The lustrous craft of such [Jungian] writers — from Joseph Campbell to Marie-Louise von Franz, from the visionary psychologist James Hillman to Shaw’s early mentor, the poet-bard Robert Bly — had brought a nourishing wildness into contemporary psychology, a sense that even today the human mind is secretly and steadily fed by a glamour of conflicting energies, daemonic powers seething in the inexhaustible deep of our collective psyche. Yet there was the rub; most all of these writers assumed that the tumult of forces revealed in the old, oral stores resided somewhere inside us — that the gods, goddesses, demons, and spirits afoot in the tales could be traced to power that lurk within the largely unconscious depth of the collective human interior, and hence that the tales had real relevance only to human persons and not to the spider weaving its web in the near corner of the room, or to the raucous crows hollering outside the window, much less to the hordes of salmon that once muscled their way upstream, or clear-cut mountainsides and dripping glaciers, or the thunderclouds now massing on the horizon.
Returning home from the war, he returned to memory. He returned to the time of his own life that he felt to be continuous from long before his birth until long past his death. He came back tot he old place and its constant reminding, awakening memories and memories of memories as he walked in and across the tracks of those who had preceded him. He knew then how his own comings and going were woven into the invisible fabric of the land’s history and its human life.
Sometimes I don’t know why I do the things I do. Even after all this time, it’s still a new thing for me not to know, not to have orders to follow from one moment to the next. So I can’t explain to you why I stopped and with one foot lifted the naked shoulder so I could see the person’s face.
Frozen, bruised, and bloody as she was, I knew her. Her name was Seivarden Vendaai, and a long time ago, she had been one of my officers, a young lieutenant, eventually promoted to her own command, another ship. I had bought her a thousand years dead, but she was, undeniably, here. I crouched down and felt for a pulse, for the faintest stir of breath.
nb: This is probably the most interesting book about gender, identity, and politics that I’ve ever read.
Picture found here.