Monday, 17 September 2012

Jung, Ferris Wheels & The Meaning of Life


I have seen many people die because life for them was not worth living. From this I conclude that the question of life's meaning is the most urgent question of all.
Albert Camus

If you are willing, and you have to be since you are here to take this complex journey through the sublimely meaningful to the outright idiotic.

“Life is crazy and meaningful at once. And when we do not laugh over the one aspect and speculate about the other, life is exceedingly drab, and everything is reduced to the littlest scale. There is then little sense and little nonsense either.”
"Which element we think outweigh the other, whether meaninglessness or meaning is a matter of temperament. If meaninglessness were absolutely preponderant, the meaningfulness of life would vanish to an increasing degree with each step in our development. But that is – or seems to me – not the case. Probably, as in all metaphysical questions, both are true: life is – or has – meaning and meaninglessness. I cherish the anxious hope that meaning will preponderate and win the battle”
C G Jung

The truth about Milk - Cow and Human

There is no better person to express the duality of the meaningless and meaningful than the showman. The jester can be the mirror which shows us that the deep and the shallow are all part of the same swimming pool. How deep it is depends on which end you jump into.
At the Carnival the duality of life's meaning and emptiness are like the full cream milk straight from a cow's udder or a mum's breast. If left to stand the fat separates out and floats to the surface. By stepping through the Carnival Gates we buy the ticket and take the rides. The rides shake us, roll us, and wriggle our bodies and our minds until the the separated mother's milk inside us all once again blend with the rest. On the gravitron, the Ferris Wheel and the Carousel the ridiculous and the vital becomes one again. Mechanically shaken by carnival rides some of us get so shook up the fat and the skimmed milk fuses so totally that it might never separate again. It balances us  like the  homogenized milk we buy in the corner store. The Carnival has the potential to heal us for life.

The world viewed from a Ferris wheel.

The Philosophical Ferris Wheel

From the top of the Ferris Wheel we get a new perspective. We feel ourselves enclosed in a colourful steel cage dangling on a slowly spinning orbit through space. We are alive. Butterflies swirls around our bellies becoming one with the corn dogs and cotton candy imbibed just before getting on the ride. For some the whirling of the carousels and Ferris Wheel makes the butterflies and corn-dogs dream of freedom and with a feeling of neausea they threaten to escape back into the world.
We feel life in our guts. But from our new vantage point atop the world we see the world as it is without us. For a second, whilst holding back the vomit coloured butterflies the world below becomes the primordial savannah. The beings below are grazing. Flowing like chaotic rivers and streams around the midway. The real roar of lions from the Menagerie tents fuses the unconscious dream with the reality below. Clanking of orbital machinery, clockwork wiggles of wooden skeletons adorning the ghost train and the melancholic cries of a child lost in the throng. A little hand wet with tears reaching up towards you as you descend, wet blue eyes with a quivering lip searches, longs, for nothing more than closeness, nothing more than a smile, and a large pair of arms to scoop him up and say everything is going to be alright. I am here now.

View from inside the first Ferris Wheel
I am here now.
So are you.
In that moment the world below goes from nothing to something. The grazing herds of mindless animals stumbling through life with little to no reflection vanishes and for the first time there is connection, reflection, recognition and conscious meaning. From the vantage point of your metal cage on the Ferris Wheel you complete the creation of life, with your mind melded with the lost child you give the world verifiable existence. Life no longer just exist, it knows that it exists.

Amongst the spokes of the giant wheel the cosmic meaning of consciousness becomes overwhelmingly clear, "Man is indispensable for the completion of creation, he alone has given the world its objective existence - without which, unheard, unseen, silently eating, giving birth, dying, heads taking in the worlds through hundreds of millions of years, it would have gone on in the profoundest night of non-being down to its unknown end. Human consciousness created objective existence and meaning, and man found his indispensable place in the great process of being." {Jung Memories, Dreams, Reflections.}

Conciousness

It is consciousness that gives the world it's meaning. "Without the reflecting consciousness of man the world is a gigantic meaningless machine, for as far as we know man is the only creature that can discover 'meaning'."

In this last quote Jung suggests meaning to be made by man for man, that is to say it is artificial. Much like the Showman's creations. Can we from this extrapolate that the creation of meaning in Big Tops is as real a meaning as we will ever find?
I believe so.
Meaning is what is experienced as meaningful by groups or individuals. There is nothing more to it. Meaning is, like truth, not something that is but something that happens.
The answer to the meaning of life is not to be found in scientific journals for it is not a scientific question. Instead we can say it has no answer and at the same time many answers all of which are absolutely and irrevocably true. Every answer springs from the mind of someone who have considered the issue at some length. It is based on human interpretation and conjecture created by our consciousness and according to Jung in his memoir it is a myth. In its search for meaning consciousness creates a myth, a myth of meaning.
This is what consciousness does, so it is what we do. We do it because we can't not do it.

Brotherhood of Illuminated Showmen

SO this is a goal for the Acolyte Showman.
An important part of his education and study is to get himself to a point where his own consciousness, or heart in the terminology of the Brotherhood of Illuminated Showmen, creates his very own myth of meaning. Meaning is like fire it can spread.
The young Showman's myth must be like the Greek myths and Norse Viking mythology. Not something to be shrugged off as childish or less than religion or philosophy, but as a firm foundation for well balanced, happy and always creative Showman.
"He who stands on firm foundation can move the world with the fulcrum of their mind." {
In the symbology of the Brotherhood the voice of individual consciousness is a little candle. It is a fire but since the newborn myths are mere whispers at first it is but a candle. They are shy and insecure in the face of strong personalities, childhood encounters with religion, secular organizations or media. Only by engaging in the Creative Process guided carefully by Crowds and fellow Showmen can one learn to discern the tiny whisper of a voice that comes from the heart. The sheer peal, almost inaudible at first slowly comes to ring true. First only fragments. Like single freestanding acts. But as the Acolyte Showman gains experience he creates more acts, each one building on the one before, each one containing new truths and insight that rings true to him. The pinnacle in the evolution of meaningful Showmanship is symbolized by a star. It is no longer a little candle, a mere whisper of unintelligible hopes and aspirations but a roaring giver of energy. The kind of powerhouse that fuels worlds.
As his Craft develops so does the Man. When the Show is deep the Man is deep. Before he goes through the Final Initiation his Acts have become a show. The Journey Man's Master Piece have become a fully fledged Seed Show and the Master Showman has mastered the most important lesson; to create a Myth for himself strong enough to be a fulcrum to change the Hearts of Crowds towards Good.

Why is this exploration so important? and if meaning is 'man made' and not something inherently in nature would it not be better to admit to life's meaninglessness?
I don't think so.
"Meaninglessness inhibits fulness of life and is therefore equivalent to illness." Whilst Meaning has an inherent curative power. "Meaning makes a great many things endurable - perhaps everything." {Jung}
" What is the meaning of human life, or of organic life altogether? to answer this question at all implies religion. Is there any sense then, you may ask, in putting it? I answer, the man who regards his own life and that of his fellow creatures as meaningless is no only unfortunate but almost disqualified for life." {Einstein - The World as I See It."
For the weighty reasons stated above it is of the utmost importance for all Showmen to not only seek to create their own meaning but also use their unique position as communicator to help others find theirs.
"There is grandeur in this view of life." {Darwin}

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