Saturday, March 8, 2008

I am not at all Jungian!

I just finished the book: "The Invisible Partners" by John A Sanford [google books has almost all of it] It was a book I had to read for school and then write about. I did not like it one bit. And I thought I liked some Jungian things... If you want to hear about the one thing I did like skip to the quote at the bottom of this post. :)

I am entirely helped by seeing this book, Jung, and Sanford in the context of history. Pretty much the only thing I related to was the idea that we all hold what are typically called masculine and feminine aspects in us to varying degrees. But beyond this, reading this book felt like attempting to read a book in Old English from a different century. The language is not language I would use. And not just because of the Jungian terms. But also because the culture I live and move in is different. Plus the dude went off on male homosexuality and it's causes for a couple pages some of which was totally unproven or untrue and then didn't even address female homosexuality.

I kept reading things that made me write in the margin: "What? Where did he get this? Who says? Unproven assumption. Heterosexual assumption." Chapter four has the majority of these side notes.

My largest issue with this book is that I do not agree that we are made whole by finding the other side of us. We are already whole and no one can or will ever complete us and make us whole. And in regards to sexuality I disagree that sexuality is our attempt to find what is missing as Sanford says! I think sexuality is so much more complex than that. It is biology, love, culture, gender identity, upbringing, sexual orientation, emotions, personality.... the list could go on forever.

Also the book started with the mythology of the Anthropos (sphere people) who were cut in two by the gods and turned into men and women. This mythology holds the assumption that someone else will make us whole. I ask any of you, do you think being in a relationship makes you more whole? Relationship, sex, love have purposes but ultimately I take issue with the idea that this anima/animus combo makes wholeness. Even if we work out our anima/animus stuff we can't even complete ourselves. That still wouldn't make us whole.

The only thing I found fascinating was the mythology regarding homosexuality on page 99. Ironically these pages on homosexuality are the ones that are omitted from the google books version. Hmmm. Do you think this was by accident?

Here's the story I liked that was omitted.
The American Indians had an explanation for this kind of homosexuality that is as good as any I know, even though it is couched in mythological rather than scientific terms. The Indians believed that during puberty the moon appeared to a boy offering him a bow and arrow in one hand, and a woman's pack and strap in the other. If the boy hesitated when reaching for the boy and arrow, then the moon handed him the pack strap. These young men became "berdaches," or homosexuals. They wore a special kind of dress and performed special functions in the tribe. For instance, they often served as matchmakers, and while they did not go to war, as did the other young men, they might accompany the war party to care for the wounded. Berdaches were perfectly accepted in the Indian community. They were not ridiculed or despised, but simply regarded as a special sort of man.
I googled Berdaches because I thought, why does Sanford say Indian instead of which exact tribe, or even saying Native American or First Nation. I saw this article that said "Male berdaches have been documented in over 155 tribes." Interesting.

I guess I have mostly just confirmed to myself that I'd be a horrible Jungian!


Cheryl said...

Without addressing Jungian philosophies (becasue I simply don't know enough about them), I would say that we are not and cannot become whole by ourselves. I do believe we were made for community and being in relationship with others. However, I don't believe that being in relationship with others makes us whole either.

I don't think either situation makes us whole because it's not available to us on this side of "heaven" or whatever "knowing" comes to us after we've gone from these physical contraints.

For me, I do feel like I'm a "better" person when I'm in a relationship. I feel much less self-centered, and having to take another human being's feelings and wants and needs into consideration with practically every decision I make helps me live my life less me-focused. When this happens on a daily basis, then it's less difficult to extend the same considerations (on a lesser scale) to others.

AnJ said...

LOL. I like the way you read... scribbling your thoughts at the side. :) I do that too.

AnJ said...

I think many times it depends on what we define as "whole"? Is "whole" being able to function on daily tasks? Is "whole" being able to see from multiple perspectives? Is "whole" being happier?

To each her/his own.

I define whole as "being happy". And if i am happy, i am whole. Simplistic perhaps. But it works for me...