Pieces of Ourselves

First, RIP, Tony Curtis. I can still see you staggering along in those heels!

As to the main topic, I should have written this entry right after the commentary on Gardening at the Dragon’s Gate in “What I’m Reading Now.”

The day after reading about Wendy Johnson’s connection to Thich Nhat Hanh and revisiting his comment about looking for pieces of ourselves I was glancing through Carolyn C. Denard’s introduction to What Moves at the Margin by Toni Morrison and found yet another connection.

Denard makes reference to “The Fisherwoman,” an introduction Morrison herself wrote to A Kind of Rapture, a book of photographs by Robert Bergman.

Morrison tells the story of meeting an old woman who was fishing on a neighbor’s property. She describes the woman in minute detail, even down to her men’s shoes. She describes their brief conversation, consisting of “fish recipes and weather and children.” The woman claims to come there often with the permission of the owner. Morrison looks for her the next day and for days after, but the woman is nowhere to be found. Morrison’s feelings evolve from disappointment to anger. Then she begins to wonder if she made up the encounter. She adds: “It took some time for me to understand my unreasonable claims on that fisherwoman. To understand that I was longing for and missing some aspect of myself. That there are no strangers. There are only versions of ourselves, many of which we have not yet embraced, most of which we wish to protect ourselves from.”

It has taken me more than two years to write about this observation because for the longest time I was trying to understand it in the context of Jungian soul fragmentation. At first I thought Morrison’s experience bore little relationship to Carl Jung’s theory that integration of various fragments of the psyche was crucial to mental health. I also thought that Morrison used her encounter with the old fisherwoman to express something more evanescent than what Jung had intended. Now I’m convinced otherwise. Morrison and Thich Nhat Hanh and Carl Jung all had the same thing in mind. Jung of course borrowed from Eastern thought, including Buddhism. Morrison’s encounter with the fisherwoman represented a search for her higher, wiser self. The old woman also bears elements of the fisher king, though without the wound.

At this point all I’ve concluded from this little excursion is that there are connections everywhere in the world if we just look for them.


One Response to “Pieces of Ourselves”

  1. More Connections « Lizr128′s Blog Says:

    […] before that I wrote about What Moves at the Margins in “Pieces of Ourselves.” Now if I can just locate the little book Finding the Still […]

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