Thank you very much for your paper, I really enjoyed it. I think that your use of storytelling really drives home the crucial idea that we (the IAJS community) exist in a rarefied, abstracted, troubled, and wonderful space from which opportunity and disappointment abound. And, our troubles and opportunity are representative of something broader taking place at least in Western culture, if not the species. I appreciate your examples of how the Internet can be used to “create intimacy and coordinate action,” that is, to build community; your immediate example of what is happening in Baltimore is poignant and hopeful. Perhaps, if Michael is right, there is some opportunity and need to attend to and participate in the renewal of democracy. And, if Liz is right, our forum risks alienation and addiction, to which I add significant dissociation; but also has the potential, as she notes, to aid our development.
I was especially pleased by your juxtaposition of stories about your grandmother, the community she helped create, and the collegial exchanges at Johns Hopkins University. I found your descriptions of these communities simultaneously sweet, hardy, and compelling. It made me want to be part of both communities, though I know I could not fit readily into either. Nevertheless, there’s something joyous and affirming about the belonging and collaboration you describe.
On another note, I was especially interested in your description of the use of extroverted feeling, such as when you wrote, ” Extraverted feeling is not just a matter of responding to people in the moment but of observing cultural norms (manners, conventions, rituals) so as to strengthen the whole social fabric and enable groups to function smoothly and efficiently.” While our disembodied community could not possibly draw on extroverted feeling in the manner you describe, I can’t help but wonder if the feeling-tone you put into your writing couldn’t invite us to aspire to some more disciplined use of feeling between us. I think this is one of your gifts and contribution to the seminar, the listserv, and our community. However, it’s difficult to imagine what such a discipline would look like in the midst of our significant differences. Could you imagine into this and let me know what you see?
I appreciate your identification of the goals of the listserv and community and the restraining forces that get in the way of realizing these goals. First the goals: “high-quality conversations,” “a sense of belonging,” and “furthering our individual research” in the fields we care about. To this I wonder if we could add, “building up a body of shared research that contributes broadly to the sciences and humanities.” What makes these goals hard to realize includes that “we have no locality, no geographical boundaries, no shared time zone, not much structure, and little or no physical access to each other.” You also mention “disciplinary,” “linguistic,” and “cultural” differences as restraining forces. To this list I would add, if I may, but we also have the following differences that add to the difficulties of integration, a requirement of group development including: ideology, typological sensitivity, and what I think of as “mystical lineage,” by which I simply mean the differences in imagination, intuition, or visioning process that drew us to Jung. For example (about mystical lineage), some in our community have had the wisdom of the indigenous psyche as a source of insight, motivation, and vision. My own lineage lies in the area of group training, ect.; I think there are many sources of inspiration that influence the way we focus our attention and to what end we see Jung’s psychology being of use.
Now, you suggest that these differences or “gaps” might be the IAJS’s “sadness.” First of all, I concur with this feeling, I am in your subgroup. While I suspect that others would also find this sad, many others would not. Not everyone is looking for more. But, for those of us in your subgroups, I wonder if there is a use for our sadness? Is this a loss to mourn? Additionally, I feel frustrated by these restraining forces and wonder if, in combination with the compassion that comes from mourning, there is something to do with the frustration, some practice to turn it into a catalyzed fierceness that we could use in order to engage, work with, reduce the impact of these limitations on our community? And, I agree with you when you write, “it is not clear how we can hope to develop a group ethos and disciplined style of discourse such as I have described in the university setting, in which individual creativity and commonality (both vital to academic work) can be held in balance.” This is truly a mystery; and, not one to celebrate. How do we use the point of tension between the individual and group creatively?
Again, I would like to hear what you could imagine about how we might set out to interact with one another. And even more specifically how we manage our similarities and differences. Like you, I am a student of group theory and practice. I have worked for many years exploring multiple types of experiential practice while grounding that work in keeping abreast of existing research in this area. With this in mind I apply basic group theory to our community. For example, if we can say that groups “develop and transform” through the discernment and integration of difference, then how would we go about that given the multiple restraining forces in our community? The good news I see in this is that there are multiple opportunities to use our contact with each other experimentally. We have enough experiential surface area between us to draw attention to our own dynamics. And, since we are far from unique, were we to come up with something (regarding the internet or otherwise), it might be useful more broadly.
Staying with this point of interest you write, “Over the years there has been much effort devoted to cultivating civility in IAJS…but the situation is too disembodied and too unbounded to be brought up to the level we might desire. We rely on the self-discipline of members and on the vigilance of our patient and discerning discussion list moderator to keep things within bounds.” Is there an alternative to this? Is there room to experiment with the listserv, for example, an attempt to establish a means of interacting that are more supportive to our own development as a form of life? Your own question parallels my thought here: “How might IAJS be shaped and nourished so as to evoke people’s best energies and gifts, enabling them to flourish individually through their contribution to the field of Jungian studies?”
Thanks for your creative and rich offering to our community.