Dreams Versus Reality

 

Your Dreams

Do you dream? Oh no, I’m not talking about those things that crop up at night. I’m talking about the dreams you have for your future, your desires, what might be. How much of a hard edge do they have? Do they involve mysticism? Do they lead you into a spirit world of your own? What do they say about you and your life?

Questioning Reality

I’m a clinical psychologist and have spent a lot of time talking with people about their lives. Often we talked about what we call reality but as the decades passed I came to question the meaning of the word. Do our hopes and dreams fall outside the realm of reality? Of course not.

Fiction Choices

And when you read, what are your choices? Do you gravitate toward apocalyptic fiction, dystopian fiction, romance or simply something which advances a “what if”? Are you engaged by ancient mysteries or are you looking for inspiration in how they may emerge in the here and now.

Relating to Reality

At once I have to say that the title of this blog, Cusp of Reality, reflects my core belief. I do not believe in a fixed reality. Reality is ephemeral and subject to our own interpretations. We live on a cusp and reality is often something which emerges and recedes into a mist. We take up a station of beliefs and surround ourselves with family and friends who reinforce something stable enough to be called reality.

Myth and Mysticism

And then there is what lies out there in the mist of the past. We enjoy myths and may recognize that they may offer prophesy and be visionary. Yet, we may fail to recognize that they can convey a stark and important reality of their own. And myths do not just speak to the past but also may relate to the future as it is emerging and how it may be.

Conclusions

Assuming we live on the cusp of a changing reality, then we have to wonder what we are to do with that reality. Naturally most of us take hold and fix a reality of sorts which works for us. But then there is the matter of the emerging world. That is where speculative fiction and such things as dystopian fiction, science fiction etc. come in. We can explore with them. And my considerations have led me to the writing of the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy. It asks what ifs and comes out of my life experience. The trilogy relates to stewardship in a world in crisis. Women are central because it is apparent that they are emerging as a much greater force in the world. Certainly women have always been important but they are coming into power and partnership with men in new and important ways. And we have to wonder if there is a transformation of some form in our future.

A Dual Pathway

The possibilities are fascinating in a world which appears to have gone asymptotic in many ways. And so I’ve chosen to explore through this blog and through fiction in the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy. Stay tuned.

Surely, regardless of your age, you have dreams, if not for yourself, then for someone in your life. What are those dreams and who are they for?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

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A Vision to Explore Our Future

 

Soon the second book of the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy,  Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge: The Chosen Rise will be published. In these books we will trace a story of what might be crises coming on our lovely planet. The mythological underpinnings are woven together with the theme of the rising of women to power and partnership. The women in this story are called Tethyans and they are central to the future of humankind and our beautiful blue planet.

Let me tell you a story. 

The universe is a wondrous place steeped in mystery, creation and destruction. Among its creations was a small solar system. There was little to stand out, but one of the planets was especially fertile. There came to be an abundance of life. It was ruled by a goddess called Gaia. One of the things which made the planet called Earth so special was that there was not just a ruling goddess but the goddess was the planet itself.

Under Gaia’s Care

Gaia tended her planet lovingly but it was clear that inherent in the creation and development of life forms struggle for survival and development was required. Long ago Gaia noted the development of a life form which was especially clever. She thought these beings held special promise but also recognized they might be a threat to themselves and her planet—herself.

Ensuring a Future

 
These beings were called humankind. Their promise was such that Gaia thought to ensure their future. But not in the sense that she definitively ruled their lives. They were to struggle like all the other animals, but in case of failure she designed a restart plan.

Since women had the richest genetic heritage and bore the children, she chose to reserve a population of mostly women, and, for their safety, designed protected cities in the sea where these people called Tethyans lived. If the land population failed, these women could return to the land.

The Day Defined

Gaia was, indeed wise. The day she foresaw has arrived and humankind is threatened by social and environmental cataclysms.

………………………

Devastation?

The story above contains mythological elements but the threat of social and environmental cataclysm is real. Not long ago hope flourished on Earth, but, as is so often the case, human affairs lead us back to worldwide conflict. There appears to be considerable potential for another era of devastating conflict such as occurred in the twentieth century.

Myth Bearing Truth

In myth there is often considerable truth, especially about the nature of humankind, our promise and our failures. Some elements are especially intriguing. In most cultures, where there is considerable water, there are myths about creatures referred to as mermaids. It is almost a universal phenomenon. The mermaids are women, of course, although mermen make rare appearances. These women may be engaging in a romantic and sexual way but they may also be frighteningly dangerous and destructive. It seems the myth relates to a deeply rooted, unconscious regard and fear for women by men—ambivalence which has led to conflict and subjugation.

Enter the Rise of Women

The myth stirs the imagination and just at the moment as the world moves closer and closer to devastating crises, we see the movement to empower women. The “myth” of the mermaid, combined with the movement to empower women led to the embrace of a story which was irresistible.

Exploration of Themes

In coming posts there will be thought documents on the themes in the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy and discussion of the characters and the development of the story as well as the writing process. Through these kinds of stories we seek vision to aid us in approaching our future.

Given our recent history, how do you view our future?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

 587 words

The Psychologist and the Unconscious

 

Long ago and far away when I was in college and graduate school three men led me onto very different roads.

Leslie White

First came Leslie White, the father of cultural anthropology. An old man walked out on a stage before a bunch of college students and utterly mesmerized us about the meaning of the extrasomatic cultural stream. This was my introduction to the human unconscious because he spoke of something outside of us that flowed and shaped our lives.

Sigmund Freud

Then came Sigmund Freud who spoke to us about our unconscious. Call it what you will, it is a force which also shapes us and our lives. We tend to think we are in charge of ourselves but when the unconscious is noted we find we often are not in charge and that we sift murky waters. His work was fascinating and important.

Carl Jung

But shortly I was introduced to Carl Jung who spoke about our personalities and the world of myth in ways which were stunning. The three men come together and point out to us that we are constantly trying to manage a world which is rich, constantly changing and, to put it mildly, is challenging. Truth is amplified and shouts uncertainty. It became clear to me how uncertain our inner world is and what magnificent promise it offers.

The World of Fiction

Certainly as we enter the world of fiction as writers we know that creativity is demanded and that we must make a contribution which goes beyond simple story construction and coherence. But often we aren’t prepared for what occurs.

Emergence

Having been fascinated by Jung and by the presence of images of mermaids across the world I thought to construct a book featuring these fascinating women. Little did I know what was lurking. A book became three books and more are threatening to appear. Not only did the story expand but there were characters who became demanding. They expanded their substance and may appear unbidden.

The Lesson

In the end I had to face an obvious lesson formed out of the work of the three men mentioned above. In our minds we are not stable entities and when we open work such as fiction we face the intrusion and wonder of what we harbor and what is rampant around us as stimuli and reality in all its forms, subtleties and substance. When we write we must be prepared for a torrent of inner richness from all kinds of sources. And therein lies substantial creativity and possibilities which can enrich us and our readers. What comes are not just stories but the richness of our lives. The writer discovers the range of influences within and the reader can explore possibilities which go beyond the form of what is contained in the book.

In the end I have had to listen to an important message. Get a grip psychologist! And attend to what these very concepts truly mean.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Change and Empowerment – Revelations in Fiction

What do you see as the major themes on our planet right now?

 

Why Write Fiction?

You’d think a clinical psychologist would know why people write fiction. It’s fiction! What’s to ask?  Probably a great deal.

The fact is I don’t know why people write fiction but I can speculate. I suppose there are some general reasons which may apply to most art forms. But I’ll save you the meanderings which you might find interesting or not at all interesting. Let me tell you why I think I write fiction.

At Duke they awarded me a doctoral degree after my studies and what I had done proved to them I had a grasp of the human mind and behavior. I’m trying not to laugh because my education continued far beyond my graduate school years. I now believe that all such endeavors are forever a work in progress. Psychology is the study of human and animal behavior—Period. That’’s a big door to walk through. Contrast it with psychiatry which is the study of mental illness, emotional disturbance and abnormal behavior.

Creating a Blog

Definitions can be endless. The longer I look at life, the more I struggle with the meaning of behavior and, I believe, concerning mental illness, we need a wholesale reexamination. and redefinition. This blog is entitled Cusp of Reality because I have found that reality is ephemeral. We desperately grasp at it to retain our stability. It requires ongoing examination and it is clear humankind is constantly confronted with all forms of instability and change.

Exploring a Changing World

As a function of my personality I am always fascinated by possibilities and work to contain the exploration of them and to maintain some order. It appears we are currently entering another dangerous period of world instability related to climate change, demographic dangers and what may be the end of capitalism. But to me one thing has stood out and that is that we don’t focus enough on the empowerment of women. It almost seems it is dismissed as simply a function of the contraceptive pill. As women gained control of their fertility their horizons expanded.

Maybe there’s more to it. Leslie White spoke of the extrasomatic stream which is culture. At this moment there is broad based cultural change underway related to the role of women. Recognition of this fact and my regard for the potential impact of the end to the subjugation of women led me to generate a “what if”. My personality type is known for searching possibilities and I love the process although it must be restrained.

Extraordinary Potential in Women

The bottom line is that I could not resist telling a story about women leading us not just to a stable and productive future but possibly to an unexpected transformation. Women are generative and hold so much potential in their hands. In their world there are untold benefits. Men certainly make their contributions but their nature requires restraint. 

Looking at earth and the challenges we face I wondered what might happen if there really was an earth goddess called Gaia who was working to safeguard our future. She found us intriguing and thought we held potential. So she decided to guard and even guide our future.

Beyond Fundamental Conflict

In history gods and goddesses were often reflections of facets of human behavior. They hurled thunderbolts, fought with one another and on and on. But what if there was a process with meaning beyond earth as we know it. There is a universe out there and it is reflected in the here and now but also may have much more meaning related to a future we might only imagine.

Birth of the Story

An idea led to characters being born. They appeared and the story of Gaia’s Majesty opened. Frequently it seemed ever so far beyond my grasp or my control. What started as a story and one book grew into a trilogy. I thought that ended it but now a fourth book is materializing.

Bottom line. Why do I write? I write because I explore and while I am in my later years the exploration does not end. I continue to mine parts of myself and to scan the world. Human existence comes in waves both personally and collectively. We seem to be at the end of a wave and the next phase relates much more to what women will bring to our future. I cannot resist telling a story reflective of these possibilities.

Where do you think women will lead us?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Freud Versus Jung

Two Forms of Reality

 

What do these names mean to you?

Once again we encounter the question of what is reality. These two names represent very different views and relationships to the larger elements of society and culture.

Anyone in the mental health field will inevitably come in contact with the writings of Sigmund Freud. Not necessarily Carl Jung. Freud was important in advancing the field of mental health and forming it into a system used to treat what were called mental disorders. He made us aware of the existence of the unconscious mind which we are only now being able to look at in brain imaging. Jung might have come from another planet.

Why Mental Illness?

Freud was very close to the development of western medicine. We had come to the point where there was the thought that people might not suffer infestation by evil spirits. Calling what was happening a mental illness meant they could be removed from not well informed intervention by the church. That was a step forward but as we will see in later posts it was not always to the point.

A Broader Perspective

I’ll be frank to say that Jung fascinated me much more so than Freud. Both men were Europeans but Freud was closer to western thought. Jung foraged the world and shed light on not just our mental systems, but culture and elements of deep meaning.

Both men brought us utility of different kinds. Freud made us realize that there was such a thing as an unconscious mind. It is only now as we probe the brain with new tools that we can see the operation of the unconscious forming up prior to conscious awareness. Each man dealt with reality in their own way.

Myth and Truth

In Jung’s search he related to mythology and he brought us fascinating commentaries and revelations. But he did something more. In searching the world he recognized that there is a personality system in humans. A systematic study of human personality turned out to have absolutely nothing to do with mental illness. The system Jung devised, or perhaps the better word is uncovered, is the basis for the Myers-Briggs Personality Typology which, if you would like to know about your personality you can find it on line. Simply ask our friend Google and you will be taken to it.

Both of these men dealt with reality in their own way. Freud seemed closer to the western scientist while Jung sought reality of other sorts. What I found particularly fascinating about Jung was the mythological components which take us to all manner of alternatives. We can see a great deal about our speculative foragings.

Jung had fascinating perspectives. He wrote an entire book about alchemy. His conclusion was that it was not a search for how to change lead into gold. He saw it as a bridge from the Dark Ages to the Enlightenment as people were exploring new ways.
In Jung’s autobiography Memories, Dreams and Reflections is found fascinating revelations about a man who broke the bounds of ordinary reality. It is both about him and philosophical.

Both Offer Meaning

Sometimes there is a debate about truth and these men. I see no such debate needed. Each offered something fascinating and brought us forward. I have to admit I feel much closer to the work of Jung because we are the same personality type. Freud did good work but his thinking did not enroll me in his world. Both men speak to us about important elements of the human experience and, in the end, they may have nothing to do with mental illness.

Have you encountered the work of these men? What was your reaction?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt