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Reply To: The Quest of Creative-Being Itself, with Mythologist Norland Tellez:

#74027

Again, thank you Mary. Reading your response, I am reminded why it was that Freud rejected the pseudo division between the collective and the personal unconscious: it is a rather artificial distinction. For Freud the “personal unconscious” was already populated by archetypal forces. That is why Freud had no use for Jung’s schema and saw it as muddying the waters rather than clarifying things.

Virtually, every time I take up the Jungian line, as Hillman does in his opposition to personalism, and I talk about the “objectivity” of the Art spirit—corresponding to the stated objectivity of the archetypal psyche—I always seem to get a push back from people, artists in particular, in defense of personalism, the subjective, or even the ego. And my reaction to this reaction is always to be in agreement to a certain extent while not losing the point of psychic objectivity which Philemon taught Jung: there are things and events in the psyche that I cannot attribute to myself.

So to an extent, you are absolutely right: it is a question of semantics. The thing with artists is that we use the word “personal” often as code for the archetypal and suprahuman, whereas the word “objectivity” tends to conjure up abstract images of math or some form of rigid intellectualism.

This is why I also appreciate Campbell’s application of James Joyce and the latter’s elaboration of Aristotle on the difference between “proper and improper” Art which has already been brought up. We also have to reckon with the tradition in aesthetics which even Nietzsche refers to in the fact that: “we cannot imagine the smallest genuine art work lacking objectivity and disinterested contemplation.” (The Birth of Tragedy 37). There is another word which might rub us the wrong way: “disinterested” which at first might seem preposterous to the lay understanding. How can you say that what artists are engaged in is “disinterested contemplation” when all their soul and passion is being poured into their work?

The misunderstanding is mostly due to lack of context. By “disinterested” we should rather think about being in the service of the “proper” function of Art, which is not to be “interested” in anything else (as for example, money, fame, followers, being liked by millions, etc…). All those are “extrinsic” motives, which would essentially corrupt the proper object of Art.

Similarly, the “personal” in this context should be understood as an “improper” use of Art, as when it is courting desires and exploiting sentimentality or other commercial and ideological ends. It does not mean that Art is not “personally” motivated, but that the meaning of the “personal” has been skewed and redirected in the direction of the archetypal.

Best wishes,