Thursday, May 06, 2004

The Wanderer

The Wanderer Brian--
May 6, 2004
Hey, buddy. What's up on Macomb Street? Anything new? Anything interesting?
I love that line from the movie about the 19th-Century German opera composer, Richard Wagner. "You are ordered to leave Munich forthwith!" So says the royal messenger. Wagner's responds sarcastically: "May I have time to pack?"
At my psychotherapy consult on Tuesday, May 4, 2004, I spoke about my banishment, or exile, from the Cleveland Park library. My therapist asked an interesting question. "What metaphors come to mind that encapsulate your experience of banishment from the library."
What's interesting about that question is that if you look at my autobiography, "Significant Moments," the writing is absolutely replete with references, direct and indirect, to the experience of wandering and exile. It is no exaggeration to say that the theme of exile and wandering form a kind of skeleton around which the entire writing is draped.
There's an interesting book I own by Carol S. Pearson titled "The Hero Within: Six Archetypes We Live By" (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1989). The author talks about five basic heroic archetypes in literature. It is the author's observation, or insight, that all literature, from the most heroic and manifestly mythical to the most realistic, contains heroes that conform to fundamental archetypes or stereotypes of mythical types. At pages 20-21 the author provides a chart that lists and compares 11 basic characteristics or assessment criteria of the mythical archetypes that she titles, respectively, (1) the orphan, (2) the martyr, (3) the wanderer, (4) the warrior, and (5) the magician.
The degree to which my personality conforms to the criteria of "The Wanderer" is striking. Let me review "The Wanderer" archetype according to the author's 11 fundamental criteria.
1. GOAL -- Independence, autonomy
2. WORST FEAR -- Conformity
4. SPIRITUALITY -- Searches for God alone
5. INTELLECT/EDUCATION -- Explores new ideas in own way
6. RELATIONSHIPS -- Goes it alone, becomes own person
7. EMOTIONS -- Dealt with alone, stoic
8. PHYSICAL HEALTH -- Distrusts experts, does it alone. Alternative medicine, enjoys isolated sports
9. WORK -- "I'll do it myself," searches for vocation
10. MATERIAL WORLD -- Becomes self-make man or woman, may sacrifice money for independence (like Jesse Raben)
11. TASK/ACHIEVEMENT -- autonomy, identity, vocation
My experience at the library, the experience of banishment, has an archetypal quality, or existential aspect, to it. While on the surface, the experience of the ban appears to concern the issues of bad conduct and subsequent punishment by the authorities, the outcome of banishment in reaction to my lack of conformity has a wider meaning for me.
This proposition finds abundant support when one considers the pervasive role of The Wanderer in my literary and historical identifications that are manifest in my autobiography.
As one leafs through my autobiography one sees immediately that the overriding quality in my identifications is wandering and the struggles of wandering. Each successive section of the writing focuses on an aspect of wandering: its requisites, goals, and risks.
Melitzah: "Those with an intimate acquaintance of Hebrew texts," so the writing begins. Thus the book opens with an implicit allusion to the wanderings of the Jews and the reliance of the Jews throughout history on The Word and verbally-transmitted tradition as the only things of permanence in their peripatetic existence.
Candide: Wanders the world facing disaster after disaster
The Writer: remains true to himself in an always alien world
Individualism: each man has only one true vocation--finding the way to himself
Conformity: the Wanderer does not conform to reality, he creates his own reality
Jean Valjean -- The Victor Hugo hero wanders through France as a fugitive from the law, and creates his own reality (or environment) in the guise of an assumed identity, Monsieur Madeleine
The Rescue: The rescuer acts as a lone individual
Conformity: The Wanderer places an absolute premium on the absolute value of the individual. He risks his personal safety and security and feels drawn to "the great adventure."
Values: The Wanderer (like Daniel Ellsberg) sees as corrupt the pursuit of group (or collective) goals and seeks to expose that corruption.
Discovery: The Wanderer (like Jeffrey Masson) is convinced that he can discover truths that are not seen by others, and risks his security in pursuit of finding those truths.
Curiosity: The Wanderer is curious and will act with naive foolishness or ruthless aggression in pursuit of discovery
Slander: The Wanderer risks the slander of his fellows in pursuit of his goal of discovery of truth
Punishment: The Wanderer risks societal punishment in pursuit of his goals
Adam and Eve: These two archetypal figures faced banishment as a punishment for the bad act of attempting to satisfy their curiosity
Reciprocity of Curiosity: The curious person who breaches the boundaries of others will, like Nietzsche or Ellsberg, face the breach of his own privacy.
Is there any need to continue? I think not. After my autobiography is published I suppose there will be some eager Ph.D. student who will elaborate the themes I have set forth here. I can just imagine some future American student at a British University writing his M.A. thesis (arranged like a film script, of course) on the subject: "The Theme of the Wanderer in Freedman's 'Significant Moments.'"
That reminds me of an anecdote I find humorous. William Faulkner once participated in a seminar composed of English professors. The seminar's theme was Faulkner's use of symbolism. One English professor asked Faulkner about some theme in his works, and Faulkner replied: "I just write. That's all. I don't worry about symbolism, or anything else. I let you English professors worry about those things. I just write stories."
Be that as it may.
Do you really think medication can help me deal with the core, existential conflicts I experience? Are you that naive, Brian? "He's not taking the medication that was prescribed for him." Oh, well, that's terrible--we'll have to banish him from the library.
It's uncanny--UNCANNY--how my reporting my act of misconduct (i.e., my act of not taking my medication--an act that evidenced my "distrust of experts") set in motion a series of events that led to my banishment by you, Brian. You became an unwitting player in my repetition compulsion, which centers in part on my "distrust of experts" and on my need to be banished, to become a Wanderer. Don't you find that a tad odd? Perhaps my life was becoming a tad too comfortable for me. You brought me back to my "regressive" goal--the need to be banished, and the need to Wander.
I had a consult with my psychiatrist, Dr. Barbot, yesterday. He said he may increase my anti-psychotic medication by 50%--from 10 mg/day to 15 mg/day. I'm sure that will make a big difference for me! A little sarcasm.
It is so frustrating for me that my psychiatrists focus on the issue of medication, when it is so apparent that I suffer from some existential conflicts--conflicts that are pervasive and complex-and beyond medical remediation.
There will be those therapists who, looking at my banishment from the library will say: "Well you knew the rules, and you failed to conform--and you were punished. In the future, perhaps you will remember that punishment, the banishment from the library, and seek to avoid it. Perhaps in the future you will obey the rules and conform." "You need to develop the ego structure that will enable you to conform to acceptable norms of conduct."
But there will be other therapists who, looking at my banishment from the library, will see it as reflecting an existential conflict: an expression of a need to experience and re-experience the state of banishment, the need to wander. In other words, they will see the experience of banishment and punishment as "themes" that need to be repeated again and again, themes that are apparent in my literary and historical identifications. Such a therapist will take the sophisticated viewpoint that, in all probability, I need to negotiate a struggle with wandering and alienation. It's not simply that I fail to conform out of some perversity or lack of ego structuralization. It is, rather, that I am driven by unconscious wishes, conflicts and prohibitions to experience what I in fact experience. And those unconscious, wishes, conflicts and prohibitions--as Stanley Greenspan would say--are housed in their own disturbed ego structure. For such therapists, we are not dealing with a lack of ego structure, but, rather, a deviant structure (perhaps highly developed) that sustains, or houses, disturbed affects and promotes disturbed experiences.
Going back to my autobiography, you find so many identifications with the issue of banishment and wandering. I just can't get away from that idea, which seems so important for me.
Even the titles of some of the books I quote suggest the issue of wandering, estrangement, "occupation" and banishment. Titles such as "Nietzsche in Turin," or "Hermann Hesse: Pilgrim of Crisis," or "Indian Home Rule" (with the British occupation of India the polar opposite of banishment or exile).
Scattered throughout the writing are references to Wagner evicted from his paradise on the estate of Wesendonk, the wealthy merchant.
Freud leaving Vienna to live in exile in London.
Hesse living out his days in exile in Switzerland.
Masson's termination (or banishment) by the Freud Archives.
Masson's reference to his fantasies in adolescence that centered on "hidden Tibetan Monasteries," separate and apart from the mainstream world.
The mythical Castalia--Hesse's fictional creation--a secret order hidden from the rest of the world.
President Nixon's resignation (or banishment) from the Presidency of the United States.
Bruno Bettelheim's release from a Nazi concentration camp and his subsequent "exile" to the United States, where, initially at least, nobody believed his story of Nazi persecution.
The French novelist Emile Zola's escape to London after his conviction on a charge of criminal libel by the French government.
Adam and Eve's banishment from paradise because of their act of disobedience (and conversely, Abraham's absolute obedience to the parent (God) which is associated with annihilation (of Abraham's son, Isaac).
Shakespeare's fictional creation Prospero, who exiled himself to a magic island that he could dominate.
Marcel Proust (author of "Remembrance of Things Past") working alone on his literary masterpiece in his cork-lined room.
Howard Temin, the virologist, working out his discoveries in isolation from his colleagues, and in defiance of accepted wisdom.
The list is seemingly endless.
I am reminded of the psychoanalyst Leonard Shengold's observation that sometimes a patient's pattern of thinking is so pervasive that the psychoanalyst can say, unequivocally, that he has uncovered a vital truth about that patient.
I believe that my underlying truth is the Wanderer fantasy. This psychological need, or fantasy, must be understood and worked through. Medication will not alter that fantasy, that need to experience banishment, the need to discover as a lone wanderer.
Such is my state of alienation from psychiatry! "Alienation!" That's another symptom! Carol Pearson, the author of "The Hero Within" writes that the Wanderer's core affects are "alienation and isolation" (page 14).
Check you out later. By the way, today is my 15th day of my banishment. I suppose I can say that I'm loving and hating it.
P.S. Today (May 6) is Freud's birthday. The old guy would have been 148 years old today.
P.P.S. Carol S. Pearson, Ph.D., is the President of the Center for Archetypal Studies and Applications (CASA), the Director of the Transformational Leadership Certificate Program at the Georgetown University Center for Professional Development (CPD), a Senior Scholar at the James MacGregor Burns Academy of Leadership at the University of Maryland, and an adjunct faculty member in the Saybrook Graduate Program in Organizational Systems Inquiry. Dr. Pearson's research focuses on developing the theory and practice of depth coaching and consulting. To this end, she has identified the archetypes that are most important for healthy human, organizational, and leadership development, and has designed models and instruments to assess the presence of archetypes in individuals and social systems, including the Pearson-Marr Archetype Indicator (PMAI), which she developed with Hugh Marr, and the Organizational and Team Culture Indicator (OTCI). Dr. Pearson has published extensively in her field of research and her work has been translated into several languages. Her publications include The Hero Within: Six Archetypes We Live By (HarperCollins, 1986, 1998); Educating the Majority: Women Challenge Tradition in Higher Education, co-edited by Donna L. Shavlik and Judith G. Touchton (Macmillan Publishing Co., 1989); Awakening the Heroes Within: Twelve Archetypes that Help Us Find Ourselves and Transform Our World (HarperCollins, 1981); Magic At Work: Camelot, Creative Leadership and Everyday Miracles (Doubleday, 1995); The Hero and the Outlaw: Building Extraordinary Brands Through the Power of Archetypes, co-authored by Margaret Mark (McGraw-Hill, 2001); and Mapping the Organizational Psyche, co-authored by John Corlett (CAPT: Center for Applications of Psychological Type, forthcoming 2002). Additionally, during 1998-99, she served as Senior Editor of The Inner Edge: A Resource for Enlightened Business Practice, a newsletter designed to apprise leaders of emerging ideas and breakthrough practices. Dr. Pearson has been Academic Vice President of Goucher College and Director of Women's Studies, first at the University of Colorado, Boulder and later at the University of Maryland College Park. She also was a member of the teaching faculty at each of these institutions, receiving tenure in 1977 and promotion to full professor in 1985. Dr. Pearson holds a Ph.D. in English from Rice University (1971), an honorary degree in Humane Letters from Norwich University (1987), and a certification in Personal Mythology Methods by the Midway Center of the D.C. Psychiatric Institute Foundation (1986). From 1988 until 1990, she continued her studies in Jungian psychology as part of the Professional Enrichment Program in Jungian Theory and Practice, Wainwright House, Rye, NY. In 1980-81, she was an American Council on Education (ACE) Fellow in Higher Education Administration at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Upon returning, she served a year as a visiting scholar at the ACE Center on Leadership Development. In her coaching/consulting practice, Carol Pearson works with executives, entrepreneurs, professionals, and management teams and speaks and leads seminars in Canada, Europe, and Central America, as well as throughout the United States.

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