REsponse to Metaphorest's "The Girl who was Ashamed of her Shadow"

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Meta, first off, let me say that I absolutely love this to pieces. The storytelling is wonderful as usual, and besides your beautiful use of language, you also continue to amaze me with the concepts you choose to explore. That being said, I have an insatiable curiosity to know if you’ve ever read any Carl Jung.

This story you’ve written is a truly fantastic expression of a concept explored by psychologist/thinker Jung, and (noted fantasy author) Ursula K. Le Guin. I don't know if you've ever read or heard of it, but I almost couldn’t believe how perfectly your story and the behavior of its shadows and people fit the archetype. If you’ve read it, then this is an awesome example of the archetype, but if you haven’t, then I think you’re also providing supporting evidence for some of Jung’s theories about the collective unconscious.

Jung was a pioneer in dream theories and their usefulness in psychology, and a lot of his ideas are extremely interesting. The way that shadows are explored as an archetype in the idea of psychology is very different from a lot of the ways that I’ve seen people exploring them here (though I certainly enjoy this interesting take on the shadows as a species rather than a concept). To be honest, I’ve been waiting to see if anyone would bring up this set of ideas about Shadows in their RECords, just to test my theory that eventually someone would pick it up.

Jung believed some ideas are so important and universal that people can be inspired to express them at different times, in different places, and still say very similar things about them. To quote the wiki page on the Collective Unconscious ( :

“Jung distinguished the collective unconscious from the personal unconscious, in that the personal unconscious is a personal reservoir of experience unique to each individual, while the collective unconscious collects and organizes those personal experiences in a similar way with each member of a particular species.”

In other words, the collective unconscious can be thought of as the biggest human collaboration of all time. :D

There is a truly captivating piece written about Jung’s shadow archetype by Ursula K. Le Guin. In it, she explores another shadow-story, this one about a man who tries to divorce himself from his shadow, and ruins his whole life. He doesn’t face it, won’t acknowledge it, and therefore can’t understand it. Worse still, he cannot control it. (To those of you wondering about his fate, I am including instructions to find the essay; I would have linked it directly but was unsure if that was allowed). Le Guin also shows how this concept is included in works like Lord of the Rings. She is quoted in the piece as saying that

“The great fantasies, myths and tales are indeed like dreams: they speak from the unconscious to the unconscious, in the language of the unconscious--symbol and archetype. Though they use words, they work the way music does: they short-circuit verbal reasoning, and go straight to the thoughts that lie too deep to utter.”

This short essay by Le Guin is called “The Child and the Shadow” and I have been in love with it since my years in college (as an English major, though I’m not sure it shows; my love for expressive freedom in writing occasionally tramples my grammar. To death).

If you search on Google, it should be one of the very first links that comes up. A brief warning- the PDF I am sending you to has its pages out of order- page 1= page 6, page 2= page 5, etc. Sorry for any confusion— you’re probably better off re-ordering the pages on your own computer for easier reading.

Dear Meta, I would love to hear your thoughts on this story and its implications (as well as the thoughts of all you other hitRECorders)! I have placed my thoughts on the matter (back from when first I read Le Guin's essay) here:

All my best,


Created: Jan 31, 2011


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