Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Salmacis and Space

The attached painting, by Edward Burne-Jones, is of Salmacis and Hermaphroditus.

I am posting it today to finish my comments, for the time being at least, on the mythologem of Hermaphroditus.

Note that Salmacis has wrapped her arms around Hermaphroditus and he is turning to flee from her embrace.

She stares deeply into his eyes, attempting to penetrate his very being, whereas he returns her stare with trepidation, fear, and anxiety.

At this moment in time Salmacis is "animus" possessed. She acts impulsively and compulsively. The result of her attack and entrapment will be her disappearance from the myth.

Also note that Burne-Jones has chosen to represent the two characters as quite similar in both appearance and coloring. In some ways they are twins, which-when you think about it-the anima and the animus are in fact twins. They are two parts of the psyche- male and female.

The painting also illustrates an important part of the mythologem-proximity. Every being has a need to protect its own space. When a person sits too close to you, your first inclination is to move. If they stand too close, you might also feel like hitting them or pushing them away. Here Salmacis has not only invaded his space, she has wrapped her arms around him.

Sometimes lovers have the desire to consume their partners. They talk about eating them up. They hold hands and sleep like spoons. They desire to be one.

When one party does not feel this way, we have a scenario for Play Misty for Me or Fatal Attraction.

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