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).

Hillman on the return from the underworld

I have asked whether a descent to the underworld would necessarily require a compensating return trip. The occidental tradition frequently sets it up this way (just think of Plato’s cave in the Politeia or Dante’s Inferno/Paradiso layout; although there is also at least one major mythical form, namely that of Orpheus, which presents the return trip it as desired, but failing). In contrast, the...

Does the underworld journey necessitate a return trip?

During times when one moves into the depths of the inner world, one disengages proportionally from the external world. Or, expressed in the stark mythical imagery that Hillman has proposed, when one descends into the underworld, one leaves the world of the living (and one’s own life in that upper world) behind. The nekyia is always a journey away from something — social reality, envisioned...

Changes for the better, changes for the worse

Hillman is one of the most original and interesting writers in the tradition following Jung, and I have spent quite a few pages on this blog discussing his work already. Naturally, this means I have to combine several of his ideas and theories, which are distributed over multiple books, in order to gain a consolidated understanding. But there is a danger in this, too: Hillman’s work, as...

Hillmanian psychologism

The technique of perspective reversal, frequently as it is used throughout Hillman’s early work, is more than a neat rhetorical trick. (Although it must be said that Hillman does have a pronounced preference for the chiasm in any case.) I have already noted that both Jung and Hillman seemed to think that human hybris needs to be checked, particularly in the form in which the human person is...

The self-deceptive ego

My current excursion into ego theory started from an instance of perspective reversal in which Hillman suggested that “the shadow casts me”, that is, we might understand the ego as a projection from the shadow (in its original Jungian understanding).  But we would be mistaken if we construed this narrowly, as the view that the ego is a projection only from the shadow. In Hillman’s thinking (as in...

Shadow reversal and ego theory

I have started to look at Hillman’s suggestion that the ego, rather than casting a shadow, is itself cast by the latter; and I have noted that this suggestion comes within a larger endeavor on his part to re-interpret the whole notion of the ego. Let’s dive a little deeper into Hillman’s account of the ego, then. 1. The ego is one of multiple complexes that exist within an individual human being...

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...

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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