Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Archetype of the Child or Lorane, Future Tense


           Today, as part of our promotion of “Youth Tube”, the Plum Tree’s newest and most exciting page, I give you, as well as I can recall, my thoughts, feelings and hopes for the future, as I knew them through the eyes and ears of the five year old named Lorraine.  (Her name change would present in adolescence, turbulent years, to L-O-R-A-N-E.)

           One of the arrows in the quiver used by Dr. Carl Jung in the early parts of the 20th century - while he was hard at work healing the mentally ill – was the “archetype”.  (His work was hard because, unlike his contemporaries who believed in repressing unpleasant  thoughts, Jung’s philosophy was expressed, “if you want to understand the jungle, you can’t be content just to sail back and forth near the shore.  You’ve got to get into it, no matter how strange and frightening it may seem.” Thus the ARCHETYPE was in essence part of the arsenal he used in his ongoing battle with the ghosts that haunted his patients.)

           An ‘archetype’ has no form of its own, but acts as an “organizing principle” on the things we see or do.  It’s like a black hole in space: you only know its there by how it draws matter in life to itself.  In deference to YouthTube, I selected the archetype of the Child as the engine that will drive this recollected olio of childhood experience.  Additionally, as the Child ARCHETYPE usually works in concert with other archetypes, blending with them to form a ‘child-god’, I shall include my relevant partner archetypes.  The cohorts that seemed best to ‘hang with’ my childhood as archetypal ‘pals’ were the Persona and the Hero. 


       Persona represents public image.  The word is related to the words ‘person’ and ‘personality’, coming from the Latin word for mask.  (Worked deliciously well for this kid - schooled in ‘Latin-esque Catholicism’ and branded “masque-and-bauble” from the first read-through of‘This is Your Life’.) My persona was the mask I donned before showing myself to the world.
Although it began as an archetype, by the time I’d finished ‘realizing’ it, it was the part of me most distant from the spiritual level of consciousness.

            At its best, it was just the ‘public impression’ I wished to present as I filled the roles society required of me.  At its worst, as it can be mistaken even by its owner for our true nature: at times, I believed I really was what I pretended to be!  What price ‘mistakes’?

           Many archetypes are story characters.  The hero is a main one.  He is the larger-than-life character, defeater of evil dragons.  Basically, he represents the ego - we do tend to identify with the hero of the story - and is often engaged in fighting the shadow, in the form of beasts and monsters.  Hero is, however, often dumb as a post, ignorant of the ways of the spiritual level of consciousness which Jung called the ‘collective unconscious’.  It’s tough enough being on ‘rescue call’.  Asking ‘Hero’ to be sensitive to the spiritual would surely put a dent in his armor. 

           And now, the archetypal star in my show – the Child.  In mythology and art the child is represented as children, infants most especially, as well as other small creatures.  The Christ child celebrated at Christmas is a manifestation of the Child Archetype, and represents the future, becoming, rebirth, and salvation.  Curiously, Christmas falls during the winter solstice, which in northern primitive cultures also represents the future and rebirth.  People used to light bonfires and perform ceremonies to encourage the sun’s return to them.  My childhood in Brooklyn seemed one long winter solstice.  I daresay, although we annually burned Casey Stengel in effigy, bonfires were discouraged in the city.  Ceremonies, on the other hand, were part and parcel of my fantasy life.  This is not to say I was a ritualistic child.  Rather, I embraced any occasion that I could bless or celebrate with dramatic, ceremonial flair.


           Jung placed ‘the child (including the child hero)’ in a list of archetypes incorporating the ‘chief among them . . .’.  (Color me like Sara Bernhard, squandering preciously-tossed/blown kisses to the now-standing masses in the dark, regally executing a third curtain call.)  Jungians exploring the hero myth have repeatedly noted that ‘over and over again one hears a tale describing hero’s miraculous but humble birth’.  What need, you may ask, masks the ‘stage-struck’?  What compelling force of nature marks special humans, setting them apart for life? 


           I concluded very early on, that it was an inevitable refuge of the unhappy child.  I could not have been more than five when, on a random day I placed all of my favorite dolls in the ‘Grampa-made’ wicker baby-doll carriage and planted myself  astride our apartment’s exit door.  Eventually – she was a busy lady – my mother noticed and graced me with that ‘and this is?’ look to which I brashly announced, “Surely we are moving.”  She went on with cooking dinner and I to pieces.  (Actually, it was more a ‘dramatic pause’.)  For I was all a- scheming, entrenched in the (show) business of contriving a world of my own.  Thence my tip-toe entrance onto the boards – inchoate, halting but definitely ‘prologue’ to my inevitable ‘trot’.

           I’d always had imaginary companions – Gene Autry a strange bedfellow among them – and even imaginary parents.  This last was in no way a transparent rejection of my God-given set.  Rather, I was ever intrigued by the Gypsies that, as a matter of course, inhabited sundry storefronts on our neighborhood’s main avenues.  Whereas, friends I was to make later in life spoke of ‘window shopping’ on Main Street or Fifth Ave, admiring/lusting after the latest season’s offerings in fashion and toys, I would regale them with enactments of ‘window-peering’, that is, straining, nose pressed against windows last washed during “the Big One”, to get a better gander at the even darker, shadowy outlines of the women and children of this or that ‘Gypsy Family’. 

           Their eyes had a piercing/arrogant yet enticing glow – with festively-‘painted’ sloe-shaped scrims and exaggerated black, elongated lashes sending ‘Morse-messages’ with their languidly open/shut activity.  Mysteriously back-lit vivid colors would break the lighting barrier, enhanced/aided by the glittering, reflective metallics of large hoop earrings and chain belting – sporting an occasional bell or a menacing talisman – now draping, now cinching the exotic materials that, sans under-trappings, swayed and spun, Salome-eat-your-heart-out.  And I recalled, during one of these ‘peerings’, posing a question to myself.  I was moved to wonder, “What if I’m not me?”

           Who might I have been yesterday?  Will I be a family member in France, during the Renaissance, tomorrow?  How long might this have been going on?  Will it always be thus?  To label these thoughts ‘odd’ is to trivialize what came to be my ‘way of being in the world’.  It was therefore a natural transition to amble from these musings into The Great Cattle Call – sung loudly by The Seasoned Sirens that changed courses of lives from time immortal. I would become of ‘the people of the theater’, that race of fanatics, the lost/dedicated tribe known as ‘actors’.  I would assume heroic or villainous guises, loving the love of a formerly bland, if not hostile world. 

           I innately KNEW my goal was attainable: TO BE MYSELF AND YET BE SOMEBODY ELSE – all the while loved for living this duality.  Relieved of any sense of guilt or confusion, I launched my thespian life.  If the essence of acting was the Art of being somebody else, I could/would be the consummate artist.  In keeping with the other attributes of the Archetype of the Child – my humble birth, fierce survival instincts, child-like longing for the innocent (regardless of age) – Jungians exploring this archetype have considered that ‘it represents our efforts to deal with the problem of growing up, aided by the illusion of an eternal fiction. 

           Thus, for Jung, “the child is potential future”, with the archetype symbolizing the whole personality in its development from primordial unconsciousness to ego consciousness to self.  Moreover, the child Archetype has a central part to play in assuaging the fear of the loss of connection with the past.  Jung taught that, in its retrospective aspect, ‘one of the functions of the child archetype is to recall the experiences and emotions of childhood to the adult mind.

           And it can get better.  Jung also allows as how in its prospective role, ‘for Jung the child archetype was a living symbol of future potentialities that bring balance, unity, and vitality to the conscious personality’ – such that the ‘mythic’ child symbolizes the lifelong process of psychological maturation.  I’ll take it.  Indeed, to even have ‘process’, there must be some tension – in the form of energy.  From a negative purview, tension – as in anxiety – leads to discomfiture, impedes progress.  Thus far, most of my negative tension has been contained in my personal unconscious, in dreams.  It’s always a version of the same dream:  Curtain going up, “Places!” and I either do not have a script or have forgotten ALL of my lines.

           I’ll take that, too.  My interpretation yields not failure but the need for further development/growth.  I’m simply not yet ready.  We’ll call that: “Lorane, Present Tense”.  You’ve just heard – from Child Lorane – “Lorane, Past Tense”.  Don’t know about you, but I wait in exhilarating anticipation for two VERY important ‘Child’ debuts – YouthTube on May 31, 2012 and Lorane, Future Tense”, TBA.


           There is always more to share.  Rather like the opportunity kids will have on YouTube:  http://www.wix.com/niamhclune/youth-tube1#!home/mainPage/

         I hope you enjoy my sharing of this anonymous find as much as I did.

Later, Lorane. . . .

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