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).

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...

Visions, dreams, and false dichochotomies

A little while ago, I dug into a question Hillman poses about dream characters: “why don’t the shades and Gods come in their own shapes; why do they bother with the dream incarnations, my family and friends and odd strangers?” (DU 99); and I don’t think I got really clear about what the answer to that question is supposed to be (according to Hillman). Hillman thinks that, if the “shades and Gods”...

More on synchronicities and the world-person direction

In my previous post, I have contrasted interactions that run in the person-world direction (actions and behavior) with those that run in the world-person direction (perceptions); and I have noted that interactions of both kinds can be taken over by unconscious forces: behavior can be disrupted or hijacked, and similarly (though perhaps more rarely) so can perceptions. Synchronicities can be seen...

Synchronicities and the world-person direction 

In a given synchronistic experience, the subject perceives a coincidence in the external world; attached to this experience is an impression of meaningfulness, even a “numinous” feeling. To undergo an experience like that is not deliberate: the subject has not consciously chosen to be aware of the coincidental events, nor of the accompanying feeling of meaningfulness. Such an episode is then an...

Sense perception and sensous language

In various places, Hillman traces a development through Jung’s work away from “conceptal rationalism” towards an imagistic and metaphorical style of thinking; the former is associated with Psychological Types, the latter with Jung’s later writings on alchemy. Hillman, of course, thinks that this development is for the better.

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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