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Reply To: The Child of Symbolic Disguise,” with Norland Téllez, Ph.D.”


    Hi Robert,

    Let me begin by clarifying some misconceptions about what I wrote above; I apologize for not being clear enough. It was rather late, so I couldn’t work on a much longer answer which would have softened some of my points and corners so as to better prevent misunderstanding. Although what I wrote at 4 in the morning may have been more like a stream of consciousness, the basic points that I made continue to be of relevance to our discussion.

    I did write in my mythblast:

    One of the things I love about Campbell is that rather than getting caught in partisan squabbles, he proceeds with an implicit reconciliation of Freud and Jung in his work. The conflict between psychoanalysis and analytical psychology, which is indeed a real ideological battle, seems to dissipate for Campbell in the transcendence of creative mythology. Working out of this zone of creativity, it is not so much a question of Jungian vs Freudian assumptions concerning the hero. In Campbell’s view, the point is not about a hero’s myth but about the experience of myth being the hero.

    I certainly don’t mean to get caught on a partisan squabble, but the choice between Freud and Jung is crucial to any possible synthesis of the two. Because there is no possibility of synthesis from a neutral “centrist” position, somewhere in the middle between Aψ and ψA. Although Campbell had a strong Freudian strain in his approach, even stronger than Hillman’s, he ultimately sides with Jung, as does Hillman. And we know that our alma matter is a bastion for the propagation of Jungian–Hillmanian and Campbellian ideas.

    So am I wrong in supposing that you are coming from this tradition over against Freud and Lacan?

    As we can see, this is a real ideological battle, and it concerns the recognition of where the fundamental breakthrough lies: with Freud or Jung. Historically speaking, Freud and Lacan have been far more influential on the highest circles of philosophy and critical theory. So it is generally acknowledged in academic circles that it was with Freud that the breakthrough of a new form of thinking takes place. While Jung is seen as a kind of reactionary construction, a regressive restoration of religious ideology in the face of the true traumatic ground-breaking truth opened by ψA — with its emphasis on sexuality, not as a stupid biological instinct, but as the metaphysical drive of psychic energy (libido) that governs an individual’s life.

    It really is unfortunate that we seem to have started on the wrong foot, because now that I’ve learned of your appreciation of Giegerich, that you have actually engaged his work deeply and recognized its great importance for depth psychology, I would have felt much more like I’m addressing a brother at arms. My sharp reaction to Hillmanianism, I must admit, also comes from having experienced in the flesh the intense anti-Giegerich sentiment that pervades at PGI. I wonder if that has changed?

    But even Giegerich in my view falls short of opening the door to ψA proper; I find it amazing when I hear these highly cultivated analysts repeat Jung’s outdated and misguided criticisms of Freud and actually believe them, all without grasping what Freud actually did (even more than what he said). In the same way Giegerich falls short of engaging Lacan who would have wholehearted agreed with WG’s critique of Jungianism in general and Hillmanianism in particular, having the resources to deliver the final blows to the pristine standing of Jungian ideology. Even WG’s vaunted Hegelianism lacks the rigor and critical engagement with Hegel’s work and its critical legacy for contemporary philosophy, critical theory, and of course ψA.

    As to the nature of absolute truth, the Hegelian approach is quite different than anything you’ll find in the East. This is what Giegerich was getting at in his critique of archetypalism; there are no such things as half-truths; if something is true, it is absolutely true. Thus the absoluteness of truth is a rather banal fact and not a pinnacle of wisdom. This was also Hegel’s stance, which he formulated in the maxim that “Spirit is a bone.” Absolute truth is not difficult to find, what is difficult is to find the dialectical fluid of its Notion; for truth is not the same as ideology. Remember Giegerich wrote that truth is the ultimate repressed? And this is where archetypal psychology falls short as Giegerich writes in the Soul’s Logical Life:

    “Dodging the question of truth can be seen as a defense, as an attempt to remain at a distance to the soul, to stay out of it as ruthless wilderness, and instead to restrict oneself to mere imagining things and envisioning the whole range of the pandemonium of images. To be sure, this kind of envisioning must be evaluated as a kind of peeping into the realm of “pre-existence” but only from the safe side of ego country. Psychology then joins the mainstream of our civilization heading for Cyberspace and the world of multimedia (222).

    This is where I meant by the imaginal approach blending quite well into our current “post-truth” environment where image is everything and truth and thought are nothing. The notion of “absolute truth” remains a positivistic fantasy unless we submit it to the dialectical negativity of the unconscious process as absolute-negative interiorization. As WG further explains:

    What would have been needed instead of a positive elimination of truth as such (i.e., its simple, undialectical negation) is the (of course much more difficult and subtle) alchemical corruption (i.e., the negative negation) of its old notion, which is characterized by its positivity, and ipso facto the development of a non-positive, negative notion of  truth. The problem is not that truth figures in psychology. The problem is the mindless positivistic idea we ordinarily have about truth (“scientific truth,” “dogma,” [“absolute truth”] etc.). (220)