I Ate'nt Dead -- or That Which Does Not Kill Us Makes Us Stronger

Hallie O'Donovan hallieod at indigo.ie
Tue Sep 17 08:40:10 EDT 2002


Thanks for a fantastic, thought-provoking post, Ven!  Sadly, exams 
loom for me, so I can't give this anything like the thought it 
deserves, but I figured half-baked, uninformed feedback was better 
than none (hopefully you'll feel the same way), and can't bear not to 
contribute same.

>In using the terms resurrection and rebirth I'm
>including the symbolic as well as the literal
>meaning. I have some vague categories, they are
>of course common to a great deal of western and
>probably world literature:
>
>The actual raising from the dead or healing of a
>fatal injury/illness.
>
>Release from imprisonment, both literal and
>figurative.
>
>The reuniting of sundered parts of a personality
>or a person. This is common in Dwj, is it a
>personal motif?
>
>The obliteration of a character's former life by
>external factors, so they have to begin again
>from scratch (very apt for Dogsbody's Sirius).
>
>The deliberate shedding of the old life in order
>to begin the new.


It's interesting seeing this grouping; I'd noticed a theme in a lot 
of books of people making mistakes and then owning up to them, making 
reparation if possible, and so being able to move on.  Which is very 
much related to your symbolic resurrection/rebirth.  (And is a 
favourite theme of mine, I guess, possibly at least in part because 
of past experiences.)

The reuniting of sundered parts got me thinking though, and last 
night, three-quarters asleep, it came to me that it related to my 
perceived theme in a sort of Jungian way.  (I know very little about 
Jung, only snibbets read here and there, so I'm not trying to act as 
if I've more.)  If you look at examples where the sundered parts of 
personality have gotten disconnected because of an inability to 
accept them, it sounds very like the shadow self, doesn't it?  (Does 
it?  Does to me, at any rate.)  So prime example would be Ivy in F&H, 
though both Polly and Tom have this to a degree, but both are able to 
face up to it (in themselves, I mean) "dredge it up" as Gran says, 
and this is what allows them the chance for a new life.  Similarly 
Mordion, and even Christopher, although in less "adult" way.  (Umm, I 
think I mean that his selfishness is not related to repressing part 
of his personality, because it's clearly his very limiting upbringing 
that has caused parts of him to be so undeveloped.)  Lots of people 
in WW (though they were more repressing that shadow side from fear, 
rather than guilt), Cat in CL, these are just ones that come to mind.

_Deep Secret_ is a bit different, as the ones who are literally 
sundered have been split by the actions of other people, while Rupert 
maybe acts it all out on a purely human level.  Better explain that - 
his sociability, his connection with people in general, has been 
repressed, split off from him, and he has to accept that he did this, 
mistakenly, while Maree and Andrew have done nothing themselves which 
caused them to be split.  Right?  Actually, it's even a bit more, as 
part of the way Rupert sees he's made mistakes (and I can't think of 
a character who is *more* willing to admit his mistakes, probably way 
too much so) is by seeing the other potential magids who seem to have 
bits of the character he's split off, but in their cases, it's their 
whole character, rather than a repression of a part they don't want 
to acknowledge.  Punt, with his "aloofness", which turns out to be 
just voyeurism, Tansy Ann's "grey psychic blanket", which she sees in 
everyone else.  Don't know about Thurless and Gabrelisovic(?) 
offhand, but now that I think of it, it works for Maree as well, in 
reverse.  Once Rupert sees her positively, as a stubborn fighter, he 
appreciates that in her, but he never sees it in himself, while 
fighting against appalling odds, and just refusing to wash his hands 
of all the problems that are too much for him.

To get back to the "is it a personal motif" question, well, I could 
at least see how it *could* be.  Given the things DWJ has said in 
various places about her mother, whose behaviour sounds pretty 
appalling.  But the thing that struck me is the fact that she's said 
her mother never seems to get it - never has been able to see how she 
might have been a less than wonderful mother.  So you could see at 
least an element of the no possibility of a new chance/rebirth (here 
good relationship with her daughter) without first owning the shadow 
of her own neglectful parenting.


This quote really impressed me. I found this a while ago, and was 
longing to use it in an essay on _Dracula_, which gets *tons* of 
Freudian analysis, but sadly couldn't.

    Joseph Campbell, Carl Jung, James Hillman, Louise-Marie von Franz 
and 
others have written eloquently and extensively about the importance 
of myth in			our modern society, the need for 
tales rich in archetypal images to give coherence to fragmented 
modern lives. "Using archetypes and symbolic language," writes 
folklore scholar and author Jane Yolen, "[fantasy tales] externalize 
for the listener conflicts and situations that cannot be spoken of or 
explained or as yet analyzed.


The "fragmented" modern lives just struck me as particularly apt to 
the sundered bit of your list of ways the motif shows up.


Hallie.








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