Friday, 25 March 2016

The quest for the Holy relic of archaeology: part three

T. E. Lawrence in  Palestine, June 1920
"...(did you understand that I enlisted not to write books, but because I was broke?) and am not yet quite in the deep stuff, though three Govt. Departments exhaust themselves trying to find me a billet.... I turn down all their ideas, and ask for something poorer, and they think I mean richer. Soon they will burst themselves. You see I'm fed up with being called Colonel in this ridiculous year 1923: and am determined not any more to be respectable. Besides I liked being an A.C.2. and would like to be something of the sort in future..." Letter To B. E. Leeson, February 4, 1923, signed "J. H. Ross".

"...A telling why I joined? As you know I don't know! Explaining it to Dawnay I said 'Mind-suicide': but that's only because I'm an incorrigible phraser. Do you, in reading my complete works, notice that tendency to do up small packets of words foppishly? At the same time there's the reason why I have twice enlisted, in those same complete works: on my last night in Barton Street I read chapters 113 to 118, and saw implicit in them my late course. The months of politics with Winston were abnormal, and the R.A.F. and Army are natural...." Letter to Lionel Curtis, March 19, 1923, signed "R" (John Hume Ross).

"When we were away, we were worth more than other men by our conviction that she was the greatest, straightest and best of all the countries in the world, and we would die before knowing that a page of her history had been blotted by defeat. Here, in Arabia, in the war's need, I was selling my honesty for her sustenance, unquestionably."  T. E. Lawrence, The Complete 1922 Seven Pillars of Wisdom: The 'Oxford' Text, J. and N. Wilson, Castle Hill Press Editions, third edition with amendments, 2014, Volume II, Chapter 113, p. 651f.

Everything is connected. Yesterday, I left you with the phrase "mind suicide" as it was the closest concept I could think of to describe what follows in this quest. Today, I realize that it is not the perfect parallel because in the case of certain archaeologists, it is not a matter of free will, but the effect of a neurosis and is not part of any conscious thinking on their part.It relates more closely to someone saying "That would be suicidal!". Unfortunately, there is no term in the English language to describe it. It is not "self-destructive" behaviour in its essence, although that can be a side-effect; it is a destructice force that affects all in its path. It came to me, of course, because of my ongoing research into a document about T. E. Shaw (the name adopted after T. E. Lawrence") by one of his friends. Throughout this blog, in the three years I have been writing it, I have focused on certain people with whom I share some similarities of personality. To be fairly specific: the introverted intuitive personality types (Ni). T. E. Lawrence/John Hume Ross/T. E. Shaw, was such a type, as was Jung and Nietzsche. Write what you know. Other sorts of personality types can have a hard time understanding the introverted intuitive and must replace, with hard work, what comes naturally with us. Conversely, the  Ni, as all people are different, must temper the natural with hard work in order to be authentic.

Authenticity is also a strong characteristic of the Ni.You can see it in the quotes I give above. But in part one of this series we see Silberman giving a secondary title: "Moving beyond the cult of object- centred authenticity" without using the word authenticity, whatsoever, in his text and failing to to understand the meaning of "object". Besides, calling authenticity a cult is obviously inauthentic. A critic might say that in there was inauthenticity in having three different names in one life, but T. E. Lawrence was not an authentic name, either, and that was something of which he was keenly aware.
He was free to write his own identity. Perhaps this was the inspiration for Sherif Ali's line in the movie: Lawrence of Arabia "Truly, for some men nothing is written unless they write it." Sherif Ali had actually said no such thing when Lawrence returned after finding Gasim, at least, it is not mentioned in The Seven Pillars. It was all part of the mythology from which John Hume Ross was trying to separate himself.

We turn, again, to archaeological hoarding as it is gives us the essential key to the big picture and shines a light toward the end of this quest. In the compulsive hoarding neurosis, the objects that are hoarded become symbols. Jung explains symbol formation in Psychic Energy (original German version published in 1948), but now included in On the Nature of the Psyche in the collected works, p. 45:
"The psychological mechanism that transforms energy is the symbol. I mean by this a real symbol and not a sign... The mechanism would be destroyed by a semiotic interpretation... I am far from suggesting that the semiotic interpretation is meaningless: it is not only a possible interpretation but also a very true one. Its usefulness is undisputed in all those cases where nature is merely thwarted without any effective work resulting from it. but the semiotic interpretation becomes meaningless when it is applied exclusively and schematically—when, in short, it ignores the real nature of the symbol and debases it to a mere sign."
When you ask an advocate of archaeological hoarding why this should be so, in all cases they will reply that these objects are stored for future study and in some cases will also add that as new methods become invented, the earlier discovered objects can then be studied in more depth. Other people of the same mind-set also might advocate leaving things in the ground until such a time that technology can better deal with the, Implicit in this view, is the idea that the present technology is insufficient, but you will not hear this being voiced. It is actually a conscious avoidance  which will then initiate an unconscious pathological response as that is the natural, and compensatory, reaction to repression.

A number of people are drawn to archaeology as a means of investigating the past because it deals in the material. This is an extraverted characteristic which if extended to neurotic levels, results in a total distrust of anything that is not material. You see this in two, apparently, very different sorts of people: the atheist and the religious fundamentalist. Archaeology attracts the atheist but not the religious fundamentalist because, of course, the latter will wish to ignore all that appears to go against their faith, and archaeological evidence is frequently used to debunk the idea that the world was not created in 4004 BC; that evolution is a reality, and so on. The atheist archaeologist, however, does not get off the hook so easily and transforms his materialism, not in the belief of a real, solid, God somewhere who created the world, but projects that same authority to the discipline of archaeology itself. They thus become fundamentalist archaeologists and start making laws and rules about everything and try to get civil authorities to adopt such just as the religious fundamentalist does the same in having Intelligent Design taught as science in schools.

The reason that all of this archaeological material is archived (hoarded) is because of the unconsciously known fact that their faith in an, external, archaeological record is unfounded; that context (which, significantly, avoids all expressions other than those of the material at the archaeological site) is also a myth. Apart from rare occasions of things like the  "smoking gun" type of evidence, all such context is subjectively intuited. Such people cannot do this as they cannot look inward (being extreme extraverts) and they then attribute the lack of knowledge to an undeveloped technology that will, one day, appear whole to save them all. It becomes a Messianic correlate. You see this, also, in the myths of Arthur and Charlemagne returning from the dead to save their societies.

I will be back on Monday with more evidence and some chilling ramifications in this theme. Have a revelatory weekend.

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  1. so that's the origin of the knights that say ni. I had always wondered.

    1. Close, but the other way round. John Cleese is not only a Jungian, but, like Lawrence, believes in reinventing yourself: