons, which accuses one and even leads him to wonder just how much truth he can bear.

      In moving from the ethics of human justice and compassion to personal psychology, one can observe how the traumatic impact of the Other destabilizes and shatters the ego’s narcissism, awakening the subject from his slumber. Such a violent blow often appears to the ego in forms that are dark and shadowy, or that threaten to obliterate its fixed orientation and need for certainty, its wish for everything to remain the same. For Levinas, the ego’s need to appropriate alterity—the other’s difference—and to reduce it to sameness is the origin of all violence: narcissism is violence. In those cases where the shattering encounter is successfully navigated, a restructuring of a man’s core of being occurs. An inner cohesion develops that enables him as an ethical subject to bear love’s separations, uncertainties, longing, as well as its closeness.

      Here I propose a significant revisioning of Jung’s concept of the enigmatic Self, conceptualizing it as an idea akin to Levinas’s unknowable Other, where both, I contend, transcend subjective being and the boundaries of the psyche. I argue that this revised understanding of the Self provides the basis for what I have previously described as a unifying theory of the transcendence of narcissism.

      • • • • •

      Eros and the Shattering Gaze is concerned with men’s problems with love due to narcissism. While some of these difficulties are common to women as well, I will leave the exploration of the woman’s perspective to another. Similarly, I write primarily about heterosexual relationships, but many of these ideas can also be applied to homosexual relationships.

      At the same time, though it focuses on narcissism in individual men, the book is not intended to be a textbook on the clinical theory and treatment of narcissism. Rather it is meant to bring to light the prevalence of narcissism in our culture and the possibilities for its transcendence. It does so through stories—stories old and new, epic and personal, fictional and historic. They include vignettes from my over thirty years of clinical experience as well as examples from a variety of cultural and historical sources, beginning with Apuleius and other Greek, Roman, and Biblical material and continuing through medieval romances to contemporary culture. Permission has been given in all case vignettes and each patient’s identity has been carefully disguised. Some case vignettes are composites. I have found films to be particularly helpful in illustrating the forms narcissism takes in contemporary love relations.

      • • • • •

      Eros and the Shattering Gaze consists of three parts, preceded by a Prologue that follows this introduction. The Prologue summarizes Apuleius’ story for those unfamiliar with it; the retelling of the tale is followed by the description of what I term the Eros template—that is, those narcissistic qualities illuminated in the character of Eros, or Amor, in his relationships to his mother, Venus, and to his lover, Psyche.9 Apuleius’ work offers important glimpses into the reversal of narcissistic states in men, and in doing so also provides the metaphorical entry points for the three parts of this book.

      Part One is entitled, “Narcissism in the Romantic: The Mother, Her Son, His Lover.” These chapters depict how romantic and erotic desire for the instant but transient pleasures found in the lovers’ fusion enacts men’s earliest longing to return to the fantasy of a lost maternal paradise. The primitive development of these defensive and destructive forms of narcissism maintains and insulates men throughout life against the perceived threat of retraumatization that emotional depths or mutual relationships could initiate. Their desire seeks its ideal object through projections that colonize the individuality of the other, as the other is used for the colonizer’s own completion. This creates an inflated state of fusion in the couple.

      Part Two, “The Predator Beneath the Lover,” shows how this fragile wholeness ultimately collapses. The object is discarded and devalued, leading to reactive attempts to restore the lost union through colonization and manipulation of a new object. As an alternative the subject withdraws into narcissistic encapsulation. Narcissism’s disavowal of the other’s human distinctiveness and mutuality in relationships can be viewed as a tyrannical maintenance of sameness that results in the annihilation of otherness. These obstacles to loving are portrayed in Ovid’s myth of “Narcissus and Echo,” where we see the tragic isolation of the person hopelessly ensnared at the surface of existence. He lives in desperate fear of contact, both with other humans and with his own internal depths. The existence of the other (Echo) is negated through a false sense of superiority. Part Two will enlarge upon these Ovidian themes.

      In Part Three, “The Shattering Gaze,” we encounter the traumatic gaze of the Other, who is unknowable and transcendent. It may shatter the individual’s narcissistic omnipotence, whether it comes through unforeseen and unbearable tragedy, loss, or in the naked truth of revelations that seem too devastating or shameful to bear. Following this encounter, a resilient, emotional depth may evolve in a man, signifying the greater psychic cohesion needed to endure love and loss.

      Notes
      1 Apuleius, The Transformations of Lucius otherwise known as The Golden Ass. Translated by Robert Graves (NY: Noonday Press, 1951), 42.
      2 Stephen Frosh, “Melancholy Without the Other,” in Studies in Gender and Sexuality 7(4) (2006): 368.
      3 Jacques Lacan, “The Mirror Stage as Formative of the I Function,” in Ecrits, translated by Bruce Fink (New York: Norton, 2006), 78.
      4 James Hillman, The Myth of Analysis (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1972), 55.
      5 The term “Other” stemmed from the philosophy of Hegel’s dialectic and gained contemporary relevance primarily from the work of  Jacques Lacan and Emmanuel Levinas. Lacan doesn’t see the Other in an infinite or transcendent way as Levinas does. Rather, he identifies the Other with the world of the Symbolic, which encompasses the cultural, social and linguistic networks into which the person is born, and from which subjectivity comes into being. The two men are similar in a general way, in that both privilege an ‘otherness’ that is already there at the origins of the subject, and from which the subject emerges. That is, for both, the ‘self’ is not an entity that is present from the beginnings of development. See Simon Critchley, Ethics, Politics, Subjectivity (New York: Verso Press, 1999), 198-216. See also Suzanne Barnard, “Diachrony, Tuche, and the Ethical Subject in Levinas and Lacan,” in Psychology for the Other, edited by Edwin E. Gant & Richard N. Williams (Pittsburg: Duquesne University Press, 2002), 160-181.
      6 Simon Critchley, “Introduction,” in The Cambridge Companion to Levinas, edited by Simon Critchley and Robert Bernasconi (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 6.
      7 Jung may have had a similar idea of the Other in mind in his conception of the Self as ineffable and different from the ego, in a way that transcends even the psyche and is an infinite mystery disclosing itself only gradually over time. See the Glossary.
      8 Adriaan Peperzak, To the Other: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas (West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press, 1993), 89, 161.
      9 My rendering and commentary is but one in a long line of previous and noted endeavors. Why have so many depth psychologists delved into the subject, and tried their hand at bringing new meaning to the myth, almost in the way that serious actors must all take a stab at Shakespeare? Simply put, we are all intrigued by a story that features as its star Psyche, the namesake of the profession to which we have all tethered ourselves. There must be some profound meaning we may yet discover in the relationship between Love and Psyche. For some examples see Erich Neumann, Amor and Psyche; Marie-Louise von Franz, The Golden Ass of Apuleius; Robert Johnson, She; James Hillman, Myth of Analysis; Donald Kalsched, The Inner World of Trauma; Polly Young-Eisendrath, Women and Desire.


      ISBN 9781926715490, 310 Pages, Glossary, Index, Bibliography, Published by Fisher King Press

      Fisher King Press publishes an eclectic mix of worthy books including Jungian Psychological Perspectives, Cutting Edge Fiction, and a growing list of alternative titles.
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        Monday, July 4, 2011

        Oriki: ‘The Call of the Head’

        by Kehinde Ayeni

        Oriki is ‘The Call of the Head.’

        It is poetry loved by the Yoruba of Western Nigeria and perhaps other parts of Africa and had been taken by the black race into the Diaspora because a vestige of it was featured in the movie “Ali,” in which the character of Drew Bundini Brown played by Jamie Foxx, repeatedly sang poetry to Mohammed Ali before, during and after his fights, calling on Ali’s ‘head.’ There is a poignant scene in which Ali had kicked Brown off his entourage after he admitted to selling Ali’s championship belt on the street for $500 to feed his heroin addiction, Brown shows up to beg for his job back and he was clean of drugs; Ali relents when he starts the call of the head poetry—“Floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee,” and the two of them finished the poem in unison.

        At the lips of talented orators, it is something to behold. An example was the Premier of Western Nigeria in the early 1960s Chief S.L. Akintola all of whose political speeches be it state of the union address, canvassing for votes, cursing out his enemies, or lauding his supporters were poetic orations powerful enough to hypnotize a person.

        Oriki includes family history, praise, warnings, admonishments and admirations. It is not flattery, but based on real accomplishments and failures of the family. It goes back many generations, thus each family has the Oriki unique to them. It is sang for a person usually by his parents and loved ones in times when he/she is depressed, challenged, going through trials or tribulations, or after the person has accomplished something remarkable like moving from one threshold to another, or as an appeal to the person. If the individual is in despair, it reminds the person whom he is, where he came from, and where he is hoping to go. It is one of the rituals to accompany the person through the challenging tasks of life and for him/her to know that others have faced the challenges before and have succeeded.
        It is an oration that is in the province of the gods and it is sung as an obeisance and in humility before a power that is unconscious and as such unbelievably powerful. The Yorubas sing them in the worshipping of gods like Ogun— god of Iron, and Sango—god of lightening and thunder. It’s a parallel to Greek mythology as recorded by say Sophocles complete with the verses and the choruses.

        Winnicott asks “Is it not from being gods that we become man?” and actually Oriki tells us what is possible in the human realm and as such humanizes us. This is because when we are unconscious we are identifying with the gods and Oriki takes this into consideration and gradually shrinks the psyche of the individual down to its appropriate human size without ignoring the potentials that are inherent in him/her.

        It is so embedded in Yoruba culture and language that almost everyone has amongst their six or seven names an Oriki, usually given to them by their grandmothers as her way of saying to the child, “this is how I see you, a child to adore, cherish and spoil,” which is what grandmothers do. Examples of such names for girls are Ajike—this is a child that I will cherish each morning that I awake, Asunke is the child that I will cherish even as I sleep, Aduke, this is a child that I will compete with others to cherish, Abeke –for this child, I will plead for the opportunity to cherish her and Ashabi—this is a child that was highly selected to be born and she continues to select the best for me. And for boys are names like Akanni—I especially selected him to be mine, Isola—He creates wealth for me all the time, and so on and so forth.

        ‘Head’ in this context is the depository of all that makes the person the human being that he or she is. It is our fate, destiny, and in psychology, we ‘ll say, the unconscious contents of the persons psyche which though not consciously known by the individual, nevertheless directs the person hither and thither as if he/she were under the control of a puppet master.

        That it is ‘the call of the head,’ shows that the contents of the person’s unconscious are being called upon for them to become conscious and thus dynamic for the ego; the contents in terms of deposited family history/legends.

        Freud said “There probably exists in the mental life of the individual, not only what he has experienced himself, but an archaic heritage. The archaic heritage includes not only dispositions, but also ideational contents, memory traces of the experience of former generations.”

        I was excited to find scientific and confirmatory explanation in a psychoanalytic paper on the function of Oriki (though it wasn’t called that, and not that I needed the confirmation, I have benefited from its function all of my life), but according to Lynch(1991), “it is a kind of idealized merger in which the self-object provides a certain level of calmness and reintegration of the self structure of the [child], especially at times when the child’s self structure may have been somewhat fragmented as a result of some trying experience, failure or upset in his or her world. The idealized self-object restores the enfeebled self of the child to a new level of cohesion or maturity. Over the long term, this kind of idealization can gradually help the child internalize the idealized self-object image and assist the child in later years in the formation of internalized goals and ideal for itself.”

        What this is saying is that growing up is hard and painful and we need all the help that we can get. As a child is growing up, or as the child in each of us regardless of how old we are is being hopeful and reaching out for whatever it is that we all reach out for all the time, be it ambition, love, friendship, happiness and etc. we are putting ourselves in a very vulnerable position for rejection or loss or even the uncertainty that we will get what it is that we are hungering after, or that we even deserved it. The ego is that part of our psyche that does the desiring and it may in the process despair or be terrified.

        But there are a lot to us, there is that part of us that do deserve these great things that we want, and these great things are in us already, but as unconscious potentials. And they are in that part of us that had been in this world forever and for generations and these parts of us are the inheritance from our ancestors who have gone before us, and tried these things and had their results one way or the other, and this is because everything has been tried before.

        So when our mother or grandmother or aunt ‘calls our head’ because they can see that we are anxious, afraid, holding back or that we are facing something major, that ‘call’ tells us that it is possible and that it has been done before, or warns us how it is that the people who tried it before didn’t succeed, and when we hear this, it brings together, the part that is fragmented off and terrified with the part of us that can do it, and the parts of us that wants it and where these wonderful things really are in us but as potentials, and the coming together of all these parts lifts us up to a new height and our heads actually do swell, and it is a huge reassurance.

        It is also a good way to apprehend our family history, both from our fathers side and our mothers side of the family, because in these histories are the treasures that we have inherited and are thus deposited in our unconscious, because regardless of how history might have been re-written by living ancestors for their own individual and personal reasons, the Oriki which at the core doesn’t change from generation to generation contains the concrete truths.

        Ann Ulanov (Female Ancestors of Christ) said, “If we know who our ancestors are, we can live in unbroken continuity with the past. That in turn grounds us in the present, protecting us against being blown this way and that by every new wind of religious fashion or political movement. Continuity roots in something beyond our own time and nourishes our sense of dignity and duty in living creatively with what tradition has bequeathed us. Just as we can entertain our different complexes imaginatively and thus protect ourselves against psychic splits and dissociations, so our culture in honoring our ancestors may connect what we were with what we are and may suggest what our children may become…”

        She continues, “Looked at causally, a genealogy gives a vision of the originating source from which we can trace a line of development to our present life, to this day. Looked at prospectively, a genealogy enables us to ask what will be breaking in upon our present life from the future.”

        For me, I have had my ‘head’ called by relatives, neighbors and friends for a lot of reasons, from my fathers side of the family, my mothers side, for being a twin, and for being a breech birth, yes there is a ‘call of the head’ for that too.

        This is a verse from the ‘call of the head’ of my father’s side of the family, and like I said, it is poetry with many levels of interpretations and associations that if I were to begin to break it down, would take up about twenty pages:
        “It is a house of wild horses, 
        A house where every herb is healing medicine,
        In that house, they are so gentle that they are able to bring you a goat, a meek sheep or a cockerel if you asked for it,
        But if their household lion goes berserk, they are able to rein it in as well.
        I only plucked one herb for my medicine but when I processed it, I was able to get 200 healing medicine out of it.”




        Kehinde Adeola Ayeni, MD. is a public health physician, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst. She was born in Nigeria and now resides and practices in Farmington Hills, Michigan. She is the author Feasts of Phantoms, a novel that explores the damaging effects of genital mutilation.


        Friday, July 1, 2011

        Canadian & US Booksellers

        For readers who would like to support their local bookseller foundations or institutions, Fisher King Press titles are available from:

        For Canadian readers Caversham Booksellers in Toronto now stocks Fisher King Press psychology books.
        Caversham Booksellers is an independent specialised bookshop whose doors opened October 15th, 1989. The founders were Dr. Christine Dunbar (psychiatrist and psychoanalyst) and Peter Heyworth (Professor of English for thirty years at University College, University of Toronto). We specialise in providing books for mental health professionals both through our store and by mail throughout the world.

        Caversham Booksellers offer books for a wide range of specialties including, psychoanalysis, psychiatry, all forms of  psychotherapy, trauma, Jungian analysis, neuroscience and  many more. We also sell textbooks for many local schools and training centres.

        More  than that, though, Caversham is a community of often eccentric but knowledgable staff and interesting, interested and indeed  often eccentric customers. Many of our customers we know personally as local authors, or experts in their fields. Some of them  visit us two or three times a week, while others are afraid  to come to our store because of the dangerous appeal of many  of our books. Some of our best customers have never set forth  in our store ordering books over the phone instead, making  this website a logical extension of our service.

        So please, browse through our sections and titles - they are are organised roughly how we organise our store. And don't forget to check out the other sections of this site as they  are full of other useful information. And check back often  because this site is constantly growing and changing.

        Visit Caversham Booksellers in person or online at:

        Caversham Booksellers98 Harbord St, Toronto, ON M5S 1G6 Canada
        Phone toll-free
        (800) 361-6120Tel (416) 944-0962 | Fax (416) 944-0963E-mail info@cavershambooksellers.comStore hours : 9-6 M-W / 9-7 Th-F / 10-6 Sat / 12-5 Sun EST
        www.cavershambooksellers.com




        For Houston readers The Jung Center of Houston Bookstore stocks Fisher King Press psychology titles. 

        If you live nearby, stop in to browse their fine selection of books and gifts, selected with a special focus on psychology, humanities and the expressive arts. All required and suggested class readings are available at The Jung Center of Houston bookstore, located just inside the Center at 5200 Montrose Blvd. Remember, all purchases help to support the work of the Center. Any book you need or want can be ordered at The Jung Center Bookstore – not just psychology books. Members receive a discount on all purchases!

        5200 Montrose Blvd., Houston, Texas 77006

        Business Hours: Monday–Thursday 12:00 noon – 7:00 pm / Closed on Friday / Saturday 10:00 am – 4:00 pm (Telephone 713-524-8253, ext. 18
        Email: books@cgjunghouston.org   www.junghouston.org



        For New York City readers The C.G. Jung Foundation Bookstore stocks Fisher King Press psychology titles.
        The C.G. Jung Foundation Book Service is both a bookstore and a mail-order service, offering a large and unique collection of Jung’s writings and Jungian-related literature. Our ever-growing inventory encompasses over 2,800 titles, focusing on works on varied subject matter relating to analytical psychology, such as mythology, symbolism, mid-life development, men and women’s issues, religion, the arts, astrology, and reference material. This wide selection distinguishes the C.G. Jung Foundation Book Service as the finest source of books for sale pertaining to analytical psychology on the East Coast.

        The Book Service is housed on the first floor of the C.G. Jung Center, a brownstone conveniently located in midtown Manhattan. In the 1970’s the Book Service was a reading room where individuals interested in Jung’s ideas would meet, read, and discuss analytical psychology. This personal atmosphere continues here today, making one's visit a unique experience, which separates it from that of commercial bookstores.

        Visit the foundation bookstore in person at:

        The C.G. Jung Foundation Book Service28 East 39th Street, New York, New York 10016

        Business Hours:Mon.–Wed., 10:00 am – 4:00 pm / Thursday, 10:30 am – 5:00 pm (Thur. until 7:00 pm, October – May)

        Telephone: 212-697-6433
        Orders: 800-356-JUNG (toll-free)
        Fax: 212-953-3989
        Email: books@cgjungny.org
        www.cgjungny.org




        For Los Angeles readers The C.G. Jung Foundation Bookstore stocks Fisher King Press psychology titles.
        The Los Angeles C.G. Jung Bookstore offers specialized and often hard-to-find publications relating to the life and work of C.G. Jung, writings by Jungian analysts and a wide range of topics relevant to analytical psychology, including titles on symbolism, mythology, fairy tales, spirituality and the psyche.

        With community services as its foundation, the bookstore provides its patrons with books, videotapes, DVDs, selected professional journals and pamphlets, and audio-CDS of Institute-sponsored lectures (MP3 format*).  Bookstore personnel are knowledgeable and will assist you with your interests and research. Spend time looking over our entire selection of book titles and gifts in a warm and welcoming environment.

        Jungian Analyst Members of the IAAP and Analyst Candidates-in-Training, as well as Members of the Institute Library, Alchemist Circle and Analytical Psychology Club, receive a 10% discount on purchases of books and DVDs in the bookstore. KCRW Fringe Benefits and and KCET Infinity members also receive a 10% discount when they present their card.

        The Bookstore is open to the public Wednesday through Saturday, noon to 5:00 p.m. except holidays. We are also usually open half an hour before Public Programs held at the Institute.

        The Bookstore is located at the C.G. Jung Institute of Los Angeles:

        C.G. JUNG INSTITUTE OF LOS ANGELES
        10349 WEST PICO BOULEVARD
        LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA 90064
        Phone: (310) 556-1196
        Fax: (310) 556-2290
        Email: bookstore@junginla.org
        www.junginla.org





        The Pacifica Graduate Institute stocks Fisher King Press psychology titles.
        Located in the renovated wine cellar of the former Fleischmann estate, the bookstore at Pacifica is an important and popular feature of campus life. Starting out on a borrowed shelf in the library, the bookstore has become an essential resource for students, faculty, staff, and conference participants.

        We carry a selection of faculty publications, suggested course readings,  a unique general reading and gift section, and we are particularly proud of our selection in the fields of counseling, clinical and depth psychology, and mythological studies.

        Our collection includes many different literary works and publications with the primary emphasis on the following:

        •   Depth, Jungian, and Archetypal Psychology
        •   Religion, Mythology, Philosophy
        •   Joseph Campbell
        •   Marija Gimbutas
        •   James Hillman
        •   Pacifica Faculty and Alumni Publications
        Please e-mail inquiries or requests to bookstore@pacifica.edu or phone 805.969.3626 extension 327. Special orders and shipping are available to students, faculty, staff, and conference participants. Your purchases support Pacifica programs!

        Pacifica Bookstore249 Lambert Road
        Carpinteria, CA 93013
        Phone:805.969.3626 Ext. 327
        Fax: 805.879.8270
        email: bookstore@pacifica.edu
        www.pacifica.edu/bookstore



        Booksellers and institutions not listed above are invited to offer Fisher King Press titles to your readers. We ship internationally. Inquiries can be made by calling 1-800-228-9316 in the US & Canada, international calls +1-831-238-7799, or email to: fisherkingpress@gmail.com


        Fisher King Press titles are also available to the general public. Phone orders welcomed, Credit Cards accepted. 1-800-228-9316 toll free in the US and Canada, International +1-831-238-7799.


        Fisher King Press publishes an eclectic mix of worthy books including 
        Jungian Psychological Perspectives, Cutting-Edge Fiction, Poetry, 
        and a growing list of alternative titles.