Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Leaf Turnover

Some time has elapsed since I last posted on this blog. Various things got in the way. The schedule for Follow the Wabbit became more complex and time consuming and I couldn't split my attention. I also retired from the fray of psychotherapy - although I think it''s one of these jobs where you can't retire. The environment won't let you and refuses to allocate you another slot. Where I must fill out an occupation in an official form, I find it hard to say "retired". Usually I choose psychotherapist as my last profession - so here I am back with Psychotherapy in Dublin! It's kind of where I left off with winter reflections. The symbols chase me always - not only in nature but in the built environment. In movies, in advertising, in shops, they just keep coming,  The symbolism of leaves is so well known it's in danger of being cliched. These leaves symbolise death, the last part of their cycle before they disintegrate and become fertiliser. But there aren't that many leaf idioms. We shake like a leaf or we turn over a new leaf. Yet nothing can capture the leaves' decay like Shelly's pestilent multitudes. They are the masses, driven by the West Wind and ultimately dying to be reborn. In the poem he poses the question: Can the decaying masses transform themselves and so transform all of society? Jung might comment adversely on the collective and say that leaves, like most collectives, are swept aimlessly hither and thither by forces beyond their control. But Shelley emphasized vibrancy and life - and so will I.
[The poem Ode to the West Wind.  by Percy Bysshe Shelley was one of Paul Foot's favourites - and mine too.]

Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Head in the Window

This shop window in Rome had interesting reflections and the head in the centre front made an interesting combination. I remember lining it up so my refection wasn't there. But I think I became part of the nose!  I already referred to the head as a symbol and not wishing to go over old ground, looked for others. In symbolism, things are never definite. Reflection makes a window into a mirror. Taken tgether with the head, the mirror reflects a divine instrument of enlightenment. It also denotes the creative mind. All in all, I'm pleased to be part of it then! As far as I recall, this is a lighting shop, so there's even more mileage in this photograph if I consider the importance of the mirror in film theory. This rests on Lacan's psychoanalytic development of Freud's substantial work on children. The very young child misrecognises his reflection in the mirror, but through regarding these fragments as unity, comes to builds the ego. The cinema viewer and indeed the viewer of the photograph similarly assume an omnipotence over the observed, famously referred to in the 1980s as "dominant specularity." But I am reminded of the notion that primordial light creates space. "Let there be light." In other words, light makes order from chaos. But mirror, light and head together - that's a heavy symbolic loading. If you dream of your reflection, which part of the body can you see? What nature of separation lies between you, the dreaming subject, and the mirror? The mirror is never a perfect reflection of any subject, so what's your feeling about what you see in the mirror?

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Chains. Holding, bonding and integration

It's been a while since I posted and here we are with another bike. I did say that there's always another picture, but when you've lived in the 'hood as long as I have, it sometimes feels like I've photographed every last brick. But what do you know? I noticed this bike in the same position for a while - which is kind of odd, isn't it? A photo was in order but it was only in the execution that I became aware of the chain. Of course, it's wise to lock up your property. Few in their right mind would leave their front door open. But I suddenly imagined a small child bustling from the house, unlocking the bike and heading to the shops and smiled. Today's symbol is not the bike but the chain. A chain connotes binding. "Take these chains from my heart and set me free," demonstrates the perceived hold over oneself by another. But holding also implies a collective virtue of solidarity that is willingly accepted - the bond. The collective bond is extremely important in political and religious spheres. But the betrayal of such a bond incurs some kind of punishment - perhaps exclusion from the Kingdom of Heaven or some Promised Land of the future. So dreaming of chains might refer to a failure to accept integration on the individual or collective level. The dreamer of chains may consider the following. What are the chains made of - precious or base metal? Is the chain broken? What is the chain attached to? Chains are also ceremonial so maybe you want to be Mayor? Or perhaps you'd like to be in charge of some public organisation. In Irish mythology, Morran the Judge had a chain necklace which tightened if he made a wrong judgement. Now that chain is a compelling chain and perhaps the one to consider.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Of Bikes and Roads and Dreams

I noticed the bike when I was giving a new camera a test run. My last compact suffered a fall and probably it was time for a change. A test demands a wide range of shots and this scene offered distance and geometry. Most of all, it was a low light day. My immediate thought was of the owner's decision to secure the bike here. It's in a pedestrian island and hardly unobtrusive. Perhaps the owner was hiding it in the light. I hardly dare to speak of symbolism and bicycles. Sometimes clients would dream about being on a bike and of course they had looked it up. "Under my own steam," they would say proudly. I would mentally flinch - because like "the road less taken," the phrase is much overused. "On yer bike!" is one phrase that I like, although it's an impolite expression for "go away." And of course, because one rides a bike, it also has a sexual reference which I'll briefly explain by example. In my youth, a well meaning teacher, eternally doomed to explain sex to teenagers, told the class that no-one could get an STD from riding a Raleigh bicycle. We giggled politely and guffawed mightily later. So "I dreamed I was riding an old bike," isn't necessarily an expression of freedom and balance. In dream analysis it's always best to explore every connotation of the dream symbol. By way of an ending I would ask the client what kind of road they were riding in the dream - smooth, rough, rutted? Was the going tough? Was it less taken?

Friday, April 17, 2015

If you want to get ahead - get a hat

I always liked this kind of hat. The fellow wearing it is in a museum and I thought he would be happier with a ruddy glow because he seems like an outdoor sort. The hat is a headdress and to some extend shares symbolism with hair. It's the topmost adorning feature and a sign of authority. A hat is also like a crown and a tricorn hat even more so. So the hat also denotes power. Hats have a powerful iconography. The importance of the hat in movie Westerns cannot be over estimated. That is usually a black hat or a white hat, often worn with a correspondingly coloured horse. It connotes a position in the narrative of opposites - good and evil. To wear a different hat is to assume a different role but to change your hat is an altogether more serious business. Jung points out that this involves changing your ideas, your outlook on the world. Gustav Meyrink's novel "The Golem" is a Jewish tale of the Prague ghetto. The unnamed hero borrows a hat belonging to one Athanasius Pernath and is plunged into his head and body. The Golem is a Biblical creature rather like Frankenstein's monster and there are mystical Jewish texts that offer instructions on how to make one. Hasidic folklore suggests a Golem can be made to serve the purposes of its creator, but the most important thing is the fashioning of the head. In "Waiting for Godot", the hat is all about identity. "Give him his hat, he can't think without his hat." And when the characters speak as one, they all take off their hats. If you dream about a hat, it may represent a concern about identity, role and authority. Are you taking off the hat or putting it on?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Sacks on the Beach

This is one of the first shots from my new wide angle zoom lens for the Pentax Q. I always visit Fregene over the Christmas period and there are always different kind of scenes to be captured. This time I was testing the potential of new equipment. Every winter, storms destroy many of the temporary beach structures - and so the beach was dotted with piles of sandbags. I noticed that the sacks originally contained coffee, so the container has been recycled to a defensive purpose, the holding back of the sea's destructive forces,  Unlike a sea wall these are temporary, seasonal defenses and quite distinct. They're designed to absorb the force of the sea and mitigate rising water levels. So if you dream of sandbags this can represent defenses of a transitional nature. Perhaps some turbulent period in life is approaching. It's temporary but you need to weather and limit the damage of forces ranged against you. Sometimes the unconscious may organise such a defense on your behalf in a manoeuvre to protect the individual against intolerable anxiety. The German term abwehr more appropriate describes the process. It implies parrying or warding off. We know the sandbags can't completely defend against rising waters, nor are they waterproof. They defend by warding off the danger. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

A Tower is not a Mast

I spotted this communications tower outside a supermarket in Rome and I couldn't resist the shape and the colours. The shop was on a fast road out of Rome with many commercial establishments and not much else. The tower is quite a symbol. In this case, it's all about communication and reaches skywards - it might be said to join the heavens. All towers have some kind of deep earthworks underneath. But whereas in the past, foundations would have been packed with rubble, they are now stabilised by massive concrete blocks sunk into the earth. So the connection between heavens and underworld is complete. But this tower is topless. It is capped by no dome or any adornment other than antennae and some spotlights - communication and light are directed earthwards. In that sense the tower remains a positive symbol because communication enhances awareness and is part of the acquisition of consciousness. In the symbolism of towers, the ladder is most important. Workers must go up and down to build the tower - but also to carry out essential maintenance. They continually ascend and descend this axis between earth and heaven, complicit in some energetic broadcast. This is a modern tower and it has a close relation to traditional tower structures. It is not a mast. The mast is always tethered by guy wires and thus is a different symbol altogether. It's the free standing tower that connotes solidity and strength. If you dream you're on a tower, then think how you feel. Are you strong or vulnerable? Are you pleased with your view across the city or are you trembling and anxious you may fall?