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The Synthetic Cell as a Techno-scientific Mandala

a Jungian Analysis of Synthetic Biology Research

Hub A.E. Zwart

Series:

John-Kåre Vederhus and Magnhild Høie

Abstract

Health policy organizations recommend that health professionals refer patients with a substance use disorder to addiction-related self-help groups. However, the most common groups, the 12-step groups (e.g., Narcotics Anonymous [NA]) have religious wording (e.g., God, Higher Power, prayer) in their program that may cause potential participants to be sceptical, especially in secular cultures. From seven interviews with seasoned members of NA in Norway, we explored how the Higher Power concept of NA’s 12-step program is understood, how the respondents relate to their Higher Power in daily life, and whether they describe it as helpful in their recovery. A cross-case thematic analysis with systematic text condensation was used to analyze the data. Even the highly integrated NA members recounted an initial problem with the Higher Power concept. Eventually, the respondents realized that it was up to them to define the nature of their Higher Power. The respondents also defined the concept in secular or pseudo-religious ways. They were pragmatic believers; from early on they practised the recommended spiritual principles in NA (e.g., honesty and altruism), and dogmatism was considered unnecessary. The respondents presented relating to their Higher Power as vital for recovery, as they found motivation and strength to cope with the everyday process of staying clean and to continue in a recovery process. The present study sheds light on how secular and/or pragmatic, pseudo-religious worldviews can function similarly to specific religious views by helping people cope with demanding life experiences. The openness in NA toward diverse worldviews facilitates mutual support between members in a recovery process, despite differences in religious or spiritual persuasions. Health professionals should help potential participants overcome initial scepticism towards 12-step groups in order to gain access to the abstinence-based support obtainable in these fellowships.

Christian McMillan

This paper draws from resources in the work of Deleuze to critically examine the notion of organicism and holistic relations that appear in historical forerunners that Jung identifies in his work on synchronicity. I interpret evidence in Jung’s comments on synchronicity that resonate with Deleuze’s interpretation of repetition and time and which challenge any straightforward foundationalist critique of Jung’s thought. A contention of the paper is that Jung and Deleuze envisage enchanted openings onto relations which are not constrained by the presupposition of a bounded whole, whether at the level of the macrocosm or the microcosm. Openings to these relations entail the potential for experimental transformation beyond sedentary habits of thought which are blocked by a disenchanting ‘image of thought’ that stands in need of critique. Other examples of enchanted openings in Jung’s work are signposted in an effort to counter their marginalisation in some post-Jungian critiques and to signal their potential value from a Deleuzian perspective.

Randy Fertel

ABSTRACT

Understanding The Red Book as an improvisation and Jung as an improviser offers a new approach to understanding the active imagination and the analytic method that emerged from it. Such an approach uncovers the mētic spirit – the spirit of polytropic intelligence – that informs The Red Book and the archetypal figure of Hermes/Mercurius/Trickster that informs all improvisations and will come to dominate Jung’s career. The rhetoric of improvisation in The Red Book conveys that, uncontaminated by the directed consciousness or ego, personae and imagoes arise spontaneously from his unconscious and control him, not he them. Such gestures privilege non-rational ways of making art and knowing the self and world, part and parcel of the paradigm shift that characterizes the 20th century. Jung’s Red Book is on the leading edge of that effort to shift from objective rationality to a rationality that can embrace subjective elements: the unconscious and the irrational, not just the “broad highways” but also the “back alleys” of human experience.