Worlds of Phaedo and the Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

It is only through occult understanding that the forms and the archetypal images and symbols can be interpreted.

Here we see that the term unconsciousness is very similar to the Platonic ideals and forms. Another aspect that will form part of the theoretical perspective of this study is the concept of transformation. In order to understand the occult and its relationship to the forms, a process of transformation has to take place. In Platonic terms this transformation is a radical change in life, morality and ethics; while for Jung it is transformation in terms of the deeper understanding of the relation of the unconscious to the conscious mind.

Transformation also has related occult meaning and symbols such as fire. Fire is an age-old indication of change of perception and consciousness. This also refers to Jungian concepts such as the shadow. There are many other points of reference and similarity between the Jungian concepts and Plato. For example, the idea of recollection in Plato also relates to the concept of 'remembering' through psychoanalysis in the theory of Jung

Since we really do have knowledge of these supra-sensible realities, knowledge that we cannot possibly have obtained through any bodily experience, Plato argued, it follows that this knowledge must be a form of recollection and that our souls must have been acquainted with the Forms prior to our births. But in that case, the existence of our mortal bodies cannot be essential to the existence of our souls -- before birth or after death -- and we are therefore immortal. (Plato: Immortality and the Forms)

4. Analysis of the Blair Witch Project and the Fall of the House of Usher and Christabel

In terms of the critical perspective outlined above, the film the Blair Witch Project refers to the unknown that suddenly appears in a very ordinary setting. The film is calculated to express the fear of the unknown and is essentially about the encounter with the shadow world that is usually kept from common view. There is an effective use made of the metaphor of darkness to enforce the sense of alien and threatening strangeness. There are many symbols used in relating to occult knowledge - including the stick men which are related to ancient runes. "The "merkstave" rune means "dark stick" and implies a "dark" meaning." (Runes, Alphabet of Mystery)

In terms of the theoretical perspective in this study, the film expresses a sense of wonder and mystery and hints at a much larger and more mysterious undercurrent to reality than is normally given to us in ordinary life or in the world of 'particulars'. The central character, Heather, also at times suggests a metaphorical relationship with the idea of the forms of reality which, as Jung and Freud suggest, are both unseen by the ordinary eye but nevertheless always present. This can be seen when Heather can neither open nor close her eyes to escape the reality of the fear that is confronting her. This implies that the reality of the experience or of the Blair Witch has transcended ordinary experience and Heather is confronted with the realization that she in the presence of something beyond the world of particulars. Her experience is one of fear because of the alien quality of the encounter. The film is successful mainly because it retains the mastery of the encounter with the supernatural. It is this sense of mystery which goes to the heart of the occult experience and which relates to the understanding of the forms as the unknown. All three of the works under discussion succeed in retaining this essential sense of mystery and the unknown.

The idea of the "nameless dread' in the Blair Witch Project is also a feature of many of Edgar Allen Poe's short stories and novels. His work is similar to another writer in the horror genre, HP Lovecraft, whose stories often contained "... The idea that an 'ancient evil' can hang around as some non-specific force which compels susceptible people." (ForteanTimes)

Common to both the Blair Witch Project and the Fall of the House of Usher is the sense of confrontation with something that is beyond the normal. Also common to both is a sense of fear and extreme tension in the encounter with the other.

This relates to another and very important aspect of the occult sciences, which also can be found in the Platonic theories; namely that the human being, in order to understand the experience of the forms, must go though a radical transformation process which often means the dissolution and even the destruction of the old personality or ego. Jung mentions this aspect on numerous occasions as the necessary dissolution of the old ego. It is referred to in Plato as follows.

To the philosopher, the body is "a disturbing element, hindering the soul from the acquisition of knowledge..." what is purification but...the release of the soul from the chains of the body?" The Socrates of Plato, Phaedo. (WordiQ)

Transformation has many occult symbols related to it. One of the most pertinent and common is the symbol of fire. Fire "burns" away the old perceptions and views of reality and also suggests the extreme nature of a change in perception that is needed to perceive and understand the forms, or the unknown. This is referred to in the Phaedo as a form of purification,

In the Phaedo, the man who wishes to attain to knowledge of reality must seek to purify himself: by reason alone, eliminating the senses. The individual, by philosophy, attempts to live a life only really attainable after death. Purity is only obtainable on separation from the enslavement of the body. For it cannot be that the impure attain the pure (67A).

Christian Churches of God)

We encounter something of this element in the short story "The Fall of the House of Usher." The story opens with many of the elements that have already been discussed. The writer goes to great lengths so create a mood and atmosphere of mystery and the unknown.

A looked upon the scene before me -- upon the mere house, and the simple landscape features of the domain -- upon the bleak walls -- upon the vacant eye-like windows -- upon a few rank sedges -- and upon a few white trunks of decayed trees -- with an utter depression of soul which I can compare to no earthly sensation more properly than to the after-dream of the reveler upon opium -- the bitter lapse into every-day life -- the hideous dropping off of the veil. (Edgar Allan Poe: The Fall of the House of Usher)

Notice that the author refers to the fact that what he experiences when viewing the house is something which he cannot compare to any "earthly sensation." (ibid) There is a sense in which the house contains unseen knowledge. This mood and sense of mystery and even awe is sustained throughout the story. The central theme of the story is dissolution and fragmentation of the human psyche. This is strongly related to the idea of chaos in the Jungian shadow world and, in occult terms, the destruction of the body or sensible world so that a new body or occult body can be formed.

The Fall of the House of Usher" can be interpreted as "a detailed account of the derangement and dissipation of an individual's personality." The house itself becomes the "symbolic embodiment of this individual." The fissure or the crack in the decaying mansion, noted by the narrator near the beginning of the story, represents "an irreconcilable fracture in the individual's personality." Roderick represents the mind or the intellect, while the portion of personality that we refer to as the senses (hearing, seeing, touching, tasting and smelling) is represented by Madeline.... The house (a symbol of a now deranged individual) crumbles into the "deep and dank tarn," as the narrator flees in terror for his own sanity."

Womack, M.)

The theories of Jung are also very appropriate to this short story." In his later work, Jung was convinced that the archetypes are psychoid, that is, "they shape matter (nature) as well as mind (psyche)"... In other words, archetypes are elemental forces which play a vital role in the creation of the world and of the human mind itself. The ancients called them elemental spirits. (Archetypes as Defined by Carl Jung) October 9, 2004.

In this story the house itself is sentient - it has a life of its own and seems to control or at least influence the human figures who reside within it. This again refers to the Jungian theory of the shadow

The most basic potential for patterning is the Shadow Archetype. This is the potential of experiencing the unconscious side of our unique personalities. As we move deeper into the dark side of our personality personal, identity begins to…

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