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Shadow reversal

A little into The Dream and the Underworld, when he discusses the relationship between the day world and the night world, Hillman makes yet another suggestion that is an instance of the technique of “perspective reversal”. This time it is about the shadow (in its Jungian understanding of the term). Since the movements of the body and its shadow are simultaneous and inseparable, that is, co...

Some notes on the underworld experience

Is there a purely psychic form of existence? According to Hillman, there is at least a metaphorical image of such a form of existence: the underworld (Hades). We can read mythical narratives to refer to a form of being rather than a literal place: thus Hades is not a location somewhere (“under” the world), and it is not literal death of a person which brings their shadow (image) there — rather...

Authors and no authors

Loose talk in the mold of “I had a dream” leads us quickly into thinking that the “I” is the author or owner of the events and imagery in the dream — that we “dreamed it all up” in some sense. But there is a world of a difference between, say, a writer making up a conversation between two people and describing it in a novel, and a person having a dream about two people having that same...

Too much centeredness

In my reflections on the language of “having” dreams (fantasies, creative spirit, etc.) I briefly gestured to a certain blind spot in Hillman’s account of how the ego should be “subjected” to the dream (or fantasy etc.) images. There are two interrelated points I made, though in a rather too quick and compressed fashion. So let’s unpack them a little more. We can see where the blind spot is when...

The language of having

If we want to take perspective reversal seriously, we have to revise some of the language we use. Rather than saying, for instance, I “had” a dream (or fantasy) we should say “I was in a dream”; similarly, when we describe our experience, we should say “in my dream I saw …”. In other words, we would speak about our dream experience as if it happened to us when we (metaphorically) went there...

Imaginative projects and fictional images

In a recent post, I presented an imaginary scenario and used it to illustrate the difference between “image” and “frame”. I also claimed that an image such as the one I presented might appear not only in an episode of deliberate imagination, but also in dreams or works of fiction — such as a novel or movie. Let’s follow up on this claim a little. 1. The way I introduced my example of an image was...

Having and being had: what are the perspectives?

Hillman points out that, “at night the dream has me, but in the morning I say, I had a dream” (DU 98), and I have suggested that this is more than just a rhetorical figure. It is a thought-move both Jung and Hillman frequently make, and which I have traced through various of their writings under the heading of “perspective reversal”. Let’s get a little clearer on what exactly those “perspectives”...

Having and being had, and the relationship between theory and practice

Jung and Hillman both frequently make a move I have called “perspective reversal”: they make us aware that, while we believe that we “have” our dreams, actually the dreams “have” us. (And what goes for dreams goes for psychic items in general.) But in some respects Hillman is even more radical than Jung (or at least he presents himself that way). He is more radical, first, in what purpose he...

Depth: where is it hidden?

Suppose the following: You are sitting at a table outside a street café on a busy afternoon. For a little while you have noticed a couple, standing a few steps away in the middle of the crowd, talking to each other. Suddenly one of the two raises their voice. They start arguing, and gradually get louder. People around them stop and start looking, some laugh, some shake their heads with a frown;...

Dream people, projections, and perspective reversals

Under the Jungian assumption that even in waking life we frequently do not interact with the real people in front of us but rather with something we project into them, we might treat the figures we encounter in dreams in just the same way — we might take the stance that “that they are fundamentally fantasy-images cloaked in after-images”, as Patricia Berry puts it (Echo’s Subtle Body, 46)...

Leif Frenzel is a writer and independent researcher. He has a background in philosophy, literature, music, and information technology. His recent interest is Jungian psychology, especially synchronicities and the relationship between consciousness and the unconscious.

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