Friday, April 30, 2010

Gita Sahgal – a hero of postmodern times

Gita Sahgal, an Indian-born author and journalist, is a leading voice against oppression of women, particularly by religious fundamentalists.
Until fired, April 2010, she was head of the Amnesty International's Gender Unit.

Why did Amnesty International fire Gita Sahgal?

Gita Sahgal criticized Amnesty for its association with Moazzam Begg, director of Cageprisoners, a well-known supporter of the Taliban.

Begg has said Sahgal's claims of his jihad connections and support for terrorism were "ridiculous," since he doesn't consider anyone a terrorist who has not been convicted of terrorism – i.e., if you commit a crime but escape conviction, you are innocent, goes this immoral, unethical and pervert reasoning.

Salman Rushdie, among others, has spoken up in support of Gita Saghal, claiming Amnesty – and Begg – "deserve our contempt."
Denis MacShane, a former Labour minister, called it "Kafkaesque" that Amnesty would threaten the career of Sahgal for her having exposed "an ideology that denies human rights."
Amnesty has stated that she was not suspended for "raising these issues internally." That is, her "crime" was going public (to let herself be quoted in The Sunday Times) about it – disclosing to the public the organization's hypocrisy.
Is not the mission of Amnesty to go public about "protecting human rights worldwide," as they claim?
In the post-modern condition, we fortunately do not adhere to the one and absolute truth of fundamentalism. Also, abandoning discrimination and reaching out respectfully to the Other, is one of the assets of multiple subjectivism.
However, there is a great danger that post-modern, multiple subjectivism gives undifferentiated, equal value to anything – to any act and any belief system – except for those who might criticize this lack of moral differentiation. Indian journalist Antara Dev Sen writes about Gita Saghal's courageous stand "given the dread of political correctness that cripples our thought" – a political correctness which may replace moral judgment and intellectual integrity, or, as written in the Wall Street Journal, "it's a pity that a group that was born to give voice to the victims of oppression should now devote itself to sanitizing the oppressors."

Read more about transiency and psychological aspects of the post-modern condition in Erel Shalit: 'Destruction of the Image and the Worship of Transiency.' Jung Journal: Culture & Psyche, Feb. 2010.

All of Erel Shalit's publications can be purchased at or by phoning Fisher King Press directly at 1-831-238-7799, Toll free in Canada & the US 1-800-228-9316

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Mother Earth has Struck at the Temples of Transiency

Mother Earth has struck, and by means of her messenger, angry Hephaestus, the eruption of the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajokull, she reminds us how she can fasten Icarus's wings to the ground.

We have all become accustomed to the swift and structured passage through the airport, until we briefly breathe the disconnected sense of being duty-free, free of any duty. However, during the last several days, thousands of weary travelers have been stranded, making airports their inconvenient, temporary home.

The nonlocality and temporality of airports, as Temples of Transiency, sooth the restlessness of the Transient Personality, and suit him or her better than the temenos of the therapy room and the analytical relationship. For a moment, however, the airports have come to a standstill. Suddenly the swift transition between one non-place and another, has frozen.

I wonder if postmodern man will, indeed, stop for a moment, to reflect on Mother Nature's messages, one of which may be the need to stop for a moment to reflect, as we speedily resume our movement, and continue the journey toward our destination, which if we are lucky may be Eco, Home.

Read further in Destruction of the Image and the Worship of Transiency. Jung Journal: Culture and Psyche, Vol. 4, number 1, Feb. 2010, pp. 94-108.

All of Erel Shalit's publications can be purchased at or by phoning Fisher King Press directly at 1-831-238-7799, Toll free in Canada & the US 1-800-228-9316

Monday, April 19, 2010

From Memorial Day to the Day of Independence

Monday, April 19, corresponds to 5th day of the month of Iyar in the Hebrew calendar, Israel's Independence Day.
Characteristic of the swings between pain, loss and despair, on the one hand, and relief, euphoria and sometimes arrogance, on the other, the transition from a day of mourning to a day of celebration is harsh and immediate, with no buffer in between.

The following is a brief excerpt from my novella Requiem: A Tale of Exile and Return:

The country had always been too hard for almost everyone. And the price of keeping it alive was perhaps too high, not only in the past, but in the future as well. For the last several years he had made it a habit, as the sirens rang out on Remembrance Day for the dead, to recall not only the fallen and the killed, friends and relatives, but to think of those whose time is yet to come. The words of the poet Yehuda Amichai were always on his mind, “The bereaved father has grown very thin; he has lost the weight of his son.” (pp. 71-2)

The following is a brief excerpt from The Hero and His Shadow: Psychopolitical Aspects of Myth and Reality in Israel:

Since redemption grows out of death and destruction, Zionist redemption has always carried a dark shadow of death and madness, despair and alienation. The second a’liyah, the consequential wave of immigration between 1904 and 1914, suffered massive remigration and numerous suicides. While the early plays and dramas about settling the Land depicted the pioneer in accordance with the collective idea as a giant, “sunburnt as the earth with which he identified,” the so called theater of doubt had him appear as a weakling, “pale and out of place in nature” (Ofrat 1979, p. 46). The pioneer who redeemed the land and felt at one with it, who built the new national home, was portrayed as a collective being, representing the collective’s ego‑ideal. However, in the more pessimistic, skeptical plays of the period, “he dissociates himself from his people” (ibid., p. 46). In these dramas we find the loneliness and estrangement of the individual who felt he or she did not belong, or who was unable to fit into the collective ego‑ideal. Underneath the hope for the future, there was despair of the day, as expressed, for example, by the characters in Orlov’s Alla Karim, written in 1912:

I ask, is there a reason why we are wallowing in the filth here in blessed Palestine, suffering hunger and sinking from day to day?... We are lost, all of us, lost ... with no path ... where are we going?

Madness lurks in the background of redemption, as told by the narrator in a story by Yehuda Ya’ari from 1934:

In their souls there was a striving for redemption, redemption of the entire people and redemption of the individual human being. And, I’ll tell you a secret: this striving was greater than they could sustain or even comprehend. Too great a soul’s desire ... can drive a person out of his mind.

The individual’s identification with the archetypal idea of redemption threatens him with madness. Behind the notion of home, we find displacement; behind redemption linger death and madness; and behind the dreams we are ridden by the mares of the night. The dialectic was and is inescapable. However, if the collective dream accounts for its nightmarish aspects, not letting the outsider and the outcast be sole carriers of the entire burden, society stands a better chance not to fall victim to its own split-off shadow, or misled by false conceptions (such as the fallacious self-perception leading up to the Yom Kippur War). (pp. 35-36)

All of Erel Shalit's publications can be purchased at or by phoning Fisher King Press directly at 1-831-238-7799, Toll free in Canada & the US 1-800-228-9316

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day

Mordecai Ardon, Kristallnacht (Missa Dura Triptych), 1958–60, oil on canvas, 30.22" × 40.35", Tate Gallery, London (© The Ardon Estate, by permission)

Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, is held on the Hebrew date 27th of Nisan, which this year begins in the evening of Sunday, April 11.

The six million Jews that perished, out of whom approximately one and a half million children are remembered in ceremonies and services held all over Israel, in schools and the media.

At ten am on Yom HaShoah, Monday, April 12, a siren is sounded across the country, which comes to a complete standstill, in silent commemoration.

The following is an excerpt from the chapter "Silence is the Center of Feeling," in Living with Jung: "Enterviews" with Jungian Analysts, Vol. 3 , by Robert and Janis Henderson.

Robert Henderson: As a Jungian what are some of the important lessons or observations you have of the Holocaust or Shoah?

Erel Shalit: This is quite a big question – profound and to me personally meaningful.

I feel I have to anchor it in my personal background, but before that, a word on etymology: Holocaust is an ambiguous word. In the sense “everything has been burned,” it is an apt denomination of the extermination of the Jews by the Nazis. However, considering its original meaning pertaining to religious sacrifice, as it was used prior to WW2, makes it a rather cynical term.

While I use both Holocaust and the Hebrew word, Shoah, I prefer the latter, which has no similar religious implications. It means catastrophe, destruction, to crash into ruins, to lay waste, to make desolate. It may possibly be connected to the Hebrew word for being amazed, to wonder, “to stand empty of thoughts.”

While many aspects of the Shoah have occupied my consciousness during much of my adult life, the repression and the silence about the Holocaust during my childhood is striking. The silence in the aftermath of the War was of course common among refugees and survivors, reflecting how the soul is at a loss dealing with catastrophe.

In contrast to less fortunate relatives – among them, my paternal grandmother who was gassed in Auschwitz – my parents found refuge in Sweden.

Silence about the war during those years was, I believe, a means to gain a foothold in an uprooted world, awareness that there were others so much worse off, and an effort at protecting the children. Only later did I hear for instance about the officer at a local Gestapo headquarters where my father had to report, who for some unknown reason told him quickly to get out and run away.

That is one of those big moments in life where something seemingly minor yet tremendously powerful, such as a friendly smile, or a smell of an unconscious memory, makes the wind of fate blow in an unexpected direction. I am forever grateful to that unknown Gestapo officer, and I often remind myself that he may be present in my greatest enemy. Just like evil resides in the soul of everyone of us, there may be light in the midst of darkness; where the shadows of horror cover the face of the earth, you may unexpectedly find the exceptional person. ...

All of Erel Shalit's publications can be purchased at or by phoning Fisher King Press directly at 1-831-238-7799, Toll free in Canada & the US 1-800-228-9316

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Clash of the Titans and the Story of Perseus

The recent film "Clash of the Titans" is loosely based on the myth about Perseus. The "original," the fascinating Greek myth about the hero Perseus is likely more intriguing.

In Enemy, Cripple & Beggar, the story about Perseus is retold for the modern reader, and the meaning of the myth and its psychological interpretation are expounded in clear and understandable language.

In addition to the captivating story, you will find many intriguing details – for instance, did Perseus rescue Andromeda from a cliff in the harbor of Yafo or from Ethiopia, and how come they were mixed up in Greek mythology? What is the meaning of his name? What part do all the horses play in the story? How come the nymphs have danced alone for a thousand years? What does Perseus put in his satchel?

Enemy, Cripple, & Beggar: Shadows in the Hero's Path
Enemy, Cripple & Beggar: Shadows in the Hero's Path was a 2009 nominee for the Gradiva Award. It can be purchased at or by phoning Fisher King Press directly at 1-831-238-779, toll free in the US & Canada 1-800-228-9316

From the reviews:
"An original work by Erel Shalit, Enemy Cripple & Beggar is a unique blend as a literary and psychology manual, making it highly recommended for both personal reading lists and community library collections."
--Midwest Book Review

"Enemy, Cripple & Beggar is a treasure for our times. Vital and applicable to both lay people and experts, the book flows seamlessly and spirally from scholarship, to textual interpretation, to case studies, and the analysis of dreams. Shalit draws on an impressive breadth of scholarship and myths/fairy tales, looking at both history (e.g., the Crusades or Masada) and story."
--Joey Madia, The New Mystics

Requiem: A Tale of Exile and Return is on sale now for $14.95, and Enemy, Cripple, Beggar is on sale now for $19.95 or $30.00 for the pair when ordered directly from the Fisher King Press. You can also order The Hero and His Shadow: Psychopolitcal Aspects of Myth and Reality in Israel directly from Fisher King Press. Phone orders welcomed, Credit Cards accepted. 1-800-228-9316  toll free in the US & Canada, International +1-831-238-7799 
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