Thursday, October 21, 2010

Lecter series - unified analysis - part 50: "Keep to the right"


Barney tells Starling to "keep to the right" when approaching Dr. Lecter's cell.

Early in The Silence of the Lambs, in the first scene in the Baltimore prison, Barney tells Clarice Starling to "keep to the right" when walking along the corridor toward Hannibal Lecter's cell. There are two underlying meanings to this statement, the first of which can be gleaned from a footnote in The Psychology of Kundalini Yoga, which quotes from a lecture given by Dr. Jakob Wilhelm Hauer:

"In following the course of this life, you come across the sea monster, the makara; somewhere you will come face to face with a tremendous danger, and you cannot go past it. This monster is depicted in the [Swadhisthana chakra] as covering the whole width of the crescent (the crescent in Swadhisthana stands for Siva), and the jaws of the monster are open. Now, if you come from the right, you may attack the monster from behind. You don't fall into its jaws and may be able to grapple with it, whereas if you come from the left, you will fall into its jaws. It is a question of the right way."[a]

Lecter represents the monster (the makara), and Starling must approach him from the right in order not to 'fall into his jaws', i.e., she needs to avoid the imminent danger that he represents.

To discuss the other meaning of Barney's statement, it is necessary to know what a stupa is, and what it means to circumambulate something. Briefly, a stupa is a mound-like structure containing Buddhist relics, typically the remains of a Buddha or saint, used by Buddhists as a place of worship.[b]

Circumambulation is the act of moving around a sacred object. Circumambulation of temples or deity images is an integral part of Hindu ritual. It is also practiced in Buddhism. In many Hindu temples, the temple structure reflects the symbolism of the Hindu association of the spiritual transition from daily life to spiritual perfection as a journey through stages. Ambulatory passageways for circumambulation are present through which worshipers move in a clockwise direction, starting at the sanctuary doorway and moving inward toward the inner sanctum where the deity is enshrined. This is a translation of the spiritual concept of transition through levels in life into bodily movements by the worshipers as they move inwardly through ambulatory halls to the most sacred centre of spiritual energy of the deity. Circumambulation is done in a clockwise direction and in an odd rather than even number of times. Circumbulatory walking around the shrine, by keeping time, is a common form of Hindu prayer.[c]

In Psychology and Alchemy, Jung tells us that stupas must be circumambulated to the right, since a leftward movement is evil. Jung says that a movement to the left is one toward the "sinister" side, the unconscious side; whereas a movement to the right "is 'correct' and aims at consciousness."[d]

A clockwise movement is a movement to the right. If Lecter represents a 'deity' (Hermes) in a stupa (represented by the prison, or at least by the area of the corridor that Lecter's cell is on), then if we go by Jung, Barney is effectively warning Starling not to approach Lecter from her 'unconscious side'. Also note that Starling makes an odd number of visits (three) to Lecter's Baltimore cell.

a. Wilhelm Hauer, "Yoga, Especially the Meaning of the Cakras." In Mary Foote, ed., The Kundalini Yoga: Notes on the Lecture Given by Prof. Dr. J.W. Hauer with Psychological Commentary by Dr. C.G. Jung. Zurich, 1932. In Sonu Shamdasani ed., The Psychology of Kundalini Yoga, Notes of the Seminar Given in 1932 by C.G. Jung. Princeton University Press, 1996. Google Books, p. 166. URL =
b. Wikipedia, 'Stupa'. Web, n.d. URL =
c. Wikipedia, 'Circumambulation'. Web, n.d. URL =
d. Jung, C.G. The Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Vol. 12. Princeton University Press, 1968. p. 127.


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