The Secret Guardian

From the latest chapter of The Prisoner of infinity, “The Secret Guardian”:

 A life full of holes. A cluster of fragments, swirling, roving, seeking a place to fit, seeking coherence, seeking meaning. A wound in the soul; a psyche in mortal peril. What was Whitley’s secret? And why did I need so badly to uncover it? I had felt compelled to probe his work again and again throughout my adult life, like a tongue that can’t stay away from an infected tooth. Whatever Whitley’s secret wound, finding it would mean—would depend on—finding my own. But how do you seek a secret that you are keeping from yourself?

The “guardian” describes the aspect of the psyche that comes into being in order to protect the conscious mind from re-experiencing the original trauma. It is the way “the secret guards itself.” Part of the individuation process, perhaps even the central goal, entails getting past this defense mechanism and discovering the secret which it exists to protect. Once the secret is exposed, the “guardian” no longer has any reason to exist. In a sense the secret is the guardian, and vice versa. An unconscious mechanism, once it is brought into consciousness, ceases to operate, or even to exist. Donald Kalsched describes it this way:

the original traumatic situation posed such a danger to personality survival that it was not retained in memorable personal form but only in daimonic archetypal form. This is the collective or “magical” layer of the unconscious and cannot be assimilated by the ego until it has been “incarnated” in a human interaction [emphasis added]. As archetypal dynamism it “exists” in a form that cannot be recovered by the ego except as an experience of retraumatization. Or, to put it another way, the unconscious repetition of traumatization in the inner world which goes on incessantly must become real traumatization with an object in the world if the inner system is to be “unlocked.”

Full PDF

Audios, “The Unreliable Narrator” (with Doug Lain), “Puer Aeternus” and “Absent Dads,” with Keith & Phil, go to MP3 links on main page

Audience Artwork (reader submissions):

9 thoughts on “The Secret Guardian

  1. “Whatever Whitley’s secret wound, finding it would mean—would depend on—finding my own. But how do you seek a secret that you are keeping from yourself?” (Jasun)

    Quoting from Whitley Strieber’s Hybrids (2011):

    “Mark,” she said, “who do you love?”
    He would tell her nothing of himself. …
    Gina whispered as she kissed his cheek, “Remember me.” …
    “Remember wo you love. Who do you love, Mark?”
    He refused to say her name.


    He wanted to die. But was that even possible for a thing such as him? He wanted to die, but he also wanted to hold Gina in his arms just once as an act of conscious, intentional love. …


    As it came close hand he saw it more clearly, Mark was shocked by an emotion he had not known existed, and a memory he had not know he possessed. Out of some deep, unexplored place, he found himself uttering the word “Father.”
    He saw this man not only in the dimness of this tunnel, but in the light of memory. His narrow, precise face was deeply familiar. Yet, he could nit remember where he had seen him. He could not remember why he called him father, but he wanted to.
    In some lost, hazy memory, this man appeared as tall as a god, standing above him all in white. But there was blood, too, smeared in the white.
    Core instinct triggered a burst of love beyond even his love of Gina, as if he were face-to-face with God.
    He heard himself say again, out of the depths of his heart, “Father.” But why? Why was he saying this, why feeling it? …
    The man said, “It’s good to see you again, Son.” …
    “Mark, mankind is a failure. Nature tried and nature failed. But there’s a new mankind now – people like you, good people, smart people, for the love of God, Mark, compassionate people. No more war, no more cruelty, no more greed. …”
    “I don’t know who you are. I don’t know why I called you that.” [Abe: ‘Father’]
    “My name is Dr. Thomas Ford Turner.”
    “Your’re Dr. Turner? The Dr. Turner that Gina’s talked about?”
    “I created you, Mark. Both of you.”

  2. You must be a WS aficionado if you read Hybrids! (I didn’t get past first chapter and I’m supposed to be researching.)

    Can you say a bit about the video and why you think it’s pertinent here?

  3. Hi Jasun,

    I didn’t read Hybrids, I only made a quick google books search for the word “love” because I had a hunch. Appearance can be deceptive: my interest in WS is virtually zero.

    The relevance of the video are the words: “Core instinct triggered a burst of love beyond even his love of Gina,

    *** as if he were face-to-face with God. *** ”

    I guess what I try to say is, we don’t seem to be merily looking for our absent physical fathers & human love. The Alien or Ufo phenomenon can be looked at from “beyond trauma”, like in the recent skeptiko interview:

    “I’ve found very little evidence of trauma among the people that I’ve interviewed. Certainly less than 10%. Maybe less than 5%.”

    “Remember who you love. Who do you love?” (WS, Hybrids) means “Remember your soul’s divine origin!” means “Remember your divine (not earthly) Father” means “Awaken to your (eternal) Sonship”! – Your brother’s self-crucifiction can be interpreted as a (failed) attempt to undergo “mystical” death (self-awakening): “People are asleep; when they die, they awaken.” (Sayings of the Prophet Muhammad) The Sufic imperative (die before you die) was misread and had to be acted out in terms of an excessive and ultimately fatal life-style!

    Your desire for enlightenment, so it seems, is another attempt to “remember” and “awaken”. “My spirit must search,” as the Psalm goes. Precondition of anamnesis (rembrance, awakening, illumination) is karthasis (purification). But what has to be purified? The noetic faculty, i.e., the heart. “Trauma” is what keeps the heart petrified, incapable of receiving (true Fatherly) love. Whatever opens our heart is good and prepares for the ultimate realization: “I am loved, therefore I am.”

    Enlightenment (salvation) is, in fact, the birth of love in a person; for, if that occurs, the Father is present and enlightenment (salvation) is achieved. Ultimate fulfillment cames about only through union with the ultimate source of our being – not an impersonal abstract principle, but a personal Father! Love is God’s gift of Himself – the Father – but it is also a challenge to the recipient – the son – and becomes the task of his life (to nourish that love in himself). The process of loving is a process of increasing approximation to divinity: perfect love would be apotheosis.

    • Hi Abe

      there’s a lot to respond to there. I find myself almost as if pulled in two directions, one in agreement, the other in disagreement.

      Firstly, this quote: “I’ve found very little evidence of trauma among the people that I’ve interviewed. Certainly less than 10%. Maybe less than 5%.”

      From what I could tell by skimming, he is referring here to the experience of contact itself, and not to evidence of early trauma in the life of the experiences. These are not entirely separate, granted, since one of the things POI discusses is how early trauma creates circumstances for re-traumatization. However, the larger idea it presents is that early trauma causes dissociation, which opens the psyche for transcendental experiences which may be indistinguishable from infantile escapist fantasy. That suggests that a lack of a traumatic element to “contact” experiences doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t sourced in trauma, and acting as compensation or anesthetic to it.

      That brings me to the idea of a divine father, a personal God, which is an idea I find, um, fishy, to say the least. This is not to say that the Universe is not an engine of love, but the idea of a father implies a divine authority presiding lovingly over that engine, and I don’t think there IS any sort of authority or ruling presence in the Universe, any more than there is over the human body itself, which is “ruled” internally. I think that’s one of the child fantasies that keeps us from experiencing the divine reality as it is.

      I think we impose meaning onto chaos because chaos was once life-threatening to us, just as we project a perfect father onto the Formless because we suffer from the trauma of having a very imperfect (or absent) father in early life.

      My brother’s self-crucifixion, I thin,k was driven by the “schizophrenic” (divided) desire to surrender to God and to become/replace God, hence his ambivalence about being thrown off the cross, as if his offering had been rejected but also as if he had been seen as unworthy to follow in Christ’s footsteps. His choice to cut his losses and use it for worldly advancement was perhaps due to an unconscious clinging to the need for an external father to validate him, rather than accepting that the only one who could reject or accept him was himself.

      I had a dream last night that I was telling a young woman that because the Universe has no meaning or order or purpose to it, we are absolutely free, and that this is the most wonderful and (en)lightening realization of all, yet also the most terrifying, because it entails recognizing that there is no external presence, either judging us or praising us. There is only us, and we can do whatever we choose. As I spoke I had a feeling of hesitation, because I knew that such freedom also entailed absolute surrender. “The Universe is a machine,” I said, with precise and unquestionable rules.

      If God’s love moves (and moves through) that machine, then it moves not to or for us, but AS us. We can’t ever have God’s love, but we can BE God’s love. And so we already are.

      Trauma may be what petrifies the heart of a child; but it then becomes what cracks the adult open. It’s the alpha & the omega of love.

  4. Abbot Tryphon:

    Many people, especially men, I’ve noticed over the years, have a difficult time relating to God as Father because they had a bad relationship with their own father.

  5. When one forgives their father it doesn’t matter whether the father is aware of this forgiveness or not (or even whether the father is alive or dead) because what is happening is an internal process within the individual psyche. One is forgiving one’s concept of the father and releasing that fixed idea into a larger context is how I see it. So that the positive effect of forgiveness is not on the other but within oneself first and foremost. Only secondarily does it effect how one interacts with “the other”.

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