Joe Breznau sends his thoughts from his home in Moscow, Idaho
The blogpost by Mary Theis brought to mind some thoughts Edward Edinger put together about 20 years ago in his book, Archetype of the Apocalypse. From the editor’s Preface to the book: “It seems absolutely inevitable that immense turmoil, convulsive movements and eruptions of chaos of vast proportions are in the making so far as the political–historical aspect of mankind is concerned. That, I think, will dwarf the upheaval that took place at the beginning of the Christian era with the gradual disintegration of the Roman Empire. That was small potatoes by comparison to what will happen this time." (Edinger) "Yet Edinger believed that this terrible transition in culture (what the poet Yeats called the "rough beast, it’s hour come round at last”) will be bearable if we understand the meaning of what is going on. Edinger goes further: he states the hypothesis that if enough people understand what is really going on, if enough people internalize the meaning of "Apocalypse" in their own life process, then the worst of external catastrophe can be softened."
In chapter 1 Edinger further says, "...this archetype of the apocalypse is experienced in quite different ways if occurring in the individual psyche or in the collective life; but in either case, it is a momentous event – literally world shattering. This is what the content of the apocalypse archetype presents: the shattering of the world as it has been, followed by its reconstitution."
1. Revelation – New insights are brought forward, hidden and shadowy aspects are exposed to the light. Under the tabletransactions are put on top of the table.
2. Judgment – There is a confrontation and a focus wherein dark and dubious aspects are made clear. Enshrined principles are questioned.
3. Destruction – Fear, anxiety and momentous change create new forms of suffering and chaos.
4. New world - New forms of structure, wholeness and understanding emerge. The same Preface shares Edinger’s take on terrorism. I quote: "Edinger wrote the following to his city's newspaper after the bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 men women and children: Terrorism is a manifestation of the psyche. It is time we recognize the psyche as an autonomous factor in world affairs.
The psychological route of terrorism is a fanatical resentment – a quasi–psychotic hatred originating in the depths of the archetypal psyche and therefore carried by religious (archetypal) energies. A classic literary example is Melville's Moby Dick. Capt. Ahab, with his fanatical hatred of the white whale, is a paradigm of the modern terrorists
Articulate terrorists generally express themselves in religious (archetypal) terminology. The enemy is seen as the principle of objective evil (devil) and the terrorist perceives himself as the "heroic" agent of divine or objective justice (God). This is an archetypal inflation of the demonic proportions which temporarily grants the individual almost superhuman energy and effectiveness. To deal with terrorism effectively we must understand it.
We need a new category understand this new phenomenon. These individuals are not criminals and are not madmen although they have some qualities of both. Let's call them zealots. Zealots are possessed by transpersonal, archetypal dynamism deriving from the collective unconscious. Their goal is a collective, not a personal one. The criminal sees his own personal gain; not so the zealot. In the name of a transpersonal collective value – a religion, an ethnic or national identity, a 'patriotic' vision, etc. – they sacrifice their personal life in the service of their 'God.' Although idiosyncratic and perverse this is fundamentally a religious phenomenon that derives from the archetypal, collective unconscious. Sadly the much-needed knowledge of this level of the psyche is not generally available. For those interested in seeking it, I recommend a serious study of the psychology of C.G. Jung. As a sign of our times, the newspaper never published this letter."