Image and Archetype
by Thomas Singer, M.D.
ARAS Connections welcomes Ann W. Norton and Andreas Jung as the newest contributors of superb articles from the ongoing Art and Psyche Conferences, the most recent one taking place in Sicily, 2015. The editorial group of Linda Carter, Diane Fremont and Ami Ronnberg has created in Art and Psyche a rich forum for exploring the relationship between image, symbol and psyche. ARAS Connections is fortunate to publish articles from the Art and Psyche conferences as ARAS is constantly striving to find better ways to bridge the inner and outer worlds, to bridge the individual and the community, to bridge different cultures and their unique symbolic material. At the heart of this endeavor is the image.
At our May meetings of the National ARAS Board we pledged ourselves to search for effective ways to bring a symbolic attitude into the world through education and curriculum development. Simultaneously and with great excitement, we also pledged ourselves to expand underdeveloped areas of the archive and have initiated collaborative projects in India, Taiwan, Japan, and China. The ARAS way of developing new projects is to start small, while thinking big for the long term. For instance, it took eleven years to slowly bring to fruition The Book of Symbols which has now been translated into 6 different languages and remains a Taschen worldwide best seller. A current example of starting small with an emerging grander vision is the Pioneer Teens Project—a summer intensive and year long internship for young students to learn about the symbolic attitude. This program has become a small gem in ARAS’ efforts to reach out to the world in a creative way. We are now in the beginning stages of developing a curriculum based on the ARAS Pioneer Teens program experiment which could be used in a variety of settings.
We welcome your ideas for how we can grow ARAS in a way that is true to our unique way of approaching symbolic imagery and bringing it into the world.
by Linda Carter - for the Art and Psyche Group
In this issue, readers will find an article by Ann Norton called “Following Bronze Age Migrations” and another by Andreas Jung on the “Shield of Achilles.” Both are well researched, scholarly papers that return us to ancient times; their writing styles are accessible and invite us into ancient worlds and cultures and both offer pictures that open the visual, mythic imagination. We are most fortunate to have two such experienced writers contribute their work to our online journal.
These papers began as presentations for the third Art and Psyche Conference called “Layers and Liminality” that took place in Siracusa, Sicily in September of 2015. We are now in the midst of planning a fourth conference for March 2019 to be held at Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara. More details will follow soon!
Following Bronze-Age Migrations
by Ann W. Norton
Jung has emphasized the importance of the collective unconscious in relation to cultural and personal understanding. Study of history, expanded through archaeological finds, continues to shed more light on many elements of the past, making them meaningful in our own lives. Through modern scientific methods such as DNA, carbon 14, metal analysis and geological studies, dating can be more accurate, and a growing number of facts are found.
Added to all of this must be migrations, as humans and their cultural activities are not always static. Therefore, when people today trace their ancestry back to Africa, Ireland or Japan, this does not take into account the many moves and dislocations that went on before. Mass migrations may be triggered by war, famine, or other catastrophe. And when groups of people move, they take with them not only some aspects of their worldly goods but also religious beliefs, language, and customs. This is a study of the cause and effects of one mass migration, which began in the Bronze Age and continues its influences today.
Read Following Bronze-Age Migrations in its entirety here.
Shield of Achilles
by Andreas Jung
Plot of the Iliad
Some two thousand years ago a bard would be standing in the middle of a theatre. He would sing the best epic he knew, the famous Iliad of Homer! He would sing of the Greek army coming over to Troy to conquer the town and rescue Helena, the most beautiful woman in the world. He would sing of the rage of Achilleus, the great hero of the Greeks.
Achilleus is young, handsome and the most brilliant fighter of them all. He is born as son of a goddess, Thetis, and a mortal man. But it is predicted that either he will die in his early years as an outstanding hero or he will live a long life at home as a nobody. Being offended by the Greek commander, however, Achilleus refuses to fight. But he allows Patroklos, his closest friend, to dress in his own armour and join the battle. But there arrives Hektor, the proud leader of the Trojans – he kills Patroklos and takes the armour off.
Now Achilleus' anger turns to sheer rage – further he has no other aim than to murder Hektor for having killed his beloved friend! But how is he to do so? – He has no armour, since it all has been taken. While Achilleus is weeping on the beach in grief and anger, his mother, the goddess Thetis, arrives. And she climbs Mount Olympus to find Hephaistos, the gifted smith of the gods. She asks him to forge new armour for her son. And Hephaistos takes tin, bronze, silver and gold to shape new armour. As a masterpiece he forms a broad shield and decorates it with marvellous pictures.
In his striking new armour Achilleus enters the battlefield and conquers them all. The Trojans escape into town and close all the gates – outside remains only Hektor. Furious Achilleus hurries over and kills Hektor unforgivingly. Then he commits the most dreadful sacrilege – he drags the dead body three times around the grave of Patroklos and leaves it alone - exposed to the flies!
This breach of honour and convention enrages the Gods and they command that the outrage be stopped. Also they send a messenger to Hektor's father, the Trojan king, to lead him through the Greek camp, while all the soldiers are asleep, to the tent of Achilleus. And Hektor's father implores Achilleus, to release his dead son. Achilleus' heart melts and he returns Hektor's body to be buried back in Troy with all due honours.
Shield as Art
And the bard sings of Achilleus' tremendous Shield…
Hephaistos forges the Shield and decorates it with various pictures – you see them coming to life, since the little figures, human beings as well as animals, start to act, to move, to fight. Nine times he creates a different scene, and each has its own content, its own meaning. Hephaistos starts with the world, forms two cities and adds three pictures of agriculture or two of animal farming. Thereafter he creates a wonderful dancing scene and completes his work with an image of the Ocean.
Read Shield of Achilles in its entirety here.
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The Poetry Portal
THE SOUND THAT THE LOOKING-GLASS MAKES
by Aimee Walleston
On Sunday, January 29, 1939, Virginia Woolf wrote a diary entry detailing her experience meeting an elderly Sigmund Freud at his home in London. At this, their first and only encounter (he would die this same year), Freud presented Woolf with a single narcissus flower. In the same year, Woolf wrote an autobiographical essay titled “A Sketch of the Past,” in which she describes a feeling state that has been with her since she was a child: “the looking-glass shame.” She writes that she cannot look in the mirror and take pleasure in her own appearance, though she knows she was born to a family admired for its feminine beauty. She describes how difficult it is for her to walk into a room wearing a new dress—how self-conscious this experience makes her feel. In this essay, Woolf also describes being sexually abused as a child, and her “tomboy phase” in the years following. She contemplates an unexplained psychic condition of losing time that she calls the “cotton-wool”—a figure of speech that I believe she has designated for the lingering dissociative states many people experience, particularly those who were abused as children. In a dissociative state, individuals spontaneously “tune out” the world. During abuse, children often involuntarily dissociate to keep their sanity intact, and this becomes a way of negotiating reality after the abuse has ended. I am struck by the names Woolf gave to these sensations, and by her effort to make sense of them. I think about Freud’s potentially symbolic gift of the narcissus, a flower that directly connotes both an obsession with gazing into mirrors and an overvaluation of one’s own reflection. To me, Freud’s narcissus represents a psychological polarity to the looking-glass shame. I wonder what Freud knew, without knowing, about Woolf.
In this poem, I have taken excerpts from Woolf’s essay and her diary entry and reformed them. I wanted to peer into Woolf’s looking-glass shame from a different angle—from my own perspective. I’ve also added in my own lines, to join Woolf as a sister might.
Every day includes more non-being than being.
What would the looking-glass say, if it could speak? I’m so sorry. Not now.
Immense potential, I mean an old fire now flickering.
There is always too much of me to hate. There is never enough of me to hate.
Dr. Freud gave me a narcissus.
When I stand here I can barely look at you. I can’t think about you looking at me. I can’t look at myself.
I remember how I hoped that he would stop; how I stiffened and wriggled as his hand approached my private parts.
It opened its mouth. It was made all of petals. It did not stop.
I can’t remember the last time I could stop. A mirror that had a mind of its own and could not stop.
I feel that strong emotion must leave its trace; and it is only a question of discovering how we can get ourselves again attached to it, so that we shall be able to live our lives through from the start.
You want it all to make sense. You want to tie it up with ribbons and bows. You want it to have a beginning and an end, like a book. You want it to be all over.
At any rate, the looking-glass shame has lasted all my life, long after the tomboy phase was over.
A mirror that eats people. A mirror that eats itself. A mirror that grows up. A mirror that boys up. A screwed up shrunk very old man: with a monkeys light eyes, paralysed spasmodic movements, inarticulate: but alert.
You know. You can see it.
It doesn’t hide itself from you anymore. It wants you to see it. For now.
As a child then, my days, just as they do now, contained a large proportion of this cotton-wool, this non-being.
Where should we put the mirror? I am hardly aware of myself, but only of the sensation. Where does the mirror belong? A great part of the day is not lived consciously.
Who belongs to the mirror? Who belongs in the mirror?
I could feel ecstasies and raptures spontaneously and intensely and without any shame or the least sense of guilt, so long as they were disconnected with my own body.
Do you find my appearance pleasing? Do I please you? I remember resenting, disliking it—what is the word for so dumb and mixed a feeling?
You can do whatever you want to me. I’m not even here.
Just as I raised my fist to hit him I felt: why hurt another person? I dropped my hand instantly, and stood there, and let him beat me.
I can’t feel you anymore. I don’t care.
I remember the feeling. It was a feeling of hopeless sadness. It was as if I became aware of something terrible; and of my own powerlessness.
I don’t have to see it if I don’t want to. I don’t have to do anything.
I dreamt that I was looking in a glass when a horrible face—the face of an animal—suddenly showed over my shoulder.
Generation before the poison will be worked out. It isn’t even my face.
Bleed the mirror. Pull out all its petals.
AIMEE WALLESTON is a New York City-based essayist and editor who has contributed writing to Art in America, CR Fashion Book, T Magazine, Flash Art and The Brooklyn Rail, among many other publications. She teaches at Sotheby’s Institute of Art and the International Center of Photography.