Sunday, 1 April 2012

Of Narcissus and Calidore

It's difficult to determine how I am feeling this weekend.  I am feeling insular, withdrawn and yet at same time detached from myself and everything else around me.  Yesterday morning, the weather took a turn for the worse and the absence of sunshine allowed my SAD to kick in and my mood to plummet somewhat, making my self worth and belief, which, on certain levels has fluctuated considerably over the last few weeks between one extreme and the other, drop once again.  And other than this absence of warmth, sunshine (awakening the inner Akhenaten in me perhaps and that need for the solar disc) it has made me painfully aware of my other "failings" (although that is rather a strong word) in other departments in my being.

Yet, as I say, I felt and still feel oddly removed from myself, so this isn't narcissism nor self pity nor an egocentric state of mind I find myself in.  Jung suggested that this concept was not that of narcissism and was one of individuation, however, that this state of mind was more evident as one approached old age than in one's youth or middle age (a bench I feel I uncomfortably fall between at this time of life); and that indivuation is contrary to that narcissism.  So am I being narcissist? Or individuist? Consciously or subconsciously?  Jung suggests that narcissism is doomed to fail, despite it being a defence mechanism against aging and death, however that ultimately a higher goal, an inner quest to discover a/the meaning (perhaps the elusive spark of gnosis if you will) in one's lifetime is beyond such things.  These narcissistic needs, be they gratification, validation or otherwise are mere illusions and the striving towards self-knowledge is the way out of the shackles of "the petty, oversensitive world of the ego."

The doomed Narcissus, by Caravaggio

At the moment I suppose I am wishing to flee from, for the most part of an existence I am currently entertaining.  It lacks any sort of enlightenment in any shape or form outside of music and books, if I cannot find in terms of (physical) rays of sunshine (which lifts my emotional self worth out of doldrums), I somehow need to find it on an intellectual level.  This intellectual enlightenment has been sorely lacking in my being for sometime now, yet it has allowed itself to be re-ignited for short periods of time.  For the most part, and as observed by some of those around me, that for the most part, when I discuss subjects that interest me, too much of the time it tends to be on the level of an educator (me) and student rather than enjoying an enjoyable two way conversation.  Either that or we are just talking at each other, no traffic in either direction.  Extremely rarely is it intellectual two way traffic.  The reality was first awakened in late 2010 when I enjoyed an all too brief conversation with Dr. Alan Palmer on the subject of (cognitive) narratology.  Regrettably, our conversation was curtailed before it was allowed to truly develop, yet for me, it was only when Dr. Palmer bestowed me with the compliment demonstrating that I clearly understood the concepts of the theories of narratology, and that I "was clearly a narratologist at heart" based upon our relatively brief talk.  This validation elevated my spirits and self worth to a higher level than it had been for some considerable time in my lifespan, prior to our meeting and conversation.

Admittedly I am subscribed to the social networking phenomenon that is Facebook.  I have been for five years.  For the most part, and this still remains true, I subscribed to it for the purpose of sharing photos with those close to me.  It developed into an oppurtunity to catch up with friends and acquintances, being at long last, in certain instances to put a face to the name of various other writers (well, the ones I resepcted) I had corresponded with in my "filmic" years working on DVD extras as "supplement producer."  It also has allowed me to remain in contact with various individuals I contacted, befriended over those years.  Some of these actors, directors, etc appear to have used (and why not?) this as a forum to promote themselves and their work, rather than for friends, family, etc.

However, I retain my original reasoning behind joining, rather than to build up a "network" of contacts, etc.  Upon my first joining the site, and after the novelty of the silly games, apps, etc wore off - I would receive a significant number of friend requests from "movie fans" who recalled my work in the creation of DVD extras.  Yet my sense and need for validation and gratification, despite my (even moreso then) fragile ego, still did and does not accept these individuals into my world for the most part.  I simply don't want invasion into my private world, nor do I want people who will never say anything or just want to discuss film and nothing else.  I did accept a few at first, I confess, and after a few months of non-communication on either part, generally "unfriended" them.  That said, I corresponded with a few, all thoroughly pleasant, genuine fellows (Amicus F, Daniel G, Lionel G, and Laurent K), and this acquintanceship has developed to varying levels. Though I did lay down a ground rule that I didn't want to discuss just cinema and nothing else.  I have met with and exchanged messages/emails  with Amicus, and I have spoken at length on the phone with Mssrs. G and G), though I have yet to cross paths with Laurent. 

I still do get "friend requests" from time to time from these various film fans, but I must confess I do not need, seek, nor wish for their validation.  I need to be valued for me, not a past shadow of myself in what appears like a previous life.  Also, and to be honest, I feel that if anyone is likely to be disappointed in the resulting "friendship", it is those others, for I simply do not have much interest in discussing movies, the people I interviewed (other than as people) nor my past in DVD extras.  It took me five years to re-open and talk about this area of my life again.  Plus I simply do not fit into the world of gore loving, body-piercing, tattoos, black t-shirts, heavy metal listening types; I never did.  To each their own, but my world does not revolve around cinema, nor did it, certainly not to the extent that it (still) does to so many of these fans.  I don't live surrounded by props from movies nor do I have a film posters on my walls.  I find the topic of discussing just [horror] movies, (especially zombie films) dull. This was always the case, yet it could act as an escape from having to talk about myself.  However, I feel that chapter has closed (for the most part) in my being, and, other than occasional conversations with my dear friend Adam, I either have no wish to reopen it.  I retain friendships with the film people I met simply because I liked them as people, the "awe" that they worked in movies has long since gone I fear and I cherish them more for who they are.

To be true, the only friends I feel comfortable discussing these films with are Mark V (whom I have known for nearly two decades) and we rarely talk movies,  Adam F (his enthusiasm echoes that of Mark when our paths first crossed, and though it's not entirely infectious, it's pleasurable, amusing, as much as entertaining, and when that is exhausted he can discuss other things outside of movies. Yay!), and Amicus (who for some reason, best known to him, has a great deal of respect for me owing to the various people I met, interviewed and in certain cases, know or knew).  Also with Adam and Amicus, they have other planets orbiting their suns, and are happy to open up and talk about them.  Were it just movies, movies, movies, well, I think our friendship would have just fizzled out.

Yet supposedly in life, inspiration comes from many sources.  It is difficult to pin these down for me however I understand appreciate them when I encounter them.  Having toyed with the concepts and ideas of Theosophy (the infamous school of Mme. Blavatsky) and read Ouspensky's work In Search of the Miraculous (thanks Margaret) in my past, I must say that although both contained interesting concepts and ideas, I wasn't inspired to join either school of thought in any form.  My initial reaction against the latter was mostly due to Margaret's attempts at times to "convert" my way of thinking and to join her in her "Fourth Way" school of teaching and to visit her in California as a "student".  This very idea sent alarms ringing for the simple fact that clearly Margaret was still on her quest of personal development and towards achieving the miraculous, yet hadn't appeared to achive it in that time having undergone numerous tests on both body and soul, yet seems removed, to an extent, from the process.  Added to the simple fact, I do not like any attempt to goad or convert me in terms of religion or ideology, I simply shut down when that happens.  I prefer to make decisions that appeal to my being and soul, not in any way from another's coaxing and encouragement.

G.I. Gurdjieff, teacher of "The Work".

Add to this that I felt there was a degree of being controlled by others upon initiation into these "schools of thought".  There are obvious echoes of Theosophy in the teachings of Gurdjieff (or "G" as Ouspensky refers to him throughout ).  Furthermore the beliefs of the acolytes of Ospensky's "G" and his Fourth Way, have formed a belief system that reveres a higher being in the form of Gurdjieff.  Also the needto develop a soul via, albeit through personal development, a hodge-podge of religious ideology under one aegis, incorperating everything from Sufism to Christianity; and incorperating the three paths of the fakir, the monk and the yogi into a Fourth Way., Through such learning, in an abstract way without specific guidance, would lead to the eventual development of a soul within, but only through a series of "struggles" rather than apparent enlightenment. Furthermore, despite it's cofused theology being based upon some of the concepts in earlier faiths, it all seemed terribly contrived, manufactured, and for want of a better word, all too "modern". 

Much wondred Calidore at this straunge sight,
Whose like before his eye had never seene,
And standing long astonished in spright,
And rapt in pleasaunce, wist not to weene;

Calidore, upon hearing music from Mount Acilade (a hill sacred to Venus) decides to climb it to be greeted by the vision of a "troupe of Ladies dauncing".   Upon his arrival, Calidore's enthusiasm and/or curioisty disrupts the maidens' dance, perhaps in a mirroring of Orpheus leading Eurydice from the Underworld,  enchanted her soul and all around with his music until her footsteps appear to fade, becoming inaudiable, that the inevitable plays out:

As soon as he appeared to their vew,  
they vanished all away out of his sight.

The maidens are not perturbed by the presence of nor caused to flee by Colin Clout, a shepherd, singing and playing his bagpipes, but are by the presence of Calidore, diverted and distracted from his quest to vanquish the Blatant Beast.  Somehow, in my life, I feel such affinity with the Knight of Courtesy, and though I don't believe that have an obvious beast to vanquish (other than within myself), my sentiment is that if I get in "too deep" or seek to discover something enchanting in front of me, it simply vanishes from view.  Or as in my Orphean analogy, that when there is something wonderful there, before me or behind me, but nonetheless in my aura and immediate surroundings; I cease to believe in it or my own abilities to entice so much so that I turn around to be sure, and after a moment's glimpse of  my elusive "grail", it's gone, and taken from me. Possibly forever...

The forward Youth that would appear,
Must now forsake his Muses dear,
Nor in the Shadows sing
His Numbers languishing;
Tis time to leave the Books in dust,
And oyl th'Unused armours rust:

The opening words above, though possibly taken out of context, are taken from Andrew (he of His Coy Mistress) Marvell's An Horatian Ode.  The poem itself contains paradoxical themes and ideals, celebrating the return of Cromwell from Ireland, yet mourning the regicide incurred upon Charles I.  Again paradox and conflicting ideas prevail.  However, it's the opening words I recognise.  Despite being in my late 30's I still feel some of the spirit of youth within my soul, and apparantly retain some of my youthful looks, according to some of those around me, aside from my furrowed forehead which seems to have always been there, even when I did have youth on my side.  But the words reflect ideas that reverberate through my conscious; is it time to forsake my "muses", and "to leave books in dust"?  I do hope not.  Perhaps I am perhaps all too hasty in my acknowledgment that, as time goes by, that my "numbers" (ie years) are languishing.  Internally, I feel I am deteriorating, that I am not valued at my fullest either by myself nor by the majority of those around me, as so few allow me to demonstrate my worth. Intellectually, profesionally, emotionally.  In part, this is admittedly my own doing, not least, owing to some of the company that I keep, but to the inability to find nor nor move in likeminded circles.  These people largely elude me, and as soon as I happen upon them, the path I take will lead to the same conclusion as that of Orpheus' Eurydice or Calidore's maidens.

The sun is out, I need to drag myself into the fresh air, more later...

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