The joys of Eigenbrötlertum

The workings of our social environment are so close before our eyes that we often don’t even notice them; but many of them profoundly shape what we perceive as “reality”. It has proved fruitful to understand this along the lines of an analogy: social interactions share many characteristics with theatrical performances. Thus social interactions are enacted, as if on a stage, and “reality” is of...

The mirror and the mask

What we see, when looking into the symbolic mirror, are those parts of ourselves which we would normally avoid to look at, and which we carefully also hide from others. These are part of the personal unconscious and make up, in Jungian terminology, our “shadow”. The false face that we show ourselves and the outside worlds (as long as we ignore the shadow), is called the “persona” (in the ancient...

Mirrors: psychoanalysis & two routes of self-knowledge

Mirrors, when they appear in a story, can symbolize something very interesting: namely, a special way of knowing something about a person. What makes it special is that others can know this about us, whereas we ourselves may not know it. Let’s see if we can explicate the idea in a non-symbolic manner: can we give an account of this special type of self-knowledge without recourse to a story (where...

Mirrors: smoky ones

Mirrors — those of the symbolic flavor, i.e. mirrors of the soul — don’t necessarily have to be visual. In one of Neil Gaiman’s short stories, a narrative work of art (i.e. a story-in-a-story) does the same trick that Oscar Wilde’s painting of Dorian Gray performs. Thus Gaiman removes the symbolic mirror one step further from literal mirrors.

Mirrors: Wilde pictures

Imagine you sit model for a painting. When it is finished, you look at it with surprise and admiration: the painter is a true artist, and this is his masterpiece. It brings out something about you, your true personality; it shows things of which you were only dimly aware yourself. To use an old expression: it reflects your soul.

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.