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things. What is needed is the feeling function, the function of choice, which says, “Now I will fish out this and discard the rest” and “I will relate to what has become conscious to me and stay with it.” Without the evaluation through the feeling function one cannot know what is important and what is not. One cannot sort the chaff from the corn in the unconscious. In the tale Psyche cannot cope alone with the corn. But there is still something that can rescue her, for ants turn up and sort out the grain. The chaos of the unconscious always contains a relation to order as well. In talking about the unconscious one must always talk in paradoxes, and when we emphasize its chaotic aspect we know at the same time that the unconscious is not only chaos but is also order. In the last analysis, only unconscious order can overcome unconscious disorder. Man cannot do anything but be attentive and make the utmost and, so to speak, hopeless effort, until order is established again by itself. This is something which Christian theologians would call faith. Having faith and doing one’s best, when one is faced with what seems hopeless, gives one the underlying feeling that, even when one is lost, one has at least done what was possible. This is essentially human and it is a behavior which a god or an animal could not do. Here in our story the same unconscious which is chaotic manifoldness cures its disorder by another chaotic manifoldness, the invasion of ants. We, in our Western countries, often speak of ants negatively, saying that “if we go on like this we shall soon be an ant heap.” This is naturally a negative metaphor for the complete blotting out of the individual, but the ant in itself, in mythology, is generally a positive insect. For instance, according to an Indian myth (recorded by Herodotus), it helps to carry the sun in its night journey under the earth. In Egypt the scarab does that.10 In some Greek sagas the ant extracts gold from the earth; it is the symbol of the secret orderliness of the collective unconscious, contrary to our bureaucratic state organizations. Karl Kerényi has connected the ants with the people of Myrmidones, who, according to a Greek myth, were the first inhabitants of their country:11 the Greeks believed that these people were born directly from the earth mother. Thus, in the Attic comedies, whose texts are unfortunately lost, there were antpeople, “Myrmekanthropoi,” who represented the first inhabitants. Contrary to the destructive mother Aphrodite-Venus, these “children of the earth mother” help Psyche. The ants, and especially their cousins, the termites, have also in reality very mysterious and unexplored qualities. One knows that hundreds and hundreds of termites

Profile for Lewis Lafontaine

Marie Louise Von Franz - The Golden Ass of Alpulius  

Marie Louise Von Franz - The Golden Ass of Alpulius  

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