This special edition of ARAS Connections was born out of the recent San Francisco C.G. Jung Institute conference on Presidential Politics. As I was listening to the exceptional papers during the day and a half long conference, our fifth in this series of Election Conferences, I became aware of the fact that each of the presenters was using images in an unusually sensitive and evocative way that touched on what we at ARAS like to think of as the “symbolic imagination.” None of the presenters had been encouraged to use images to bring their talks to life; it was as if the material itself demanded the inclusion of symbolic imagery to enrich and amplify the word. In fact, often the image became primary and the word was used to give context to the image. As I became more and more aware of this as the conference proceeded, it occurred to me that this was perfect material for ARAS and for a special edition of ARAS Connections. ARAS is not just about the ancient, historic unfolding of symbolic imagery; it is also about the spontaneous emergence of symbolic imagery in contemporary life and that is a particular emphasis of our quarterly ARAS Connections.
ARAS is about the interface of word, image and meaning. We have all been challenged by the 2016 American Presidential election, struggling to understand what strange forces are at work in the collective psyche to produce such an unpredictable, disturbing, and even terrifying election year. What I like best about the papers we have collected in this special edition is that they have “legs”—the papers are both timely but also explore issues that have been and are going to be with us for some time. The papers are truly reflections in the sense of trying to get beneath the surface of rapidly unfolding day to day events in a wild election year and reflect back to us what is going on in the personal, cultural, and collective unconscious. These papers probe the psychology of our current times; they challenge us to think about and feel the meaning of what we have all been witnessing with obsessive fascination, disbelief, horror, boredom and almost daily prayers for this nightmare to end.