Latest stories

The spirit of Jung, and the spirit of Hillman

In recent posts, I have discussed Hillman’s distinction between soul-work and spirit-work (doing psychology vs. spiritual development). Hillman claims Jung’s ancestry here, but there are also grave differences in how they understood these notions.

The Mana Personality vs. the Self

I have criticized Hillman for saying that Jung’s archetypes of the Self and the Wise Old Man are the same — mostly for the reason that Jung in many passages clearly speaks as if these are not just not the same, but even widely separated notions. There is, however, one very central passage in Jung’s work where he explicitly discusses the difference between the Wise Old Man and the Self archetypes.

Spiritual practice and its distractors

To add some more detail to the distinction we’re exploring, between spirit-work and soul-work, according to Hillman’s “Peaks and Vales” essay, let’s look at a common experience: distractions we suffer when we attempt some typical spirit work. These may fall under either of Hillman’s first two criteria (pathologizing of the soul and anima confusions), or perhaps even remain in a grey area in...

The Old Man and the Self

In several places, Hillman practically identifies two well-known Jungian archetypal figures: “the Self, which is another name for the archetype of meaning,  or the Old Wise Man”. This is an astonishingly implausible claim.

Speaking from the Head

My eyes open, but have to squint immediately. I’m not blinded. It’s just… what I see is strangely distorted. Blurred. That’s the word. It’s all blurry, especially to the left and right. If I focus my gaze straight on, it’s better, though it still looks as if I’m peering through a smear on a window. There’s something even more weird. Get this: I can easily move my eyes, but not my head. Why can’t...

Is the way of the soul riskier than the way of the spirit?

We have now looked into two of the three marks that distinguish soul-work (psychology) from spirit-work: pathologizing and anima confusions are regarded as inherent activities of the soul, and therefore in soul-work we must attend to them and engage them on their own terms, rather than trying to get rid of them.

Loving anima confusions

I have started to discuss Hillman’s three criteria for telling soul-work and spirit-work apart. The first was that soul-work would take the soul’s pathologizing seriously. Now the second: love for anima; Hillman says that he would not recognize someone as doing soul-work if they “dismiss anima confusions for ego strength or spiritual illumination”. There’s a good bit to unpack here.

Self-misunderstanding and the mirror of Narcissus

A while ago, I have posted some reflections on “the mirror of Narcissus”, a phrase that Tim Wu uses to characterize the Instagram culture of mass self-presentation in pictures. That phrase implies some kind of narcissism. But is that just a vague association with an old myth, or is there a deeper connection?

Understanding (Hillman’s notion of) pathologizing

I have quoted Hillman, from his “Peaks and Vales” essay on the difference between spirit and soul, as listing three distinctive features of soul-work, in contrast to spirit-work. The first of those three is that “pathologizing” is not “dismissed for growth”. But what does that even mean?

Metaphors aren’t for real

I found myself staring with blank bored eyes at the scribbles Martin was making, self-absorbedly waffling on about advantages and challenges and bla bla bla. And just like every week, I desperately wondered...

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.

absurdity (1) alchemy (4) allegorical style (1) archetypes (24) causality (8) climates (1) dark side (8) death (2) eros (4) erotetic arch (8) fairytale style (1) film (1) frame analysis (4) ghost story style (1) impressionist style (1) intertextuality (1) Jung philology (12) liminality (1) literature (16) magic (2) methodology (2) mirrors (24) mystery (2) mysticism (3) myth adaptation style (1) narrative analysis (10) pathologizing (4) persona (6) personal note (1) personification (14) prefiguration (1) projection (17) psychoid (3) research program (1) romantic love (3) self-knowledge (5) shadow (10) soul (11) spirit (26) subjectivity (4) symbolistic style (1) symbols (12) synchronicities (28) technology (2) time (2)