“What astonishing innocence!”

Date: April 21, 2015 at 12:27:02 PM PDT
From: JUDITH KEYSTON <[email protected]>
Reply-To: JUDITH KEYSTON <[email protected]>
Subject: Re: [Talk] An Experiment in Group Relations
To: The IAJS Online Discussion Forum <[email protected]>

Dear All,
(Rather long!)
I would like to contribute to this discussion because I may, or may not, be an ‘odd one out’. Which other Contributors are lay persons? What about Readers Only? I’m also not a Jungian even in the widest sense, but value Jung’s thinking – to the extent of being active in a Jungian organisation for 40 years, and have listened to, met, conversed with, and edited texts of, many leading Jungians over that period.  So I must be included in whatever type of Community this is.

I’ve read Peter’s paper. Thank you Peter, more below.  My first response is to Marybeth’s immensely complicated (too complicated?) theme-setting paragraph, beginning:
“In relation to the interface of the individual and the group, what is the experience of being bounded, psychologically or materially in-person, or unbounded, connected through cyberspace?”

So – my experience:
1. I am aware of an IAJS ‘Inner Community’, those who have met one another or read each other’s publications. Their ‘extra-cyber’ familiarity can be felt in personal tone. Examples: the warm congratulations on new publications, amongst much else.
2. The Executive Committee is another sub-Community, witness instituting of this Conference “in the course of our work”. I think Communities are frequently unconscious of the hard graft in conscious maintenance work. The pay-off for administrators is (usually) a sense of solidarity as a working Community.
3. There is also an IAJS Community who have met personally at a Conference(s). Not me.
4.  And a Community of those engaged in clinical work. Also not me.
5. As a non-Jungian, however much personally indebted to Jungian thought, I experience a ‘not-me’ Community which uses technical vocabulary, i.e. jargon, in ‘larger world’ contexts. A tendency to psychologise the non-psychological is common, potentially more confusing in cyber-communication than face-to-face.  Marybeth’s use of “physically grounded” took me aback.  I think the phrase has slipped from the psychological to the wider context. (?)
6.  BONUSES of cyber-communication:
–  The wide circle of cyber- ‘Commincants’ exposes, almost as nothing before, the subtleties of cultural difference. It’s partly the range, and partly the speed, of communication. While often frustrating, this also encourages extreme care in selection of vocabulary and fastidiousness of expression. I.e. it challenges one’s cultural complexes – no bad thing.
–  Language becomes all-or-nothing. (Revealing appalling illiteracy and emotional barbarism in many corners of the internet.)

Peter’s Paper: Thank you Peter. This was certainly, for me, ‘from another world’. I’ve tried to attune to it by reading the resume of your book Awakening Faith in the Future. I followed links to the people who give the book favourable comment, to find your networks of affiliation – including political orientation. I also re-read details of the Phoenix Conference, “for those unable to attend”.

Your enormous genuineness and openness has, surely, to be met ‘like with like’. So, here goes. My first response was: “What astonishing innocence!” I suspect this reveals at least as much about me as about you. I found a surge of compassion. I, too, have felt this yearning for Community, for “faith in the future”. It’s certain that “something here must be supported”, even though I find the project, as you express it, more or less unsupportable – by me, that is.  My own life circumstances have led to a different concern for Community, but there are, perhaps, grounds of similarity.

More than once I’ve spoken up at a Jungian Conference on the distinction between COMMUNITY and COLLECTIVE, and Jung’s apparent exclusive concern with the latter. Which I attributed to Jung’s therapeutic orientation rather than history, although depth psychology is also a historical phenomenon.

Practical & political consequences came to a head for me (once, amongst many) when I was Chair of Trustees of a counselling charity – where Counsellors were so imbued with the ideology of ‘individuation’ that the needs of the organisation were ignored. almost as beneath their high ideals. The result was that the charity had to close, with loss to all.

I’ve led a Trades Union Branch, negotiating conditions of employment for “social justice” (what other sort is there?) during some of UK’s most difficult times. Mrs. Thatcher’s regime of deregulation & competition brought an urgency to the need for solidarity and Community. As a result, I know what even a small gift of psychological insight can do in emotionally fraught political conflict. Also, what it is like to be cheered, when standing up to give the right words at the right moment – and an almost transcendent arousal of political energy. It can happen!

Here are two differences between us.
1. The American cultural context is different, specific, and unmistakable in your paper. The yearning for Community, versus the yearning for Freedom, preoccupied my actions and thinking in the late 1950’s & 1960’s, when I read people like Sartre & Camus,  Erich Fromm, Martin Buber, a bit of Jung, lots of literature & philosophy, and reflected on the cultural discrepancies between England (home country) and Canada (immigration country) and how to negotiate my personal identity.The emphasis on Community versus Individual Freedom was a KEY.
2. I don’t, personally, believe Jungian psychology is suited for the role you would give it, in shaping or evoking Community or political energies, however it may contribute to insight. Your book, and the American context, may have good arguments to the contrary.
2.  I don’t make the difference you find between thought and feeling. For Jung, both are ‘intellectual functions’. One can recognise very quickly where ideas, mere fluent verbiage, is empty & void of existential meaning.

So – to return to the issue of cyber-communications – fastidiousness in speech is recognisable, and need lose nothing from the medium. The issue is acquiring the balance between public words and action, and silent prayer or meditation. A difficult art, which I’m only recognising rather late in life.

Lastly: Being somewhat outside the main IAJS Communities my contribution is small, and I get small response. However, what I’ve had has been highly rewarding.  I feel connected, however tenuously! I’ve also acquired one permanent friend with frequent e-mail correspondence. How far do these meet ‘Community’ criteria? Quite a long way, for me.

With regards – and continued thanks to EC.

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