The corona event rolls on and the synchronicities just keeping piling up. For those of us with an eye to symbolism, this week has provided yet more grist for the Jungian mill. Of course, it had to happen here in Melbourne, Australia’s home of corona and the city with the world record for the longest lockdown. Hooray for us, we’ve spent almost 300 days of the last two years locked in our houses pursuing the grand prize of covid 0. But, as the saying goes: play silly games, win silly prizes. In the last few weeks, cases are through the roof here and we’re now up to 20k a day. It was not always so.
This time last year, we seemed to have won the battle. Covid had been “eliminated” and we enjoyed a normal summer free of masks, QR codes, vaccine mandates and segregation based on private medical decisions. Life was good. Our Premier, Dan Andrews, was on medical leave having fallen down a set of stairs and injured his back. In 2020, he had been the arch-Devouring Mother during our second lockdown castigating citizens for bad behaviour and gaslighting the public on a daily basis all while desperately trying to avoid the blame for his government’s obvious incompetence at causing Melbourne to be the only place in Australia to be locked down. His absence from public life at that time was as if the spiritual clouds had cleared and we enjoyed a sunny summer in both a meteorological and a psychic sense.
Fast forward to today: Mr Andrews is again on holiday, this time by choice. In the state of Victoria, of which Melbourne is the capital, covid zero is a distant memory. The Australian authorities have changed tack and now decided to pull the band aid off and allow the inevitable to happen. Mr Andrews’ holiday comes at a politically convenient time for him because it means that he doesn’t have to get up in front of the press and explain why we apparently don’t care about covid anymore after locking down the state for two years. He has built his entire political capital in that time by pandering to the True Believers. But they are not happy. They weren’t happy even before this week. The lines to get PCR tested are absurdly long. There are stories of people camping overnight to get tested because the test centres keep closing in the middle of the day due to lack of capacity. This is, of course, just the latest example of government ineptitude but this time it is directly affecting the True Believers, many of whom are catching covid and realising that the vaccines don’t do what they were supposed to. This was always going to happen, of course. Australia is currently going through the necessary metamorphosis that will lead to whatever comes next. In the process, however, lots of people are really angry, especially here in Melbourne.
It was into this psychic morass that Novak Djokovic waded in the last few days as he tried to travel here for the upcoming Australian Open.
Tennis is the only sport I follow, so this whole thing is a bit of a personal synchronicity and I can speak with some confidence on the subject. Djokovic is clearly the best player the game has ever seen and he is one grand slam victory away from making that official. He is also, to use a typically Australian phrase, a top bloke and, to take the matter a little bit further into the dangerous realm of gender politics, a real man. As a real man, he says what needs to be said even when it is unpopular to say it. He is a man who can speak truth to power and he has been doing that his whole career. Despite being the greatest player on tour, he has not been the crowd favourite. Federer and Nadal hold that title. In Federer’s case this is understandable. Djokovic may be the best player ever but Federer is surely the most beautiful. He is the very Platonic form of a tennis player. If the ancient Greeks played tennis, it would have been Federer they carved into stone, not Djokovic. To switch metaphors, Federer is the Lamborghini of tennis players. He looks great but has a habit of faltering under pressure and has mostly been outplayed by the grit and determination of both Nadal and Djokovic when they hit their peak. Djokovic, like Nadal, is a muscle car. He doesn’t look as good but he gets to the finish line quicker.
But there’s clearly something happening in the popularity stakes that goes beyond the aesthetics of the game of tennis. Djokovic has a nasty habit of saying things that are politically incorrect while Federer and Nadal are very much conformists. Overnight, Nadal towed the party line when asked to comment about Djokovic’s problems with Australian immigration. He said that we should trust the medical professionals and that the vaccines are the thing that will bring the pandemic to an end. He said this despite the fact that he caught covid just a month ago thus proving the point that should be blindingly obvious by now that the vaccines do not prevent infection and therefore cannot bring the pandemic to an end. Nadal is saying what people want to hear and possibly he also believes it. In any case, he is the poster boy for all those people, including those who are fully vaccinated and yet still catching covid, who don’t want to acknowledge the truth. Meanwhile, Djokovic, whether he wanted to or not, represents the truth that people don’t want to hear: the vaccines are a failure; everything we did in the last two years was for nothing; it doesn’t make any difference if you’re vaccinated or unvaccinated. Bill Hicks once made the point that we don’t have a very good history of dealing with people who tell the truth: Jesus, Ghandi, Martin Luther King, John Lennon, the list goes on. Add Djokovic to it. He’s now sitting in jail.
The details of how it happened are still not clear. It looks to me like bureaucratic bungling combined with cheap politicking. The Victorian Government knew it had to allow Djokovic to play or risk having the Australian Open taken off it. It responded in the time-honoured way of governments who need to allow something to happen but can’t be seen to condone it: it created an obfuscatory bureaucratic process according to which Djokovic was granted a “medical exemption”. But it’s the federal government that is responsible for border control. Either through bureaucratic bungling or political interference, the feds decided Djokovic couldn’t get in. No doubt we’ll get the full story in the next days.
As with the rest of corona, however, the facts are irrelevant. The Djokovic saga cannot be just a random sequence of things that led to an outcome. The probabilities are impossible. What are the odds that this would happen in Melbourne, the home of the world’s longest corona lockdown? Why is the State Premier, the arch Devouring Mother, on holiday when it happens? Why is it happening right when we are in the middle of a mass outbreak of covid despite the fact that the population is more than 90% vaccinated? Why is it happening in Australia where we are among the worst countries in the world for discarding human rights in the last two years? It’s all too synchronous. More importantly, the symbolism matches up too perfectly.
So, let’s put our Jungian hats on and do a lightning tour through the symbolism of the Djokovic saga.
The Park Hotel
At time of writing, Djokovic is being kept at the Park Hotel in Melbourne while his legal appeal is being heard. Other residents at the Park Hotel are “illegal” refugees who have been there for – get this – 9 years. The hotel has become a permanent protest site for those objecting to Australia’s treatment of refugees and now the world’s number one tennis player is living amongst them. Australia’s treatment of refugees is in direct contravention of the humans rights charter just as our government’s response to corona has contravened human rights. You simply couldn’t find a better place to highlight that fact than the Park Hotel.
But there’s more. The Park Hotel was also one our “quarantine hotels” in the last two years and the site of major outbreaks of covid due to the incompetence of the state government. If you wanted to highlight that fact, you couldn’t do better than house the world’s number one tennis player there.
The Park Hotel is therefore the perfect symbol for the Australian government’s abuse of human rights not just of foreign citizens but our own citizens. It is also the perfect symbol for the Victorian government’s incompetence and corruption. And Djokovic is now staying at the Park Hotel because of the incompetence and corruption of both state and federal governments. Him being there is a symbol not just of our incompetence but our callous indifference to human rights that, until corona, was directed toward foreigners but during corona has been directed towards our own citizens. How you treat “the other” is how you also treat yourself. Jung would agree. So would Jesus and we’ll get to that shortly.
The free movement of peoples is one of the founding principles of globalism and specifically neo-liberal globalism. Of course, as the refugees at the Park Hotel can attest, it was always the free movement of “approved people” and with corona the list of “approved people” is getting shorter. Whatever the moral arguments here, there is a significant question of logistics. We now have special visa categories, special exemption categories, special tribunals to adjudicate special cases etc etc. The whole thing is a bureaucratic nightmare and an economic disaster. You can’t run an international tennis tournament this way and you can’t run globalism this way. Either governments get rid of the stupid rules or they will suffer the economic consequences. Australia is going to suffer consequences from the Djokovic saga as our international reputation again gets tarnished.
It’s also noteworthy that this is now a major diplomatic rift between Australia and Serbia. I doubt that matters too much to either country because I’m pretty sure there’s not a lot of commerce that goes on there. But eventually this kind of rift will spread to more important relationships. That’s what happens when the old rules break down. We can expect to see more of this in the years and decades ahead as countries get into disputes because the rules are no longer clear. It’s not hard to see that that pathway ends in the reappearance of one of the other four horsemen. The Australian government was unable to prevent a diplomatic incident in this case where the only thing that rests on it is a tennis tournament. What happens when governments are unable to prevent diplomatic incidents about things that are really important?
The Rebellious Children
Add Djokovic to the list with Jordan Peterson and others who are now spiritual leaders of the rebellious children. Note that the qualities are the same: the willingness to speak uncomfortable truths, the moral backbone to stand for what you believe in and suffer personal consequences etc. Whatever happens from here, Djokovic wins on the symbolic front against the anonymous, amorphous blob which is the powers that be hiding behind stupid bureaucratic rules powered by hysterical emotional energy. Meanwhile, Djokovic’s father gave a great speech saying exactly that.
As a side note, I was a bit of heavy metal tragic in my teen years and one of my favourite bands was Anthrax who have a song called One Man Stands. The lyrics could not be more fitting for the Djokovic saga – https://genius.com/Anthrax-one-man-stands-lyrics
Away in a manger
The world’s greatest tennis player, a rich and powerful man, but more importantly a man of moral conviction, is now staying in a hotel with a group of powerless and probably stateless refugees. The whole thing has a bit of the symbolism of Jesus about it. Djokovic is a member of the Orthodox church and actively involved in charitable foundations. As has been widely publicised, he donated money to Australia after the bushfires of 2019.
Meanwhile, the Australian Prime Minister went on twitter yesterday and said “rules are rules” in relation to the Djokovic case; the exact excuse given by Pontius Pilate.
The Shadow of corona
Corona was supposed to be a victory for science and progress. It has failed but, in true Jungian fashion, its proponents are not admitting failure but projecting the shadow of that failure onto the unvaccintated. Djokovic is now the symbolic representation of the unvaccinated and the True Believers are projecting their shadow onto him.
Djokovic’s nickname is The Joker. The Joker has a range of symbolic meanings. Here’s just a handful.
- In almost all card games where The Joker is used, The Joker is the most valuable card and trumps all other cards.
- The Joker corresponds to The Fool in tarot and signifies among other things both the end of the old and the beginning of the new.
- The Joker character relates to the Trickster archetype which symbolises, among other things the bridge to the unconscious. Thus, The Joker often symbolises mental illness/imbalance eg. The Joker in Batman. Mass psychosis anyone?
- The Joker also relates to dionysian activities like dancing and having fun. Singing and dancing was banned over the weekend in NSW. Meanwhile, the Serbian fans of Djokovic have been singing and dancing out the front of The Park Hotel the last few days. Djokovic was also famously “caught” dancing in a nightclub in Serbia during the corona hysteria of 2020.
The Joker vs Karen
I only realised this once Djokovic had won his court case and I’ve been laughing about it ever since.
The court case was against the Home Affairs minister whose first name is none other than KAREN (Andrews).
Karen is the name which has emerged in popular culture in recent years to capture The Devouring Mother phenomenon. Although, not one hundred percent synonymous, your average Karen is a Devouring Mother (Caregiver archetype in shadow form).
So, we have Novak (no-vaxx) Djokovic (The Joker) beating Karen (The Devouring Mother) in court.
As the saying goes: you couldn’t make it up.
Melbourne as sporting capital
Melbourne prides itself on being “sports mad” and the “sporting capital of Australia”. In jailing the world’s number one player who has won the Australian Open 9 times, we act in the complete opposite way to the story we tell ourselves. If things go bad from here, it is not impossible that Melbourne will have the Australian Open taken away for somewhere more civilised. As my grandmother used to say, that’s called cutting your nose to spite your face.
The Djokovic saga is another addition to the long list of symbolic inversions we have seen during corona where we have behaved in exactly the opposite way to what we thought we were. Some of the more important symbolic inversions we have seen are the notion that children must be sacrificed to protect the elderly (child vaccinations, lockdowns etc), so-called liberal democracies behaving in a way that is indistinguishable from totalitarian dictatorships, the switch from globalisation to a hyper localisation. Melbourne as “sports capital” jailing one of the world’s great sportsmen is a trivial addition to the list but still noteworthy.
Revelation of the true self
But the previous is point is also part of a larger socio-psychological revelation that corona has unleashed. We may have been “all in this together” at the start but that is no longer the case. Each nation is now on its own journey and the journey no longer has anything to do with a virus but is a spiritual journey.
Earlier, I referenced the Australian Prime Minister’s tweet in which he also made reference to Australia’s “strong border policies”. He’s right. It’s those same border policies that have seen refugees locked in the Park Hotel for 9 years. It’s by those same border policies that we have seen fit to abrogate our human rights obligations. But the subtext in Morrison’s tweet is an appeal to the one true bedrock of Australian politics and culture: xenophobia. There is a federal election this year and Mr Morrison is banking on doing what his predecessor, John Howard, did and trying to cash in on the latent xenophobia that exists in our culture. It’s very Australian, although not the Australia that we like to present to the world. Nevertheless, we are presenting it to the world. Corona has revealed what we really are, the ugly underbelly of our nation.
It has, of course, done the same for many other countries. That’s why Europe is currently reverting back to authoritarianism. It’s why corona in the US has primarily been about corruption and economic racketeering. Here in Australia, we were slowly inching back to the pragmatism which dominated our political culture prior to corona. Things were actually looking good for a couple of weeks and then the Djokovic thing blew up. Once again, I can’t help but feel that there is a symbolic calling here. “The Gods” just won’t leave us alone here in Melbourne. We seem to be being called to confront our own demons. It’s simply too weird and unlikely that Djokovic would be at the Park Hotel of all places, in Melbourne of all places. Melbourne has manifested the shadow more vociferously than almost any other place in the last two years and it seems that the universe is determined to hold up a mirror in which we see ourselves as if demanding that we acknowledge what we really are.
The start of 2022
This leads onto the final point I want to make which is the timing. Did this have to happen in the first week of 2022? Could it be that this is what is portended for the new year? That we must face our shadow, not just Australia but every country. That we must also face the shadow of the whole corona debacle and admit that it is a failure. I admit this seems incredibly unlikely but so is the fact that the world’s best tennis player is currently under arrest in the supposedly civilised country of Australia. So is everything else that has happened in the last two years. If it does happen, if we can start to face our shadow, it could be a good year.