Returning from the underworld, returning from ghost time

That time is unreal — that it transforms into a form of “ghost time” — once you’re in liminal retreat is strangely in conflict with the notion that a journey to the underworld might necessitate a return trip. Whether it actually does necessitate one depends of course on how the journey is conceived of (as we have seen, in Hillman’s early work it doesn’t; in Campbell the collective demands it and...

How does ghost-time relate to the timelessness of the unconscious?

If withdrawal into liminal space (symbolized by the stay on a Greek island in The Alexandria Quartet) is a journey to the underworld or — to put it less mystically — an immersion in what comes out of the unconscious, then we might expect curious effects connected to the passing of time. This is what the narrator refers to when he says “once you become aware of the operation of a time which is not...

Unreal time and splintered life forms

At first glance, what Don DeLillo’s narrator in The Names describes appears to be exactly what I’ve just called “ghost-time”, borrowing a notion from The Alexandria Quartet: I flew a lot, of course. We all did. We were a subculture, business people in transit, growing old in planes and airports. […] This is time totally lost to us. We don’t remember it. We take no sense impressions with us, no...

Unreal time and real cities

Once you retreat from the world into liminal space, you shed the illusion that time is real. That time and, in consequence, our experience in time are real is an illusion; but it is an illusion of the kind which, once it is put aside even for a moment, can never fully come back.

Imaginative projects and fictional images

In a recent post, I presented an imaginary scenario and used it to illustrate the difference between “image” and “frame”. I also claimed that an image such as the one I presented might appear not only in an episode of deliberate imagination, but also in dreams or works of fiction — such as a novel or movie. Let’s follow up on this claim a little. 1. The way I introduced my example of an image was...

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...

The mirror and the windows

There is in human experience a perennial contrast between the external world and the inner world, the interior. With both worlds, we interact; and to some small extent we can influence and control them. But mostly, they’re wide-open ranges of the unknown: abundant, overpowering, and utterly “other” than ourselves.

The hypocritical mirror-critic

Returning from his year-long stay on a Greek island, the protagonist of The Magus makes an intermediate stop in Rome. But he compares his impressions unfavorably with those he had in that other Mediterranean world: The sun shone as certainly, the people were far more elegant, the architecture and the art much richer, but it was as if the Italians, like their Roman ancestors, wore a great mask of...

Alexandria, spacetime, and the nature of mystery

The architecture of Durrell’s "Alexandria" tetralogy is constructed in analogy to the idea of four-dimensional spacetime in the theory of relativity. Durrell calls this “the relativity proposition”. How does this work in terms of plot layout?

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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