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Revenge and the Shadow
Chapter 7 | Writer's Commentary
It’s Sunday, and here I am typing these words and I’d rather not be doing anything else. It feels good to do what your deep heart desires. Thank you all for clicking that “subscribe” button, and keeping me honest in honing this craft week in and week out.
If you are just joining us, I cover a different chapter of the novel every Sunday, and it usually takes two Sundays because one post is a commentary such as this, and the other is a podcast episode with a new guest.
For those of you counting, we skipped the podcast episode this week and going straight into the commentary of Chapter 7, and that is because of many curveballs, but most importantly, both Chapter 6 and Chapter 7 belong together. They are the first two chapters that are based on my own experiences, and therefore both the commentary and the audio episodes will go hand in hand.
Last week I shared with you the story of a kid, that I based the bully in chapter 6 on. That kid came up to me during our break and kicked me straight in the balls. That is where we leave Maskat off in Chapter 6, broken by this bully -Omari-, and left to wallow alone in the playground.
Chapter 7 is a continuation of my real story, and it is one of revenge. After the pain and shame of having my genitals mutilated by that kick, I found myself getting back at the guy with the perfect act of vengeance. One I could not have ever imagined claiming, even in my wildest dreams.
We all know there is nothing better than a revenge story, right?
Two weeks after the incident, I had been avoiding this kid called Banhawy in any way possible. I shivered and broke a sweat seeing him pass by at school. I was so afraid of confronting him, and still ashamed of what happened.
It was the last class of the day, and it happened to be Physical Education (PE). We were playing football (soccer y’all), and he was the opposing team’s goalkeeper. I found myself with the ball and nothing between me and him.
Things really slowed down.
I remember that my intention was to score a goal. Instead, I slammed the ball as hard as I can straight into that bully’s balls.
The most interesting thing about that story is this: I was never a particularly good football player, and especially not a sharpshooter. I probably scored one out of every ten shots I took or less. Yet here I was, firing a long-range shot that traveled a few good meters and went exactly on the mark: his groin.
It felt surreal, as though something (with far better soccer skills) had possessed me or that perhaps a part of me had awakened.
How is this possible? Even as I write this now, I question my memory. I have not met Banhawy since Grade 8 or so, but I guess he would be the only one that can verify how things went down.
Just as it is in Chapter 7,after all the other kids gathered around him, he emerged from the crowd and started chasing me with a limp across the field. He noticed a friend of his by the water fountain, and Banhawy started screaming at him to stop me.
Unlike the novel, however, I did not smash the other bully in the face and break his ribs. I ran away and I was very happy with that ending. But I wrote this chapter with an exaggerated sense of violence because it is a very important moment in Maskat’s development. It is the moment where he realizes his capacity for destruction, as opposed to the naive and sweet perception that we have of him so far
Enter the Shadow
I promised you all in the beginning a hefty dose of Carl Jung. Today we will cover the shadow, one of the archetypes Carl Jung uses to describe everything in us that we disown i.e. everything that exists within us that we do not want anyone to know about us.
Behind the Egos/personas we present to the universe, lies a deeper darker side. And, yes, even you have one. We seldomly think of this darker side as ourselves, and we try our best to disown them. What happens to most of us, is that this shadow rises from our subconscious in times where we do not expect it to.
That’s the anger fit you got into with your spouse, the manipulation you did of your coworkers to get your way, and the snarky joke that you made at someone to get a laugh from your friends.
Let me tell you first that the shadow is not necessarily “bad”. It sounds dark yes, but if you really look at its behaviour: It generally wants what is good for you. It might just want your voice to be heard, or to feel close to others, or to gain more wealth and freedom. Whatever it does, there is a good intention there for you.
However, the problem is that the shadow comes out when we least want it to. It can act out of integrity, if it takes over completely.
Think of it like a little kid that is screaming at you, but you keep ignoring it. It will eventually try to do something dramatic to grab your attention, like break your TV or write on the wall.
What happened to me during that moment of revenge, was that my shadow decided to take the reigns, and stand up for me. It’s pretty sweet honestly.
The problem here was not that I hurt him, as much as that I was not even aware of my ability to hurt him. In my mind, the darkness was all him. He was the bully, and he was evil. That’s honestly where we are fucked up as human beings.
The shadow is the reason why wars (or right wing politics) are able to become such great publicity stunts. The only reason why someone like Trump can become President is because most people beleive that they have no dark side, and therefore when someone points a finger at their neighbor, they fall for it. It is much easier to look for it outside of us, than within us.
World leaders give people someone else to project it on, and so we look at people on the other side of the swamp and call them rapists, killers, commies or the latest crowd favorite: terrorist.
At the end of the day, these global issues may seem bigger than us. They may cripple us because the darkness is too vast. The only thing we can actually do, is occasionally try to face the darkness within us.
As you progress with the story and see how Maskat develops his awareness of his own shadow, start thinking of the things you want no one to know about you. What is it that you have exiled/abandoned about yourself?
Here are some questions that you may want to ask yourself if you want to explore this:
What I do not want anyone to know about me is _________.
The emotions I consider to be negative are___________.
What I’m most scared ot hesistant to openly express in a relationship is ______.
I leave you with the most quintessential shadow archetype scene we know of in modern cinema.
See you next week with Ep06 of the Gumpcast!