My Shadow

Julie Marks

Los Angeles, United States

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Artist's Description

Please view this photographic abstract in the large format to
appreciate a myriad of imagery. I am always interested in your
projections of what you perceive.
Many of my photographs portray what I refer to as Shadow People,
a metaphor for understanding and integrating the light and dark side of the Psyche, a concept integral to Jungian Psychology. The images in my photographs “Shadow People”, “The Isle of Gont,” and many others in my series, Every Tree Tells a Story reflect Carl Jung’s concept of the Shadow. The literary masterpieces, Tolken’s Lord of the Rings and CS Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia all contain powerful metaphors of Jung’s
archetypes. Shadow people populate the landscapes of my stories that are revealed in abstracts from nature including bark, rock, plants and other organic materials.

I titled this photograph, My Shadow as a literal and metaphoric
view of this piece. When I shot the photo, the sun was directly
behind me creating an image of my two hands and my small
camera in the middle of this tree abstract. In order
to reflect the primitive nature of the concept of the Shadow,
I manipulated the photo so my hands appear to be primitive claws to represent Jung’s concepts of the Shadow.

Nietzsche who was heavily influenced by Jung had some deeply esoteric aspects in his philosophy, based around the concept of self-overcoming, whereby man can overcome his limitations to become the higher man. Jung recognised Nietzsche’s deep understanding of and willingness to confront the dark shadows and irrational forces, which lay beneath our ‘civilised’ humanity.

The three main archetypes, which have a major influence over the individual are the Shadow, the Anima and the Animus. The Shadow Jung notes is always the same gender as the individual. To become conscious of the Shadow takes considerable moral effort, recognising the dark aspects of the personality as present and real. Jung contended that this act is the essential condition for self-knowledge.

The Shadow is considered to be a collection of inferiorities, undeveloped, and regressive aspects of the personality. They are primarily of an emotional nature and have a kind of autonomy, displaying an obsessive or more accurately a possessive quality. Jung describes emotion as an activity that happens to the individual rather than an activity of the individual, further reinforcing the idea of the autonomy of certain aspects of the psyche such as the Shadow.
The actions of the Shadow usually happen where adaptation is weakest, and at the same time reveals the reason for its weakness – that is a degree of inferiority and the existence of a lower level of personality. It is at this lower level, with its uncontrolled or scarcely controlled emotions that one behaves more or less like a primitive who is more or less a ‘victim’ of these emotions and is practically incapable of moral judgment. This does not imply that the individual does not have responsibility for resolving the split between good and evil within himself.

Although with persistent effort the Shadow can be integrated with the conscious personality there are certain features which offer a great deal of resistance to control and prove almost impossible to influence. These aspects are generally associated with projections, which are not recognised as such, and their recognition is an achievement beyond the ordinary. Projection is defined as “the situation in which one unconsciously invests another person (or object) with notions or characteristics of one’s own: e.g. a man, fascinated by a woman because she corresponds to his anima, falls in love with her. Feelings, images, and thoughts can be projected onto others. One also projects negative feelings: e.g. a woman has a grudge against a friend, so she imagines that her friend is angry with her.” If an individual shows no inclination to recognise his projections, then the projection-making factor has a free hand and can realize its object, or bring about a situation characteristic of its power. This is not the conscious mind, but the unconscious which does the projecting. The projections are not made, they are encountered. The effect of a projection is to isolate a person from their environment instead of a real relation to it, there is only an illusory one. Projections change the world into a replica of one’s own unknown face – the Shadow – and lead to an auto-erotic or autistic condition in which one dreams a world whose reality remains forever unattainable. The resulting feeling of sterility are in turn explained by projection as the malevolence of the environment, and by means of this viscous circle the isolation is intensified. The Shadow represents first and foremost the personal unconscious, and its content can therefore be made conscious without too much difficulty. While the Shadow can be seen through and recognised fairly easily, the Anima and Animus are much further away from consciousness and in normal circumstances are seldom if ever realized. As far as the nature of the Shadow is personal, it can be seen through, but in its greater archetypal aspect one encounters the same difficulties as with the Anima and Animus. Jung wrote, “it is quite within the bounds of possibility for a man to recognise the relative evil of his own nature, but it is a rare and shattering experience for him to gaze into the face of absolute evil.”
In a supra-personal context, mankind as a whole is also heavily influenced by unconscious powers. Western leaders pride themselves in appearing to be civilized and keep its vices tucked away hidden behind international “good manners” and diplomacy in contrast to other world leaders who flaunt their shadow side. Our ex-president Bush is a good example of a leader who projected his inner demons and feelings of persecution and instead of dealing with his internal demons projected his fears of terrorism onto imaginary battlefields. Reading the book by
an astute Psychiatrist, “Bush on the Couch” is a fascinating read
about the power of projection and the destructive impact of
the Shadow when unleashed without any introspection or self
knowledge.

Recommended Reading:
Memories Dreams and Reflections by Carl Jung
The Invisible Partners by John Sanford
Man and his Symbols by Carl Jung
The Portable Jung edited by Joseph Campbell
People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing
Human Evil by M. Scott Peck.
Owning Your Own Shadow: Understanding the Dark Side of the Psyche by Robert A. Johnson

Artwork Comments

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