“Narcissism.” “Ignorance & apathy.” “Lack of empathy.”
My box sat on a pedestal in Somerville’s Nave Gallery, quietly soliciting slips of paper with the anonymous confessions of visitors scribbled across them. What disturbs you most in others? I asked. Then below it, in smaller writing, Oh, go on. No one’s looking. Jot it onto a scrap of paper and slip it into the box…
“When people don’t listen! Drives me NUTS.” “Hateful ignorance.” “Lack of attention to history and civic duty.”
When the call went out for the “boXed” show, curated by Susan Berstler and Jesa Damora, we hadn’t yet elected a new president, but we were deeply submerged in the swamp. The theme of the show was, of course, things in boxes. What do we box? Well, we certainly box those parts of ourselves that we don’t wish to acknowledge; that inner swamp best kept tucked away. That which is suppressed by our conscious self doesn’t disappear, but becomes what Jung called the shadow.
“Nearly nobody says what they mean.”
Although (or, because) we don’t recognize it in ourselves, we see it in others, and it scratches at our surface.
“Anything that reminds me too much of myself.” “Today, it’s hypocrisy.”
What else goes in boxes? Ballots. Maybe not so much, anymore, technically; but the ballot box was definitely on people’s minds. It’s not like they’re unrelated, these shadows and ballot boxes. If we each have a shadow, then collectively we must have a humdinger. The Collective Unconscious can be a powerful force once triggered and expressed. Although I can’t find the source, I had read that “when people would ask Jung, who met Hitler, how he manipulated the psyche of the German people, Jung replied ‘Hitler didn’t manipulate the psyche of the German people, he was the psyche of the German people.’”
“Coldness. Cold eyes, cold voice.” “Giving up.” “They’re in my way! Get out of my way! Go away!”
When creating the box, I didn’t realize that Trump would actually be elected; I was merely disgusted that he had gained enough support to propel him to the GOP nomination. By the time the show opened, he had been elected and my little progressive corner of the world (sometimes Somerville can even make Cambridge look stodgy) was in a state of dark disbelief. I was looking forward to seeing what people would slip into my box.
People will do anything, no matter how absurd, to avoid facing their own souls, said Jung. And so I put it on the box. Whoever wrote “Their ego and sense of superiority, especially when they don’t realize who I am” deserves a hat tip for cleverness; but the one that truly captured it all was “Their inability to sit down & have a cup of tea with their own darkness.”
I had put a little hole on the far side of the box with a tempting Look inside! and arrow, then attached a mirror inside the hole. This displeased some. I have heard that art can sometimes provoke an emotional reaction, but I am not sorry for stirring that in you.