Lesson 1 of 7  - free your true Self to guide you

Excerpt: "Shadow
 Dancing in the USA"

St. Martin's Press, New York (1985)

By Michael Ventura

A poetic description of
 subselves in a stepfamily

The Web address of this article is http://sfhelp.org/gwc/IF/ventura.htm

Updated April 11, 2015

      This is one of a series of articles on Lesson 1 of 7 in this Web site - (a) free your true Self to guide you in calm and conflictual times, and (b) reduce inherited psychological wounds. All other Lessons are founded on this one.

      Ventura, a new stepfather, gives us a rich description of his inner "tribe," (personality subselves) and those of his wife Jan, and stepson Brendan. Shadow Dancing is out of print, but you can probably find used copies. - Peter Gerlach, MSW; Founder, Break the Cycle! project

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      "Marriage is the most dangerous form of love. Count the casualties and you know. It turns many people to stone. We all have seen that. Our society is cracking under the weight of many stone- lives. We all know that. But will we, or will we not, discover all that a man and woman can be? Marriage is not the answer, but it is the most demanding way to live the question.

      Donít ask questions. Live them.

      That is the unrelenting demand of an active inner life. If we shirk that demand we begin to turn to stone.

      So here are the speculations on a flux, a life, a dare that I sometimes refer to as "my marriage." They are the notes of a man who, only a bit more than two years ago, joined in "wed-lock" (the phrase is not without its sinister echo) with a woman and her young son. The notes of a man who, at the time, only dimly realized that in marrying with these two others he was marrying no less than -- everything.

      "Everything," in Greek, is the word pan, and pan is what they called the wildest, most elemental of the gods, the god least subject to placation - the god that was never housebroken. No wonder they sang and danced at that wedding!

      Our life leads separate lives.

      I am "married," as they say in this world, to Jan, who is "married" to me - "two old fuckers," as she puts it. She, forty. Me, thirty-nine. And Brendan, eleven now (her child but, as I find myself putting it in conversation, "our boy"). It is now, as Iíve said, two years since I married these two people and they married me - three separate acts. Three very different inner ceremonies - Janís, Brendanís, and mine - taking place within the one ceremony that joined us. Or that symbolized our joining. For in marriage symbols often come first: first the instinct to join, then the symbolic joining, then the relentless reality of trying to join.

      So far the above would be described by most systems of thought - psychological, sociological, whatever - with the phrase: "The two of them (or the three of them) are married."

      A pathetically useless phrase for the description of any reality I know. Weíd best leave it behind right now. For one thing, it implies that there are only three people living in our apartment.

      But living in this small apartment, there are, to begin with, three entirely different sets of twos: Michael and Jan, Jan and Brendan, Brendan and Michael. Each set, by itself, is very different from the other, and each is different from Jan-Brendan-Michael together. But go further:

      Brendan-Jan-Michael having just gotten up Ďfor breakfast is a very different body politic, with different varying tensions, depending on whether itís a school day or not, from Brendan-Jan-Michael driving home from seeing, say, El Norte, which is different still from driving home from Ghostbusters, and all of them are different from Brendan-Jan-Michael going to examine a possible school for Brendan. The Brendan who gets up at midnight needing to talk to Michael is quite different from the Brendan who, on another night, needs suddenly to talk to Jan, and both are vastly different from the Brendan who often keeps his own counsel. The Michael writing at three in the afternoon or three in the morning, isolated in a room with three desks and two typewriters, is very different from the Michael, exasperated, figuring the bills with Jan, choosing whom not to pay; and he in turn is very different from the half-crazed, shy drunk wondering just who is this "raw-boned Okie girl" moving to Sam Taylorís fast blues one sweltering night in the Venice of L.A. at the old Taurus Tavern. The Jan making the decision to face her own need to write, so determined and so tentative at once, is very different from the strength-in-tenderness of the Jan who is sensual, or the sure-footed abandon of Jan dancing, or the screeching of the Jan whoís had it up to here.

      I can only be reasonably sure of several of these people Ė the several isolate Michaels, eight or fifteen of them, whom "I" pass from, day to day, night to night, dawn to almost dawn, and who at any moment in this much-too-small apartment might encounter a Jan or a Brendan whom Iíve never seen before, or whom Iíve conjectured about and can sometimes describe but am hard-pressed to know.

      So in this apartment where some might see three people living a comparatively quiet life, I see a huge encampment on a firelit hillside, a tribal encampment of selves who must always be unknowable, a mystery to any brief Michael, Jan, or Brendan who happens to be trying to figure it out at any particular moment.

      And who, on this hillside, subject to its many winds and weathers, who among these loyal but often nomadic manifestations of Jan, Michael, and Brendan, who among these people is "married"?

      Some are. Some are gladly and enthusiastically married, with, as the wonderful old phrase goes, "abiding faith." Some are married but frightened, nervously married, hesitant as to their capacities, their endurance. Some are hostile to the marriage. Some are too crazy to be married. Some just go about their business; it doesnít affect them, The hostile and the crazy and the unconcerned may be in the minority (though there are days when it doesnít feel that way), yet they exist, they speak with our mouths sometimes, they break a dish now and then, they make a bad joke - they even have bad dreams, just as the parts that are gladly married have their good and bad dreams.

      I think of a Henry Miller line in Tropic of Capricorn: "The labyrinth is my happy hunting ground." I am beginning to see what he means. In this labyrinth, I have found that on days when I feel far-off from Jan and she feels rejected, it is not Jan whom Iím rejecting at all. I am rejecting the parts of me that feel closest to her. That is a very different bowl of gumbo. It indicates a very different sense of, and object of, responsibility.

      And I can only guess, yet, at how many Jans there are whom I havenít yet seen naked. They are the "other women" Iíve been interested in since I met her. As there are Michaels I havenít encountered yet, and who come to life, surprising me, only in "her" presence, in the presence of some Jan or other.

      I feel a leader to all my selves whom I call "I". It was his idea, this marriage! Most of the others cheered him on, a few tried to shout him down. But always this whole motley crew is in my consciousness, in all its motliness, when "I" say, "I am married."

      There have been times during our marriage when have heard all our inner people laugh at once. That is marvelous. And nights when they have all rested within the same sleep. (That is more rare by far.) An days when this entire hillside of selves seems to follow "the three of us" down the street as though a great festival were taking place, and only we know of it, yet its psychic exuberance "adds its light to the sum of light." (in the words of one Billy Kwan). This luminous, virtually religious sense of oneís inner life radiating into and nourishing the outer, wider world - I have felt it before, but never so strongly as in the context of this thing we rather lamely name "marriage." And the converse: the sense of dread when I feel us failing, not only the dread of the private failure, but the sense that we are failing more than ourselves, that we are failing world that needs us not to fail. Failing not the crumbling world that is, but a world that some of us feel is struggling to be.

      I think of the Sioux medicine man Lame Deer when, as an old man, he cried on a hilltop to his gods for a sign that he had not entirely failed them. That sense is not dead in all of us, though we may be shy to speak of it in ourselves and suspicious of others who do. It applies to marriage in the sense that, marriage doesnít only join two people, it links their inner quests - the quest of each to share in, and build on, the sense of becoming in the world, the feeling that this era is struggling to transform itself into another, more fulfilling era. If only one of a married, pair can succeed in taking part in this transformation, both will feel a hollowness.

      There are many who are not interested in contributing to the worldís transformation, but there are also many for whom such concern is an enormous, if often unadmitted, pressure, and we live in a society that hardly names this feeling, much less honors it. But even if one person in a marriage feels this dimension, the marriage takes on the burden of the concern, whether named or not.

      This is one of the many ways that a "relationship" can feel so much more free. A relationship is defined as it goes along, with a lot of subtle and not-so-subtle negotiations as to what is and what isnít the otherís business. Inner quests may, or may not, he part of that negotiation, whichever choice or compulsion dictates. The special thrill of a "relationship" is to select one or two (rarely more) of oneís many selves, and play them out with someone who is doing the same. Sometimes the self being lived out in the relationship is shallow, or wonderful but severely limited, and the relationship ends quickly; sometimes it goes deeper, so that as time goes on more of oneís inner selves participate, coming into the presence of both relating "I"s. A serious relationship usually ends when there are more secret selves participating than your mutual intentions can bear to accommodate.

      A marriage puts you in a very different existential position. A man and a woman, in a marriage, are not offering each other only their favorite, or most convenient, or most needy selves. You marry everything, like it or not. If youíre living together and not married, it is still not quite the same; though there is a great deal invested, the door is still metaphorically open. Whereas marriage puts a lot more pressure on the psyche, because whether or not people say "till death do us part," thousands of years of heritage have made the vow implicit. This is what marriage means in our collective consciousness, if not in our modern ceremonies, even now. So if we get married yet are still trying to follow the ways of a relationship, we feel undermined by the massive cultural vow we have ingested without wanting to. We fed closed in. Sooner or later, we feel dread.

      Jan and I let the vow stand, said it out loud with our joined voices, as though to let our inner tribes of selves know what they were in for: "till death do us part." We instinctively felt what we began both instantly and painfully to share: that, willingly or unwillingly, we had each married all of the other, including parts yet unguessed at.

      Marriage is this inclusive act, like it or not. You will not make it something else by saying that you want it to be something else. You will not make it something else by believing it should be something else. Life is not so simple. The psyche, collectively whole yet enormously varied within you, is not so easily contained. The very fact of being married will act as the catalyst to make your psyches both the subject and the object of the marriage. You can face this, and feel as though youíre leading a dangerous, even adventurous life; or you can avoid it, and gradually feel more and more unanswered by the presence of your mate.

      When two people "get involved," each usually has a clear (if usually nonverbal) idea of what he or she needs for the next stage of his or her growth. Virtually every serious relationship or marriage is a partially conscious means by which this Ďnext stage" Is achieved, is grown. Crisis time comes when one or both of them have pretty much exhausted this more-or-less intended stage of growth in the other and are trying to figure out if they can accompany each other I through yet another significant stage. We are living in a society in which there are few things more rare than two people accompanying each other through more than one significant run of growth.

      The idea of marriage flies in the face of this. It is, depending on your viewpoint, a gallantly or foolishly unrealistic challenge to oneís own future. Looked at this way, itís a damned silly way to treat yourself. Fortunately or unfortunately, there is a phenomenon weíve not yet alluded to which short-circuits these considerations. It is referred to somewhat vaguely as love.

      We love before we know. Love comes first, and in order to answer its questions we have to love further. The fling turns into an affair, the affair turns into a relationship, the relationship turns into a marriage. For many people today the process of relationship has been the first stage of growth. Then a sad thing often happens: instead of really trying to stake out a further unknown territory, many try to adapt how theyíve grown already (the first stage) to what they feel are the conventions of marriage. This is usually an unmitigated disaster.

      As it happened, Jan and I went straight from fling into marriage. We decided to marry within ten days of meeting each other. This saved us the relationship stint of getting to not-know each other, which usually and sadly consists of people trying out their various selves .on one another, compulsively and/or intentionally, testing for commitment. Thatís necessary for one stage of life, but like many people our age we had each done that many times. We decided: this time, no tests. Dance to the music.

      Marry it.

      Were we marrying each other or marrying the impulse? Good question. A question that can he answered only after itís too late. Fine. For love is nothing, if itís not faith. Nothing.

      When Brendan was born, almost nine years before Jan and I met, Jan had sent out announcements with that old blues refrain:

Baby I learned to love you
Honey Ďfore l called
Baby Ďfore I called your name

      Love often occurs "in this wise," as the old phrase as though love were for "calling the name." And certainly "to be loved is to feel oneís name called with an inflection that one has never heard before.

      So we found ourselves sending our wedding invitations that went:

Come on over
We ainít fakiní
Whole lot of shakiní goiní on

      Odd, now, to think how small a sense of foreboding we had at that Jerry Lee Lewis verse - though weíve only "come to blows" (revealing old phrase, isnít it, with its odd sense of formality?) once, and she struck first, broke my glasses, and I hit her then, one time, and she slumped against the wall, both of us feeling so soiled and ugly and wrong. How many bitter, gone grandmothers and grandfathers stood in the room just then, cackling their satisfaction at our shame? Hers, Irish; mine, Sicilian. Both of them traditions that did not teach us to forgive. To learn to forgive is to break with an unforgiving past.

      Pause at the word: "forgive." "For-to-give." Forgiveness is such a gift that "give" lives in the word. Christianist* tradition has tried to make it a meek and passive word; turn the other cheek. But the word contains the active word "give," which reveals its truth: it involves the act of taking something of yours and handing it to another, so that from now on it is theirs. Nothing passive about it. It is an exchange. An exchange of faith: the faith that what has been done can be undone or can be transcended. When two people need to make this exchange with each other, it can be one of the most intimate acts of their lives.

      Forgiveness is, for one thing, a promise to work at the undoing, at the transcending. Marriage soon enough gives all concerned the opportunity to forgive. There have been enough broken chairs, broken plates, and one broken typewriter - my beloved old Olympia portable manual, that Iíd had since high school and smashed myself - to testify to how desperate the joined desperations of all the Michaels, Jans, and Brendans can be. Whole lotta shakiní goiní on, and on and on, and sometimes when you are trying to break through the hardened crusts inside you and inside each other, some dishes and typewriters arid furniture might go in the process.

      The most odious aspect of goody-goody, Iím-OK-youíre-OK dialogues is their failure to recognize that sometimes you have to scream, slam doors, íbreak furniture, run red lights, and ride the wind even to begin to have the words to describe what is eating you. Sometimes meditation and dialogue just canít cut it. Sometimes "it" just plain needs "cutting" - or at least a whole lotta shakiní. Anyone afraid of breaking, within and without, is in the wrong marriage. Let it all go. Let the winds blow. Letís see whatís left in the morning.

      And that is "the solace of marriage" - a phrase Iíve heard in several contexts, but am otherwise unable to comprehend. The discovery, of what is unbreakable among all thatís been broken. The discovery that union can he as irreducible as solitude. The discovery that people must share not only what they donít know about each other, but what they donít know about themselves.

      Sharing what we know is a puny exercise by comparison.

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* Following the lead of James Hillman Ďs work, I use ďChristianismĒ in place of ďChristianityĒ and ďChristianistíí in place of ĎĎChristianíí wherever possible, in an attempt to get around the enormous bias for the religion built into our very language"
 

      And did I say there were only myriads of Jans, Brendans, and Michaels encamped in the firelit cavern that appears to be an inexpensive old wood-frame duplex south of Santa Monica Boulevard in Los Angeles? Life is not so simple as even that. What about the raging mob we refer to, politely, as "the past." Nothing abstract about "the past." What has marked you is still marking you. There is a place in us where wounds never heal, and where loves never end. Nobody knows much about this place except that it exists, feeding our dreams and reinforcing and/or haunting our days. In marriage, it can exist with a vengeance.

      Bloody, half-flayed, partly dead, naked, tortured, my mother realty does hang on a hook in my closet, because she hangs on a hook in me. Occasionally I have to take her out and we do a rending dance, tearing each other bloody as we go, and the stuff splashes happily all over - all over Jan, several of the many Jans, and several of the many Brendans - and then run for the hills, my dears, for I am in my horror.

      One of my several, my insistent, horrors.

      We are all, every one of us, full of horror. If you are getting married to try to make yours go away, you will succeed only in marrying your horror to someone elseís horror; your two horrors will have the marriage: you will bleed and call that love.

      My closet is full of hooks, full of horrors, and I also love them, my horrors, and I know they love me, and they will always hang there for me, because they are also good for me, they are also on my side, they gave so much to be my horrors, they made me strong to survive. There is much in our new "enlightened" lexicon to suggest that one may move into a house that doesnít have such a closet. You move into such house and think everything is fine until after a while you start to hear a distant screaming, and start to smell something funny, and realize slowly that the closet is there, all right, but itís been walled over, and just when you need desperately to open it you find yourself faced with bricks instead of a door.

      In our cavern on this hillside in this apartment, there is quite a closet, where my hooks hang next to Janís, and to Brendanís - itís amazing how many you can accumulate at the mere age of eleven - which are also there for their good and harrowing reasons.

      This is one reason itís so odd to "see the parents." Canít comment on marriage and fail to mention the in-laws. Odd to see them, because youíve seen them already hanging on hooks in your closet, and the beings splayed on those hooks are so removed from these aging, well-intentioned, confused souls who are the actual people. Actual, older people who are powerless, really, because they cannot act in their own names any longer. The past acts through them, no matter what they try. All they can do is hope to change that past; that is, to transmute its effects. Which is not impossible, but is so very rare.

      So it Is, as I say, odd to see your mateís parents because you know them already, intimately, as archetypes in your mateís sleeps. To assure this archetype that, yes, you really do love her fried chicken, is to enter a realm of comedy in which even the Marx Brothers might be frightened to cavort.

      And so the horrors and the joys of what we foolishly call "our pasts" - we would more accurately call them "our sleeps" - blend, and we live the strengths and lacks of what we were, and that also is marriage. "Your people will become my people," goes the old vow, and it is inescapable in the sense that I am speaking of.

      For a marriage to be a marriage, these encounters do not happen compulsively or accidentally, they happen by intention. I donít mean that the encounters with all the various selves and ghosts are planned (thatís not possible, though they can sometimes he consciously evoked); I mean that this level of activity is recognized as part of the quest, part of the responsibility each person has for him/herself and for the other.

      Which is the major difference between the expectations of a marriage and a relationship. My experience of a relationship is two people more or less compulsively playing musical chairs with each otherís selected inner archetypes. My tough street kid is romancing your honky-tonk angel. I am your homeless waif and you are my loving mother. I am your lost father and you are my doting daughter. I am your worshiper and you are my goddess. I am your god and you are my priestess. I am your client and you are my analyst. I am your intensity and you are my ground. These are some of the more garish of the patterns. Animus, anima, bopping on a see-saw.

      These hold up well enough while the archetypal pairings behave. But what happens when the little boy inside him is looking for the mommy inside her and finds instead on this particular night a sharp-toothed analyst dissecting his guts? When the little girl inside her is looking for the daddy inside him, and finds instead a pagan worshiper who wants a goddess to lay with, which induces her to become a little girl play-acting a goddess to please the daddy whoís realty a lecherous worshiper and Ö little girls canít come? Or when a woman is attracted to a macho-man who is secretlyí looking to be mothered? When a manís sexual self is in the service of an interior little boy, itís not surprising that he canít get it up or comes too quick. Or theyíre really not there at all, theyíre masturbating, really: men in their little-boy psyches for whom the real woman is just a stand-in; while the woman who happens to be in the same bed, an extension of their masturbation, is wondering why even though the moves are pretty good she doesnít really feel slept with.

      And why he turns away so quickly when itís done.

      On the other hand, teachers fuck pupils with excitement, analysts fuck clients with abandon, and people seeing each other, in bed, as gods and goddesses light up the sky - but the psyche is a multiple and a shifting entity, an none of these compassionate pairings hold stable for long. The archetypal mismatches soon begin, and then itís a disaster of confrontations that can take years not even to sort out (it would he worth years to get it all sorted out) but simply to exhaust itself and fail. And then the cycle starts all over again with someone else.

      My experience of a marriage is that all these same modes are present, but instinctively or consciously it becomes a case of two people running down each otherís inner archetypes, tackling them, seducing them, cajoling them, waiting them out, making them talk, Ďfessing up to them, running from them, raping them, falling in love with some, hating others, getting to know some, making friends with some, hanging some in the closet on each otherís hooks - hooks on which hang fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, other loves, idols, fantasies, maybe even past lives, and true mythological consciousness that sometimes come to life within one with such force that we feel a thread that goes hack thousands of years, even to other realms of being.

      All of this is what we "marry" in the other, a process that goes on while we manage to earn a living, go to the movies, watch television, go to the doctor, walk on Ďthe Palisades, drive to Texas, follow the election, try to stop drinking, eat too much Haagen Dazs.

      Obviously, if two people are completely oblivious to this level of life, they cannot live consciously on this level of life. If one person is oblivious, life canít he lived at this pitch. (Though this is a level that works its ways whether or not you are aware of it; it is, in Lawrence Durrellís phrase, "the life of your life," and most people thrash around on its surface, the puppets of their needs, hardly guessing.) If two people are in competition with each other, then this sort of responsibility toward each otherís inners cannot occur. (This sense of women and men in competition is a common notion now, and I donít necessarily mean career competition, nor do I mean that people pursuing the same careers are necessarily in competition.) Nor can life be lived at this pitch if one person is trying to tame the other. Nor can it occur if people are trying to live up to an ideology, whether it is a Christianist ideology, an "itís-time-to-live-happily-ever-after" ideology, or a "liberated man/liberated woman" ideology. Sooner or later your wife is going to come prancing through the living room with the flayed undead carcass of her ex-husband or her lost father, and youíre going to be slipping on their psychic slime, and watch out, mamaís boy, that bitch wants to dance, to dance with her horror, and you better he able to give her something more present than a Marxist or new age or fundamentalist ideology.

      With volatile people much of this is surprisingly out front, given the eyes to see it, But the same stuff goes down with sedate, quiet couples. It just happens more undercover, and is harder to spot. Worse than harder to spot, itís harder to feel, because itís not so specific. But it is, after all, the mannerly Anglo-Saxon peoples who started a new religion partly to institute divorce and who fought hundreds of years of religious wars partly to keep a Protestantism that allowed divorce. It is their descendants in America who have largely made divorce a legal institution. Even so, roughly a third of the murders that occur in America take place within families. These forces can remain unknown, but they are never unfelt.

      Statistically, there are many more violent crimes per capita within families in the United States than there are in any other nation. When you consider that this is the nation most responsible for the stability of the worldís economy and that this nation - these families - elect leaders who have the power to end all life on this planet, you may agree with me that this issue of what might constitute a dynamically sane marriage is as crucial as wars in the Third World, economic justice, and nuclear survival. These situations are certainly and umbilically linked.

      Which brings me to my main point: there may be no more important project of our time than displacing Christianist fiction of monopersonality. This fiction is the notion that each person has a central and unified "I" which determines his or her acts. "I" have been writing this to say that I don't think people experience life that way. I do think they experience language that way, and hence are doomed to speak about life in structures contrary to their experience. This contributes to the pervasive and impotent sense of bafflement that very quickly can turn to violence.

      Marriage, for instance. Our conventional concept of marriage came out of the life of feudal Europe, a life so strictured that it likely evoked only two or three of the selves within one person on any given day. The higher thinkers and artists of the time knew most of what we know about the psyche - their cathedrals prove it. And the worshipers had a virtual chorus line of saints they could react to with their various selves. But they worked six days a week, they went to bed at dark, they were married and often had families by the time they were fifteen, and their life span was often not much more than forty years. Except for the church and the holidays, there were next to no external stimuli outside of the daily grind. We are still speaking their language. We are still structuring thoughts - envisioning reality - with their grammar. But our lives are totally different.

      Modern society can be defined as a barrage of stimuli haphazardly evoking many conflicting selves daily in every individual. These selves - as our art proves, from the Pyramids to Homer, from the Bible to Chartres and the present - have always been alive and only restlessly asleep in our race; now theyíve been awakened by a cacophony of concurrent and constant calls. Yet most Western thought - most psychology, socio-economic theory (both leftist and rightist), feminist theory, to name a few - labor under a model of the human personality as outdated for contemporary life as Newtonian physics was to relativity physics.

      This meditation on marriage has been based on another model of the psyche entirely: the notion that we have not a single center, but several centers; that each of these centers may act independently of each other; and that each center has in turn various active aspects, or shadings; and that alt these centers are unified more by an
atmosphere, an overall mood and rhythm, than by anything as stolid as a "central command post" called an "ego" or whatever.

      There is a central awareness; but awareness us not control. Confusing awareness with control is the mistake Western thought has been making for centuries. It is tempting to call this awareness many things - oneís ego, oneís character, oneís personality - but those words are just screens onto which we can project what we most need and want to be, projections that change depending on which inner self we are expressing and acting out at the moment.

      A new model of the psyche must take this unifying urge into account, and presume that its impulse is fundamental to us; but a new model of the psyche must go beyond this impulse and envision the inner multiplicity which this impulse strains to unify. Itís as though the reason this impulse is so strong is that thereís so much within the individual to unify. For too Long Western thought has mistaken the impulse to unify for the entity itself (the psyche) that needs such an impulse because of its very multiplicity. The central "I" is not a fact, it s a longing - the longing of all the selves within the psyche that are starving because they are not recognized.

      This notion is certainly not original with me. You can find it, in various forms, in the novels of Doris Lessing and Lawrence Durrell, in the teachings of the Sufis and the Zens, in the art of Picasso and Bosch, in the poems of Ovid and Lorca, in the writings of Gurdjieff and Laing and Jung and Marie-Louise von Franz: and James Hillman. Here is a passage of Laingís Politics of Experience that get at it in terms similar to and possibly clearer than mine:

"Consider the rnetamorphoses that one man may go through in one day as he moves from one mode of sociality to another - family man, speck of crowd dust, functionary at an organization, friend. These are not simply different roles: each is a whole past and present and future, offering different options and constraints, different kinds of closeness and distance, different sets of rights and obligations, different pledges and promises."

I know of no theory of the individual that fully recognizes this. There is every temptation to start with a notion of some supposed basic personality, but halo, effects are not reducible to one internal system. The tired family man at the office and the tired businessman at home attest to the fact that people carry over not just one set of internal objects, hut various internalized social modes of being, from one context to another." (Laingís emphasis.)

      My description, as compared to Laingís, is, well, more Catholic than Protestant, more the Tarot than the I Ching. No matter. The important thing - as important, I believe, as relativity proved to be (indeed this may be the only way we can cope with relativity) - is that many are at the beginning of a theory of personality that will gradually overwhelm the monopersonality model that still warps the Westís vision, for that is a model as inadequate to a more accurate perception and experience of what we are as Newtonís mechanical-universe model was for charting any but the grossest, most obvious movements of the universe.

      It is crucial to every form of human effort that we forge a model of the psyche that is closer to our hour-to-hour experience, because, in the long run, as a society, we can share only what we can express. Our institutions donít match our experience, and that is causing chaos on a world scale. It is likely that these institutions wonít match our experience until we can articulate our experience in more accurately contemporary terms. Marriage is only one of those institutions.

      Remember Charlie Chaplin and Paulette Goddard walking away down the road at the end of Modern Times? Theyíre broke. Theyíre vulnerable to any circumstance. Their walk is almost a dance. Theyíre on their way. Thatís the image of marriage that keeps this married man going. For us, marriage is a journey toward an unknown destination. The "solace" possible is to be reasonably certain youíre not going backward, not uselessly covering the same terrain again and again, not circling one another in one place.

      Sometimes, of course, you find yourself walking backward, facing where youíve been, blind to where youíre going - interesting, disorienting, and infuriating, but it happens. Sometimes youíre pushing each over impossibly steep, sheer terrain. The metaphors, from this point on, could be as endless as the road. The important thing seems to be not to kid ourselves about the destination. We donít know it. It is not "security," which is impossible to achieve on planet Earth in the latter half of the twentieth century.

      It is not "happiness," by which we generally mean nothing but giddy forgetfulness about the dangers of all our lives together. It is not "self realization," by which people usually mean a separate peace. There is no separate peace. - "While there is a soul in prison, I am not free," said Eugene Debs once upon a time, and that goes for all sorts of prisons, psychic as well as walled, and itís as true if youíre married as if youíre not. Getting married wonít stop it from being true. Until we accept the fact that technology has married us all, has made us one people on one planet, and until we are more courageous about that larger marriage, there will he no peace, and the destination of any of us, married or not, will be unknown.

      The mission of marriage in our age is to live out the question: how far can men and women go together? Because they must go wherever it is they are going together. There is no such thing as going alone. Given the doings and the structure of the psyche, there is no such thing as being alone. If you are the only one in the room, it is still a crowded room.

      Marriage creates a field between two people in which these issues can he lived out, lived through. This, of course, happens or tries to happen wilIy-nilly in any serious connection between people; but it is the focus and inner mission of marriage. That is the danger of marriage, and its very danger is its hope and the measure of its importance.

      In this sense, marriage is on the cutting edge of this culture now as it may never have been before. What men and women may or may not become is being tested in its crucible.

      So Ö I get up to look for matches for my cigar before I re-read all this and send it in, and Jan says, "I hope itís not like the first draft."

      "What do you mean?"

      "I hope they know we laugh sometimes."

      In laughter my writing is weakest, and she knows this better than anyone.

      "We laugh a lot," I say.

      "Not in the first draft."

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