Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Haruki Murakami – “The Meaning of Shadows”

 This month, November 2016, Haruki Murakami received the Hans Christian Andersen Literature Award. He refers to Andersen’s tale “The Shadow” (you can read the story here), which is woven around the Faustian theme of losing, or selling the shadow, then being overtaken by it (see below an excerpt from Enemy, Cripple, Beggar: Shadows in the Hero’s Path).

The Japanese bestselling writer next to the Hans Christian Andersen's house in Odense.

Murakami warned against excluding outsiders and rewriting history. “No matter how high a wall we build to keep intruders out, no matter how strictly we exclude outsiders, no matter how much we rewrite history to suit us, we just end up damaging and hurting ourselves,” Murakami said.
Both individuals and societies need to face their shadow; “we have to, when necessary, face our own shadows, confront them, and sometimes even work with them,” he said in his acceptance speech.
And he is of course right, because if we don’t face the shadow, however difficult and aggravating that may be, the shadow has a Golem-like tendency to rise up against us – whether as individuals or in society.

An excerpt from Enemy, Cripple, Beggar: Shadows in the Hero’s Path (pp. 82-3):

The shadow is the most accessible and the easiest to experience of those archetypes that have a “disturbing influence on the ego,” says Jung, “for its nature can in large measure be inferred from the contents of the personal unconscious.” Consequently, the shadow is often considered to be synonymous with the personal unconscious, or the Freudian idea of the unconscious as container of repressed “instinctual representatives.” 
Indeed, “To the extent that the shadow is unconscious it corresponds to the concept of the ‘personal unconscious’,” which, says Jung, “contains lost memories, painful ideas that are repressed… subliminal perceptions… and finally, contents that are not yet ripe for consciousness.” Jung then continues, saying that the personal unconscious corresponds to “the figure of the shadow so frequently met with in dreams.” He then explains that by the shadow he means “the ‘negative’ side of the personality, the sum of all those unpleasant qualities we like to hide, together with the insufficiently developed functions and the contents of the personal unconscious.” 
Yet, truth and honesty thrive in the shadow, however heavy it is to carry. While we hide the shadow from the light, it is dangerous to appear openly without it. Or, rather, it is dangerous to appear in the open, if we are too good and deny having a shadow, because then we come across as not having a soul. 
In Chamisso’s book Peter Schlemihl: The Shadowless Man, the artist tells the protagonist, who has turned to him in order to resolve his increasingly painful shadowless existence, “The false shadow that I might paint, would be liable to be lost on the slightest movement, particularly in a person who … cares so little about his shadow. A person without a shadow should keep out of the sun, that is the only safe and rational plan.” Neither does the sewn-back shadow of Peter Pan, whose ‘real’ shadow got stuck in the window, provide for the depth of mature character.

cover image from an original painting by Susan Bostrom-Wong
I. The Hero     
Who is he, or she, the hero?; The Hero Ideal; Hero and Shadow; The Sun and the Sword, the Moon and the Mirror; The Nixie of the Mill-Pond; The Hero Myth; The Myth of Perseus; The Hero Unfolds; The Departure; The King; Parents and Birth; The Hardships of the Hero; The King and the Fisherman; Layers of the Unconscious; The Treasure; The Old Principle; The Beehive and the Ram

II. The Shadow
The shadow and the hero; A Shadow of Many Faces; The undifferentiated void; Ego Formation and the Face of the Shadow; Shadow, persona and projection;
The Enemy; Ego and Shadow; Amalek – The Wicked Warrior; Evil deception; Archetypal identification and denial; Samson – The Impoverished Sun; Jacob and the Divine Adversary; The Hill of Evil Counsel; The Setting Sun; Caiaphas, the Fathers and Collective Consciousness; Law of the Fathers, Grace of the Son; The Hero Betrayed: Personal Greed or Archetypal Scheme?; Compassion at the Court of Collective Consciousness
The Cripple; Wounds and Eros; Hephaestus; From Mars to Eros; Following the Wound; The Wounded Healer; The Case of Dr. D. and Mrs. M.; The Cripple and the Wound; H. C. Andersen: The Cripple; Death – The Archetypal Cripple; Death’s Messengers       
The Beggar; Faceless Interiority; The Beggar Healer; At the Gateway to the Self; The Way Home; Prophet Elijah  

 Enemy, Cripple, Beggar: Shadows in the Hero’s Path at Amazon, at Fisher King Press

You can read Ann Walker's review of the book in Psychological Perspectives, here.

Jacob and Esau: Reconciliation between the hostile brothers. Silhouette by Meir Gur Arieh

No comments: