There are several related issues that I want to address in this "letter from the editor." The first is to express our gratitude to Michael Flanagin for his poignant, introductory comments below upon our publishing online the final installment of Harry Prochaska's book on Amplification. No one is better able to speak to Harry's wonderful qualities as a person and as the curator for many years of San Francisco ARAS. Michael was "initiated" to ARAS by Harry, trained with Harry to learn how to use the Archive, and then succeeded him as curator for many years. Michael now lives in Portland, Oregon where he has been very active in their Jung Society.
My second comment concerns the future direction of the ARAS Online Newsletter itself. I am very excited to announce that the next edition of our newsletter will be introducing a new series of papers that were first presented in May 2008 at the "Art and Psyche: Reflections on Image" conference in San Francisco. There were over seventy presentations at this unique conference, which featured a tremendous cross-fertilization of views from artists, artist historians, art critics, art therapists and analysts from both Jungian and Freudian traditions. It is the goal of ARAS Online to begin to bring that spirit of cross-fertilization to this site--with an emphasis on how we experience the symbolic play between art and psyche in modern as well as historic imagery. We plan to present many of the papers from the conference over the next several issues of this newsletter and hope that this will be the beginning of a new kind of energy that will flow through the site. As the United States itself is about to undertake a major initiative in the development of alternative energy to fuel future generations, ARAS Online is also looking to the future to develop different kinds of energies to flow through this site in the exchange of ideas and visions about the relationship between art and psyche from many perspectives, including those I mentioned above. As we begin to place the conference papers on the site through this newsletter, we will undoubtedly be experimenting with different "looks" to the newsletter, as well as considering different features to enhance the exchange of information and perspectives. We encourage your input as we begin this new project.
Among the many issues that the conference papers explore and that we wish to incorporate in the emerging ARAS Online site is the presence and relevance of archetypal imagery in contemporary cultures. Where are we finding archetypal images now and how do we connect with them in our lives? In the spirit of that question, here are two images I discovered side by side on the magazine rack in the Mill Valley, California Jolly King Liquor Store.
I include them because they speak to my final comment, which is to encourage all of you to consider giving to ARAS Online at this time of year. Many of you received in a separate email from me a request to contribute to our fund to pay for the permissions to use images in our forthcoming book, The Book of Images: Reflections on Symbols.
I am using the same images--in case you didn't see them--to encourage you now to give to ARAS Online or to the book project.
This pair of long lost brothers--one quite new, one quite old--are from the "homo economikos" tribe, an archetypal tribe devoted to the survival of mankind. When they appear in such gloomy and sober form, they are harbingers of doom and signify the heavy weight of man's economic burden throughout the ages. We all know the archetype of "homo economikos." He lives inside each of us. In order to get beyond him to the creative potential for the future, we need to speak to him with compassion. Encourage him to lighten up as much as possible and continue giving to causes that carry us forward through connecting us meaningfully with our past.
Best wishes for the holiday season,
Tom Singer, M.D.
Co-Chair of the ARAS Online Committee
Send Us Your Questions
|If you have questions about specific images, searching, how to use ARAS, or archetypal symbolism in general, please email them to us at email@example.com.
|The Wrath of Kali
|From Amplification of Symbols by Harry Prochaska
I was glued to the TV and radio at the end of April and early May of 1992 watching the riots in Los Angeles spread to other cities in the United States as protests against the acquittal of the police officers in the Rodney King beating. This had happened to me before: once when Hitler marched in Czechoslovakia, and again with the assassination and funeral of John F. Kennedy. I remember the enormous relief when a station would play a Requiem Mass. Their mass was a symbolic structure which contained the feelings of loss.
At one point, looking at the charred, empty buildings in Los Angeles, the smashed windows, the glass and litter, and people running and shouting, I saw the wrath of Kali. Shakti and Kali are the manifest energy of the Great God Shiva. Without them, he would remain in his self-contained consciousness apart from the world. Shakti is Shiva's creative energy and, because what is created comes to an end, Kali, Time, is Shiva's destructive energy in the cycles of becoming and passing away. At the time I was also reading quotations from the Puranas, Indian texts which date back through the millennia but which sound immediately descriptive of events in recent decades.
Shiva Nataraja in Lord of the Dance. By the stamping of his foot and the beating of his drum, he brings the worlds into existence. We know him by the whirl of events around us, by the tides of emotion within us, and we feel him in the pulse of the blood coursing through our veins. At the completion of the cycle, he withdraws into himself. All action ceases; he is the Lord of Death and Dissolution. The images of Shiva Nataraja typically "represent Shiva dancing, having four hands, with braided and jeweled hair of which the lower locks are whirling in the dance. In His hair may be seen a wreathing cobra, a skull, and the mermaid of Ganga; upon it rests the crescent moon, and it is crowned with a wreath of Cassia leaves. In His right ear He wears a man's earring, a woman's in his left; He is adorned with necklaces and armlets, a jeweled belt, anklets and bracelets, finger and toe rings. The chief part of His dress consists of tightly fitting breeches, and He wears also a fluttering scarf and a sacred thread."
A small drum, shaped like an hourglass in Shiva's upper right hand for the beating of rhythm symbolizes sound, "the vehicle of speech, the conveyer of revelation, tradition, incantation, magic, and divine truth." Sound is also "Ether... the primary and most subtly pervasive manifestation of the divine Substance." The upper left hand, "with a half moon posture of the fingers...bears on its palm a tongue of flame. Fire is the element of the destruction of the world... Here, then, in the balance of the hands, is illustrated a counterpoise of creation and destruction in the play of the cosmic dance." The fear-not mudra of the second right hand bestows protection, while the lower left hand points to the uplifted foot. This foot signifies Release and is the refuge on the prostrate body of the demon Forgetfulness, symbolizing man's blindness and ignorance. "Conquest of this demon lies in the attainment of true wisdom." The ring of fire which symbolizes "the vital processes of the universe and its creatures, nature's dance as moved by the god within. Simultaneously it is said to signify the energy of Wisdom, the transcendental light of knowledge of truth dancing forth from the personification of the All."
A.K. Coomaraswamy writes that, "Shiva is a destroyer and loves the burning ground. But what does He destroy? Not merely the heavens and earth at the close of a world cycle, but the fetters that bind each separate soul. Where and what is the burning ground? It is not the place where our earthly bodies are cremated, but the heart of His lovers, laid waste and desolate. The place where the ego is destroyed signifies the state where illusion and deeds are burnt away: that is the crematorium, the burning-ground where Shri Nataraja dances,..."
As Nataraja, Shiva embodies and manifests eternal energy in the five activities of: 1) creation, the pouring forth and unfolding, 2) in maintenance or duration, 3) in the destruction or taking back of created forms, 4) concealing, or veiling, the transcendental essence through appearances, 5) in bestowing grace through a manifestation of his presence that accepts the devotee. "Shiva is everything. According to the aspect of his divinity envisaged, he appears as one or three or five or eight or many. All these aspects are represented by various names. One thousand and eight names of Shiva are given in the Shiva Purana."
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A Portrait of Harry Prochaska
|By Michael Flanagin, Ph.D., Curator ARAS San Francisco 1988-2002
I first met Harry Prochaska twenty-five years ago when he accompanied his friend Richard Stein, a San Francisco Jungian analyst, as a guest lecturer in the latter's graduate course, Jungian Psychotherapy. He arrived with a carousel of slides from an archive housed in the San Francisco Jung Institute that he called ARAS, which Richard wanted us to learn about as a way to understand the role of amplification in Jungian practice. The mysteries of archetypal symbolism evidently were more intelligible if seen with one's eyes than fathomed with one's mind, but for all that, his array of images from alchemy, Hindu temples, ancient Greek myths, and modern art excited as many questions as they answered. To my mind, this was the most interesting part of the course, the heart of Jungian psychology-images that made one feel that one has come home, or found one's own path. And the elderly man who was custodian of this curious parade of carefully selected images played a welcoming role in drawing me closer to this collection, and using it to gain an understanding of how the deepest secrets of our nature can only be portrayed in symbols, and always have been. I think any vague aspiration to become a clinician myself expired that night: archetypal symbolism was what I had been seeking right along and here was a mentor who dwelt in its midst. I learned later he was a retired professor of humanities, a father of three sons, a man educated in all the arts, especially music, which he played delicately on a harpsichord with hands that seemed too large for a baroque keyboard, but which he shifted about with an allegro sensitivity.
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ARAS Hint: The Secret Life of "ARAS Numbers"
Have you ever wondered why each ARAS record has its own cryptic numbers and letters, such as 5Gb.038 for the Mona Lisa? These are "ARAS numbers," which classify each record by time, place, and sometimes medium.
ARAS's numbering system is based on Princeton University's Index of Christian Art, whose many records use numbers and letters for different cultures, periods, places, and mediums. The first number signifies the broad historical period that the art item comes from, while the following letter refers to its geographic source. The next letter is a subdivision of the period. For example, the "3" in the ARAS number 3Bd.008 means that this record describes an item from the Classical period, the "B" specifies that it is from the Aegean Islands, and the "d" further dates it to the Late Helladic Period. The "008" simply means it's the eighth such record in our collection.
There are some exceptions. ARAS numbers starting with "6" belong to the Islamic World, where the second letter indicates the country in that region and the final numbers indicate the time period. For example, ARAS number 6Pd.200 indicates an item from the Islamic World (6) originating in the Middle East (P) specifically in Israel (d) during 500 CE - 1500 CE (the 200 range). Sometimes, the final numbers also designate the material used to create the object such as metal, stone, or enamel.
ARAS records with more than one image have an extra lower case letter at the end to designate each image. For example, 1Ca.015e refers to the fifth image of record 1Ca.015.
Understanding ARAS numbers lets you quickly spot records from the same time and place. For example, 6Pd.200 and 6Pd.202 have similar origins, while 5Gb.038 is clearly from some quite different culture.