The Mysterious Conjunction of Love and Death

Before employing these ideas to Walt’s case, two points should be clarified. First, though it may seem most appropriate to characterize Kierkegaard as avowedly Christian and Jung as avowedly pagan, we may clarify their relationship by look at the archetype of Christ from a pagan perspective. Along such lines, the ancient Greek “love gods,” relate to the ancient Greek words for love: Eros, Philia, and Agape, and these gods, namely, “Dionysus,” “Orpheus” and “Christ,” are also all gods of “voluntary death.”29 Thus, as if describing the KOF, Jung noted, “In the light of eternity ... [death] is a wedding, a mys- terium coniunctionis. The soul attains, as it were, its missing half, it achieves wholeness. On Greek sarcophagi the joyous element was represented by dancing girls ...”30 The separation of Persona from the ego-complex and the subsequent integration of the Shadow allow for the adapted “one” to emerge into awareness as “two,” that is, as conscious and unconscious aspects. Finally, the mysterious and harmonious conjunction of these two constitutes a kind of “dying to the world,” what Kierkegaard might have referred to as being reborn into the life of Christ. In fact, in a chapter titled, “The Soul and Death,” Jung refers to a “withdraw from the life-process, at least psychologically,” and explained we should accept the necessity of our own death, noting that “only he remains vitally alive who is ready to die with life.”31 Recalling a phrase from Heraclitus, it is as if the mysterium coniunctionis refers to the soul’s conjunction with life as it continues to live through the death of this one of its individual incarnated expressions.32

Of course, Walt did not approach his death this way. His focus was on the world and the worldly consequences of his dying without leaving a legacy for his family. Rather than see his death in terms of the mysterium coniunctionis of Jungian psychodynamics or the Kierkegaardian KOF, he seems incapable of separating his Persona from his ego-complex. As we will discuss below, from the very beginning of Breaking Bad, Walt’s ego appears threatened as his Persona of chemistry teacher and family man is scrutinized and ridiculed. Had Walt brought his individuality to consciousness, Jung suggests that he would have integrated his Shadow, rather than continued to struggle with the uncertainty of his Persona’s inferiority and its reflection upon his undifferentiated ego. According to Jung,

The psychic individuality is given a priori as a correlate of the physical individuality, although, as observed, it is at first unconscious. A conscious process of differentiation, or individuation, is needed to bring the individuality to consciousness ... If the individuality is unconscious, there is no psychological individual but merely a collective psychology of consciousness.33

In this way, the harmony of the Self coincides with a conscious awareness of oneself as individuated and differentiated from one’s Persona and, just as importantly, from the Shadow it casts on one’s ego-complex. Regarding this, Jung was quite clear,

Individuation cuts one off from personal conformity and hence from collectivity. That is the guilt which the individual leaves behind him for the world, that is, the guilt he must endeavor to redeem. He must offer a ransom in place of himself, that is, he must bring forth values which are an equivalent substitute for his absence in the collective personal sphere. Without this production of values, final individuation is immoral and - more than that - suicidal. The man who cannot create values should sacrifice himself consciously to the spirit of collective conformity.34

On the one hand, Walt’s personal conformity reveals he has not “brought forth values” that would individuate him from a KIR relation to existence or allow his personal individuation from societal conformity. On the other hand, since his ego-complex is guided more by the Persona than the Self, his ego must struggle unconsciously with his Shadow, and—this is the decisive moment—in relating to himself within the KIR relation to existence, Heisenberg emerges by overshadowing the Walt Persona. In other words, it is as if the Heisenberg Persona represents the non-individuated, and thereby non-integrated, Shadow guiding the ego-complex.

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