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.