In a dark time, the eye begins to see. – Theodore Roethke.
I mentioned the Jungian psychologist Robert Moore in an earlier section. His books King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine and The Archetype of Initiation are essential reading for the understanding of masculine psychology in the late stages of our demythologized world.
The devastating fact is that most men are fixated at an immature level of development. These early developmental levels are governed by the inner blueprints appropriate to boyhood. When they are allowed to rule what should be adulthood, when the archetypes of boyhood are not built upon and transcended by the Ego’s appropriate accessing of the archetypes of mature masculinity, they cause us to act out of our hidden (to us, but seldom to others) boyishness…Boy psychology is everywhere around us, and its marks are easy to see. Among them are abusive and violent acting-out behaviors against others, both men and women; passivity and weakness, the inability to act effectively and creatively in one’s own life and to engender life and creativity in others (both men and women); and, often, an oscillation between the two– abuse/weakness, abuse/weakness.
He was writing and teaching about the base line of normality shared by almost all men in our culture. And he conceived these ideas in the 1980s, decades before the economic meltdowns of 2008 or 2020 that put much greater pressure on the fragile sense of American masculinity. I spent much time in Moore’s presence, and I can tell you that he certainly would have agreed with one of the basic premises of my book: that as the myth of American innocence collapses, the conditions of social reaction are making it even more likely that uninitiated and profoundly immature men will rise to the top of cultural, economic and political influence.
To summarize and to mythologize. Our American Innocence has conjured up these two men: one who embodies the very worst of our possibilities but who is, literally, us; and the other who models for us all the futile attempt to hide the truth from ourselves. We are also dealing with two old men who are so invested in their personae and so unwilling to consider introspection that they can barely censor themselves.
My image for Trumpus is the smirking, entitled but uninitiated boy-king who is so desperate to know himself, for others to know his pain (and perhaps finally be loved for who he is) that he will unconsciously invite his own — and our — destruction by provoking the wrath of Dionysus. What is he really saying? Stop me before I drive this red sports car into my wall!
The image for Biden (when he comes out of hidin’) is of driving that same sports car, but with his foot on the emergency brake, wondering why he isn’t going anywhere. I hope he isn’t senile, and he may not be a psychopath, but he certainly exhibits classic passive aggression by sabotaging his goals. What is he really saying? I really don’t think that I deserve to be President! I don’t even want to be President! Don’t vote for me!
Granted, one is crazier than the other. And we really need to remove him before he ups the ante any further. But we no longer have the luxury of hiding behind our own ignorance and pretending that the other is not a servant of the same oligarchs whose boundless greed will take us all down. Yes, for the Supreme Court. Yes, for abortion rights. Yes, for union rights. Yes (maybe) for mitigating Climate change. Yes, for a more rational Covid policy. Yes, for mild increases on taxes on the mega-wealthy. Yes, for the possibility of making the streets a little safer for immigrants and people of color.
But know that to a Venezuelan farmer, or a Palestinian child, or a Sudanese peasant, or almost anyone in dozens of Third-World countries under the thumb of the American empire, or to a black single mother in New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward who used to work cleaning houses, or to her autistic son – or to the military/industrial/financial/petrochemical/health insurance/carceral/high technology complex – it will make absolutely no difference who wins this election.
As for that last group, it’s getting harder to miss the many subtle hints in the media that the Pentagon and the “intelligence community” are throwing their support behind Biden:
George W. Freaking Bush? He of the famous smirk? Are these people decent, honest conservatives who have woken up and just cannot support Trumpus because they love their country and don’t want it to deteriorate further? Please…let me remind you that almost every one of them has supported 95% of his agenda for their entire political careers (including the past four years), and further, that “principled conservatives” no longer exist within the Republican Party, that decades ago they were ousted by the current group of racist reactionaries. So their support for Biden is exactly what it looks like: going with the odds and betting on the guy who is currently favored to win.
Still, you have reasons, and I support many of them. Beyond the wish to end the horrors of Trumpus, a “woke” nation should support Hiden’ Biden in the hopes that a Democratic administration may allow the opening of some democratic space for progressives to influence policy. But watch what he does, not what he says. As Franklin D. Roosevelt said of Nicaragua’s murderous dictator Anastasio Somoza, “He’s an SOB, but he’s our SOB.”
In 2009 I concluded Chapter Eight of my book by assessing the state of America’s leaders in mythological terms. And here we are again, except that the ante has been upped considerably:
…only a mythic perspective can make any sense of this. America’s rulers are not ignorant; they are fully aware of our human and environmental tragedies. The fathers no longer send only the young to be sacrificed; now they offer everything to the sky-gods. Whether or not we take their religious rhetoric literally, they are deliberately (if unconsciously) provoking both personal and global apocalypse.
Recall Pentheus, emerging from his collapsed palace, even more determined to confront (or to merge with) Dionysus. Thebes/America is a city of uninitiated men, fanatically devoted to the systematic destruction of their own children. A boy-king, who secretly longed for the symbolic death that might effect his transition to manhood, was leading this city. The entire world could almost feel it as a desperate, visceral prayer when, in June 2003, Bush, the self-appointed embodiment of American heroism, challenged the Iraqi resistance to “bring it on!”
Apocalypse, however, actually means “to lift the veil.” It is, more than anything, a challenge to wake up. Will enough of us accept it?
After heaven and earth have passed away, my word will remain. What was your word, Jesus? Love? Forgiveness? Affection? All your words were one word: Wakeup. – Antonio Machado