December 16, 2014: Balancing, Anima and Animus, and “The Baloney-Detection Kit”

During my recovery from surgery, I watched the movie Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (a bit silly with hugely undeveloped feminine roles). I thought about all the racial tension that is afoot, this time created in part by the recent confrontations with police that led to the separate shooting deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Ohio, along with the choking death of Eric Gardner in Staten Island, New York.

I do not know what really happened in any of those places, having read or heard only newspaper, internet, magazine, or television accounts. I do not consider any of these sources sufficient to form judgments, though it seems something is screaming for some kind of judgment.

During my recovery, I also was re-reading some stuff by Carl Sagan—specifically his “Baloney-Detection Kit” (this time I was reading it in The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, 1996, Random House). As I understand it, a Baloney-Detection Kit is about the art of skeptical thinking (see pages 210-216) which does not mean one is required to run about with pursed lips challenging anything and everything (skepticism is very different from cynicism). It simply means to think about thinking and about our “logic” and fallibility. It means to question without righteousness or rancor. It means to listen, to examine, and to do so regardless of what kind of outcome we desire (Sagan notes a basic tenet of science, which is trying to prove the null, the opposite of what the researcher thinks is afoot and that “proof” is almost always tentative, even if it has to be accepted at the moment).

And I was discussing Carl Jung with my ladyfriend as she has recently taken up investigating Jung’s notions about archetypes—specifically the anima (female) and the animus (male). As I understand it, Jung believed in balance, which doesn’t mean a static balance, as in balance that is not dynamic. The idea is the fulcrum can and does change (a teeter-totter without a fulcrum is just a plank, a fulcrum without a plank is just a sharp edge).

And how does all this weave together in a post-surgical mind—if it does?

Well, who exactly are “those people”? And how did they become those? Where is our Baloney-Detection Kit? Why does an animus need an anima and vice versa? And how does an anima or animus find one-another in themselves and others without a Baloney-Detection Kit? Just who do we think is in charge? Do we think if it’s not us, it has to be someone? Do we engage in too much attribution and not enough detection and balance abilities?

As one can tell, there are many, many questions. Perhaps questions do not have to render us impotent when it comes to action. Perhaps questions can be used to temper judgments that arrive like a guest, welcomed or not, who tends to overstay their sojourn.

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