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


Thank you Robert, your contributions are always welcome, even if we don’t see eye to eye. This is another instance where your partiality for Jung and my partiality for Freud are bound to clash—even though I am literally a visual artist, so I know all about the cultivation of living experience in the creation of images. It’s probably no accident that Jung took up painting and created the Red Book, which apparently helped him save his mind, and he also encouraged his patients to do the same. Because the experience of constructing and creating images is a little different than a purely receptive stance.

Your partiality for Hillman is also to be expected here, just as you might detect my partiality for Wolfgang Giegerich, who actually comes closer to the authentic Freudian conception of psychoanalysis via Hegel. Whereas Jung and Hillman remain in the Kantian horizon of reflected experience, Giegerich, Freud and Lacan are moving along the horizons of Hegelian dialectics and what Giegerich comes to call “absolute negative interiorization,” as I will explain below.

But I also think that the aestheticizing consciousness of archetypal psychology and its relation to myth is highly problematical, as it tends to promote, indeed, a kind of childish attitude towards images, treating them as if they were mere playthings or “acting them out.” rather than soul, it amounts to a performance of ego. And this is not a relationship that a real artist has with her images, by the way; it is more the attitude of the consumer of images rather than that of their creators. For as an artist my relationship with images goes beyond aesthetic considerations; it has already become an existential concern.

What is problematic is that the archetypal method ultimately helps to promote unconsciousness rather than the conscious integration of the reflected image; it tends to alienate me in a purely aesthetic act devoid of an interest in truth; without the intervention of thinking, it does not help me face the painful truths that we find hard to accept. Thus the abandonment of the notion of truth in archetypal psychology is indeed highly problematic and is logically consistent with our current “post-truth” environment in which the dialectical soul of the image continues to be repressed. For as long as the latent thought is left in its imaginal form, i.e., projected in its manifest content, the soul remains estranged from itself. For the relation to the image remains in a state of unconscious projection; it is structurally “out there” and thus alienated from the self, as Jung also understood.

That is why I don’t think Jung would have been fully onboard with Hillman’s project of the aesthetization of analytic psychology; for Jung, as for Campbell, the interpretation remained a vital link for the integration of projected imaginal contents. This process of opening the internal notional life of the image, brings the alienated content home to the self, re-discovering it as my own way of thinking being. As Giegerich describes this process of integrative self re-flection:

In the exploration of outer space, docking on another spacecraft or landing on a new planet would mean having left this Earth. In the inverted world of the soul this is different. Catching up with what has been projected far out into space or into the future does not imply a journey to it at all. It implies conversely that the intuited reality affects you while you are staying right here; that it “dawns” on you, “comes home” to you, reconstitutes your own mind. My catching up with it means its imperceptibly catching up with me, but as if from behind or from within myself. It means my being contaminated with or infected by it. This is what is meant by “absolute-negative interiorization” being reached and moved by it (like by an object loved), in contrast to a being physically pushed or pulled or manipulated. It is like being overcome by an insight. There is absolutely no violence in this being moved or overwhelmed by what is catching up with consciousness, nor in the subject’s catching up with it: my intently, but passively looking and looking at the projected image is its coming home to me and surprising me one day from within as my own way of thinking. (The Soul’s Logical Life 147)