Updated: Aug 30, 2021
My Preface to the Preface
To me, the most admirable part of myth is the awakening of insight into just how wonderful it is when the story world unites with the real world. Many myths seem to be denigrated by association through mundane superficial criticism. We all know the hypercritical type, they look something like the picture below.
Maybe it's my iconoclastic nature, but the more pathologized a story, the more intrigued I become. If you strike a story down, it shall become more powerful than you could possibly imagine. I believe myths allure us through all too familiar motifs of things we have been searching for externally. But by the end of each story, hopefully, it has illuminated something that has been hiding inward all this time.
The story I would like to go beyond the surface of today is a story you may know, from a perspective you may not. Just like the playful desk lamp from Pixar, I would like to shine a light on the ego death of Buzz Lightyear, through a Jungian perspective.
In my estimation, an internal cognizance that life is augmented once one envisages the forfeiting of the prior impressionistic self should be a prerogative for all who live. Unfortunately, that is much easier said than done, and there are many who are almost zealot-like in their devotion to their subjective self. The seemingly innate myopic thinking of the human race never seems to fail. It would appear to me that even if surrounded by endless representations of benevolent deterrents, It must be you that voluntarily marches through the gates of uncertainty. Despite the welfare of doing so, seldom found is someone who makes the march. But can you really blame anyone for not wanting to? We are in a society that is growingly centered around emotional neurotic responses to stimuli, as a result, the road to objective nuanced thinking is far less traveled. Nietzsche told us long ago, people don't want their illusions destroyed. When the reality blinders are taken off, the mirage of naivety ceases to exist. The only thing that remains is a desolate arid unknown reality.
But I get it, I kept my blinders on for as long as I could. It is far easier to remain in the much safer pseudo-reality fortification of Tempurpedic pillows wearing what I have coined “ candy land glasses”. These stylish trendy glasses made from gumdrops serve as a catalyst to view the world as CandyLand. Who wouldn't want to set out on life's greatest sweet-filled escapades, capering through the lollipop woods with our fuzzy little friend Plumpy?
But there comes a time when the glasses must come off, the ego has to die, and the transformation of one's psyche must be initiated. The board, once filled with jubilant fantasies, fades into an abyss of questions. As told by many across time, the solutions to those questions are in the place you least want to look. Now let us begin, at the starting place for all heroes. At the infantile christening of our self designating quest for purpose
The Same Old Genesis of Promise
We all have a beginning. Every book has its first page, every movie has its first scene, and life has its first act. The start of our journey gives a sneak peek of what to expect. We all remember the reconnaissance scene at Andy’s Birthday party where Andy’s toys are listening through a walkie-talkie to find out who the new member of the room will be. Then who could possibly forget one of the most polarizing entrances in animated cinema history, the opening of the most high-tech action figure of all time, Buzz Lightyear. The protagonist in our spiritual journey today. We all have a beginning.
The Grandiosity Of The Self Proclaimed Arbiter
But my god, has anyone embarrassed themselves so fast in a movie before? He might as well substituted his “lasers” for a bright red nose, Shaq-sized shoes, and a horn. Because he was a complete and utter clown. I can’t think of a more perfect facial manifestation for someone who is yet to encounter any resemblance of an obstacle. Down below is the face of someone who thinks they are God's transcendent gift to the world with limitless metaphysical talents, and nobody would ever dare get in his way.
The infamous debut starts with Buzz breathing like a tuberculosis-ridden Darth Vader, calling star command, having a 5-star freak out about his spaceship crashing, leaving a mission log on his wrist, and finally shooting “lasers” at Woody. As we all know star command isn’t real, his spaceship is a cardboard box, the mission log on his wrist is painted tape, and his laser is a blinking light. I asked this earlier, but I think it's important to ask again. Can you really blame him? This fantasy of an inflated sense of self is a precursor to psychic rebirth. All who live go through the egocentric stage growing up. It's a life-altering day realizing not everyone thinks, hears, sees, feels, exactly as you do. Buzz clearly isn't there yet, he couldn't possibly fathom being an action figure in a child's bedroom. He thought he was on a distant planet, so why wouldn't everyone else think the same? According to all the toys in Andy's room, he is the coolest thing to ever exist, he thinks he can fly, shoot lasers, and out of all beings on planet earth it is him who was chosen to protect the galaxy. Could a toy made from plastic do that? Of course not, so thank the lord he is “made” from trillium carbonic alloy. He is entrenched in biased selfhood and completely lost in Candyland. In his sugar-induced trans, Buzz decides to shatter an ancient toy paradigm, and take flight. That is the exact moment the theoretical spade dug into the dirt and began the excavation to his grave for the impressionistic self, to be reborn at a later date. Why would a toy flying around the room ignite such a severe outcome? Only one reason. His eyes were closed.
The End Of The Beginning
Closing one's eyes is the ultimate symbol of being naive if only life would tell you that sooner. Sadly there is an entity that would appear to haunt us all, beginners luck. Luck at the start of the journey enables the fragmentation of all reticent feelings and rebuilds itself into a supercilious deathtrap. On our internal high, we often forget that the pendulum swings both ways, and rest be sure, you will have an arduous final test in consequence of the beginner’s luck. Upon Buzz’s landing, he returned to thundering applause completely unaware of the envy that surrounded him. The celebrations are short-lived, for Buzz is about to encounter true malevolence, the end of the beginning. If only his eyes were open.
Evil has many faces:
After the Hellen Keller test flight, the leader of the elite universe protection unit Buzz Lightyear quickly becomes a surreal icon for all but one of the toys, drawing out jealousy from Woody( The local law enforcement as our naive protagonist would say). The effects of bitter resentment lead Woody and Buzz out the window on a side quest that ends at the neighbor’s house. Buzz’s ego’s final resting place.
Gone But Not Forgotten
The neighbor Sid, the malicious figure in the story, makes a dazzling debut to the audience by wowing us all. Doing so with no preparation, he performs the inaugural double bypass brain transplant ( which is code for beheading a doll and replacing its head with a pterodactyl), a true benchmark in neurosurgery. A technique, not even the late Derek Shepherd could pull off.
In an attempt to escape the mutant-ridden Grey’s Anatomy nightmare, Buzz comes across a commercial that reveals the truth. The unfortunate revelation that he is in fact a toy.
It was at this moment that the high-flying space ranger who reigned supreme was gone forever. The collapse into uncut melancholy was sparked by the transition of Buzz truly thinking he was something, to knowing he is nothing. Everything he knew was a lie, everything he relied on had fallen apart, the deeply personal sense of self had crumbled completely. He felt betrayed, the pillars that held his herculean ideals, had fallen forever. If it's something you have been a part of, then no explanation is needed. But what happens when you find out just how horrific the depths are underneath the seemingly superficial paradise life? Does this delve into an existence unknown have a face? Does it have a name? Does it end? It’s impossible to enumerate the questions when all seems lost.
Most post-ego death reactions are impulsive ones, In a pathetic state of denial, Buzz tries to fly out the window to prove to himself that he is the galaxy’s ultimate protector. The result will not be the same as the Stevie Wonder routine in Andy’s room, for his eyes have been opened. He learned the truth, and it’s much harder to fly when you see that what your flying over goes all the way down. Predictably the futile attempt ended in a slow-motion free fall flat on his face. The past isn't quite done with him yet. In his despair Buzz is repaired by the mutants and is invited to a Downtown Abby-themed tea party. Buzz did not exist at the moment so he sent in his alter ego, Mrs. Nesbit. Shockingly, putting on a pink dress and babbling like a lunatic in an English woman accent was not rock bottom for our guy Buzz. He was then strapped to a rocket, prepared to burst into flames. Paving the way for our conclusion, the final barrier of atonement.
Return of the king
In a truly disturbing sequence for a Pixar film, Sid’s surgery survivors band together and aid the escape of our main characters. Woody, who went on his own psychic journey in the film aids Buzz in a final desperate attempt to return home. The toys manifest their inner Neil Armstrong/Dale Earnhardt, by racing on a highway in an RC car only to light the rocket tied to buzz launching themselves into the atmosphere. Through numerous super realistic events, Buzz eventually lands in Andy’s lap like nothing ever happened. What a miraculous storybook ending... but wait a second. How could someone make a mental 180 like that in minutes? Where did this superhero Buzz come from? I thought he was dead? It may be hard to remember the hero version of Buzz in the ladder parts of the movie due to the close call of Buzz becoming a drag queen, but that high-tech piece of plastic saw himself as a monument to all prayers only hours prior. So what caused the return? The reinstatement of our interstellar champion was the final piece of the puzzle.
With his eyes wide open he stared into the chasm of all things that had harmed him. The supposed toy friend, the wicked neighbor, and most importantly his unconscious self. This time, armed with a far more battled tested gaze compared to his ignorant closed eye prior self. Instead of willful blindness, he was calculated and incorporated the thing he has feared the most, his inner Zurg. As asinine as that sounds it remains one of the most important aspects of psychic death. Subsuming the malevolent part of you, and doing so in volitional sovereignty. He became the very thing he swore to destroy, a requisite for a life worth living.
My final lesson from my deep dive into this film is an intimate fortune I feel I have annexed to my conscious, something I consider a personal axiom.
You must sequester your previous self into a room only you have the key to.
It’s why I called one of my segments in this post “gone but not forgotten”. As flawed as you may have been in your pre ego death life, don’t you dare forget where you came from. Even if you were a fake space ranger, you will need to bring him back one day. Make sure you know where to find him.
Buzz rekindled his inner space ranger. His Journey was complete. He lived, he died, only to return far better than he ever was. If only someone came up with a story before 1995 of someone dying and possibly making a return 3 days later or something like that I don’t know.
To infinity and Beyond. Thank you for reading.