The mirror theory of eros: synchronicities

Jung says that synchronistic phenomena appear when an archetype of the collective unconscious is triggered (or ‘constellated’). He also points out that this usually goes along with projections. Interestingly, the mirror theory of eros arrives at a similar result.

The mirror theory of eros: projection

When a person becomes infatuated, their soul is dominated by the phantasm that represents the loved one; the phantasm cannibalizes the entire psyche of the subject. In such a case, the unconscious image (the phantasm) acquires an astonishing power and autonomy.

The mirror theory of eros: the spiritual mirror

A word about this “spiritual mirror” business. It is called spiritual because in Ficino’s views, the notion of “spirit” is central, and among other things, the spirit acts as a mirror through which the soul can access what the senses take in from the external world. The setup is similar to an old-fashioned camera, with the eye (and the other senses) corresponding to the lens, the psyche (the...

The mirror theory of eros: phantasmata

1. Suppose a subject becomes enamoured with another person. In that situation, we can assume in the subject’s mind a cluster of ideas, perceptions, presumptions, etc., all of which have the other person (the “love object”) as their content in some way. For example, there may be memories (“When we first met, she looked like this …”), general ascriptions of personality (“He’s a very attentive...

Death: walking out of the mirror

As every lover of Eurospy knows very well: death is a woman. If you fall in love with her and have the good luck to find it requited, she may sacrifice herself in a kind of Liebestod, Which makes you — immortal! (Logically…)

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...

Death: walking into the mirror

There is a rather special use of mirror imagery in Justine, when Durrell’s narrator reflects on his last conversation with the writer Pursewarden (which had taken place immediately before the latter committed suicide). The fact that this was our last meeting has invested it, in retrospect, with a significance which surely it cannot have possessed. Nor, for the purposes of this writing, has he...

Meeting in the mirror

We have already seen two roles that mirrors play in Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet: they indicate a certain self-awareness (a ‘reflectiveness’, we might say with a somewhat tired pun) in a character, and they expose a distance, even separation between their inner worlds when they interact. In other words, Durrell has his characters perceive things in mirrors (or ‘as’ in mirrors) when he wants to...

Things that happen in the mirror

‘Mirror’ is one of Durrell’s words; mirrors are one of his images: they appear throughout the Alexandria tetralogy, in various functions. 1. When the narrator’s relationship with Melissa starts, her previous lover is jealous (to the point of following him around with a pistol in his coat). The two men fall into a pattern of staring and ignoring each other when they meet. But then something...

Mirrors: metaphors of self-awareness

When reading a book that uses poetic language, we might stumble from time to time over a sentence: though inconspicuous at first, still something about the metaphor seems not quite right. And closer inspection can then reveal a surprisingly deep idea behind a simple choice of phrase.

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.