Tom Singer

The world has witnessed the most highly charged and feverish times in recent memory. In the United States, the toll of the pandemic, increased racial tension and violence, profound cultural and political divisions, deep economic distress and the doomsday scenarios of climate change have created a “syndemic”— an aggregation of concurrent epidemics in a population with psychological and biological interactions, which exacerbate the prognosis and burden of disease. What does an organization like ARAS do in such circumstances when “the spirit of the times” seems overburdened by collective stressors which bring to the surface archetypal apocalyptic fantasies from the “The Spirit of the Depths,” including extinction anxiety around the world—the fear not just the human race is in danger, but that all life on the planet is in danger?

Our contributors for this edition of ARAS Connections represent various threads that we like to cultivate simultaneously in the hopes of fostering a dialogue between the “Spirit of the Times” and “The Spirit of the Depths”.  Jules Cashford, whose book The Moon: Symbol of Transformation is the best work of its kind, has long been mesmerized by Jan van Eyck’s Mystic Lamb. In this article she describes a remarkable transformation in the image of the Mystic Lamb brought about by the process of restoring the painting to more closely reveal the original face of the Lamb. Jules writes:

“In astonishing contrast, the new, which is to say original Lamb, with his mesmerizing eyes and steadfastly intense expression, appears to be asking us a question from the heart of the universe. ‘Who are you?’ the unflinching, yet still compassionate, gaze asks us. ‘What is the truth of you?’… What makes this Lamb so compelling is that the expression on his face is not just human; it is more than human, disclosing a sublime humanity such as we imagine belongs in the depths of the psyche.”

Perhaps there is no better time than now to be asking those questions of mankind that spring from the “Spirit of the Depths”:  “Who are you? What is the truth of you?”

Valerie Harms' contribution, “The Superhero and the Villain” connects the archetypal and contemporary in a very different way. Valerie writes:

“Originally this essay did not plan on covering the divine and/or mythical heroes, such as Zeus, Christ, Buddha, or the Hindu or Muslim pantheon. Nor those very important persons, who are guided by a moral compass to help others, such as those who work in the front lines on behalf of coronavirus patients. Nor those scientists racing to develop vaccines against diseases. These many men and women are truly the unnamed superheroes of our time.” Against this backdrop, Valerie explores the mythology of Wonder Woman, Spiderman, Katniss Everdeen from “The Hunger Games” and Frodo from Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings.

And finally, in this truly potpourri offering from ARAS Connections, Nilton Maltz stretches our imaginative, symbolic range with his challenging and totally original paper, “An Artistic Embodiment of the Transcendent Function.” Nilton’s paper is most ambitious in its goals:

“Every artist has his or her own inspiration, and Jung's Analytical Psychology has been mine. Regarding this art project, I bought a copy of the American Psychiatric Association Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition (DSM-IV), and every day I would open it at random and make a black ink blot on the page. Over time, a large collection of inkblots were generated inside the DSM book. In this paper, I am presenting some of these images as well as discussing analytical questions arising from them. I see the project as a package: the art work and the writing It could be said to reflect a coniunctio of the two. If ever art and analytical writing seemed to be opposites, or better yet a cluster, here, the visual and conceptual aspects are brought together.”

Welcome to ARAS Connections and the hope that this 2021 Spring edition is part of the beginning of new life on our planet.