The Archetype of Food

“From food all creatures are produced,
All creatures that dwell on earth.
By food they live
And into food they finally pass.
Food is the chief among beings,
Therefore they call it the panacea.
Verily he obtains all food
Who worships Brahma as food.
For food is the chief among beings,
Therefore they call it the panacea.
All creatures are born of food,
By food they continue to grow.
Creatures feed on it, it upon creatures,
Therefore it is called food.”

Taittiriya Upanishad 2.2

“Transformation for the body cells through food intake is the most elementary of animal changes experienced by man. How a weary, enfeebled, and famished man can turn into an alert, strong, and satisfied being, or a man perishing of thirst can be refreshed or even transformed by an intoxicating drink: this is, and must remain, a fundamental experience so long as man shall exist.”

Erich Neumann, The Origins and History of Consciousness

Let’s travel back to the times of our hunter gatherer ancestors, and focus on the availability of calories. Let’s also not forget that this lifestyle carried on for hundreds of thousands of years, making it extremely influential in shaping our Homo sapien biology and psychology. The consumption of calories was undoubtedly more difficult in those times, and was likely often an issue of life and death. It is quite possible groups would go weeks and even months without substantial sources of food. This is the environment where are our connection to food developed. Food was not an implied part of our everyday schedule, it was not a treat, it was not something we could purchase, it was literally life itself. The ticket to the continuation of life. Every calorie we consumed bought us more time to find the next meal. It was the drive to life. Think about the psychological representations that were created during this time. Whatever instincts are, this would be the environment in which they developed. If one group had an instinctual drive to seek and consume food, they would have an advantage over those who didn’t. We are certainly descendants of those humans with a developed instinct for food identification and consumption.

“There is good reason for supposing that the archetypes are the unconscious images of the instincts themselves, in other words, they are patterns of instinctual behaviour.”

Carl Jung, The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious

Instincts come from inside of us, they are a part of us. Archetypes come from the collective unconscious, also a part of us. To illustrate their relationship, think of a pair of attractive magnets. Put one magnet on you, representing your instinctual drives. The opposite magnet resides on the the archetype. The instinct then essentially pulls you toward the representations of the archetype. The archetype is the reward which the instinct seeks. We should also clarify the difference between archetype and the incarnation of the archetype. For this, visualize a submarine surfacing from the ocean. As it breaks the surface there is a coating of water surrounding the submarine. Pretend that we could give this coating of water a particular color and make in non transparent, so we actually can’t even see the submarine, just the outer colored coating. The submarine is the archetype, and the colored coating is the incarnation of the archetype. We only perceive the outer coating, but the entity giving it psychic energy or meaning is the submarine that we are unable to see.

The archetype of food is so intimately connected to our human instincts, an undeniable attraction. This attraction is at the level of the archetype; the submarine that we are drawn to, but do not perceive. I am concerned with today’s coloring of the archetype of food, its current incarnation. We are inundated with things claiming to be food, drawing on our instinctual drives, but not rewarding us with the type of nourishment that created these deep connections. When companies label things as food, they are hitching a ride on psychological realtionships that humans formed hundreds of thousands of years ago. Unfortunately, the “food” that is most easily accessed today does not adequately nourish the body, energize the body, nor satisfy the body. This incarnation of the archetype has become far removed from the qualities that originally formed the instinct-archetype connection. Instead of creating nutrient dense foods, we made calorically dense food. Instead of seeking satiety with food, we created addiction manifesting food. Instead of finding value in the health and wellness created from food, all value was placed in the taste of food.

These are only a few of the problems with the archetype of food. Therefore if our food decisions are left unconscious, we will continue down the path of the chronic disease epidemic we are currently experiencing. Food is the major input of information we give to our body on a daily basis. It is information that generates billions of cellular decisions downstream. It is an essential part of the blueprint our cells use to create our body. Food can no longer exist outside of medicine. It can no longer solely be an instrument of the nutritionist. It must be an integrated part of everyone’s healthcare. Until we can change what food means to us as a society, we must individually become conscious of the food we are consuming.

Best explorations

-Ryan; 4/28/2020

Health Unrefined Part Three: Gambling on Health

Preface: This is a continuation of previous two posts regarding the ubiquity of chronic disease, and the necessity of a new approach to health. This post will hopefully stand alone, but reading the first two pieces will provide more context.

We largely proceed through our days with little to no surprise. That is to say, what we expect to happen, largely does happen. In a way, this is what our nervous system has developed to do. It reduces the infinitely complex world around us to groupings of patterns, allowing us to process our surroundings and act. However, even with this predictive modeling capability that is hardwired into us, we also know that the unexpected will eventually happen. At some point, at some place, our models and predictions are completely shattered, and chaos dominates our perspective. 

Imagine we each have a 365 sided dice, and every morning we have to roll the dice one time. If the dice lands on 2-365 (any number besides 1), our day is to proceed completely as expected. However, if the dice lands on 1, life is going to demand much more from us on that day. Maybe that is the beginning of a common cold, a bout of depression, an especially stressful event, the onset of neurodegeneration (that won’t be be detectable for another 20 years), back pain, a blood clot, a broken hip, stroke, heart attack, etc. Each outcome would certainly be unique to every individual, but the idea holds true for all. We all have to roll the dice every day, and chaos is lurking right around the corner.

I am proposing that we have the ability to change the size the dice we throw. We have the tools to create a robust organism that is capable of withstanding the chaos that life throws our way. I believe we have the capability to throw a 10,000,000 sided dice. That we can dramatically decrease the odds of a disease being able to capitalize on our health. The actual numbers are completely irrelevant. The idea is that we can continuously add to our dice, become more resilient, more vigorous, and more adaptable. But the 1 will always be present – even that illusory person of optimum health can be outmatched by the forces of mother nature. We should all look to increase our odds because the pursuit of health is a game we are forced to play everyday, and it only gets harder.

It should be emphasized that we can certainly decrease the numbers on our dice. In fact, the world we live in today is conducive to many behaviors that would reduce our chances of avoiding disease. Society often promotes (sometimes below the level of our conscious awareness) actions that diminish our resiliency and increase the probability that some disease will take hold. If we do not act with intention and awareness, the gravitational pull of our environment will slowly deteriorate the dice we have to throw. The ecosystem we find ourselves in today cultivates those machines of chronic disease. And it almost certainly becomes a matter of when instead of if.

The things I will talk about are nothing new. It is not cutting edge science coming to save the day. It is about finding a way to do the hardest thing in life, change the way we live. Will power sucks, it comes and goes with the wind. Diets don’t work. And the answer is not sleeping less so we can do more. We all have access to incredible levers that completely influence our state of health or lack thereof. Through food, movement, sleep, and management of stress you can create the ecosystem that pushes against chronic disease.

This concludes the table setting of our health situation in the 21st century. Going forward we will be more focussed on the strategies available to push back against chronic disease. There are issues on all levels from the healthcare institutions and laws to the individual choices we all make. We will discuss many of them, but the focus will be on the individual and the choices we can each make on a daily basis to improve our lives and the lives of those around us.

Best explorations

-Ryan; 4/27/2020

Health Unrefined Part Two: The Manifestation of Chronic Disease

Preface: This is a continuation of yesterday’s post regarding the ubiquity of chronic disease, and the necessity of a new approach to health. This post will hopefully stand alone, but reading yesterday’s piece will provide more context.

Chronic conditions affect the entire human organism. They are not limited to a single organ or tissue, but manifest complications throughout the body and mind. It seems that something so ubiquitous can only arise from that which is just as commonplace. These are lifestyle diseases.

Our lifestyle is an ecosystem in which the components of our body are forced to function. It is no different than the way other aspects of life organize all around us. The plants and animals that flourish in the tropical rainforests are vastly different than those that inhabit the northern hardwood forest, which look nothing like the creatures of the desert. Life suits itself to its surroundings.

Ecosystems are a collection of energy transforming machines. The outputs of one machine are the inputs of the next, and this cycle allows for different pieces to function and grow together. Each ecosystem contains unique sets of raw materials, or primary inputs. These would include things like amount of sunlight, rainfall, soil conditions, temperature, and diversity of organisms. These parameters are essentially the gatekeepers of what type of life will develop in that particular environment. Life is dynamic, diverse, and infinitely creative. These primary inputs drive the creative output of life. Only the organisms (energy converting machines) that are best suited to their particular environment will survive the endless competition for resources. 

Chronic disease is a form of life that emerges from the primary inputs of our body. It is the group of machines best suited to the inputs of the way we live our life. It is type of life selected for through the environment we live in! Therefore, if the inputs are not changed, the disease state will continue to thrive, and we will be forced to live a life confined by chronic disease. 

Disease is a confluence of genetic predisposition and environment, more heavily influenced by the latter. Our genes are no more than a starting point. A beginning state from which we can move largely in any direction. There are certainly those diseases in which the individual’s fate is sealed from the beginning, but these are few and far between, and much less interesting for no other reason than they are entirely out of our control. The vast majority of disease can be viewed as an opportunistic drive, capitalizing on particular set of environmental factors at a particular time.

We should start with a definition of our environment. It will function as an all encompassing term, denoting any phenomena, internal or external, that exerts any level of influence on the human organism. This includes, but is not limited to, the food (or food like products) we consume, physical movement (or lack thereof), our thoughts, social and family interaction, light exposure, sleep, emotional state, etc. These environmental factors represent the tools we have at our disposal to create a state which minimizes probability of disease gaining a foothold. These are our primary inputs

These are the levers with which we can influence our health outcomes. You will notice I did not list medications, surgical procedures, or any other “medical interventions.” The goal is to construct a suitable environment so that we do not develop the conditions requiring complex medical intervention. Disease is constantly probing for a chink in our armor. This has been clearly displayed in the recent COVID-19 pandemic. It affects individuals in vastly different ways, posing a more significant risk to those already dealing with underlying health conditions (diabetes, obesity, etc.). We cannot control when our bodily ecosystems are going to be challenged by some external threat, but we can certainly try to maintain our defenses. We can push back against those lifestyle diseases that increase our risk. We can stack the deck in our favor.

To be continued…

Best explorations

-Ryan; 4/26/2020

Health Unrefined Part One: Medical Problems of the 21st Century

Pause and think about what diseases concern you you today. What diseases do you see or hear about frequently? Which conditions affect someone close to you? Those that populate my mind are cancer, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, depression, and dementia, among others. There is something that connects these seemingly disparate diseases, they are all chronic diseases. A chronic condition can be defined as a physical or mental health condition that lasts more than one year, causes functional restrictions, and requires ongoing  monitoring or treatment [1]. Let’s break down this definition.

Chronic disease can be physical or mental. We interpret the world through differentiation. We like to have clear cut distinctions, labels, and discrete entities which have specific meaning. The disease process, of course, exists in the natural world, outside of our psyche and outside of our distinctions. In the natural world these clear boundaries we perceive are not so well defined, as things exist on a continuum or gradient. I make this point to emphasize that although we separate physical and mental diseases, they are not exclusive to one another. From the perspective of the disease, there is no distinction between the mind and the body. This means that even though we may consider depression to be a “mental” condition, there are very real physical effects of depression. Just as there are very real psychological effects of cancer. Disease is not limited to the artificial boundaries we use to perceive the world. 

A chronic condition lasts more than one year and requires ongoing monitoring or treatment. There is a lot to unpack here. Many of us may believe that modern medicine has a drug or procedure to fix the majority our ailments. The so called silver bullet. However, if a disease is still lingering after a year, then clearly there has been no drug, no treatment, and no procedure that has done anything to remove or reverse the disease. We certainly have many tools to suppress symptoms that arise from the disease, but the root, the disease state itself, remains relatively untouched. And when the disease remains untouched, you get exactly what the definition tells us, ongoing monitoring and treatment. Ongoing monitoring and treatment is a euphemism for lifelong prescription medications (often with side effects that instigate the need for additional medication), frequent visits to the doctor, numerous referrals to specialists, occasional trips to the emergency room – all while the actual disease remains largely unchanged beneath its cloak of symptoms. And lastly, we get to the real kicker with chronic disease, chronic disease causes functional restriction. So not only do you get to deal with the disease for an extended length of time, but the life that you are able to live is no longer the life you have lived. There is the obvious loss of time and money associated with the ongoing monitoring and treatment, but the real problem is the decrease in quality of life. Dependencies are limitations. Chronic disease erodes the body’s ability to thrive, reduces its capacity to function, and forces dependencies on medical interventions that seem to only be bailing water from a boat riddled with holes. 

Modern medicine has saved countless lives, and it will save and improve the lives of many more. However, I think it is largely missing the mark when it comes to the prevention and treatment of chronic disease. The numbers almost seem fake. 45% (and growing) of Americans have at least one chronic disease. 25% have multiple chronic diseases. Chronic disease is responsible for 7 out of 10 deaths in the United States. 96% of all Medicare spending goes towards the treatment of chronic disease and 83% of Medicaid spending [1]. And these are just a few of the statistics. Chronic disease is clearly demanding a different approach. *Side note, you may not use Medicare or Medicaid, but if you think you are not paying for these expenses, you would be dead wrong.*

I will be starting medical school in less than four months. There are daunting challenges ahead for the healthcare industry, but this is exactly why I made a life altering career change at the age of 24 after being an established engineer. There are big problems with an institution we all trust and depend on. We need big ideas and big solutions. Chronic disease is the downstream effect of the way we live our lives. Every individual has to take the responsibility on themselves. If we fail to give proper importance to sleep, food, movement, and our mental or emotional state, we are selecting for chronic disease. Medications are often much too late of an intervention when it comes to these diseases. It starts today, and health is a conscious decision we all have to make day in and day out.

This is a fairly dramatic change from all my previous posts, however I would certainly say it is all connected. If you have read any previous posts, you are likely aware of my fascination with the mind. At the end of the day, the mind is where our health crisis lives. The vast majority of the time it is not a lack of knowledge that prevents us from being healthy. We all know we should eat better, exercise more, manage our stress, etc. The problem exists in our inability to consistently implement behaviors that promote health. So if this interests you, we will certainly be exploring ways to build a health promoting life. If not, well, the esoteric posts about consciousness, infinite dimensions, and God are not going anywhere.

Best explorations

-Ryan; 4/25/2020

Sources:

  1. Raghupathi W, Raghupathi V. An Empirical Study of Chronic Diseases in the United States: A Visual Analytics Approach. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018;15(3):431. Published 2018 Mar 1. doi:10.3390/ijerph15030431

Thoughts for the Weekend

A few things I’ve been thinking about…

1) The mark of a great thinker is not the stature of his ideas, but the flexibility of his mind to change them

2) The reCAPTCHA click so we know you aren’t robot thing. Does anyone else find it ironic that through our proving we are not a robot we are training the robots? With the most recent version where we are forced to click images of cars, crosswalks, stop lights, etc., we are oh so diligently training the visual systems of automated vehicles. Not really taking a side on this one… it is just kind of funny.

3) Gods are real. All of them. Odin, Jesus, Shiva, Vishnu, Zeus, etc. They were, at the very least, at some point a projection of the psyche. If you tell me that’s not real, then you are telling me motivation, anxiety, rage, and other all the other elements of our psyche aren’t real. Just because something fails to exist in material form does not make it not real.

4) Something like the Selfish Gene Theory for the psyche. Is archetypal appearance in myth a mark of longevity or prevalence of structures of the psyche (collective unconscious)?

What are you thinking about?

PS: For anyone interested in archetypes or the collective unconscious. I have made a page listing explanations for people to become familiar with the ideas. Those pages will be updated as I come across more information. I’m still very much a beginner here, so feel free to learn with me.

Best explorations

-Ryan; 4/24/2020

What is the Collective Unconscious?

This is certainly not an exhaustive resource, but I will add to it as I come across useful references. Of course for the best understanding, reading Jung’s writings in full context is second to none. New additions will be to the list added at the top and typed in bold. CW = Carl Jung’s collected works

Update May 21, 2020: Added quotes from Erich Neumann’s The Origins and History of Consciousness and On Divination and Synchronicity by Mary-Louise von Franz.

  • “Now I propose to use the hypothesis that the collective unconscious is a field of psychic energy, the excited points of which are the archetypes, and just as one can define neighbourhood relationships in a physical field, so one can define neighbourhood relationships in the field of the collective unconscious.” – On Divination and Synchronicity, Marie-Louise von Franz
  • “So we can now go on with our definition and say the collective unconscious is a field of psychic energy, the excited points of which are the archetypes, and that field has an ordered aspect which is dominated by the number rhythms of the Self” – On Divination and Synchronicity, Marie-Louise von Franz
  • “In the collective unconscious all archetypes are contemporaneous, and exist side by side. Only with the development of consciousness do we come to a graduated hierarchy within the collective unconscious itself.” – Erich Neumann, The Origins and History of Consciousness
  • “Archetypal images are operating in every man and appear spontaneously whenever the layer of the collective unconscious is activated.” – Erich Neumann, The Origins and History of Consciousness
  • “It is as though the world of the unconscious were, in effect, an extension of the numinous, as though the inconceivable multiplicity of its aspects had been divided up into the separate figures of the collective unconscious, in order to become experienceable for the ego, either successively or in the aggregate… the collective unconscious is split up into the pictorial world of the archetypal images, and the same line of development leads to the fragmentation of the archetypes themselves.” – Erich Neumann, The Origins and History of Consciousness p. 321 
  • “The original unity breaks down into a solar system of archetypes and symbols grouped round a nuclear archetype, and the archetypal nexus of the collective unconscious comes forth from the darkness into light.” –  Erich Neumann, The Origins and History of Consciousness p. 326
  • “The world of symbols form s the bridge between a consciousness struggling to emancipate an systematize itself, and the collective unconscious with its transpersonal contents.” – Erich Neumann, The Origins and History of Consciousness p. 364
  • “The instincts and the archetypes together form the ‘collective unconscious’” – Carl Jung CW vol 8 par 277
  • “From the unconscious there emanate determining influences which, independently of tradition, guarantee in every single individual a similarity and even a sameness of experience, and also of the way it is represented imaginatively.” – Carl Jung, CW vol 9i, par 118
  • “the sediment of all experience of the Universe of all time, and also an image of the Universe that has been in the process of formation for untold ages.” – Carl Jung, quoted in Wisdom, Madness, and Folly by John Custance
  • “A second psychic system of a collective, universal, and impersonal nature which is identical in all individuals. This collective unconscious does develop individually but is inherited. It consists or pre-existent forms, the archetypes, which can only become conscious secondarily and which give definite form to certain psychic elements.” – Carl Jung, CW vol 9i, par 90
  • “The contents of the collective unconscious have never been in consciousness, and therefore have never been individually acquired, but owe their existence exclusively to heredity.” – Carl Jung, CW vol 9i, par 88
  • “The collective unconscious expresses itself in archetypically formed ideas.” – Carl Jung, CW vol 9i, par 45
  • “The collective unconscious is but an incapsulated personal system; it is sheer objectivity, as wide as the world and open to all the world. There I am the object of every subject, in complete reversal of my ordinary consciousness, where I am always the subject that has an object.” – Carl Jung, CW vol 9i, par 46
  • “Discerning persons have realized for some time that external historical conditions, of whatever kind, are only occasions, jumping-off grounds, for the real dangers that threaten our lives. These are the present politico-social delusional systems. We should not regard them causally, as necessary consequences of external conditions, but as decisions precipitated by the collective unconscious.”  – Carl Jung, CW vol 9i, par 49
  • “As a rule, the standpoint of the unconscious is relative to the conscious attitude.” Carl Jung, CW vol 9i, par 77
  • “If there is already a predisposition to psychosis, it may even happen that the archetypal figures, which are endowed with a certain autonomy anyway on account of their natural numinosity, will escape from conscious control altogether and become completely independent, thus producing the phenomena of possession.” – Carl Jung, CW vol 9i, par 84
  • “The pathological element does not lie in the existence of these ideas, but in the dissociation of consciousness that can no longer control the unconscious. In all cases of dissociation it is therefore necessary to integrate the unconscious into consciousness. This is a synthetic process which I have termed the ‘individuation process.’” – Carl Jung, CW vol 9i, par 83
  • “Accordingly, the therapeutic method of complex psychology consists on the one hand in making as fully conscious as possible the constellated unconscious contents, and then on the other hand in synthesizing them with consciousness through the act of recognition. Since, however, civilized man possesses a high degree of dissociability and makes continual use of it in order to avoid every possible risk, it is by no means a forgone conclusion that recognition will be followed by appropriate action.” – Carl Jung, CW vol 9i, par 84

This is a living document. Will update as I come across more information. New additions will be added to the top of the list and will remain bolded until the next addition.


See also What is an Archetype?

-Ryan; Last updated 5/21/2020

Latest writings:

What is an Archetype?

This is certainly not an exhaustive resource, but I will add to it as I come across useful references. Of course for the best understanding, reading Jung’s writings in full context is second to none. New additions will be added to the top of the list and typed in bold. CW = collected works of Carl Jung

Update May 21, 2020: Added quotes from Erich Neumann’s The Origins and History of Consciousness and On Divination and Synchronicity by Mary-Louise von Franz.

  • “The structural elements of the collective unconscious are named by Jung “archetypes” or “primordial images.” They are the pictorial forms of the instincts, for the unconscious reveals itself to the conscious mind in images which, as in dreams and fantasies, initiate the process of conscious reaction and assimilation.” – Erich Neumann, The Origins and History of Consciousness
  • “In the collective unconscious all archetypes are contemporaneous, and exist side by side. Only with the development of consciousness do we come to a graduated hierarchy within the collective unconscious itself.” – Erich Neumann, The Origins and History of Consciousness
  • “Archetypal images are operating in every man and appear spontaneously whenever the layer of the collective unconscious is activated.” – Erich Neumann, The Origins and History of Consciousness
  • When instincts are centrally represented, i.e., when they appear as images, Jung calls them archetypes. Archetypes take the form of images only where consciousness is present.; in other words, the plastic self-portrayal of instincts is a psychic process of a higher order. It presupposes an organ capable of perceiving these primordial images. This organ is consciousness, which on that account is associated with the eye, light, and sun symbols, so that in mythological cosmogony the origin of consciousness and the coming of the light are one and the same.” – Erich Neumann, The Origins and History of Consciousness p. 295
  • “It is as though the world of the unconscious were, in effect, an extension of the numinous, as though the inconceivable multiplicity of its aspects had been divided up into the separate figures of the collective unconscious, in order to become experienceable for the ego, either successively or in the aggregate… the collective unconscious is split up into the pictorial world of the archetypal images, and the same line of development leads to the fragmentation of the archetypes themselves.” – Erich Neumann, The Origins and History of Consciousness p. 321 
  • “The original unity breaks down into a solar system of archetypes and symbols grouped round a nuclear archetype, and the archetypal nexus of the collective unconscious comes forth from the darkness into light.” –  Erich Neumann, The Origins and History of Consciousness p. 326
  • Again, just as the digestive system decomposes food into its basic elements, so consciousness breaks up the great archetype into archetypal groups and symbols which can later be assimilated as split-off attributes and qualities by the perceptive and organizing powers of the conscious mind.” – Erich Neumann, The Origins and History of Consciousness p. 326
  • “The kind of experience we shall have is prescribed by the archetypes, but what we experience is always individual.” – Erich Neumann, The Origins and History of Consciousness p. 349
  • Jung defines the archetypes as being the nuclear dynamisms of the psyche. Each archetype is also like a mass of dynamic energy.” – On Divination and Synchronicity, Marie-Louise von Franz
  • The archetype could therefore be defined as a structure which conditions certain psychological probabilities” – On Divination and Synchronicity, Marie-Louise von Franz
  • Since our most basic psychological structure is formed by the archetypes which means generally collective patterns of behaviour, we all tend to react in the same way in certain situations.” – On Divination and Synchronicity, Marie-Louise von Franz
  • “If one knows enough mythology one can make a completely consistent web from every great archetype to every other great archetype. There is always a legend or a saga which links up two archetypes in a new form, and it is a tragedy people do not realize that.” – On Divination and Synchronicity, Marie-Louise von Franz
  • “Just as conscious apprehension gives our actions form and direction, so unconscious apprehension through the archetype determines the form and direction of instinct” – Carl Jung CW vol 8 par 277
  • a primordial image that is “instinct’s perception of itself, or as the self-portrait of instinct” – Carl Jung CW vol 8 par 277
  • “The instincts and the archetypes together form the ‘collective unconscious’” – Carl Jung CW vol 8 par 277
  • “Just as the archetypes occur on the ethnological level as myths, so also they are found in every individual, and their effect is always strongest, that is, they anthropomorphize reality most, where consciousness is weakest and most restricted, and where fantasy can overrun the facts of the outer world.” – Carl Jung, CW vol 9i, par 136
  • “a group of related or analogous psychic phenomena” – Carl Jung, CW vol 9i, par 114
  • contents of the collective unconscious, primordial images, mythological motifs
  • “The archetype is essentially an unconscious content that is altered by becoming conscious and by being perceived, and it takes its colour from the individual consciousness in which it happens to appear.” – Carl Jung, CW vol 9i, par 7
  • “There is good reason for supposing that the archetypes are the unconscious images of the instincts themselves, in other words, they are patterns of instinctual behaviour.” – Carl Jung, CW vol 9i, par 93
  • “All ages before us have believed in gods in some form or another. Only an unparalleled impoverishment of symbolism could enable us to rediscover the gods as psychic factors, that is, as archetypes of the unconscious.” – Carl Jung, CW vol 9i, par 50
  • “Archetypes are complexes of experiences that come upon us like fate, and their effects are felt in our most personal life.” – Carl Jung, CW vol 9i, par 62
  • “As organs of the psyche’s structure the archetypes articulate with one another, like physical organs, and determine the maturation of the personality in a manner analogous to the biological hormone-components of physical constitution.” – Erich Neumann, The Origins and History of Consciousness
  • Definite forms of the psyche, present always and everywhere

This is a living document. Will update as I come across more information.
See also What is the Collective Unconscious?

-Ryan; Last updated 5/21/2020

Latest writings:

We Are Our Addictions

“We must never forget that the crooked paths of a neurosis lead to as many obstinate habits, and that, despite any amount of understanding, these do not disappear until they are replaced by other habits. But habits are only won by exercise, and appropriate education is the sole means to this end.”

Carl Jung, Modern Man in Search for a Soul

What if we are our addictions? Playing passenger to drives that ultimately direct our lives. As terrifying and helpless as that might sound, I think we retain some control over how those addictions actually manifest. Certainly we have uncontrollable factors in our life that shape our tendencies. By right of birth, some are thrown into horrific living conditions and exposed to endless trauma, and much less are fed from a silver spoon their entire life. These things that lie outside of our control most definitely play a role in forming those initial addictions. The initial drives that initiate our journey. However, I must make the claim that we can maneuver these addictions, or rather, direct the addictions to other physical manifestations. I suggest we dedicate our energy to aiming our addictions rather than trying to remove addiction itself.

One of the most identifiable aspects of consciousness is our understanding of time. We operate on a 24 hour cycle that continually repeats. Therefore a primary task of consciousness may be the need to fill those waking hours with some sort of engagement. We must direct our awareness somewhere. Most of you will be familiar with the way some basic computer programs work. For example, a particular program could take a task that is repeated ad nauseam and streamline the process. Or it could take a set of variables and determine values in order to create a specific optimized output. If we have a goal of filling our waking hours with awareness of something, addictions would easily develop as a tool to help this drive. Addictions could act as a highly powered computer program, running rampant, trying to direct our waking hours to some object or activity. When we are addicted to something, we simply want to spend more time doing whatever that activity may be. So not only do addictions help solve the current problem of what do I do now, they also have this lurking power to populate our futures. As the addiction program runs, it becomes more powerful. It becomes harder and harder to pull away from whatever it is driving your towards. Over time, it has an exponential effect on our awareness and can become all consuming – even increasing the bounds of consciousness by sacrificing sleep.

Sex, drugs, alcohol, money, competition, Netflix, Facebook, Twitter, etc. There are endless things to which we can be addicted, and most people would ascribe an overall negative to being addicted to any one of those items. But here is the idea: All of the above listed addictions (plus those not cataloged), are downstream, or on the surface, of the addiction itself. The computer program of addiction is operating behind the scenes. The constant obsession with Instagram is just the surface level output of some impressive evolutionary machinery. I think we are much better equipped to change to output of the machinery rather than to tackle the machinery itself.

I do not want to emphasize a score keeping mentality, or a ‘my addiction is better than yours’ attitude, but I think most people would agree that in today’s society, an addiction to exercise is more productive than an addiction to alcohol. I think we may also agree that a moderate addiction is better than a severe addiction. For instance, an addiction that compels two hours of my awareness per day is less damaging than an addiction that compels ten hours per day. For argument’s sake, we could make a correlation between the strength of the addiction and the amount of time we spend on the activity. Going back to the original premise, if we are our addictions, it would be beneficial for us to have eight different two hour addictions rather than two different eight hour addictions. This would be something like keeping the strength of the addictions at bay. This allows us to retain some level of defense, as the presence of many addictions make it difficult for any one addiction to spiral out of control.

In closing, this is not to make any moral judgements. For instance, on a moral level, I am not convinced an addiction to exercise is any more virtuous than an addiction to alcohol. However, we have to play by the rules of our society. From the perspective of society, an addiction to exercise is much preferred to an addiction to alcohol (not to mention the obvious preference of your body). So in a way, this whole theory is about structuring our addictions to align not only with ourselves, but the society we live in. This theory also implies the ubiquity of addiction. It is something every single one of us struggle with. With this understanding, hopefully we can push back against the stigma associated with addiction. In the above paragraph I am arguing for MORE addictions! Taken out of context, that would be read as totally outrageous. Clearly, I am using the word addiction in a different light than it is commonly used today. We need to stop condemning the idea of addiction and start progressing on how to live and work with ourselves. Meet reality on reality’s terms. I am not a psychologist or a psychiatrist. I am certainly no professional. I just enjoy thinking about difficult problems, and trying to come up with approaches that get us to a better place. If we are not free to develop new ideas about old problems, we get to keep the old problems.

Best explorations

-Ryan; 4/23/2020

Words From People Smarter Than Me: Benjamin Franklin

Some useful, some humorous, and some obvious words from a great polymath Ben Franklin.

“So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or make a reason for everything one has a mind to do.”

Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

“Convinced of the folly of being on ill terms with those one is to live with continually.”

Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

“I grew convinc’d that truth, sincerity and integrity in dealings between man and man were of the utmost importance to the felicity of life.”

Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

“And like him who, having a garden to weed, does not attempt to eradicate all the bad herbs at once, which would exceed his reach and strength, but works on one of the beds at a time.”

Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

“In the conduct of my newspaper, I carefully excluded all libelling and personal abuse, which is of late years become so disgraceful to our country.”

Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

If he could only see us now…

Best explorations

-Ryan; 4/22/2020

On Words

Words are acoustical signs for concepts; concepts, however, are more or less definite image signs for often recurring and associated sensations, for groups of sensations. To understand one another, it is not enough that one uses the same words; one also has to use the same words for the same species of inner experiences; in the end one has to have one’s experience in common.

Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil: Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future, aphorism 268

I had been thinking about words for a while before I came across Nietzsche’s explanation of the problem. Words are an immediate abstraction. They are always trying to denote an underlying idea or meaning, or in Nietzsche’s words, a concept. I like to think about it visually. Imagine some foundational structure, a slab of concrete. It takes up some amount of space, and let’s assume this space is its meaning, in entirety. Words are the structure that sit on top of the foundational slab. They have a definite connection, certain points of contact, but in no way represent the entire concrete slab below. The structure on top, gives us certain advantages at the expense of objective truth. It may be the very tool that allowed Homo sapiens to flourish. Language gives you the ability to reduce complex tasks to its essential parts, while also making the process repeatable. Through language one can formally share experiences with other members of the the tribe. And because of the tribe’s shared experiences, they can learn as a community instead of individuals. Language (effective communication) is a prerequisite to specialization. Through specialization and sharing of experiences, the tribe can exponentially grow in its ability to withstand the challenges of the world.

But let us move to our situation in today’s society. We have significantly increased our interfacing with individuals from places unlike our own. Now, we have words that are the same on the surface, but stem from different concrete slabs. While we are in a place to benefit from truly understanding the perspective of someone unlike us, we should not underestimate the possible miscommunication between groups of people. It is hard for us to truly understand the values of someone from the opposite political party, much less those of someone from a different country. When we hear or read words, their effect is not at the level of the surface structure, but at the level of our own concrete foundation. Do we not all experience some feeling or sensation in response to words? This level of affect not only sits below the surface level interpretation of words, but it might sit below the level of our conscious awareness.

Every word has two components. We will define the surface level as that immediate registering of a known word in your brain, it carries the factual content of the word. The other part is the emotional baggage that every word is associated with. That aspect that drives how we feel and often how we respond to a word. The principle of Russell Conjugation, or emotive conjugation, is the relationship between these two layers. While two words or phrases may be synonymous on the surface level, they could have distinct or even opposite emotional connotations. Examples given by Bertrand Russell himself:

I am firm”
You are obstinate
He is a pig-headed fool”

While each of these phrases has a very similar factual meaning, they evoke a very different emotional response. The factual aspect of the words most often occurs in our conscious awareness, but the emotional tag-along may operate below our awareness. This discontinuity between fact and affect is a prime target for manipulation. At some level when we logically and consciously declare something as true, or right, we are signaling to the rest of our being that the emotional response to those words is validated. So in a way, one could engineer a phrase that passes the logical gate, while instigating an emotional response that may or may not be aligned with the logical conclusion. This is often deployed in the media where factual reporting is not enough to garner the attention desired. It is certainly displayed in political campaigns, and essentially everywhere one is trying to convince another of their perspective.

This is really just to call attention to the power of words. Be precise in your own words and judicious when interpreting those from others. While the above paragraph emphasized how language can be used to manipulate, it can equally be used to bring people together. Through the diversification of culture, our acoustic signals are no longer the same, but the concepts underlying them are universal.

Best explorations

-Ryan; 4/21/2020