Monday, July 22, 2013

Joan Didion, Blogs, Vietnam, Childhood, and Carl Jung

Mouth of the Mekong River, Vietnam
CC Jean Stimmell: 1966

Joan Didion comments in her essay "On Keeping a Notebook": Only the very young and the very old may recount their dreams at breakfast, dwell upon self, interrupt with memories of beach picnics and favorite Liberty lawn dresses and the rainbow trout in a creek near Colorado Springs. The rest of us are expected, rightly, to affect absorption in other people’s favorite dresses, other people’s trout.[1]

Keeping my blog is a modern equivalent of Joan’s notebook and, alas, I can't deny often dwelling on myself, recounting my recollections and dreams. Is this a clear indication my old mind has slipped its moorings like those ancient ships we passed, just before heading up the Mekong River in Vietnam in 1966, or is it possible that, instead, my old mind is purifying itself, regressing back to the unfettered bliss of the very young as Carl Jung attempted in his old age, to dwell happily in dreams, myth, and the collective unconsciousness. 

Postscript: It was after midnight when I finished this blog entry and I went straight to bed. Before shutting off the light, I reached for a book to relax my brain after a long day. Among many choices, I grabbed the Tao Te Ching [2] and randomly flipped it open.  The first stanza I read is a good example of what Jung called synchronicity:

“Know the male,
yet keep to the female:
receive the world in your arms.
If you receive the world,
the Tao will never leave you
and you will be like a little child.”

Was this Carl Jung’s motivation in old age to return to childhood?

“If you accept the world,
the Tao will be luminous inside you
and you will return to your primal self."

[1] Essay in Joan Didion’s anthology: Slouching toward Bethlehem p. 136
[2] Tao Te Ching translated by Steven Mitchell, Harper & Row, 1988, page 28
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