Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Palin, the manifestation of Kali

George Lakoff wrote in TruthOut last week about progressives' response to Gov. Sarah Palin as John McCain's veep pick. While Lakoff tends to cling too tightly to a dualistic worldview framed in the strict father/nurturing mother model, he's quite right that progressives cannot use their over-thought realist perspective to address the problem of Palin.

Where Lakoff struggles is with the unconscious and subconscious that lies deep below our own relationships with parental figures. He does not have a solid grasp of Jungian archetypes -- and that's where we must go to find the tools we need.

After reading his take, I think I figured it out: she is a very primitive archetype for the authoritarians, a vengeful earth mother, a veritable goddess Kali, a bringer of death. They respect that in their guts, in their tissue, at atomic level; their heads cannot engage because her being communicates like a dog whistle to the very molecules of which they are made.

Our challenge is to appeal to another primal archetype that competes with and crowds out that other archetype. Progressives THINK too much, we don’t listen to the fiber of our being like conservatives do; we make mental software that overrides those primal messages. We’re going to have to get back in touch with that primacy in a hurry.

We need to address the different subsets within the conservatives’ ranks, and appealing to their different guts. I can sense in reading feedback from a number of conservative women — Dr. Laura, for example — some sort of resentment. How deep is that resentment? Is it down in the bone? What is the basis for that resentment if it is deep?

We’re looking for something that constitutes a threat to one’s being, a visceral threat, not one that we can deduce.

In the case of the Dr. Laura crowd I sense a feeling of resentment over being thrown aside, but I can’t be certain that’s what it is. Notice how many older white female conservatives have not run up to the microphone and shouted with glee for Palin as their veep…

Perhaps she’s the Queen Mother/Crone model (a la Clarissa Pinkola-Estes); her signature feature is fecundity.

She can display a beautiful face, but she’s a witch underneath.

Hawaiian goddess Pele is like this; she gives birth to the land, but she demands much, takes more, eating up homes in her path of creative destruction.

Think the queen stepmother in Snow White; obviously beautiful enough to capture the heart of father, even serves him (in ways that Disney will never discuss with children), but exacting, extracting, demanding utter and complete loyalty.

And the Christian fundamentalists -- the fundies -- know her. They recognize her even though they cannot say why, only that they are immediately taken with her and her shiny poisonous apple.

That’s why the people who will be most reticent about her on the right will be women; they will rival Queen Mother/Crones or simply Crones who can see her for what she is, but because they have lost access to this primal knowledge about the archetypes they cannot articulate simply and readily what it is that is so wrong about her.

My own inner Crone knows there is something very toxic about her, that nothing jibes at all in any of her stories, especially the ones where children enter the picture. The gut tells me more than the head can.

I'm comfortable with the Snow White wicked queen mother model; her stepdaughter is Snow White, a child who has been lost, possibly deliberately left to her own devices, who's being asked to eat the poison apple. "Here, you are going to get married and it will all be better." We know it's toxic from where we sit, and any hesitancy on the fundies' part about her getting married will suggest they get it, too, just not at a level of logic.

What we have to do is save King Daddy, even if it means a disgusting job to us; we have to paint him as being at risk of losing badly because of her bewitchment, and he'll save himself if he can disentangle himself from her. Of course by the time he does the damage is done to his dreams for the you right now that's how the rightwingers who are unhappy with this will pull it off if they can. Or maybe they've already written befuddled King Daddy off and are merely sitting quietly on the sidelines waiting for the inevitable flame-out.

Meditating on this death goddess, a thought sprung unbidden into my head, scaring me to my core:

I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.

Can you really imagine this l'horrible mère, this dreadful dark goddess, having access to nuclear weapons?

(Photo: Sarah Palin with caribou kill, via; graphic, goddess Kali, via

A fascinating proposition, beautifully - indeed, poetically - rendered. Good to see you in such good form, Rayne. A handful of the old Salonistas flourish still!
Wow, I was just thinking about you! Had just caught up on my reading at Dave Pollard's How to Save the World wherein he'd excerpted about your "existential crisis"...

We'll have to chat very soon, thanks for dropping in!
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