ARAS Connections: Image and Archetype - 2017 Issue 1

ARAS Connections
Image and Archetype


by Thomas Singer, M.D.

"Whoever speaks in primordial images speaks with a thousand voices; he enthralls and overpowers...he transmutes our personal destiny into the destiny of mankind, and evokes in us all those beneficent forces that ever and anon have enabled humanity to find refuge from every peril and to outlive the longest night.” 
C.G. Jung, The Red Book: Liber Novus

ARAS Connections is not the BBC, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News or Breitbart. It is a quarterly online journal that “speaks in primordial images" as they appear in the contemporary psyche and culture as well as in the art and myths of earlier cultures from around the world. When the state of the world and its politics fall into crisis as is our current reality, symbolic imagery from the creative psyche spontaneously emerges from the depths to orient us by providing deep feeling and guiding narratives from our own and other cultures. It is at the interface of symbolic imagery and political upheaval that this edition of ARAS Connections focuses.

John Perry, a Jungian analyst of an earlier generation, defined an archetype as “an affect/image”. This edition of ARAS Connections is full of “affect/images” in which our current political realities and our psyches are being emotionally, intellectually and spiritually assaulted with revolutionary reversals in the United States and Western Europe and with human tragedies of unimaginable proportions in countries such as Syria and Iraq. We hope that these images and words will evoke in you "those beneficent forces that ever and anon have enabled humanity to find refuge from every peril and to outlive the longest night.” 

In our last, special Presidential Election edition of ARAS Connections we published seven image rich articles  from the pre election San Francisco Jung Institute Presidential Conference. In this edition, we have added three more articles from our distinguished colleagues in Santa Fe, New Mexico who, just a mere two weeks after the November 8, 2016 election, provided their shell shocked audience with a set of preliminary reflections and images in a post Trump election debriefing. Jacqueline West, Donald Kalsched, and Jerome Bernstein are among our most thoughtful and creative analysts and each provides a perspective that helps us “see” just a bit  more clearly what is happening in our world. And, growing out of a new Jungian activism in the world, Australian analyst Amanda Dowd offers a heart rending, psychological perspective on the art that is emerging out of the Syrian refugee disaster in her commentary Adrift.

Finally, Jean Shinoda Bolen, offers a commentary on images from the January 21, 2017 world wide Women’s Marches that drew over 5 million people on the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration. Jean has been in the forefront of Jungian political activism for many years and describes this marriage of inner and outer in the following way: "Activism and individuation (to find a meaningful, inner directed, chosen life-path) come together when the choices we make express who we are and who we are becoming."

As I wrote at the outset, ARAS is not a news organization and it is not a political organization. Having said this, the editors would consider for publication papers using word and symbolic image to present alternative views on the Trump election, the Syrian refugee crisis and/or the world wide Women's Marches. Symbolic and archetypal imagery does not belong to any single political party or political perspective.


The State of our Country: Where Have We Been and Where Might We Be Going

The following three papers were presented by the C.G. Jung Institute of Santa Fe on November 18, 2016, just ten days after the United States Presidential Election.

The State of Our Country

by Jacqueline J. West, Ph.D.

Any number of us here are wrestling, intensely, with upheavals in our personal and collective psyches, the rumblings and eruptions over the past many months, the startling, even shocking results of the election last week . . . and the subsequent vivid and distressing clues about how the structures of our country will be re-interpreted by the appointments of our President-elect and how his policies will transform our lives, explicitly and implicitly. My immediate reaction to the results of the election was, to express it in an acronym, WTF!! . . . which carries a good dose of anger, paired with a half-question, and which carries an invitation to reflect. Both the energy of outrage and curiosity of mind are essential to using our voices. I think the most crucial position we can each take at this point is for each of us to find ways of using our voice – in words and in action.

Over the past few years I’ve been writing – and talking-- about how I see our nation as being in the grip of what I call “Alpha Narcissistic dynamics”. During the past year, the heat of these dynamics rapidly increased. They have found their embodiment spectacularly in Trump. I want to offer some reflections about these dynamics that I hope may strengthen each of our individual and collective backbones in this time of intense stress.

Click here to read The State of Our Country in its entirety.

Reflections on Hate in the Recent Election and in the American Psyche: How Do We Become Emotionally Literate

by Donald E. Kalsched

The best lack all conviction,

And the worst are full of passionate intensity.

W.B. Yeats; The Second Coming



Many commentators on our current political scene have noted how much anger and hate there is in the country right now and how our President-elect Donald Trump has been a lightning rod for this anger, exploiting it to his own political advantage, all the while fanning the flames of hatred with his inflammatory rhetoric, his outright lies, and his denigrating Twitter-messages. Now, after the election, the country is still saturated with intense, polarized and polarizing emotion that seems increasingly to have taken over the national dialogue and pushed it toward extremism.

Last summer, I found myself pulled into this maelstrom, and spent much of my vacation time in Canada reading the New York Times and trying not to hate Donald Trump. My own hatred became a problem for me, and this is one of the reasons I decided to explore the issue of hatred in the American election and in the American psyche. Here are a few of the questions I want to touch on from a psychological perspective. What constellates hate in an individual personality and in a nation? How can hate be contained and transformed into usable anger in the service of the good? How, in other words do we promote “emotional literacy” in ourselves and in our community as a nation? And how do we do so when so many spokespersons in the nation are exploiting us emotionally—goading us towards outrage and hatred in order to distract us from the “inconvenient truths” and painful realities of what it means to live with an informed heart in the complicated, inter-dependent world of the 21st century.

Click here to read Reflections on Hate in the Recent Election and in the American Psyche in its entirety.

Trump Isn’t Fun and Neither Is Paradigm Shift: Where Are We Headed?!

by Jerome S. Bernstein

When I tried to sit down and write out my thoughts for this, I encountered enormous resistance. So I stopped and sat with myself and focused on what I was feeling in my body. What I heard was a voice that said, “I’m pissed off and I don’t want to organize or make sense of this madness.” And after a few more minutes I realized that what I was experiencing was the chaos that has erupted in our country and in the American psyche. This election season has left us in a state of chaos with, in my view, much more to come. So, the rest of my comments will reflect what’s roiling in me and some of what I see roiling in that chaos.

I would say that on November 8th, Election Day, the entire country and much of the world got a crash course in what the trickster archetype looks like and how it operates. There is a Navajo legend about how First Woman was organizing the stars and the constellations, carefully laying them out in patterned linear fashion on a huge Navajo blanket to be placed in the cosmos. Coyote happened to be wandering by, looked over and saw the stars laid out neatly on the blanket. “Hmmm,” he said and then he picked up a corner of the blanket, lifted it up and flicked it down, flinging the stars in disarray into the heavens. According to Navajo legend, that is how we have come by the various constellations that we see in the cosmos.

I had a similar feeling as I sat and watched TV on November 8th, confidently knowing that for all his extraordinary powers to hold a substantial segment of the American population in his sway, Donald Trump would lose the election. And besides, all the pollsters said so, as well as all the pundits. There we were, all smug and confident for a few hours and then suddenly, over the course of just a couple of more hours, we saw coyote pick up the corner of that beautifully woven tapestry and flick order into chaos.

Click here to read Post-Election Panel in its entirety.



by Amanda Dowd, ANZSJA, IAAP

‘Art does not reproduce what we see, rather it makes us see’, Paul Klee.

The images which you will find here are creative responses by Syrian refugees and artists to the almost unimaginable plight of the many thousands of refugees displaced by the Syrian war.  They are gestures made into the empty spaces of destroyed homes, communities and cities, temporary refugee camps and makeshift roadside dwellings, overcrowded buses and boats adrift on endless roads and inhospitable seas. They speak of  the empty eyes of mothers and fathers who have lost loved children, wives and husbands and, for the time being, any sense of safety, purpose and future.

These images are a testament to both the inhumanity of war and the courage of the human spirit and all give voice to an experience and grief which is beyond words. Figures 2, 3, 4 and 11, 13 and 14 are examples of the work made by refugees who have found some sanctuary in the various camps in the Middle East (the names of the artists have been withheld by the UNHCR).

Before we can find words, it helps to find an image--or to make one--that can hold the experience for us until it becomes safe enough to feel the emotions associated with it. Only when we are safe enough to feel, are wel able to think about what has happened and find a place for it in mind and memory. In the finding and creating of images an oppurtunity arises that can potentially transform an empty inhumane space into an imaginative human place in which feeling and hope of recovery might be found again, even if momentarily. Relief in such circumstances may be fleeting but a thread, however flimsy, can help humans continue to put one foot in front of the other.

Click here to read ADRIFT in its entirety.

The Poetry Portal

by Miriam Atkins

With this issue we are happy to introduce Miriam Atkins as guest  editor for The Poetry Portal. Some of you have met her already as the curator of one of our Ekphrastic poetry events at ARAS in New York.  We also want to thank Ellen Liberatori who began The Poetry Portal and the many poets who have contributed poems inspired by an image from the Archive, most recently Van Gogh's painting "Starry Night".  You can read the poems here and all of our poetry archives here. Welcome Miriam!
- Ami Ronnberg