Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Eternal Boy

Puer Aeternus

If a man has been compromised early in life by someone in a position of trust, maybe even a family member, it can cause him to be resentful, defensive, with a need to get even, or to escape. He may adopt a persona as a shield against trauma, and take on various affectations of being unavailable, such as the selfish macho man, or the overly effeminate man, or he may become obese, or somehow aloof or untouchable in some way. In a revolt against "the earthly, the conservative, the possessive, he may begin a long ascent into a flight upward and become the ascending son, the Peter Pan or "eternal boy," the moth "mad for the light."
"He may develop a fantasy about an almost impossibly idealistic relationship that somehow never quite gets within reach. The more he reaches for magic or ecstasy, the more unapproachable he becomes. He may begin to loose his respect for others and sit in an ivory tower, holding court over a group of admirers who he sees as all wanting favors. There are so many fans, a sort of collection of them, and he endlessly juggles them. Occasionally if he feels particularly needy, and especially if he is inebriated in some way, he may become vulnerable, especially if they offer some bait that interests him and may deem to grant favors if he feels indulgent of if he receives homage he considers worthy. But if he allows any of his subjects to get too close, they may "get too involved," so he has to renounce them."
"Such grandiosity might well have protected him as a child, but now it confounds and confuses him. He feels duped by women and manhandled by men. He may often feel vaguely discontent or lonely. He doesn't understand why so many people avoid him. He may come to view the world an those in it as being essentially flawed, unattractive or needy in some way. He may choose not to procreate but he may be very creative in certain ways. But he is basically suspicious of practical and wholesome like discipline and loyalty. The risk is that he is in danger of becoming numb, indifferent to the consequences of his own actions and may escape into drug or alcohol addiction.                 -Robert Bly, IRON JOHN. Some, if not most of the most creative men in history have been included in this category. In fact, there may creativity may have an inverse relationship to procreativity. A man with mouths to feed and rent to pay usually has less opportunity to be intellectual. Even in the antique cultures, shamen were often not family men. Quoting Robert Bly's book, A GATHERING OF MEN: "Eventually a man needs to throw off all indoctrination and begin to discover for himself what the father is and what masculinity is. For that task, ancient stories are a good help, because they are free of modern psychological prejudices...and because they give both the light and dark sides of manhood, the admirable and the dangerous...In the Greek myths, Apollo is visualized as a golden man standing on an enormous accumulation of the dark, ...dangerous energy called Dionysus."
There is a general assumption now that every man in a position of power is or soon will be corrupt and oppressive. Yet the Greeks understood and praised a positive male energy that has accepted authority. They called it Zeus energy, which encompasses intelligence, robust health, compassionate decisiveness, good will, and generous leadership. Zeus energy is authority accepted for the sake of the community. "
"...All the great cultures except ours preserve and have lived with images of this positive male energy.... He has been lifted up to what is great in him.... At twelve or fourteen, when fueled by sexual instinct, we rose or fell deeply in love, and knew that was good, very good. Later…we felt mental abilities and physical abilities in us that we had never even imagined. " "Each of us had already guessed that we were sons of kings and queens, and somehow had landed mistakenly in our prosaic and dumb family. Our grandiosity then was already in us, even if (not) visible. We know the feeling of grandeur, and we want to have it all the time."
"In order to keep the grandeur feeling a child may refuse to remember ugly facts of childhood, may look away from disorganization, abuse, abandonment, lack of protection, and skip over our parents' indifference, addictions, or dark side. Animals apparently don't have to worry so much about inflation, but we are human beings and a little bit of gold--or genius feelings--can send us into high altitudes, from which we don't want to descend. "
"...The Jungian thinkers have done well in noticing and describing this phenomenon, and the phrase puer aeternus (holy or eternal boy), and puella aeterna (holy or eternal girl) are phrases familiar to many…. " "In many cases these flying people, giddily spiritual, do not inhabit their own bodies well, and are open to terrible shocks of abandonment; they are unable to accept limitations, and are averse to a certain boring quality native to human life.... The Little Prince, ...and Peter Pan belong among the fliers, as do most ashram habitu├ęs, devotees of "higher consciousness," determined to avoid earthly food, platonic lovers and celibates, and some Don Juan’s, to leave each one in whom they fail to find the missing pearl." "Grandiose ascenders...come out of all sorts of families, and sometimes the ascension is taken on as an intelligent survival method..."to be above it all," not to be involved."
What does the son do?
He turns away, louses courage,
goes outdoors to feed with wild things,
lives among dens and huts, eats distance and silence;
he grows long wings, enters the spiral, and ascends.
The classic book on this topic titled "PUER AETURNUS," (the eternal boy) was written years ago by Marie Louise von France. She wrote that usually "the young puer aeternus men are by no means negative; they love spirit and embody much of the spiritual energy of the nation.... So the grandiose ascender is a complicated person."
"Marie-Louise von Franz concluded from her experience with these heavenly fliers...that they choose ascent as a revolt against maternal earthiness and female conservatism. They fly upward, she believes, out of fear of the magnets she says some women hide in the ground in the hope of luring light-headed men down to the ground of marriages, jobs, and long-range commitment.... the young ascenders often find themselves achieving spirit, but often at the expense of life or their own grounding in masculine life...Some say that the man's task in the first half of his life is to become bonded to matter: to learn a craft..." "The passive man: During the last thirty years men have been asked to learn how to go with the flow, how to follow rather than lead, how to live in a non-hierarchical way, how to adopt consensus decision-making, how to be vulnerable."
"Some women want a passive man if they want a man at all; the church wants a tamed man--they are called priests; the university wants a domesticated man--they are called tenure track people; the corporation wants a team player, and so on.... Passivity increases exponentially as the education system turns out "products."
"The infant boy struggles against his father's hands, fighting the narcissistic father's desire to bind or murder him; and he struggles against the swaddling bands, fighting the narcissistic mother's desire to change him into what she wants. When the boy fails to get free...he learns to sulk... he becomes passive to his own hurts...."
"When no old men appear to break the hold of the sulking infant, the habit of passivity spreads to other parts of his life.... (He) may ask the woman to do his loving for him... not say what he wants and (she) has to guess... may go into robot production at work....The passive man may ask his children to do his loving for him..... Children are active in loving to the point of sacrificing themselves. The passive man may skip over parenting...leaving his wife to do that."
"The naive man feels a pride in being attacked... He feels that he is doing the brave and advanced thing; he will surely be able to recover somewhere in isolation.... The naive man will also be proud that he can pick up the pain of others...something of a doctor...he is often more in touch with women's pain than with his own.... I think each gender drops it's own pain when it tries to carry the pain of the other gender... I don't mean that men shouldn't listen. But hearing a woman's pain and carrying it are two different things. Women have tried for centuries to carry men's pain, and it hasn't worked well"
"The word special is important to the naive man, and he has special relationships with certain people. We all have special relationships, but he surrounds himself with a cloying kind of goodwill. The relationship is so special that he never examines the dark side of the person... He accepts responses that are way off, conspires somehow with their dark side. "Some people are special," he says..... He may also have a special relationship with a wounded little boy inside himself. If so, he won't challenge the little boy, nor will he point out his self-pity, no actually listen to the boy either. He will simply let the boy run his life."
"Sincerity is a big thing with him. He assumes that the person, stranger, or lover he talks with is straightforward, good willed, and speaking from the heart. He agrees with Rousseau and Whitman that each person is basically noble by nature, and only twisted a little by institutions. He puts a lot of stock in his own sincerity. He believes in it as if it were a horse or a city wall. He assumes that it will, and should, protect him from consequences that fall to less open people...."
"He acts out strange plays of isolation. For example when him, an angry woman is criticizing him, he may say, quit sensibly, "You're right. I had no right to do that." If her anger turns to rage, he bends his head and says, "I've always been this way." In a third act, he may implicate his father." "He was never there; he never gave me any support." Her rage continues and he bends over still farther. He is losing ground rapidly, and in the forth act he may say: "All men are shits." He is now many more times isolated than he was a few minutes ago. He feels rejected by the woman and he is now isolated from other men as well."        -Bly This man may have a compelling personality, especially if he is both potentially vulnerable and a little bit dangerous. Women see an opportunity of being swept off their feet. While men see this as opportunity to compete and show (find) their courage. They both NEED this more than they want it perhaps. In either case, a handsome man becomes an object to some extent. He may become a target. Some actually shun this man because they fear being swept away in a torrent of emotions. The female equivalent is referred to as a puella. Bly and others have suggested that these people sometimes evolve beyond the puer, usually by immersing themselves into productivity, whether creative or pro-creative. 
It is these who "march to a different drum" who are the ones most likely to be the pioneers and prophets, luddites and iconoclastic new thinkers who usher in new paradigms, often at their own peril.