Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Jacob's Ladder, Post Jungian map of Global Cinema

Every once in awhile (ok every day) I think about the film Jacob's Ladder and the way it brought about my premonitory painting. Just the other day I did another web search on the film and the writer, Bruce Joel Rubin and came up with this rather unusual website, whitlarks.com and a particular section called "The Big Picture: A Post-Jungian Map of Global Cinema." Within that was a discussion of Jacob's Ladder. James Whitlark discussed the influence of The Tibetan Book of the Dead on the film and mentioned a scene with a lecturing professor that was deleted from the film. The professor makes four points 1) everything is a manifestation of a single Divine Reality 2) people can directly intuit it 3) they each have a temporal "ego" and "eternal self" 4) the purpose of life is to identify with the divine spark within..."


I was also fascinated to learn from Whitlarks that the screenplay began with a nightmare Rubin had about being condemned to Hell, appearing in the image of the New York subway.

The direct link to this Jacob's Ladder web page is http://human-threshold-systems.whitlarks.com/bpchp6p5.html. HurlyBurly you might like this work as a good number of films are discussed, and Anthony, perhaps you know all this? I'd be interested in your thoughts.

18 comments:

ken said...

Thanks for the pointer. I'm interested to check out the site.

Jung, himself, in his autobiography, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, stated point 4 as:

"Man's task is to become conscious of the contents that press upward from the unconscious. Neither should he persist in his unconsciousness nor remain identical with the unconscious elements of his being, thus evading his destiny, which is to create more and more consciousness. As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being. It may even be assumed that just as the unconscious affects us, so the increase in our consciousness affects the unconscious."

Karl L Le Marcs said...

Ra from Ca,
Excellent post Ruth, which means I can thankfully cross the "Tibetan Book of the Dead" from my, to be honest, overlong list of ITLAD related literature on which I was considering posting myself.

As everyone would probably expect, I have read and own several books around this subject but have not seen the film of which you mention.

“All at once, the clouds are parted
Light streams down in bright unbroken beams
Follow men's eyes as they look to the skies
The shifting shafts of shining weave the fabric of their dreams”


Don’t all Rush to ask where the above quote comes from regarding Jacob’s Ladder.
*knowing smile*

I have SOOOOOO much to say on this but I’ll try and condense everything to a manageable length (not easy when dealing with such an enormity of writing and philosophy).

Firstly, there is in fact no single Tibetan title corresponding to the "Tibetan Book of the Dead", which as we know it in English consists of two comparatively long texts on the Bardo of Dharmata (including the Bardo of Dying) and the Bardo of Existence. (Not to be confused with the Brigitte Bardo, which conjours up very different thoughts).
*ahem*

The Bardo Thodol popularly but inaccurately known in the west as "The Tibetan Book of the Dead" (Thodol meaning "liberation through understanding" and Bardo meaning a "between state," considers an interval or transition between two mental states, whether experienced in life or after death; "A nothing between two epileptic fits" as Tony skillfully flips the Edmond Goncourt quote to end ITLAD.

Hence the work's Tibetan title (which might be translated more literally as "Liberation through Understanding the Between") alludes to bardo states that may be experienced at any point over the cycle of life, death and rebirth, yet the work itself overtly discusses only the bardo states experienced during death, offering explicit instruction on how to navigate them. It is essentially a guide for the dead and the dying: The first part, called Chikhai Bardo, describes the moment of death. The second part, Chonyid Bardo, deals with the states which supervene immediately after death. The third part, Sidpa Bardo, concerns the onset of the birth instinct and of prenatal events.

So the most relevant part to ITLAD is Chonyid Bardo (or Chos-nidd Bar-do) from my own copy of which the following is taken:

"if when dying, one is familiar with this state, the wheel of rebirth is stopped and liberation is instantaneously achieved. But such spiritual efficiency is so very rare that the normal mental condition of the dying person is unequal to the supreme feat of holding on to the state in which the Clear Light shines. There follows a progressive descent into lower and lower states of the Bardo existence, and finally rebirth. immediately after the first state of Chikhai Bardo comes the second stage, when the consciousness-principle leaves the body and says to itself. 'Am I dead, or am I not dead?' without being able to determine."

It is my assertion that the philosophy of the Bardo Thodol does seem to support the singularity of personal consciousness while that might imply that a separate Divine Soul, (which I also consider as something differentiated from the subjective consciousness), is somewhere else, as I have written previously that I posit we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively. I believe that the Tibetans approach this with the notion that they are part of the same thing.

And finally (Thank Goodness, you all cry) with one eye on my previous post: “Last Night I Dreamt I Went to Mandeley Again” I quote from the song Jacob's Ladder by Mark Wills:

“So late one night by the harvest moon
Jacob climed a ladder up to Rachael's room
He knew his place, it was right beside her
Step by step up to her world
Head over heels for a brown-eyed girl
And gettin' caught didn't seem to matter
'Cause heaven was waitin' at the top of Jacob's ladder


*eyes VERY wide open*

susan marie said...

Ruth;
Fascinating post, profound and compelling material, all of it; and I am also very interested in checking out that website. Thank you. I have read the Bardos (Karl's comments are a lovely post unto themselves) and also had a fascination with a painting of Jacob's Ladder by William Blake when I was a teenager. Have you seen it? I must try to find it somewhere. The nightmare of hell as the NY subways is chilling: In it's reference to the whole set of circumstances centered on your own sweet, beloved son, and also to the imagery itself which resonates with all of us, I imagine. When I am not so pressed for time as I am right now, I will come back and re-read the post and its comments, especially those of Mr. Le Marcs. And check out the website, for certain!!! Thank you, Ra; hope you are staying well. Yours, SMK

Karl L Le Marcs said...

Thank You Susan Marie,

And of course William Blake again is one with links to Temporal Lobe Epilepsy.

Indeed to quote the great man's poetry on "attention different" souls he said they "see the universe in a grain of sand."

Here is a link to the painting you mention: Thank you Dear Lady for making the connection as it is interesting to look at the art and the ITLADian symbolism within.

http://www.artfund.org/artwork/2723/jacobs-ladder

Karl L Le Marcs said...

Full William Blake quote:

extracts from "Auguries of Innocence"

"To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.

We are led to Believe a Lie
When we see not Thro' the Eye
Which was Born in a Night to Perish in a Night
When the Soul Slept in Beams of Light.
God Appears & God is Light
To those poor Souls who dwell in the Night,
But does a Human Form Display
To those who Dwell in Realms of day."

susan marie said...

OH, KARL, Karl, Karl. Will wonders never cease????? I do not see how you work this magic: "Angels and ministers of grace, defend us!!"Are you a human or a daemon???

Karl L Le Marcs said...

*smiles at Susan Marie*
I know not what I am, but my eyes are wide open to various options.
Living within my mind is both fascinating and terrifying; frightening and serene; oxymoronic to the extreme (see, it's when I start to get poetic that I really need to go lie down in a darkened room with a damp flannel over my head).

ra from ca said...

I certainly primed the pump, didn't I? Thanks Karl. This Tibetan stuff is relatively new to me so it is great to hear about it and how it might fit with Anthony's work.

Do I understand correctly, you believe we are all one consciousness, but we suffer from delusions of separation (as well as delusions of grandeur and its flip side)? I don't disagree if I am understanding you. Living what you understand, however, still proves to be challenging.

Karl L Le Marcs said...

*laughs with Ra*
"primed the dump", I like that imagery.

We are encroaching somewhat into an area of my own writing and theoreticising (!) here which I have discussed briefly with Tony and hope to be a new post fairly soon.

Fundamentally, in answer to your excellent question, YES - and I'm pleased to hear your sense of agreement.

Taking the Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics where Niels Bohr asserted that waves of energy (such as light and elementary particles like electrons) collapse on observation, I posit that Consciousness itself is the ultimate field energy and is universal. In essence, that we are indeed all one consciousness but that we (as our brain then observes the wave) collape the consciousness wave thereby creating particles of consciousness which we "see" as our own perceptions of reality. Or simply, "us".

I can then bring in Decoherence Theory to separate what we "know" and "sense" with what is deemed "Nature" and the delusions this induces.

Then, as subjective particles of consciousness, we can occasionally, and with esoteric learning, tap into the objective universal consciousness.

I hope some of that makes sense, but I will endevour to post more succintly on my ideas soon - hopefully

*BLIMEY*

Anthony Peake said...

Ra: Fantastic posting and one that I totally agree with. As I have mentioned in previous postings Jacob's Ladder is probably the singularly most influential film on the writing of ITLAD. This is because it is the only film in the long list of itladian movies that influenced me before the idea of CTF made its way into my mind. On reflection it is even possible that the initial hypnogogic state in which my Daemon suggested that I ruminate on what it would be like to live your life again knowing in some subliminal way your 'life story'was stimulated by watching this great movie.

Indeed for some strange reason I decided to go and see the film soon after its UK release in September 1991. I had no idea about the storyline but I was quite into Vietnam themed movies at the time. The ending must have placed a seed that grew when, a couple of years later, I bought the movie on video.

Thanks to both Ra & Karl for making the link to the Bardos (which I have posted on a few. weeks back).

Indeed thanks again Karl for the link to that most Itladian poet/painter William Blake (by the way you may have spotted that I use the "Wild Flower" quote in ITLAD).

Also Ken, thanks for the Jungian reference.

After I have found a copy of Hurly Burly to watch I think that I will re-watch this great movie.

Karl L Le Marcs said...

Thank You Tony,
"I am the Weaver"
*smile*

I’m just reading a few sections of my copy of “The Tibetan Book Of Living And Dying” by Sogyal Rinpoche, and it’s interesting to review some of the following extract in ITLADian terms:

In the “Myth of Er”, Plato suggest an explanation for the lack of memory of prior existences. Er was a soldier who was taken for dead in battle, and seemed to have had a Near Death Experience. He saw many things whilst “dead”, and was instructed to return to life in order to tell others what the after-death state is like. Just before he returned, he saw those who were being prepared to be born moving in terrible, stifling heat through the “Plain of Oblivion”, a desert bare of all trees and plants.

“When evening came,” Plato tells us, “they encamped beside the River Unmindfulness, whose water no vessel can hold. All are requested to drink a certain measure of this water, and some have not the wisdom to save them from drinking more. Every man, as he drinks, forgets everything.”

Er himself (for to Err is Human after all *oh the laughter*) was not permitted to drink the water and awoke to find himself on the funeral pyre, able to remember all that he had heard and seen.

This is strikingly similar to Tony’s piece in ITLAD regarding the Greek Mythology where all recently deceased souls have the option of returning to the world of the living, but must first drink from the “River of Forgetting”; the River Lethe, whose waters wash away all memories of a previous life.

From the Buddhist Tibetan point of view, the main argument that establishes rebirth or recurrence is one based on a profound understanding of the continuity of mind. Where does consciousness come from? It cannot arise out of nowhere. A moment of consciousness cannot be produced without the moment of consciousness that immediately preceded it.

The Dalai Lama explains this complex process thus:

“The basis on which Buddhists accept the concept of rebirth is principally the continuity of consciousness."

Collective Daemonic Consciousness perhaps, existing within a universal Consciousness Field, and we are all subjective particles of that consciousness, existing in Daemonically guided eternal returns.

What do you think?

Hurlyburly said...

I had nevr seen this film up untill a few months back when i first started speaking with Tony. After watching it only once i can tell i'd need to watch it at least once more before giving a respectable summary. What i will say though is that the film more than achieves it's goal with regards to unnerving you. It's very disjointed but in a haunting way. Some films are just films, some are an expression of something much greater and i beleive this is the latter. If you enjoyed this film you'd all probably appreciate "The Jacket" aswell. I'll try to watch it again soon but my to-watch/read piles are getting rather big!

Karl L Le Marcs said...

There's a couple of other reasons to appreciate "The Jacket" isn't there?
*ahem*

Hurlyburly said...

Damn straight! I don't usualy like Keira too much but she is extremely sexy in this film. Maybe because she's all dark, damaged and jaded...

*ponders relationship with mother and it's conscequences*

Karl L Le Marcs said...

Martin, I have Freud on the phone, he wants his complex back.
*echoes of Chandler Bing obviously*

Hurlyburly said...

Take a message, i have oedipus on the phone and he sounds pretty pissed. Something about "I don't care who saw her first" ???

Aloha Gary said...

Gosh where to start....

hmm, well the easy start is to say that the well of forgetfulness seems to be a common theme, featuring in both Celtic and Anglo Saxon shamanic traditions, and arguably they all stem from a common Indo-European heritage beginning in the Caucasus mountains.

Both were keen advocates of reincarnation, much to the annoyance of the romans who found them hard to beat on the battlefield, because they wouldnt admit defeat.
---------

I actually found Chogyam Trungpa's commentary more useful than the Bardo itself.

Bearing in mind the non-corporeal being Seth's commentary in "Seth Speaks" channelled by Jane Roberts, that we all see what our religion teaches us to expect to see right after death, I'm going for the Hawaiian option rather than the rather gory buddhist version outlined in the Bardo! - ouch! all those devils?!

AND yes the Hawaiian approach is as outlined by Karl = there is only one consciousness and we are all part of it, experiencing different viewpoints of ourselves.

The missionaries didnt understand the language properly and so assumed that tikki-statues were some kind of idol-worship whereas they were artistic representation of nature aspects, eg, like naming hurricanes 'katrina' etc

One day we experience a rock, grain of sand, (oops thats been done), tiger, sparrow, oak tree, even human...and then we 'change address' and come back as someone or something else. (although strictly speaking there is no such thing as linear time, this is a construct particular to this reality that we have chosen to adopt)

Which kind of makes killing other folks or trashing the planet rather silly as you are killing yourself.

Funny how Govt and the military-industrial complex seem keen to suppress/ridicule this kind of idea?! hmm...

enough for now already...

Karl L Le Marcs said...

Well said Gary.

We can all learn something from Chogyam Trungpa (as David Bowie famously did), if not solely the debilitating effects of continued ale consumption (he died at a relatively early age when physically weakened by alcohol if memory serves me)

*puts down pint of Ale*

And again, I MUST research more into the Hawaiian philosophies as I'm compiling a stagerring list of disparate cultures and ideologies that have talked of my One Consciousness idea.

*ponders*

Much to say, may have to collaborate with Aloha Gary on a future posting here.