This article contains three distinct and seemingly unrelated topics which I hope to tie together.
In part one, Felix Colgrave’s short Double King will be used to discuss unsalvageable evil. The second part will be dedicated to the symbolism of Throat Notes, another short by Colgrave, who indicates a major change in the collective unconscious. In the third part, the concept of restoration (apokatastasis) will be introduced.
Part One: Unredeemable Evil
Truth did not come into the world naked, but it came in types and images. The world will not receive truth in any other way.
Double King is an animation short film made by Australian artist Felix Colgrave. Please watch the short before continuing.
In Double King, we follow a power-hungry protagonist who commits multiple acts of appalling violence, as he attempts to steal as many crowns as he can from other monarchs. This obsessive quest leads him to self-mutilate, which causes his death and sends him to the Underworld.
Once in the Underworld, the character has to face Agatha, the Matriarch(!) of Death, among the kings and queens he has unjustly slain. Instead of repenting, his compulsion gets him in more trouble. Without a crown and faced with his own impotence, he has an emotional meltdown.
Faced with the infantile tantrum, Agatha gives him her crown as a last resort. Delirious with joy, he runs back to the entrance and throws himself into deep space.
Despite its surreal tone, the plot of Double King is not difficult to follow. It tells the story of the escalation of power-driven greed to the point of no return. The deeply rooted and insatiable megalomania leads first to murder and ultimately to physical and spiritual suicide.
As such, Double King is a chilling tale that should not be treated too lightly even considering its many comedic elements. In fact, I would argue that it is a depiction of the mystery of unredeemable evil and should be acknowledged as such.
Evil as a Mysterium Iniquitatis
The problem of evil is so disconcerting and bottomless that it is too often brushed away or reduced to a more manageable size. Thus, evil is treated as insubstantial in Christianity (the doctrine of privatio boni) or, at the very least, always pale in comparison to God’s love and light. When set up that way, evil ends up ineluctably being blamed on mankind as a misuse of free will, whether through ignorance, sin, or Duḥkha.
It’s easy to see evil as a failure of man to measure up to a godly standard, for we all fall short all the time. Even in therapy, we learn that the roots of our dysfunctional behaviors are wounds and traumas that we carry with us. And when healing happens, we feel more whole, more ready to take on the responsibility of life.
All these aspects should be considered when we approach the topic of evil. However, in a similar manner to what is portrayed in Double King, what if we were to meet someone whose condition is such that nothing can be done? Listen to Marie-Louise von Franz talk about such a case.
Extract of a French interview with Marie-Louise von Franz. I made subtitles only from 1h11 to 1h17.
If the subtitles are too fast to read, here is the text-only version.
Asked about the death drive, Marie-Louise von Franz outlines three categories of severity:
- Neurosis. Most neuroses (states of disunity within oneself) tend to lead to self-sabotage. That is eminently curable and the primary goal of therapy.
- Pathological cases. Conditions like paranoid schizophrenia can be cured, if we are willing to spend a decade of hard work on it.
- Divine mystery. These are the cases where even dreams, as a proxy for Nature, see no possible resolution.
In psychological terms, the third category is evil in its impersonal, collective, and archetypal dimension. It is such a mystery that it cannot be blamed on humans alone and must be given religious significance. It is — for a lack of a better word — a divine reality, a face of creation.
Thus the mystery of evil is a permanent and unavoidable factor of reality, even if it is rare. Its rarity must account for how scarring the encounter can be and one is better off not knowing too much about it. If you feel called to learn more, I have dedicated a follow-up article on the topic of evil.
Part Two: New Songlines in the Collective Unconscious
There is a rebirth and an image of rebirth. It is certainly necessary to be born again through the image. Which one? Resurrection. The image must rise again through the image.
Similar to the previous part, please watch the next short first.
Throat Notes is much more difficult to explain than the previous short because it requires an understanding of Australian aboriginal culture and lore. The core concepts that are required are songlines and Dreamtime.
Dreamtime is the creation myth of Aboriginal culture. It talks about a place outside time from which the maintenance and continuous creation (creatio continua) of every aspect of reality take place. Dreamtime therefore is interconnected with all past, present, and future simultaneously. It existed before Creation happened and will persist after Creation ends.
From this place outside of time, a group of great Creator Beings referred to as the Ancestors, forged “dreaming tracks”. These songlines bind the landscape, the animals, and its sacred places to their Creation in the Dreamtime. Thus songlines are not only tied to the land but also to moral responsibilities as they define the law and the ceremonies under which a tribe lives. Because Aboriginal culture is mostly oral, maintaining a songline is done by custodianship and transmitted to the next generation through initiation processes.
Aboriginal Art, from kateowengallery.com
With this knowledge, we can now turn to the short.
Against a heroic yet murderous statue emerges a frog who is holding a star in its belly. What does this mean?
From a psychological perspective, the heroic attitude casts a terrible shadow. By reaching beyond itself to achieve an ideal, the hero starts to dominate the whole: one progressively loses touch with nature, with our instincts, and with ourselves to the point of committing acts of blind violence.
This is the cost of the development of the individual consciousness: to come out of the collective, one must establish oneself as an independent and autonomous being, yet this typically leads to a dramatic dissociation where man creates great violence around and within.
This is why the frog appears with the star in its belly: the heroic attitude has led to a dissociation and now the wholeness of man (the star, the numinosum) is found in the frog, the inferior animal nature of man.
Following the frog, we end up in the cabin of a man who treats all animals as pests. This is the state of alienation discussed earlier, where man cannot distinguish anymore between what is dangerous and what is harmless. He therefore barricades himself and casts out every single thing in an attempt to stay in control of his environment.
At this dead-end between mankind and nature, a new character appears. It is a female(!) Brushtail Possum, a nocturnal animal who is interested in the stars held by the frogs. She captures one of them, extracts the star, and starts working on it for a yet unknown reason.
Once finished with her editing, the possum travels to the highest tree of the land and feeds the highest plant with the star. The plant pod starts singing a song, followed by a round of applause by the animals near-by.
Given its length and symbolic position, this song is undoubtedly the centerpiece of the short. What can we make out of this?
Let’s imagine for a moment that reality is a harmonious song. Now, what would happen if that song was to be changed or renewed?
It is my interpretation that this series of events is tied to the concept of songlines and Dreamtime. By traveling to the highest point, the female possum went into the dreamtime and brought the new and updated numinosum to be sung throughout time and space. This received acclamation from the other animals, the other Creator Beings in that space.
In aboriginal language, we are thus assisting to a change in the songlines, which are the deepest structure of reality. In psychological language, a renewal of primordial psychic material is happening at the level of the collective unconscious.
What I am writing here is not merely a matter of personal interpretation of a random animation short. I have the privilege of knowing someone who is in contact with Australian Aboriginals. He has reported that some members of a tribe were alarmed because they have noticed a change in the song of the earth. If this is truly the case, then a process of destruction and renewal will be observed everywhere. Is it already observable?
If we limit our observations to analytical psychology, we can see that Jung was aware that he was working along such a project:
I do not expect any believing Christian to pursue these thoughts of mine any further, for they will probably seem to him absurd. I am not, however, addressing myself to the happy possessors of faith, but to those many people for whom the light has gone out, the mystery has faded, and God is dead. For most of them there is no going back, and one does not know either whether going back is always the better way. To gain an understanding of religious matters, probably all that is left us today is the psychological approach. That is why I take these thought-forms that have become historically fixed, try to melt them down again and pour them into moulds of immediate experience. (Carl Jung, Psychology and Religion, CW 11, par 148)
Edward Edinger discusses the relationship between Psychology and the Church. Full video.
There is much more to say about this short, so I’ll conclude with the following.
At the end of the movie, the frog comes back toward the man and sucks the star out of his being. This is what happens when one staunchly and repeatedly refuses to cooperate with nature: the wholeness of man ends up in the frog, the inferior side, the shadow.
Frog: Look at me. I love poking frogs because I’m a big weirdy.
References and additional material:
- Why Songlines Are Important In Aboriginal Art
- What is Aboriginal Dreamtime?
- On the need for a myth that ties us to the origin of the cosmos: Robert Moore – From Chaos to Cosmos: Creation Myths and the Quest for a Centered Self
- On the symbolism of frogs: Edward Edinger’s Archetypes of the Apocalypse
Part Three: Restoration
The bridal chamber and the image must enter through the image into the truth: this is the restoration. Not only must those who produce the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, do so, but have produced them for you. If one does not acquire them, the name (“Christian”) will also be taken from him.
For this last part, another video needs to be watched. Please keep an open mind as it is much more challenging than the material up to here.
Please note that I do not fully endorse everything in that video, yet the main points are so important that it is worth going through it carefully.
I will now attempt to reframe what I consider to be the main points into a psychological language. This reframing involves the inclusion of the unconscious when the word “earth” is used. It is not a replacement as such, rather it is taking into account that what happens on earth happens in a similar manner in the psyche.
“As a result, people would do acts of injustice here on earth and if justice came at all it was very, very slow in coming. It was out of sync . . . so a person could do something unjust here and nothing would happen. . . . the major problem is the moral pollution became unbearable. . . . ”
As discussed earlier, the heroic attitude of humanity, which has benefitted the evolution of consciousness, progressed to a point where it turned against nature and against the psyche.
In psychological terms, humanity’s one-sidedness led to a buildup of activity in the shadow to the point where the wholeness of man (represented by the star) is no longer found in consciousness but in the unconscious (represented by the frog, the inferior attitude, the shadow).
“So what’s happening is earth is responding with justice . . . [Our] moral vibrations are picked up by earth immediately and responded to immediately in kind and with interest.”
The dissociation between unbounded heroism and repressed inferiority has become unmanageable. When the shadow material of the unconscious is constellated in this way, it threatens to overwhelm the conscious attitude. This forces us to introspect or to live through repeated failures.
“Now, you may say well that wasn’t me, that was my ancestor. Your conception of time and who you are is, let us say, not the highest conception. Earth knows exactly who you are and what your makeup is. It is scanning you continuously.”
This can also be said of the unconscious. No secret can be kept from the unconscious, as dreams reveal every night.
“Earth is reacting with justice. Justice doesn’t have to be harsh, justice can also be if you’ve done something kind that earth repays you in kind, with interest. And any time you change, genuinely change, your intentions- earth will pick that up immediately, will register you immediately, and respond to you immediately differently. If you are sincere, in a desire to change, you’re moving in the right direction. You’re not expected to go from where you are to moral perfection, zero to sixty, in 10 seconds. If you’re moving in the right direction, earth will help you with that its ability to propel toward the good has also been increased. If you’re insincere earth’s going to pick that up, you cannot fool mama earth.”
If the earth is able to push against immoral behavior, she is also able to propel forward positive behavior. The same can be said of the unconscious: when one starts working in a genuine manner with the unconscious, a disconcerting amount of invisible help will be there. This article has been written with the assistance of such help.
This cooperation between the human ego and the earth or the unconscious (the psyche/matter duplex of the unus mundus) is an apokatastasis, a restoration of the pristine conditions of the origin. It is not a return to Eden but a stumbling forward to Edenic conditions, usually ascribed to the New Jerusalem.
- On the psychoanalytic relationship between destruction and creation: Sabina Spielrein’s Destruction as the Cause of Coming Into Being
- On the death of the Hero: Carl Jung’s The Red Book, Murder of the Hero
- On a psychophysical reality: Remo F. Roth’s Return of the World Soul
- On the relationship between modern life and nature: Carl G. Jung. The Earth Has a Soul: C.G. Jung on Nature, Technology and Modern Life
- On the dark side of feminine compassion: Dogville (2003), by Lars von Trier
- On the conscious interaction with the earth: Planetary Tantra, by John Lamb Lash
“We are not experiencing climate change, we are experiencing regime change.”
The material presented here should be enough evidence to give a glimpse of a greater picture.
All aspects of human experience, from the way society works to the primordial religious patterns, are being pivoted over a new numinosum. Thus we are not merely transitioning from an Age to another, we are closing a cycle and maybe even a cycle of cycles.
This “pivoting” process is an inescapable restructuring at the deepest levels imaginable. The implications are so far-reaching that, if the obliteration of the old ways is inevitable, it is yet too early to declare the emergence of the new.
The writer finds very considerable reason for believing that, within a period to be estimated by weeks and months rather than by aeons, there has been a fundamental change in the conditions under which life, not simply human life but all self-conscious existence, has been going on since its beginning. This is a very startling persuasion to find establishing itself in one’s mind, and he puts forward his conclusions in the certainty that they will be entirely inacceptable to the ordinary rational man. […]
The writer is convinced that there is no way out or round or through the impasse. It is the end. […]
Our world of self-delusion will admit none of that. It will perish amidst its evasions and fatuities. It is like a convoy lost in darkness on an unknown rocky coast, with quarrelling pirates in the chartroom and savages clambering up the sides of the ships to plunder and do evil as the whim may take them. That is the rough outline of the more and more jumbled movie on the screen before us. Mind near exhaustion still makes its final futile movement towards that “way out or round or through the impasse”.
That is the utmost now that mind can do. And this, its last expiring thrust, is to demonstrate that the door closes upon us for evermore.
There is no way out or round or through.
H. G. Wells, Mind at the End of Its Tether
In his short last book, H. G. Wells makes a radical pronouncement that I cannot help but agree with despite the nihilistic undertones. The old dominant of consciousness is at the end of its tether and finds itself at an impasse. This is where we are at a collective level. Thankfully, we do have a few allies while facing the bottomless void ahead.
The first ally is the unconscious. Dreams are a compass for uncertain times, when everything is eroding constantly. And the shadow is waiting for us, holding the missing part of our wholeness.
The second ally is the earth. Similar to the unconscious, when the King grows old and weakened, Mama Bear will resort to her Trickster and/or Kali side to serve a merciful justice to all who will not or cannot change.
Our third unfortunate ally is the devil itself who is working overtime at the rectification of the world.
I will now try to illustrate with what subtlety [Jung] worked on this integration in the course of the dream analysis, and I will take the liberty of referring, by way of example, to my dream. I had this dream in 1940, after the end of the drôle de guerre. Holland and the Belgium were occupied by the German troops, who were now marching towards France, where the army and the entire population were in flight; German aggression against England approached inexorably. All this put in danger our culture and fed our concern for our dearest friends. I dreamed that I was in a dark room; a man, taller than me, was making me spin holding me in a tight embrace in a dance of death in which, little by little, I was losing consciousness. The walls of the room exuded blood, which dripped down to the floor. I implored that man to let me go. When he did finally loosen his grip, I was able to drag myself from the middle of the room to the wall and, immediately, I tried to wipe up the blood, which was dripping down.
Unable to cope with such a condition of despair alone, I related the dream to Dr. Jung, who listened to my account with that special attention of his, repeating the dream slowly as if it had been his own: objectifying, in this way, my horror and that of the others, with his participation. ‘Yes—he said—we are in this war. And you yourself are the battlefield. What can we do? Resisting the Devil transfers to him all the force deriving from our failure to accept, to the point where we fall into unconsciousness! Then, indeed, all is lost! We must remain vigilant, we must be witnesses, we must not risk identification. Interrogate the devil then, ask him what he wants from you, now that he is destroying your values, the sense of what is right and of what is wrong, your plans, your wishes, the whole world of your ego. Have compassion for the dark side of God, who so intensely labours on us at this moment! Resist not Evil!—he repeated several times—Resist not Evil!‘
Carl G. Jung, The Solar Myths and Opicinus de Canistris, Appendix ii: Alwine von Keller (1878–1965). A Biographical Memoir. Emphasis not mine.
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