Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Odyssey- Aeolus- The Volar nuclear complexes- the house

The Odyssey, as I mentioned in my first post about it, has the proto, deutero, nuclear complex (i.e Oedipal, Antigone, etc.), and trito structure.

I've focussed on the proto, deutero, and trito of some of the earlier stages but have so far neglected the nuclear complex encounters.

In the nuclear complex the father imago is internalized, power is transcribed from the mother to the father, and the difference between the sexes and generations is established.

The power of the mother to swallow the child is ultimately transcribed over to the father (in myth Cronos), in the volar stage.

The winds of Aeolus, as an event, is kept separate from the swallowing and this state of affairs makes me think that the Odyssey generally shows a psychotic structure in which the father is foreclosed and the mother becomes the castrator or the one responsible for castration anxiety. Even though Polyphemus is represented as a male, Circe, for example, isn't and she threatens castration.

However, the the element of wind and swallowing are present in the fable of the Three Little Pigs. The big bad wolf tries to blow the pigs houses down so he can get to them to gobble them up. In the end he is boiled as he comes down the chimney and eaten by the pigs.

I don't have the clinical experience to have certainty about what belongs to the egoist and what to the altruist here. I've had two altruistic patients for whom the house has shown up as an important symbol but, just because they are predominately altruistic doesn't mean that this can't be related to an egoistic aspect of themselves that is defused. It's one thing to experience the repetition-compulsion with the patient oneself and have a strong sense of what material is showing up in that specific relation and it is another to know that the patient is having repetitions and transference to many others in his or her life and trying to figure out what symbols are connected to these relationships.

For the moment, I will conjecture that just as Oedipus and Bellerophon share active and passive references to blinding and Electra and Antigone share active and passive references to death of the family that this extends into pre-phallic forms of the nuclear complexes.

As I've mentioned before the maternal and paternal imagos also often follow the generations so that the phallic are one's parents, the anal are one's grandparents, and the volar are the dead or ancestors. However, when Time is not "out of joint" it seems fitting that the house could symbolize the fused nuclear relationship (or the volar under eros), and in defusion qua phobos, or the castration complex, then the ghosts or "magical" figures can arise.

Perhaps destructive rages in a room are not mere displacements but full on attacks against the parental imagos. If the feminine references the parental imagos at the phallic and anal stage then the OE would express aggression towards the house and the SA would sacrifice having her own house for assisting another. Some of my recent comments on the OA and being prohibited from belonging to the respectable community, one's culture in general, and may at the volar stage be better captured as being prohibited from belonging with those who have basic security and a home. So many substance abuse patients seem addicted to just surviving. Perhaps, when this defusion allows for sublimation then someone might become a nomad or wandering sage or something more romantic.  

Winnicott often mentions the "environment" as related to a parental imago and transitional space. This isn't in terms of the planet or whole world, but in a sense closer to a house.  In Thinking and Symbol Formation Winnicott mentions "a patient was having breakfast in bed. She got up to take the tray to the kitchen and upset everything on the floor, breaking valuable china and making a mess everywhere. She felt an extreme of exasperation and the incident upset her profoundly" He thinks that the patient must learn to 'feel confidence in her environment and in herself".

The full internalization or the mastery of the nuclear complex in the trito stage nicely leads from the house to one's own item (transitional object)- as I've pointed out with Cronus swallowing a stone that gets thrown up. This stone and the multitudes or swarms of people who come to it conjures up the trito stage and the Laistrygones or (skin harvesters) which I've mentioned in a previous post on the Odyssey.

"Don't throw stones in a glass house" and the obvious consequences of the wind making the house collapse in the 3 little pigs, along with a "house of cards" all point to the volar (narcissistic stage) as the foundational stage of self-esteem. In a previous post I mentioned how Freud sees this as the stage of the reservoir of the libido or the amoeba from which the pseudopodia go forth.

I had previously used body-ego to denote the anal stage ego but I think that with the sense of the mimetic impulse, the hand and tactility, and the pathology of the influencing machine (Tausk) or the mad scientist who is in control of one's thoughts or one's body that volar stage properly deserves the designation of the body-ego. I'll have to return to Freud or maybe look at Mahler's work to see if a name for the ego at the anal stage is out there.

Just as the Antigone complex concerns the individual being able to live for her own image-ego and have her own happiness (or defuse to having to live for another's image), the same establishment of the body-ego is at play here and, as Winnicot says, whether one feels confidence in oneself in a very basic way. I know so many regressed patients who feel like they can't drive on the freeway and have a lot of fear about making mistakes in basic things.

Again, it is key in the story of Aeolus, Hades, and Helios that there is a return to the previous stages. This shows the defusion from the nuclear complex to the castration complex.

Anyway, the myth strongly references the house:  

Thence we went on to the Aeoli island where lives Aeolus son of Hippotas,
dear to the immortal gods. It is an island that floats (as it were)
upon the sea, iron bound with a wall that girds it. Now, Aeolus has
six daughters and six lusty sons, so he made the sons marry the daughters,
and they all live with their dear father and mother, feasting and
enjoying every conceivable kind of luxury. All day long the atmosphere
of the house is loaded with the savour of roasting meats till it groans
again, yard and all; but by night they sleep on their well-made bedsteads,
each with his own wife between the blankets. These were the people
among whom we had now come. 

Of course it is Odysseus' men who are to blame for their greed and opening the bag of winds that blows them back to where they were, or eating Helios' cows and being sent back to Charybdis, etc. and not Odysseus. 

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