The Cracked Lookingglass: An Exploration of Introverted Intuition

As mentioned yesterday, there are two versions of this post. Conversely, this was actually the first version. I enjoyed doing the other and thought an interesting way of going about that one would be to do it with the kind of structure you would typically expect from a Ne (extroverted intuition) writer: writing off its main topic, going on multiple tangents and seemingly unrelated side trails, and meandering towards an ending that seeks to wrap everything up in a neat little package. Sometimes however, things aren’t wrapped up in a neat little package. Suffice to say, for example, I really want to do a post on the work of James Joyce and MBTI but as of the moment, I haven’t entirely figured out the best way of doing that.

The following originally stemmed from this insight from Carl Jung about introverted intuitives:

‘The introverted intuitive type, like the extraverted intuitive, has an uncanny capacity for smelling out the future, the not yet-manifest possibilities of a situation. But the intuition is directed within, hence they are primarily found among seers and prophets, poets, artists; among primitive peoples they are the shamans who convey the messages of the gods to the tribe. On a more mundane level, persons of this type tend to be mystical day-dreamers. They do not communicate well, are frequently misunderstood, lack good judgment about both themselves and others, and never accomplish anything. They move from image to image, writes Jung, “chasing after every possibility in the teeming womb of the unconscious,” without establishing any personal connection.

This type is especially liable to neglect ordinary physical needs. They often have little awareness of their own bodily existence or its effect on others. It often appears (especially to the extravert) that reality does not exist for them—they are simply lost in fruitless fantasies. Jung counters this by describing the value of this type to the collective community: The perception of the images of the unconscious, produced in such inexhaustible abundance by the creative energy of life, is of course fruitless from the standpoint of immediate utility. But since these images represent possible views of the world which may give life a new potential, this function, which to the outside world is the strangest of all, is as indispensable to the total psychic economy as is the corresponding human type to the psychic life of a people. Had this type not existed, there would have been no prophets in Israel.

Introverted intuitives are characteristically vague about details in the “real” world. They easily get lost in strange cities; they misplace possessions, forget appointments, seldom turn up on time, arrive at airports at the very last minute. Their working environment is usually chaotic; they can’t find the right papers, the tools they need, clean clothes. There is seldom anything orderly or tidy about them. They tend to muddle through life, dependent on the tolerance and good will of sensation-oriented friends.’

The amusing thing is, I found this on Reddit and there’s a ridiculously long thread on this where from what I can see everyone has managed to miss the glaringly obvious, which can give context to this. Of course this will be Jung’s overarching view of this type. Jung was for most of his life a psychoanalyst by profession. Thus, it isn’t actually a huge leap to conclude with a relative degree of certainty that the overwhelming majority of intuitive types he will have come into contact with during his life will have most likely been through a Doctor/patient relationship, where, the patient will have been what the MBTI refers to – and for the purposes of this post, I will refer to – as turbulent. I mean, people don’t tend to spend a fortune visiting a psychiatrist when they consider the proverbial cogs to working perfectly. Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything, but when there isn’t balance with the other functions, this is pretty much exactly how it goes.

I can frequently become completely disconnected from my body, I’ve missed flights, I constantly day-dream, an ability to make order out of chaos doesn’t mean I’m organised. My friends are for the most part other n types. Genuinely, I much prefer other intuitive types for the unconscious sense of comfort, instant recognition and mutual understanding. There is something of an instant click. This may be sometimes the case for other intuitive types too. I recall an INFP friend (dominant: introverted feeling, auxiliary: extroverted intuition) who had been off work for some time actually insist that she be not separated from me at work on the basis I was the only onewho got her. I basically spent most of my twenties pondering the dynamics of social interaction, yet still, any friendship or relationship I might have is determined by any one of three factors: I stumble across another n type and there’s an instant click and sense of mutual recognition. A determined ENFP folllows me around long enough that I effectively give in and accept we’re in a relationship. This is effectively what happened with my ex, this was a person who despite the incessant red flags would ring me constantly and literally invent drama as a means for having a conversation. This included claims prior to us even meeting such as ‘I’ve been arrested.’ It doesn’t exactly take a genius to figure out this was absolutely fucking flagrant bullshit, and you wouldn’t be ringing someone off a mobile if you were under police custody, followed around half-an-hour later by, ‘The Garda have released me.’ I mean, anyone in their sound mind would have distanced themselves from someone like this, but that rather discounts that an intuitive such as my ex could basically have me smitten by giving me a constant stream of problems to solve (even though we both knew most of these were actually fucking fictitious) along with a predilection for having lots of sex. I’m a person who generally speaking solves the proverbial rubix cube pretty quickly, so there’s something both depressing and intriguing that my own ‘rubix cube’ was, ‘make up problems for this person to thrive on solving’ and ‘he really likes sex.’ There’s something of a generalisation about ENFP’s  that they’re air-heads. Personally, I’ve found on multiple occasions that this is generalising, while on one level true, really does them a grave injustice. I’ve often found myself in relationships with this type where I would actually consider myself vastly more intelligent than they are. What this discounts is that this type has a powerful extroverted intuition and you’re left with the sense that while on paper you might be more intelligent, this is a type that at their best seems to innately and instinctively know all of the important things in life. At their most turbulent, although they possess extroverted intuition as their primary function, their are similarities with Jung’s description.

Stephen says bitterly, “It is a symbol of Irish art. The cracked lookingglass of a servant.”

Sometimes through the cracked lookingglass you see reflections of yourself. Through the cracks there is a mutual recognition. Here was a person who would muddle through life, who was absolutely terrible with money and possessed little to no sense of organisation, with only what appeared to be miraculous good fortune protecting her life from becoming absolute chaos at every turn. Possibly the most acute depiction I’ve seen of this is in the Netflix show ‘Dirk Gently’ about a “holistic detective” who makes use of “the fundamental interconnectedness of all things” to solve the whole crime, and find the whole person. The characters are imbued with such a sense of randomness, that for a show that at its core is a mock up of a detective show, you’re less concerned with the nature of the ‘crime’ as you are just bewildered that the characters actually somehow manage to not die. Undoubtedly every flag indicated this would be a deeply unhealthy relationship. Every single aspect of this woman’s life was dictated by what most people would observe to be complete randomness of chance. I first saw her on a dating website. Having been on this particular website for a number of years and having observed the kinds of people who gravitate to this particular dating website, or at least through my own bias the people I mostly notice, this woman is not the kind of person I would have expected to find on it, let alone send a message to. The only reason I actually did was because I thought her eyes had quite a startling resemblance to another woman I had previously dated. This is generally speaking not remotely how I choose potential mates. Of all the dating websites in the world, like all things in her life, there is no reason I can possibly discern as to why she would have been on this particular one, other than absolute chance. I often pondered how she had actually found that website. In the entire time I knew her, I can scarcely recall a time she even looked at the internet. Her haunts onto eBay and other websites I do recall were like almost everything else in her life. Chaotic, haphazard and usually ending up in some kind of unusual drama. Buying a template to make a dress instead of the dress she actually thought she was buying. Or buying things that she could barely afford which would turn out not to work, or where the novelty value would quickly wear off. I recall her spending months trying to claim a refund for a broken violin that turned to have been imported from China. Hers was an all consuming passion. She was a nurse. She would ring me when she woke up. She would go to work. She would ring me on her break. She would go back to work. She would ring me on her lunch. She would go back to work. She would go home and ring me again. She would go and sit with her family. Or visit her aunt or cousins or her friends. Her whole waking life was consumed by constant interaction with people. She wasn’t the type of person who would actually stop and think. I could never imagine how she had ever found it. She wasn’t someone who looked for the answers to her life’s questions in Google: How do I get out of debt? How do I use eBay properly? How do I stop getting pulled into disciplinary meetings at work? Or, how do I find a boyfriend? Where do I find a boyfriend? First you’d actually have to stop to actually ask yourself something akin to these kinds of questions. She never did. She was a person who was oddly compelling. From a rational perspective the most remarkable aspect was that she somehow managed to maintain anything vaguely resembling a functioning life at all.

This attitude has immense dangers — all too easily the intuitive may squander his life. He spends himself animating men and things, spreading around him an abundance of life — a life, however, which others live, not he. Were he able to rest with the actual thing, he would gather the fruit of his labours; yet all too soon must he be running after some fresh possibility, quitting his newly planted field, while others reap the harvest. In the end he goes empty away. But when the intuitive lets things reach such a pitch, he also has the unconscious against him. The unconscious of the intuitive has a certain similarity with that of the sensation-type. Thinking and feeling, being relatively repressed, produce infantile and archaic thoughts and feelings in the unconscious, which may be compared with those of the countertype. They likewise come to the surface in the form of intensive projections, and are just as absurd as those of the sensation-type, only to my mind they lack the other’s mystical character; they are chiefly concerned with quasi-actual things, in the nature of sexual, financial, and other hazards, as, for instance, suspicions of approaching illness. This difference appears to be due to a repression of the sensations of actual things. These latter usually command attention in the shape of a sudden entanglement with a most unsuitable woman, or, in the case of a woman, with a thoroughly unsuitable man; and this is simply the result of their unwitting contact with the sphere of archaic sensations. But its consequence is an unconsciously compelling tie to an object of incontestable futility. Such an event is already a compulsive symptom, which is also thoroughly characteristic of this type. In common with the sensation-type, he claims a similar freedom and exemption from all restraint, since he suffers no submission of his decisions to rational judgment, relying entirely upon the perception of chance, possibilities. He rids himself of the restrictions of reason, only to fall a victim to unconscious neurotic compulsions in the form of oversubtle, negative reasoning, hair-splitting dialectics, and a compulsive tie to the sensation of the object. His conscious attitude, both to the sensation and the sensed object, is one of sovereign superiority and disregard. Not that he means to be inconsiderate or superior — he simply does not see the object that everyone else sees; his oblivion is similar to that of the sensation-type — only, with the latter, the soul of the object is missed. For this oblivion the object sooner or later takes revenge in the form of hypochondriacal, compulsive ideas, phobias, and every imaginable kind of absurd bodily sensation.

The last time I saw her was not long after she’d returned to Ireland she was admitted to the CUH in Cork. She asked me to come see her. I did because it seemed the right thing to do. I took a flight over to Dublin and got the night bus up-to Cork from the airport. I arrived in the early hours and stayed the night with her. In the morning her cousin – the only member of her family to actually visit her – turned up and berated me. I left and went to check into the hotel. She phoned me and said to come to the hotel and stay with her again that night. I did. We walked from the ward to the chapel. I said to her that

“Now, there’s a wonderful work of Schopenhauer’s; he says, “When you reach a certain age,” and he wrote this when he was in his 60s or so, “and look back over your life, it seems to have had an order. It seems to have had been composed by someone. And those events that when they occurred seemed merely accidental and occasional and just something that happened, turn out to be the main elements in a consistent plot.” So he says, “Who composed this plot?” And he said, “And just as your dreams are composed by an aspect of yourself, of which your consciousness is unaware, so your whole life has been composed by the will within you.” Then he says, “Just as those people whom you met by chance became effective agents in the structuring of your life, so you have been an agent in the structuring of other lives, and the whole thing gears together like one big symphony,” he says, “everything influencing and structuring everything else.” And he said, “It’s as though our lives were the dream of a single dreamer, in which all the dream characters are dreaming too, and so everything links to everything else, moved out of the will in nature.”

That’s a beautiful idea. It’s an idea that occurs in India, in the image of what’s called the “Nee of Indra” or the net of gems. Where it’s a net of gems where every gem reflects all the other ones. And they also have the idea of a spontaneous and simultaneous arising. Everything arises in relation to everything else, and so you can’t blame anybody for anything; it’s all working around. It’s a marvelous idea. It’s as though there were an intention behind it, and yet it all is by chance. None of us has lived the life that he intended.”

Advertisements

One thought on “The Cracked Lookingglass: An Exploration of Introverted Intuition

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s