Archive for April, 2010

Los Angeles

April 30, 2010

I grew up in Chicago and I always loved Carl Sandburg’s poem “Chicago” (HOG Butcher for the World, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat… City of the Big Shoulders”).  Yet I now live in LA where our anthems are perhaps Jim Morrison’s “LA Woman” (I see your hair is burning…”) and Randy Newman (“I Love LA…”).

Having been around the Hammer Museum lately and seeing a great crowd show up for discussions on Jung and depth psychology and the collective I, who is not a joiner by any stretch of the imagination, felt deeply heartened, encouraged and delighted with my city of the last twenty-two years.  A friend recently emailed me to say “I’m in your hometown this week,” to which I replied that we should have lunch, to which he corrected that he meant the City of Big Shoulders.  I suddenly realized that LA has truly become “home” at least for now, at least for my body.

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Call and Response—What’s up with The Red Book?

April 29, 2010

“Soul is made in the veil of the world”—Keats

Last Tuesday evening Andy and I attended a talk between Helen Hunt and James Hillman on The Red Book of Carl Jung at the Hammer Museum.  While the evening abounded in synchronicities too labyrinthine to extrapolate, Andy, who may be less prone to marinate in the verbiage of depth psychology while being arguably all the more “deep” for her willingness to pursue both direct experience of the world and to inhabit her life not only as a keen mind, but as a gardener, parent, film curator, friend and kindred spirit of animals amongst other Anima-like qualities, simply listened, chatted with the dear friend who had invited us, and then went to sleep where she dreamed the following:

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Big Red Book Dreams

April 28, 2010

Back in September of last year, in the build-up to publication of The Red Book of Carl Jung, there was an article by Sara Corbett in the New York Times in which she wrote about traveling to Zurich and reporting on the rather top-secret preparations for publication.

Now in April of 2010, The Red Book sits in a case at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, a copy of that big beast sprawls enormously on my nightstand, and a dream that Sara Corbett shared in her article comes back into my mind:

“One night during the week of the scanning in Zurich, I had a big dream. A big dream, the Jungians tell me, is a departure from all your regular dreams, which in my case meant this dream was not about falling off a cliff or missing an exam. This dream was about an elephant — a dead elephant with its head cut off. The head was on a grill at a suburban-style barbecue, and I was holding the spatula. Everybody milled around with cocktails; the head sizzled over the flames. I was angry at my daughter’s kindergarten teacher because she was supposed to be grilling the elephant head at the barbecue, but she hadn’t bothered to show up. And so the job fell to me. Then I woke up.”

Sara ran her dream by a couple of the Jungians she was hanging with as part of her reportage, but their responses seemed generic (mostly that elephants were maternal, one said, and related to Ganesha added the other). It seemed to me that Sara dropped this big dream right in these Jungian laps, but they were too busy revering the Master (Jung) to notice that the collective was erupting right before their eyes.

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Red Book Diaries

April 27, 2010

Although I choose to discuss The Red Book by Jung, I want to start by saying that although I’m more than interested to examine my own personal unconscious, I’m wishing in this blog to be of service to the group, to the collective both unconscious and increasingly conscious—and hope to frame my efforts to commune with our ineffable group (fellow bloggers, the world at large) regarding The Red Book at least inspired by this intention.

First, the background in very brief terms (for more on the publication of The Red Book see Sara Corbett’s NY Times article, although Sonu Shamdasani, editor and translator of The Red Book, said in a talk at the Hammer Museum, that he thought Jung would be “apoplectic over it.”  While I would not speak for old C.G., the collective zeitgeist is what it is, and so that article is part of the picture):

Carl Jung was a successful psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who, in 1913 had a series of haunting and horrible visions, which he later realized were premonitions of World War I.  Daring to take the contents of his unconscious seriously, he entered into a long experiment of “active imagination,” in which he dialogued with whatever figures arose out of the depths of his unconscious process—taking notes on what everybody said, and later drawing and painting the figures.

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Executive Function and SEL

April 26, 2010

While I think that there is a Mercedes SEL, and I imagine some “top executives” might drive them, a big topic in psychology and kids these days is Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) and “executive function” (related to decision-making).

A number of programs have been developed to target and teach young kids how to regulate emotions, solve problems constructively and work well with others, and the research is coming in to support the value of this sort of focus.  The results suggest that kids who get this sort of teaching early on show an average of ten points higher on later tests of academic achievement, a needle that proves very hard to move (even if it is the over-focus of much misguided education these days).

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April 25, 2010

Maybe the cherry blossoms are in bloom in your neck of the woods, or maybe the petals are scattered on the ground, brought down with the drizzle and the gusts.

Maybe right now you are looking at sun falling across the floor in your kitchen, or dappled light in your living room.  Perhaps you’re noodling around on the web in the darkness of night, or reading these words on your iPhone while waiting to pick up the kids in car pool—a routine that seems endless, but which is actually quite finite.

Maybe the sound of the rain is soothing on the eaves, or maybe it has you a little down.  Maybe your kid has tried your patience today, or maybe they are just looking so sweet that you love your life and all is right as rain… if only it could last.

No matter what exactly is going on for you, my wish that I send out today, in my striving to “only connect” through thick and thin, is that we might, via consciousness, bridge between the writing, the posting, the reading and fading into the past and somehow intuit that this moment is co-created, and whether it challenges us to rise to productive suffering or offers opportunity to tolerate the ephemeral ache of sweetness and it’s fleeting nature, here we are.

In the spirit of love, encouragement, realness, non-materialism, the celebration of material as a nourishing “reality” (taste, touch, smell, sound and sight) I simply invite you to dedicate this moment to nothing but this moment… this makes for something resonant, something linking the writing as light fades on a mundane and precious afternoon and the random chance in time and space of you receiving these words (and making an indefinable connection that lives between us, even if we cannot fully grasp its nature).

And in that spirit I say, “Thank God it’s Now.” (or even Thank X it’s now:  TXIN), hoping it somehow benefits us, and all our collective children.

Namaste, Bruce

April in Paris… or not exactly

April 24, 2010

While I am fortunate to have ever been to Paris at all, I have never been there in April.  Songs and movies seem to suggest that to be in Paris in April is pretty much to fall in love, but I’m hoping that being wherever we are today (with a little consciousness thrown in) might give us that April-in-Paris feeling, even if we’ve never quite had that April-in-Paris feeling, at least not in April and in Paris.

While much of Los Angeles virtually is a movie set, with even super-luxury houses having brick or marble facades and stucco along the unseen sides, no British Manor house or French Chateau would need to be approached from only one direction; but in Hollywood it’s all about what’s “in the shot,” and the rest be damned.

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Putting Descartes before the Horse

April 23, 2010

I’ve never been much of a horse guy, and in camp I would take my sweet time getting down to the stables where I would inevitably get the Ferdinand of horses, one so plump that to ride him was to do the splits.  I was happy to ride that placid black and white creature, happy to wait as he stopped to sample every grass and weed as the counselor called back to us to hurry up and stay with the group.

And then one fine morning, just for the heck of it, I raced down to the barn and the hay and the skinny guy with bad teeth who had been kicked by horses and who assigned you your horse on any given ride.  I got there first and I willfully claimed Buck (or was it that that wily trickster with the bow-legs who suggested it?).  Either way, Buck was a huge and noble beast—gorgeous muscled chestnut—and as a short plump kid I had never been taller than in that saddle, not even when sitting upon my father’s shoulders after recovering from pneumonia.

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The dog at my blog post…

April 22, 2010

I know that more than one or two English teachers read this blog from time to time, and so today’s blog is basically my excuse for not having much of a post… but still in the service of all our collective children.

Sometimes friends express that they are amazed at my consistent posting, and while I’m so glad that all of you read, sometimes I fear that I’m setting the wrong example.  I want to encourage us all to do less, to calm down, to be present, to trust that we are enough.  So maybe my bloggoreah is some sort of symptom—probably of both my wish to be loved (how human is that?) and my continuing attempt to reconcile the spirit of my depths with the spirit of the time.  I must admit that I’m good down in my depths, rambling around with all my angels and demons, wandering through a world that feels to me alive with mystery and always has—it’s just that I’ve had so few people to talk with who see it like me and Alice in her wonderland.  So maybe I also blog in the search for my tribe of not-quite-rational beings, of forgiving English teachers and indulgent coaches who don’t really mind if you drop the ball… a lot.

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Mergers and Acquisitions

April 21, 2010

Twenty-one years ago, Bret Easton Ellis hit a collective chord (at least for my generation) with his novel, Less Than Zero.  It begins:  “People are afraid to merge on freeways in Los Angeles.”  A follow-up check-in on the state of intimacy amongst twenty-somethings twenty years hence might be that people are now simply terrified to merge.

A book about alienation and emptiness in the context of glitzy LA, Less Than Zero was the west coast bookend to Bright Lights Big City—Jay McInerney’s look at the coke-infused emptiness of the New York scene in the 80’s.  I lived in New York, and partied at the same clubs as the scene set in Bright Lights, and when it came out in ’84 all my friends read it, and we all wished we had written it because all we’d have had to do was take notes on our lives.

I moved to LA in ’88 and Less than Zero came out in ’89, but the scene in LA was so bizarre and elusive, almost unreal, that I never felt the insider, although I recall underground clubs and dancing to Art of Noise and Jesus and Mary Chain and never really knowing where I was, or how all these cool kids got to be so cool—it took a while longer to realize just how miserable most of them actually were.

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