Bert: In his new book The Soul of Sex, Thomas Moore talks about sex as one of our attempts to reach the eternal, the timeless space. His view of the soul is one of reaching for the Mystery. His theory is that we concretize it too much. We don't have a lot of sex in our society, but we have a focus on a whole lot of material things in life that are sexual. That seems to fit in with your point about our looking for some body or some thing to provide the meaning in life.
Robert: That's right. I agree with that.
Bert: Does Jung's idea of the anima as our connection to the collective unconscious fit in with his view that the soul in man is feminine?
Robert: That's right. But what do we do with that? Where do we go with that? Where does it belong? Does it belong inside? Males in general look for something outside-a woman, or a profession, or a new place, or a new car-for the information that helps us make sense of our lives.
Bert: How does that love song go, "You Complete Me?" The idea is that I have to look for something outside myself to complete myself, that I don't have all the tools inside.
Robert: Physically, that's true. But psychologically it isn't.
Bert: How does this fit into the idea of the patriarchy, and what we're being told now of the evils of the patriarchy?
Robert: The patriarchal society was an old way to solve this strange and curious thing. It worked well for a medieval mind. But it doesn't work well for a modern mind. We're not willing to do what a priest says or what a book says. The old patriarchal world said a male should be a male, and that's that. A female should be a female, and you don't stray outside that. The roles were carefully laid out. That still works in India. That's one reason they have so little trouble with marriages. Everything is laid out. All the men know what to do, and all the women know what to do.
Bert: In that culture there's a lot less focus on individuation, isn't there?
Robert: That's true.
Here's another differentiation that's helpful. The difference between individuation and individualism. Individuation is becoming who you are.
Bert: Becoming the authentic person you were intended to be, as James Hillman would put it in The Soul's Code. The authenticity of your own character.
Robert: Individualism is "me first."
Bert: "I don't know who I am, but me first, anyway."
Robert: There's a lot to be said for the medieval mentality. It works better in some respects than what we have now. Modern mentality is a kind of Promethian invention.
Bert: Which part of the Promethian myth are you relating to?
Robert: We stole the fire from the Gods.
Bert: And don't know what to do with it once we have it.
Robert: That's right. There's a severe punishment that goes with the theft.
Robert: All consciousness is a theft.
Bert: So it is to be carefully husbanded and revered.
Robert: That's the way the Greeks looked at it.
The Catholic Church is still trying to teach from the Book-we'll find out the law and the rest of you just follow it.
Bert: I think of another quality when I think of masculinity, Apollonian clarity. If we are adrift in a sea of chaos, the first thing we want to do is ring in a logical order and structure, to build islands of order in the sea of chaos. That would be another value to the patriarchy.
Robert: It's no good tossing out the patriarchy, because it's valuable. Again, it's a matter of the right thing, at the wrong level.
Bert: Gregory Max Vogt wrote a book Return to Father: Archetypal Dimensions of the Patriarchy. (order on-line) He writes of a need for a homologos patriarchy. He talks, for example, of the patriarch as the architect, the builder. It seems to me you and he are talking about the same thing, not to throw out the patriarchy, but to recognize its value and put it on its own proper level.
Robert: That's right. The patriarchy is not male. It becomes tyranny if the man thinks he has to be the leader as a matter of right.
Bert: In this era of new choices for women and women's liberation, I wonder if we aren't seeing women stepping into patriarchal power modes.
Robert: That's right. They're stepping into these roles as men are retreating and becoming wimpish. I grew up in a family like that. My mother ruled, and my father said, "yes." That's very common-almost a stereotype for post-World War II marriages. She was quick, sharp and decisive, and he was moody and depressed.
Bert: In your book you said one of the factors that was important to you in finding your Spirit was your Godfather.
Robert: Yes. That's a good subject. We need it. I wouldn't have made it without a Godfather and a Godmother.
Bert: I'm wondering how this fits in with a subject we hear a lot about these days, mentoring.
Robert: Yes, those are different terms for the same thing.
Bert: That's an issue that I see in Men's Work-40- or 50-year-old guys talking about not having had a father or a mentor in their own lives, and I wonder if they're mentoring younger men.
Robert: Not unless they've had a Godfather or mentor in their own lives.
Bert: You mean it's too hard to do, if you haven't been mentored in your own life?
Robert: But it's still a good idea. I'd like to go to somebody and consciously make such a agreement with a big, strong masculine guy who never gets tired. I'd say, "I'm not very good at physical masculinity. My body doesn't work very well. Will you carry that energy for me?" A form of hero-worship, only consciously done. To do that, one would have to find out what he wants, then ask someone else to be the outer carrier of that characteristic.
You may remember that in my book I mention going to a man and asking him if he would be a reincarnation of God for me. It's an Indian custom. You have the right to go to another person and ask him to be a reincarnation of God for you. You then treat the person that way, and he or she indeed becomes a presence of God on earth. I needed it. I asked for it, and I got it. One has to have the courage and the ability to ask.
Bert: On another subject, you were just up at this year's Redwood Men's Center conference on new directions in male psychology. How did that go?
Robert: Oh, beautifully. We had such a good time! There was a good quality of feeling, and a lot of intelligent, thoughtful discussion. That's what it was for, and it worked.
Bert: What did you have to say to the men?
Robert: I lectured on Goethe's Faust. We talked earlier about the medieval and the modern mind. Faust is the best road map for modern mentality that we have. But hardly anybody has read Faust. It's very complex. I like to talk about it, but I haven't yet been able to put it into simple terms.