Thursday, December 29, 2011

January 1, 2012: The Hero and His Shadow, Revised Edition

Nicholas Poussin, A Dance to the Music of Time, 1639

As we enter Janus’s gate of transition from the departing year to the year that opens up in front of us, we may take the time to reflect on the dramatic events that have taken place during this past year, and wonder what lies ahead.

Hope and possibilities alternate with anguish and despair, as a year of protesters’ spring and danger of nuclear winter comes to an end. Sophia, the Wisdom born out of the secrets of the Night and the reflection in Depth, seemed to have abandoned the streets and the places of concourse (Prov. 1:20-32). Then, in an era in which all seemed to dwell in the self-imposed solitary confinement of virtual reality, life in vitro behind the screen, the young take to the streets and gather in the squares. Attempting to break the bonds of oppressive regimes and cold-hearted mammonism, they have raised their voice across the globe, demanding freedom, solidarity and justice. Will these voices persevere to withstand the strong, silencing forces of darkness, of ruthlessness and oppression? Will the Voice of Wisdom be listened to, so that we may “dwell safely, without fear of evil” (Prov. 1:33)?
From The Hero and His Shadow, p. 32.
January 1, 2012: The Hero and His Shadow: Psychopolitical Aspects of Myth and Reality in Israel Revised Edition (available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Fisher King Press), paperback and eBook (kindle, nook, iPad, etc).

The Hero and His Shadow: Psychopolitical Aspects of Myth and Reality in Israel introduces a psychological perspective on the history, development, and myths of modern Israel.

The realization of Zionism relied on the pioneer, who revolted against the Way of the Father and sought spiritual redemption through the revival of Mother Earth in the ancient land. Myth and history, psyche and matter are constantly intertwined in the birth and development of Israel, for example when in the Declaration of Independence we are told that pioneers make deserts bloom, the text actually says they make spirits blossom.

Pioneer, guardsman and then warrior were admired hero-ideals. However, in the shadow of the hero and the guiding myths of revolt, redemption, strength and identity-change, are feelings of despair, doubt, weakness and fear. Within renewal, lurks the threat of annihilation.

Suppressed aspects of past and present myths, which linger in the shadow, are exposed. Psychological consequences of Israel’s wars, from independence to the present war of terror, are explored on a personal note and from a psychoanalytic perspective. Shadow aspects of the conflicting guiding myths Peace and Greater Israel are examined, as well as mythical connections, such as between Jerusalem and the respective archetypal images of Wholeness and Satan.

Erel Shalit, author and Jungian psychoanalyst, is the Academic Director of the Jungian Analytical Psychotherapy Program at Bar Ilan University. He is a member of the Council for Peace and Security. He has been Director of the Community Mental Health Clinic, Shalvata Psychiatric Center, and served as officer in the Medical Corps of the Israel Defense Forces.

In addition to The Hero and His Shadow: Psychopolitical Aspects of Myth and Reality in Israel, Dr. Shalit is the author of several books, including: The Cycle of Life: Themes and Tales of the Journey, Enemy, Cripple, Beggar: Shadows in the Hero’s Path, The Complex: Path of Transformation from Archetype to Ego, and Requiem: A Tale of Exile and Return.

Product Details
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Fisher King Press; Revised edition (January 1, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-1926715698

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Definitive Journey

From Enemy, Cripple, Beggar

The hero who searches for new paths in his heart and soul often lets hints and hunches guide him forward. Yet, he also needs to be equipped with courage to search beyond the boundaries of common ground and with humbleness towards the unknown that lies ahead of him. He must also carry a bagful of questions and concerns, curiosity and conflict, doubt and fear; “Every man hath the right to doubt his task, and to forsake it from time to time; but what he must not do is forget it.” Paulo Coelho, The Fifth Mountain, p. 53.

Erel Shalit titles are on Sale now at Fisher King Press.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Required Reading for all Travelers on Life's Journey

Review by Dr. Arieh Friedler of

The Cycle of Life: Themes and Tales of the Journey

(Amazon, Dec. 12, 2011)

Required Reading for all Traveler's on Life's Journey

From the Bible to Shakespeare, to Carl Jung and to Erik Erikson, Erel Shalit's book, THE CYCLE OF LIFE poetically and informatively presents "the themes and tales of the journey". Shalit cites Jung who assured us that the journey entails BOTH the road we take and HOW we take that road, our conscious attitude. Likewise, as one sets out on the book's journey, s/he is aware of Shalit's profound understanding of the cycle of life. His expertise in Jungian psychology coupled with his vast personal experience in treating clients is apparent on nearly every page. It is HOW he presents the journey that makes this book both very enjoyable and very readable. Just as one feels that perhaps s/he is getting a bit lost in the psychological description of one of the stages in the life cycle, Shalit presents the reader with a poignant example from literature, Greek mythology, Eastern Philosophy, or from Jewish philosophy which illustrates and clarifies the issue for the layman.
As one of these laymen who is on the threshold of the last stage in the journey, I highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone who wants to understand his or her own life as an individual or as part of the universe. The book should be required reading for all those starting out on "the journey", for those who deal with people who are somewhere on the path, and for those of us who are at the last station but who still have the strength and the curiosity to understand how s/he has arrived at this point. All in all THE CYCLE OF LIFE is an outstanding publication by a brilliant writer.

Dr. Arieh Friedler
Israel Adult Education Association

In old age, we often search our way back, recalling childhood memories, reconnecting with family background, a religion or a country left behind. We tend to return to where we came from. While the tasks of youth and young adulthood require breaking away from one’s roots, and to establish a separate and individual identity, now comes the time of return - though sometimes the road Home, "to whence I come, was a much longer and more painful road than the departure…" An interest in one’s family genealogy is a common expression of this. We return to our ancestors in order to heal our neurosis. As Jung says, if “man was still linked by myth with the world of the ancestors, and thus with nature truly experienced and not merely seen from the outside, [the neurotics] would have been spared this division with themselves.” Our deceased parents have become part of a lost world, which we explore in order to find our ancestral roots and the often lost voices of wisdom from the past. (From The Cycle of Life, p. 174)

Friday, November 25, 2011

70th anniversary of the first deportation to Theresienstadt

Theresienstadt was established as a 'model ghetto', "in order to save face in regards to the outside world" (Eichmann). The first deportation to the Terezin (Theresienstadt) ghetto too place Nov. 24, 1941.

While the Jews in Theresienstadt gave manifestation to the height of spiritual survival in the shadow of evil, it was, and was meant to be a hoax from the beginning.
The perversity of deception in the service of evil compounded into the dust of the extermination camps, but on the way, “to the East,” as the Nazis deceptively called the transports to the death camps, Theresienstadt served as a model of deception.

The Red Cross visited the 'town' in June 1944, prior to which the Nazis intensified deportations, and the ghetto was "beautified." Some inmates were dressed up and told to stand at strategic places along the carefully designated route. Shop windows along the route were filled with goods for the day, and the day's abundance in the candy shop window made life in Terezin seem sweet.

The day of the visit

Not the day of the visit

The Red Cross reported dryly that while war time conditions made all life difficult, life at Terezin was acceptable given all of the pressures. The Red Cross concluded that the Jews were being treated all right.

(Inmates in Theresienstadt - also not the day of the visit)

Approximately 158,000 Jews were brought to Theresienstadt. Approximately 90,000 were transported onwards to the extermination camps, of whom about 4,800 survived. About 35,500 died of hunger and illness in the ghetto (among them my great-grandmother).
Of the 12,121 children (born 1928 and later) brought to Theresienstadt, 9,001 were sent to the death camps. 325 survived.

When Helen Deutsch, the psychoanalyst who had left Vienna for the United States in 1935, wrote her important 1942 paper “Some forms of emotional disturbance and their relationship to schizophrenia,” introducing the concept of the as-if personality, the poet Leo Strauss wrote, in Theresienstadt, what in its subtle simplicity to me is one of the most spectacular poems, ‘Als-Ob,’ As-If. The English translation from the German is mine, from Requiem: A Tale of Exile and Return:

I know a little tiny town
A city just so neat
I call it not by name
but call the town As-if

Not everyone may enter
Into this special place
You have to be selected
From among the As-if race

And there they live their life
As-if a life to live
Enjoying every rumor
As-if the truth it were

You lie down on the floor
As-if it was a bed
And think about your loved one
As if she weren’t yet dead

One bears the heavy fate
As-if without a sorrow
And talks about the future
As if there was – tomorrow

Erel Shalit's books (The Cycle of Life: Themes and Tales of the Journey; Requiem: A Tale of Exile and Return; Enemy, Cripple & Beggar: Shadows in the Hero's Path; etc.) can be purchased at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Fisher King Press.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Enemy, Cripple & Beggar

The cover image "Emerging" is a painting by Susan Bostrom Wong, an artist and analyst member of the San Francisco Jung Institute. Learn more about Susan and her artwork.

Now 40% off at Fisher King Press
Enemy, Cripple & Beggar: Shadows in the Hero's Path 
By Erel Shalit

In Enemy, Cripple, Beggar, Erel Shalit provides new thoughts and views on the concepts of Hero and Shadow. This Fisher King Press publication elaborates on mythological and psychological images. Myths and fairy tales explored include Perseus and Andersen’s ‘The Cripple.’ You’ll also enjoy the psychological deciphering of Biblical stories such as Amalek—The Wicked Warrior, Samson—The Impoverished Sun, and Jacob & the Divine Adversary. With the recent discovery of The Gospel of Judas, Erel. Shalit also delves into the symbolic relationship between Jesus and Judas Iscariot to illustrate the hero-function’s inevitable need of a shadow.

The Hero dares to venture into the unknown, into the shadow of the unconscious, bringing us in touch with the darker aspects in our soul and in the world. In fact, it is the hero whom we send each night into the land of dreams to bring home the treasures of the unconscious. He, or no less she, will have to struggle with the Enemy that so often is mis-projected onto the detested Other, learn to care and attend to the Cripple who carries our crippling complexes and weaknesses, and develop respect for the shabby Beggar to whom we so often turn our backs—for it is the ‘beggar in need’ who holds the key to our inner Self.

Enemy, Cripple, Beggar can be comfortably read by an informed lay public interested in Analytical Psychology and by those interested in the interface between psychology and mythology, folklore, and religion.

Enemy, Cripple, Beggar was a 2009 Gradiva Award Nominee for best theoretical book.

"Enemy, Cripple, Beggar is an intensely moving book that speaks deeply to the psyche."

The following review by Ann Walker, Ph.D., appeared in Psychological Perspectives, volume 53, issue 2, 2010. Ann Walker, Ph.D., is a Jungian analyst and psychologist in Santa Monica and book review editor of Psychological Perspectives.

Enemy, Cripple, Beggar is an intensely moving book that speaks deeply to the psyche. Every time I read Enemy, Cripple and Beggar my psyche responds with wonderful dreams. There are so many important concepts in this book. I would like to discuss a few that I found particularly salient. Read review

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

November 9, The Night of Shattered Delusions

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released its report on Iran, November 8, 2011.
Diplomatic sources have described it as "the most damning report ever published by the IAEA and the conclusion arising from it is one: Iran is working to acquire a nuclear weapon."

It expressed particular concern that Iran had carried out computer modeling studies linked to nuclear weapons. "The application of such studies to anything other than a nuclear explosive is unclear to the agency," the IAEA said.

The information also indicated that Iran had built a large explosives vessel in which to conduct hydrodynamic experiments, which are "strong indicators of possible weapon development."
The report undermines those previously produced under the agency's past Director General, Dr. Mohamed El Baradei.

In the past, under the leadership of Mohamed ElBaradei, the IAEA reports created the false impression that the Iranian regime did not develop nuclear weapons.

The night between November 9 and 10, the Night of Shattered Glass, is often viewed as the beginning of the Final Solution.

From Requiem: A Tale of Exile and Return:

… Had not the ordinary German, covering the gamut from willing collaborator to frightened compliant, been infected by years of indoctrination and selective information? “When I myself look into the mirror,” he said to himself, “it is somewhat embarrassing to admit that, perhaps, I may have wished Chamberlain success in his mission of appeasement. I have always had a soft spot for Neville Chamberlain. He pronounced himself to be ‘a man of peace to the depths of my soul,’ and I believed him, and I like to see myself as a man of peace to the depth of my soul.”

With the Nazis five years into power, and aware of the danger that Hitler would drag all of Europe into a terrible war, Chamberlain’s policy of appeasement seemed so sensible for a cultured nation. I can truly understand him, Shimeoni said to himself, when he rhetorically asked why the British should be “trying on gas-masks because of a quarrel in a far away country, Czechoslovakia, between people of whom we know nothing.”

“It sounds at least as civilized as that recent question,” Eli thought, posed not so long ago by French ambassador Bernard, who asked why the world should be in danger of a third World War because of, as he said, “that shitty little country?”

You may not need to be reminded, but September 1938 he signed the pact with Hitler. To bolster the conviction that Europe would be saved by the appeasement agreement, French PM Daladier hailed Goering as “a man one can do politics with.” Why not a nice dinner, as well, and perhaps un cigar, monsieur? October 1, 1938, The Times praised the “Declaration of Peace in Munich,” concluding that the Munich conference “has not only banished the danger of war over the future of Czechoslovakia,” but it “has speeded up a new and a better era in European relationships.” Thank God for The Grace of Times! Upon his return, proud and popular Chamberlain waved the paper he signed with Hitler and declared he had brought “peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time.”

And Professor Shimeoni, for one, would have made his way to Heston Airport and applauded him upon his return, because he is a man of hope and peace.

Thus, he told himself, “I cannot blame the passively collaborating German, and can only admire and feel a deep love for those who dared to see and those that dared to act.” Particularly he thought of Wickard von Bredow, as the example of exceptional heroism: As County Officer (Landrat), he received the order, November 9, 1938, to burn down the synagogue in the East Prussian town of Shirwindt, just like all the synagogues in Germany that were to be destroyed during the next few hours. Von Bredow put on his German Army uniform, said goodbye to his wife, and, as Martin Gilbert reports, declared: “I am going to the synagogue to prevent one of the greatest crimes in my district.” He knew he risked his life and that he could be sent to a concentration camp, but added, “I have to do this.”

When the SA, SS and Party members arrived to set the synagogue on fire, he stood in front of the synagogue, loaded his revolver in front of the group, showing them that they could only get into the building over the dead body of the Landrat. The synagogue in Shirwindt was the only one in the district not destroyed.
Eli Shimeoni wondered, “Would I have dared to trespass the prohibitions, would I have dared to buy from a Jewish store? I hope so, but the honesty that fears evoke, makes me wonder. If I would have been a 1938 German, may I not have looked the other way, avoiding the shame and the guilt gazing back at me in the store owner’s eyes of shattered glass.” …

Besides his calls to wipe Israel off the map, the following are some of Ahmadinejad's statements, reflecting the views and intentions of the present regime in Iran:

At a Holocaust conference [!] in Tehran, January 2009, he stated,

"The illegitimate Zionist regime is an outcome of the Holocaust... a political and power-seeking network … Today the Zionists dominate many of the world's centers of power, wealth, and media. Unfortunately, they have ensnared many politicians and parties, and they are plundering the wealth and assets of nations in this way, depriving peoples of their freedoms and destroying their cultures and human values by spreading their nexus of corruption."

In May, 2011:

"... Like a cancer cell that spreads through the body, this regime infects any region. It must be removed from the body."

From Requiem: A Tale of Exile and Return:

It seemed Ahmadinejad was biding his time. Intelligence confirmed that Iran had the bomb, or at least was very close. Having learned from the Israelis, the Iranians enforced a policy of deliberate ambiguity as regards their weapons capacity, maintaining they had already reached nuclear capability for peaceful means. Both Iran and Syria had greatly expanded their stocks of chemical missile warheads. Russia and China warned Israel of severe sanctions if it would attack, and the government had realized that an attack most likely would miss the target(s), and serve as pretext for counter-attacks on all fronts. There was a widespread feeling that the day of the bomb was coming closer.

Tel Aviv, known for its vibrant night-life, now saw hedonistic farewell parties for friends leaving, and parties celebrating “Gog and Magog,” “Doomsday,” and “Who will close the light at the airport?” ...

This slim but incisive novella is a philosophical but completely comprehensible take on contemporary Israel. From a "litany of lamentations" …, the thoughtful narrator Eli Shimeoni recounts his overriding despair - but eventually concludes with hope.
Elegantly and thoughtfully mourning today's saga of Israeli disillusion without hope, bitter alienation, and collapse of Zionist ideals, … but relying on the consistency of past Jewish history and the "triumphalism of hope" the reader reluctantly puts the book down - and smiles! [Edith Sobel]

What Erel Shalit has accomplished in this very brief but intoxicating book is to provide a path for each of us to follow, wisely using the plight of the Jews during the last century as a matrix from which to judge our own individual exile and return. He is an accomplished thinker and he is also a very brilliant writer. [Grady Harp]

Thursday, October 27, 2011

James Hillman, April 12, 1926 – October 27, 2011

We mourn the death of James Hillman, a great psychoanalyst and poet, a source of inspiration, a fountain of creativity and with his sword constantly drawn to challenge conventions.

"Death is the only complete necessity, that archetypal Necessity who rules the pattern of the life line she spins with her daughters, the Fates. The length of that line and its irreversible one-way direction is part of one and the same pattern, and it could not be otherwise."
James Hillman, The Soul's Code

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Download Requiem: A Tale of Exile and Return for free - time limited offer!

Due to its particular relevance at this time, Fisher King Press generously offers a free downoad of a PDF eBook Edition of Requiem: A Tale of Exile and Return. When you visit the Fisher King site, you are, of course, welcome (but not obliged) to purchase Requiem; The Cycle of Life; or Enemy, Cripple & Beggar, or any of the many interesting books by other authors, often at considerably discounted prices.

The books can also be purchased at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, paperback, Kindle and NOOK..

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Man Who Became Rich Through a Dream

Painting by Benjamin Shiff (by permission, see more at Erel Shalit and at Benjamin Shiff).

For those of you who celebrate the Jewish New Year, I wish you Shana Tova, a Year of Peace and Good Health, and possibly of finding your fortune, as told in the tale ‘The Man Who Became Rich through a Dream,’ which is found in many cultures. As told in One Thousand and One Nights, a man from Baghdad who has lost his fortune follows the guidance he receives in a dream and travels afar to find the fortune.

The same story is told about Rabbi Isaac from Krakow, who after years of poverty, dreamed that he should go to Prague, to search for a treasure under one of the bridges that lead to the palace. Since the dream appeared twice, he prepared for the long journey. When he arrived, he found the bridge guarded by day and by night, so he didn’t dare to start digging. Still, he went to the bridge every morning, walking around it until nightfall.

Finally, the captain of the guards, who had been watching him, kindly asked if he was looking for something or waiting for somebody. Isaac told him the dream that had brought him all the way to Prague.

The captain laughed and said, “You fool: A man has come to me three times in a dream, and has described a house in Krakow, telling me to dig for a treasure buried beneath a fountain in the garden. He told me to go there and take it, but I stayed here. You, however, have foolishly journeyed from place to place, having faith in a dream, trusting your meaningless imagination…”

Rabbi Isaac realized that the captain had described his own house. He returned home, where he discovered a great treasure, we don’t know of what, beneath the fountain in his garden.

Sometimes we need to travel far, whether in the world of matter or the world of mind and psyche, to realize the value of the treasure under the fountain in the garden of our soul, in order to sense soul, life and self.

…and sometimes we need to endure the doubts and the failures and the longings and the hardships… and even need to listen to the authorities of collective consciousness who by definition treat imagination of the soul and the hints from the unconscious as meaningless… and thus, the captain of the guards may turn out to be our unexpected soul-guide – the divine postman we would least have imagined to deliver our message.

Fisher King Press presently offers the following generous discounts:
20% on The Cycle of Life: Themes and Tales of the Journey,
36% on Enemy, Cripple, Beggar: Shadows in the Hero's Path,
20% on Requiem: A Tale of Exile and Return.

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Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 2011

In fundamentalism, the world is split into the conviction of Divine Totality and Absolute Truth versus the Evil Other, who is demonized, dehumanized and perpetually persecuted. Without the shadow as projected upon the other, the fundamentalist’s fantasy of paradise turns against himself in self-destruction.
The reason for this is that the fundamentalist merely projects, without having an image of the other. And it is in the image of the other – whether within or without – that the mirror of reflection resides. The fundamentalist’s split-off other does not serve him as a mirror of reflection. There is only a projection to be destroyed, but no image in the mirror. There are pre-conceived projections, but no reflective imagination.
Therefore, the totalitarian by necessity becomes the final victim of his own archetypal projections, though all too often only after spreading too much destruction.

When elected, political leaders supposedly bring an agenda, which they intend to implement during their term in office. But it happens that political, military and historical events impose upon a political leader an unanticipated role for which the person in power may not have been prepared. Thus, some emerge as leaders in crisis, able to gather the energy and turn catastrophe into survival (Churchill rather than Chamberlain), while others fail to for instance grasp an opportunity to change the course of history in a better direction.
September 11 has sometimes been referred to as a failure of imagination, and as spring turned into summer, and fall will fade into winter, the forces of construction and destruction waver back and forth. Summer’s blazing heat is reaching its boiling point, and we do not know yet whether September signifies the beginning of Fall or Rise.

As regards Israel, social protest is now in the search for new forms of democracy, such as “a thousand round tables” for discussing and exchanging views on every subject.
The leaders of the country are sailing in a shaky vessel in the midst of major challenges and crises, for instance:

The United Nations Palmer report on the Turkish Gaza flotilla a year ago gave Israel unprecedented backing: The report confirmed the legality of Israel's naval blockade of Gaza, and the right to enforce it, to prevent the smuggling of missiles and other. “Israel faces a real threat to its security from militant groups in Gaza,” the report says. Furthermore, when Israeli commandos boarded the main ship, they faced “organized and violent resistance from a group of passengers,” and therefore had to use force for their own protection. The report stated, “There exist serious questions about the conduct, true nature and objectives of the flotilla organizers, particularly I.H.H.”
However, according to the report, Israel used excessive force, for which Israel has expressed regret and willingness to indirectly compensate the killed and wounded (without asking the Turkish government for a similar gesture). The Turkish PM demands Israel apologize.
Perhaps the Israeli leaders could take a lesson in creativity from good old Freud?

As a Jew and as the founder of psychoanalysis, Freud was regarded as an enemy of the new Germany. Shortly before he was allowed to leave the country in June, a photographic record was made of Freud's residence, Berggasse 19. In his final interview, the Gestapo officers insisted that Freud sign a statement saying he was not mistreated. The 82-year-old Freud is said to have sarcastically asked if he could add: “I can most highly recommend the Gestapo to everyone.”

While it is the government in Turkey that seeks conflict with Israel, in Egypt it is the street (which does not always represent the people) that rules. The evacuation of the Israeli embassy staff by an Israeli air force plane reached its peak in a nightly mission, when the six remaining security officers were threatened being lynched and possibly killed by the masses. Only the intervention of President Obama made the Egyptian leadership wake up to its responsibility and ensure, at the very last moment, the safety of the embassy personnel.
Not everything is the fault of the present or previous Israeli government, but the houses in this neighborhood and the tenants that dwell here – in Israel, around the Eastern Mediterranean, in the Middle East – are not always consistent and reliable. The climate and the character are far from Central Europe, for better and for worse. The image of six security officers threatened by lynch, rescued at the last moment, may, with due care and reservation, be a metaphor for Israel’s present isolation, not the least caused by Netanyahu’s great capability for saying a lot and doing little, and the Foreign Minister’s even greater capacity for saying too much and doing even more harm.

The really great challenge still lies ahead, though just around the corner. The Palestinians have skillfully avoided resuming negotiations, even during the asked-for settlement freeze that Netanyahu’s government implemented. They have simply understood that due to Israel’s isolation, they can achieve their desired goals without having to pay any price required in negotiations.
This poses a challenge and an opportunity for Israel’s all too passive and reluctant leadership. It requires of PM Netanyahu to make a decisive decision: to remain loyal to his right-wing electorate, or, to face reality and realize history’s decisive moment.
If he does the latter, he will receive the support of a majority of Israelis. He would then, in the coming few days, make something like the following statement:
Israel welcomes and will vote in favor of the Arab State of Palestine alongside the Jewish State of Israel and offers friendly relations on all levels;
Israel will immediately freeze all settlement construction beyond the security fence;
The dismantling of these settlements will be negotiated, as well as the withdrawal from this territory;
Settlements between the 1948 cease-fire lines (in effect until 1967) and the security fence, will be subject to negotiations;
Those blocs of settlement that Israel will retain in this area, will be exchanged for land within Israel proper;
While unilateral action, such as the Palestinian request for UN recognition contradicts the Oslo agreements, Israel suggests that all unresolved issues will be dealt with in negotiations to commence immediately following the recognition of Palestine, whereupon both partners take upon themselves to resolve all issues bilaterally (and not unilaterally);
While the ongoing incitement in Palestinian media, schools and mosques is abhorrent and also contradicts the Oslo accords, Israel’s recognition of Palestine is not contingent upon the cessation of incitement. However, Israel does expect a drastic change as regards incitement and non-recognition of Israel in Palestine state-institutions;
While Israel recognizes the State of Palestine, and urges all United Nations member states to do so, this should be on condition that the Palestine National Charter, which calls for the destruction of Israel, be revised.
Before the United Nations recognize the Arab State of Palestine, the declared aims of that state cannot be the destruction of another member-state of the United Nations (or any state, for that matter). At the UN website (, the page of the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations ( details the Palestine National Charter (, which states the aim to be “the elimination of Zionism in Palestine.” Furthermore, Article 19 says that, “The partition of Palestine in 1947, and the establishment of the state of Israel are entirely illegal,” and in article 20, “Claims of historical or religious ties of Jews with Palestine are incompatible with the facts of history.”
In contradiction to the Oslo accords, the Palestine National Charter was never amended; it remains as it was, denying Jews their connection with the land, and striving for the elimination of Zionism, i.e., in practice, ethnic cleansing of Jews who did not reside in the country prior to “the Zionist invasion,” (the Balfour Declaration in 1917); those Jews will generously be “considered Palestinians” – not accounting for the fact that until the founding of Israel in 1948, it was the Jews who were called ‘Palestinians.”
I thus urge the Palestine National Charter be revised to include recognition of Israel rather than the call for its destruction, prior to voting on the recognition of Palestine and accepting it as a member state of the United Nations. Otherwise the United Nations will vote in favor of the replacement of Israel with an Arab State of Palestine, rather than in favor of the two-state solution –Arab Palestine alongside Israel.

This is what I would like to hear Binyamin Netanyahu courageously declare. I doubt he will, but would be happy to be proven wrong.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Yechezkel Kluger Centennial, September 5th, 2011

Jungian analyst Dr. Yechezkel Kluger was born in Yonkers, New York, September 5th 1911. He died in Haifa, December 21st 1995, after a full life of varied experiences and focused aim in study and teaching. He was known as a born student and teacher, and a genuine devotee of ideals.
Yechezkel Kluger served as President of the Los Angeles Jung Institute, 1967-1969, and later as President of the Israel Association for Analytical Psychology. Up to the time of his death he kept up a steady practice as analyst, supervisor, teacher of candidates in training, and writing.

Yechezkel Kluger came from an orthodox Hassidic background. His mother and father came to America in the late 1800s from Dobczyce, Poland but his grandfather, Rabbi Reuven Kluger, remained, heading a small group of devotees. Yechezkel never met his grandfather but it is told that Reb Reuven was a scholar, a poet and a mystic. Yechezkel himself was, as well, both a scholar and a poet. The mystic in him found embodiment in his wives, particularly as it was articulated in thought by his second wife, Rivkah Schärf. The spirit of Hassidism was a strong element in Yechezkel Kluger’s make-up and for those who knew him intimately, it could be heard not only in the formal prayers, but seen clearly in his dancing, singing zmirot (songs and melodies) on Shabbat and in his playing the clarinet. He may have left orthodoxy and violin behind, but the spirit remained.

Interestingly enough, the fire of Zionism was lit by a gentile, the famous Socialist Norman Thomas. After attending a large rally in Madison Square Garden in New York, with his fiancée Tovah, the two were moved by hearing Thomas speak so fervently of the need for Jews to settle in Israel, stating that they (the Jews) had so many doctors and lawyers that it was now a time to "return" to being farmers in their own land. Soon thereafter Yechezkel left his medical studies (much to the dismay of his parents), and shortly after marrying Tovah in a large orthodox ceremony (he was 21 and she 19), they both joined the Hechalutz organization in New York. They spent two years on Hachshara (training) for life on the farm, in Hightstown New Jersey and in Wisconsin. Eventually they were granted certificates by the British to enter the mandated territory of Palestine.
Thus, he settled with his first wife on kibbutz Na’an, in 1935. After a mere but intense two years of farming and nightly vigils during the meura’ot, the Arab revolt beginning in 1936 – and after the birth of their daughter Nomi – the Klugers were cajoled by family in New York into paying a visit with the promise of a return ticket ... which promise was not kept. With no hope of returning, he, his wife and daughter spent four years in New York. Yechezkel returned to his studies, narrowing his field to optometry. In 1940 the Klugers moved to Los Angeles where he opened a practice in optometry and launched the Los Angeles branch of the League for Labor Palestine. There he was active as president of Zionist organizations.

He had already become interested in Jung's school of thought when in 1942 he met Jungian analyst James Kirsch, who had come to him to get his eyes examined. They began a friendship based on their common interest in Judaism and Israel. It was not long before they switched roles, as James became his analyst and teacher in his and Hilde Kirsch’s burgeoning Jung group of Los Angeles, later to become the Los Angeles Institute. When in analytic sessions Kluger would speak of his yearning to return to Israel, Kirsch would tell him “your Israel is an internal Israel.” This collided with his inner calling, which was corroborated by dreams of the importance of the land itself, the Land of Israel. Kluger was, in his words, driven to “dig into the earth” (cf. interview, Spring 60, below), which he was able to realize years later by returning to live in Israel. With his second wife, Rivkah Schärf Kluger, he settled in Haifa in 1969 … some thirty long years after his departure.

Kluger had been strongly encouraged by James and Hilde Kirsch to study with Jung in the newly established Jung Institute in Zurich. He had met Dr. Rivkah Schärf when she spoke in Los Angeles at the invitation of the Kirsches, but it was in her capacity as his teacher in Zürich that he came to admire her deeply. Their mutual passion for Judaism, Zionism and Jung's psychology eventually bonded them into a love, culminating in a marriage that was to endure for the remainder of their lives. Their marriage took place in a large ceremony attended by Jung and officiated by Zwi Werblowsky in Zurich, 1954.

During his years of study at the Jung Institute, he was in analysis with C. A. Meier and Emma Jung, with a couple of sessions with C. G. Jung when called for. He was among the first graduates of the C. G. Jung Institute with, among others, James Hillman. Along with a few others, they were charter members of AGAP, which charter Kluger was instrumental in writing. Due to his playful "demand" made to Jung he was the only one to have Jung's signature ('Honorary President, C. G. Jung') on his diploma. At the Institute, the students were fortunate to study under scholars in related fields to Jung's psychology, such as the Indologist Heinrich Zimmer, the Greek scholar Karl Kerényi, the Zen teacher Daisetsu Suzuki, and Hans Jonas, the teacher of Gnosticism, as well as other luminaries.
After returning to Los Angeles, he attained a doctorate in academic psychology from Claremont College where his thesis was a statistical study showing the occurrence and validity of archetypal dreams.

Upon moving to Haifa in 1969, he and Rivkah continued their practices as analysts and teachers. Together with Zürich-trained Jungian analyst Gustav Dreifuss, he worked on the further development of the Israel Association of Analytical Psychology, which had been founded by Erich Neumann (the Israel Association was a charter member from the first Jungian congress in 1958), and the training of analysts.

Although Yechezkel Kluger had an orthodox Jewish upbringing, he came to feel his lack of a deep education in Judaic thought and history as tragically missing. He quoted Jung as having told his wife, Rivkah, that it is for the Jewish analysts to study intricately and interpret Judaism, their own heritage, as he, Jung, had been doing in his Christian background. The goal is for each to bring to light, into consciousness, the ground from which they had sprung. (Cf. "Remembering Jung; A Conversation about C.G. Jung and his Work with Rivkah Kluger & Yechezkel Kluger," Suzanne and George Wagner, DVD, Jung Institute-Film Project).

In light of this, and inspired by Rivkah Schärf's classes in the “Old Testament,” Yechezkel wrote his diploma thesis on the Book of Ruth. This was later published as 'Ruth – A Contribution to the Study of the Feminine Principle in the Old Testament' (Spring, 1957). He completed an updated version shortly before his death, published posthumously by Daimon Press in 1999 as A Psychological Interpretation of Ruth; In the Light of Mythology, Legend and Kabbalah. Included is the companion essay, Standing In The Sandals of Naomi, written by his daughter Nomi Kluger-Nash, who had worked on editing his manuscript with him shortly before he died.

His theme was the return of the feminine principle as a necessary rounding out, and ultimately the fulfillment of what had become the one-sidedly patriarchal standpoint in the land of Judah. It is a myth of redemption. This is shown in an analogy with agricultural seasonal myths. The famine in the earth serves as the symbolic image of the cast out feminine, which feminine material reality, as lover and mother, had to return to achieve an equal balance with the masculine, purely spiritual, invisible God. The goal and result of this process is seen as the redemption of the feminine which forms an equally balanced totality conjoining spirit and matter.

After the death of his wife, Kluger devoted himself to editing her seminars and manuscripts on the Gilgamesh Epic, which she had been unable to complete due to her illness. The Archetypal Significance of Gilgamesh was published in 1991 by Daimon, and he saw to the publication of her updated book, Psyche and Bible, which was republished as Psyche in Scripture by Inner City Books in 1995.

An interview with Yechezkel Kluger and Gustav Dreifuss, by Erel Shalit, appeared in Spring 60, 1996. James Hillman, to whom we send our prayers wishing him well, asked Erel Shalit to publish this recorded interview. Hillman's grandfather had translated the book of Ruth from Hebrew for the Jewish Publication Society. He, James, had been in analysis with Rivkah Schärf Kluger, and came to Yechezkel "to learn how to say Kiddush (sanctification) on Friday nights." These apparently disparate incidents may be viewed as an image of how life can weave her intricate web into a pattern. We leave the meaning of the pattern up to you, the readers, in honor of the truth-seeking Yechezkel Kluger.

Nomi Kluger-Nash and Erel Shalit

Now available: The Cycle of Life: Themes and Tales of the Journey

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tents of Hope

During the last several weeks, in summer’s heat, Israel has seen unprecedented social protest, mainly by the country’s hard-working, mainstream young people.
Israel is not unfamiliar with protests and demonstrations – whether the center-left in support of peace, or the ultra-Orthodox protesting, for instance, the opening of shopping malls on the Sabbath or against building on sites of ancient bones, and workers’ strikes.
However, for a very long time, the hard-working middle-class has carried the burden, working ever harder to cope with rising costs of living, higher rents, receiving less and less for the heavy taxes paid.
This summer has also witnessed an extended physicians’ strike – the excellent doctors are underpaid and overworked and ask for more positions.

The wave of uprisings utilizing social networks such as Facebook and Twitter may have begun after the 2009 presidential elections in Iran, though brutally crushed by the regime, which quickly utilized the internet and the social networks to gather intelligence and send distorted messages.
The Arab Spring continues to unfold, but in the Fall of leaves it remains unclear what dress it will eventually wear. Yet, a process has started, which, it seems, will in the long run inevitably lead to greater openness and democracy, even in Syria – and Iran.

The uprisings have taken different shape in different places, such as Spain, Greece and Britain. In Israel, the young have set up tent-cities around the country, reminiscent of the early days when hundreds of thousands of refugees were hastily absorbed in ma’abarot, transition camps. The gatherings of hundreds of thousands, in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, in the Galilee in the north and the desert in the south, have been the most peaceful of manifestations, guided by a spirit of determination and creativity, renewal and solidarity.

Israel has always been a country asking much of its citizens. When it seemed that all, or nearly all carried the burden, and there was little for everyone, and distribution was somewhat equal and those in need would get what was required, even if the bread was simple, people could take it.

Besides global phenomena of change and instability, fragmentation as well as bringing people together, in new and ever-changing ways, Israel deals with its own particular problems of privatization and occupation.

While PM Netanyahu is particularly identified with the Chicago School and a neoclassical policy of economics, extensive privatization has been the trademark of Israeli governments for the last twenty years.
Israel was a strongly collectivized society, with the kibbutz as a most prominent phenomenon. Ideologically, but no less pragmatically, the collective was necessary in the early days. The country was sparsely populated, and Mother Earth was harsh. It was impossible to revive her alone. The Homeland (and today, the main issue is – Home) was built on solidarity, carrying the yoke together. However, as the country developed, a natural need to separate from the very close proximity between individual and collective was a healthy and inevitable process, beginning in the 1970s.
However, its soul-less and inconsiderate manifestation as financial privatization of public resources led to what President Shime’on Peres (who is 88 today!) said, allegorically, years ago – a country of six thousand millionaires and six million beggars.
The present calls for social justice will have a tremendous effect in this enantiodromic process (whereby phenomena swing into their opposites), in which the extreme favorization of a few turns into greater equality for the many.

The second process is ideological and political. Enormous sums of money, raised by tax money, have been invested in the housing of settlers. It can be expected that 80% of the settlements will be dismantled. These settlements constitute an obstruction to peace (which in no way exempts the Palestinians from their responsibility – dismantling all Gaza settlements and some in northern Samaria, and bringing the settlers back into Israel, did not lead to neighborly relations, but rather to thousands of rockets fired into Israeli civilian areas).
The majority of Israel’s population, favoring the establishment of a peaceful Palestinian State alongside Israel, opposing the settlement- and occupation-policies, has carried the financial and other burdens of these undertakings (while, at the same time, an increasing amount of ultra-Orthodox young men have been exempted from army service, remaining in religious studies long after they should become part of the productive work force).

While the present manifestations of social uprising will come to their natural end, as summer turns into autumn, and as the focus will turn to other urgent issues, an important process of change has begun.
It will be difficult to justify investments in ephemeral housing projects deep into Palestinian territory, rather than caring for the mainstream population.
While politicians have been looked down at for many years, and the young have turned their back on politics, a renewal of social and political involvement will arise.
New forms of democracy, some based on renewal of old ideas, will emerge. The use of social networks, which can of course also be misused (e.g. when rating becomes more important than truth), may be part of the new democracy.
The dialogue between elected representatives, government, and the people will be more direct.
Just like the government has appointed a committee to look into the situation, the social protesters have established an expert committee, a Committee of Elders, to formulate their demands.

New forms of democracy are being shaped in the tents of hope.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

News Release: Grady Harp reviews The Cycle of Life

The Cycle of Life: Themes and Tales of the JourneyErel Shalit's Guidance Through the Journey of Life

by Grady Harp

Writing a review of the writings of Erel Shalit is daunting. How can anyone quickly distill the expansive and loving knowledge of this brilliant thinker and writer? The pleasure of reading Shalit's books (eg, ENEMY, CRIPPLE, BEGGAR: SHADOWS IN THE HERO'S PATH) is the absorbing of his manner of drawing us into his thoughts and speculations of Jungian individuation. He is a Jungian psychoanalyst in Israel but lectures throughout the world and the increasing acknowledgement of his many books indicates his level of importance in the community of psychology.

In THE CYCLE OF LIFE Shalit encourages the reader to reflect on all aspects of their time here on the earth, absorbing each of the stages of development of growing, but not dismissing the fountain of growth at the end of life. He early on gently shakes his finger at our contemporary thoughts of wanting to hide age: 'When cosmetics and plastic surgery mold a stiff and unyielding mask of youth, or rather of fictitious youthful appearance, old age cannot wear its true face of wisdom. By flattening out the valleys of our wrinkles, we erase the imprints of our character. Fixation in a narcissistic condition of an outworn mask silences the inner voice of meaning in our life.'

He divides his book into the stages of life and, of course, emphasizes the Jungian exploration of the second half of life (he reminds us that Jung is considered the father of the modern study of adult development). One of the selfless manners in which Shalit writes is his sharing of quotations by other writers - including Shakespeare's excerpt from 'As You Like It' - the 'All the world's a stage/ And all the men and women merely players etc'. He honors the words of colleagues alive and passed on, making sure that we the reader receive an expansive exposure to the interpretations of others.

But where Shalit blooms is in his compassion and this comes forward in the most needed spaces. He closes his book with the following: 'As much as we in old age reflect back upon what has been satisfactory in our lives, we need, as well, to bear our failures and foregone opportunities. Even if we have managed to walk our own individual path, having been fortunate to follow the road less traveled and found our way home to a sense of meaning in our personal quest, we need to carry the unanswered questions and unknown possibilities of the road not taken.' This is the soothing message he offers at the end of his insistence that we examine our lives as a whole. He is brilliant, he is warm, and we are the better for reading him.

Grady Harp, August 11

Grady Harp's book reviews appear in a host of syndicated publications, including USA TODAY, and he is an Top Ten reviewer.

The Cycle of Life and Enemy, Cripple, Beggar can be purchased directly from the publisher at the Fisher King Press Online Bookstore.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Candles 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 my book 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 will be released Sept. 1, 2011. It can be preordered at Amazon, or directly from Fisher King Press.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Banality of Obliteration – or, Coffee at Chlodna Street

I recently received a letter from an American acquaintance, perhaps I even dare say, a friend. He is a very good person, having devoted his life to care for the sick and poor, alleviating the suffering of many. Most of us would pride ourselves for a humanistic outlook on life such as his.

My friend inquires about the Middle East, and wonders, for instance, “what would happen if the United States took an isolationist's stance in the world?” And, interspersed among his questions, he asks me, “what do you think would happen in the Middle East if Israel was suddenly not there at all? Would the world be more or less stable? Would the Arab countries be able to unify and work together despite years of tribal, religious and political strife?”

The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and the road to paradise on earth is paved with much evil.

I am convinced that the most wonderful condition of peace, safety and tranquility would ensue, just as stated in the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization, chaired by Mahmoud Abbas) Charter:

“The elimination of Zionism in Palestine,” i.e., the destruction of Israel, which is the declared aim (article 15), “will provide the Holy Land with an atmosphere of safety and tranquility, which in turn will safeguard the country’s religious sanctuaries and guarantee freedom of worship and of visit to all, without discrimination of race, color, language, or religion. Accordingly, the people of Palestine look to all spiritual forces in the world for support” (article 16).

In the official Palestinian Authority daily, Judaism is described as a “distorted, corrupted, falsified religion,” “the Jews’ evil nature is drawn from Adam’s first son,” the State of Israel is a “malignant cancerous growth,” consequently, “the conflict between us [i.e., the Arabs] and the Jews is not a conflict between land and borders, but rather a conflict about faith and existence” (from Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, May 13 and June 3, 2011).

It seems that too many “spiritual forces in the world” are now willing to support the ethnic cleansing of the Jews. The ease, with which the elimination of Israel is discussed, so that possibly the world would become more stable, and so that peace and tranquility shall prevail, should ring the bells of alarm.

Requiem: A Tale of Exile & ReturnThis is my intention with the novella Requiem: A Tale of Exile and Return. I don’t predict Israel’s destruction, but I want to call the attention to these very trends, which do endanger our existence, perhaps no less than Ahmadinejad does. As long as “the spiritual forces in the world” welcome Ahmadinejad, who calls for wiping Israel off the map, at the United Nations, and don’t demand that the Palestinian Authority withdraw those articles in the PLO Charter that call for Israel’s destruction (and which appear on their page at the United Nations’ website), they collaborate in the possible ethnic cleansing of the Jews.

There are quasi-fascist elements in the present Israeli government, increasingly gaining influence, trying to enforce laws that endanger democracy. Netanyahu has chosen his government and coalition (he had different choices), and therefore carries responsibility. This endangers Israel from within, no less than all those who too easily play with Israel’s existence (besides this government’s lack of initiative toward peace and negotiations). There are intolerable fascist calls that can be heard from some of Israel’s extreme right-wing corners for transfer of the Arabs, i.e., ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. It would, likewise, be horrendous toying with the fantasy of the elimination of Jordan, or Finland, or any other nation, country or people.

But it is, as well, horrendous to believe the world would be better without the Jewish State of Israel, and play with that fantasy.

And it so happened that I received this letter, in which I am invited to contemplate Israel’s (i.e., my own) elimination, on my last day in Warsaw. I had just finished a seminar with a wonderful group of Polish Jungian therapists, which for me was a very special and meaningful experience. I had spent many hours of that last day wandering the extinct ghetto. I traced the process of its existence, from establishment till extermination. I superimposed the well-known pictures from the ghetto, and the process of events from inception, when people were shoveled in behind the walls, to Umschlagplatz, when the Jews were shoveled out for transportation, onto the streets of today. It meant reaching out toward the nearly unbearable, for instance tracing the location of the woman lying in the street, starved to death, in front of the entrance to 10 Walicow Street, photographed from within the doorway.

And that bridge, yes, the bridge that connects the two parts of the ghetto, across Chlodna Street, where life was as normal as it could be in Nazi-occupied Poland. I sat down to have coffee in the only remaining building at the crossroads, looking at the people who had crossed that bridge which is no more, and nor are they. There, I read Naomi Lowinsky’s outstanding book Adagio & Lamentation, in which she, with so much wisdom and thoughtful feeling, extracts the memories that too easily may be buried under the dust of denial.

The maps of 1940-3 and the present merge. The slow movement of a quickly passing day dissolve and blend with those fateful and horrendous hours and years. Hitler had done his best, not the least in Warsaw and in Poland, but did not succeed well enough (though he came pretty close), so we are still here to make much trouble for the world (by our mere existence), which otherwise might be such a wonderfully stable and peaceful world – just like having coffee at Chlodna Street, without a trace of the bridge.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Jerusalem: Human Ground, Archetypal Spirit

Photographs by Yoram Bouzaglou

Excerpts from Jerusalem: Human Ground, Archetypal Spirit, a chapter by Erel Shalit in Tom Singer's (Ed.) Psyche and the City: A Soul's Guide to the Modern Metropolis (pp. 279-298):

Unlike Rome, not all roads lead to Jerusalem, and those that do may all too easily lead the visitor astray in a labyrinth of divinity and madness. In the course of history, when Rome became the center of power, sanctity and glory, Jerusalem sank into spiritual ruin and peripheral oblivion. Thus, even those modern roads that bring you smoothly to the city may force the pilgrim to pass “through thorny hedges…” of his or her mind.

“Crouched among its hills,” Jerusalem is immersed with mythological, religious, and symbolic significance. Yet, scarce in natural resources, the surrounding land is cultivated rather than fertile by nature, and the so-called Jerusalem stone, the pale limestone that characterizes many of the city houses, nearly cracks and shatters by carrying the burden of Heavenly Jerusalem. In its often shabby garb, terrestrial Jerusalem seems to want to shake off its Celestial Glory, releasing itself from the task of being “the gateway to heaven.” At other times, when the light from above is reflected in her harsh stones, Jerusalem seems to embrace the presence of the Shekhinah, the earthly dwelling of the divine. Especially at dawn and at dusk, the reflection of the light may bring that which is below and that which is above, earth and heaven, reality and imagination into play with each other–marble-like clouds weighing heavily above, and stones that radiate light.

Poets have wandered the streets of Jerusalem, sung her praise and given her names. They have felt both the beating of her heart and the bleeding of her soul ... Drunk on her spirit, the poet’s soul has been filled both with blissful light and the dark pain of Jerusalem: “Jerusalem stone is the only stone that can feel pain. It has a network of nerves.” Thus, the poets have called her names such as early evening purple and awesome beauty, a wall of dreams and well of salvation, the sealed book and a bird of stone, holy fire, city and mother (metro-polis), den of jackals and cup of ruins.

The author Nikolai Gogol, having burned the two first versions of Dead Souls, believed a pilgrimage to Jerusalem would redeem his soul and relieve him from depression and writer’s block. He was shocked by the noise and confusion in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre, discouraged by the scenery and the environs. “Not only were my prayers unable to rise up to heaven, I could not even tear them loose from my breast,” he wrote in despair to Tolstoy.

When Herman Melville visited Jerusalem a decade later in 1857, his harsh impression was of “stones to right and stones to left...stony tombs; stony hills & stony hearts.” He noticed dryly that there was “Too little to see and too much dust.”

Within the constricted geographical area of Jerusalem we have three mighty images of ascent, transition and transformation, wherein the footprints on the stony ground, the petroglyphs, are transformed into sacred imprints, the hieroglyphs of spirit and creed. The archetypal weight of three theistic Gods may be too much for an area the size of less than one square kilometer, one third of a square mile; again and again Heavenly Harmony turns into Earthly Strife.

Forthcoming September 21, 2011
The Cycle of Life: Themes and Tales of the Journey

Monday, June 6, 2011

What’s Hyding in the Mirror?

Raising his voice from the grave, just like his dead fellow citizens of Spoon River, Ernest Hyde declares,

My mind was a mirror:
It saw what it saw, it knew what it knew.
In youth my mind was just a mirror
In a rapidly flying car,
Which catches and loses bits of the landscape.
Then in time
Great scratches were made on the mirror,
Letting the outside world come in,
And letting my inner self look out.
For this is the birth of the soul in sorrow,
A birth with gains and losses.
The mind sees the world as a thing apart,
And the soul makes the world at one with itself.
A mirror scratched reflects no image--
And this is the silence of wisdom.

The mirror, scratched in the course of one’s life, no longer reflects the images of the outside world, but reflects the silence of wisdom (and, as we are told, Wisdom is the child of Depth and Silence, born out of the Depth of Silence).

Sartre’s one-act play No Exit (‘Huis Clos’) presents a different image – the absence of the mirror. The hell that Sartre portrays in his play has no exit, and it entails the punishment of eternity (depression, for instance, is hell, because when in depression, the person ‘knows’ there is neither an exit, a way out, nor an end). Furthermore, there are no windows or mirrors in the room.

A mirror-less existence is hellish. We know how essential it is for the infant to be mirrored. The libido that streams inwardly, to ourselves, is the healthy narcissistic energy that we need to feel a sense of value, and it requires being mirrored. Not being seen, or carrying another’s distorted projections (which likewise means not being seen), is a self-alienating experience.

There are no mirrors in hell. Hell is a non-reflective and unreflected, non-mirroring and non-mirrored existence. Likewise, in fundamentalism there is no mirror. There is only a projection to be destroyed, but no image in the mirror. There are pre-conceived projections, but no reflective imagination.
Looking into the mirror, however scratched, requires one to acknowledge the image of one’s own complexity as being simply human, rather than splitting off one’s shortcomings from the image in the mirror.
The scratched image in the silent mirror of wisdom reflects the complexity of being human. It means not taking in the images which - considerably more so today than a century ago when Ernest Hyde shared his earnest reflections from the grave - bombard us from the outside. And it means not to be deluded by the false appearance of the image of ourselves, in the smooth and flawless mirror, from which self-reflection is absent.