Legacies of the Jointster
Evolution of the Criminal Justice System
The criminal has evolved historically, and this is how and when. Imagine a Neanderthal man named Moger leaving his cave to forage food for his family. Moger is responsible, the kind of man who stands on his own two bare feet and works hard hunting from dawn to dusk so his family can live in caveman comfort.
A few caves down the valley lives a neighbor named Cleb. Cleb is a shifty, lazy, deadbeat scumbag sewer rat--an irresponsible, beady-eyed creep who sleeps a lot, freeloads off the generosity of others, and is known to imbibe certain mind-altering herbs of the forest.
One day Moger is returning home to his cave, dragging a small saber-toothed tiger by the tail, when he notices that a large hunk of venison that he had hanging up to dry had disappeared. It doesn’t take much for even the slow mind of a caveman like Moger to conclude that his no-good, irresponsible scumbag neighbor, Cleb, has ripped him off again.
Moger picks up his club and stalks straight down the valley to Cleb’s rundown, dilapidated cave and finds the full-bellied Cleb smacking and drooling and gnawing on Moger’s hard-earned venison bone. Anger and revenge flood through Moger’s prehistoric mind as he clubs the old junky over the cranium, knocking him senseless. Moger picks up what is left of his venison bone and strolls on home with a self-satisfied grin on his face. A wrong is made right and thus was the dawn of the criminal justice system.
Though such executions as that of Socrates in 399 BCE were carried out over the next millennium, it is not known when burning at the stake was first used. In Britain, however, there is a recorded burning for heresy in 1222, when a deacon of the church was burnt at Oxford for embracing the Jewish faith so he could marry a Jew, and Joan of Arc was burned at the stake on 30 May 1431 in Rouen, France. From the Greek and Roman empires to the Inca civilization in Meso-America to 18th-century Europe, punishment by decapitation was viewed as a humane way of death--one often reserved for the elite of society. Unlike other methods, the lopping off of heads was decidedly quicker and less painful than, say, the horribly slow and agonizing demise that came with being impaled on a stick, burned at the stake, or drawn and quartered.
The recorded history of punishment began with torture and execution, often as public spectacles. For example, Foucault (1977) tells us that as late as 1757 a man was taken in a cart wearing nothing but a shirt, holding a torch of burning wax weighing two pounds; then after being placed on a scaffold, the flesh was torn from his breasts, arms, thighs and calves with red-hot pincers. His right hand burnt with sulpher, and on those places where the flesh was torn away, molten lead, boiling oil, and burning resin, was poured on. His body was drawn and quartered by four horses, and his limbs and body consumed by fire, and then his ashes were thrown to the winds. It makes one wonder, who would commit a crime back then knowing what would happen if he or she were caught?
As early as 1760, a hanging machine had been tried out in England. It was improved and finally adopted in 1783. The guillotine, used for lopping off heads, however, first used in March 1792, was the perfect vehicle for punishment. Death was reduced to a visible, but instantaneous event.
The roots of the word prison comes from prisune from before 1112, which means confinement. Prisune was influenced by pris, which means taken or seized. From Latin prehenso--to lay hold of, clutch at. Prysner--one kept in prison: probably anywhere from 1350 to 1375.
The earliest records of prisons, according to Morris and Rothman (1995), "are in Egypt and date from 2050 to 1786 BCE. The pharaohs acknowledged a sacred duty to preserve public order. On these principles, expressed in the concept of maat (justice or order), depended the equilibrium of the universe. Pharaohs and their servants could be neither arbitrary nor cruel, and Middle Kingdom pharaohs appear to have preferred public beatings and imprisonment to the death penalty. One of the most useful accounts of prisons in ancient Egypt is the passage in the Book of Genesis (39:20 and 40:5) describing the confinement of the Hebrew slave Joseph by the Egyptian royal official Potiphar.
The Assyrian empire (746 to 539 BCE) imprisoned smugglers, thieves, deserters from royal service, and tax evaders. Skipping over some of the intermittent history, we go to "451 BCE, when the only instance of imprisonment occurs in the laws concerning debt. Debtors who could not or would not pay were to be held in private confinement by their creditors for sixty days and were to have their debts publicly announced on three successive market days, on the last of which they might be executed or sold into slavery outside the city" (p. 8, 9).
There is one more category of imprisonment during this period. The limitless powers of the male heads of Roman households included the right to maintain a domestic prison cell to discipline members of the household. This cell, the ergastulum, could be a work cell for recalcitrant or rebellious slaves or a place of confinement at the pleasure of the father for any family member for any infraction of the household discipline.
"In Rome, in 198 BCE, the consuls ordered the lower magistrates to double their prison precautions. Later, in 576 CE, Kings sometimes used monasteries as prisons for captured rebels, and by the thirteenth century some instances of monastic penitential imprisonment were designated by the formal term ‘punishment’" (p. 17).
"From the 1270s on, the number of prisons in England increased rapidly, and by 1520 there were 180 imprisonable offenses in the common law (p. 31). The system of prisons that emerged from France, however, lasted until the French revolution in 1789.
Between the years 1830 and 1848 public executions had almost entirely disappeared. It was in the 1830s that prisons were organized around principles of order and regularity and hence isolated each prisoner in a cell and enforced rules of total silence.
Public execution and various forms of punishment were the antecedents to the prison systems we’re familiar with today. From the stake and public square, it spread by word of mouth--verbodissemination. For as long as criminals have been around in their various forms, the general public and popular media (especially prior to the 1960s) has pigeonholed a general criminal-type that includes descriptors such as gangster, psychopath or ex-con. These descriptors are not mutually exclusive stereotypically. Their peccant personalities are often described as hardened, violent, immoral, racist, devoid of compassion, destructive, and untrustworthy--hell kites.
Kipnis (1999) reports studies done by the Prison Activist Resource Center that lists the top ten reasons for Californians entering prison:
1. Possession of a controlled substance
2. Possession of a controlled substance for sale
4. Sale of a controlled substance
5. Second-degree burglary
6. Assault with a deadly weapon
7. Driving under the influence
8. First-degree burglary
9. Petty theft with a prior conviction
10. Vehicle theft
Clearly, violent crime is practically absent (p. 176).
According to Kipnis (1999), drug offenders represent sixty percent of federal prisoners and over one-third of state and county prisoners (p. 121). Storie (October/November 2007) explains that the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in 2002 figures show that 70-85 percent of California state inmates have substance abuse problems serious enough to warrant treatment (p. 4). Considering those percentages, let us examine the top ten reasons for Californians entering prison, which is likely to be similar in other parts of the country. Numbers one, two, four, and seven are directly substance-related. However, how many of the people incarcerated for numbers three, five, eight, and nine were getting money to support a habit or simply for the recreational use of drugs and/or alcohol? And how many of number six' assaults (the only one involving destructive behavior) were committed while under the influence? That would be hard to determine, as would the correlation existing between number ten and substances.
Prior to the 1960s, the criminal archetype was synonymous with the convict stereotype. Since then, the convict started transforming into the inmate, which was the ending of the convict, but not the ending of the convict stereotype, and that is where there is a hoc opus--a symptomatic breakdown in our culture that has occurred because of the consciousness created by the media. The preponderance of the prison population since the 1960s are the chemically dependent inmates--not the stereotypical convicts--a media image. The inmate is still viewed as the convict. This media image is a living myth, one that has influenced and even structured our culture. Campbell (1988) shares that "every mythology has grown up in a certain society in a bounded field. Then they come into collision and relationship, and they amalgamate, and you get a more complex mythology (p. 22). Let us consider another symptom contributing to a breakdown in our culture.
Is prison a deterrent to crime? Judging by the recidivism rates, no. Many see recidivism as the result of a perversion of the formal aims of imprisonment. What are the formal aims of imprisonment? Foucault (1977) says that "formal punishment started as revenge, then shifted to the defense of society" (p. 90). We could easily argue that it has shifted back to a lex talionis--an eye for an eye, when considering such statements as "lock em up and throw the key away," or "he got exactly what he deserved," or when considering the war on crime, or the three strikes legislation. Revenge is, indeed, another symptom--a schadenfreude, further deteriorating our values toward fellow human beings.
Most People probably have a difficult time admitting that their idea of punishment is really revenge. Whatever their reasons for supporting punishment, they should probably consider what is going on intra muros--within the walls of our prisons, especially the ones I am familiar with--the federal prison system and the California Department of Corrections. Those who want revenge certainly would not want to continue to pay an astronomical amount of tax dollars to make sure the ciphers of such a netherworld are well taken care of, some might even say pampered, not to mention the money spent interminably building prisons. In my 1995 magazine article entitled Prison: The Day Care Center, I share the nimiety of my prison experience by explaining that inmates are so well provided for, that prison isn’t a deterrent to crime--at least the lower security yards in California, and that would be levels one and two.
Prior to emphasizing the benefits of a federal correctional institution in Pennsylvania, Worth (1995) explains that "with visitors, it's like a joke, to see how long before they compare this place to a college campus." Federal prisons have had the reputation as "resorts" or "country clubs" for a long time. It is my contention that prison systems--especially the ones just mentioned, in many ways is a major symptomatic breakdown of our culture. Of course the media image presented by motion pictures and television does not reflect these symptoms. What they do, since the 1960s, that is, is perpetuate a stereotype of a criminal, not a drug addict.
Morris and Rothman (1995) offers, one day in the life of #12345:
If you expect the usual prison tale of constant violence, brutal guards, gang rapes, daily escape efforts, turmoil, and fearsome adventures, you will be deeply disappointed. Prison life is really nothing like what the press, television, and movies suggest. It is not a daily round of threats, fights, plots, and shanks" (p. 203).
I am not suggesting that everything we see and read in the media is inaccurate concerning the criminal element--some is; for example, prison can definitely be a parlous environment--an Augean stable, with the nefarious lifers preying on the often pusillanimous fresh fish of youth--ovum lupo committere, to entrust the sheep to the wolf. For the most part, however, our ocularcentrism has been developed and indoctrinated by the power structure.
Where does the puer and trickster archetypes fit into this history, or any history for that matter? Archetypes are timeless and universal. They are in all cultures ab ovo--from the beginning, and ad infinitum--to infinity.
Drug History and the Numinosum
Wanting to feel good is visceral. In whatever form we choose, whether it be religious revivals, speaking in tongues, going on vision quests, meditating, ejaculating or doing drugs--it can still be thought of as numinous--a supernatural state. In one way or another, from time immemorial, drugs have played a role in religion. From the ancient Mayans and African tribal beliefs to modern day Shamanism. Often, the drugs used were seen as opening the gateway to the "spirit world" and only spiritual leaders would use them on behalf of their people. Corbett (1996) explains that
the imagery of the shaman's journey is fairly similar in its themes in different parts of the world because the shaman experiences directly those categories of the imagination which are archetypal. To reach them, the shaman enters or evokes the necessary state of consciousness through ritual, or by means of the enactment of myth, which allows access to the spirit world (the transpersonal levels of the unconscious). Techniques such as fasting, drumming, dancing or hallucinogens all produce intense affective arousal, expansion of the spectrum of ordinary perception and a submersion or suspension of consensual reality. Such altered consciousness is often necessary for the evocation of archetypal material (p. 125).
When we think of drugs, however, we think of the illicit ones like cocaine, marijuana, meth, heroin, and LSD, but we overlook the seemingly insignificant and socially acceptable licit drugs such as nicotine and caffeine. Plus I only mention passively the use of alcohol in Christian rituals such as the Eucharist. However, when a Christian drinks the blood of Christ, they do not do so to the extent of oblivion. Neither does the exploration with drugs on a Shamanic level lead to recreational euphoria. It's not like the societal disturbance we see with an alcoholic or heroin addict. It's the use of a drug for a constructive mental process. The difference being that one often sets out to destroy the mind whereas the other sets out to educate it.
Our society is presently saturated with the often puerile overindulgence in chemical substances. Of course there is no shortage of senex overindulgence either. Yet, less than a hundred years ago people were drifting blissfully in the clouds of Morpheus. Morphine and laudanum were highly recommended for many ailments, as was smoking tobacco. Today the drugs may be stronger and more destructive, but perhaps their abuse is in some way a form of spirituality; such as teenagers attempting to alleviate the boredom in a boring society not geared to nurture their individuality and accommodate their spiritual needs. Or, in the words of Weil (1972): the ubiquity of drug use is so striking that it must represent a basic human appetite. Weil also suggests that altering consciousness is innate. Perhaps the internal need to release inhibitions, be devious, act crazy, fight, gamble, chase women, lie, cheat, and steal is also an innate need to alter consciousness (p. 17). There are a litany of 12-step programs today offering recovery to a wide variety of compulsive behaviors--programs such as alcoholics anonymous, narcotics anonymous, overeater’s anonymous, smokers anonymous, gamblers anonymous, sexaholics anonymous, debtors anonymous, and workaholics anonymous--just to name a select few. With well over 50 anonymous’, and many other types of support groups without "anonymous" tagged onto it, that constitutes a considerably large population of supposedly sick people.
The use of opium goes back unofficially to the ancient cave dwellers of Moger and Cleb, who drew pictures of the poppy plant on the cave walls. Officially, according to a Frontline history on the Internet, it goes back to 3400 B.C.E. where it was "cultivated in lower Mesopotamia. The Sumerians refer to it as Hul Gil, the 'joy plant.' The Sumerians would soon pass along the plant and its euphoric effects to the Assyrians. The art of poppy-culling would continue from the Assyrians to the Babylonians who in turn would pass their knowledge onto the Egyptians. In 460 B.C.E. Hippocrates, 'the father of medicine', dismisses the magical attributes of opium but acknowledges its usefulness as a narcotic and styptic in treating internal diseases-- diseases of women and epidemics. By the 1300's opium disappeared for two hundred years from European historical records. It had become a taboo subject for those in circles of learning during the Holy Inquisition, then it resurfaced again by the Portugese in the 1500's. In 1680, English apothecary, Thomas Sydenham, introduces Sydenham's Laudanum. Laudanum was a wildly popular drug during the Victorian era. It was an opium-based painkiller prescribed for everything from headaches to tuberculosis. Laudanum's biggest clam to fame however was its use by the romantic poets. Many of the Pre-Raphaelites (Among them Lord Byron, Shelly and others) were know to indulge.
Tussionex was my Laudanum. For eight and a half years I sustained a diurnal practice of writing and filling pharmaceutical prescriptions for it. Getting arrested by the police was nugatory--dues I had to pay for my addiction. During those parlous years I was arrested four times on felony charges with only being convicted twice on misdemeanors. What made Tussionex a schedule three controlled substance was hydrocodone resin complex. Unlike the fugacious cocaine, it had a long duration--from eight to twelve hours (it's formula has since been changed). I share the opinion with others that Tussionex was the most superior opiate drug, a virtual halcyon of euphoria. The numinosum, however, is not always upbeat and wonderful. There isn't anything spiritual about the often scabrous struggle to sustain an opiate addiction, whether it's heroin from the drug dealer or pharmaceuticals from the pharmacy obtained by forged prescriptions.
The numinosum can be negative. When Corbett (1997) mentions Mark, Luke, Matt and Cor., when discussing celibacy, he mentioned that "the body and sexuality acted as a kind of negative numinosum" (p. 161). My body and Tussionex, acted as a negative numinosum, in that it kept me going back after more despite the problems that being a drug store bandit were causing me. Life on a daily basis was like being under the sword of Damocles, which makes the family of opiates the most opprobrious and addictive; hallucinogens, however--especially peyote and mescaline, are thought of as the most mind-altering and spiritual.
Concerning the origin of religion--the ancient mystery cults, Wasson (1986) shares with us that "in Antiquity people spoke of the Mystery of Eleusis, of the Orphic Mysteries, and of many others. These all concealed a secret, a 'Mystery'. But we can no longer use 'Mystery', which has latched on to itself other meanings, and many of us all know the uses and misuses of this word today. Moreover, we need a word that applies to the potions taken in the antique Mysteries, now that at last we are learning what they were. 'Hallucinogen' and 'psychedelic' have circulated comfortably among the Tim Learys and their ilk back in the 1960s, for the lack of a suitable word. Hallucinogen is patently a misnomer, as a lie is of the essence of 'hallucinogen', and 'psychedelic' as a barbarous formation. No one who respects the ancient Mystery of Eleusis, the Soma [mushroom] of the Aryans, and the fungal and other potions of the American natives, no one who respects the English language, would consent to apply 'hallucinogen' to those plant substances. Antiquity remained silent on these plant substances, for they were never mentioned, except perhaps person to person in a low voice, by the light of a candle at night. Gordon Wasson and others formed a committee under the Chairmanship of Carl Ruck to devise a new word for the potions that held Antiquity in awe. After trying out a number of words they came up with entheogen "God generated within," not to replace the Mystery of the ancients, but to designate those plant substances that were and are at the very core of the Mysteries (p. 30).
John H. Laney (1972) quotes La Barre expressing the following anthropological opinion:
"Without a doubt [it is] the most widely prevalent present day  religion among the Indians of the U.S. . . . the use of Peyote has spread from group to group until today it has assumed the proportions of a great intertribal religion" (p. 110). Laney wrote that "the movement has been referred to variously as Peyotism, Peyote Cult or Sect, and Peyote Religion. The members, themselves, know it nominally as The American Church of North America. I prefer to call it the peyote movement because of its creatively dynamic character" (p. 110). "It has also been referred to as Father Peyote, Peyote Jesus, holy food, our brother, and medicine. ("Medicine" in the Indian sense, meaning a mana substance, is capable of curing the mind as well as the body)" (p. 127).
The spiritual ambiance of the peyote movement wasn't necessarily an organized religion. "Owing probably to the strongly individual orientation of the members," says Laney (1972), "as well as to their interest in, and closeness to, the original religious experience, there is no theology in the movement, no officially formulated doctrine" (p. 112). Whereas I have not had personal experience with peyote, I have had considerable experience with LSD.
I spent roughly five years experimenting with psychedelic drugs--mostly LSD. I have fond memories of those years, without ever having had a bad trip. Was I a netherworld criminal who was in possession and under the influence of illegal drugs, or was I having spiritual experiences by means of nonordinary states of consciousness? According to state law, I was a firebrand--stirring up trouble and committing crimes. According to me, then, I was just getting high. According to me, now, I was experiencing the numinosum through nonordinary states of consciousness, as well as getting high. Today, I do not condone the recreational use of drugs. In fact, I advocate total abstinence, but I have to ask myself: do I regret the past? No. I believe I am who I am today because of how I lived my life--quantum mutatus ab illo--changed from the person you once were. Without those psychedelic experiences with LSD, I believe there would be a part of me missing--an asset, I might add, for in some ways I can still see through those entheogenic eyes. If one wants to experience the numinosum through nonordinary states of consciousness, heroin addiction is always an option. Not really, I’m joking, but there are better ways to do it. A more acceptable manner is psychiatrist Stanislav Grof's holotropic breathwork.
Grof (2000) shares that "in the last twenty-five years, my wife Christina and I have developed an approach to therapy and self-exploration that we call 'holotropic breathwork.’ It induces very powerful holotropic states by a combination of very simple means--accelerated breathing, evocative music, and a technique of body work that helps to release residual bioenergetic and emotional blocks. In its theory and practice, this method brings together and integrates various elements from ancient and aboriginal traditions, Eastern spiritual philosophies, and Western depth psychology" (p. 183).
Before holotropic breathwork, Grof and other physicians discovered a number of therapeutic uses for LSD. Grof (2000) explains that "in the early 1960s, Eric Kast of the Chicago Medical School studied the effects of various drugs on the experience of pain in search of a good and reliable analgesic. During this study, he became interested in LSD as a possible candidate. In a paper published in 1963, Kast and Collins described the results of a research project, in which the effects of LSD were compared with two established potent narcotic drugs, the opiates Dilaudid and Demerol. Statistical analysis of the results showed that the analgesic effect of LSD was superior to both opiates." (p. 250). I don’t recommend trying this. These researchers were doing this under controlled conditions.
That was just one medical use for LSD. There are also psychotherapeutic uses. Grof continues: "The encouraging results of Kast and Collins's studies inspired Sidney Cohen, a prominent Los Angeles psychiatrist, friend of Aldous Huxley and one of the pioneers of psychedelic research, to start a program of psychedelic therapy for terminal cancer patients. Cohen confirmed Kast's findings concerning the effect of LSD on severe pain and stressed the importance of developing techniques that would alter the experience of dying (Cohen 1965). His co-worker, Gary Fisher, who continued these studies, emphasized the important role that transcendental experiences play in the treatment of the dying, whether these are spontaneous, resulting from various spiritual practices, or induced by psychedelic substances" (p. 251). In my case, during the time that I was experimenting with LSD, the term psychedelic was suitable. However, considering the numinous benefit of those experiences that I have now, I am inclined to use the term entheogen, depending on the context in which it’s being used. Although I haven't found the term entheogen relegated to the coca plant in any of the literature, I think that it would be suitable prior to its synthesis.
At another web site, this one sponsored by Narconon, we can find cocaine history: "Cocaine in its various forms is derived from the coca plant that is native to the high mountain ranges of South America. The coca leaves were used by natives of this region and acted upon the user as a stimulant. The stimulating effects of the drug increases breathing which increases oxygen intake. This afforded native laborers of the region the stamina to perform their duties in the thin air at high altitudes." Whereas Narconon didn't provide any dates with the above description of the coca plant, it does with the chemical synthesizing of it. Narconon shares that "Cocaine was first synthesized in 1855. It was not until 1880, however, that its effects were recognized by the medical world. The first recognized authority and advocate for this drug was world famous depth psychologist, Sigmund Freud. Early in his career, Freud broadly promoted cocaine as a safe and useful tonic that could cure depression and sexual impotence. Cocaine got a further boost in acceptability when in 1886 John Pemberton included cocaine as the main ingredient in his new soft drink, Coca Cola. It was cocaine's euphoric and energizing effects on the consumer that was mostly responsible for skyrocketing Coca Cola into its place as the most popular soft drink in history. From the 1850's to the early 1900's, cocaine and opium laced elixirs, tonics, and wines were broadly used by people of all social classes. This is a fact that is for the most part hidden in American history. The truth is that at this time there was a large drug culture affecting a broad sector of American society. Other famous people that promoted the "miraculous" effects of cocaine elixirs were Thomas Edison and actress Sarah Bernhart. There is a longer list of historic figures that used cocaine and other drugs, but in the interest of brevity, I won’t elaborate.
Laney (1972), referring to the peyote movement, said that "in my experience, not only does a general lack of information exists about this movement, but a quantity of dramatic misinformation exists in its place; that it belongs somewhat to the 'drug culture', that it is a decadent, deteriorating religious form, that it is an orgiastic or ecstatic mode of primarily unconscious experience. This disparaging attitude seems to prevail even among the psychologically informed. It comes, apparently, from the same human need that expresses itself in feelings of excitement, awe, fear, fascination, or lust when faced with the mysterium. It seems actually to arise from the sense of the numinous" (p. 126).
Laney was writing about Peyote, but why couldn't it apply to other drugs as well? The feelings of excitement, awe, fear, and fascination when faced with the mysterium, resembles a brief experience I once had. At the time, the ignominious injections of methamphetamine was my elixir, which have similar deleterious affects to the mind and body as the chronic and addictive use of cocaine. After having been in a sleepless imbroglio for three or four days and nights, my friend stopped her car in front of my house. When I asked where she was going, she told me that she was going to see her ex-boyfriend. She asked if I wanted to go with her. As soon as she asked, I felt an overwhelming sense of excitement, awe, fear, and fascination. This cerebral/emotional paroxysm also had a physical quality--a throbbing, pins and needles sensation throughout my body. The most numinous part of this maybe fifteen second experience was fear. I could not say "No!" and get the hell out of that car fast enough. Once I was inside of my house, I remember saying to myself something like, "Wow! What was that all about?" Pondering on the numinosity of that event since then, I have passed if off as a diminished mental capacity--a drug induced quirk coupled with sleep deprivation, non compos mentis--not of sound mind. I still believe that to some degree, but I believe more that I had a spiritual experience of some kind, perhaps an intuitive one. One that I will probably never know the specific meaning or nature of. Sleep deprivation, after several days and nights of injecting methamphetamine, have sent me on a number of cerebral excursions into the numinosum--the negative numinosum, of course--a nonordinary state of consciousness is putting some of the experiences I had very lightly.
Most addicts will assert that it was not their intention to grow up to be self-centered, hedonistic drug addicts and/or alcoholics. Nor was it their intention to personify the puer and/or trickster archetypes to accommodate that lifestyle. Nor was that my intention--(I don't think, at least not consciously). I'm not sure because when I was around six or seven years old, there was something about the outlaw that was compelling and attractive to me. However, during the same time period, when my playmates and I played cops and robbers, I always wanted to be the cop. At this early age I was already beginning to develop the structure of both poles of the puer and senex archetype. These consentaneous opposites are what is at the heart of addictive personalities. Hillman (1970) explains "that the senex is a complicatio of the puer, infolded into puer structure, so that puer events are complicated by a senex background" (p. 146). Most of my recent research prior to the trickster concerns the puer and senex archetypes, and it is my firm belief that in the chemically dependent population of our society, the structures of the puer and trickster begins to develop in childhood. I believe it did with me, anyway.
It might appear to some that I have shone a heterodox light on the wide-spread view that the recreational use chemical substances should be avoided. This is not my intention. Hopefully, my words won't be taken officiously. In most 12-step programs there is an expression that explains the general human condition when people voluntarily enter recovery programs, and that is incomprehensible demoralization. They are subjugated and they want to surrender. That was not the case with me. Unlike most 12-steppers, my life with drugs and alcohol was not incomprehensibly demoralizing. However, quae nocent docent, things that injure teach.
I believe I have been preordained to do something in my second life, but to accomplish it, I first had to attend the drug and alcohol school of the puer and trickster for over thirty years in my first life. Then, in order to earn the credibility to write and teach about what I learned in my first life, I had to go to more schools in my second life. Now that I am finished with the formal education of my second life, I am writing about the spiritual journey of my first life--and that, I think, is what I was preordained to do; hence, James Hillman’s (1996) acorn theory, which proposes that each life is formed by a particular image, an image that is the essence of that life and calls it to a destiny, just as the mighty oak’s destiny is written in the tiny acorn (inside flap). Consequently, for me, my heterodox view of my first-life experiences will hopefully serve me and others well for as long as my second life lasts.
Books by John E. Smethers, Ph.D