A revised, third English edition of The Hero and His Shadow: Psychopolitical Aspects of Myth and Reality in Israel, has recently been published (2012) by Fisher King Press.
Preface The Beggar in the Hero’s Shadow . . . . . . xvAcknowledgments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xxiChapter 1 Return to the Source . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1Chapter 2 From My Notebook. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11Chapter 3 From Dream to Reality. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .33Chapter 4 Origins and Myths. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45Chapter 5 From Redemption to Shadow . . . . . . . . . 55Chapter 6 Wholeness Apart. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 95Chapter 7 Myth, Shadow and Projection . . . . . . . . 111Chapter 8 A Crack in the Mask . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 131Chapter 9 The Death of the Mythical andThe Voice of the Soul. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 151Glossary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .169Bibliography. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 173Index. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 181
An excerpt from Ch. 9: 'The Death of the Mythical'
Man has wrested the myths out of the hands of the gods. When approached with humbleness, myths can give meaning to the world. Mythical Prometheus does extort the fire from the gods, but understanding the mythical meaning of his deed is more important than to act it out. Prometheus means forethinker, the one who thinks before. Promethean fire is the capacity to plan and make use of natural transformative energy, fire (which like everything archetypal is bipolar, and can thus be constructive as well as destructive), for the benefit of mankind, to create consciousness and acculturation.
Prometheus brings fire to mankind
Prometheus’s brother, Epimetheus, thinks only afterwards, after having carried out the deed, when it often is too late. He was punished for his lack of forethought, and against his brother’s warning he all too easily accepted Pandora as a gift. As an artificial woman, as an artifact created by the master craftsman Hephaestus, she had no sense of Eros, of relatedness, and could unhesitatingly spread the poison of misery, disease and suffering.
|Diego Velazquez: Hephaestus' workshop|
Were Hephaestus alive today, he would probably be a computer freak, constructing artifacts of virtual reality. The boundary between reality and virtuality is becoming blurred. Man-made artifacts seem more real than actual events whose true nature we can no longer account for (cf. McLuhan 1996, Baudrillard 1994). Whereas in the past the media followed the event, now events take place where the camera is – even if the camera was there unintentionally, as was the case in the filmed assassination of Rabin. But it is a false and artificial tele-nearness (like tele-vision, vision from afar; or tele-pathy, i.e., pathos, feeling, from afar) a nearness from afar by which events lose their own reality. They become pseudo-events, as-if events. Jung (1964, p. 95) says,
As scientific understanding has grown, so our world has become dehumanized… Natural phenomena... have slowly lost their symbolic implications. Thunder is no longer the voice of an angry god, nor is lightning his avenging missile. No river contains a spirit, no tree is the life principle of a man, no snake the embodiment of wisdom, no mountain cave the home of a great demon. No voices now speak to man from stones, plants, and animals, nor does he speak to them believing they can hear. His contact with nature is gone, and with it has gone the profound emotional energy that this symbolic connection supplied.There is an equally false nearness to personal and internal events. Unlimited media-exposure of man’s body and soul – sexual, dead, violated, raped – has little to do with closeness or freedom (Feldman 1997), but distances man from himself. There are no boundaries and no distance, no compassion nor perspective that can hold man’s experience together in a unified way. Through the Internet everything is made public, everything is open, and it is possible to learn how to assemble bombs and suicide (homicide) belts on-line.
Or, you write a letter, send it by e-mail (instead of snail-mail), and it is no longer yours. Sentences are added or deleted, “forwarded” and mass-distributed – without the need for consent. Where is discretion? Privacy? Where is dialogue in contrast to multilogue? Where is the poet’s private song, handwritten and learned by heart? Privacy is dismembered. Often people come to therapy to find privacy, and in privacy to find an outlet for their personal poetry.
Man’s evil may be his hubris, considering himself as an equal to the gods, interfering without restraint in nature’s work, and claiming godly rights. We do not know what evils may yet be unearthed by genetic engineering and computerized virtual reality, which is sometimes comprehended as more real than reality. Scientists have created electro-magnetic fields a million times stronger than what we are accustomed to, enabling fish and frogs to fly. Is that what man wants, or needs? Or, using transplants, scientists have exchanged brains, making birds behave like fish. What will the world look like when man and computer will be cloned together?
As Rosemary Gordon (1978) says,
there is light without visible fire; sounds and images heard and seen at a great distance from their source of origin; ... These and many other thousands of new wonders won by man through his own effort to understand, to control and to bend to his will and to his needs the forces of the universe in which he finds himself – all this has led him to dream that death also can be conquered.And yet, while man may dream that death can be conquered, whether by science or by war, we are overwhelmed by death and deadly fears hitting back at us. As Hillman (1993, p. 111) in his powerful, poetic language, says,
Death lurks in things: asbestos and food-additives, acid rain and tampons, insecticides and pharmaceuticals, car exhausts and sweeteners, televisions and ions. Matter is more demonized than ever it was in the plague. We read labels of warning, feel invisible evils descend through the air, infiltrate the water, and permeate our vegetable sustenance. The material world is inhabited again; the repressed returns from the matter declared dead by Aquinas and Descartes, now as Death itself, and because of this resurrecting ghost in matter we are aware at last again of the anima mundi.
Myth-making means reaching into the creative depths of the unconscious, bringing forth the unifying symbols of the self, but man has wrested even the apocalyptic myth out of the hands of the gods. The apocalyptic myth forms the other end of the paradise myth of original, conflict-free wholeness. It is the myth of conflict between good and evil in which the latter comes to destroy the world as we know it, but is defeated by the forces of good, and the world is reborn. This would mark “the end of the present era, and the initiation of a new era of peace, harmony and general exaltation” (Ostow 1986, p. 107-108). However, the symbolic quality of the apocalyptic image changed as man seized it from the gods and from nature. Now man himself can cause his own actual apocalyptic destruction, and in so doing, kill the very idea and possibility of rebirth. If we define soul as the capacity to relate, imagine and reflect, then uncritical and unimpaired, narrowly ego-centered progress causes the atrophy of dreaming, mythologizing and symbol-formation.
Science and progress constitute our modern myth, with genetic engineering and the computer as central symbols of post-modern science. Freud (1932, p. 211) wrote to Einstein:
It may perhaps seem to you as if our theories are a kind of mythology ... But does not every science come in the end to a kind of mythology like this? Cannot the same be said today of your own Physics?In past myths man was threatened by the forces of nature, the wrath of the gods, and the monsters of the netherworld. What remains today is mostly the grand sin of hubris, due to man’s one-sided consciousness.
In worship of the religion called science, the carcinogenic ego becomes ignorant of its shadow, intoxicating whatever lies outside the realm of restricted ego-consciousness. In the backwaters of civilization and unimpaired progress, the shadow rises against the ego and strikes back. This ego lacks feminine consciousness, the moon’s reflection and contemplation, as happens when scientists are given free hand without the reflective capacities of the anima, the soul, as occasionally carried by philosophers, psychologists and others. No longer does the wisdom of Sophia (in Hebrew hokhmah, חכמה)
cry aloud in the street; she does not utter her voice in the squares; she does not cry in the place of concourse, at the entrance of the gates; she is not listened to when she cries out “pride, and arrogance, and the evil way, do I hate.” (From Proverbs 1:20-21, 8:13)The unrestrained dispersal of antibiotics, for instance over-injecting milk-producing cows, has weakened our immune system, which may be one cause of activating the AIDS-virus. Jung (1965, p. 360) says,
… [A]t the end of the second millenium the outlines of a universal catastrophe became apparent, at first in the form of a threat to consciousness. This threat consists in giantism – in other words, a hubris of consciousness – in the assertion: “Nothing is greater than man and his deeds.”
|Howard Fox: Babel the fall|
[find more of Fox's paintings]
And man’s consciousness is threatened by its very accomplishments, e.g. the computer, and therefore the unconscious tries to struggle with it by its ancient remedy – illness. So computers die from unknown viruses, some of them arising from the more primitive layers of our unconscious, for example “Friday the 13th virus,” which however is an all too weak panacea thrown in by the shadow of superstition. The language of a computer that has gone mad is as puzzling as when God put an end to hubris in Babel.
Steven Spielberg’s film Jurassic Park illustrates the dialectical and enantiodromic movement, whereby everything turns into its own opposite, between progression and regression. Relying on his ingenuity man acts God, and by computer-induced cloning he creates primordial images, dinosaurs, which then threaten to overtake man. What we might be creating for the future is the dinosaur-man, a weak link in human history, dependent on an intricate and vulnerable web of electro-magnetic fields and radio-waves.
Just imagine at what a loss man will be in the dark world of dead robots when the computers come to a standstill, causing for instance “worldwide banking chaos, air-traffic-control systems go dead, control chips open the wrong release valve in nuclear power plants, satellites get lost, deadly viruses kept under computer lock escape,” as a Newsweek feature exclaimed in lieu of the threshold to the new millennium. Due to denial of the shadow and lack of Promethean foresight, the year 2000 (Y2K) compounded into a threatening computerized calculation of year zero-zero, from which we could have woken up to “the day the world shuts down.”
In the post-modern era man is possessed by his own one-sided consciousness, having raised it to god-like proportions, not paying due respect to the compensatory efforts of the unconscious.
When we identify with the Self, as with any archetype, with wholeness, with Heavenly Jerusalem, then we create evil and hell. This is an evil of anonymity and perfection, and a hell of hubris, in which post-modern man has replaced the self, taken possession of the archetypes, and ignorant of the consequences he intervenes ruthlessly in the self-regulating psycho-ecology of the creation. This hubris of the mind may very well throw us deep into the globally overheated, yet freezing cold abyss of hell.
In evil man’s ego has lost its stamina, its strength and vigor, and fused with the collectivity of the mass, leading to an ‘abaissement de niveau mental,’ may it be mass-production, mass-psychosis or mass- murder, with due respect to the difference.
In hell, the God-image and the Self have been projected onto the ego, whether as worship of the leader, or of man’s mind.
Supreme evil arises when man uses his consciousness, which is based on differentiation and separation, for instance between good and bad, to split apart that which is not within his right to do, such as the selection in the death camps. Who is to live and who is to die, which race shall persist and which shall perish, are not within man’s moral realm of decision making. The ultimate image of man’s evil is his apocalyptic act of splitting the atom so that the enormous power hidden in that nucleus can be used for the destruction of humanity. Splitting apart is the extreme contrast of wholeness, and in nuclear destruction man’s consciousness truly becomes diabolic.
We have had a hundred years of psychoanalysis, and we have had half a century of atom bombs. India and Pakistan have joined in and others, such as Iran of the ayatollahs, are following, and man’s mind increasingly turns toward himself in unconscious self-destruction.