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by Dr. Julie Wilson PhD.

Using the Child Being the Child

Defining the Nature of the Child Jung's notions of the archetypes, the use of archetypal images in art and their contribution to the process of individuation, provides a framework within which to assess some of the more problematic areas arising from the study of an artist's relationship to his or her own work. Jung suggests that “the innate archetypes act as frameworks into which ... each individual pours its own specific experiences" (1), either through the connection with archetypal principles located within the collective unconscious (2), or with synthesised principles related to the personal unconscious. (3)

Jung suggestes that it is through the exploration of archetypes that the process of individuation (the development of an individual identity) is facilitated.

... the clearest and most significant manifestation of the child motif in the therapy of neuroses is in the maturation process of personality induced by the analysis of the unconscious, which I have termed the process of individuation. (4)

What is important about Jung's notion of individuation and the involvement of the archetypes in this process, is that he does not consign it to the consulting room but identifies it as a congenital system which is active within each individual's psyche.

... the archetype is a psychic organ present in all of us. (5)

The fact that the archetypes are indigenous to each individual makes the notion of the cross-fertilisation of collective archetypal traits and synthesised principles related to the personal unconscious, theoretically possible. Both the personal and the archetypal inhabit the same spatial environment as part of the psyche. The notion that archetypes are indigenous to each individual also implies that the individual's use the psychic organ is discreetly different. In investigating the dynamics of the child archetype in relation to the individual which is Genesis P-Orridge, we must be aware that we are looking at a unique synthesis of an empirical psychological trait.

Evidence of the artist's frequent visitations to the memories of his own childhood, his use of childlike states in performance and ritual and as part of his creative process, suggest that there is something fundamental which is buried within the philosophical and psychological dynamics of the child which P-Orridge is drawing upon. Perhaps it is the raw energy associated with the first time engagement with ideas, images and the environment as a whole, which is being sought by the artist. Childhood, or childlikeness may, on the other hand, function as a reference point which serves as a distance marker against which to measure, assess and relocate the present or adult state of affairs. As Jung has suggested, the child archetype is not only something that existed in the distant past, or wholly in the unconscious, but

... something that exists now; that is to say, it is not just a vestige but a system functioning in the present whose purpose is to compensate or correct, in a meaningful manner, the inevitable one-sidednesses and extravagances of the conscious mind. (6)

Freud suggestes that the child (meaning both the archetype and the actual child) is retained during adulthood but remains beneath, or at a psychologically lower level, overlain by the veneers of the adult state of affairs. Freud writes:

...in spite of all the later development that occurs in the adult, none of the infantile mental formations perish. All the wishes, instinctual impulses, modes of reaction and attitudes of childhood are still demonstrably present in maturity and in appropriate circumstances can emerge once more. They are not destroyed but merely overlaid - ... (7)

Jung suggestes that the characteristics or traits of the Child archetype emerge as a symbol of evolving independence and that the symbol anticipates a nascent, or original state of consciousness (8). Connecting with the Child is therefore perhaps a means of connecting with that state of originality. The emergence of the archetypal qualities of the Child arises in the adult at times when it is psychologically necessary to seek or connect with the original, for instance in moments of personal crisis when identity and perhaps even mortality are threatened. While Jung associates the emergence of the archetypal child with the development of individuality as a kind of corrective, it may also be true to say that the child is capable of breaking through the adult veneer at moments when the qualities of the adult are in most need of correction.

The child therefore exists at both ends of the psychological spectrum; it exists at the beginning as an original and at the end of adult domination as a corrective. Its form is unique and complex and is symbolic of more than the singular regressive quality with which it is commonly miss-associated. P-Orridge has suggested that the journey through the personal memories of childhood or childlikeness to the archetypal experience of child, provides the “links of old senses in rope" (9) - a notional thread of existence (10) which reaches back into the perinatal and transpersonal state of consciousness (11) to a psychological original state which helps to reposition the adult within his/her own psychological process of individuation. The links in the rope of existence of which P-Orridge speaks, are instinctual knots and sensations of rightness found in moments of connection with the child archetype as an originality or corrective trait.

If the appearance of the child archetype is, as Jung suggests, symbolic of the emergence of awakening independence, as an experience of originality, or as a corrective against the stagnation engendered by the domination of adulthood, its attributes may not necessarily be particularly whimsical or angelic. The child implies instability and movement through emergence. As an antidote to adult rationalism it is prankish. Such a dynamic is often irrational and unpredictable; it seeks chaos and disruption where the adult seeks logic and organisation.

Baudrillard has suggested that the principle of the child is Other to the adult. He describes the nature of this Child otherness as “total seduction" (12), meaning that it is seduced by its own Being, its own presentness. Baudrillard suggests that, while the adult needs a constant cognitive reminder that it is an adult, children do not have to remind themselves; they do not have to make believe that they are children, they know that they are . Baudrillard suggests that the nature of the child's Being is immediate, instinctive and primary. Its knowing that 'it is' is fundamentally ontological and of the moment. In this respect we can say that the child is psychologically at the opposite polarity to the adult. Baudrillard expands the notion of this polarity by suggesting that:

Children are not far removed, in fact, from Schnitzler's microbes: they are, as it were, a different species, and their vitality and development announces the eventual destruction of the superior - adult world that surrounds them. Childhood haunts the adult universe as a subtle and deadly presence. (13)

This is not only true of real children but also of the archetype. To engage with the archetypal principle of Child is to experience something which is totally Other, something that seems to possess the properties of another species. According to Baudrillard it is a species of total seduction, a principle which is absolutely consumed by the nature of its own Being. Baudrillard suggests that the child is not, as is the adult, constantly challenged by the notion that it might not be what it believes itself to be. The child does not believe: it knows that IT IS. Meanwhile, the adult, having passed through childhood and having come into contact with the nature of the child of absolute Being, and having experienced the total seduction of the child, is ever haunted by its authenticity.

From a Jungian point of view we might say that the adult is haunted by the phenomena of the child both within the realms of the personal and the collective unconscious. The tension which might arise from the adult's sense of its own inauthenticity, shadowed by the authentic child, is perhaps apparent on both the superficial and the deep unconscious levels of the psyche. The character of the child may therefore assume a sinister presence within the adult psyche since it threatens to destroy the supremacy of the adult. The child is, in a very real sense, an agent which threatens to unmask the adult world as fraud, sham and illusion. According to this hypothesis an adult's engagement with an archetypal experience of the child would imply entering into a different state or sensation of Being.

For the adult this may mean the loss of a cognitive system of reminder, the loss of an intellectual location - the frame in which the adult tends to place and validate itself. The loss of the frame and the exposure to what could be described as the full-on, sensual, instinctive experience of Being. It is an exposure to a violent and disorientating state which is at the same time a powerfully seductive trauma.

Engaging with the archetypal qualities of the Child also implies the unmasking of the adult. Jung suggestes, and Baudrillard implies, that contact with the archetypal child is in some way to succumb to the phantom of seduction which exists just below the surface of the adult veneer. Traces of the archetypal traits of the Child and the disruption it causes in the make-up of the adult can be seen in the work and the changing personality of Genesis P-Orridge. The child is one of the earliest themes or tools used by P-Orridge. One can see from evidence presented in the Coum diaries (documents dating from 1974 concerning the early performance activities) P-Orridge's strong tendency to cast himself in the role of the child, and his construction of characters with childlike qualities. The notion of the child is frequently explored in the song lyrics of Throbbing Gristle and Psychick TV and there is a tendency in the most recent work to reconstruct memories of his own childhood within archetypal, neurotic, pathological frames. Here the likeness of the child is evoked out of a sense of frustration and is used as a reflex to undermine, interrogate and unmask the inauthenticities of aspects of the adult world and Genesis P-Orridge the adult. It is used as a method of connecting with another, perhaps more immediate, state of Being.

Jung suggestes that the Child is evoked by conflict-situations, those circumstances which we might assume are centred on a crisis of identity and the question of authenticity. In accordance with this theory it may perhaps be true to say that P-Orridge's frequent use of the child goes hand in hand and is perhaps a consequences of the tidal sensations of frustration and betrayal which have been a perennial feature of his life. These rhythmic episodes of crisis seem to be brought on by his personal loss of a sense of authenticity he experiences in the adult world.

This reading of P-Orridge's psychological situation suggests that for him the notion of identity is linked to a sensation of the authentic which the Child represents and facilitates. In other words, for P-Orridge, authenticity can be said to be, firstly, immediacy, availability, vulnerability to the sensual experience of the moment. Secondly, an openness to the possibility of any physical or psychological gesture which emanates from the moment. And Third a willingness to participate in 'Other' seductive narratives or what we might call organic forms which lie outside the notion of binary logic.

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