Posts Tagged postmodern times

How Can You Be Borne Up, If You Won’t Let Go? Spiritual Experience Is Distorted by One’s Birth Trauma … The Necessary Hero Descends Into the Perinatal Below

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When Everything Appears to Be Conspiring Against You, You Might Want to Stop Fighting Rebirth: Atman Projects Versus Surrender Solutions and a Different Hero’s Journey

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Apocalypse – No! Chapter Twelve: Atman Projects vs. Surrender Solutions

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The Necessary Hero and Descent Into the Underground–When There’s “Nothing But Trouble,” You Know You’re in The Perinatal Below

A Different Kind of Hero’s Journey for Our Times Is Depicted in the Cult Classic, “Nothing But Trouble”

A Perinatal Flick

A film of postmodern times that is bold with revelation for us is the cult classic, “Nothing but Trouble,” which was released in 1991.clip_image002 It is an especially potent example of the rising pre- and perinatal influence in the media we’ve been discussing as well as the different heroic response required in these strangest of days because of it. It is all this, plus a twist: As a comedy it represents an unlikely approach to such material and themes. More about that later.

It was produced and written by Peter and Dan Aykroyd and stars Dan Aykroyd, Chevy Chase, Demi Moore, and John Candy.clip_image008Its reception by modern audiences mirrors exactly the perception in general, to date, that has been had of the perinatal material it depicts so well. For despite the movie’s star power and the popularity of its co-creator, Dan Aykroyd, it was met with overwhelmingly negative reviews and received six Razzie nominations, garnering one. I fully expect that until we know better I can expect much the same kind of reaction to this book, because of the perinatal perspective it is revealing of the dark underside of everyday pleasantries and sugar-coated media realities. Yet there is hope for all that we will integrate this hard-to-face yet redemptive material in the fact that the movie does have a strong following among some in our population, just as at present there are some who are not in denial of the bittersweet perinatal vision being revealed.

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The Lure Into the Underworld and Call to Adventure

clip_image004The perinatal adventure of “Nothing but Trouble” begins innocuously with the main characters “leaving the beaten path” on a rather ordinary trip out of the city. Interestingly, the Brazilian couple who have forced themselves on the main characters of Chevy Chase and Demi Moore in making the trip act as impish other-worldly instruments in the change of route.

Joseph Campbell pointed out that the “call to adventure,” which marks the beginning of the descent into the transformative nether regions, may be instigated by the merest chance or blunder. [Footnote 1]

Campbell also writes that the heralds of such a rite of spiritual passage are often loathly and underestimated characters. The Brazilian couple—as gaudy, overbearing, quirky, and from “down under”—perform just this function of luring into the underworld. Thus, they remind us that it is the quirky yet underestimated element in our familiar daily experience that opens us up to the process whose ramifications are huge by comparison.

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The Merest Blunder, The Adventure Begins

Sure enough, this innocent-appearing outing is soon disturbed. The merest blunder of map reading results in an ominous tour of an eerie town and its somber and menacing-looking inhabitants. This is followed by a high-speed car chase as the police attempt to pull the innocents over for a bogus traffic violation.

In the tour of the town, it is as if the ego is shown getting a preview or having a precognition of what lies ahead and attempts to flee back into its safe familiar environs. But of course, this emerging piece of unconscious material will not be denied and is able to capture the fleeing ego that we see safely ensconced in its trappings of status and power—symbolized by the BMW with car phone. At this point the main characters, representing the ego, are led, under guard, into the bizarre town of Valkenvania—the encounter with unconscious perinatal begins.

Perinatal Elements

The Junkyard of the Psyche

Campbell says that in the unconscious deep, to which one is beckoned, “are hoarded all the rejected, unadmitted, unrecognized, unknown, or undeveloped factors, laws, and elements of existence.” [Footnote 2]

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Likewise, the set in “Nothing But Trouble” is replete with refuse. Bits of history—of rusted and broken refrigerators, automobiles, kitchen appliances, assorted junk, and pieces and parts of all the preceding…the wreckage of the past—are strewn about as well as heaped in clusters to construct the architecture and delineate the outlines of the drama. The correlation with subconscious remnants of forgotten memories and past emotional experiences is obvious.

Thus the drama evolves in the dumping ground and junkyard of the psyche—where all the rejected tidbits of experience have been relegated.

Stripped of Ego, Perinatal Begins

After being separated from the automobile—that is to say, the ego stripped of defensive trappings of status and worldly position—the characters are rather quickly shuttled into encounters with a myriad of perinatal elements. A few of the obvious ones are as follows:

  • Mr. Bonestripper, which is a roller-coaster type ride whose entrance is a large vagina dentate mouth that swallows, chews up, and kills. Notice the roller-coaster ride aspect of Mr. Bonestripper, which reflects the emotional extremes and changingness of perinatal, specifically Basic Perinatal Matrix III (BPM III), events. [Footnote 3]

  • The chutes inside the house and of Mr. Bonestripper indicate birth canal symbolism.
  • clip_image013Sexual elements, indicating BPM III influence, are manifest in the scantily clad heroine and the penis-nose of the judge.
  • The dark foundry symbolizes the foundation work of the psyche as well as the ominous and eerie aspects of perinatal experience.
  • The slave labor surroundings represent similar feelings in the enforced and helpless character of doings just prior to and at the time of birth.

  • Notice that the body—the car, the “Beamer”—gets trimmed down, the excess removed, symbolic of the cutting away of past attachments and concerns of a worldly nature, one’s “status” reduced.clip_image015
  • Chevy Chase as the main character is at one point forced into a marriage with a huge woman, who is tellingly androgynous in that she is played by John Candy. In her threatening and suffocating embraces we see symbolism of the crushing womb.
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  • The entire site of these doings is surrounded by a watery trench. This obviously reflects the amniotic surround in the womb.

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  • Police and guns point to the authoritative character of perinatal doings—in other words, do, or else!

  • Death/rebirth symbolism of the perinatal exists in the form of skeletons and huge piles of skulls and bones.

  • clip_image021Scatological, that is to say, fecal symbolism is seen in the “bat-room,” which contains an enormous pile of wet bat-shit…excuse the wording, but it really is shit and not feces.
  • The arbitrary nature of justice in the courtroom speaks to that perinatal feeling that one tiny thing, event, or action, has huge and horrifying ramifications.

Big Babies

The most obviously perinatal element, however, is the gargantuan and grotesquely flabby infant twins in diapers. Perinatal feelings are indicated in their extreme crying neediness. Their freshly newborn quality is evident in their fleshiness, which reminds one of the overweight appearance of some newborns, which is usually lost a little later on in infancy. The glossy, waxy sheen on their bodies is reminiscent of the skin of a newborn, which, fresh out of the womb, is wet and slippery, covered in amniotic fluid and cervical mucosa.

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A Spiritual Interface

An interesting aspect that indicates the transpersonal, or spiritual, interface with the perinatal is an attic room—a higher mind of memory, kind of like an Akashic record—where all past IDs—identifications—and reports of them—newspaper clippings—are displayed.

Though, interestingly enough, in true perinatal fashion, a macabre lens is used to view these lives—only the reports of their tragic disappearances are seen. I believe that this is a wonderful depiction of how transpersonal information is distorted by perinatal material—the implications of which are far reaching for the pronouncements of so-called spiritual, or psychological, authorities who have not dealt with their perinatal undersides.

Trusting Higher Forces: Say “Good Night,” John Wayne, and How Can You Be Borne Up If You Won’t Let Go? When All Seems Lost…. You Might Want to Stop Fighting Rebirth

When It Appears the Whole World Has Been Conspiring Against You, You Might Want to Let Yourself Be Blessed

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Multilevel Feelings

Just When You Thought….

10-emergence-440_thumbHowever an important element in this movie, “Nothing But Trouble,” which is different from artistic representations that deal with only the personal or psychodynamic, is the way the ending opens up under it to a new level, a whole new arena, of issues. Those of us in experiential therapies or breathwork are only too aware of how the perinatal opens up to one, revealing a greater expanse and pervasiveness of dis-ease, at a certain point after dealing with the personal and the psychodynamic.

clip_image003The_Crusades_WallpaperThis layered, or multilevel quality of the movie is shown when the main characters, having heroically escaped through personal effort, find themselves returning to the perinatal realm. Thinking that they have the forces of authority and light on their side, they expect this time to be able to put the evil away once and for all.

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But When All Seems Lost….

To their immense surprise, it appears that the whole world has been conspiring against them—a telling perinatal feeling. The evil is discovered to be pervasive, as if infiltrating every corner of the universe—another perinatal feeling. Even the thoroughly trusted elements of light clip_image004turn out to be on the side of the darker forces—a vantage point that is part of the hopelessness that characterizes the classic no-exit BPM II scenario. And just like in the womb, then, when all seems lost, something new happens, an explosion or eruption of sorts, which brings down the old world and its structures in a violent conflagration.

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Atman Projects Versus Surrender Solutions

557920_426192764089005_1036145378_nclip_image006This hopeless and futile aspect of the perinatal realms — as opposed to the merely personal or psychodynamic ones—lends itself to its distinctive response—which is surrender, not resistance. Unlike the hero of Campbell’s hero’s cycle whose task is to slay the dragon using the sword of analytical or cognitive powers, the correct solution here at the perinatal is to let go of all designs, manipulations, and attempts at control and to put oneself into the hands of the seemingly irrational and chaotic Universe, come what may.

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How Can You Be Borne Up, If You Won’t Let Go?

tumblr_m2dsa5cmDR1r46foao1_400clip_image007The Universe’s response in the movie — the upsurge of fire from below the earth that brings down the evil structures—demonstrates the theme of being saved by higher forces when one finally is able to surrender. In the same way, in our perinatal experiences, we find ourselves “borne up” and elevated when we once are able to submit to the upsurge of fear-evoking perinatal emotion.

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Indeed, when Chevy Chase is seen rolling and setting fire to barrels of oil in a superhuman nick-of-time rescue attempt—in typical “hero’s journey” style—I had an odd disjointed sense that we had switched modes. The element seemed incongruous.

Say “Good Night,” John Wayne

But, then again, not so. For the movie shows that the successful escape performed through one’s own effort is, in actuality, futile.clip_image008 In perinatal terms, such heroics are illusory “atman projects” that ultimately fail against the onslaught of perinatal material, which must be surrendered to, not heroically resisted or conquered.

Interestingly, the eventual surrender solution is echoed earlier on when Chevy Chase is about to go through the chomping jaws of Mr. Bonestripper, the devouring womb. His response, at the prospect of his imminent failure, is to pray—to call on higher forces.

Trusting in Higher Forces

clip_image010Amazingly, the machine breaks at that moment, signaling the response of such “external” or higher forces. He alone, of all the others who have faced that fate, goes through the machine unscathed. Notice also that he says “Thank you, Lord” afterwards.

Thus it is not on one’s own powers that one makes it through 390550_139027469542957_2115340135_nperinatal material, rather it is by the relinquishing of such attempts at control and clip_image011the relying and trusting in higher forces. We are reminded that Dante required the angelic Beatrice to show the way through purgatorio and inferno to paradisio.

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The Message

In the next chapter, we will use another postmodern film to expand on these themes. This will allow us to fill out an emerging pattern, as we then compare it with “Nothing But Trouble” and other perinatal evidence.

So let us watch, now, as the pattern, like a photo emerging in solution, reveals to us its features, thus delivering to us the message it has come to bring.

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Footnotes

1. Joseph Campbell, The Hero With a Thousand Faces. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1968, p. 51.

2. Ibid., p. 52.

3. As a reminder, BPM III events (Basic Perinatal Matrix III events), using the typology set forth by Stanislav Grof in his many works, are the events surrounding the actual birth struggle of the infant during delivery. These parts on the perinatal in film make mention also of BPM II, which is related to the time of severe compression and constriction of the fetus in the latter stages of pregnancy and prior to the actual onset of delivery—which are characterized by feelings of “no-exit”; of BPM IV, which is concerned with the feelings of release, triumph, being saved, and whatever else occurs immediately after delivery; and of BPM I, which is related to the state of the fetus earlier in pregnancy—prior to compression—which is often conceived to have “oceanic” and “blissful” qualities, though not always.

Continue with Apocalypse – No! Chapter Thirteen: Peaceful Warriors and Silly Heroes

Return to Apocalypse – No! Chapter Eleven: Control Versus Surrender … Heaven Leads Through Hell

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We Are a Fever, Part Five, The Perinatal Unconscious: Why We Are Committing Ecocide and Seeking Species Suicide

Human Birth Is Unique in Nature in Its Trauma and Its Role in Creating Our “Human Nature”:  The Perinatal Unconscious Driving Our Humanicide

I believe that this prenatal area in particular is ripe for reaping what it can teach us about what is human, about “human nature.” While Stanislav Grof and Lloyd deMause have written on the implications and ramifications of birth on society, culture, history, and current events, not much has been said on the prenatal influences on our world, with the few exceptions mentioned in the overview in this chapter, especially David Wasdell. However, prenatal influences, especially those of the third trimester, are dealt with in considerable detail in this book, Wounded Deer and Centaurs. In upcoming works and one previous one, Falls from Grace, I discuss the influence of first trimester and sperm/egg and cellular events.

What I put forth in the current work is my understanding of how both these perinatal and prenatal events shed so much light on what that “human nature” is that is bringing about our environmental and global crises, which currently have a life and death urgency about them. I believe we need to understand these factors to survive. For I am convinced they are the forces that are strongest in shaping our present times and its events, creating an ever more discernible perinatal zeitgeist for postmodern times.

“Perinatal” = “Surrounding Birth”

“We Are a Fever”

Let us start with birth and its effects on shaping our current global crises. To do that we need to first look more deeply at what constitutes our perinatal influences.

So, how are we to characterize these strangest of days and the current unprecedented global condition? As I have said, they are driven by what I call an emerging perinatal unconscious. As The Kills sing it, most aptly, “We ain’t born typical.” [Footnote 1]

Perinatal Unconscious

Why perinatal? First, let us remind ourselves that perinatal means, literally, “surrounding birth.” As a one-time university instructor of pre- and perinatal psychology and as an editor of a professional journal concerned with perinatal psychology— as well as a psychohistorian, let me explain what might be considered elements of a perinatal unconscious. [Footnote 2]

Unconscious Matrices = “Human Nature”

The elements I will describe are near universally accepted among perinatal psychologists as unconscious forces, factors, matrices that exist in us all as a result of a human birth that is unique, by comparison to all other species, in its degree of trauma and hence of its impact or imprint on what we might call—dare I say the word—our “human nature.”

These perinatal elements have come to our understanding through the efforts of both the inner explorations of experiential pioneers into the perinatal, as well as the hard empirical work of pre- and perinatal researchers. I might also point out that I, myself, have forty years of experiential exploration into these perinatal elements, in addition to my scholarly work and research in this field. My experiences confirm, in my own mind, their absolute validity, as well as validating for myself the theoretical constructs put forth by others to describe and explain them.

Pre- and Perinatal Psychology, Experiential Voyagers

Be that as it may, these perinatal elements of the unconscious have been described most thoroughly be three figures in particular: Stanislav Grof, Arthur Janov, and Lloyd deMause. It might help, also, to keep in mind that entire new fields of pre- and perinatal psychology, primal psychology, and to some extent, transpersonal psychology have grown up around the existence of these perinatal factors. Entire modalities of healing tap in to and are based on the existence of this perinatal unconscious, including primal therapy, holotropic breathwork, and rebirthing, to name just the few that I happen to be trained in. These unconscious perinatal elements have, at this point, been confirmed by thousands of researchers and hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of experiential voyagers into the perinatal unconscious.

Elements of Birth Experience

Based upon all this, then, let us look at some of the elements, in general, that characterize this perinatal unconscious.

Perinatal Matrix ~ Societal Matrix

Stanislav Grof describes basic perinatal matrices (BPMs)—in other words, typical experiential constellations related to our births. These happen to be very much akin to deMause’s perinatal schema, with some slight differences in emphasis, and more elaboration on the part of Grof. So let us use Grof’s schema as a basis. [Footnote 3]

All Needs Met . . . With Luck – Matrix 1

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Grof’s Basic Perinatal Matrix I, or BPM I, involves the experiences and feelings related to the sometimes, or at least relatively, undisturbed prenatal period. The prenatal period is that time in the womb sometimes characterized by feelings of peace, complete relaxation, and a feeling of all needs met, or “oceanic bliss.”

BPM I corresponds to deMause’s societal periods of “prosperity and progress,” which he claims are accompanied by feelings and fears of being “soft” and “feminine” — understandably here, for in BPM I, that is, prenatally, the fetus is largely identified with his or her mother and is very much “soft,” i.e., undefended.

Since the time in the womb may also be disturbed by toxic substances that the mother ingests—drugs, chemical additives, and so on—as well as by disturbing emotions that the mother experiences, which release stress hormones into the mother’s bloodstream, which then cross the placental barrier and affect the fetus, BPM I is also sometimes characterized as feelings of being surrounded by a polluted environment and being forced to ingest noxious substances, toxins, and poisons, which sickens the fetus.

No-Exit Despair – Matrix 2

In Grof’s schema, BPM I is followed by BPM II—that is, Basic Perinatal Matrix II—which are experiences and feelings related to the time of “no exit” in the womb and claustrophobic -like feelings occurring to nearly all humans in the late stages of pregnancy and especially with the onset of labor, when the cervix is not yet dilated. Since there does not seem to be any “light at the end of the tunnel”—metaphorically speaking—it is characterized by feelings of depression, guilt, despair, and blame, and a characterization of oneself as being in the position of “the victim.”

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It is very much like DeMause’s period of collective feelings of entrapment, strangulation, suffocation, and poisonous placenta, which he has found to precede the actual outbreak of war or other violence. [Footnote 4]

Birth Wars – Matrix 3

imageThis of course is followed by BPM III (Basic Perinatal Matrix III), which involves feelings and experiences of all-encompassing struggle and is related to the time of one’s actual birth. Characterized also by intense feelings of aggression and sexual excess—in the position, now, of “the aggressor”—it is related directly, in deMause’s schema, to a time of actual war.

Hallelujah! . . (I think. . . . ) – Matrix 4

Basic Perinatal Matrix IV (BPM IV) follows this. It corresponds to the time of emergence from the womb during the birth process and is characterized by feelings of victory, release, exultation.

But sometimes, that initial relief is followed by depression. For too often, and especially in current Western culture, the struggle of birth does not bring the expected rewards of reuniting with the mother and the comfort of nursing. Instead, during modern obstetrical births, the neonate is harshly treated and then taken away from the mother, disallowing the bonding which should occur, naturally, immediately after birth.

In my own experience, the exultation and relief of release was replaced suddenly by feelings of being assaulted by the attendants at my birth … which of course they thought of as “attending” to me … imageas they went about roughly removing mucous from my mouth; prematurely cutting my umbilical cord to leave me struggling for breath; scrubbing, weighing, measuring, and otherwise probing me; and wrapping me like a tamale and taking me away from all I had previously known … that is to say, my mother. This felt like ritual abuse to me, and I have often likened it, after the intense period of compression and crushing before birth, to a situation of “going from the frying pan into the fire.”

At any rate, this experience of actual emergence or birth coincides, societally, with deMause’s period of the ending of a war.

Heaven and Hell

In summary, we have euphoric, oceanic, blissful feelings, sometimes feelings of being poisoned or being in a toxic or polluted environment; followed by crushing, no-exit, depression, claustrophobia, compression, strangulation, suffocation, and being force-fed by a poisonous placenta; followed by struggle, violence, war scenarios, birth/death fantasies, sexual excess; and finally release, triumph, feeling of renewal or rebirth and a new golden age, but also possibly of being abandoned, tortured, ritually sacrificed, probed medically, and assaulted by sensations. These are some of the elements that characterize the experience of the perinatal unconscious.

For Dreaming Out Loud! Projecting the Perinatal Zeitgeist

In the next chapter, we will take a look at how these elements have erupted into our collective dreams in recent history. By this I mean, we will see how our artists and creative people have projected them into the media, movies, and TV–in which we all participate–and how our fascination with them, because these artists are reflecting things that exist deep inside of ourselves as well, has caused them to grow, creating the dominant underlying zeitgeist of our time.

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Continue with Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Being Born … Playing Now, in Theaters Near You!

Return to The First Trimester, Cellular Memory and Conception, and Foundations of Myth and Personality: Your View of the World Was Stamped on You When You Were Just a Cell

Footnotes

1. Chapter titled with appreciation and admiration to The Kills for their recording, U R A Fever. The lyrics go, “I am a fever, you are a fever, we ain’t born typical….” and so on. The music video produced is similarly brilliant. Together, it is a production bordering on genius. The video contains levels of meaning that are only obvious on subsequent viewings. The video and its lyrics follow:

Lyrics – U.R.A. Fever – The Kills

Walk you to the counter
What do you got to offer

Pick you out a solder
Look at you forever

Walk you to the water
Your eyes like a casino
We ain’t born typical

Find a piece of silver
Pretty as a diagram
And go down to the Rio

Put it in my left hand
Put it in a fruit machine
Everyone’s a winner
Laughing like a seagull

You are a fever
You are a fever
You ain’t born typical

You are a fever
You are a fever
You ain’t born typical

Living in a suitcase
Meet a clown, fall in love
went down to have you over

Going ’round a break up
Take you to a jukebox
That’s the situation
Pick you out a number
And that’s our arrangement

Dancing on the legs of a new-born pony
Left right left right
Keep it up son

Go ahead and have her
Go ahead and leave her
You only ever had her
When you were a fever

I am a fever
I am a fever
I ain’t born typical

I am a fever
I am a fever
I ain’t born typical

We are a fever
We are a fever
We ain’t born typical

We are a fever
We are a fever
We ain’t born typical

We are a fever
We are a fever
We ain’t born typical

We are a fever
We are a fever
We ain’t born typical

2. In the Pre- and Perinatal Psychology Newsletter I was applauded for being the first person in the United States to teach the subject of pre- and perinatal psychology at the university level and—as it was said, remarkably—for doing it while still a student. I did this at Sonoma State University, in Rohnert Park, California, in the years 1994 and 1995, beginning while I was a graduate student there and continuing afterward.

My graduate thesis became the book, Falls From Grace: Spiritual and Philosophical Perspectives of Prenatal and Primal Experience, which is listed in Wikipedia as a reference under the topic of prenatal and perinatal psychology.

Subsequently, I became the editor of the professional journal, Primal Renaissance: The Journal of Primal Psychology, formerly published by the International Primal Association. Much of the contents of its issues were later posted to my website, Primal Spirit, where they can still be viewed.

I have had my writings published in The Journal of Psychohistory, including some that later became part of this book. In fact, I presented some of my original thinking on these matters at an Institute for Psychohistory Association convention, and those parts were also published in The Journal of Psychohistory under the title, “The Scenery of Healing: Commentary On DeMause’s ‘Restaging Prenatal and Birth Trauma’s in War and Social Violence’”” 23/4, 395-405.

These are among my many credentials in this field of pre- and perinatal psychology, where I have studied and trained from 1972 till this day.

3. Stanislav Grof, Realms of the Human Unconscious: Observations from LSD Research. New York: Viking Press, 1975; LSD Psychotherapy. Pomona, CA: Hunter House, 1980; Beyond the Brain: Birth, Death, and Transcendence in Psychotherapy. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1985; The Adventure of Self-Discovery: Dimensions of Consciousness and New Perspectives in Psychotherapy and Inner Exploration. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1988; The Holotropic Mind: The Three Levels of Human Consciousness and How They Shape Our Lives. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1993.

4. Lloyd deMause, “Restaging Early Traumas in War and Social Violence.” The Journal of Psychohistory 23 (1995): 344-391. (Reprinted, with permission, on the Primal Spirit website as “Restaging Prenatal and Birth Traumas in War and Social Violence“)

Continue with Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Being Born … Playing Now, in Theaters Near You!

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The Necessary Hero and Descent Into the Underground–When There’s “Nothing But Trouble,” You Know You’re in The Perinatal Below

A Different Kind of Hero’s Journey for Our Times Is Depicted in the Cult Classic, “Nothing But Trouble”: Atman Projects Vs. Surrender Solutions, Part One

A Perinatal Flick

A film of postmodern times that is bold with revelation for us is the cult classic, “Nothing but Trouble,” which was released in 1991.clip_image002 It is an especially potent example of the rising pre- and perinatal influence in the media we’ve been discussing as well as the different heroic response required in these strangest of days because of it. It is all this, plus a twist: As a comedy it represents an unlikely approach to such material and themes. More about that later.

It was produced and written by Peter and Dan Aykroyd and stars Dan Aykroyd, Chevy Chase, Demi Moore, and John Candy.clip_image008Its reception by modern audiences mirrors exactly the perception in general, to date, that has been had of the perinatal material it depicts so well. For despite the movie’s star power and the popularity of its co-creator, Dan Aykroyd, it was met with overwhelmingly negative reviews and received six Razzie nominations, garnering one. I fully expect that until we know better I can expect the same kind of reaction to this book of mine and the perinatal perspective it is revealing of the dark underside of everyday pleasantries and sugar-coated media realities. Yet there is hope for all that we will integrate this hard-to-face yet redemptive material in the fact that the movie does have a strong following among some in our population, just as at present there are some who are not in denial of the bittersweet perinatal vision being revealed.

The Lure Into the Underworld and Call to Adventure

clip_image004The perinatal adventure of “Nothing but Trouble” begins innocuously with the main characters “leaving the beaten path” on a rather ordinary trip out of the city. Interestingly, the Brazilian couple who have forced themselves on the main characters of Chevy Chase and Demi Moore in making the trip act as impish other-worldly instruments in the change of route.

Joseph Campbell pointed out that the “call to adventure,” which marks the beginning of the descent into the transformative nether regions, may be instigated by the merest chance or blunder. [Footnote 1]

Campbell also writes that the heralds of such a rite of spiritual passage are often loathly and underestimated characters. The Brazilian couple—as gaudy, overbearing, quirky, and from “down under”—perform just this function of luring into the underworld. Thus, they remind us that it is the quirky yet underestimated element in our familiar daily experience that opens us up to the process whose ramifications are huge by comparison.

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The Merest Blunder, The Adventure Begins

Sure enough, this innocent-appearing outing is soon disturbed. The merest blunder of map reading results in an ominous tour of an eerie town and its somber and menacing-looking inhabitants. This is followed by a high-speed car chase as the police attempt to pull the innocents over for a bogus traffic violation.

In the tour of the town, it is as if the ego is shown getting a preview or having a precognition of what lies ahead and attempts to flee back into its safe familiar environs. But of course, this emerging piece of unconscious material will not be denied and is able to capture the fleeing ego that we see safely ensconced in its trappings of status and power—symbolized by the BMW with car phone. At this point the main characters, representing the ego, are led, under guard, into the bizarre town of Valkenvania—the encounter with unconscious perinatal begins.

Perinatal Elements

The Junkyard of the Psyche

Campbell says that in the unconscious deep, to which one is beckoned, “are hoarded all the rejected, unadmitted, unrecognized, unknown, or undeveloped factors, laws, and elements of existence.” [Footnote 2]

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Likewise, the set in “Nothing But Trouble” is replete with refuse. Bits of history—of rusted and broken refrigerators, automobiles, kitchen appliances, assorted junk, and pieces and parts of all the preceding…the wreckage of the past—are strewn about as well as heaped in clusters to construct the architecture and delineate the outlines of the drama. The correlation with subconscious remnants of forgotten memories and past emotional experiences is obvious.

Thus the drama evolves in the dumping ground and junkyard of the psyche—where all the rejected tidbits of experience have been relegated.

Stripped of Ego, Perinatal Begins

After being separated from the automobile—i.e., the ego stripped of defensive trappings of status and worldly position—the characters are rather quickly shuttled into encounters with a myriad of perinatal elements. A few of the obvious ones are as follows:

  • Mr. Bonestripper, which is a roller-coaster type ride whose entrance is a large vagina dentate mouth that swallows, chews up, and kills. Notice the roller-coaster ride aspect of Mr. Bonestripper, which reflects the emotional extremes and changingness of perinatal, specifically Basic Perinatal Matrix III (BPM III), events. [Footnote 3]

  • The chutes inside the house and of Mr. Bonestripper indicate birth canal symbolism.
  • clip_image013Sexual elements, indicating BPM III influence, are manifest in the scantily clad heroine and the penis-nose of the judge.
  • The dark foundry symbolizes the foundation work of the psyche as well as the ominous and eerie aspects of perinatal experience.
  • The slave labor surroundings represent similar feelings in the enforced and helpless character of doings just prior to and at the time of birth.

  • Notice that the body—the car, the “Beamer”—gets trimmed down, the excess removed, symbolic of the cutting away of past attachments and concerns of a worldly nature, one’s “status” reduced.clip_image015
  • Chevy Chase as the main character is at one point forced into a marriage with a huge woman, who is tellingly androgynous in that she is played by John Candy. In her threatening and suffocating embraces we see symbolism of the crushing womb.
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  • The entire site of these doings is surrounded by a watery trench. This obviously reflects the amniotic surround in the womb.

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  • Police and guns point to the authoritative character of perinatal doings—i.e., do, or else!

  • Death/rebirth symbolism of the perinatal exists in the form of skeletons and huge piles of skulls and bones.

  • clip_image021Scatological, that is to say, fecal symbolism is seen in the “bat-room,” which contains an enormous pile of wet bat-shit…excuse the wording, but it really is shit and not feces.
  • The arbitrary nature of justice in the courtroom speaks to that perinatal feeling that one tiny thing, event, or action, has huge and horrifying ramifications.

Big Babies

The most obviously perinatal element, however, is the gargantuan and grotesquely flabby infant twins in diapers. Perinatal feelings are indicated in their extreme crying neediness. Their freshly newborn quality is evident in their fleshiness, which reminds one of the overweight appearance of some newborns, which is usually lost a little later on in infancy. The glossy, waxy sheen on their bodies is reminiscent of the skin of a newborn, which, fresh out of the womb, is wet and slippery, covered in amniotic fluid and cervical mucosa.

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A Transpersonal Interface

An interesting aspect that indicates the transpersonal interface with the perinatal is an attic room—a higher mind of memory, kind of like an Akashic record—where all past IDs—identifications—and reports of them—newspaper clippings—are displayed.

Though, interestingly enough, in true perinatal fashion, a macabre lens is used to view these lives—only the reports of their tragic disappearances are seen. I believe that this is a wonderful depiction of how transpersonal information is distorted by perinatal material—the implications of which are far reaching for the pronouncements of so-called spiritual, or psychological, authorities who have not dealt with their perinatal undersides.

Continue with Trusting Higher Forces: Say “Good Night,” John Wayne, and How Can You Be Borne Up If You Won’t Let Go? When All Seems Lost…. You Might Want to Stop Fighting Rebirth

Return to Yes, Tina Turner, We Do Need Another Hero … a Different Kind. Dreaming Out Loud, Part 2: The Path to Heaven Leads Through Hell

Footnotes

1. Joseph Campbell, The Hero With a Thousand Faces. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1968, p. 51.

2. Ibid., p. 52.

3. As a reminder, BPM III events (Basic Perinatal Matrix III events), using the typology set forth by Stanislav Grof in his many works, are the events surrounding the actual birth struggle of the infant during delivery. These parts on the perinatal in film make mention also of BPM II, which is related to the time of severe compression and constriction of the fetus in the latter stages of pregnancy and prior to the actual onset of delivery—which are characterized by feelings of “no-exit”; of BPM IV, which is concerned with the feelings of release, triumph, being saved, and whatever else occurs immediately after delivery; and of BPM I, which is related to the state of the fetus earlier in pregnancy—prior to compression—which is often conceived to have “oceanic” and “blissful” qualities, though not always.

Continue with Trusting Higher Forces: Say “Good Night,” John Wayne, and How Can You Be Borne Up If You Won’t Let Go? When All Seems Lost…. You Might Want to Stop Fighting Rebirth

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Religions Are About Control; Spirituality, Surrender; and the Cure for the Arrogant Modern Ego: Dreaming Out Loud, Part 2: We Need a Different Hero

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Religions Are About Control; Spirituality, Surrender. Let Go, Let God to Correct an Arrogant Modern Ego

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The Path to Heaven Leads Through Hell

Those in the know about the pervasive pre- and perinatal influence on personality and behavior, and especially those of us actively engaged in working through the effects of such early traumas, are fully aware, like Dante, that the path to heaven leads through hell. We have found that the path to the transpersonal light leads through the psychodynamic and perinatal darkness, that the path up and the path down are parts of the same path outward. [Footnote 2]

A Dark and Hideous Shadow World

Our experience has been that the information avalanche and multicultural onslaught have eroded our personal boundaries to an influx, not only of transpersonal bliss-love-compassion, but equally—and very often, initially—to a dark and hideous shadow world, a backwards bizarro world, of pernicious and insidious disorganized feelings comprised of elements ancient, infantile, pathological, biological, scatological, and perinatal. These are some of the forms spiritual emergence can take, especially initially. And they are the ones most likely to be seen as spiritual emergencies.

Pre- and Perinatal Themes in Cinema

Therefore, it is interesting to see these views confirmed by the bubbling up of psychodynamic and perinatal themes in our collective consciousness as evidenced by current films, books, and music. I have mentioned the pre- and perinatal themes and symbolism in films and explained why, along with other elements of postmodern times, they are evidence of something significant occurring in the consciousness of our age—an emerging perinatal unconscious.

But there is another element evolving in current films which has to do with a changing or evolving collective attitude toward these perinatal elements. And along with a changing attitude, there is evidence pointing to an evolving collective response to it.

Control vs. Surrender, Death vs. Life

“Control Spiritualities” and Patriarchal Cultures

Specifically, a different kind of heroic response, which characterizes the perinatal arena, can be said to characterize the postmodern movies replete with perinatal symbolism. Most striking of all, this different kind of heroic response corresponds to a different kind of spirituality than what is commonly portrayed in this society, or at least has been the norm up until now.

For basically there are “control” spiritualities and “surrender” spiritualities, with rarely the twain meeting. “Control spiritualities” are adapted to patriarchal cultures and involve the use of the ego to “control” and be in charge of even the realms of the supernatural. This is so because an ultimate evil—a devil or Satan—is postulated, which is given equal weight along with God in determining one’s ultimate fate. This type of spirituality is normally what is called religion.

“Surrender Spiritualities” and God As Being Good

But there is another brand of spirituality that is based on a belief in the ultimate goodness and rightness of All That Is. God’s goodness being essentially the dominant force in the Universe, herein it is considered safe to “surrender” in one’s relation to Reality, to expect that one will be guided correctly, in fact perfectly, in the act of letting go. Thus letting go is not to be feared—as in the control spirituality—but is to be practiced and fostered. In this perspective, which we might call surrender spirituality, control is seen as the problem, not the solution.

“Control” and “Surrender” Psychotherapies

Of course these two approaches to spirituality represent two approaches to psychotherapy as well. The control attitude is the dominant mode of psychoanalytically-based approaches—those in which the “demon” of the id is postulated.

The attitude of “letting go” and “surrender,” on the other hand, is the dominant mode of the experiential psychotherapies, which are themselves rooted in the tradition of humanistic psychology with its belief in the ultimate goodness of the human organism and which thus allows a faith in the ultimate rightness of human processes.

“Hero’s Journey” As “Control” Psychotherapy

the.control.attitudeSince the control attitude, in any of its manifestations, requires the postulation of an ultimate evil against which one must remain vigilant and must fight, the common “hero’s journey” myth—with its typical fighting and slaying of supposedly evil parts of the personality and reality symbolized as dragons and other monsters—is a prevalent focal myth to this attitude. Corresponding to this myth are the emphasis on disciplines and practices seeking to develop the ego and the will…over against the dangers that are postulated to exist in the Universe requiring these disciplines and, so-called, ego developments.

A Different Heroic Response in “Surrender” Paths

Since the “feeling” therapies and the other spiritual and experiential psychotherapeutic modalities with which they are allied are so different in attitude to the traditional “control” attitude, should there not be corresponding differences in myths to exemplify them? Indeed, there are.

In history, the surrender spiritualities have had correspondences in myth in which the dragon is not fought, conquered, and slain, but rather is either tamed and becomes one’s ally or pet—Saint Margaret is the prime example in the West, but this is a depiction prevalent in the East—or else one is swallowed by the “dragon” or monster and, after a while, is reborn.

Jonah is the prime example in the West for this latter depiction. But again this reaction to the fearful dissociated aspects of the personality, or the Shadow, is not a common one in the Western patriarchy, and it is much more common in traditional cultures and in the East.

A Shift to “Surrender” As a Corrective to a Western Overweening Ego?

All of this may be changing in recent times in the West, as once again the humanistic attitude and the new spiritual perspectives, as well as the experiential psychotherapies such as primal therapy, make us increasingly aware of the ultimate beneficence of the body, and of the Universe beyond even that, and of the importance of surrender and letting go as a corrective to the overweening control and defensiveness of the diminutive Western ego.

Footnote

2. See, for example, Michael Adzema, “A Primal Perspective on Spirituality,” Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 25(3), 83-116. Reprinted online at the Primal Spirit site at “A Primal Perspective on Spirituality.”

Continue with The Necessary Hero and Descent Into the Underground–When There’s “Nothing But Trouble,” You Know You’re in The Perinatal Below

Return to Does It Look Like We’ll Duck Armageddon? The Information Tsunami, Ego Erosion, and Movies Are Collective Dreaming: Dreaming Out Loud, Part One

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