Saturday, December 22, 2012

Jung - healing journals and soul building

 As part of my therapy and the concentrated  Jungian studies I'm involved with now, I've been encouraged to address my disease through an art. journal.  Like Jung with his Red Book, it's an unpredictable journey - and an often shocking revelatory outcome. Much of it not understood during the process - the cryptic answers only to evolve and reveal themselves later - when we least expect it.
I haven't spoken about my disease much, it's difficult to comprehend and to explain in words and sometimes my cognitive abilities aren't up to the task. All of this is part of the Fibromyalgia disease, along with it's bedfellows, depression and anxiety.
I was diagnosed early last year and experienced an abrupt escalation of many of the symptoms of this chronic neuroimmune disease in July
So when I launched this project it was an experiment and a longing - a chance to create, perhaps stimulate my taxed brain with colorful paper scatterings. Rather innocently, I thought...
The Good Trigger:   Two months ago, I was thrilled to stumble upon a you tube video tutorial by Steffogal1 for her super cute and easy journal.
For my project, started in the a week ago in the midst if Christmas preparations on the unusually balmy days in south Carolina, I simply started off with  a sheet of the 12X12, not knowing how important this simple step would be to the path of my healing.
The Sad Trigger:  The tragedy and loss of so many lives once filled with happiness, hope and potential, in Newtown, Connecticut, is a trigger for everyone with access to a TV or computer to address their own issues of loss, as well as their value systems, humanitarian philosophies and meaningful roles in society. I couldn't bear to address the issue head on. since my nine-year old granddaughter learned of terrifying act from the news. She's an introspective girl, one who observes and broods and I know she has lost some of her innocence because of this. Each generation has it's tragedy, one they never really put away. I suffered through nuclear bomb drills when I was in middle and high school, although I didn't realize why my mother cried all night and let us sleep with her on the eve of the Cuban Missile Crisis until I was and adult. then came the shock of assassinations of President and Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, while I was a senior in high school and shortly afterwards, the death of my cousin who was shot by a sniper on Hamburger Hill the first week he parachuted in Viet Nam.  The 30 to 40 year-olds saw their world forever changed and lost their own innocence due to 9/11 and now those who are under twenty have now lost their sense of safety, security and innocence due to the mass murders we've suffered through over the past few years.  I can't barely think of what my life would be like now, if Kendall had been in that school.  I can't hardly bear to hear her talk and ask questions about it and both her mother and I have a hard time often break down when it comes on TV.  WE can't take the pain away and we bring those angels back, but the first steps of healing the world, begin with healing our personal wounds.  This journal ended up being a healing process, although I didn't envision it that way when I began. but it was even as I worked on it but more so  afterwards as I contemplate it.  I would hope that each and every family and towns person of Newtown can find a way to heal and also pay homage to those children's, teachers and school administrators lives as well as the first responders who need a way to get those initial scenes out of their head. Whether it be art or humanitarian efforts or politics - action relieves anxiety and creativity fosters healing.  
The Start of the Project: To start I chose a paper from a paper stack entitled, Engraved Garden, aptly titled, although i didn't know it at the time. I chose it due to my affinity for the crow as a bird and perhaps for even more powerful reasons in relation to the cultural themes of a highly pivotal time in my life. I was very moved by   The Crow, the graphic novel by James O'Barr as well as the movie The Crow directed by Alex Proyas based on O'Barr's masterpiece. The film with it's itself was profound and powerful enough but with the tragic loss of Brandon  Lee during it's filming in North Carolina, a part of my spirit was reminded of the entwined meanings of death and loss, love that reaches beyond the grave. He's a messenger between this world and the next, this world and the depths, this world and our subconscious.
He suits and guides me in my interest mourning practices, perhaps because my father died when I was 5 years old and I wasn't allowed to grieve. My mother thought it best not to talk about it, so I endured with my only connection left to my father - a photo of him sitting on an iron rail fence beneath a fruit laden grape arbor at the home of my aunt and uncle in Lawrence, Mass.
The Inner Dialogue: I've come to believe America is amiss in rushing the grieving processes. The idea is to bear up, smile so as not to make others uncomfortable and return to work or whatever your everyday life entails as soon as possible so as not to stop the flow of commerce. This is a grave mistake. It produces a near impenetrable wall to soul building, if tragedy and loss is never explored, and the discouragement of grieving not stopped. 
Death loss and grief,  major transformational stages of life, while painful, lead to revelations, depth of character, and a fully engaged spirit. Ignored, parts of us are bidden to some unseen land of forgetting, only to emerge suddenly, as shocking as a jack in the box, "the joke's on us," implies that leering sadistic grin.
Instead, if we understand how periods of grief tend to teach us a great deal about ourselves through loss; about love, depth, and the true value of our time here, we have the chance to become a fully authentic individual.  The inner struggle and journey through the dark places eventually lead to to open doors at the tops of stairs where an essential soulful life await.  - If only we have the courage and are not stopped in our tracks by those who are afraid. Waking up to grief  is a necessary step and a means of waking up to life. .
 So back to the first page, I added a charm of the cemetery sculpture of a veiled mourning woman - the beginning stage of my personal journey. On the mauve colored flower, a very Victorian color since it was invented in the late 1800's, are tiny black spiders, symbols of the web of life.

On the second and third pages, I started out with a pocket made from a 2001 note card by Robert Frederick Ltd. that I couldn't bear to mail away. It depicts depicting John William Waterhouse's beautiful Pre-Raphaelite painting The Lady of Shallot (1888) - this has long been an important painting in my search for soul and meaning as it represents one must set forth into the unknown despite the dangers which might be encountered.  The painting was based on Lord Alfred Tennyson's poem, written in 1832 -  The Lady of Shallot, where a maiden is locked in a tower and can only view a knight who rides by in a mirror. Once the mirror cracks, she feels she must go seek him our and sets of in her boat, dressed in white, floating through water lilies (both symbols of innocence seeking Camelot.
Throughout this journal are pockets and tags - places to record  dreams or save insights, jot down lists or add photos symbolic of the journey.
Our red-headed young woman does encounter love but loss, as well, as we all do.
On the next page is an journaling area, although the winged pens seem to represent my the fast flight of my thoughts into the aether these days. Below, is a photo of a statue which is in my garden - She stands amidst the camellia and azalea, her feet hidden in ivy, representing Demeter or Ceres - the goddess of growth and fertility, but also the mother of Persephone or Hecate. Demeter/Ceres must bear witness to her daughter being abducted to the underground (our subconscious) by Hades or Pluto.
The fourth and fifth pages are about growth, blossoming, blooming to full flower and adulthood,  Life is vital and vibrant, alive and alluring.  The poppy foil and gilt envelope and a photo book highlight the promise of abundance, the call to lose oneself in nature, the summons to immerse oneself in the senses, the enchantment of new experiences, offerings, pleasures. On the 5th page the botanical tag barely hides one of my sketches of a nude woman with her back turned towards the viewer in the first stages of her learning to be vulnerable, but perhaps not quite open and carefree. 

On the 6th and 7th page, I chose an Art Nouveau  woman holding a crow. This woman, mature and unafraid, decides to live a bohemian life given over to art, writing, reading, music and love. She holds the crow, a reminder that death must be acknowledged, and how its acknowledgement proves life is sweet and precious - gift so important, it should be savored each and every day.
On the 7th page, the art noveau tag is made from metallic copper card stock - copper is the element , which in the Hermetic traditions of alchemy was connected with love, and later in chemistry with connectivity, electricity, cauterization.  The copper and blue paisley border reinforces the gypsy element of this stage of

The 8th and 9th pages represent two more stages of a woman's life, first her abduction again to the underworld, an experience which is re-enacted over and over through fathers, boyfriends, lovers and husbands.  Because woman is emotional with a rich internal life, she fear she must give up parts of herself to be committed to a relationship or to marry.  The 8th page with it's hues of reds and oranges is passionate - demonstrating all the emotions connected with these colors: passion, lust, anger. I cut this illustration from a label of Trader Joe's Apple Cider as it represented these emotions in a unique and powerful way - as the man leads the woman up a ladder - to the heights of passion and life experience, yet she refuses and struggles to escape, afraid of loss of self.  The tag further illustrates her confusion filled with promise and guises she doesn't know whether to trust or not.  The tag is tucked into the bottom border of a bowed Cupid's mouth, serious, closed and silent.
On the 8th page, our woman does indeed lose herself - in bearing children. this page is an explosion of life and the joys of motherhood and how losing oneself to the innocence of children, is a life giving experience. This theme is emphasized by the botanical card in the background of a lily, an long time symbol of innocence. The other tag, tells a different story made of lime green cross-hatched card stock, while it depicts the shade of new life, it also has a more important message - the interconnection, the weaving of lives and souls and futures.
The final two pages represent the woman who has come to terms with her life.
This tag: with a journaling tag like a mirror into the soul, and an additional tag of luxurious, deeply-hued magenta flowers, voluptuous and inviting, the red of passion altered, but not muted, instead enriched with the depth of experience - of love and loss, but now rampantly the reds and pinks are deepened into mauve and burgundy through experience, reflection, insight and resolve.
On the 10th page, once again, I used a Robert Frederick note card of Proserpina by Dante Gabriel Rossetti. This goddess, also know as Persephone, Rossetti saw as the empress of Hades - queen of the underworld, who has become adept at exploring her subconscious depths. She is no longer an unwilling victim, but  now a mature and resolved woman, aware that to be fully authentic, she must also reside in the liminal world of Hades for half of her each year to become a fully authentic individual in her own right. She is adept at delving into the past and her subconscious through dreams, stillness, silence or meditation, and she'll continue to partake of the pomegranate because such journeys to the depths are imperative to soulmaking.
I tucked a tag I found at the side of the road once while walking - a scientific specimen card of the lunar, a perfect addendum to tuck into the Proserpina pocket as a symbol of a being whose greatest insights are discovered in the depths of the dark., while at the same time illuminating the night with its luminous life-colored wings and its observant golden eyes.
The Revelation and Resolutions: Now the journey is ended.  While working on this boudoir journal, I was too busy to pay attention to the pain, too involved to feel like I needed to go sleep, too frantic to stop.  Once I started, I couldn't stop working, laying out, reaching into the scraps and broken pieces of my life trying to fit them together.
I finished it in one day and although I felt the pain big time after I finished, the trek through my own personal underground or Hades was worth it.
And now as I write this, I discover things I didn't know - the paths of my life so obvious laid out this way, shrouded in mist until now, as I put the fragments together.
Issues came to light, past decisions were explored, questions arose and some answered. More importantly, I found resolution -  without any assistance from my conscious mind at all.  It was all delivered one through my hands and a part of the brain I can't access on command. But now I know it's there and waiting - a higher self, an inner guide, a wiser deeper voice - one that says - yes there's loss and abduction, refusal and abandonment, but also, also there are so many gifts, so many illuminating numinous moments to savor, treasure and tuck away, once released from this Pandora's box we call life, but with attention - waiting to wrapped in the healing ribbons, the themes of our lives, until ready to be tucked away for safe keeping in pockets made of shreds and tatterings.
As of yet, I'm still too confused to confront the myriad confusing emotions I'm feeling after Newtown. I do appreciate each moment with the people I love more, and more emphatically believe that each individual has the power to alter the world.  I'm just not sure how.
For now all I can is speak from the narrow pocket of the universe where I'm sequestered, due to my current struggle with fibromyalgia and it's unpredictable symptoms. 
For anyone interested in knowing more about fibromyalgia, Dr. Oz did a two part series on the disease and there are many research studies ongoing with the ability to scan the brain's activities and there's even been some talk of stem cell research for fibro. One recent brain study, reported and updated in a paper, February 27th, 2012, by neuroscientists at the University of Michigan.
"In the patients, that same mild pressure also produced measurable brain responses in areas that process the sensation of pain," says Clauw. "But the same kind of brain responses weren't seen in control subjects until the pressure on their thumb was more than doubled."
Though brain activity increased in many of the same areas in both patients and control subjects, there were striking differences too. Patients feeling pain from mild pressure had increased activity in 12 areas of their brains, while the control subjects feeling the same pressure had activation in only two areas. When the pressure on the control subjects' thumbs was increased, so did their pain rating and the number of brain areas activated. But only eight of the areas were the same as those in patients' brains.
So while the many people who suffer from Fibromyalgia, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Lyme Disease, struggle everyday, trying new medications and methods, don;t forget to look at some form of art therapy to express your pain, coconfusion, eventual comprehension and acceptance and even an ability to try and rise above it.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Shaman in Exile - back on track

So it all seems to be coming together - all on the same day.  Sometimes synchronicity is so majestic it makes me shudder. I've been working in my head on the ending for Shaman in Exile, changing some angles in some of the plot lines, filling out new characters and waiting for two days together when I have the stamina to write the last chapter (I'd already written one but that may not be the one that stays).  I see two new doctors in December so that should help with the other half of my health issues.
Then today I get an email from Steve Viner, artist extraordinaire, after his show in England and he was wondering what was up with Shadow Archer Press and he wants to get painting. So I wrote he's agreed to doing the cover art for Shaman in Exile, and perhaps another book of short stories by a many time Fissure author. 
Steve has been one of my go to cover artists since his work is so profoundly odd and disturbing. Along with the cover for my novel,  Shaman Circus, he did the covers for for the books The Winter King by Michael Aaron Casares, The Holy Hermaphrodite by Antony Hitchin, Tinted Steam by Constance Stadler, and the as co-creator of The Moulding of Seers by Petra Whitely where Steve did the cover and interior illustrations. 
Shortly after I sent the last message to Steve, a new song came up that's the perfect song to write the last chapter - it says it all.  I won't name the song yet, it's just been released. And then onto the editing which I usually like to do in January and February when there are not so many other distractions such as Open Studios, Steampunk Cons, etc.
And I'm off this weekend to the Upstate Steampunk Con in Anderson, SC which promises to be the best yet as our numbers are growing and some of the technical creations of the mechanical wizards in our group are magnificent.  I won't be on any panels this year but will enjoy attending some - there's so many delicious offerings.
Now I have to get back to work on the Shadow Archer Press Website. For some reasons, it took off a lot of the art and photography - so I'll have to get all that fixed. 
Above cover art is one of my favorite pieces by Steve. It's not the cover for Shaman in Exile, but it's one of my favorites of his works which we haven't published. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Past, Present Future Spirals

The Fates or Furies - Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos have been making their presence known in my life.  While they have hung around in the background in the past, their touch was more subtle, through metaphor, but recently they've been highly insistent with all the blunt force trauma of an ancient celt to the head. The thread of their insistence was  too prominent to ignore.
The first incident occurred when John and I went to see Cloud Atlas. Granted I was pr4epared for a treat after seeing the previews, but had no idea the movie would be the best kaleidescopic epic I'd ever seen, not just in the visuals, but in the storylines as well.  The theater was almost abandoned, but even though it was a matinees, I thought there would be more people there.  Hopefully that was just the case in the south, and other parts of the country saw higher attendance, but perhaps its one of those films where those who need to see it will, and it may gain a following over time.
 The cast sweated over this one and each member of the cast brought their best to the many changes facets of the role(s) they played.  Tom Hanks was frighteningly brilliant - I can't think of a better word.  No actor I've ever seen has taken on such a task and his performance is still hard to wrap my head around.
Jim Broadbent and Haile Berry were mesmerizing in their roles as well. Watching the three left me with my jaw dropping wonder and profound gratitude which is also due to the producers and directors finding the for never giving up on raising the money to produce the most expensive Indie film so far . I can't wait to read David Mitchell's book and I'm glad I saw the movie first because so often they can't offer as much as the book. I'll have to watch the movie over and over to catch all the nuances of his characters - including the fact he learned a language not of this earth.
John announced it was his favorite movie of all time - and it's dueling it out with my top slot - but I need to see it again and again because I know I missed so much beneath the many layers.
The second thread of connections was in regard to Shadow Archer Press - I can't ignore three events reminding me how much I enjoyed discovering revolutionary authors and poets, finding cover artists and putting the books together.  First I saw the Facebook invitation for UK artist Steve Viner's, art opening, who created a number of covers for the press as well as the cover of my novel.  If I had the money, that would have been all the incentive I needed to fulfill of llfe-long dream of going to England.  I so wish I could have been there to support him in this pivotal event in his art career.
  And then I received Tim Speaker's book of poetry Le Saison de Moyenne,  The Mean Season  in the mail and it is just the type of book I would have jumped at when I had the time and resources to run the press. Disturbing, profound, invasive in the way it makes one think about things they don't want to but need to.  I'm going to contact him and see if he has enough poetry for another volume and that will be the starting point for me opening the press back up.  in addition, John Gordon, frequent short story contributor to fissure Magazine has another story for me to read which will make enough for a chapbook with the stories he sent me a few years ago. I'll have the time now to return to a business I loved more than any other work I did, even though I loved many of the jobs and small businesses over the years.   
The third thread, of course, related back to Jung and the in depth studies I've been doing over the past six months. Cloud Atlas, alchemy, quantum physics and a number of other threads are coming together in a way they haven't before. It's hard to describe because its internal but the books have been showing up again in thrift stores and at flea markets, along with a number of break through dreams.
Funny how when we refuse to look in the right direction, the universe catches us with a string of events which can't be ignored.  Often, I need to be hit over the head to change my perception and perspective but am highly rewarded when I do, even though it requires some heavy duty and painful self examination and soul searching.

Sometimes there are stark reminders that all is not as we think it is. Physicists now talk about how the world is as we perceive it rather than just is. Our view of the world, the universe, and all its wonders may be different from every other single human being's view. All we have to do is take the time to look.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Open Studios - high inspiration

It was another great year for Open Studios in Greenville, SC where Mark, Kendall and I toured our favorites and met some new artists.  We started off at White Whale Studios, saw Jason again who made the great journal I bought last year, met with Patty Brady and had the chance to see portrait artist, Craig King,  who made my draw drop.  He does the best charcoal portraits I've ever seen outside of a museum.
But when I asked him if he gave lessons, he told me he taught trombone. He's given me incentive to draw some more portraits after the four I did recently -  two of Jeff and two of my good friend, John, one of him when he was about 19 in his punk, goth days and another of him now.  I don't use charcoal - too messy for me and I can't control it and I don't do photo realism, but rather expressionism, but still, Craig's use of shading and detail is mind boggling.
Then we headed off to The Art Bomb Company on one of the most gorgeous days of the year and had a chance to see more of the goodies from Diane Kilgore, Paul and Gregg Flint, Teri Pena and our friend, Tim  Speaker, We had a great conversation with Tim who had been looking for us, since we were two of the first people to welcome him to
Greenville a few years ago. During the conversation I couldn't stop looking at one of his pieces.  I had spied it from the door as soon as I entered, and it caught me somewhere in the gut.  I couldn't take my eyes off those eyes.  Finally I walked over to check the price and lo and behold it was amazingly doable. I was ecstatic!! I haven't bought original art in forever. I think the last piece I added to my collection was the Linotype I made at Artisphere last year at the movable Print Factory.
So I added another artist to my collection of original art and am thrilled. I have it hanging in my bedroom now while I figure out what this poor guy is trying to tell me. I should be disturbed by him, but I'm not - instead I relate to him.
 When you read Tim's biography and philosophy of what he tries to do with his art it's amazing.  Tim has a unique perspective, since he lived in various states of blindness for 4 years when he was 18 and underwent corneal transplants. His paintings show this agony and the dichotomy between opposites of light/dark.

Perhaps I relate because it has something to do with the way I felt during the time I was sick recently when I couldn't fathom what  happened when my body stopped processing potassium and I ended up with a number of emergency room visits and complications. 
Mark and I loved Tim's work ever since we first saw his rather disturbing paintings and collages on cardboard and we were so glad we had a new artist in Greenville willing to take risks and make people think.
After I have a chance to read Tim's book of poetry, Le Saison De Moyen The Mean Season,  (it just arrived YAY!).  I'll write a post on why this painting grabbed me.  
Onto the Village Studios where Kendall bought her first two pieces of original art.  She already has two in her room, but those I painted or picked out.  When she saw two word block pieces of Paris by Susannah Mele, Kendall was in heaven, since she wants to visit there due to her interest in fashion design. Let alone the fact, she's a romantic like her grandmother.  I'm so glad she loves art and reading as much as I do and once collectors buy their first piece they will never hang mass produced art on their walls again. I'm so proud my granddaughter, in addition to her mother, is now one of the folks supporting the arts community and making sure the arts will flourish in Greenville. Something we need big time in order to ensure the balance of the soul of the city with the rapid high tech growth.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Book Signing for Shaman Circus

5000 Old Buncombe Rd.
Suite 25
Greenville, SC 29617
Ph: 864-294-012                                         

Local Steampunk and horror/paranormal author Gail Gray will be in our store on Saturday, October 13th from 1-3 showcasing her book, Shaman Circus as well as artwork connected with  the book.

Gail Gray, Greenville, SC, is the author of the novel, Shaman Circus and two collections of shorts stories, Dark Voices and Memories and Monsters.
Her short stories have been published in numerous national and international magazines and anthologies and she is the owner of Shadow Archer Press and editor of Fissure magazine.
Gail is currently editing Shaman in Exile and close to finishing a steampunk novel, Orchidelirium.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Visiting the Viet Nam Moving Wall

Last Wednesday while Vicki and Lindy, our HASCI Drop in Center clients and I  were approached by two Harley riders and Veterans during a sort of Field Day outside where we were doing relay races, etc. our drop in Center at work.  The veterans informed us that the motorcade transporting the Moving Viet Nam Wall would be passing by in 15 minutes on it's way to the TD Center - a huge exhibition center, here in Greenville, South Carolina.  Staff ran back inside to get phone cameras and we all went up to the sidewalk to watch.  In no time an entourage of motorcycles, led by three police cars, rode by, American, POW, MIA flags flying.  A helicopter flew overhead.  The local motorcycle clubs had volunteered to escort the Moving Wall.  Very much uneducated on the Wall, except for seeing the one in Washington on the news, we had expected to see the Wall. But it was in on a covered flatbed trailer.  It wasn't until Kendall, my grandaughter and I visited the wall on Saturday, June 30th, that we realized why.  The wall is huge! It's a half size replica of the Vietnam Veterean's Memorial in Washington, DC which has been traveling the country since 1984, two years after The Washington Vietnam Veterans Memorial was built.  
The Moving Wall stands 6 ft. in height at the center and gradually tapers to 4 ft. panels at each end. Each wall of the two that make up one structure is 126.2 ft in length, for a total length of 252.4 ft., slightly less than the length of a football field.  The three-sided replica is large enough to invoke an incredibly powerful and moving experience, and  summons an intense feeling of loss.  
A sign greeted us in the 101 degree heat, informing us that in the pop up tent just a few feet further, volunteers would help friends and families of veterans find their names.  They have a computer set up, where they bring up the information and a Marine volunteered to help us find the name among the 58,228 names which includes the addition of three names to the Wall in May 2002, the same as the Wall in Washington, DC.
As we walked along the very lengthy walk, past the names which are carved in order of dates each servivemen died, starting with the first, up to what appears to be black granite slab 22, we talked and when I mentioned Peter, a member of the 101st Airborne  had been killed by a sniper, only a week after Hamburger Hill, just  I wish I remembered his name because he was exceptionally caring and kind.  When he found my cousin's name - Peter V. Balzonis - he offered us a sheet of paper with information about my cousin and his death ( called a casualty summary) and a massive pencil and then he helped my niece do a rubbing of Peter's name.  I was surprised at the rush of emotiona I felt.  After 43 years,. the memory of when we received the news and the funeral all seemed like yesterday at that moment.  At the funeral, we tried  to absorb the shock of our family losing  Peter, who was only 20 1/2 when he died. Even though I was only 19,  I could see that everyone there couldn't help but imagine on how it was for him to die in a mountain jungle so far away.It was a sad synchronicity to learn that the first name on the wall of Richard B. Fitzgibbon, of North Weymouth, Mass. is listed by the U.S. Department of Defense as having a casualty date of June 8, 1956, was also a resident of Peter's home state, Tragically, his name is listed on the Wall with that of his son, Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Richard B. Fitzgibbon III, who has a casualty date of Sept. 7, 1965.
Peter V Blazonis
It was fitting that the Wall was set up outside.  I'd expected it to be set up in the TD Center, which is a huge exhibition hall.  But it was better to experience it outdoors, as those in Washington experience it. There were other people there, family, other veterans, some under umbrellas due to the sun and  heat, some, even older men crying, as I was.  Some had left mementos beneath their family member's name:  flowers, photos and letters, a dog tag stuck in the crack of the wall near a name.  It was heartbreaking, but also rewarding to see that our servicemen are not forgotten.  I wish I'd thought to bring tiger lilies.  They were Peter's favorite flower and they're blooming now.  Peter's fiance couldn't make it to his funeral because she lives in England.  She asked us to find some tiger lilies for his grave, but we couldn't.  They were out of season and back in 1969 the florists in our area couldn't get such flowers.  But still Peter's fiance offered his mother a treasured gift - a fact she did not know about her son, the solider.

By the end of 2002, The Moving Wall had been displayed in 867 communities from Hawaii to Alaska, in every state across the entire continental United States, as well as Canada and a visit to Puerto Rico in November of 1989. The Moving Wall visited Guam and the island of Saipan, located in the Northern Mariana Islands, in July 1993. Requests have come from Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and Germany.
The entire exhibition is  well thought out and covers so much more than I expected. Besides the Wall,'s a display of a soldier's gun set upright on it's bayonet stabbed in between his boots. His helmet is placed on the handle. It's a solemn reminder of the men or women who served. Besides the wall there is a huge panel display - great for an education on some of the wars and tragedies our country has had to deal with and needs to heal.  There are panels on the Viet Nam War, World War II and the Wars in the Middle East.  These walls are also powerful.  There were five and a half, I think, each with hundreds of brass dog plaques, similar to dog tags, attached to the wall.This was shocking to both Kendall and I and Kendall could relate to it more since some of her mother's friends have served and are still serving many tours in Afghanistan.
In addition, there were panels on Firefighters, Law Enforcement,
Other powerful and informative panels displayed texts and info on  9/11,  Last but not least in Kendall's eyes were three panels showing each of the Presidents of the United States.  Kendall loved these walls and wanted to read each President, but it got way to hot and we had to leave. 
What is even more tragic is that shortly after my Aunt Chrissy gave my mother Peters Army shirt with it's 101st Airborne badges. Peter's brother, Vincent, a specialist who took care of Canadian Geese, was accidently killed by a friend when they were hunting.  His friend walked in single file over a bridge with his rifle over his shoulder and the gun went off by mistake and shot Vincent.  My aunt was never the same after these two deaths so close together in one year.
I inherited my Peter's jacket from my mother after she died in 2006 and am both honored and saddened to have it.  If he had lived his children would have inherited it.
But I have to say, The Moving Viet Nam Veterans Memorial Wall has helped me to feel closer to Peter and his family and has powerfully brought home how brave these men and women were and how we must continue to remember their sacrifice and continue to teach younger generations about wars and tragedies which change the course and nature of America. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Artisphere 2012 The Print Factory

On the Main St. Bridge, Mark had the patience to wait while I stood in line to make a free print at the
Print City Team, Wheelock left and Burnip right from Kansas, MO
Kansas, MO based Print City, part of  Creative Concepts an enterprising team which evolved from three founding members of C&C, Jesse McAfee, Zach Springer, and Will Burnip, who met while studying at the Kansas City Art Institute. Creative Concepts believes in traditions, building and practice and one way they put their money where their mouths are in the art intervention known as the Mobile Print Factory. Shown in this photo from the 2011 Maker Fair depicting a similar setup which we were lucky to have on hand in Greenville. The two artists in aprons in the foreground, Will Burnip and Cory Wheelock, were helping us use the press. All the presses and tools are handmade by the print shop techs, as well as the carts, crates and backpacks designed to use or transport to various cities around the country. .

Wow, they let us print out own piece of art!!!  Not completely our own, afterall the woodblocks were already carved by artists and donated to Print City. I chose a long horizontal city scape carved by Will Burnip, then another print shop tech/artist inked it with black ink. Wheelock placed it gingerly on the lovely heavy textured paper (already signed by Will on the back) and inserted it between two layers of foam. I was invited to turn the wheel to roll the paper and woodblock through a press made by a machinery student who built it for his senior project and voila out came my print!!  I want a roller press now!!  But I have to be practical with my arthritis, lack of carving talent or precision, I doubt I'd ever be able to carve wood blocks or maybe even lino blocks. But what fun it was for a person who is addicted to presses. Those who know me, are aware of how nuts I go - to the point I bought a 1920's flat press weighing 90 lbs and had it hand delivered by my friend Donna from the wilds of New Hampshire, to use when I published poetry chapbooks with Shadow Archer Press, which leads me to another story...

Artisphere 2012 part 1 Jullie and Kent

I made it out today, after a few weeks of having to take it easy and read or spend time with my granddaughter due to flare ups in my arthritis and what a great day it was.  I met Mark downtown (Greenville, SC) for the Farmer's Flea Market where we enjoyed West End Coffee, homemade apple coconut bars and more, and strolled through the booths salivating over the displays of gorgeous vegetables and fruit and tasting goat cheese, salsas, breads and more.  I could have filled my bag with goodies, but didn't want to carry much since our next stop was only a few steps away to the massive annual Artisphere festival.  Artists, bookmakers, potters, ironmongers, printers, photographers, fiber artists, jewelers and more were on display and this was the best festival ever since so many local artists had booths or were doing Art in Action along the Main St. Bridge, including Ryan Calloway from Creative Ironworks along with glass blowers, and my absolute favorite part a print shop from Kansas!  It was great to see Julie Shakbie Hughes (photo by Patrick Cox), a nationally known impressionist artist and good friend who has a studio in the Pendleton Street Arts District right down the street in the West End, from where I lived in my art studio at the Village Studios and Gallery - Boy do I miss those days!  I'm lucky enough to own one of Julie's incredible figure drawings and this time she had many of her cyclist paintings on display, since this is a cyclists town. Kent Ambler was also there with his woodblock prints which are such a feature of the Greenville art scene.  He had a great book on display on how he completes each woodcut then creates the prints but he only has one copy!!  I talked to him about the company which produces art books the way Amazon's Create a Space produces novels and non fiction books, so hopefully he'll look into it because I'd love a copy of this stunning informative book. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Steampunk story to finally be published!

This has to be the longest time period I've ever experienced to see one of my short stories published. May 10,2010 submitted a 6,700 short story called , The Foxglove Broadsides to a steampunk anthology title Clockwork Chaos which I found on Duotrope.  Granted it was a long short story, but that's what the guidelines asked for from the Library Of The Living Dead Press. a small press which publishes novels and anthologies and the cover art was above the level and highly creative and professional in comparison to many other horror publishers.
 Now maybe I should have noticed that this press published mostly horror, even though they have a Library of Science Fiction imprint under their overall banner. But they seemed to be branching out. I took the chance. It was a long short story even for some anthologies.
On October 25, 2010, (148 days) I heard from Neal Levin, the editor, that my story had been accepted for publication if I was okay with his edits and that a contract would be forthcoming from the publisher.  I was very excited, since this would be my first published steampunk story to add to my collection of steampunk items, which included a number of items I had made (and sold or given as gifts or prizes or auction fund-raisers) which included steampunk journals, beeswax collages, mini albums and that's not counting my steampunk costumes and gear which I wear to cons and local steampunk events.
This was maybe a little longer than the average of acceptance times I experienced from magazines, but pretty much within the range of time period for acceptances from anthologies. (For example, Ocean Stories Anthology took over a year to reject one of my stories, although it had been selected after the first cut to go further through a committee of editors.)
But then I didn't hear anything for months from the Library Of The Living Dead Press .
All the posts and notices on the Library Of The Living Dead Press site's forum, in a section devoted  to the Clockwork Chaos anthology, had stopped. There were no responses to those who submitted stories and were accepted for inclusion in the steampunk anthology.  Needless to say, this was disheartening to me, but I  imagine how crushed a new author would be, who might have had their first short story accepted.
I finally contacted Neal in March of 2011 to see if he'd heard anything from the publisher.  But unfortunately he hadn't,  but he'd been trying to contact them. As an editor for Fissure Magazine, (which featured a special steampunk issue,) I knew how much time Neal, (who is a game designer and author in NJ)  had already spent in reading the many submissions an anthology receives, in editing the acceptances, and then the time spent in emailing all authors as well as the publisher.  I felt for him at this point, because he was stuck in the middle, most likely not to get paid for his efforts and time, and may have had a number of authors ticked off at him.  I wasn't because I knew the precarious situation he had been placed in, having to act as liaison when the publisher was AWOL. 
Neil wrote me back immediately to inform me that he had not heard anything from the publisher either but since he was attending the Steampunk World's Fair, he was going to see if he could find another indie publisher, or perhaps even publish the work under his own press, Dark Quest Books.
On April  24, 2012, nearly two years after submission, I received a very nice email form Neal asking if I wanted my story to still be included in the Clockwork Chaos anthology.  I was delighted.  He had gone to all the trouble to find another indie press to publish the anthology.  Now that's a dedicated editor to work on a project for nearly two years.
Since I've been quite slack in submitting short stories as I work a highly demanding full time job as a rehab support specialist for individuals who have suffered severe brain and spinal chord injuries, I have little spare time, So I  focus on my uncompleted novels, or those which need an edit, I haven't submitted much in the past 12 months.  So, my short story,  Foxglove Broadsides, still hung around in the unpublished pile. I had given up on the anthology and gone on to other projects.Neil didn't mention the name of the press or a publication date.  I imagine he is now having to contact all the authors who received acceptances to see if their stories are still unpublished and available.
If I had the ability to give an award to Neal for Most Dedicated Editor, I would.  This is service beyond the normal duties of an editor who also has a demanding full time job.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Jeff's AT Story moved

Hello all -
I just realized that I'm going to be writing so much about my son's journey along the Appalachian Trail that I needed to create a second blog and since The Shaman Papers is now getting over 1,000 hits a day, I hope you'll follow. I'm calling it Carolina Appalachian Trail Mom and here it is

Zach Davis was my Inspiration to start writing about Jeff and his journey. So now I must admit, I've been frantic since Jeff left although I was only excited before he left. And Beth, my daughter, has been near hysterical, while my granddaughter Kendall totally takes it in stride.  She's used to Uncle Jeff doing unusual things.  So to stay sane I read lots of blogs and found one, The Good Badger, which while not altogether soothing, is funny, irreverent, honest and psychological.  The Good Badger's Appalachian Blog is what inspired me to start my own blog - as both my personal therapy and a catalog Jeff's experience since he may not get to blog or You Tube.  Zach Davis, author of  Appalachian Trials,  has a unique psychological approach which got me and I can't wait to receive his book from Amazon. See you over there and please follow me as it will mean a great deal to me and hope some enjoyment for you, if you check in from time to time.


Monday, April 9, 2012

Jeff leaves for AT Trail

On April 7th, the day before Easter, Kendall, my granddaughter and I dropped off my son, Jeffrey for his 2,000 plus mile hike of the Applacahian Trail (AT) which runs from Amacaloa Falls National Park in Georgia to Kathadin Mtn in Maine.  He's expecting to be on the trail four to five months and has been preparing for 6 to 8 months.  He carries a 13 weight pack, much smaller than most.  Some people try carrying 45 lb. packs but end up tossing a good bit of either gear or food, because the AT Trail is a ridge trail, meaning that it connects mountains and mountain ridges.
We all enjoyed a "last supper" at Monterey's, our favorite Mexican restaurant near our house, since he won;t be eating hot food for a while.  He decided not to bring a stove.  Then after  a 3 hour drive, we reached the entrance, where he weighed his pack and signed in as thru-hiker no #801 at the very nice visitor's center.  So that means over 800 thru-hikers have started from the Georgia end since March 1st when the trial opens.
We were shocked at  how packed the entrance was with day-hikers. We had to get in line in our car to pay to get into the park and then drive around before finding one of the rare remaining parking places.  Lots of families of all nationalties cooking out, having Easter Egg hunts, playing badminton and hiking.  It was bizarre.  WE only saw two other thru-hikers at the visitors center and then when we left, Kendall and I saw a van with three packs on top.  The ranger told Jeff, 20 thru hikers had taken off that same day so he's probably already met some of them by now.  And with those three signing in about 3:30. that may make about 25 for the day. 
We spent time there so at the center so Kendall could enjoy it.  They have two great displays of all the wild animals he might meet on the trail, one a daytime display and the other a night time scene.  It's really informative to be able to really gage the size of the black years, wolves, bobcats, foxes etc. prevalent in these woods.  The first Mountain, Springer Mtn. is about 4,000 feet high, not the tallest of the trail, but still a hefty height.  He has already reached it, I imagine.  She bought an adorable owl purse (Jeff gave her a lifelike  stuffed owl from here for Christmas) and she did the machine where you stamped a penny, her's with the waterfall scene and one for Jeff with the hiker scene.
Then we set off on the trail walking through the stone archway, which features the beginning of the side trail which officially leads to the AT.  Jeff wanted us to hike with him on the mile trail to see the majestic Amacalola Falls, but Beth (who unfortunately was in flip flops and had to take Dramamine to survive the road, wasn't up to it and neither was I.  The trail is beautiful starting at a resevoir and runs alongside a large stream with many small waterfalls.  But then it suddenly goes up at a steep angle where I was working bent over in half to make it up the incline.  We did get to a plateau where we could take photos and see Jeff off, but Kendall and I only made it about 1/8 of the mile, I'm afraid.  I don't know how Jeff does it, but he's been in training so he will do fine. At Christmas he weighed a slim 180, but bulked up on purpose knowing he'll lose a lot of weight on the hike.  A week's worth of his food fits in a shoebox.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Dream Studies - A Somatic Example

It was quite by accident that I stumbled upon "Our Dreaming Mind" by Robert Van Castle, PhD. The library was holding a book on Tesla for me, but I'd arrived a couple days late so it was sent back.  Not ever wanting to leave a library book less, I ambled over to the nonfiction section where I hoped to find more books on Jung, and this book was the only one in the same field.   I feared it might be another one of those vapid dream dictionaries, but this instead was an overview of the psychological and physiological research on dreams.  While dream research has a long way to go, first of all, to be located in the psychological departments of research universities instead of in the medical departments, I have to admit it's come along way since I did a pretty extensive dream study during the late 80's and early 90's.  Back then,  I kept daily dream journals and read just about everything I could find on the subject. There wasn't much that was serious, especially in book stores and local libraries, while there may have been more in university libraries to which we had no access at the time, pre-Internet. 
But now dream study seems to be coming into its own, with a number of landmark studies.  What's so great about Castle's book is that he gives a history of the studies from even back in the days of the Greeks through  Freud and his students, Jung and his, through Adler, Perls and so many more right up to recent times.  He also explores every aspect from somatic dreams all the way to telepathic dreams - not usual for hardcore scientists doing extensive controlled experiments in the lab.  He also offers many anecdotes and individual dreams, including series of dreams to explain every finding.  The numbers are rather astounding in categories one might think on the fringes through the dreams and work of psychologist who work extensively with the dreams of their patients, there have come to the foreground some symbols which appear universal, while most are highly personal.
So many aspects of this book have verified things I'd considered, but thought I was weird or just out there to consider.  I no longer feel so alone. Especially in regard to series of dreams. Once I start dream journals and record at least one dream each night, I end up with dreams ending one night and finishing another or carrying the same themes and symbols from one night to the next.  Sometimes I ask my psyche to finish the dream or s the dream finishes while I'm partially awake in that twilight place beforeI get out of bed.  Now, more than ever, I see how important dreams are.
I had a recent dream where  I was  lying on a chaise lounge on the veranda of a large Victorian hotel enjoying a nice cool breeze.  I kept trying to take a nap, but  lots of people from my past kept walking by to and fro, stopping to talk to me, They would bring up an old story about my past or ask if I remembered them.  Some wanted to play catch up, talk about my book, tell me about their life etc.  I only recognized two people, one who was my French Canadian grandmother, and the other who was a young man who spoke over his shoulder to his young son.  I'd never met the man but recognized him. I realized when I woke he was the child, now grown,  who I would have gave birth to if not for miscarrying.  I  told him he looked just like his father.
Then the dream shifted as I watched a  white  bomb crash into a lake next to where I was standing.  At first I saw it descend into the water slow motion as if watching an underground camera following the bomb, but then it popped up and turned on me and now I was eye to eye with the barrel end of an odd futuristic looking gun.  In the dream I felt I was most likely going to die.  And I recall a sort of lucid dreaming moment where in this second segment of the dream, I thought the first part represented my "wake" or visitation not in a funeral home, but on the veranda of a Victorian hotel (which would suit me much better), since I was going to die. I recognized the previous dream as precognitive. 
Then the dream shifted to a piece of white paper on a desk, almost blank except for the words "Gail. Run" typed into a sidebar.  I woke up very frightened.  In the real world I had undergone two procedures this week to check for cancer and other medical issues. While the cancer was ruled out, I won't be informed of other diagnoses until the biopsies come back in a few weeks.  I was very frightened and had a hard time waking up, which is not like me at all.
What is so strange is that this dream was a warning dream, picking up on symptoms I experienced during the night as I slept unaware of until I left the house. After I woke up I only had about 15 minutes to get ready to go to a marathon run to raise money for individuals with traumatic brain injuries, which I attended with my boss and co-workers.  As I was driving to the site of the run I had a sudden allergic reaction - my lips swelled up, I started itching all over the place and my throat started to close up.  I pulled into a grocery store, grabbed some Benadryl and went on to the race, knowing a staffed  ambulance was always on site and I'd have immediate help if the reaction got worse.  Luckily, the symptoms got better, even though I felt tired from the Benadryl (and the rough week with the extensive medical procedures).  I calmed down as I walked. I did not do the run, but the mile walk which folks who have brain injury, their families and staff from HASCI do.  I realized that I must have been stung by fire ants the evening before when I'd raked up a lot of those pollen caterpillar things and disturbed a nest.  I thought I'd avoided getting stung, never saw any ants and had not been itching the few hours I stayed awake after working in the garden.  Sure enough, once I realized I must have been stung,  I found three bites.
Now when I look back I can see that while sleeping my body was trying to "wake me up" and alert me that I'd been stung and was having an allergic reaction.   I've been allergic to fire ants for over ten years and the gun dropping into the water, I interpret as being symbolic of the venom entering my blood stream. My psyche must have felt the gun in my face had to be so graphic as to stick in my mind after I woke up to frighten me into taking immediate action.
The note with the "Gail. Run." demands could have served a dual purpose - first, for me to run and take the medicine or secondly, to go to the Brain Injury Run and get help from the EMT's, if I needed it.
I'm really fortunate the dream was so dramatic. Now that I've been working on dreams, I  remember them more often, write them down (I did not have time that morning) and try to analyze what they are telling me.This time it proved to be very important to remember my dream.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Jung and the Novel- The World is Made of Glass

In a continuation of my blog series, Jung and the Novel, taken as an idea from David Ward-Nanney, author of Powder Dreams, (a contemporary novel which features a Jungian style analysis. David was the first to write a blog series on Jungian related novels and inspired me to write this series, as well as to read, Pilgrim by Timothy Findley (which I reviewed in a previous post) and  The World is Made of Glass, two novels which feature the noted pioneer of Psychoanalysis, Carl Gustav Jung as a main character.
The World is Made of Glass  is written by Australian author, Morris West (also author of The Devil's Advocate) who takes the reader on a wild ride as it does Carl Jung, when an unnamed woman is referred to Jung for psychotherapy.  The timing is dangerous and catalytic for both patient and analyst, since Jung has recently broken his strong alliance with his mentor, Freud as well as broken of his intimate relationship with Sabrina Speilrien, even though he still stays in touch with this patient turned lover, in addition to beginning a lifelong working and intimate relationship with Toni Wolff. 
Let's just say that both client and rock each others' worlds.
At first it surprised me that any writer would have the guts to employ the esteemed Professor Doctor C. G. Jung as a character in his novel, especially at one of the most fragile times of this highly respected psychiatrist.  But when I found out West had also had the guts to feature the devil in a novel, Jung seemed to be an easier subject.  West makes Jung so three dimensional, so well -rounded, that we are not only in the therapeutic cocoon of his study at his home at Ksnacht now that he has resigned his University teaching position and his position as a psychiatrist at the Burgholzi clinic, mostly to analysis himself as he faces the crisis of this breaks ups as well as a breakdown of his own psyche.
Beneath the fast paced riveting story, which is as much a detective story as it is a drama, West explores some highly important themes related to the as yet relatively unformed process of analysis transference and counter transference, non-judgmental acceptance on the part of the therapist in order to precipitate trust and healing, the willingness to be flexible and human within the confines of the therapeutic relationship and try whatever method may best suit the highly individualistic nature of their patient and this particular rocky and inflammatory times of their lives.

Like The Devil's Advocate, The World is Made of Glass is an incendiary novel.  It never simmers or offers simple heat from banked coals, but roils and flares, igniting not only Jung's passions but also his insights and illumination, even when dealing with the deepest depravities of the human psyche. Despite his Jung's own dissipated state, he attempts to offer healing to this damaged and suffering woman, over an intensive period of  days in which they work for almost full day sessions.Since the sessions are held at his him, Emma , Jung's wife also connects with Magda, eventually becoming her friend. West's characterizations of both Emma and Jung, famous and often written about, yet in these pages they come alive, well rounded people with their foibles and strengths fully developed.  We laugh at Jung's wit and cringe at his peasant crudeness, we feel sorry for Emma as she must deal with the intrusion of Toni Wolfe on her family, yet we see the potential of her future as both an analyst and a writer. 

The story takes place in 1913 and is based on a very brief description of a case Jung writes about in his autobiography, Memories, Dreams and Reflections.Magda Liliane Kardoss von Gamsfeld, as we come to know her, is a wealthy Russian, who has dallied in many aspects of the human existence from managing a highly respected horse breeding farm to traveling throughout Europe during the Belle Epoque to satisfy her ever escalating need for sexual encounters, which as she grows older, must become more dangerous. She is now widowed, estranged from her only daughter, bereft of the one woman who was like a mother to her,  and is hunted down by a ruthless and powerful arms dealer, hoping to capitalize and even help instigate the First World War, who is now intent on her death, because she won't become a spy, using her sexual prowess and connections.
This is heady stuff for the doctor living in the relative neutrality and intelligentsia nestled within the pristine beauty of  Swiss landscape, even though he's already having dreams of destruction and chaos.  
due to the novels construction which offers a chapter from offering her services as Magda's point of view alternating with a chapter form Jung's point of view.  What a instructive way to learn about the inner workings withing the sacred alembic of the therapeutic relationship.

West has taken on a daunting challenge and rises to it with flare, even shock at times, yet the story is believable, fascinating and an interesting take on the enigmatic figure of Jung. When people would come to visit Jung form all over the world after reading his books, some in such a state of awe, they couldn't speak, Jung would be come flustered and even, rude demanding that they just view him as a man. I'm afraid that was how would I be, if I'd been lucky enough to live during that time and meet Jung. But West did not put Jung on a pedestal, nor was he afraid of Jung's complex mind. West treated Jung as just a man. A man who could be frustrated and blustery, compassionate and wise, defeated and elated. What better way to understand Jung in all his humanity?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Books, Dreams and Active Imagination

As my mind an imagination are still struggling to build an understanding of Jung's methods and tools, the way he built his tiny village with rocks and blocks, I'm discovering how easy Active Imagination can be when your enmeshed in these books.  I just now realized I'm kind of learning the way Jung liked to - in a circular or spiral  motion, looking at his body of work from various angles.  I have about fifteen books, (many birthday gifts from my son, others library books) propped on my bed right now, (where I tend to read) not counting the ones on the floor or nightstand.  I am reading seven or eight at the same time, some are novels The Message to the Planet, by Iris Murdoch I'm reading, some are Jungian novels I'm reviewing, The World is Made of Glass, by Morris West,  The Game, by A.S. Byatt,some are books written by Jung, some are biographies of Jung and some are books reformatting Jung's theories in easier to understand terminology.  I read often while I'm off work and a number of times in the middle of the night I'll read a chapter or a few pages.  When my brain gets overtired, I switch to a novel and get lost in the story, when I'm trying to analyze a dream I'll record or an active imagination session, I'll pick up one of the non fiction books and jump around.  Some of Jung's techniques which I'm trying to assimilate right now are: archetypes, the wounded healer, active imagination and transference and counter transference. I'm pretty good with the dreams having recorded and studied my own for years.  And my recent Big Dream with the mute giant holding the jar of fireflies was recently featured on Carla Young's blog, The Daily Dreamer  where she interprets guest dreams from time to time  (another idea I ganked from David Ward-Nanney, author of Powder Dreams, a novel which features analytical sessions with a Jungian trained psychotherapist.
But some of the other material such as transference and counter transference is new, and one I need to know about given the nature of my job working with adults who have suffered traumatic brain or spinal cord injuries. 
I'm also trying to balance this with work in my garden planting jasmine and phlox (birthday gifts from my daughter), making sweet and sour chicken with baked not fried chicken and with green peppers, onions, pineapple and cherries as they made it at the Hawaiiain Gardens in Dracut, Mass.  where I lived when I was married.  and helping my granddaughter build a resort (complete with seven apartments for her Monster High dolls, stage, bistro/coffee shop, pizza stand, fashion boutique, outdoor lounging area and daycare. It's not quite the same as Jung building his tiny Swiss village in his garden, but it allows me to allow the inner child to run rampant with dolls I would have loved as a child and the freedom to be imaginative and playful.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Jung and the Novel - Alice's Masque

After The Magus by John Fowles, I think Alice's Masque and Chymical Wedding are two of the most brilliant books written from a psychological perspective similar to Jung's concepts of symbols, transformation, and individuation leading to an authentic self.  I was riveted with this novel, the impact of the swan, incredibly personal since it's been my totem animal since the 1970's.
Strong, complex and mysterious, Alice's Masque, first published in 1994,  is a compelling story which circles in and around itself capturing the reader in a depth experience. Clarke's language is lush and mysterious, dressed in the harshness of the Cornish coastline. I read this insightful  novel many years ago and it figures in the Top Ten books which changed my life deeply, I'm reading it again. Alice's Masque embraces the English fascination with the Middle Ages, knights and monks, ladies of queenly natures who, wise, by way of observation, when encountered, may summon a seeker to the inner quest, which proves more of a test than the outward journeys of the Crusades

And this was at the height of English post-modern fiction from the likes of Doris Lessing, Iris Murdoch, A.S. Byatt and more.
While Alice's Masque was first in the novels of transformation written by Clarke and has the same feel, it is in fact, quite a different story told in a different way.  It starts with three women at the seaside in Yorkshire, in a wild and beautiful area and the theme harkens back to the concept of the Courts of Love from the Middle Ages, when women were to judge for crimes against the heart. Seventy year old Alice, a weaver and astrologer taught Medieval Studies at the university level  before she shocked everyone her affair with a younger man so withdrew form society, first with her lover and then alone, where she becomes a well known artist and weaver.  I won't say much more because I hate to reveal plots.  As with movies, I want to be surprised at almost every curve and shift in a movie.
But I will say, this novel is quite different because as it's told from the viewpoint from Alice we have a rather unique perspective due to her age and experience. There are few boundaries in this novel, which can be cruel and brutal as often as it is touching and poignant.  And the blur of boundaries often takes place between reality, dreams and active imagination.
It's odd that while reading this book, someone sent me a link to Psychology Today and there was an article on the Highly Sensitive Persons  HSPs which has been researched a good bit over the past five or ten years.   This is a rather new typology, a subset of the introvert with slightly different characteristics.
A the recent article, Time Magazine: "The Power of (Shyness)" and High Sensitivity
first published in Time and then reprinted in Psychology Today which referenced an earlier  Psychology Today article,  "Sense and Sensibility,"  from 1969 you can see the research has been going on for a while.

"Ernest Hartmann, a psychiatrist at Tufts University best known for his dream research. Around the same time, he was solidifying the concept of boundaries as a dimension of personality and way of experiencing the world. Life, he observes, is made up of boundaries—between past and present, you and me, subject and object. And people differ in the way they embody and perceive boundaries.
In his schema, people with thin mental boundaries do not clearly separate the contents of consciousness, so that a fantasy life of daydreaming may bump right up against everyday reality. It's as if those with thin boundaries have porous shells that allow more of their environment to penetrate and "get" to them—and into their dreams, Hartmann's concept of the thin-boundaried seemed to suggest that there indeed exists a group of people who take in a whole lot more than others.

 Today, science is validating a group of people whose sensitivity surfaces in many domains of life. Attuned to subtleties of all kinds, they have a complex inner life and need time to process the constant flow of sensory data that is their inheritance. 
 Highly sensitive people are all around us. They make up about 20 percent of the population, and likely include equal numbers of men and women. All the available evidence suggests they are born and not made.

This description totally explains an elderly person of an HSPs nature.
 And I can attest to that myself being one. All my life, I've been told to get my head out of the clouds (I was in a fantasy almost all day through school and then through much of my failed marriage) but now I see there was no way I could.  It's just how I was genetically programmed from birth and further pushed by the death of my father when I was five. Once I started writing I mined that world on the other side of a very slim veil for poetry and novels but just within the past year, I've noticed my dream life now invades my awake life, without any active imagination on my own.  Images just break through, more often when I'm alone, reading, but they have nothing to do with the subject matter of the book.  It happens more often than not now, everyday and often I am able to participate in a dream and change it while I'm still asleep or half asleep.  It's often hard to tell, they seem the same world at times.
Much  of Alice's Masque is like this from the first shocking pivotal events, through a brutal crime on the beach, and a manhunt, to lovers testing, chasing, thwarting and hurting each other, when all they want to do is open up and be authentic. And there is one way, slowly revealed through a series of bizarre experiences and encounters.  Ultimately its a story about finding one's true self, no matter what the world expects. For HSPs, this can be quite difficult, especially for men.  Yet each character in this novel appears to be of this type especially the author who must be one himself  
More from Psychology Today,  "The Highly Sensitive Person has always been part of the human landscape. There's evidence that many creative types are highly sensitive, perceiving cultural currents long before they are manifest to the mainstream, able to take in the richness of small things others often miss.
This is an especially important book, take Fowles word on it, but also for those 20% (many who I imagine are readers) of the HSPs nature, it can be a revealing book which makes one feel less freaky, less out of touch, less isolated, especially in a time when nonfiction books such as Susan Cain's Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking, are finally educating the public on who we are.  Funny how this novel helped to "set the stage" in 1994. 

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