Proscriptions are collectively assumed societal regulations that insist certain behaviors are prohibited. Certain enactments are proscribed within particular groups or subgroups, whether circumscribed by race, nationality, religion, culture, peer group, even self.
For instance, it is probably looked down upon by all races to get on all fours and eat out of a dish on the floor, although my 7 year-old daughter tried this out of sympathy for our dog she thought was human.
It is probably not acceptable for a Frenchman to cheek-kiss a Norwegian. Norwegians are known for their stoicism, Frenchmen for their love of emotionally liberating wine. But, I learned right-cheek-kissing from Hispanic culture, and I do it to everybody, regardless of their culture.
An American from the States–well, at least WASPs–turn a wary eye upon worshipping a dead folk saint like Ni~no Fidencio is worshiped in the Rio Grande Valley Mexican Folk Culture.
Some proscriptions are stricter than others. Proscriptions are probably most important to teenagers, and can be stricter than adults for it determines top dog popularity.
Regarding myself, these days, not eating sugar is one of my proscriptions. But my not eating sugar has never been suppressed like my desire to cuss. Fortunately, it is not rigidly repressed, either, since my personal unconscious remembers how many times I have never been rigid about this particular proscription. Tonight I had ice cream at Jason’s Deli.
As Fr. Bob, Episcopal priest, once explained, The Other is that entity that is so completely not me, so unknowable because it is so foreign, that it carries the numinous qualities of the divine. Moses met The Other in the burning bush and then later came down off Mt. Horeb with white hair to prove it. We attract that which we fear.”
When referring to my The OtherI am basically referring to Alberto Salinas, El Curandero. He lived in and breathed the air of Mexican Folk Culture. Well, I did too, as I crawled into bed with that culture (acculturated).
What created the condition of “The Rub” (the transcendent function), by which I hoped to individuate, was Alberto’s connection with a Magical World View-especially since he channeled the spirit of the dead Mexican folk saint, El Ni~no Fidencio, which practice qualified him as a shaman. To my way of thinking, this made him a card-carrying member of The Other World. And he was my spiritual director.
The Other in The Other World tensioned against me as the WASP in McAllen, Texas. Forbidden desire was powerful. Something had to give.
Having arrived on the other side of the border in Mexico, Alberto tells me,“I have lots of enemies, including some of my own relations. Sometimes I believe I can see the curses and protections zinging back and forth through the elemental world in spiritual battle. And when I get paranoid, like I am today here in Mexico, where curses are as common as cats, I don’t function right. Here in Mexico, people use witchcraft like people in the States use the court system.”
The belief system of the synonyms occult and paranormal, for instance, are generally dismissed with superiority by WASPs . With western proclamation of science as the bedrock of thought, WASPs generally believe the occult and paranormal are superstitious evil, and possibly delusional, up against a Christian belief system.
But, more functionally, when sympathetic magic is parallel to fe, esperanza, y salud (faith, hope, and health), we’re looking at el pobres-the poor ones of Mexican folk culture of the Rio Grande Valley of Texas-who are examples of citizens of a Magical World in The WASP and El Curandero . They are the ones who live in poverty in colonias; the alienated ones who have no agency to function in the larger Rio Grande Valley society.
Safety is one of Maslow’s human needs. Safety is more secure when you feel you can exercise some power over your choices. For el pobre, alienated from larger society, sympathetic magic is an operative resort to power and control. Sympathetic magic ameliorates the existential angst that comes from a loss of meaning in an alienated life. But it requires agency. Witches, demons, and spirits are the agents in elpobres‘magical world view.
Also, Alberto Salinas is a shamanistic agent, brokering healing power from the spirit world by channeling the spirit of the dead Mexican folk saint, El Ni~no Fidencio.
Mexican Folk Culture is the culture of Mexican immigrants in the USA, legal and illegal, are, predominantly, those who don’t have medical insurance. Culturally, they are often called the poor ones, or el pobres. Their faith in the old ways—old stories, old medicine, old religion (and witches, demons, and spirits), mediated by curanderismo—is sometimes all that gives them esperanzay salud, hope and health. And perceived control over their situation of poverty.
(excerpted from The WASP and El Curandero)
The still suffering Mestizos—the genetic mix of Native Americans (of all the Americas, not just the U.S.) and the sixteenth century conquistadors, (the conquering Spaniards)—are the ones that really count, as far as Mexican folk culture goes. The first thing Mestizos in Mexico do when their babies are born is to check their skin color and report it to l the extended family members in the waiting room, for they know the darker the skin all, the more discrimination the child will face. They pray for lighter skin. One can pretty well guess why Mestizos struggling in Mexico want to come to the U.S. where all men are created equal and the minimum wage is more than double. When they cross the border into the U.S.—some across the international border bridges, some across the Rio Grande River—they become known as elpobres, or the poor ones. They have suffered physically from poverty and mentally from alienation. It is through befriending el pobres that I can confront my awareness of existential guilt. Why should I have money and they don’t?
Enculturation might be exemplified by a two-week vacation in France. You pick up some French words, you find out where the best restaurants are, you sip the wines, you observe the customs like cheek-kissing. The indelible memory of France returns home with you where you might cheek kiss your friends.
Getting in bed with: acculturation
the process of adopting the cultural traits or social patterns of another group.
the result of this process.
Let me use myself in The WASP and El Curandero as an example because I surmise part of my acculturation into Mexican Folk Culture was engendered by my Deseo for Alberto:
I learned to speak, read, and understand the language of Mexican Folk Culture. I watched Alberto plow his fingers through masa as tradition to make tamales, I learned and practiced the healing and cleansing techniques of the curandero, I wore the signifying clothes of La Guardia. And, by the time it was over, I halfway believed in witches, demons, and spirits.
It took a while for acculturation to wane when I returned to my world, for I was accepted in Mexican Folk Culture and the Magical World View lived in my soul.
The great instrument of moral good is the imagination.
Imagination is the instrument of Self Knowledge.
If you’ve never experienced the dynamism of Eros (being struck by Cupid’s arrows) during your life on earth, you’re missing out. Eros is love, desire, sexual yearning, a condition of creation, a feeling of being alive. But all Eros’s attributes carry a voltage. Eros can groove a sluice in your brain, and fry your hair!
Carl Jung says Eros creates such exquisite desire, such psychic tension, that it can activate the transcendent function (I call it The Rub), and open up the fastest avenue to the collective unconscious where the divinities reside. Ecstasy (I think not the drug) can be the vehicle that carries you directly to the archetypal Kingdom of God. Sure, this is what the religious celibates know.
I want to ask you, why do you feel shame when you feel Eros? Even if you’re married and the secret vector is towards someone other that your husband, why feel shame? No, no, you should be nothing but grateful to experience Eros after 25 years of marriage. You didn’t bring on lust, but a holy rendition of love was given to you.
For Eros is the God of Love, and you are in love with Love!
It’s culturally relevant-and culture clash is one way to ignite the transcendent function-to call Eros, Deseo. So I do in The WASP and El Curandero. During my field research, in my mind, of course, I thanked Alberto for providing the hook for my Deseo,and thus, the locomotion driving my desirous approach to The Other World (turns out My Other World, at least, was, interestingly, the psyche). Of course it drove my dedication to the research, too, but that’s a rather mundane topic for this context.
But for god’s sake, I never told Alberto I thought he, was divine. Although that is exactly how I felt under the force of Eros. Who wouldn’t feel favored by making love with a god? That’s the point: Individuation can be furthered by transferring, instead of concretizing, the intense yearning for your human to craving the Divine. It draws you into the realm of imagination where stories are created and transcendence can be experienced. The imagination, not the material world, is where it all happens. The sin would be in humanizing Eros before the transcendent function resolves itself; before the opposites–the conscious and the unconscious–unite as in the Greek myth, Eros and Psyche.
But remember: if you are thinking to Individuate by holding the tension Eros creates, you can only proceed by restraining physical consummation. In this way you feed the desire until you think you will explode. It’s exquisitely excruciating to hold the tension. It’s the mystics’ ecstacy.
And finally a warning: don’t inflate your head by identifying with the deities. You are not The Virgin. Nor is he your God. You are a human becoming more so. There’s real integrity in that. You can thank Eros for not knowing anything about orgasms.
Possible examples: Any kind of fundamentalist, the country club crowd, North Korea and Kim Jong-un, college frat houses, gated communities, the Junior League, internet RPG’s, the bookworm (of course we can insulate ourselves.) I want you to notice, insularity as a modus operandi is usually chosen by newbies.
I’ve enjoyed belonging to several of these examples of insularity.