Friday, November 29, 2013
The 2013 Oxford English Dictionary just declared "selfie" the word of the year. A "selfie" is a type of self-portrait often taken with a hand-held digital camera or camera phone in order to be displayed on social media. Humans love images. The ancients had divine idols, we have digital media.
Yet picture-taking preceded both ancient idols and modern "selfies". In fact, in its structure and action, the human eyeball is similar to a camera and is controlled by similar rules. Like a camera, the eye has a shutter called the iris to control the light. Like a camera the eye works automatically and has a film which covers the retina for forming images. The eyeball darts about all day long like a nervous photographer, scanning a vast array of images, occasionally snapping a photo of a few images that become fixed in memory. For example, have you ever left a family holiday gathering with a variety of images and emotionally charged impressions? The aunt who drinks too much, the cousin who has put on a lot of weight, the parent who suddenly looks old, or the sibling with a new partner that you judge to be a disaster waiting to happen? But why does "my" eye capture certain images and not others--after all, how many thousands of images do we see each day? Each person will leave that same family get-together with different mental photos and their accompanying judgments and emotions.
I want to suggest that the Soul, not the ego, is the Wise photographer (Psychographer) Who captures those striking images that are needed for our personal soul-making. My memories are photos downloaded onto my mental and emotional facebook page, taken all day long by my roaming eye-camera, most often snapped without my conscious ego-consent. If we admit the existence of a purposeful Self beyond our ego--a Self Who knows what we need for further development, fuller joy and emotional healing--then we will choose to explore more deeply those images that "impress" our consciousness. I think this is what James Hillman is talking about when he says that one role of Soul is "...the deepening of events into experiences." I am not suggesting self-obsessed navel gazing, but rather a time of reflectively exploring the numerous and varied implications of an embedded affective memory-image. Ask the Soul (Divine Source), "What is it in this arresting image that you want me to see regarding my current personality?" Remember--that particular image actually chose you to make it a subject for later reflection. Images do no stick in ones mental album randomly. I suspect that unexamined images turn into semi-conscious obsessions, resentments or worse. It might do us well to conclude each day with a few moments of remembering and reflecting on the "image of the day". It might even keep us from having a bad dream.