Alone Together

Ventura: So falling in love won't save me?

Hillman: You know why? Because as soon as two people pair off, they leave the party. They go elsewhere, his place, her place, for private salvation. Everyone else is left out. They don't ask, "What are the people saying?" Intimacy means anticommunity. And if the self means, as I defined it, the interiorization of community, then finding the one and only, the significant other, only reinforces individualism.

And all those passionate images on the billboards and the tube are just more propaganda for private salvation. They are saying stay indoors, off the streets, out of the party. They are false because they are reinforcing the false self of individualism. They are pushing private enterprise. They keep our sexual desire, our Eros, harnessed to private salvation. Just fall in love and you'll be saved.

Ventura: Getting it on doesn't even mean passion anymore, it means not being alone. "Let's just snuggle," she says, "we don't have to have sex." Statistics say that's what women want most. "I don't want joy, I just don't want to feel alone." We are deluded to feel that the only way out of individualism is private salvation, which is both bad sex and bad community.

Hillman: That's probably why the Church always said, "Outside the Church, our community, no salvation." So the Church and the old Bolshevists, and the Chinese Communists today try so hard to regulate love. They see that falling in love is another kind of individualism. They don't want lovers to "leave the party" for private salvation.

... we don't want to forget that in a true community there would necessarily be (as there is in the old tales, or in Wings of Desire and Dances with Wolves) a dialectic between intense states of privacy and the larger community. They pull to and fro in a dance of their own. "What are the people saying?" is part of that dance.

Ventura: And when there is that to-and-fro between the lovers and the community, each questions the other, helps keep the other honest; the lovers and the community each give to the other what can't be gotten otherwise.

Hillman: But that only happens if we realise we're not isolated selves

Ventura: Exactly. Without that realisation, the wonder that two people find together increases an isolation that in the end can only make them even more desperate, and that desperation will eat and kill their love in the long run.

Hillman: A vicious circle. As long as the world around us is just dead matter, Eros is trapped in personal relationships. And transference, by the way, just confirms that, hour after therapeutic hour. It reenacts the problem not of my childhood and my love for Mommy, but the culture's hangup on an ideal significant other and salvation through tortuous love. I want you - that's our deepest cultural cry. And you have to be divine, since all the divinities, the ancestors, the soul of things, are dead.

And what about this? Romantic love keeps the world dead. It insists, "Only you, only you, only you - you are my heart's desire. Forsaking all others." And here the "other" doesn't mean just other people, it means all others. No significant others can be had anywhere.

[James Hillman]
with Michael Ventura
We've Had a Hundred Years of Psychotherapy - And the World's Getting Worse, p.180, 181, 183

Screenshots from Twentynine Palms

................................................................................................................................................................................

One day when I stopped to see Deskit, I found her sitting alone in front of the TV at ten o'clock in the morning. She was in the best room, furnished with a large, new vinyl sofa and armchair, but she was sitting on the floor. Her children were in school, and her husband was at work.

I had known her in the village when she was a bit shy, but pretty and sparkling. She was still pretty, but the sparkle had gone. She was clearly unhappy and had grown quite withdrawn.

I had to see her because an aunt of hers had told me she was not very well. Neither the aunt nor Deskit herself knew why she was so unhappy, since she seemed to have everything she could possibly want. Her husband had a good job as a doctor, her children were in the best schools in Leh, and their house was modern, clean, and comfortable. But the process of development had isolated Deskit, imprisoning her in a nuclear family, removing her from the larger community, and leaving her without meaningful work. It had also separated her from her children.

[Helena Norberg-Hodge]
Ancient Futures: Learning From Ladakh, p.126-7

................................................................................................................................................................................

Marriages traditionally are primarily economic arrangements, so they are not expected to fill all of one's sexual desires. The whole emphasis of Navajo culture is to provide all persons independence in making decisions about their own lives.

[Walter L. Williams]
The Spirit and the Flesh, p. 91

................................................................................................................................................................................

Related posts:-
What are the people saying?
Everything is alive
Communal benefits
Lost Tribe
Still Waters

No comments:

Post a Comment