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Reply To: Don’t Look Up: The Doomsday Dilettante,” with mythologist Norland Téllez”

Robert Juliano

    Let us consider the admonition to “stick to the image.” It is worth noting that this advice long precedes 20th century depth psychology. For example, we see it in the writings of the medieval and early modern Latin alchemists. In his 1954 book Mysterium Coniunctionis, Jung wrote that we might interpret in modern language an alchemical recipe from the 16th century alchemist Gerhard Dorn as follows:

    Take the unconscious in one of its handiest forms, say a spontaneous fantasy, a dream, an irrational mood, an affect, or something of the kind, and operate with it. Give it your special attention, concentrate on it, and observe its alterations objectively. Spare no effort to devote yourself to this task, follow the subsequent transformations of the spontaneous fantasy attentively and carefully. Above all, don’t let anything from outside, that does not belong, get into it, for the fantasy-image has ‘everything it needs.’

    Note that Giegerich, in his paper “The Smuggling Inherent in the Logic of the “Psychology of the Unconscious” in The Flight into the Unconscious: An Analysis of C. G. Jung’s Psychology Project – Collected English Papers, Volume 5, translated the last sentence in Jung’s original German text as “Above all, don’t let anything from outside, that does not belong, get into it, for the fantasy-image has ‘everything it needs’ WITHIN ITSELF” (emphasis mine).

    It is absolutely critical that we have a living relationship to the advice “stick to the image” and that we see its truth in our own lives and in our own work. As it was Raphael Lopez-Pedraza’s advice to “stick to the image,” we must understand how this took form in his life as well as in the lives of others who have recommended it such as the alchemists, Jung, Hillman, etc. Crucially, we should likewise recommend that sometimes this advice was not always implemented. Giegerich observed that there are numerous examples where neither Jung nor Hillman stuck with the image. And we must review those examples and come to our own conclusions as to why they did not stick to the image there. It may be that there are cases where “stick to the image” is not appropriate.

    Now, I have great concerns that the discussion of the Christian myth here does not, in fact, “stick to the image.” In using an important standard stated by Giegerich regarding amplification that it involves only “an intensification of what is already there, rather than either a translation of it into other images and notions or a rather mindless amassing, by way of association, of other images that are only superficially, abstractly related,” what I see being associated here are certain interpretations of the Christian myth, associations which, in my opinion, violate Hegel’s admonition to avoid modes of “external reflection.” Associating our own beliefs with what we perceive in the movie takes us closer to our own beliefs, no? Thus, I counsel that we be exceedingly and extraordinary careful here!

    Finally, I should say that I did not experience this movie as pessimistic at all. On the contrary, I found it quite realistic and was particularly moved at the way certain of the characters soldiered on, continued to live their lives and learned from them, and worked to help each other. This is what I call affirming life and “Living into the Decline.”