Twists and turns…

…the story of a man who inadvertently got into the role of himself.

He saw it as a mistake.

That is what people say who fall into a hole. “Hell and damnation, I have fallen into a trap and the trap is myself.”

They always treat themselves as the greatest mistakes ever made.

Carl Jung, Visions Seminar, Pages 269-281

This quote strikes me as an entry into our present moment.

In a time of widespread collapse traps surround us. This is what collapse feels like: No exits. Every turn blocked.

Jung points out an aspect of traps I’ve not noticed before. His revelation leaves me feeling stupid, thinking, “Of course!”

There is so much packed into his simple statement. Let’s transpose the pronouns:

“(We) always treat (our) selves as the greatest mistakes ever made.”

It has the grandiloquence of Ego in it, “If I’m a mistake, I must be the greatest mistake!”

Let’s back up. We can spend years, decades in the first part, “I have fallen into a trap!”

Caught unawares we slowly begin to recognize that our sense of self is at the heart of the matter.

Traps work by inverting a situation, creating in us the illusion that we know enough to solve what bothers us. We don’t feel a need to look any further. We fight whatever we think binds us, “Against our Will.”

Jung is saying that we need to recognize that we are suffering under an error, but this is not sufficient. At the same time that we discover we have put our emphasis in the wrong place, we must also realize that we have come to the wrong conclusion.

There is so much here…. So many layers to experience. Not peel back. These layers are not in our way. Our passage through a series of realizations informs us. No conclusion can ever hold us.

I’ve been struggling with why it is so hard to understand, and to relate, how hard it is to dissolve our illusions concerning cause and effect. We take it as a simple mechanism. Follow it and we can act in ways that, “Get us what we want!”

Sitting with Jung’s puzzle seems a good way to feel our way into the paradox behind our delusion, giving it a certain solidity so often lacking when we fall back on clichés.

There is a dynamic…. There’s always a dynamic. How can we feel its complex interplay in our bones?

Let’s return to the beginning. Jung states that the man has taken on a role.

Not any role. The “role of himself.”

Now, there is a certain shimmering in this. We infer role-taking as a form of inauthenticity. Jung confounds our expectation by calling this attempt to be authentic, to be “himself,” as first a role, and then as a mistake.

We think, “What a fool!” Then realize, “Wait a minute!”

The role of myself. We see… no, we don’t actually perceive roles…, but we interpret what we see as an individual, whether our self or another, as an act of role-playing. One we judge as either more or less authentic. But we can’t seem to see past this notion of roles. Roles to act in, roles to interpret. Self-consciousness inserts itself between what we experience and how we read it. We…, and this kind of explanation doesn’t lead us anywhere.

All we can do is laugh. We’re at a fountainhead of humor, recognizing our selves in the pirouettes of a fool.

And then Jung takes the bottom completely out from under us! “They always treat themselves as the greatest mistake….”

Where is the mistake?

Is it all wrong? Is the intuition of error the real mistake? How…?

One aspect of this is that we tend to mistake our predicament for a problem. We see our error as a solution when all it can do is mire us deeper in error.

The urge to judge leaves us mired in confusion.






Published by Antonio Dias

My work is centered on attending to the intersection of perception and creativity. Complexity cannot be reduced to any given certainty. Learning is Central: Sharing our gifts, Working together, Teaching and learning in reciprocity. Entering into shared Inquiry, Maintaining these practices as a way of life. Let’s work together to build practices, strengthen dialogue, and discover and develop community. Let me know how we might work together.

8 thoughts on “Twists and turns…

  1. Hi. I always get what you are trying to say- till now. This has completely escaped me. I know it has blown your socks off -what you have seen in Jung’s statement – it comes through how excited you are about that. But it doesn’t translate for me. Isnt clear what paradox is supposedly revealed. Never mind. Its always over time been good grist for the mill to read your musings and research. Thanks for all that. This one, however, i dont feel you have ‘given over’ as it were: got from your mind onto the page. I dont think its translated. And of course it could be my unseeing. Cheers. Susan


    1. Susan,

      Thanks for commenting. Sorry it’s out of frustration.

      I don’t know if this piece does “give over,” as you so well put it. It is an experiment….

      As for unseeing…, that is at the center of the concern here. What can be seen? What are the limits of understanding? Of intelligibility? What can be communicated in writing?

      These concerns can seem so large as to become unwieldy. To be just too much to grasp. But then, that is what happens at the edge of mystery. Does that mean we cannot work at the edges?

      I don’t want to make too much of this piece. It could just be a flop. But there was something there about the sense you did get that this question does excite me….


      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes Tony! Thats what Im gonna do with this one. Im going ti ‘wirk at the edge’ of it. Fabulous suggestion. I CAN do that. Sometimes I get things like a bolt of lightening that illuminates something for/in me.
        Other times no. And at such times, rmthanks for the reminder -to work at the edges. I have done so with sone of the mysteries whuch nonetheless tinkle something in me despite being not clear at all .
        And I see now that -as yiu say -it is, this one, an experiment for you yourself.
        Cheers again. From Susan

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Yes Tony! Thats what Im gonna do with this one. Im going ti ‘wirk at the edge’ of it. Fabulous suggestion. I CAN do that. Sometimes I get things like a bolt of lightening that illuminates something for/in me.
      Other times no. And at such times, rmthanks for the reminder -to work at the edges. I have done so with sone of the mysteries whuch nonetheless tinkle something in me despite being not clear at all .
      And I see now that -as yiu say -it is, this one, an experiment for you yourself. (Post script: Oh my goodness Tony, I have just gone down tbe page and read your reply to Abdulmunem.. I had no idea. I feel bad that the big response you are getting is now when people are cinfused. And that you arent getting responses from me when I read and get so much absolutely useful material from your other posts over the time I have been subscribed. Let me apologise. It never occurred to me. I can see it from your perspective completely: you never hear from em yntill , hey want something- a common fact in many relationships.
      I would like you to know something about me. It is that I backed off frim ‘liking’ and commenting on everything as a consciousness practice to lessen the qyick, unthinking, knee-jerk reactiveness that replying quickly to posts was building in me. I wanted to change. Particularly as the anonymity of the posting process was also fuelling this lower aspect of myself. Ive found the Internet to be a tool i can use badly. As I have also found with texting.
      Id like you to know that i take your posts and they have been welcome things uon which to meditate.
      Im sorry the silence has been less than ideal fir you.
      I tbink of Jung wriring his letters. Neither he- nor anyone else – would like to continue a one-sided correspondence of course. I hadnt considered this. I also assumed others would be replying to you, as this I figured was the norm mostly on the net. People cant help themselves usually, is my observation.
      Perhaps you, by the nature of your blog -what you speak of – are attracting some folks who at this point in thier lives, are feeling meditative.
      Also, as regards myself, I have become (through experience ) rather timid of posting as I despise sone of the brutality that can arise on blogs, in the comments section. It is anathema to me, and especially as I am subscribed to your blig because it speaks if things that sing a bit to the pain currently in my soul. That is, mych is dusturbed in myself at present re my iwn sekf and the world i find myself in. Thus, i have been- sensibly I think – to put myself into the stirring trouble tbat can occur in the blog comnenting world. I have become more silent in my life in general- nit just on your blog.
      However, non of that helps the unpleasantness if a silent audience- a dance alone.
      I can only let you know I dont not repky from lack of interest or anything. And apologies for only kicking up when something was not to my taste.

      Cheers again. From Susan

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Susan,

        Thank you for your response.

        I think your experience regarding engagement on the web is quite common. It’s built into the system, I think. It’s hard to connect when there are so many disincentives. The trolling and general level of abusive discourse…. The way most “content” is engineered to game the search engines and gather clicks…. The way so many of what appear to be individuals interacting online are actually bots….

        Your points on a meditative response rings true. It’s also in the nature of many of these posts that they are not conducive to a “tit-for-tat” response. They do seem to ask for a silent pause.

        Please do not feel any guilt over any of this! I do appreciate your taking the time and the trouble to respond as you have!

        I expect to have more to say on the atmosphere – the lack of air we suffer from – which makes meaningful contact and connection especially difficult today. The media we have to work with are intended to give us a simulacra of connection. So these difficulties should come as no surprise!



  2. When we forget that we are addressee and have a role to play not in a state of inadvertence but in a state of full intention and attention, a message that all artists and mystics are fully aware of, I find it very difficult to go with Jung ambiguous statement that ignites all this unexpected narration. A statement that does not fit in Jung world of synchronicity and active imagination. Knowing your abhorrence to futility and your love for quality I find it again difficult to go along with the statement that we are suffering under error. This kept me puzzled knowing your take. Humans have a role to play and may they play it mistakenly but to say that it is the greatest mistake need further thought and explanation. Ibn Arabi in an elliptical conversation with the rational philosopher, Ibn Roshid ( I do not know why the west has changed his name to Averriose ) Ibn aAabi explained the limits of the rational perception and the danger of becoming besieged by it. Artists know the unlimited spaciousness of the perceptional tools available to the humans. To be honest I did not see Antonio in this post..


    1. Thank you Abdulmunem for your comment. As I’ve said above in response to Susan, this is a problematic post. It comes at a time when I’ve found great difficulty in putting together pieces that might fit here – that fit what’s been written to date while reflecting the sea-changes that have occurred in my thinking over the last year or so. There is something hard to be grappled with here that is in part a question of intelligibility and in part a question of finding a suitable holographic form of addressing it.

      There has also been the need to deal with what, besides your own efforts to respond to my posts, has been often a resounding silence into which these words have sunk without any visible ripple. It’s in a way paradoxical that this piece with all its problems has already generated such unusual activity! I appreciate the responses! They do make a difference.

      I write about the need for communion. With so little feedback as I’ve had over the years I’ve been left to my own imagination as to why these words have not led to wider conversations. They have with a very few people outside the site, but so far nothing much within its confines. Writing requires specificity. A certain level of specificity in response helps position writing within a larger conversation.

      Of course, none of this is directed against you, or for that matter anyone reading this site! I can easily see how much of what I’ve written here over the years might be met with silence. And that each silence has its own specific context. And that silence can be a form of engagement. Just one that is hard to read from this end…!

      To address your specific question: I’m afraid you might be misunderstanding Jung’s point, and my musings probably didn’t help clarify. The big unstated conclusion at the core of what makes this quote interesting in my eyes is that it is not obvious that Jung meant that the person was correct in any of his statements. The person saw it as a mistake. That does not imply that Jung agreed with him. Or that Jung also agreed that this was “the greatest mistake.”

      What I find interesting is the space between the person’s assertions and where they might not be accurate as made. Almost in spite of the person’s assertions it illuminates a certain movement of thought and how that movement can be diagnostic.

      I rejected trying to explain what I thought Jung meant. There are thousands of pages of exegesis on Jung that must certainly do a better job than I could. Explanation, as I’ve been learning after Ranciere, kills the kind of inquiry I would like to be a part of. The trick, the hard part in part here is finding a way to illuminate a subject without explaining it….

      Well, so much for explaining what my problem is! If we look at the movement implicit in Jung’s statements without resting on any assumption that he is in agreement with what the person has said we can get a brief glimpse at a kind of difficulty that I’ve been finding central to our difficulties in getting past the impasses we are so prone to fall into.

      What I can say now – since this is an actual conversation and not just someone expounding… – is that there is space between these quick assumptions and what is being described by Jung. And that in that space we can find some room to maneuver. Perhaps that is where the excitement Susan noticed comes from!

      Abdulmunem, and I do hope I am addressing you properly in this way, I want you to know how heartening your involvement here on this blog has been. This connection we have made is beyond any expectation I could have ever imagined and I feel there is much fruitful dialogue to be found in the overlaps and gaps between our histories, between what each of us brings to the table.

      I hope these remarks help clarify things at least to some extent. If not, I do hope you continue to engage so we may find a way through this!



  3. Thank you for your honest response. I am glade to participate in your refreshing and illuminating thoughts, that defies the habit of the materialistic rationalistic momentum. Silence should not discourage you from raising your voice in the name of vitality, coherence, empathy and unity. It is a big errand that should keep you connected and see in that connection your sole source of inspiration and involvement. Yes I made a mistake in attributing the statement to Jung expecting Jung view on the statement is clear to you, thus offering a better opportunity for comment, however in the absence of Jung view , It makes it difficult to address a statement that is addressed to a different person and in an unknown context and that may be the source of the difficulty in the intelligibility you alluded to. It is clear that the goals your are heading for and the language you use that does not fit in the frame of the material rational abode is one of the big reason for the silence, a silence that should be expected and should form no hinderance for anyone who has a conviction in what he is delivering. Keep the good work and I will be with you on the road as long as I am breathing.

    Liked by 2 people

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