Thursday, April 28, 2011

Echoes of Colour

This scene worked out well and that's not unusual because this corner generates many lovely images. One could just hang around and watch. It would always be rewarding. I loved the colours in the child's bike, which were rather reflected by the advertising and even again by the Dublin Bus colours in the background. These are sometimes called "echoes" in photography. So I think this blog is about the echo rather than colour. Nonetheless, colour is symbolically about universality and that rather suits the image too - with the older men talking behind the young couple with the child. Echo is not such a positive symbol though. Chained to a rock for a romantic infraction, Echo the nymph was condemned to become a person who could only repeat the last words she had heard. She is the symbol of regressivity and passivity. In other legends she was infatuated with Narcissus, but thwarted, she sought refuge in the caves and forests. Maybe we can hear her calling him in this image. The advertisement might fall neatly into the Narcissus category - calling to us and repeating what we like back to us - as advertising generally does. Advertising wants us to gaze at and fall in love with our own reflection. So that we buy things for the person we think we are and who we recognise in the advertising. Over the years I have become convinced that this is how it works. Narcissus is so obsessed, he doesn't hear Echo and so I rest my case. I'm not so sure about the bus. Its good to see the bus arrive!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Boy on the Bridge

This railway bridge is perfectly adequate for the task - but it's a little depressing I always think when I am there. The combination of that shade of green with the close mesh has a touch of prison about it - restriction or containment of some sort maybe. The symbolic function of the bridge is not so different from its practical purpose here. A bridge allows us to cross from one side to another and in so doing stay away from dangers of some sort, In this case it's trains and electricity, so the bridge is a container too. The bridge takes us from one state to another - the transition to from Earth to Heaven is often represented by a bridge. There is a symbolism of passage. The Pontiff of the Christian Church is a term which originates in the old Roman colleges and means "bridge builder". There is a corollary in Welsh and Irish Mythology with the legend of Branwyn, Daughter of Lyr. In this tale, an avenging army of the Welsh came to the magical Shannon on which there was no bridge. King Bran lay across the river and allowed his army to march over him and to the other side. This is associated with the saying, "The Chief should be a bridge". In dreams, bridges are usually about a danger to be overcome. In all likelihood, some obstacle in the dreamer's life has to be crossed and the dreamer will be in transition from one state to another. The boy in the photograph cuts a solitary figure doesn't he? I can't see his face but the the stance suggests "pensive" - almost as if he does have some important obstacle under consideration. If a client brought a bridge dream to a session, I would certainly ask for associations to bridges. But in the end I would be asking whether there is anything up ahead perceived by the client as transitional and difficult.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Duck Sandwich

It's not that unusual to see ducks in my neighbourhood where they frequent Herbert Park. But this is close to the centre, so I was surprised, not only by their presence there, but by the busy corner they had elected to stroll around. Ducks don't care, clearly. They have definitely been mentioned before in this blog. In the far east they symbolise marriage and felicity because duck and drake will swim in each other's company. American Indians think highly of ducks as spirit guides and use duck feathers in dances and rituals. But of ducks in Welsh or Irish mythology, no mention can be found. They tend to be confused with swans apparently. These days when I see a duck I can't help thinking of the Marx Brothers film Cocoanuts. Looking at a map, Groucho says "I say, here is a little peninsula, and here is a viaduct leading over to the mainland." To which Chico responds "Why a duck? Why that...why a duck? Why a no chicken? " Of course it continues with a typical Groucho non-sequitur "Well, I don't know why a no chicken; I'm a stranger here myself!" That's what come to mind for me of course, not the symbolism of ducks. Psychoanalytically, if I reported a dream about ducks I would have to explain all my associations including Marx Brothers, chickens and viaducts. Come to think of it - wasn't there a viaduct in the previous blog photograph? Why? Why a no chicken?

The Same but Different

Passing this street I thought how much it had changed and how little. It always looked a bit like this even though the only surviving feature is the railway bridge in the centre of the image. To my recollection, there was always a terrace of small houses with larger and grimmer buildings in the background. Perhaps the train has a different livery now. It's not a suburban train, because it's too long - and as I positioned myself for the photograph, the train kept moving through, carriage after carriage. A friend of mine used to refer to this street as "ugly street" and certainly it isn't very pretty. Yet it's full of visual interest on this occasion. The sunshine helps. I do remember that the founder of psycho synthesis, Roberto Assagioli, was clear on the question of things "always being the same". They are not of course. Although there has always been redevelopment, it takes place in different contexts where different relationships pertain. We have to be certain about what is different here and now - and most important of all, what it means for us.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Shadow doesn't Walk

The shadow can't walk under its own steam. It's always someone's or something's shadow. Unless its the pulp fiction hero of the thirties of course. The image above, which features a a kind of portico, reminded me of discussions about the shadow that I have had with Jungian psychologists. Now the shadow as a psychological concept refers either to the whole of the unconscious or to that part of the unconscious that comprises traits and attitudes that go unrecognised by the individual. So the shadow cannot be an entity of any kind and certainly not a human entity. In philosophy, reification is a tendency to refer to an abstract as if that abstract possessed a concrete or material existence. To refer to the shadow as a real thing with its own concrete existence is to reify it. Yet the collective, including government agencies or business corporations, does possess both an unconscious and a shadow that comprises unrecognised attitudes. So we can put the shadow forward as a concept and it has the power to offer explanations for certain kinds of behaviour. You may dislike someone for no reason and it is likely that your unconscious identifies, in that person, traits that you don't like about yourself. That is your shadow. But of course there is no substantial shadow separate from you or from the people that comprise collective organisations. I think the pulp fiction Shadow was rather interesting because although he couldn't make himself invisible, he could shroud his opponents minds so that they saw him several feet to the right or left. When your shadow is in charge of your actions, you are likely to be as off-target as the adversaries of the that pulp fiction character.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Shopping and Floating Commodities

Shopping centres or malls are much the same, but Lingotto is hardly the worst. The new Turin Metro goes there now so it's busier than it used to be. Built inside the old Fiat factory in Turin, it is quite airy and light - as is this photograph. Because of the shiny floor and the shadows, people look as if they have levitated slightly. I particularly like the youngsters chatting in the background. Shopping centres rapidly became a place where young people could "hang out" although not necessarily buying anything. Therein lies a conflict. Consumption of commodities has taken over space. In fact, it more or less governs it. Even television space is all about shopping, buying things, selling things and so on. Henri Lefebvre says that this "sacrifices the future and destroys the present." I feel that past societies would look unfavourably on a world so dominated by commodification. Its a present where even we ourselves become commodities. We have sold our own future and destroyed our personal present. That is what leads many into psychotherapy. They feel and know they are more than commodities but they are uncertain regarding what they may in fact be. For me, the young people in the photograph represent hope, because they are in conflict with the space. their agenda is different. In due course, they may even be moved on. But they will have served their purpose by confronting the adult world. That is their job.