You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘evil’ tag.

Imagine the terror of a ten-year-old boy suddenly facing the nozzle of a submachine gun held by an SS soldier, after having been slammed against the courtyard wall with its butt. It was Jo Joffo, waiting for his older brother on the Rue de Russie in Nazi-occupied Nice, France. It was summer, 1942. For over a month nasty inspectors interrogated him and his brother at the Excelsior Hotel until they were finally released. This experience ripped Jo Joffo from his childhood with its games of marbles and jacks, with ringing doorbells and other pranks.

This boy would later become a French author whose 1974 memoir A Bag of Marbles narrates this gripping flight to freedom, a hair-breath away from the enemy. So deep was the memoir’s appeal that it was translated into eighteen languages.

Such stories of survival still speak. From a safe distance, we observe and learn from others who have suffered heart-wrenching losses and survived murderous occupations of their countries. Yet, our times are not that different. Subtle forms of “occupation” still abound: social media, fake news, and addictive substances that manipulate attitudes, thoughts, and choices and keep spirits in bondage to Evil. Indeed, Jesus cautions us whenever we step outside our homes: “Be like sheep among wolves, cunning as serpents and yet as harmless as doves.” (Mt. 10:16)

The Plaza Frontenac Theater in St. Louis, Missouri, is currently showing the second film adaption of this memoir A Bag of Marbles; Christian Duguy directed it with English sub-titles.

Advertisements

Who does not get chills within the bowels of malice in stories of shape-shifting?

One of these is The Soldier’s Tale (1919), the collaborative effort of the Russian composer Igor Stravinsky and the Swiss librettist C. F. Ramuz. Because funds were scarce in the aftermath of the First World War for the composition of large works, Stravinsky scored this old Russian folk tale with seven musicians and four actors/dancers, all sharing the same bare stage. (Check out YouTube.)

We grow to love this war-weary soldier, his knapsack on his back as he cavorts toward his village, all the while anticipating his ten-day leave with his mother and girlfriend. Suddenly, into his path steps the devil, disguised as a maiden who persuades him to exchange the old fiddle (his soul) in his knapsack for a red book filled with secrets for obtaining immense wealth. After three days of luxurious initiation by the devil, the soldier is hooked.

Years of prosperous but increasingly empty living begin to glut the soldier’s passion for fame, and he longs for his old life.

This story line is painfully familiar throughout oral and literary traditions all over the world: All is ours if we but surrender our souls to the devil. A period of unprecedented prosperity ensues until eviscerated by the maggots of worldly success. A longing for the way things used to be glimmers; within its light, some move toward conversion and return to ordinary life.

Others do not, including our soldier of this Russian tale.

 

 

Yes, there is another book out on Donald J. Trump, one that relates this phenomenon to the global epidemic of narcissism—admittedly a disturbing read. In my take, the book exposes this malignant crud incrementally poisoning the human psyche; its challenge is to recognize and transform our individual and collective narcissism—a tall order, indeed.

To facilitate this process, two psychiatrists Leonard Cruz and Steven Buser invited Jungian analysts, psychologists, and academics to contribute essays on narcissism that later evolved into A Clear and Present Danger – Narcissism in the Era of Donald Trump (2016). These essays evolved into a multifaceted picture of this disorder, with resonance in mythology, psychology, literature, relationships, gender, and world history. Ours is not the only era that has been adversely affected.

Against this background the authors also referenced Donald Trump, the then Republican candidate for the Oval Office and his supporters through depth psychology’s collective and personal unconscious; in both lie the roots of narcissism, a noxious energy that undermines relatedness and obliterates spirit in any expression. Such clarity afforded me a respite from the overwhelment that had been eating me alive.

However, the concluding essay by Clarissa Pinkola Estes lands the book on a positive note. We are precisely the leaders these dark times call for. Do not lose heart.

 

Available on Amazon

Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: