Sustaining Images (2)
Archetypes exist to teach us how to develop. Stories are archetypal images strung together and inter-relating as archetypal dynamics. Or, you could say, one archetypal dynamic - the one that allows an individual to develop to maturity and self-realisation, through the integration of the conscious and the unconscious, the balancing of the different aspects of the personality and the aligning of that personality to the person’s focus. The same dynamic works on a collective scale, to allow one generation to succeed another, through constant renewal. Renewal in every generation, and through every generation, through integration with the environment and the One. The Seven Basic Plots book sets this out quite clearly.
But while I can transpose all this into Christian thinking easily enough, there is more to it. Somehow the dynamics that I have identified in the IA material need to be married into this. But how? That dynamic begins with images of abundance, provision, inclusion and faithfulness, all on an eternal and endless scale. A vast scale. Vast beyond any human community that we might envisage. The ability of the One to provide for us, nurture us and hold us, I guess. We find our identity within that - our individual identity and our corporate identity - as people who are valuable, valued and resourced - and begin relating to each other in this way. This changes our perspective, enlarges our choices, encourages us to make more creative decisions, and enables us to act as if our vision is true - and to go on doing so. In this way, our latent abilities are developed and we begin to realise our potential. The creativity thus released generates new resources, so that the process can continue.
I suppose it is possible to see this as macro-plot and micro-plot. The archetypal process that Booker describes relates to the overall direction and process of the journey. The process that I am describing is the micro-plot, the task of everyday, as it were.
Both stories begin with Paradise, or the vision of Paradise as the kingdom that should be prosperous but is not. Paradise is a vision of plenty that is secured in us as the way things ought to be, the way human communities ought to live, but the fact is that no human community is Paradise. Paradise is always “lost” in the sense that no human community works constantly harmoniously and well. Community life is dynamic, and needs constant attention - refocusing, re-envisioning, reflecting back and reinterpreting and resourcing - if it is to remain fruitful and fulfilling or even properly functioning.
The resourcing of Paradise is the task of every generation, and of each new generation as it arises. Where Paradise is reasonably well governed, the individual may have to leave it in order to face those challenges and learn those lessons that he or she needs to learn in order to return and join the ruling generation as a wise and well-integrated person. Or, alternatively, find their fortune somewhere else. Where Paradise is not wisely governed at all, but has fallen under the spell of a tyrant, then the hero and heroine have the choice as to whether to leave or stay, but either way they have to overcome the monster of fear within themselves in order to do what is necessary to depose or destroy the tyrant and restore peace, prosperity and right focus to the kingdom.
Consequently, the vision of Paradise is both “lost” and a treasure that is sought so as to be “regained.” Individually, our treasure is the ability to develop, focus and deploy our personal powers towards the renewal of our community, towards the regaining of Paradise. But if this suggests a large narrative - the story of a journey - and a minor one - the story of everyday - or, to put it another way - a large narrative - the story of a community - and a small one - the story of a single heroine and hero - then I can see how this might relate to the Gates of Eden, but not to the resource pack.
The problem with the resource pack is one of layers - I can give them the material that will do a particular job, but how much do I tell them about why this works? How much persuasive material do I include? How much detail do I go into? I think the problem with the rp is that I still haven’t sorted out this basic problem of layers. In a sense, I still haven’t found my “voice” in this stuff. And because I haven’t done that, I cannot focus the material sharply enough. My instincts are telling me that it isn’t yet sufficiently cohesive, I think. And this may also be linked to my dissatisfaction with the stories. Too many voices.
It is too disparate. It needs to be re-focused. Honed to a point. I want it to be as sharp as a needle, because there are so many different layers and different angles that unless it is sharp - as sharp as a blade - it is going to be too diffuse and its impact will be blunted. I can’t help feeling that this issue of voice is at the root of it. I need to find one voice into which I can put all the material, and transpose all the stories with as little effort as possible. One character as it were. The traveller, the story-teller, the trickster. A Christian version of Jack Sparrow. Or Jane Sparrow. Jenny Wren. Traveller, story-teller, wise-woman. Witch, some people call me, but I do not use magic. I do not have any supernatural powers, not do I seek any. All I have, and all I seek, is the wisdom that comes from living, the perception that comes from loving all kinds of people, and the compassion that comes from seeing whole. And I worship God - because how can you live and see and love without worshipping God? That is all I have, and all I seek, the allowance God gives me.