'Mum? Can I talk to you?’ James in serious mood last night. I nodded and we sat on the edge of the bed, looking ahead, cos it’s easier to discuss tough stuff when someone isn’t looking straight into your eyes, isn’t it?
‘It’s school. They say I’m black. They call me ‘Blackman’ and say I come from Nigeria.’
‘It’s cos I tan so easily, cos my skin goes so dark.’
Seriously, I didn’t know where to begin, whether to be more pissed off at the bullying or the inherent racism in the little shits. Or to laugh at their sheer fecking stupidity. Anyhow, we talked it through; about how people who bully do so out of low self-esteem; about how people project their shit onto other people (via racism, homophobia etc); about how you deal with bullies (pretty much the same as you deal with internet trolls really) and so on. But really I just wanted to go into school and pick ‘em up by the scruffs of their sorry little necks and bang their stupid little heads together. And, seriously, don’t you just wish that schools taught the basics of psychology? Or that parents could get their own shadows under control and not pass them onto their children? Yeah, right. Like I’m so perfect! *hollow laugh*
Projection. A psychological defence mechanism where we plonk our subconscious thoughts or emotions onto other people – either one person or a group of people. Psychologically it's supposed to reduce anxiety by allowing us to express our unconscious impulses and desires without owning them in conscious thought. In our generally spiritually barren society, in which we generally turn away from the healing power of myth, more and more people project their inner potential, their ‘kingdom’ and ‘queendom’ onto celebrities. It’s heart-rending. And our shadows? The parts of us that shame or scare us? We project them all over the place, willy-nilly – we scapegoat.
Interesting word, scapegoat. Apparently it’s a mistranslation (ez ozel = the goat that departs = the ‘escape’ goat or ‘scapegoat) of the word Azazel. Azazel was a demon; also the name of a hill from which sacrifices were thrown. But anyhow.
We project our shadow onto individuals (the child who is ‘different’, the ‘whore’ down the road, the drunken tramp, the crooked politician etc) but also onto groups. Men on women; whites on blacks; Christians on Muslims; socialists on capitalists (and, of course, all vice versa and every which way). War erupts from collective shadow projections – look at any war and you see devils and demons dancing straight from the human unconscious.
Curiously, the more creativity and ‘sophistication’ in a society, the deeper and darker the shadow annihilation that will loom up in its wake.
But, see, the shadow isn’t all bad. We project our darkness but, interestingly, we also project our light. In the shadow lies power – it’s just that we misdirect it.
William Blake talks about exactly that in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell
“Without Contraries is no progression. Attraction and Repulsion, Reason and Energy, Love and Hate, are necessary to Human existence.”
How do you deal creatively with the shadow? I guess that's another post - though I read somewhere that there are language schools that teach by getting you to adopt an identity entirely different from that which you use in your normal life - causing not only swift learning but also great eruptions of energy. Interesting, huh?
Ah heck. This is getting a bit complicated for a blog post, isn’t it? But really, I go round in circles at the moment.
Back on the bed, I hugged James. I also said a few things that made him laugh like a drain but which probably aren’t terribly good examples of ‘proper parenting’ so I won’t repeat them.
‘What can I do, love?’ I asked, after we’d stopped laughing (cos really, you have to laugh, don’t you – or you’d just end up sobbing all over the place). ‘What would you like me to do?’
‘Nothing,’ he said. ‘It just feels better having talked about it really.’
And, in a world where often there really isn’t anything you can do physically, cos really, it's all crap, it really is - sometimes talking is all there is.
But then - if you can't find the right words? If words only make things worse? Then what? Shit huh?