Friday, December 14, 2012

Dialoging with my unconscious: Part I

Photograph of my mask created 12/09/12
This is a report on a  hands-on investigation that I have been working on, prompted by my friend and mentor, Peter Baldwin, Ph.D., masterful teller of teaching tales, gestalt and hypno therapist, and author of Four and Twenty Black Birds about personae theory and understanding our multiple selves. His latest book, Gleanings: A Collection of Teaching Stories and Reflections, is a rich store of timeless wisdom, gleaned from 40 plus years of clinical practice. In the dialogue that follows he makes reference to  Gleanings by page number.
It all started last week when, in an email to Peter, I expressed my desire to better understand Carl Jung, particularly in regard to dream work and developing active imagination. My conventional mind expected him to suggest a book to read. I should have known better since Peter acts in the moment, not dwelling in his head like me. Here is how he responded:
Include in your pilgrimage, the fashioning of paper Mache masks. As you engaged in this, don't think. Let your unconscious mind lead the way. Let what your hands are doing tell you stories: silly stories, weird stories. Give each finger its turn to tell its story. When a mask is dried, follow the same in painting the mask. Age access. Your fingers will finger out what's happening. Refer to the Introduction to the reading of GLEANINGS where I write about the ink drawing and the Rock Garden's three layers of meaning and discovery. What I am saying is that while you are reading Jung, what you are seeking is totally within you. Also, visit with your images. Each one is a Rorschach, a TAT. Let each one of them speak to you. Much instruction will occur on a deep unconscious level. Avoid effort to be in command of understanding what is      happening. Much of the answers to your questions will occur behind the back of your conscious awareness. Carl Jung is alive around and in you. He knows what would be helpful to you. Be sure to place each mask over your face, . . . only one at a time,  . . . and see what the mask is saying to you. If Russet says in words or in her he--art what a mask is saying to her, suppose that she us figuring you out.

I got his email Saturday evening was able to immediately set to work, finishing the mask on Sunday. After which, I sent the following progress report back to Peter.

Well, Peter, you asked for it:

I researched paper mache making last night but it seemed to involve many steps and be one step removed for a clumsy person like me. I decided that clay would be more spontaneous, intuitive, primitive. I borrowed a hunk of clay from Russet this morning before she left for a walk with the dog.  I've never worked with her clay before but did make some wooden masks after returning from the Nam…I started work and lost myself totally in the flow for an hour or so. Here's how my mask came out… [see photograph above & in next blog entry]

When I started kneading the clay, I had  an vague image in my mind of molding something that seemed to resemble a hawk or an owl or some other kind of bird of prey. But soon, I found myself lost in the flow, at one with the moist, yielding, almost-alive-feeling clay. About an hour later, when I emerged from the trance, I was amazed to see what, as a first-time beginner, had manifested itself through my hands from my unconscious.

My unconscious suggested this title to me: 
"The Blind, Preyless, Predator"

And this little poem popped up out of no where:

Global Warming
Lamenting the fate
of all sentient Beings
Suffering like Jesus
on the cross
for the sins
of humankind.

I soon got Peter’s reply, urging me to dig deeper, and also agreeing to my request to let me reveal in my blog, Peter’s seminal role in instigating, inspiring, and guiding  my mask experience:

Persona is a Latin word signifying Mask and the sound that issue from behind. The Carl Jung that is under my skin wonders how you might be inspired to write (1) from the voice of the fashioner of the mask, the participant effected by our conversation, the participant who reflects upon how he is affected by the fashioning, the emergent image, by the photographic images; and (2 from the mask itself. Hold up the mask to your face. Hear the sounds, the shaped sounds, the words inspired by the mere and shaped sounds. The title provided by your deep mind is compelling and   evocative.

Yes, if you are moved to doing so, weave me into the blogs, including from GLEANINGS. First re-read the piece on Covered and Uncovered, pages 61ff.

For the rest of the story, click on Part II, my next blog entry

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