Posts Tagged ‘meaning’

Myth and Meaning

October 3, 2010

Through experience I find what I believe is the core problem of depression – a loss of meaning. In depression, meaning seems drained out of existence; there it all is – color, sound, smell, beauty, love, life all around and in front of you – so what? It is just there. Purpose and meaning are extracted. It all looks and feels like nothing. I think the barometer of joy and happiness in life is measured on the scale of the amount of meaning one finds in it. Physicist David Bohm suggested that meaning is the third principle that constitutes reality. Einstein saw the dual principle of matter and energy. Bohm suggested a third aspect to our very physics — matter, energy and meaning. Meaning is as much a part of our physical reality as the other two, and is unfolded from the other two. Depression is a result of a loss of this dimension. I’m speaking from experience. No one ever told me this.

I don’t know what causes bouts with depression. There are so many theories and ideas and doctors and analysts, so many who conscientiously diagnose and prescribe and listen, many times to the great benefit of others. I am 59 with a doctorate in depth psychology and have been helped and have been able to help in this area. But there is much more to the mystery than I believe we have yet encountered or articulated in general. As Robert Romanyshyn says, depression is not the cause, it is the cure. And Marie Louise von Franz says to go into depression, let it take you to where it is going, underneath all of the superficialities of life to where you can discover what it wants, what it has to say, its purpose, its meaning.

The trick is to be able to come back with what you find, to bridge the worlds. I saw a movie last night just as I was coming out of a strong bout with depression. The movie spoke to me in a gorgeous and timely way. It is called Ondine, a movie directed by Neil Jordan with Colin Ferrell starring (p.s. Colin Ferrell is one of my favorite actors ever.) The story is of an Irish fisherman who catches a woman in his fishing net. The movie deals with harsh realities, but shows the magic and mystery that a dimension of meaning contributes for all involved. It is that dimension which storytellers and movie makers and musicians and poets and artists consistently address that are utterly life-giving, that revolutionize and move life forward out of meaningless, repetitive, deadly spirals.

I was reminded of the following words in Jung’s Memories, Dreams, Reflections as I started to write on this. “Meaninglessness inhibits fullness of life and is therefore equivalent to illness. Meaning makes a great many things endurable – perhaps everything. No science will ever replace myth, and a myth cannot be made out of any science.” Myth is another dimension altogether.

Star Wars, Harry Potter, fairy tales, Iron Man, the Greeks – without such as these we would be a lost species. If you have a friend who is depressed or find yourself in this state, sit with it until the meaning and the myth emerge. Some would say those are the stories that take one away from reality and lead to insanity. I say to be without them is insanity. I know whereof I speak.