Reflections on the Badger Trilogy
J. Gary Sparkles, Jungian analyst
a.k.a. Henri Etincelles
“Take another piece of my heart, baby,” soloed Janis Joplin in her throaty and exuberant late-sixties voice. We hear that same heartfelt exuberance, today, these decades later, in the writings of the North Country’s own Daryl Sharp (I write as a stateside American). I won’t even mention the immeasurable gift his Inner City Books has made to psychology—giving the small but important voice of Jungian practitioners a place in the course of events. But I will mention something else. If you have ever felt that Jungian analytic writing goes hard into your mental tummy, try one of Daryl’s myriad volumes. What distinguishes the man’s writings from so much in my field is that they are written from the heart. Straight from the heart. The point of view of the heart suffuses his authorship, though never at the expense of clarity of thought. Through his books we read about Jung’s psychology, as Jung has been experienced, digested, and felt in the core of the writer. This is the origin of Daryl’s authorship.
Consider the recent Badger trilogy, for example. I was immediately smitten by the first volume Eros, Naturally: Jungian Notes from Underground. The lovely Badger holds center stage throughout all the Badger trilogy, and we meet him in the first volume as a handsome and confident fellow, committed to his quiet and underground existence. I was soon drawn to his confident nonchalance, feeling I’d met a kindred spirit. “The ones who get something done are the quiet ones,” Marie-Louise von Franz once said to a group of us in a pre-exam seminar. Badger is such a voice, he goes along minding his own business, but his interiority is deep and significant. He doesn't play to the crowd, he speaks softly from his hide-a-way, and his words carry weight. “I do not seek to rise above my subterranean station,” badge writes, “I wish only for my voice to be acknowledged (38).” How many of us know that there is something in our voice that warrants acknowledgement? Already much food for thought. And I particularly like the way he talks about opposites: “psychoanalysis is seldom fruitful unless there is an active conflict (18, 69).” In other words, conflict is important. Not to mention the practical questions that the author drops along the way: “What is important to you: Your job? Your mate? Your clothes? Your car? It is possible to make choices. Where does your energy want to go? (64)” More food for thought for those of us given to “should” ourselves.
Book two of the trilogy, Another Pieceof My Heart, with Badger McGee continues the thread of wit and wisdom. As I returned to the Badger himself, I re-realized how important the subterranean life is. He retreats from the world, not to be apart from it, but to protect his voice from the madness of all things. Inner time, feeling from the heart out, is crucial for any creative personality; otherwise we don’t feel from inside the heart and make its mark out there; we feel from the outward madness of things contaminating that heart. A sure way to lose the spark of life and the twinkling eyes that signal a soul alive. More tidbits? “And speaking of puppets, I am one, and the puppeteer, of course, is the Self (32).” No point in fossilizing—this one from Marie-Louise von Franz: “The truth of yesterday must be set aside for what is now the truth of one’s psychic life (59).” The discussion of the true and the false bride (60) and a clarification of the numinosum in the context of politics (79) have been vigorously underlined in my volume. Of course, in his warm-hearted way, the entire Badger series introduces Jung’s basic concepts but in a not-basic way that is nevertheless easily digestible by the average reader. I've just cited a few fer instances.
Why should I not confide that the third volume, Melodies of Love, is my favorite of the series? The Fitzgerald translation of Homer’s Odyssey begins, “Sing in me, Muse, and tell through me the story … .” All the other translators (as far as I know) start off “Tell me, Muse … .” Tell me? No, the true writer sings. I've always loved that beginning, reminding me that real writing is a song. Now it would be a great disservice to compare any modern writer to Homer, but it’s the song idea that I want to stress. Something has happened to Badger McGee and his Avatar, Daryl Sharp, in volume three. The arrow of Eros that he has been talking about has hit him, smack dab in the heart, and it is that refueled heart singing the song that tells the story in volume three. You’ll have to read it to see what I mean, but I promise you will feel the song running through the work. Chapter nine is positively inspired and should be required reading for every Jungian trainee. You've already got an idea of Badger’s quotes in the series, so here I’ll just give you an idea of the themes taken up in the next to the last chapter (nine). Life from the long term point of view (74), the beauty and hurdles to growth (75), power versus authenticity (76), the downfall of statistical truth (79), the unique Jungian tool (81), individual and group identity (84-85). The list could go on, but maybe you have an idea. Badger explains, and he explains well, and he explains with words in the cadence of melody.
Melodies indeed. A little piece of my heart infuses the Badger trilogy and its song gets stronger throughout the series. Melodies of Love is just that. A beautiful end to a beautiful series.
—Guest blog by J. Gary Sparks, Jungian analyst, Indianapolis; author of AT THEHEART OF MATTER: Synchronicity and Jung's Spiritual Testament (Inner City Books, 2007).