The Death of Adolescence in American Culture, Part III

McCallBright

All of the films thus far discussed contain multiple overt references to initiation, to what Hillman describes as the initiation of the puer into puer-et-senex consciousness (239). The union of the sames. Consideration of another recent trend in the film genre of action thrillers reveals the same process but from the perspective of the senex. That is, the initiation of the senex by the puer into the senex-et-puer.

In the popular Taken trilogy starring Liam Neeson, The Equalizer with Denzel Washington, and John Wick with Keanu Reeves a wifeless protagonist returns from the exile of retirement, puts his “particular set of skills” to use killing his antagonists, and in so doing unites with a re-awakened puer aspect in himself.

In The Equalizer, Washington’s character, Robert McCall (pictured above), is a particularly striking if not entirely subtle example of such a senex figure. In an early scene in a diner he meets a young prostitute whom he is going to protect and become friends with over the course of the film. She sits at the counter; he sits at a table reading The Old Man and the Sea. McCall also times himself as he dispatches his many antagonists. If Katniss Everdeen, the huntress, resembles a young 21st century Artemis, then the stopwatch-wearing McCall is a modern-day Chronos, a death-dealing Father Time.

In the context of the present blog series these contemporary versions of Artemis and Chronos need each other. They need to reunite with their respective senex or puer pole. This reunion is the “metamorphosis” which Jung alludes to when he writes, “We are living what the Greeks called the kairos—the right moment—for a ‘metamorphosis of the gods,’ of the fundamental principles and symbols” (CW 10: para. 585). Hillman appropriates this passage from Jung for use as the second epigraph to his 1967 essay. The third and final epigraph from English astronomer Fred Hoyle is meant to convey the same idea: we are in a “transitional phase” from a primitive puer and senex to a sophisticated puer-et-senex way of life (30).

That men and women over the age of 18 (and sometimes into their 40s or 50s) read Young Adult fiction suggests that unconsciously if not consciously they may be seeking initiation into this more sophisticated way of life. The films thus far discussed suggest several characteristics or qualities of this way, i.e., the new puer-et-senex. First, the films and books end somewhat ambiguously or ambivalently. Rather than a decidedly triumphant tone at the end, the land and the people in it, the survivors, are emblematic of what Hillman calls the “scarred wound” or “weak-strength.” “Soft-hardness” (239). These characters experience nightmares, deal with loss, and suffer betrayal, yet they are able to go about the business of rebuilding their homes, their communities, and their relationships.

Related to this rebuilding is the role played by memory at the conclusion of these stories. In almost all of the tales the characters have the option of restoring or removing their memory so that they do or do not remember that which has gone before. Likewise, at the end of The Hunger Games series honoring the memory of the tributes and others who have died over many years is of particular importance. If as Hillman argues history has become “The Great Repressed” with the splitting of puer from senex, then their reunion undoes this repression (80).

Hillman concludes his first essay in Senex & Puer  by reiterating the notion that the ego or willful mind which has caused the split between puer and senex cannot bring them back together. In fact the ego must get out of the way. He writes, “In the absence of ego and into its emptiness an imaginal stream can flow, providing mythical solutions for the psychic connection or ‘progressive mediation’ between the senex/puer contradictions” (66).

The films discussed above are the imaginal streams of which Hillman writes. Their ideas and images provide solutions that are needed now. Psychologically these solutions can be labelled the puer-et-senex and senex-et-puer, the adolescent who has “died” or been initiated into adulthood and the adult who has reunited with his or her inner child.

Mythically these solutions are Katniss Everdeen and Robert McCall.

———————–

Note: This post concludes “The Death of Adolescence in American Culture” blog series. The next post will appear in October.

 

Posted in Archetypal Psychology, Art/Creativity, Cinema, Culture, Puer Aeternus | Leave a comment

The Death of Adolescence in American Culture, Part II

PresSnow2-2

In actuality, in the first film in The Hunger Games series the conflict between puer and senex takes a while to materialize. At the beginning only one side or extreme is evident and that is the senex in its negative form. Played to perfection by Donald Sutherland, the aged President Snow (pictured above) rules over the thirteen fenced-in districts of Panem in such a way that all inhabitants live in abject poverty. Once a year in each district a male and female name are drawn from a glass bowl, a process called a Reaping, and these two individuals, or tributes, fight to the death against tributes from other districts in a televised event known as the Hunger Games.

The strict enforcement of rules and regulations, the creation of physical boundaries and the control of populations—all of these characterize the negative senex. So, too, do the coldness of the president’s name, his unfeeling proclamations, and his presiding from the Capitol like Saturn, god of agriculture. The annual reaping of male and female tributes is his harvest.

In Senex & Puer Hillman writes that Saturn also has a problematic relationship with the feminine. One incarnation of this relationship, or of Saturn’s feminine aspect, is Dame Melancholy, a figure who is depressed and moody. Sometimes she can also be the source of wisdom (263). As Saturn holds a soft spot for his feminine side, he often keeps it a secret or even imprisoned.

At the beginning of The Hunger Games the heroine of the film, Katniss Everdeen, is more Dame Melancholy, more senex adult, than she is puer rebel and idealist. Not only is she more a mother than a sibling to her younger sister Prim but at times she appears only a step or two away from the same sadness and grief that have immobilized their mother. Played by Jennifer Lawrence, Katniss also has something of a special relationship or status with President Snow; they agree not to tell lies to each other, and on more than one occasion he promises to let her live if she does what he asks.

This compact between them which lasts through much of the series begins to change just over an hour into the first film when the twelve year-old character Rue is killed during the games. Rue’s youthful innocence and selflessness remind Katniss of Prim, and her senseless death awakens something within Katniss, namely her puer aspect. After covering Rue’s lifeless body with flowers, Katniss turns and gives a farewell salute to everyone who is watching the games back home. Members of Rue’s District 11 immediately begin to riot. Something has been awakened in them, too.

Uprisings against tyrannical authority are very much in keeping with the puer trait which Hillman describes as verticality or, citing H.A. Murray, “ascensionism” (158). Hillman writes, “[W]hat matters is verticality – the break in and break with the horizontal outlook of the daily world and its incessant continuity” (159). In The Hunger Games, the incessant oppression of those living outside the Capitol must stop. The Hunger Games themselves must stop, and they do at the end of the second film, Catching Fire, when Katniss breaks through the force field over the arena and is lifted skyward into the waiting rebel hovercraft.

Ascensionism also is evident in the Divergent and Maze Runner film series. In Divergent the young heroine Triss joins with other rebels to break the tyranny of a caste-like system which divides inhabitants of a post-apocalyptic Chicago into five groups or factions. Not only must Triss confront the leader of the Erudite faction, i.e. her President Snow, but to end the faction system once and for all she must journey to the other side of the enormous fence surrounding Chicago. As a result of her actions Triss no longer is the penned-in puer. She and her fellow inhabitants are free.

Like Katniss, Triss is what Susan Rowland in Perpetual Adolescence: Jungian Analyses of American Media, Literature, and Pop Culture calls a “feminine puer” rather than puella. That is, Katniss and Triss have “the qualities of the puer hero in feminine form” (38). Qualities like fearlessness and the skilled use of weaponry in combat. As noted by Susan E. Schwartz in the same book, the puella, or adolescent female, on the other hand is “driven by desires to be seen, to excel, and to be loved […].” “Her presence lights up a room as she performs for the adulation and praise of others” (204).

On several occasions in The Hunger Games Katniss must perform in this manner as puella. She must dress up for the enjoyment of others and become “the girl on fire,” but she does so reluctantly, against her will. She prefers the peace and quiet of hunting in the woods, a bow in her hand, a quiver of arrows on her back.

Finally, the protagonist in The Maze Runner is a more traditional puer, a teenaged boy by the name of Thomas. He must lead his group of rebels through the Maze and out of the incessant continuity of life in the Glade which is their prison. With those in charge of the Maze seemingly dead or incapacitated, the first film in the series ends with Thomas and other survivors in a helicopter flying up and over the Maze walls to freedom…

———————–

Note: “The Death of Adolescence in American Culture” will conclude next month with Part III.

Posted in Archetypal Psychology, Art/Creativity, Cinema, Culture, Puer Aeternus | Leave a comment

The Death of Adolescence in American Culture, Part I

 

senexpuer4

Last September chief film critic for The New York Times A. O. Scott wrote a long and wide-ranging review of American culture as reflected in television and cinema. He called his piece “The Death of Adulthood in American Culture.” In his review Scott argues that the decline of patriarchy and the adult male in American society as depicted in “The Sopranos,” “Breaking Bad,” and “Mad Men,” has created a vacuum largely now filled by infantile escapism, i.e. the refusal of American citizens to grow up and enter the world of relationships and responsibility.

This refusal is evident in such male-driven cinematic fare as the innumerable comic-book movies which endlessly play on our movie screens or the equally ubiquitous bro-mance comedies like “The Hangover,” “The Forty-Year-Old Virgin,” and “Knocked Up.” But the boys are not alone; female-centric TV shows such as “Girls” and “Broad City,” are rebellious in their own right. Scott states that these latter shows are characterized by “a freedom to be idiotic, selfish and immature as well as sexually adventurous and emotionally reckless.”

Young Adult fiction receives a similarly generous dose of Scott’s ire. Toward the beginning of his essay he writes:

“I will admit to feeling a twinge of disapproval when I see one of my peers clutching a volume of ‘Harry Potter’ or ‘The Hunger Games.’ I’m not necessarily proud of this reaction. As cultural critique, it belongs in the same category as the sneer I can’t suppress when I see guys my age (pushing 50) riding skateboards or wearing shorts and flip-flops, or the reflexive arching of my eyebrows when I notice a woman at the office has plastic butterfly barrettes in her hair.”

Finally, toward the end of his critique he adds:

“Grown people feel no compulsion to put away childish things: We can live with our parents, go to summer camp, play dodge ball, collect dolls and action figures and watch cartoons to our hearts’ content.” “It is now possible to conceive of adulthood as the state of being forever young.”

Perhaps unknown to Scott is the fact that this concept of adulthood as the state of being forever young is not new to the rank and file of analytical psychology. As early as the winter of 1959-1960 Marie-Louise von Franz gave twelve lectures which were published together a decade later as her seminal text The Problem of the Puer Aeternus, the problem of the eternal youth. At the outset of her book von Franz writes, “In general, the man who is identified with the archetype of the puer aeternus remains too long in adolescent psychology; that is, all those characteristics that are normal in a youth of seventeen or eighteen are continued into later life […]” (7). Characteristics like riding skateboards and wearing plastic butterfly barrettes. A. O. Scott would do his unsuspecting co-workers a favor, then, were he to secretly replace their dog-eared volumes of Harry Potter and The Hunger Games with von Franz’s attractively packaged and undeniably incisive Puer Aeternus.

Or would he? In fact the present post argues that such books as Harry Potter and The Hunger Games—as well as their cinematic adaptations—provide the very solution to the problem under discussion, i.e., the youth who remains forever young and immature. Indeed, careful consideration of the narrative and imagery of these works yields a potential cure for “The Hangover” and “The 40-year-old Virgin,” a possible path to womanhood for the “Girls” of “Broad City.”

katniss3The distinction made here between problem and cure with reference to specific films and shows owes a debt both to the 6th century Roman philosopher Boethius and the archetypal psychologist James Hillman. In The Consolation of Philosophy, Boethius writes “But it is rather time,” saith she, “to apply remedies, than to make complaintes.” This statement is the first of three epigraphs to Hillman’s essay “Senex and Puer: An Aspect of the Historical and Psychological Present.” Originally presented and published in 1967 and now found in Volume 3 of his Uniform Edition (pictured at top), Hillman’s essay marks his first of multiple important writings on the subject of the puer. Scott and von Franz may lodge the complaint about the youth who remains forever young, but Hillman provides the remedy.

Essential to the application of this remedy is Hillman’s distinction between the archetypal background and the neurotic foreground of the puer. The archetypal background of the puer shines through such recent film series as The Hunger Games, Divergent, and The Maze Runner, all of which have captured the public imagination precisely because they communicate timely and transcendent, or archetypal, “messages from the spirit.” Hillman also refers to these messages as “calls to the spirit” (50-51).

These messages or calls, however, are obscured by and in the puerile films and shows criticized by Scott. Such stories of arrested development concern parental complexes of the personal unconscious rather than healing messages from the collective unconscious or spirit. See Adam Sandler. The tics, twitches, and tomfoolery of his many characters, their temper tantrums, reveal little more than their place front and center in the neurotic foreground of the puer. Such characters may be funny in a sophomoric way but rarely if ever do they graduate to a higher, or deeper, meaning and significance.

Seeing through the foreground of the puer to its healing archetypal background begins with the recognition that the puer is one half of what originally comprised a single bipolar archetype, the puer senex or puer senilis. The youth-age polarity (35). Hillman notes that these two poles or faces of the same puer senex archetype are evident in Jewish mysticism via The Holy Old Man as Attik and in Roman mythology via Saturn, both of whom sometimes conceal themselves as if with a hood. Or as we might say today, “The Holy Old Man in a hoodie.” These and other examples given by Hillman demonstrate a degree of original identity shared by the two poles, an identity he refers to as “a union of sames” (60-61).

Today these two poles are split. The ego or willful mind has separated the puer senex archetype into the puer and senex. The union of sames has become a conflict of extremes (61). In The Hunger Games (shown above), Divergent, and The Maze Runner—as in our own world—this conflict of extremes manifests as extreme conflict, one side pitted against the other. Not utopia but dystopia, i.e., the dystopia of Panem, post-apocalyptic Chicago, and the wasted world outside the Maze…

———————–

Note: The above represents the first part of a twenty minute presentation I gave July 10th in Connecticut. In Los Angeles on July 24th, I expanded this material into a two hour lecture.

Posted in Archetypal Psychology, Art/Creativity, Cinema, Culture, Puer Aeternus | Leave a comment

Boyhood, Part II: Another Look at Richard Linklater’s Non-Millennial Millennial Film

TheMoment2

Toward the end of Richard Linklater’s Boyhood protagonist Mason Evans Jr. (Ellar Coltrane) drives alone in his pick-up through a desert landscape. He is on his way to college for the first time. At a gas station mid-trip Mason pulls out his camera and takes pictures of objects around him: a rusty lantern; a red fire hydrant; a broken traffic signal. The song “Hero” plays over top the sequence: “Let me go. I don’t wanna be your hero. I don’t wanna be a big man.”

This song by Family of the Year provides a moving and melancholic contrast to an otherwise annoying thematic refrain on heroism that appears throughout the film. In particular the heroic traits of responsibility and ambition are trumpeted by numerous characters—and not always in a positive manner. Early in the film Olivia (Patricia Arquette) complains about the fact that responsibility to her children necessitates the sacrifice of her own personal desires. She has taken the difficult and often unpleasant path forsaken by the kids’ irresponsible absentee father (Ethan Hawke). Other characters that harp to Mason on responsibility, ambition, duty, and discipline include Olivia’s second husband Bill (Marco Perella), her third husband Jim (Brad Hawkins), Mason’s photography teacher Mr. Turlington (Tom McTigue), and Mason’s boss at the restaurant Mr. Wood (Richard Robichaux).

Mason, however, marches to a different and perhaps less ambitious or disciplined drummer. His is an artistic sensibility which lives in the moment and values the experience of beauty over self-advancement and muscular achievement. In other words, the dictates by which he lives are those of his heart and not those of heroes or “big men.”

His orientation toward life, then, is marked by a natural preference for being over doing. This preference is most evident in the closing lines of the film. Foregoing freshman orientation Mason sits outside in Big Bend National Park next to Nicole (Jessi Mechler, pictured above) who as a dancer shares Mason’s artistic sensibility. She says to him, “You know how everyone’s always saying ‘seize the moment?’ I don’t know—I’m kind of thinking it’s the other way around. You know, like, the moment seizes us.” Mason looks at the beautiful landscape around them and replies, “Yeah. Yeah I know. It’s constant. The moment—it’s like it’s always right now.” How the present moment contributes to future gain is not their concern. For Mason and Nicole the one true gain can only be found here and now.

Their shared philosophic rapture is matched by the ecstatic union experienced by their companions Dalton (Maximillian McNamara) and Barb (Taylor Weaver). The latter couple stands off at a distance howling like coyotes toward the heavens. For the four friends the beauty of the moment has unfolded into an experience of wholeness and harmony with nature.

Psychologically, the innate preference of Mason and his friends for introspection, creativity, harmony, and openness to the present moment corresponds to the INFP typological designation in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). Evolving out of Jung’s writing on typology, MBTI often takes the form of a computer questionnaire given in a manner similar to that described in the scene from Boyhood mentioned last month. INFP stands for introverted intuitive feeling perceiving.

In Compass of the Soul: Archetypal Guides to a Fuller Life Jungian analyst John Giannini also characterizes INFP as right-brained, feminine, and tender-minded or tender-hearted. He calls the INFP the sensitive soul. These qualities are evident in Mason’s tendency to daydream, his hairstyle and fingernail polish, his photographs centered on feelings and the feminine, and his sometimes gloomy disposition. What is described above as artistic sensibility is his soulful sensitivity.

Opposite INFP is ESTJ, or extraverted sensing thinking judging. People who identify with this type tend to be outwardly assertive, value hard facts and concrete reality over imagination, and possess a black-and-white sense of right and wrong. They are task-oriented, disciplined, and duty-bound. Their soul is that of the warrior or hero. The examples from Boyhood noted in the second paragraph exhibit ESTJ traits which Giannini also describes as left-brained, masculine, and tough-minded.

The juxtaposition between ESTJ and INFP energies in the film brings to mind the following statement from Jung: “Therein lies the social significance of art: it is constantly at work educating the spirit of the age, conjuring up the forms in which the age is most lacking.” (CW 15: 130). With Boyhood Richard Linklater beautifully educates the spirit of this age. As evidenced by bullying, performance enhancing drugs, substance abuse, and religious and cultural fundamentalism, our collective temperament has become overbearing and even pathological in its heroism. What the hero lacks and most desperately needs is not more or better heroism but the healing presence of the sensitive soul.

———————–

Note: The above two-part post expands on ideas found in my film review of Boyhood published in Psychological Perspectives: a quarterly journal of Jungian thought, Vol 58: Issue 2, 2015. Deeper exploration of this material has taken the form of two-hour lectures given here and here.

Posted in Cinema, Culture, Deep Realism, Typology | Leave a comment

Level 4 (password TOE) Square twice, triangle twice, circle

Celine Replica handbags Typically, stars in a constellation have only one thing in common they appear near each other in the sky when viewed from Earth. In reality, these stars are often very distant from each other and only appear to line up based on their immense distance from Earth. Since stars also travel on their own orbits through the Milky Way, the star patterns of the constellations change slowly over time.. Celine Replica handbags

Celine Outlet Interviewing cheap celine glasses hundreds of street youth, homeless advocates found that 46% of boys and 32% of girls take part in “survival sex.” Of that group, 82% prostituted themselves for money, 48% for food or a place to stay, and a small group for drugs. A Hollywood study also found that half of the street celine outlet store youths sampled sold drugs. But interestingly, only one fifth of that group or, one in ten of all street youths sold drugs to support their own habit. Celine Outlet

Celine Bags Online It has been 4 hours since I watched an episode of Rick and Morty. Things are different now. As soon as the credits rolled celine handbag https://www.replicacelinesim.com outlet authentic I felt a shockwave through my mind. celine alphabet necklace replica Your protagonist would be sentenced to ten years in prison for involuntary manslaughter. Eight years later, she will be paroled and returned to her home on the Jailbird, a Fairchild C 123 Provider converted into a flying prison transport. Marshal, who will be approached by DEA agents planning to go undercover to get information from a drug lord who is to be picked up en route. Celine Bags Online

Celine Luggage Tote Replica 231. Evidence from Patristic Sources The references to the works of Justin Martyr and Tertullian arerelevant in that they appeal to the records of the Romans. Suchwere evidently still extant at the time, and so could have andwould have been gladly used by the opponents of Christianity at thetime. Celine Luggage Tote Replica

Celine Replica Hippocrates also emphasized a high ethical standard for physicians. The Hippocratic Oath is a statement of medical ethics. Developed over 2,000 years ago, it probably reflects the views of Hippocrates while not actually having been written by him. Level 3 (password CIRCLE) Green twice, yellow once, blue three times. Triangle Red circle three times fast celine replica shoes : MOVES, third time is tiny at lower left. Level 4 (password TOE) Square twice, triangle twice, circle. Celine Replica

replica celine bags Fabrics developed indicate five major stages of diagenesis. There was early recrystallisation of the initial gypsum mush (Stage I) of small lenticular crystals to a less porous anhedral fabric with the small celine replica bag scale “net texture” celine outlet uk (Stage II), a microscopic network of impurities. The coarser nodular structure, chicken wire structure and enterolithic veins developed as the celine replica sunglasses sulphate was converted to anhydrite (Stage III), a process which commenced penecontemporaneously and was completed before deep burial. replica celine bags

That true. I plan to update my iPad Celine Bags Replica to 13 after the dev betas drop and are reported to be fairly stable, since it sounds like so much is going to be improved for the Pro models. A jailbreak on 12 would be nice in the meantime, but even if we don find offsets in time to have useful blobs, I fake celine letter necklace only plan to run a handful of things celine bag replica ebay on my iPad cheap celine bags anyway.

Celine Cheap And I believe in partnerships. But alliances have not always worked out very well for us. Alliances that haven “worked out” for us.. We all have rejection in our lives and you must learn to deal with it now. As well as celine cabas replica not all people are compatible so we won’t always date the people we want or vice versa. (MORE). Celine Cheap

replica celine handbags I found out the PNE race wasn going to happen this year, I researched everywhere for a suitable location. I figured finding a fair that already had mini doughnuts was a lot more practical than making my own and hauling them to a new venue. Besides, I don think doughnuts would be safe with me very long, laughed Hudson.. replica celine handbags

Celine Bags Replica Helium replaced hydrogen which was originally used in celine handbags uk outlet blimps. Using burners on hydrogen would have been foolhardy at best (refer to the Hindenburg disaster). (MORE). Bigelow’s, which has been in business since 1939, is all about the basics, which is to say the primary pieces of equipment on the premises are a grill and a fryolator. You’ll eat at a curved counter with stools at a location far removed from the shoreline. But scenery doesn’t count. Celine Bags Replica

Celine Replica Bags Dog laws should be enforced. Although this sounds extreme, it for the safety of all. Dogs celine luggage outlet chasing deer = deer and dogs running into roads = even more accidents.. There is a good reason that this is always true. It has to do with the physics of the machine. Imagine the fastener being “held in place” to stop it from turning as the machine starts. Celine Replica Bags

Celine Bags Outlet Earth’s axial tilt (or obliquity) and its relation to the rotation axis and plane of orbit. celine bag replica amazon Credit: Wikipedia CommonsMars’s axial tilt is very similar to Earth’s, being inclined 25.19 to its orbital plane (whereas Earth’s axial tilt is just over 23). This means that both are differentiated between a dense metallic core and an overlying mantle and crust composed of less dense materials (like silicate rock) Celine Bags Outlet.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment