CategoryResearch

I engage critically with C. G. Jung’s late work on the idea of synchronicities, and related work from other authors at the time. My focus is on methodology, argument analysis and conceptual inquiry (rather than empirical or historical research).

Having and being had, and the question of “when”

Before we got sidetracked by the inhuman reaches of the soul, we looked at the curious reversal of perspectives that often happens in Jung and Hillman when they consider the relation between human beings and psyche (or soul). The entry point was a frequent observation of Hillman’s about dreams. I quoted one instance, here is another: The psychic world is experienced empirically as inside us and...

Having and being had, and the inhuman reaches of the soul

When he writes about dreams, Hillman virtually never refrains from reminding us of the curious fact that we talk about them as if we were having them, but that we experience them as if they were having us. In sleep, I am thoroughly immersed in the dream. Only on waking do I reverse this fact and believe the dream is in me. At night the dream has me, but in the morning I say, I had a dream. (DU...

A theory of ghosts: initiated by someone’s action 

In the theory I am exploring, the term ‘ghost’ does not denote a quasi-personal, supernatural entity; certainly, by this theory, a ghost is also not something that can be observed, immediately or mediatedly, by the senses (seen, heard, …, photographed). It is, however, something that can be created (better: initiated) by people, influenced (and even to some degree controlled) by them, and also...

A sidenote on belief in the supernatural

I want to dwell a little longer on the belief in a “supernatural” kind of necessity. My guiding example throughout this series of postings has been Vertigo; and Vertigo shares this characteristic — which I have called an intimation of an inevitability — with other narratives of a certain design, including the “appointment in Samarra” and ancient tragedies such as that of Oedipus, where “[t]hings...

A theory of ghosts: the intimation of an inevitability

In my previous post I did not distinguish sufficiently between two lines of thought I introduced. One, the main topic of that post, was the element of recurrent death; the other (which I should have kept separate) that of inevitability. In my guiding example, the haunting experience in Vertigo, the intimation of an inevitability plays a significant role. In the first half of the film, we get a...

A theory of ghosts: the ingredient of recurring death

A ghost, I have written, is not a person; in fact, the term doesn’t designate any empirically discernible thing at all: rather it is a kind of placeholder notion which refers to something in a narrative, specifically, something that appears personified in that narrative. And even that cannot serve as a criterion (i.e., we cannot make out, say, narratological conditions, singling out ghosts from...

A theory of ghosts: corroborations from the filmmakers

The notion that ghosts cannot be identified with persons, and consequently, that the haunting effect of Vertigo is not tied to any character and their concrete attributes or actions in the plot of the film, is not particularly original. In fact, the makers of the movie themselves were conscious that Vertigo is in essence about a psychological pattern. Samuel Taylor, the writer who produced the...

A theory of ghosts: note on methodology

When I left off this line of thought in my previous post, I concluded that ghosts are a different sort of thing than persons. They are better seen as psychological patterns, appearing in a narrative around a personification. 3. Now all this talk about psychological “patterns” may sound a little vague. Patterns are forms or dynamics that occur repeatedly (and recognizably so). But whether we see a...

A theory of ghosts: hauntings

When I was in my late teens, I became hauted by a ghost. The experience was sudden and hit me unexpectedly. After a while, it faded away. But then it popped up again irregularly over the course of several years: whenever that happened, it was suddenly entirely present in bright, nuanced images and invariably gave me shudders of a peculiar and very intense quality. To this day, I’m not entirely...

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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