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ARAS Connections
Image and Archetype
• 2010 • Issue 4 •
In This Issue

Welcome by Tom Singer

The Making of The Book of Symbols by Ami Ronnberg

The Palette of Anselm Kiefer: Witnessing our Imperiled World by Jacqueline J. West, Ph.D. and Nancy J. Dougherty, M.S.W.

Praise for The Book of Symbols

Calendar of ARAS-Related Events

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Occasionally in the life of an individual or of an institution, forces that have been taking shape over a long period of time come together in a new way. This ripening can give rise to a feeling of wholeness and integration, a sense of well-being about where one is and a sense of excitement about future potential. At these moments, it’s as if the Self has been constellated in the psyche of the individual or of the organization. Erik Erikson pioneered the psychoanalytic vision of this phenomenon in his work on the stages of life and John Perry provided a brilliant, Jungian amplification of Erikson's notion by observing that the successful negotiation of a life stage transition was frequently ushered in by a love relationship that constellated the Self, permitting the personality to move into its next stage of development.
It feels to me as if ARAS is in the midst of one of those wonderful moments of wholeness and integration when many different trends in its 75 year existence are coming together. Over the past ten or fifteen years, ARAS has been pursuing two parallel tracks, the ongoing publication of books and the digitization of its archives for internet access. Both threads of development are now fully coming into their own. ARAS Online and its quarterly newsletter, ARAS Connections, are hitting their stride. Fine new projects are on the immediate horizon as ARAS has begun to envision how to realize the enormous potential of the ARAS Online platform. For the better part of last year, National ARAS has given consideration to the issue of how best to develop the "architecture" of the ARAS Online space and this coming year will bring exciting, experimental projects to ARAS Online and ARAS Connections.
And, it is hardly an exaggeration to say that the most potent love affair that has constellated the Self in the development of National ARAS has been its relationship with Taschen, a wonderfully innovative and daring world wide publisher of fine art books. Taschen has helped ARAS realize one of its biggest dreams by taking the risk of publishing The Book of Symbols which has been greeted with such enthusiasm that Amazon and many bookstores have sold all their books in less than a month. The Book of Symbols succeeds wonderfully in bringing ARAS into the contemporary world--both in terms of a publisher who is bold in his vision of the future and in terms of the imagery of the book itself which is modern as well as historic. In the past, ARAS had focused mainly on imagery prior to the 20th Century. Now that we have entered the 21st century, ARAS has not only included the 20th century, but some very contemporary, 21st century symbolic images that communicate ARAS' readiness to embrace archetypal material of every age, including our own. ARAS is coming into its own in a new way and this signals an individuation process of the organization itself in which a new Self of greater receptivity, generativity, and accessibility has been constellated. The fruits of that new Self are The Book of Symbols, ARAS Online and ARAS Connections. You will see ample evidence of this phenomenon in the articles of this ARAS Connections. Nancy Dougherty and Jacqueline West share their extraordinary study of Anselm Kiefer, one of the great painters of this era, whose work probes the archetypal depths of individual and collective human suffering, yearning, and spirit. Ami Ronnberg, the curator of National ARAS and the Editor in Chief of The Book of Symbols shares her reflections on the amazingly rich and complicated history of creating The Book of Symbols. Both speak for a spirit of wholeness and fruition that ARAS is now enjoying.

Tom Singer, M.D.
Co-Chair of ARAS Online for National ARAS

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The Making of
The Book of Symbols by Ami Ronnberg

Images from The Book of Symbols: Reflections on Archetypal Images (mouse over for captions)

On the morning of January, 2nd 2008, at 10 am, the phone rang as we returned from the New Years holidays to the ARAS office on 39th Street in New York City. It was Florian Kobler, an editor for Taschen Books calling from Germany, eagerly asking if we had signed a contract already for our book on symbols (which we hadn’t). He told us that Benedikt Taschen, the owner of the world wide publishing company bearing his name had seen our proposal while visiting their Los Angeles office over the holidays and was interested in publishing the book. After months of negotiations a contract was signed. For the next three years we worked with Florian and his staff at Taschen who were all wonderfully supportive, attentive to every detail and set on the highest quality.
This was eleven years after another surprise call, this time from Sam Bercholz, the Editor-in-Chief of Shambhala Publications who had previously published two volumes of the ARAS Encyclopedia of Archetypal Symbolism with two more volumes planned. He had always wanted to do a book on symbols and felt that the time was right as we were moving towards the year 2000. He wanted to name the book 1000 symbols for the New Millennium, to be published in time for the millennial shift. Initially, Thames & Hudson was to be co-publishing the book but for various reasons this was not to happen and a contract was never signed. By that time, board and staff had fallen in love with the project and we decided to continue with a great deal of faith and hope as well as much work. Perhaps a dream that one of the very first contributors told me early on may explain what gave us the courage. She dreamt that she was in a library and noticed a Jungian reference book. As she opened the book she found delicious fruits and nourishing beans falling off the pages for her to eat. In the same way we may eat the seeds of symbols and they will feed us.
During the years we were often asked why another book on symbols when there are so many and our answer was always the same: that there is no such book that includes images. Image is the language of the symbol. We are inundated by images as in no other time, and yet there seems to be a hunger for the deeper meaning, which is what makes them into symbols as they point to the mystery, to the unknown. Our editor Kathleen Martin, a Jungian analyst, brought her profound knowledge of the psyche to this project by adding a psychological understanding of the symbol, which is also something unique for a book on symbols. We were lucky to have three working artists as well as a singer/musician, adding their sensibility to the whole. They are Karen Arm, managing editor, Anne Thulin and Kako Ueda, assistant editors, and Allison Langerak, online editor. The same wonderful team worked on this book for most of these years, which also explains the love that went into its preparation and hopefully can be felt in the result.
Much care, many lively discussions and at times even strong disagreements went into selecting the images, which became the one task we all shared and adored.
Read the entire article.
The Palette of Anselm Kiefer: Witnessing our Imperiled World
An excerpt from The Palette of Anselm Kiefer: Witnessing our Imperiled World, a paper given at the 2008 Art and Psyche Conference in San Francisco by Jacqueline J. West, Ph.D. and Nancy J. Dougherty, M.S.W.

Sefer Hechaloth by Anselm Kiefer

Anselm Kiefer was born in Germany in 1945, in a country rebuilding itself from the ashes of war and redefining its place in history. His early work directly addressed the silence and denial that existed in Germany about the unbridled aggression of WWII including the unimaginable violence and decimation of the Holocaust. However he soon expanded these themes into extensive ideological, spiritual, and psychological investigations. His monumental canvases and installations have become multi-leveled experiences that persistently reflect not only the horrific past of his homeland but also more ancient and universal human concerns about life and death, good and evil. Attending intensely to this dialogue between history and myth, Kiefer can be seen, in Jungian terms, to be addressing the relationship between human reality and the archetypal realms.
In this paper, we concentrate upon one particular expression of this relationship between human reality and archetypal forces, namely our human relationship to the archetype of creation-destruction, as it is woven throughout Kiefer’s work. As we will clarify, we see Kiefer boldly facing the manifestations of the split off negative pole of this archetype, the terrifying waste left in the wake of the force of destruction. Yet he consistently does this without losing sight of the presence of the creative force.
Kiefer’s work is compelling to us because we think that at this point in our own country, the United States, it is essential that we develop a deeper capacity to face the archetype of destruction. From a classical Jungian point of view, to the extent that we do not face an archetypal force, it will be dictating our behavior; we will act it out or collusively support its being acted out. It appears to us that, as a culture, we readily turn from an examination of self and psyche, preferring a confident bravado supported by a sense of entitlement and often unquestioned omnipotence. Accordingly, over the years, it has been said in many places that we are a culture of narcissism, arrested in our development with youthful traits that are characteristic of adolescence; bold, brash and inventive as well as self-centered and self-indulgent, and lacking in empathy. (Lasch, 1991). We are suggesting that presently we are, as a country, in the grip of dynamics we call Alpha Narcissism. In this particular expression of narcissism, omnipotence and exhibitionism are fueled by aggression rooted in the archetype of destruction. In our book, The Matrix and Meaning of Character, we differentiate between three forms of narcissism, each rooted in a different archetypal landscape. (Dougherty and West, 2007) Given our unconsciousness of the current predominance of alpha dynamics in our country, we feel that it is essential that we face the specific archetypal force underlying this particular form of narcissism. Such an active exploration of the terrifying force of destruction has the potential to lead to the development of a conscious and responsible relationship to this force. It is this dedication that leads us to be especially interested in Kiefer’s images, in particular, his capacity to imagine - and portray - the archetypal landscape that expresses this reality. As we proceed in this paper, you will see that Kiefer’s work naturally is woven out of and upon the German psyche and culture. But his reach into the archetypal domain renders these explorations invaluable to us in our reflections upon our own unconscious tendencies to act out or collude with aggression.
Read the entire paper.

Praise for The Book of Symbols: Reflections on Archetypal Images


The Wall Street Journal: Across Cultures, Image is Everything
The Huffington Post: Eating The Book of Symbols
Phantasmaphile: The Book of Symbols
The Magazine of Yoga: Review Review Great Art in Great Books of 2010

Calendar of ARAS-Related Events
The San Francisco Jung Institute, ARAS and Extended Education Committees present: the Culture, Psyche and Art Series
1. March 27, 2011: Psyche and The City: A Soul's Guide to the Modern Metropolis with John Beebe and Tom Singer
2. June 11 and June 12, 2011: Picasso at the Institute and The De Young Museum with Shira Barnett and Patricia Sohl
3. Fall, 2011: Ancient Greece/Modern Psyche: Images in Women's and Men's Initiation with Virginia Beane Rutter and Tom Singer
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