Image and Archetype
by Thomas Singer
On a recent vacation, I found myself reading with some amazement the final chapter of Anne Morrow Lindberg’s Gift from the Sea which was first published in 1955. Although dated by Lindbergh’s reference to our being flooded by information from print rather than the internet and social media, her almost seventy year old manuscript resonates on contemporary themes with such freshness that I felt she was giving expression to what I feel and care most deeply about today. Lindbergh writes:
“The search for outward simplicity, for inner integrity, for fuller relationship—is this not a limited outlook? Of course it is, in one sense. Today, a kind of planetary point of view has burst upon mankind. The world is rumbling and erupting in ever widening circles around us. The tensions, conflicts, and sufferings even in the outermost circle touch us, reverberate in all of us. We cannot avoid these vibrations. But just how far can we implement this planetary awareness? We are asked today to feel compassionately for everyone in the world; to digest intellectually all the information spread out in public print; and to implement in action every ethical impulse aroused by our hearts and minds. The inter-relatedness of the world links us constantly with more people than our hearts can hold. Or rather—for I believe the heart is infinite—modern communication loads us with more problems than the human frame can carry. It is good, I think, for our hearts, our minds, our imaginations to be stretched; but body, nerve, endurance and life-span are not as elastic. My life cannot implement in action the demands of all the people to whom my heart responds. I cannot marry all of them, or bear them all as children, or care for them all as I would my parents in illness or old age. Our grandmothers, and even—with some scrambling—our mothers, lived in a circle small enough to let them implement in action most of the impulses of their hearts and minds. We were brought up in a tradition that has now become impossible, for we have extended our circle throughout space and time.”
Following in the footsteps of Anne Morrow Lindbergh's 'search for outward simplicity, for inner integrity, for fuller relationship', Russ Messing created this mandala as a "Gift from the Sea".
This edition of ARAS Connections certainly bears witness to how we are confronted with problems that stretch us well beyond the human limits of our ability to digest intellectually all the information and misinformation that assaults us, our ability to put into action every ethical impulse that moves us, and our ability to respond with compassion to all the human suffering that we sense around us and inside us. The symbolic image sometimes allows us to approach that which is well beyond our human limitations for understanding, for ethical action, and for compassionate embrace. In the spirit of advancing the symbolic image as carrying the possibility for our apprehending the incomprehensible and stretching the limits of our minds, hearts and souls, we follow in the footsteps of Anne Morrow Lindberg:
“Today a kind of planetary point of view has burst upon mankind. The world is rumbling and erupting in ever-widening circles around us. The tensions, conflicts and sufferings even in the outermost circle touch us all, reverberate in all of us. We cannot avoid these vibrations.”
In this edition of ARAS Connections Constance Jameson takes us on an intense, truly overwhelming tour of Jung’s blood imagery in the Black Books. It is as if Jung was called upon “in his confrontation with the unconscious” to embrace with his mind, heart, and soul more than any human being might be expected to endure, much less integrate. Tom Singer renders through symbolic imagery the multiple levels at which war stimulates and overwhelms the psyche and plunges all of us into the incomprehensible suffering and unimaginable pain that human beings can inflict on one another and endure. Craig San Roque’s video of his ground breaking Long Weekend in Alice Springs takes us to Australia to experience the dislocation and disorientation of a culture devastated by the “advances of civilization.” And, finally Jay Sherry reminds us that there was a time in Jung’s life and hopefully in all our lives when the imagery that first entered our psyche and memory might have evoked a sense of beauty rather than fragmentation. As with Russ Messing’s “mandala as a gift from the sea” we all need a safe-place to open up our imaginations to even the momentary experience of wholeness in a world that is “rumbling and erupting in ever widening circles around us”.
Blood and the Liquid “I” Carl Jung's Black Books
by Constance Hamilton Jameson
Carl Jung's The Black Books (1913–1932) are rich with thousands of images that inspired, affected and took over Jung’s psyche transporting him to a new realm of consciousness. As raw psychic creativity, The Black Books demand a different type of Auseinandersetzung or confrontation than standard text. For me the blood image --and the power of a text written in blood --has a living presence “as a transpersonal wound and womb with well-defined tension of opposites that points beyond itself to the unknown.”i Furthermore,
Contemplating the image with the awareness of opposites that constitute it creates an attitude that opens imagination…We really see the image when we see its essential polarity of which image is the transcendent function as a symbol arising to reconcile the poles.ii
Come with me on the train through Schaffhausen, on the journey that persists through The Black Books, through the horrors of war and violence and the emergence of new life everywhere. If it is shocking, let us be shocked. If it runs off the rails it may bleed onto the page.
In 1913 in Schaffhausen, images of blood, a sea turned to blood, signaled Jung’s entry into what would become his transformation and the birth of analytical psychology. These were horrific images and images that he could not ignore leading to his descent and journey recorded in The Black Books. As a sustained imaginal gaze, this paper traces the blood image throughout The Black Books: how it appears, reflects various contexts in which the image presents itself, how it connects to other images. As we follow the image of blood circulating through the bloodlines of The Black Books, we come to experience being swept into an imaginal journey that loosens the limits of perception and takes us outside of time and boundaries, flowing and changing as if the “I” were recreated in the poiesis. The image spoke through my intuition, sensation, thinking and feeling for the material.
I will begin with a discussion of poiesis and creation moving then to trace the blood image through Jung’s The Black Books. Next, I will amplify the meaning of blood; its biology; historical conception in the quaternity of humours; bloodletting; alchemy; Gnostiscism; vampirisim and blood sorcery before returning in a circulatio to the beginning. Circulating through the text are fantasy, reverie, poetry, projection and inspiration from fields of photography, sculpture, science, art and performance.
The spirit and visceral quality of The Black Books demands more than a traditional left-brain exposition. You will not find that here. This is a difficult and unusual work that contemplates an image and bleeds onto the page emphasizing for us in 2022 that no human hands are clean.
i - Notes from Sylvester Wojtkowski, The Origins of C.G. Jung’s Psychology Project: The Black Books, Parts 1 and 2, Seminars, 2021.
ii - Ibid.
Archetypal Defenses of the Group Spirit in Russia and Ukraine: The Axes of Destruction
by Thomas Singer
When confronted with the horrors of war in Ukraine or Syria or Iraq or Vietnam, we try to figure out what is happening and why it is happening. We piece together the bits and pieces of stories and images that come to us from many different sources in order to create for ourselves a coherent narrative, knowing that at best we can only get a fragmentary glimpse of partial truths. Our abilities to explain are as limited as our comprehension of the seemingly endless and massive capacity of human beings to inflict pain, suffering, and death on one another. After considering all the studied explanations that contribute to the outbreak and conduct of war, we are still left with the sense that some inexorable process has been triggered and that once the conflict is ignited, it becomes increasingly difficult to halt it until it has run its course, almost like a fever. Jung noted this when he wrote in his 1936 essay, Wotan:
Archetypes are like riverbeds which dry up when the water deserts them, but which it can find again at any time. An archetype is like an old watercourse along which the water of life has flowed for centuries, digging a deep channel for itself. The longer it has flowed in this channel the more likely it is that sooner or later the water will return to its old bed. The life of the individual as a member of society and particularly as part of the State may be regulated like a canal, but the life of nations is a great rushing river which is utterly beyond human control . . . Thus the life of nations rolls on unchecked, without guidance, unconscious of where it is going, like a rock crashing down the side of a hill, until it is stopped by an obstacle stronger than itself. Political events move from one impasse to the next, like a torrent caught in gullies, creeks and marshes. All human control comes to an end when the individual is caught up in a mass movement. Then the archetypes begin to function, as happens also in the lives of individuals when they are confronted with situations that cannot be dealt with in any of the familiar ways. (C.G. Jung, “Wotan,” Civilization in Transition, Collected Works, Vol. 10. Princeton, NJ, Princeton University Press, p. 189)
The focus of the two collages I am presenting here does not concern itself so much with the specific causes of the war in Ukraine, although specificity about who is responsible for what is always of great value when trying to understand such fundamentally incomprehensible events. Economic, geopolitical, sociological, psychological, and historical factors are all relevant and contributory. The stated causes for the war can be real, imagined, or manufactured or all three—it doesn’t seem to matter much once war breaks out. In presenting these collages my goal is to picture what happens when a war gets started for whatever reason. At the core of this process, I imagine a basic dynamic in which the fundamental unifying vision or spirit of a country, often latent in the collective psyche, is touched and threatened. In the name of this unifying and threatened spirit, impersonal and potent defenses—sometimes hugely aggressive-- are activated. This process taps into enormous collective emotion along with the willingness to make huge sacrifices, dormant in a society until its core spirit is imperiled and rallied. The suffering, violence, and destruction endured by citizens and soldiers alike is justified by participating in a shared belief and a unifying vision of the nation or the world.
Click here to read Archetypal Defenses of the Group Spirit in Russia and Ukraine: The Axes of Destruction in its entirety.
The Long Weekend in Alice Springs
by Craig San Roque and Joshua Santospirito
… a thrilling piece of narrative art - The Weekend Australian
The Long Weekend was first written for the Singer & Kimbles book The Cultural Complex, 2004.
This video of the graphic novel version captures the dreamlike feel of life inside a cultural complex.
Visual, raw and heated, Alice Springs is a town in the heart of aboriginal Australia, a place of creativity and disintegration where fractal forces of present trauma and ancient myth reincarnate and mingle like bread and wine.
Some places in the world incarnate deep histories, fierce tensions, fluid potential and good humour - the best of towns, the worst of towns.
For Australia, Alice Springs is such a place.
The Basel painting in the Jung Family Collection
by Jay Sherry
Dedicated to the memory of Lionel Gossman, author of Basel in the Age of Burckhardt, with thanks to the Foundation of the Works of C.G. Jung.
Perhaps the most significant recent development in the Jungian field has been a closer look at his development as an artist. This is in direct contradiction to his caveat that what he was producing was “nature” not “art.” The publication of the Red Book meant that the entire corpus of its pictures were now available. This was followed by The Art of C.G. Jung, which presented a range of what he had created in different media, the most eye-opening of which were his wooden sculptures. But how was his nature nurtured? What were the formative aesthetic experiences that shaped what he later called his daimon? He reminisced about the parlor in his boyhood home, the parsonage near Basel, speaking of an “old painting in that room which now hangs in my son’s house: a landscape of Basel dating from the early nineteenth century.” (Memories, Dreams, Reflections, 16)
In illustrating Jung’s artistic development, I have previously featured the following painting by Carl Gustav Carus, (Figure 1) whom Jung refers to as a forerunner of a genre immensely popular with middle-class families throughout the German-speaking world.
Jay Sherry, PhD, has taught history and psychology at Long Island University (Brooklyn). His work has appeared in a variety of psychoanalytic venues. His Carl Gustav Jung, Avant-Garde Conservative received a Gradiva Award while The Jungian Strand in Transatlantic Modernism was released in 2018.