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Life Arts    H3'ed 8/28/14

Conservative White Men Today and the Revelation Jung Received

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(This passage appears on page 577 of the reader's edition.)

I refer to this passage as the revelation given to Dr. Jung by the anima archetype in his psyche. It is a revelation for all men about the anima archetype in their psyches.

You see, men such as the fictional Adam and the fictional character named Dante need to be guided in their lives by the anima archetype in their psyches. When men do not have a constructive working relationship with the anima archetype in their psyches, then they will be subjected to having the anima archetype in their psyches arouse fear and longing in them (i.e., in their psyches).

Therefore, I attribute the fear that conservative white men in the United States feel and express in our political arena to the workings of the anima archetype in their psyches.

Oftentimes, conservative white men express their fear in their vociferous rhetoric about the 1960s. See Philip Jenkins' book Decade of Nightmares: The End of the Sixties and the Making of Eighties America (Oxford University Press, 2006).

Now, self-described Christians appear to be over-represented among today's conservative white men who are having significant problems working out a healthy relationship with the anima archetype in their psyches.

THE PSYCHOLOGICAL EXPERIENCE OF DEIFICATION

In patristic and medieval times, certain Christian writers had no problem with discussing the possibility that the mythic figure known as Christ could deify them.

See Norman Russell's book The Doctrine of Deification in the Greek Patristic Tradition (Oxford University Press, 2004) and A. N. Williams' book The Ground of Union: Deification in Aquinas and Palamas (Oxford University Press, 1999).

After all, if we are made in the image and likeness of God, as the Bible says we are, then it would seem to follow that we are made for deification -- this is our common human destiny -- to be like God in some sense.

But in the natural course of our lives, men need to work out a healthy relationship with the anima archetype in their psyches before they are ready for the psychological experience of deification.

So today's conservative white men, many of whom are self-described Christians, need to work out a healthy relationship with the anima archetype in their psyches -- to prepare themselves for the possible subsequent experience of psychological deification.

Finally, I want to say that these psychological developments are not quick and easy for men to work through from the onset of their proverbial mid-life crises onward in the second half of their lives. Figuratively speaking, for today's conservative white men to work out a healthy and viable relationship with the anima archetype in their psyches could be likened to undergoing something like the suffering and crucifixion of Jesus as portrayed in the four canonical gospels.

Of course in the Christ myth, the resurrection supposedly follows his death, followed then by his ascension to heaven and then by his second coming. These mythic images clearly suggest that new forms of life followed his suffering and crucifixion. In a similar way, new forms of life will follow for men who work out a healthy and viable relationship with the anima archetype in their psyches.

To take a more mundane example, we could liken the inner work that men need to undertake to work out a healthy and viable relationship with the anima archetype in their psyches, to undergoing something like the character Dante's extended visit to the Inferno and Purgatory -- with the character Virgil as his guide. That involves a long time in the underworld. Those two fellows took in all the sights in the Inferno and Purgatory. Beatrice, the anima figure, appears only when Dante is ready to enter Paradise in his grand tour.

Penelope in the Homeric epic the Odyssey is another anima figure similar to Beatrice. After the Trojan War has ended, Odysseus sets sail with his men for Ithaca -- and Penelope and his son there. But it takes Odysseus a proverbial ten years to return to Ithaca. Of course during his journey he encounters a good number of feminine figures, including goddesses (Calypso, Circe, Athena) and a flirtatious young woman named Nausicaa. The time interval mentioned is undoubtedly a round number. But it suggests that it takes men a number of years to work out a healthy relationship with the anima archetype in their psyches. See Jean Houston's book The Hero and the Goddess: The Odyssey as Mystery and Initiation (Ballantine Books, 1992).

Regardless of how long it takes, all men face the challenge in the second half of their lives to work out a healthy relationship with the anima archetype in their psyches.

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Thomas James Farrell is professor emeritus of writing studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). He started teaching at UMD in Fall 1987, and he retired from UMD at the end of May 2009. He was born in 1944. He holds three degrees from Saint Louis University (SLU): B.A. in English, 1966; M.A.(T) in English 1968; Ph.D.in higher education, 1974. On May 16, 1969, the editors of the SLU student newspaper named him Man of the Year, an honor customarily conferred on an administrator or a faculty member, not on a graduate student -- nor on a woman up to that time. He is the proud author of the book (more...)
 

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