nicolas stagliano

// adept jibber-jabberer //


Bacchus and Jungian Individuation

Nicolas Stagliano | July 21, 2023

I have more thoughts bouncing around in my head. I figure I'll jot them out quick here before they're gone forever. Nothing on this blog is really all that well edited, it's not meant for consumption so much as it is for catharsis on my part.

I have for a few years grown increasingly skeptical of many forms self-expression, and rather hesitant to express myself in those forms. This is because, or at least it seems to me, that many forms of expression are impermanent and grow stale with time. I am talking about individuation (broadly the principle of individuation, not narrowly, though I do rely heavily on Jungian individuation), but more specifically, "constructed" individuation. I'm not terribly well-read on this subject, these are just my current thoughts and personal superstitions.

The Self seems to me to be a construct (partly deliberate) just as much as it is emergent of the unconscious. Desires manifest out of temperament, temperament manifests out of stimuli, the chain goes on and on and on -- instinct, perception, the unconscious, Apollonian and shifting like a dream yet impermanent as Bacchic ecstasy. Each stimuli is sieved through a million unconscious sieves and the Self is emergent. However, many of the reactions to these stimuli are "deliberate". The Self constructs the Self; what kind of a person do you want to be? A curation of themes and interests, crafting an aesthetic. I dress this way because it's "me". I enjoy this music because it's "me". I wear this jewelry, I talk in this manner, I choose these beliefs, I go by these nicknames, because it's an expression of my "character".

Even the term "character", used by many, directly insinuates this construction.

I expressed myself a lot as a teenager -- the clothes I wore, the music I listened to, but most of all the things I post on social media. Social media is an excellent example of a person's curation of their character; they paint a portrait of their life the way they want to be perceived. Quite frankly it's a little nauseating.

The clothes I wore six years ago, the opinions I held, the media I curated for others to see on the internet, it's all impermanent. I now disagree with many of those opinions, the idea of dressing in that manner irks me, and so forth. In the moment, though, it feels so goddamn permanent. This is "me". This is what is "right" and "wrong" and "good" and "bad" and all these things are the Nicolas that I have created.

Jungian individuation in essence relies on (as I understand it, and I'm not terribly well read outside of chunks of Man and His Symbols and various other media regarding Jung) where the collective and personal unconscious collide. These manifest into a conscious Self, seemingly curated but entirely outside of one's control. Impossible to stop, sieves upon sieves upon sieves.

To what degree is my self-expression deliberate expression of the Self, and to what degree is it expression of the various psychological components that are required for the Self to exist? By components I am referring to instincts, temperament, reactions to stimuli, and whatever else you want to throw in.

All of these thoughts and questions, really, are why I need to read more. I'm sure the answer lies in Jung, or maybe Nietzsche or Camus. But the exhaustion of insomnia renders me unable to read for more than a short period of time, lest I expend the little mental energy I have in a day. I'm trying to re-read Nietzsche's Birth of Tragedy, I'm STILL working on a reread of Kant's Prolegomena, I haven't finished Beyond Good and Evil, and I'm nowhere near completing Man and His Symbols.

This is partly why I find the notion of God (a notion I believe in) so terrifying. An omniscient God can boil a man down to his unconscious, observe every sieve simultaneously, strip him of his metaphorical skin, naked, vivisected. It simultaneously fills me with awe and a deep, gutteral, visceral, primitive, ancient fear.

Circling back to finding self-expression dubious -- some time ago I picked up the notion that true expression, true individuation, is that which is permanent. All else is temporary and fleeting construction. Apollo and Kant and a-priori and noumena, are all ideas to which I've subscribed to in the past as true permanence, but I now believe that the Bacchic influence is powerful with and for, well, "reason", as illogical as that sounds. It's why Bacchus is such a powerful force in modern society; the feelings one experiences in true sober ecstasy connects us with our most ancient ancestors, and in that way the impermanence of the Bacchanal is the most permanent of experiences.

I don't really know where I'm going with this but I am too tired to continue writing this blog post. Maybe I'll follow this up with another post. Time will tell.


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