Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Soulkeeper - Jung And Sabrina Speilrien

During a discussion on A Dangerous Method on the Asheville Jung Center, the movie The Soul Keeper, was mentioned and given a review by David Thompson. I found the movie broken up into six parts, of 14 minutes each, on you tube in English.  The original is in Italian. It depicts Sabrina Spielrein and Jung's relationship without Freud, and I think better represents their relationship than does A Dangerous Method. 
I don't think both of them are historically accurate and wonder why each movie would change some of the scenes which were dramatic in the histories.  I felt neither film addressed Sabina's strength as a psychotherapist following her graduation and her work with the Analytical Society.  Not once did they show her presenting her work (some of it quite revolutionary) in a meeting. So now these films represent her, almost as badly as the male analysts of the day did. The Soul Keeper did have a scene where she breaks into a meeting where Jung is speaking but shows her more as the betrayed lover than as a fellow analyst, researcher and analytical writer.
Although, in other ways, I found this movie to be much more to my liking and mostly what I had hoped to see in a treatment of Jung. It is not so flat or clinical, but is richer in atmosphere, emotions and the acting of Ian Glen as Jung and Emilia Fox as Sabina are far better than that of Keira Knightly and Michael Fassbender. Both of the latter seemed flat and lifeless, and didn't represent two emotional people in the midst of a pivotal and ultimately traumatic relationship. 
In Soul Keeper, there were a number of little touches that I recognized coming from other books on Jung, such as the oblong dark stone, which Jung called his soul, which he gave to Sabina, telling her it was his soul. I don't know if this is historically accurate, but it was a nice touch, obviously by someone more versed in Jung's biography.  In Jung's mind the stone was his soul. He'd kept the stone in his pocket when he was young and then later kept it in a little box with the a small figure of a man he carved in black coat and hat, who he called Philimon and who he later considered his #2 personality.  His "self" as opposed to his ego, the Seigfried of his his heroic ego journey as opposed to the self he came into later in life. 
At least The Soul Keeper tried to document Sabina's symptoms when she entered Burgh√∂lzli,better and even though they shied away from her playing with her feces, they did show her sitting on her heel, although the regular movie goer won't get what she's actually doing and they at least implied she played with her feces with the small little sculptured animals, which may have been dirt or feces. But they shied away from the reality on that too. 
I also like the part where Jung was drawing then carving a head on a stone and then later smashing it.  I wonder if it meant to represent the Seigfried, the ego, he needed to smash up to make way to unleash his true self.   I took it that way and wonder if anyone knows if this is historically accurate?  I thought his stone carving came later when he worked out at Bollingen, can anyone tell me the timeline on this?
While The Soul Keeper, showed Sabina in her work with children once she had returned to her native Russia, they once again neglected an opportunity to show her greater influence on the field of psychology.  They didn't show her offering analysis or training other therapists when she was the first person to introduce in person the joint works of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy of Freud and Jung to Russia, as well as train new analysts. 
And  while I think The Soul Keeper showed more of her strengths and more of the "poetry" between she and Jung, it didn't show why or how "the poetry" occurred, such as how they thought alike, prodded each other explore other avenues of their field and came to same conclusions.
However, A Dangerous Method did attempt this, although too briefly and too subtly I think, for anyone who had not read John Kerr's book or the letters of Jung and Spieilrein. I wanted to applaud at the scene on the bench outside her apartment when Sabina (in her true Athena style, as Len Cruz on the Asheville Jung Center discussion so beautifully put) spoke of her ideas on the death instinct in the sex act, as well as laying groundwork for Jung to consider which would bring him to some of his most fruitful concepts.
I do think, however, that both films did psychotherapy an injustice in the way they depicted the sexual scenes.  Event though I expected that be overblown because it must appeal to the general public, wasn't it enough to show them having a private affair, especially since we don't know for sure if it was ever physically consummated?  A Dangerous Method totally blew my believability in the film, with it's emphasis on the spanking and the scene in The Soul Keeper after the Wagner concert in the lobby of the Opera House is  unbelievable. No way would the affair have been kept secret until the discovery of Sabina's journals if  they'd had sex in the lobby of a Zurich opera house. And there was plenty of drama in their real life missteps and experiences, to have to use these shallow methods to make a point.
I guess I shouldn't expect such historical accuracy in a movie, but the letters, journals and biographies to me seem such a goldmine of material, that  why bother making anything up?  I know they had to cram a lot into less than two hours, but still, I'm waiting for the ultimate movie to reveal the truth of the birth of psychotherapy.
And I have to wonder, which audience were either director appealing to? They way they both dropped only subtle hints that those who read up on Jung, Freud or Spielrein would get then why gussy it up?  And if their audience was just the general public, why bother with the subtle hints? 

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Shaman Circus, Jung, Sabine, Freud

Just having seen the movie "A Dangerous Method" in addition to devouring John Kerr's 600 page book over a period of ten or twelve hours, has taken me round on the spiral again.  Thank goodness.  I need to be here, due to the change happening around me, some of which is due to my own change-mongering nature.
I saw the movie in the best of circumstances, with a great friend who is addicted to the concepts of the mind, the ethics of the individual ) not quite the same as the morals of a society) and the amazing potential for the individuation and growth of the Self. 
It was sad there were only five people at the 2 pm matinee which we attended.  Especially since the film is not even playing in Greenville, but by some odd synchronisitc moment, I found out about the film only the day before it was released (having thought it had already gone by) when Westgate Mall in Spartanburg popped up on a Google search.
As I mentioned in a previous blog, I attended the Greenville Chautauqua lecture where Dr. George Frein spoke about  Jung's Red Book. His lecture also offered me the gift of the movie, but even better the book, A Most Dangerous Method on which the screenplay and movie were based.  Now in addition to get to see Dr. George Frein as Carl Jung in the Chautauqua series in June  this year, I am lucky to be offered a long term study of Jung, learning about an entire treasure load of new books including one made into a documentary on Sabina and Jung, My Name Was  Sabina Spielrein, and an additional film, Soul Keeper and even better the two webinars and the very passionate and enlightening discussions offered on  the The Asheville Jung Center's website.  I read the discussions, take a breath, then go and read a chapter of the brilliant and user friendly On Jung by Anthony Stevens and finally stop to sit and think. I now see so many correlations between the inner aspects of my characters in my novels, Shaman Circus (published in 2010) and Shaman in Exile (nearly finished) in the concept that a trinity is helpful in individuation in the form of the animus in a female's case, the shadow and the self.
Even though I knew I employed a great deal of Jungian thought in the two books, I hadn't quite come up with the concept in such simple concrete terms.
I'm not going to do any spoilers here.  I have a feeling the film will be viewed by a lot of people interested in Jung when it comes out on DVD.  Many might not hezf of it until it's already out of the theaters. But of course it is lacking compared to the book. You just can't jam that much info into a film.  But it did not have to be so inaccurate.  I think there's plenty of drama which could have been played up with the real dynamics and emotions between these three entangled real people. Sabina was not honestly portrayed as the very strong woman she had  become after her therapy and education. Instead of the film showing her present her powerful paper in front of  Freud and his Vienna psychoanalytical association, a very brave thing for the first woman in this group, they simply show her in Freud's office discussing her work, as if she is still simply a student or follower.The film doesn't reveal much about how her work impacted later analysts and therapists, either. 
And the way the relationship between she and Jung was approached was very shallow and surface level, hardly intimating the "poetry" between them as she called it, that mystical union of mind, spirit and archetypal power. I still leave it open in my mind as to whether Sabina and Jung physically consummated their affair.  The letters and diaries don't tell us this.  And I'm enthralled with many of Jung's alchemical correspondences with the process of individuation.  The stages of solutio, sublimation, nigredo, calcinatio, etc. and how when viewed through the alchemical lens, the libido, when unable to be enacted in the physical world becomes more powerful in the inner world leading to the same "destruction/death" aspect Sabina offered, offering a chance for a rebirth in some form. I am interested in of creative initiatives (writing, art,music, dance, film, theater) such as both of them going through the alchemical stages to deliver (as Sabina wrote) "their son" in the form of papers and books they wrote as they they tried to deal with the consequences of losing each other. I regret A Dangerous Method portrayed their love more as a common affair and not the very complicated connection it was.
Even the relationship, the powerful, father/son aspect between the two fathers of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy , let alone the lover aspect, followed by the public and personal break up was downplayed in my view.  I could see it downplayed if the film focused on Sabina but instead, I felt it focused more on Freud, who I think could have been played better by Viggo, who has long been a favorite actor of mine.  I would have loved to have seen him rip into the anger and angst which attended their breakup and the following vacancy in both of their lives.
 I wouldn't want to have seen the film with someone who had not read some of the literature by and about either of these major influences on the world psyche. My friend who watched the movie with me, is more of a scientist, highly knowledgeable of neuroscience and a student of many more life experiences, as well as someone who leans towards Freud's developments of the actual brain. While I lean towards Jung and the explorations of the soul.  So this has led us into some enlightening series of discussions, disagreements, conclusions, realizations, conclusions, which I hoped the film and book would offer and I can see both forms of media now become an integral part of how we learn from each other - a great gift indeed at of course, a synchronisitc change as we both go through very real transitional periods in our separate lives.
I'd been looking for more books about the trinity of these three great psychologists, one could say, the father, mother and holy spirit of the psychoanalytical movement when I chanced upon the notice the movie was playing in Spartaburg but not the larger city where I live, Greenville. And I find it wonderful and strange that after 29 years of searching for another Jungian, I should find a friend and mentor, who is not a Jungian but a Freudian, more versed in various aspects of the brain and unconscious than I am.  But I see it as a gift that he tends towards the investigative and I towards the mystic, since this is how we best learn - through our opposites, the homeostatic way we achieve balance.
I hope anyone interested in Jung will read the book first, then see the film. And then check out the Asheville  Jung Center's website to fully round out their experience of the film and book. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Synchronicity and a A Dangerous Method

Synchronicity has been an underlying them for decades of my life.  I always see it as a sign to follow a particular path, being a voracious student of Carl. G. Jung's works. Recently,  I experienced another one of those exhilarating moments, some of them minimal, some of them life changing which I see as synchronistic. Too many of them over time for me to ignore. This one falls in a the high end.  And at a primal time when I've been trying to achieve balance in my life.  In one afternoon, one swooping series of realizations, thank so Dr. George Frien's Chautauqua presentation of Carl Jung at the Greenville Art Museum, the series was set into motion.
I've been struggling over the past few months with my writing, not so much that I couldn't write, but more than I couldn't find a way to end either of two novels, my steampunk novel, The Foxglove Broadsides and my 3rd magical realism novel, Fireworks, Interference Equation, when two I witnessed two seemingly unconnected experiences within the span of less than two weeks.
I have not been out much in months due to work, the holidays, making Christmas presents, writing and the birth of my second grandchild.  Now that I've begun to socialize again at the insistence of my friends. The first event was an art show at the Village Studios.  Mark and decided to go at the very last moment and I'm so glad we did for in the marvelous show, way beyond what we see as far as risk taking, was one by a brilliant young artists, Jeromy Ross, who was given a show as a present when he graduated from Winthrop.  The works are anthropomorphic,  human bodies, bearing animal and bird heads.  I've been attracted to this type of art ever since I saw my first example at an Art  Fair a few years back, research it, and found the Victorians even did it using the bodies of their family members and various animal/creature heads as commentary.
After the show I started writing a new piece, another section to my ironic whimsical tale about the West End, Two Ruffians and a Rat, and was using the concept of this type of art in my work.  The scene was very Jungian: a maze, a descent into darkness, revelations.  It is a them I enjoy exploring as it presents to me the very act of venturing into one's own subconscious. 
The day I wrote the scene was the day I found out about the Carl Jung appearance.  That is not sheer coincidence.
And then last night I came up with the true ending, the only ending for Fireworks, which has fooled and eluded me, some ideas were to simple and shallow, others too complex requiring another entire volume and each one crafted to simply end the book, not tell a tale that only I could tell.
And then last night it came to me. In my job as a rehab support specialist for adults with traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries, I am learning how to be an efficient advocate for my clients, especially two of them, one man in his 30's with a brain injury and the other in his 40's with a spinal cord injury. Despite their traumatic injuries they are struggling to build new, productive, meaningful lives.  Both of them are fascinated with philosophy, one of whom earned a degree before his injury, the other working towards one now.
And I realized that I must speak to this issue.  The whole purpose of magical realism to me is to introduce a societal/political issue to the general public in a way that is easily accessible The current most crucial issue I struggle with everyday in my life is my work with adults with brain and spinal cord injury who cannot find accessible housing in the community where they can live productive and rewarding lives.
So now these recent meaningful coincidences remind me of my how I can use my writing (as well as advocacy) to inform the public of this huge and often unknown issue. 

More Olde Curisoty Shoppe goodies from Graphic 45

I am really feeling the temptation now that Graphic 45 is unveiling more and more of their wonderful items form the new Olde Curiosity collection. Okay - these are the ultimate teases - and more goodies in the form of rubber stamps from Shoppe collection.  I must have all of these to make a curiosity cabinet! And more goodies in the form of diecut tags.
 I've loved the Victorian method of storing all sorts of odd items in curiosity cabinets and the way a wall of apothecary jars looks and now those looks come together in this great collection.
I talked about the papers in a previous post and they've also shown more of what the papers include - all of this as they prepare to head out to CHA to reveal all their latest designs.  I only wish I had a shop which carried them nearby!
I know already that I will be making a curiosity cabinet and one of those trays with the moveable dividers and a trunk and a spiral bound mini album as well.  I think these are my favorites.  I love them even more than the steampunk collection.  Only with in the last tow years have a come to a strange interest in science (astrophysics, quantum physics, chemistry (although I've read books on alchemy for years) and botany and this collection ties all of this together. I think the scientists were the real trailblazers at the turn of the 1900's! 
So what will you make out there?  I can't wait to see the you tube videos when this line is released for sale.
Web Analytics