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Ackerman’s Wife of Light: New Images for Women

Ackerman’s Wife of Light: New Images for Women

The unconscious mind of man, according to the psychologist Carl Jung, consists of layers. Jung recognizes two basic layers in the unconscious mind: the personal unconscious, a superficial layer whose contents are derived from present lifetime experience, and the collective unconscious, a deeper inborn layer whose contents are inherited and essentially universal within the species. Jung believes that the personal unconscious contains feeling-toned complexes that constitute the personal and private side of psychic life and that the collective unconscious contains archetypes, “universal images that have existed since the remotest times” (3-5). He divides archetypes, which may be either positive or negative, into two classes: archetypes of transformation–situations, places, implements, and events–and archetypes of character. Jung devotes most of his writings on archetypal characters to the shadow, the anima and animus, the wise old man, the magna mater (great earth mother), the child, and the self. Frei lists the braggart, the buffoon, the hero, the devil, the rebel, the wanderer, the siren, the enchantress, the maid, and the witch (48). Of course, other archetypal characters exist. Jung finds archetypes in dreams, tribal lore, myths, and fairy tales. Archetypes also occur in literature.

Today, archetypes serve as models for female writers who are in doubt about gender roles in a changing society. For example, poet Diane Ackerman uses Faust, who Goldstein calls, “the archetypal professor of forbidden knowledge,” as a model in Lady Faustus (1983); furthermore, he points out that Ackerman “staked out the Faustian territory” in her first volume of poetry, The P…

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… N. “Archetypes.” Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics. Ed., Alex Preminger. New

York: Princeton UP, 1974.

Goldstein, Laurence. “The Self-Expansion of Diane Ackerman.” Rev. of Lady Faustus by Diane

Ackerman. Parnassus. Spring 1985: 446-459.

Jung, C. G. The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious. Trans. R. F. C. Hull. Bollingen Series

XX. The Collected Works of C. G. Jung. New York: Princeton UP, 1969.

Kehl, D. G. “The Distaff and the Staff: Stereotypes and Archetypes of the Older Woman in

Representative Modern Literature.” International Journal of Aging and Human Development. 26.1

(1988): 1-12.

Meyers, Kathleen A. “Phaeton as Emblem: Recent Works on Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz. Rev. of

Reverse Thunder by Diane Ackerman. Michigan Quarterly Review. Summer 1990: 453-471.

Altered Reality in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness

Altered Reality in Heart of Darkness

The world of darkness that Marlow finds himself in is directly comparable to what Leary describes of the bardos (stages) that occur during a drug-induced trip or psychedelic experience. ‘The underlying problem of the Second Bardo is that any and every shape—human, divine, diabolical, heroic, evil, animal, thing—which the human brain conjures up or the past life recalls, can present itself to consciousness: shapes and forms and sounds whirling by endlessly’ (48). An example of such presentation is Marlow’s perception of the jungle as a palpable force that has the power of human gestures. It calls, beckons, lures, etc. Leary writes that accompanying the moment of ego-loss is the perception of ‘wave-energy flow’: ‘the individual becomes aware that he is part of and surrounded by a charged field of energy, which seems almost electrical…the attempt to control or to rationalize this energy flow… is indicative of ego-activity and the First Bardo transcendence is lost’ (41). Marlow never loses ego-activity so he never reaches transcendence, but his ego-activity rationalizes his feeling of the physical awareness of the jungle. He colors the Congo dark instead of light and chooses to reject, not embrace, the force of the jungle so his rationalizations are negative and he thinks the force is evil.

The negative, wrathful counterparts to this vision occur if the voyager reacts with fear to the powerful flow of life forms. Such a reaction is attributable to the cumulated result of game playing (karma) dominated by anger or stupidity. A nightmarish hell-world may ensue. The visual forms appear like a confusing chaos of cheap, ugly dime-store objects, brassy, vulgar and useless. The …

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… all truth, and all sincerity, are just compressed into that inappreciable moment of time in which we step over the threshold of the invisible’ (Conrad, 113).

Works Cited

Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness. Editor Robert Kimbrough. New York: Norton, 1988.

Cox, C. B. Conrad: Heart of Darkness, Nostromo, and Under Western Eyes. London: Macmillan Education Ltd., 1987.

Guetti, James. ‘Heart of Darkness and the Failure of the Imagination’, Sewanee Review LXXIII, No. 3 (Summer 1965), pp. 488-502. Ed. C. B. Cox.

Leary, Timothy , Metzner, Ralph, Alpert, Richard The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead

Ruthven, K. K. ‘The Savage God: Conrad and Lawrence,’ Critical Quarterly, x, nos 1

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