Friday, October 31, 2014

Häxan (1922) / Witchcraft Through the Ages (1968)

Benjamin Christensen's silent movie Häxan (1922) clocks in at 87 minutes (or is it 104?); via Antony Balch, it morphs into a 77-minute version: Witchcraft Through the Ages (1968), wickedly narrated by William S. Burroughs and accompanied by a jazz soundtrack courtesy of Jean-Luc Ponty and Daniel Humair. Both versions are weird and fascinating and come together on one DVD thanks to the Criterion Collection.
"Häxan integrates fact, fiction, objective reality, hallucination, and different levels of representation -- all within a first-person discourse. . . The mixture of narrative modes . . . is astonishing for its freedom and audacity." - Gillian Anderson, liner notes, Criterion Collection DVD, 2001. 
"At times, Häxan appears to be a literal depiction of the imaginings of people of medieval Europe . . "  Sometimes funny, sometimes scary, sometimes both (the Devil's obscenely flickering tongue, for example). Crazy cool stuff, indeed, ending with little psychiatric episodes from the 20th century.

Happy Hallowe'en!

Today's Rune: Initiation.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Shadowplay: The Elusive Origins of a 'Jungian' Quip, Part II

"What you resist, persists." ~ Attributed to Carl Jung. As noted in the previous post, I've been seeking the origin of this phrase, thought and idea, and have found it in many places, but without further documentation.

Synchronicity -- an idea Jung definitely espoused -- has converged, thanks to: recent conversations; an article I'm writing about Edward William Johnston (1799-1867); and Barry Miles' epic tome, Call Me Burroughs: A Life (New York: Twelve, 2014), which I finished reading a couple of weeks ago.


Johnston, because of his pertinent essay "Genealogy of Ideas Southern Literary Messenger: Devoted to Every Department of Literature and the Fine Arts. Volume VIII, No.  9 (September 1842): pages 548-555. Richmond, Virginia: T.W. White. Link here. Ideas have a traceable "genealogy," Johnston posits. They rarely appear out of the blue, except for in their first incarnation.

Burroughs, because of his idea of the "word virus:" that words and ideas spread through time and space as a virus.

Which reminds me that Ebola has been around since 1976 -- and was widely covered in the news at the time.

In turn, AIDS is now traced back to the Belgian Congo in the 1920s. (See James Gallaher's "Aids: Origin of pandemic 'was 1920s Kinshasa,'" BBC News (2 October 2014). Link here.

So how about the "resist, persists" quip (and its variations) attributed to Carl Jung? Where can it be traced back to?

In the previous post, I left off with this, from Robert J. and Alex W. Fraser's As Others See Us: Scots of the Seaway Valley (Ontario: Beamsville Express, 1959):

What you resist, Persists

All though [thought] is energy
All things are in Motion
. . . . .

And I earlier noted the widespread use -- either with no attribution or with uncited attribution pointing to Jung -- of this "word virus," especially in the last ten to twenty years. 

Here's a latter-day repetition of both elements that occurs after the 1959 book, As Others See Us:

"What you resist, persists." ~ Neale Donald Walsch, Conversations with God: An Uncommon Dialogue, Book 1 (Charlottesville, Va.: Hampton Roads Publishing Company, 1996), page 100.  


"1. All thought is energy.

2. All things are in motion.
3. All time is now."

Neale Donald Walsch, Conversations with God: An Uncommon Dialogue, Book 3 (Charlottesville, Va.: Hampton Roads Publishing Company, 1998), page 114.


Walsch gives no citations.

Which leads me to believe, for now, that all three of these texts are drawing from older sources, perhaps via back channels, such as ideas from earlier "New Thought" and "Power of Positive Thinking" texts. In other words, these same words are used in the same order, but neither As Others See Us (1959) nor Conversations with God (1996, 1998) are their originators, rather they are transmitters, "infected" by earlier "carriers" of statements they spell out verbatim.

The true origins of these statements will either eventually come to light, or they will remain hidden in mystery.  Digitization of older texts will continue to be useful in figuring out these kinds of genealogies of ideas and word viruses -- helping us "get to the bottom of things." 

Today's Rune: Flow. 
 Illustration at top from Thought-forms by Annie Besant and Charles Webster Leadbeater (London: Theosophical Publishing Society, 1905).  

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Shadowplay: The Elusive Origins of a 'Jungian' Quip, Part I


You may have heard or read this quip, widely attributed to Carl Jung:

"What you resist, persists." Or, alternately, "What you resist persists."

This could have to do with procrastination: when you have a toothache and put off going to the dentist, the toothache will not go away.  You have to deal with it sooner or later.  

Among other things, Jung discussed the need to understand oneself, to integrate different dimensions of the personality, including submerged or "shadow" aspects. Those that are ignored (resisted), will continue to pose a challenge to one's conscious being until explored and absorbed. More or less.

I'm fascinated by the origins of quips and quotes (or quotations, if you prefer) and interested in Jung's ideas. Hence my question: did Carl Jung really write or say "what you resist, persists?"

Searching Google Books and general internet search engines, one can see this Jungian quip fairly well spread around in texts and via the internet through the past ten to twenty years, a sort of meme. In the massive global best-seller, for instance, Rhonda Byrne's The Secret (Atria Books, 2006) -- based on Byrne's documentary film of the same name -- we can find on page 142:

"'What you resist persists.'  Carl Jung (1875-1961)."

However, here and elsewhere, no more specific citation is given. Perhaps the attribution to Jung is made up out of thin air?

I kept digging, going as far back in time as I could easily search. The earliest usage of the quip that I have been able to locate so far is from this unlikely sounding source: As Others See Us: Scots of the Seaway Valley (Ontario: Beamsville Express, 1959).  

I've only been able to pull this pertinent scrap from a digitized preview, without specific context, but here it is, rendered as:

"What you resist, Persists" - followed by a couple of other intriguing lines that led me to additional findings. Meanwhile, if anyone knows more about any of this, please add to the comments section.  All comments are welcomed, of course -- not resisted.

Part II will continue this thread through the shadowplay -- in search of their origins.


Today's Rune: Flow.  Illustration at top from Thought-forms by Annie Besant and Charles Webster Leadbeater (London: Theosophical Publishing Society, 1905). 

   

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Kevin O'Leary: Cold Hard Truth On Men, Women and Money

Knocked off Kevin O'Leary's Cold Hard Truth On Men, Women & Money50 Common Money Mistakes and How to Fix Them (2013, 2014) in less than twenty-four hours. It's an entertaining, compelling book that has something pragmatic to relate to just about anyone (at least in North America). Useful for brushing up on one's approach to money and finances in a holistic manner, regardless of age or socioeconomic status. On first read (there will be a second, taking notes), I found it refreshingly direct and no-nonsense, with interesting background details about the author's family and upbringing (Canadian with Lebanese and Irish ancestry -- cool grandmother, mother, stepfather and wife, among others).

A few basics include: if in debt, put all power into getting out of it as efficiently as possible; sock away at least ten percent in savings per payday or via other sources of income; budget five percent of out-flow for five worthy non-profits (some people tithe ten percent to religious or secular organizations, but O'Leary's approach is five). And: quality over quantity is a good rule of thumb. Prioritize, think, plan, review and do. He considers various types of "money pits" (such as automobiles), too. All interesting. If one took away even one or two points not previously considered (or forgotten along the way), this would be well worth a close gander. Good time to read it -- just before the holidays when many people tend to go overboard.

Today's Rune: Wholeness.      

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Frederick Forsyth: The Afghan, 2006 (Part II)

The Afghan, Frederick Forsyth's 2006 novel, delivers a wild ride, filtered through the very evident scrim of the author's patriarchal, Anglocentric, conservative outlook.

It's very much a man's world that Forsyth focuses on. There are no major female characters in the book. In general terms, it's sexist, but there's no sex. It's James Bond or Clint Eastwood without their "social interests" -- certainly, there are no Bond girls on either side of this rather austere novel.

While reading, I had a strong impression that, via the near-totally omniscient narrator, Forsyth wants nothing more than a quiet return to the height of the British Empire, say between 1860 and 1900. Women seem of little importance in his grand scheme of manly things. Protesters, the general public, news outlets and international organizations are considered annoying nuisances bent on fools' errands. The most important thing to the narrator is security of country -- the United Kingdom above all -- as represented by security agencies and military and police forces.    

Back in 1997, Forsyth admitted: "These days I care only about six things. They are: belief in the Almighty, my country’s sovereignty, parliamentary democracy, the monarchy, preservation of the countryside, and protection of my family." (SagaDecember 1997).

Islamic "Sword Verse" extremists, the villains of The Afghan, dream of a return to the imagined heights of Islamic empire and culture. Turn the clock back a thousand years or more. 

So in The Afghan there are two preferences pitted against each other: go back 100 years (good) or go back 1000 years (bad). In both cases, this is the nature of deep conservatism -- a nostalgia for a past that never was quite as delightful as imagined.*

Finally, the idea of universal entropy or friction: 

"Anyone who has ever been involved in what Kipling called 'the Great Game,' and what James Jesus Angleton of the CIA referred to as the 'wilderness of mirrors,' will surely agree the greatest enemy is the UCU. . . The Unforeseen Cock-Up has probably wrecked more covert missions than treachery or brilliant counterintelligence by the other side. . ." (page 223).

Today's Rune: Possessions. 

*In reverse, the nature of progressive liberalism seems more like nostalgia for an enlightened future that may never come to full fruition. How It Never Was vs. How It Never Will Be, perhaps. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Frederick Forsyth: The Afghan, 2006 (Part I)

Given the similarly-themed events unfolding in Canada these past few days, the happenings depicted in Frederick Forsyth's The Afghan (2006) carry a very contemporary and ongoing feel. The novel is filled with details about hunters and hunted, ships and jets, couriers and satellite surveillance, infiltrators and fanatics, terrorism and counter-terrorism, attack and counterattack, interception and evasion. It ranges around the world, so there's a lot of geographical detail, and historical: things such as the destruction of Halifax, Nova Scotia, during the Great War of 1914-1918, due to the explosion of an ammo ship (in 1917), to counterinsurgency in Northern Ireland, the Falklands/Malvinas War (1982), Afghanistan (1980s-present), the "West Side Boys" in Sierra Leone (2000), pirates of the Pacific, a CIA prison nestled in the Rockies of the USA, and commandeered fuel ships in the Atlantic.

Observations along the way are fully relevant in 2014 and will continue to be so. Of the Taliban, Forsyth reminds us that under their rule, women could not [and cannot] move in public without being fully veiled and having a male relative as escort, "[a]ll singing, dancing, the playing of music, sports and kite flying . . . was forbidden . . . Beards on men were compulsory. The enforcers were often teenage fanatics in their black turbans, taught only the Sword Verses, cruelty and war" (page 105). (Just what everyone wants -- violent, aggressive and narrow-minded young males in charge of one's day to day life).

This is the modern world: "For terrorism, the Internet and cyberspace have become must-have propaganda weapons. Every atrocity that can be broadcast . . . is good; every atrocity that can be seen by millions of Muslim youths in seventy countries is gold dust. This is where the recruits come from -- actually seeing it happen and lusting to imitate" (page 305). 

Note: several of Forsyth's novels have been made into movies. Consider his first three novels, for instance: The Day of the Jackal (1971), The Odessa File (1972) and The Dogs of War (1974). 

Today's Rune: Partnership.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Addito Salis Grano, or: Who Do You Love, Who Do You Hate?

Recent comments by Frank Freeman, one of my UNC-Chapel Hill classmates, led me to some thinking, resulting in this little flow chart of sorts. Active reference to this may help clarify how you or anyone feels about anybody, ranging from the president of the United States of America to a next door neighbor.

Frank pointed out that a person in general support of President Obama would support a certain specific action by him, but if President G. W. Bush had done more or less the same action, they'd have stood in opposition; likewise, political enemies of President Obama would not and will not support his actions no matter what they were or are or could be, precisely because they are opposed to him. Seeing this, Frank said he was more or less "on the fence," and took a more neutral position in many matters.
To play the game, imagine various different names as Person A.  What if Person A was Abraham Lincoln? Frederick Douglass? Angela Davis? Try Ted Cruz. Dick Cheney. Sarah Palin. Hillary Clinton. Bill Clinton. And so on.

Figuring out your attitude by using one of the columns may help clarify where you stand on just about anybody and anything.  

Some attitudes shift with the passage of time. A person may hate a certain boss only while said boss holds any direct power over said person. All power is temporary, if only though mortality or external change in circumstance. 

Another person may unconditionally love a spouse for a while, and later unconditionally hate that same spouse, perhaps as s/he changes status to become an ex-spouse. And so on. 

What do you think?

In conclusion, people on either end of the spectrum will probably never be able to get through to each other. To a person in love, the object of love can do no wrong. To a person in hate, the object of hate can do no right. Neither side will ever convince the other of anything, at least for the time being.

Today's Rune: Fertility.