Narcissus, Narcissus and Narcosis

Ali Murathan Dikel
6 minutes

I’ve always loved creation stories. Mythological stories, epics, legends, myths, legends and much more. They all aim at some point to give meaning to “creation”, to make sense of what is happening, to pass this meaning on to the next generation through stories. Some deal with natural phenomena, others with epic battles. It has always excited me to think that these stories explain “natural phenomena” or “wars” within human beings, and to read these stories from this point of view.

One of these stories is about Narcissus, who mesmerizes those who see him with his beauty. Narcissus hunts in a beautiful forest, where the sun’s rays, filtering through the leaves, are reflected in a cool, babbling stream. The fairy girl Echo, who sees him while he is hunting, watches him, mesmerized by Narcissus’ beauty. Narcissus is a young man who is very aware of his beauty and has alienated everyone who has ever been attracted to him, breaking the hearts of many young girls by telling them that they are not worthy of his beauty. Although Echo was a fairy who mesmerized everyone who saw her, she was rejected by Narcissus, leaving her emaciated with grief. All that remains of him is his voice repeating the last word he heard. This is why the sounds echoing in the mountains are called “echo”. The gods did not like Narcissus’ arrogance and punished him with his beauty. Unaware that he is cursed by his own beauty, Narcissus falls in love with himself when he sees his reflection in the stream and begins to obsessively watch himself. In some stories, it is said that he follows himself and surrenders his life, while in others he drowns in the stream while trying to reach his own reflection. As a result, he was punished for his arrogance, and his punishment was his own beauty. Plants sprouted in the wetland where Narcissus died, and this plant is said to be “narcissus”, named after this hero.

Like Narcissus, Narcissus flowers, which grow in moist soils and on the banks of streams, face the water in which they are reflected. While other flowers watch the sky, he watches his own image. Interestingly, the bulb of the daffodil is also somewhat poisonous. During its dormant months, it keeps itself underground as an onion, neutralizing insects that try to eat it with its venom. Like Narcissus, the daffodil lulls those who approach it into a deep sleep. The words “narcosis” and “narcissist” are also associated with Narcissus.

The story of Narcissus, the namesake of so many concepts, contains many clues about the creation of man. I think one of them is “obsession”. Narcissus’ obsessive self-obsession, oblivious to what is happening around him and missing the beauty of being, of flow, often reminds me of us. We are caught up in the imagination of events that have happened or that we “think” will happen. Don’t we all sometimes get caught up in what we have done in the past, or what has been done to us, or what we think will happen in the future, or the possibilities? Doesn’t this fixation often turn into an obsession? Or don’t we stare blankly at our own reflection in a persistent obsession with our spouse, our friends, our today and our tomorrow? As we move towards the destination we want to reach in public transportation, while driving, looking at the road, or chatting with a friend, don’t we look at the reflection we are “obsessed” with in the background and don’t we turn into a narcotized state?

The English word “obsession” comes from the Latin word “obsedere”, which means to encircle. From this point of view, it seems possible to say that obsession actually besieges our minds. This state of narcosis caused by obsession is actually like a moment when our minds are surrounded. Those who have read and watched the movie The Lord of the Rings know that in the movie The Lord of the Rings, the castle called Helm’s Deep is under siege. At the moment when despair descends like the darkest part of the night – which is also the moment when the sun begins to rise – those trapped in the castle remember that the wizard Gandalf told them to hold out for five days, that he would come at dawn on the fifth day. This word gave them hope, and gave them the impetus to take action with the intention of breaking the siege. At dawn, as Gandalf said, an army arrives behind him and the siege is broken from both inside and outside, saving Helm’s Deep and all those inside.

Who is Gandalf? When Narcissus was obsessively watching his reflection in an ecstatic state, when his mind was besieged like Helm’s Deep , why did he perish and Helm’s Deep survive? Gandalf is the difference between these two situations. While Narcissus, in his arrogance, could think of no one but himself, the soldiers at Helm’s Deepbelieved and trusted in a power greater than themselves, in a promise, in fact a promise, that dawn would come in five days’ time. But did Gandalf really save the soldiers, or was it Gandalf’s efforts and actions to break the siege that saved them? What did the ancients say; “there is blessing in movement” Don’t our elders also say “this too shall pass ya Hû”? Also, one of the greatest prohibitions according to the heavenly religions is to be “hopeless”. Therefore, can we say that the formula for lifting this siege is a little bit of hope, a pinch of intention, a little bit of effort and therefore action?

That’s why I love creation stories so much. They contain many clues about both creation and our creations. The interesting thing is that Narcissus is not on dusty pages or in oil paintings, but still inside us, sometimes obsessed with his own reflection. Fortunately, we know that our obsessions don’t always have to put us under narcosis. As long as we have hope, intention, effort and action to lift this siege. Then we will see that daffodils actually have a very beautiful scent that is mesmerizing and enchanting.

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