Tagarchetypes

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: 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...

The production of soul as a kind of telos

What is the purpose of our lives? What are we here for? Following Hillman, here’s one way of looking at it: We are here to generate psyche. Our task is thus a creative one: we are meant to produce more soul; and we perform this creative job by getting into the activity of loving anima. This makes the generation of soul into something like the telos of ancient eudaimonistic philosophy: an idea...

Projections, patterns, and depth

In our lived experience we navigate both an external world of objects and a subjective stream of psychological states. This is how the surface of reality presents itself to us. But both the external world of objects and the subjective stream of psychological states have a certain depth to them: they exhibit recurring patterns.

The spiritual mirror, eros, and Narcissus

When I wrote about projection and the mirror of Narcissus last week, I realized there is a hidden connection between some of the topics I recently discussed: the neo-Platonic mirror theory of eros, and Jung's notion of spirit.

On the movements of the collective unconscious

Robert Musil was one of the great masters of imaginative metaphor, and he captured very well the notion that much of what drives our psychology is both collective and unconscious — difficult to be aware of from the point of view of individual consciousness: The train of time is a train which rolls out its own tracks ahead of itself. The flow of time is a river which carries its own banks along...

Something breaking into something else

Jung discusses from time to time how unconscious processes can “break in” (einbrechen) and disrupt consciousness. The term captures the experience from the point of consciousness: the workings of the ego complex are interrupted from something “outside”, and that means: something outside consciousness. In other words, what “breaks in” is simply something else, something not under conscious...

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.

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.

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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