Wounded Invisibity
Cover image for Brett Easton Ellis's great debut novel, Less than Zero.

Card #533 – Wounded Invisibity


“Look, I bear a wound that is not yet healed, my ambition to make an impression.”
— C.G. Jung, Black Book 2

Most of us need attention and acknowledgment. We want to be seen and welcomed into others’ perceptual fields. We may want to light up the back rows with our sparkling and radiant presence. But admiring attention is not always available. Others may be wrapped up in their own need for attention, the hardships of their lives, their depressions, anxieties, and obsessions, so there isn’t always a surfeit of attention to focus on us. Wanting to be the center of attention is a want, probably not a need. We are the star of our movie, and it is so easy to forget that other people are the stars of their movies.

Sometimes, there is value in being seen, and at other times in being cloaked. The desire for attention can cause us to seek to be more visible than is good for us. We forget the advantages of invisibility because we experience the invisibility as a wound.

Deng Ming-Dao, a modern Taoist sage writes,

“Useful trees are cut down. Useless ones survive. The same is true of people. The strong are conscripted. The beautiful are exploited. Those who are too plain to be noticed are the ones who survive. They are left alone and safe.

But what if we ourselves are among such plain persons? Though others may neglect us, we should not think of ourselves as being without value. We must not accept the judgment of others as the measure of our own self-worth . . . Thus, to be considered useless is not a reason for despair, but an opportunity. It is the chance to live without interference and to express one’s own individuality.”

There can be authentic suffering involved with not being seen, and narcissistic longing for attention may be a necessary part of human incarnation. We are social mammals, and scarcity of attention can be as much of a hardship as the scarcity of other primal needs. But it may also be up to us to choose our perception of invisibility, and there are many ways to perceive and interpret it. We can experience it as a wound, as victimizing circumstance, as a mixed blessing, or as a useful power of cloaking . . .

I often find myself reaching for more attention, and if I get it, the heightened attention can be the caffeinated stimulant of enhanced self-importance, or it can be the deep fulfillment of mutual and authentic acknowledgment, or a mixture of both and of still other things. Many assume that narcissism is always pathological, and, indeed, it can be. It has been for me the most difficult of pitfalls, an enemy with a million slippery masks and guises, a manic-depressive trickster leading me into endless mirror worlds. Some of these mirror worlds are concave and magnify my grandiosity, while other mirror worlds are convex and shrink my sense of self-worth.

When I enter the mirror worlds, I tend to forget the distortions and optical illusions; I forget that being visible to others means being bound up in their state of consciousness, moods, projections, and obsessions. I forget that I am often at my most empowered when I am most invisible. When I purposefully wake up in the early hours of the morning before dawn to do creative work in complete seclusion, I often rediscover magical invisibility. The early hours of the morning can be a time of maximal invisibility, as the attention of others in your community slumbers in the dream time. More distant from the field of mundane attention, emerging from the dream time while it is still dark, the pre-dawn hours can be a time of magical and fertile invisibility.

But I have also found an evolutionary core within the pathologized scar tissue of narcissism. Narcissism can also be a primary organismic urge toward the glorified body, toward an expanded ability to enter the welcoming perceptual field of others, an urge toward new telepathies, a species-wide urge that expresses itself in so many ways — from ever more advanced communication technologies to the neurotic longing to be a celebrity.

Revising this card in 2024, I have more personal experience to add. In 2020-23, I was finally able to complete my highest life mission for forty-five years and publish my sci-fi/fantasy epic based on the discoveries I made in 1978, Parallel Journeys(read it free on this site, all other forms available on Amazon). As I was working on it, I indulged in many fantasies about its future recognition. I knew these fantasies were dangerous as they would increase disappointment if they weren’t fulfilled (as they haven’t been). But I felt at the time, and still do, that they were overall beneficial in helping motivate me to endure all the mechanical resistance involved in producing a quarter-million-word book and publishing it in every form, including an Audible version I recorded myself.

Nevertheless, there have been struggles to accept the lack of recognition of Parallel Journeys and my work in general. You get to the end of a forty-five-year finish line, and there are no cheering crowds but a guy walking his dog on the other side of the street staring at his phone. My work on the Singularity Archetype, which began in 1978 and directly relates to the core of what’s going on in both the individual lifecycle and the future of the species, is rarely acknowledged. I have gotten to speak to millions of people about it over the last twenty years as a regular guest on radio shows that once reached millions (but now have greatly diminished audiences). No matter how many people I got to speak to, few seem to comprehend the significance of the Singularity Archetype. (If you would like to one of them, see my video: Looking Across the Event Horizon, or read my book Crossing the Event Horizon — Human Metamorphosis and the Singularity Archetype (free on this this site, in other forms on Amazon) Only a very few of my closest friends have read more than a tiny fraction of my work.

These sorts of aggrieved feelings are common in creative people who are far better known than I will ever be. Carl Jung was world-famous, and his collected works were the best-selling books ever published by a university press. Yet, at the end of his life, Carl Jung felt like a prophet ignored in his own time.

We are social mammals built to crave social recognition. Society tends to show how much it values your work by how much it’s willing to pay for it. But my entire creative career has operated at a six-figure loss. The path of shadow integration is not to pretend to be above such feelings, to dismiss them as wounded pride (even if they are wounded pride), but to acknowledge the feelings as inevitable and real.

I am able to transcend feelings of wounded invisibility, but transcendence includes that which is transcended. I still have the feelings, but I don’t let them keep me from persevering in the work. The work is its own blessing, and I have deeply meaningful, participation mystique moments creating it. It does reach some people, and I’ve always been more interested in the quality of those who engage my work, more than the quantity. The relative lack of recognition has not diminished, as far as I can tell, my relationship to the creative muse. So far, the well has never been dry — I’ve never been able to catch up with all the creative work waiting to be done.

I have not let a lack of recognition keep me from a single creative session, and my connection to the muse is still highly fulfilling. And yet, I still feel the wounded invisibility. Trying to deny those feelings or glibly explain them away as merely wounded vanity would be shadow denial and only make things worse. Instead, I try to compassionately accept the feelings while I relentlessly focus on persevering with the work.

Invisible wounds and wounds of invisibility may become visible. But be careful about what meets your eye, because invisibility is not always what it seems.

I heard something on the Lex Fridman podcast that directly addressed my feelings of disappointment about Parallel Journeys recognition while at the same time noticing that it doesn’t affect my high vitality daily relationship to the muse.

Lex Fridman Podcast #318 with biologist Nick Lane (3:31):

Nick: “Live in the moment and try to enjoy what you’re doing and that means try to go to the themes that you are most interested in and try and follow them as well as you can, and that tends to pay back in surprising ways . . . people will help you often if they see some light shining in (your eyes). . . . you’ve got to be obsessive, but if you’re doing what you really love doing, it’s not work anymore, it’s what you do.

Lex: “. . . Careful how you define success.

Nick: “You’ll never find happiness in success. There’s a lovely quote from Robert Louis Stevenson, I think, who said, ‘Nothing in life is as disenchanting as attainment.’

Lex: “. . . the true definition of success is getting to do today what your really enjoy doing, just what fills you with joy, that’s ultimately success. Success isn’t the thing beyond the horizon, the big trophy . . .”

Nick: “I think that’s as close as we can get to happiness. That’s not to say you’re full of joy all the time, but it’s as close as we can get to a sustained human happiness is by getting some fulfillment from what you’re doing on a daily basis. If what you’re looking for is the world giving you the stamp of approval with a Noble Prize or a fellowship or whatever it is . . . I’ve known people like this who (are) eaten away by the anger, the caustic resentment that they’ve not been awarded this prize they deserve.”

Lex: “And the other way — if you put too much value into those kinds of prizes and you win them—I’ve gotten the chance to see that it also—the more you’re quote/unquote successful you are in that sense, the more you run the danger of growing an ego so big that you don’t get to actually enjoy the beauty of this life. You start to believe that you’ve figured it all out as opposed to-–I think ultimately the most fun thing is being curious about everything around you, being constantly surprised and these little moments of discovery of enjoying –enjoying beauty in small and big ways all around you, and I think the bigger your ego grows, the more you take yourself seriously, the less you are able to enjoy that.”

Nick: “Amen to that, I couldn’t agree more.”
The podcast had me thinking about a quote about fame I heard from a major celebrity who said,

“Fame is just an empty bag.”

I couldn’t find which celebrity said this when I searched, but there was an interesting search return:

“Fame, that’s an empty purse,
Count it, go broke,
Eat it, go hungry
Seek it and go mad.”

(Attributed to Krull, I’m assuming the movie, but it could be a non-famous person named Krull.)

Another quote I’ve heard attributed to William Blake (but couldn’t verify): “Fortune is a whore, ready to kiss anyone’s ass. I labour upward into futurity.”

see also:
Celebrities are Hot, You are Not

Beauty in the Eye of the Phase Shifter
The Glorified Body…

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