“Embark on a visionary journey through the fragmented unconscious of the west, and with courage face the Shadow. From Shadow into Light.”, that is the description of IN-SHADOW on YouTube.
The power of this short film developed by Lubomir Arsov lies in its symbolism as well as in the brutal honesty with which it illustrates the pathologies of our world. Not only that, but it somehow manages to bypass the intellect and speak to you at a deeper level, where language is perhaps comprised of dream symbols. In a dream you experience things whose emotional impact you may not be able to explain rationally and all you are left with are the feelings they evoke. The intellect is limited in this as it sometimes acts as a barrier to certain revelations. A great achievement of this film is that it goes beyond that barrier and allows you to have the dream experience in a waking state. So let’s try to interpret the symbols in this dream sequence.
The first thing we see is darkness. Nothing. Emptiness.
Out of this void, one sphere emerges along with the light that shines upon it.
The sphere splits into three smaller luminous orbs. This is the beginning of creation. When nothing turns into something – represented by the sphere – all is one. Then, this unity splits in what can be interpreted as the Holy Trinity (God, Son and the Holy Spirit). This is also suggested through the way the three orbs are disposed, one at the top, the other two below it.
Then everything is created while the three orbs overlook all creation.
The story takes us across the universe at a critical point, the birth of self-awareness, represented by the eye.
Through the eye we see the Earth, which gradually contracts, from a sphere of great energy to a cube-shaped rock floating among debris.
This is a representation of how human perception can make even the most outstanding things seem devoid of meaning and magic. The cube symbolizes conformity, safety, rigidity, imposition. It is not a shape that is indigenous to nature, it is a human creation, an artificial construct. It even looks like a prison. The metaphor is clear, humans have mutilated Earth and human experience so that they could fit it inside the box of ideology. And so, the light went dimmer and dimmer, until it could barely be seen. It didn’t disappear, it was just blocked out of our perception. The debris that surrounds our planet are remnants of that destruction.
The next thing we see is an amalgamation of buildings of modern architecture stranded on an island in the middle of what appears to be a sea or an ocean. Above this metropolis there is a large and menacing dark cloud that suggests an imminent danger as well as industrial pollution. The debris is floating around but not sufficiently close to the concrete island so that it can be easily noticed. The feeling I get is that the level of the water that surrounds the island is a side effect of global warming. This image also suggests a feeling of isolation and disconnection from nature.
At a closer look, we can see these big buildings are floating above the the rest. They are standing in front of the sun, which makes them look like they’re floating on a pillow of light, suggesting that they represent some kind of ideal of the modern world, that place towards which humans aspire. Climbing the hierarchy. This is also hinted to by the triangular shape of their arrangement. The buildings on the sides are smaller, while the ones in the middle are the highest. By contrast, the world below these buildings seems small and insignificant, orderly disposed and unimposing in any way. In fact it looks like arable land, which is something that is exploitable. The fact that these large constructions block the light of the sun suggests that they are what is preventing the rest of the world from becoming, well…enlightened. They hold the knowledge that those below are obstructed from receiving.
We are then presented with what appears to be the largest building of all. The dark cloud seems to emanate from it. At this point you feel like a higher intelligence is dissecting the world so that you may be guided towards the truth. It feels like you are taken on a journey that shows you what hides beneath appearances.
The building has the darkest color of all, suggesting the malicious orientation of those residing there. When it is sectioned, light comes out, which indicates that those at the top, the elites, hold great knowledge and that that knowledge is restricted to those within that group. The red shade at the top implies that the knowledge they hold is used for negative purposes. That’s why the light is tainted in the color of blood.
We are then taken inside the top of the building where we see a number of hooded figures which seem to conjure up a red cube. The hooded figures seem to worship this cube. Their creation does not seem to have solidy, which suggests it’s an ideology, a belief and a restrictive one (shape) at that as well as destructive (color). They have come up with a new frame. And in the next scene we see why.
The cube traverses a sea of people who seem distracted and reaches a man whose eyes are closed, who literally has a whole in his chest where a darkness swarms and who assumes a straight position, with his arms by his side glued to his body. Then we see the red cube enclose his head. The cube seems to single him out from the crowd. What I think this means is that the new ideology – which is a distortion of truth – reaches those who do not use their critical thinking (eyes closed), who hold resentment within (hole in his chest) and who refuse to take responsibility for their actions and to claim agency (arms by his side). The position he assumes is that of a lower rank officer in the military, someone who bows to authority and renounces free will in exchange of not having to take responsibility for his actions. Therefore he represents the enforcer of the ideology that is imposed from above.
We then see the effects of this ideology. It makes mere servants out of people. It creates societies where people don’t care about each other, everyone minding their own business, it crams people into narrow places and forces them into boring jobs where they step over each other to reach the top in a hierarchy that does not honor virtue but compliance. It burdens people with debt and makes them enamored with material possessions.
The next scene shows people whose head is disjoint from the body. This is a powerful metaphor for one of the most pervasive problems we have: a head-centric approach to everything that surrounds us. This prevents us from plugging into reality and having a full experience of life. We glorify the intellect and we dismiss the intelligence of the body. We treat ourselves like walking heads as if the body’s only real function is merely logistical.
This is a quote from Philip Shepherd that I found via Bernhard Guenther which captures the intent of this scene:
“As long as you continue to live in your head, the self will not even exist as an unbroken whole: when conscious thinking is independent of being, the male element is deliberately fracturing self and world. It is only when the pelvic center of your being is sensitized and fully participant in your consciousness—massively connecting and communicating— that the various and divergent aspects of the self will be able to reconcile into a whole.
The body holds the deepest currents of our being, and is our bridge to the life of the world around us – the being of the world. By separating the center of our thinking from all that, we enter a kind of alienation that makes us feel like spectators on the events that surround us.
Furthermore, we start managing from on high what we cannot experience, because head-centric thinking is keen to create structures of control, systemization, judgment and acquisition. But being out of touch and off balance ourselves, we can only seed more imbalance with every willful, managerial impulse – even when our impulses spring from an agenda that seeks to improve things.
The desire to behave ethically, if coming from a place of disconnected reason, will necessarily focus on fixing how our behavior affects the material world; because disconnected reason tacitly expresses a contempt for the body, it will overlook the problem of how our relationship with the body affects our behavior.
This is our blind spot – and it is a towering liability, because our relationship with the world can only mirror and express the relationship we have with our own bodies. Having estranged ourselves from the body and its wisdom, we find ourselves also estranged from the world and its wisdom.”
– Philip Shepherd, New Self New World
This is further reinforced by the next scene where the head seems to erode into debris. This is a metaphor for dissociation. The fact that electronic devices are present in these images is not accidental, they contribute greatly to our state of inner division. There was even an experiment that showed that the attention span of a person has significantly decreased recently. When you are disconnected from the body and the society you live in is so alien to your true nature, you tend to dissociate and fall into depression, which is not a mental illness that needs to be fixed, it’s most often a symptom of the kind of society we live in, the kind that would produce such reactions in the people that live in it. It’s like Jiddu Krishnamurti said, “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”
We are shown how everything is upside down and how, as time passes, we all start to feel empty and how a dark cloud lurks over our heads that we feel is becoming unbearable. We suspect that something is wrong, but we assume that it’s us, that we are not adaptable, that we need to try harder to fit in. Which produces monsters in our minds and creates what Carl Jung called the shadow, which is that aspect of ourselves that we have denied expression of and suppressed in order to comply with the definitions of normality that this world imposed on us. This shadow always lurks within us triggering reactive behaviors in us, causing conflict, because it wants to be integrated, it wants to be seen, it wants to be expressed.
But we don’t integrate it because everybody puts on the mask of happiness, which fortifies the belief that the problem resides in you, which it does, but not in the way you think. The problem isn’t that you have dark things inside that need to be eradicated, they have their reasons for existing there. They are manifestations of those parts of yourself that you have chosen to ignore or that you have mutilated just so that the world would accept you. What the problem really is is that you see the shadow aspects of yourself and instead of trying to get to the bottom of how they came to be, you try to mask them. You feel ashamed about having them and you identify with this negative side of yourself, you really believe you are just angry and bitter and envious. So why is it not apparent that there’s something more beyond these emotions? Because you are presented with another layer of deception, which is your “identity”, your persona. The persona is where all the shoulds are. You should be kind, you should be generous, you should be strong, you should be calm, etc. You should be all the good things. And whenever you fail, it is an indication that you are a bad person or that you are not good enough or that you’re not meant to do something. If you display anger, instead of looking deeper into it and find where it leads you, you start to feel bad about yourself for having shown anger and you will try to force yourself into never displaying anger again so that you may believe yourself to be that perfect person, that persona. That’s why the mask is always smiling. Because that’s what people aspire towards, believing that they can ‘fake it till they make it’. And that’s also why it’s promoted on TV. Because assumed identity wants to advance itself. And that can be easily exploited by intelligent marketing campaigns.
Here’s a quote by Edward Bernays, the father of propaganda:
“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. …We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of.. …In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons…who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.”
You are encouraged to add value to yourself. And what is value in this sick society? The appearance of success in the form of material possessions, status, popularity and power.
The story progresses to a scene of remarkable emotional power. Two masked figures embracing each other in bed, empty alcohol bottles surrounding them. While their masks have wide smiles, you can tell by the way they are holding each other that they are not as happy as they seem. The strong grasp of each other suggests that they are seeking refuge in one another, they are looking for a way to escape the cruel reality they are living in. This idea is consolidated by the empty alcohol bottles that are by their sides which is another way to evade reality. This scene is particularly sad because it suggests that even intimate relationships are formed at a superficial level as long as we relate to one another from our false sense of identity. We fear that if we put our masks down we will be exposed and vulnerable. But there is no true connection without vulnerability. And what this breeds is co-dependence, not love. And we are in desperate need for connection and affection and love.
[TO BE CONTINUED…]
Originally posted on Steemit: