Although this book is about the contents of consciousness and not a philosophizing of mind or of consciousness itself, it's difficult not to regard th...moreAlthough this book is about the contents of consciousness and not a philosophizing of mind or of consciousness itself, it's difficult not to regard the work as a brilliant illustration of the mind: that thing arising from single-celled-organisms to exist in a transcendental "Self", or in such supraordinated abstractions as "God is a circle whose centre is everywhere and circumference nowhere".
Jung sets the limits through Kantian metaphysical epistemology, and surprisingly (or ironically) the notion of archetypes follows from earlier thinkers and from (amongst others) Levy-Bruhl's "representations collectives". Jung sees the archetypal patterns of perception as a partner to the human being's embedded biological instincts (perhaps an interesting anticipation of the potential of the human genome, or the contemporary panpsychism response to the "hard problem" of consciousness).
From the biological and metaphysical architectonics we are given "the unconscious" concept as the individual's point of access. It seems that making the case for the unconscious is an almost absurd task, a self-flagellating paradox (the non-conscious aspect of consciousness?). It can be argued that a sleeping dream-state is no proof that there is a separate phenomena within the mind that behaves independently, or intrudes upon conscious waking states, or perhaps is itself influenced by the waking-state. The unconscious could be no more than arbitrary background noise (as meaningful as a heartbeat), which only becomes relevant when the conscious mind thinks it so. But, if (for example) dream recall is actually a primitive shrew-brained boot-up ritual performed intensely in the blink-of-an-eye upon waking; that vision of irrationality (dream content) points to an unmoderated/unintentional event, and therefore subject to a virtualising global self. If this thought is even too much for the radical skeptic then entertaining the unconscious as a delusion is the only option to engagement.
Contrary to Freud, Jung avoids the trap of staining the content of the unconscious with the hue of authorial peccadillo. He (Jung) succeeds in soliciting a language of perception by appropriating universal images (archetypal representations), and curiously the more fantastical the examples, the more it seems to penetrate psychic reality. The archetypal image patterns are easily misunderstood as prescriptive thresholds rather than as descriptions of possibilities. The archetypal-image arrives from the chthonic source of the archetype itself, and identifies itself through the individual (or group) spontaneously and is not a thing to be coveted, or constructed in the ego. (Conversely, Jung suggests suppression of an archetypal image empowers it, to the point where it can overwhelm the ego, splitting consciousness, and creating a psychosis).
"Active imagination" is Jung's process for the individual to discover the dynamic image and the methods necessary for assimilating the meaning and the relationship between conscious and unconscious. It seems that this differs from mere fantasy, or day-dreaming, by a degree of relational/unconscious authenticity. A fantasy may be an ego fulfillment, while 'active imagination' requires the ego as a collared observer, or as a quiet point of enquiry, an agent of dialogue. Perhaps the seemingly polarized nature of the process, the question of whom is influencing whom, is the first stage to comprehending the engagement. Beyond this ego-barrier, Jung sees the psyche as a purposeful phenomena, a thing seeking unity in itself.
The chapter "A study in the process of individuation" presents the experience of a woman in analysis with Jung undergoing this process by her production of painted images. We encounter her first visual expression as a woman encased from the waist down in a rocky landscape [*], and over a course of several years we see the figurative image develop into a mandala. Jung seems particularly interested in the mandala as a mapped form of a unifying psychic transformation. Like an archetypal manifestation, the mandala is noted as appearing spontaneously across cultures.
Jung often refers to the "Axiom of Maria" of alchemical philosophy as a similar tenet of psychic transformation. Without reference to the content of the personal unconscious the axiom can appear non-sensical, but the "One becomes two, two becomes three, and out of the third comes the one as the fourth." seems to suggest an algorithmic cycle to psychological completeness... One: The undifferentiated state, or the myopic ego singularity becomes differentiated into the two of the conscious/unconscious pair. The two becomes three, or transformed in the transcendental function (the phenomena that bridges the conscious and unconscious. This may be the appearance of sychronistic event, a dream, an intuition, the thought from a therapist.). Then, "Out of the third comes the one..." unity, an differentiated state of wholeness "...as the fourth" - a spiritual/spatial/temporal experience that reveals a situation in its entirety. In the sense of Jung's personality typology, and in configurations of the mandala, the fourth and unified "one" is a unification of the four functions (sensing, intuition, thinking, feeling), and thus a situation perceived from four points of view, with no point unconscious.
The nature of the archetypes would suggest that a manifestation of the axiom takes as many forms as is conceivable (e.g. a three legged flying horse on a rescue mission etc), and is contingent upon each person's psyche; with the endgame being the affect on conscious experience. Jung's arcane references and sometimes sketchy examples describe a complex knowledge-base, and comprehension often requires ridiculous feats of imagination. But his ideas are powerful and the experience - if not wholly subscribed to - still produces a profound sense of inner fecundity.
The burden is the final issue - if one is looking for affective one-ness with self, other and the world, then why choose a psychology of content, while an empty mind and non-attachment could produce the same result? - The answer for Jung seems to be a matter of adopting the right context.
A tight group of early twentieth century socialites spend a day visiting the 'Locus Solus' villa and the surrounding park belonging to the great scien...moreA tight group of early twentieth century socialites spend a day visiting the 'Locus Solus' villa and the surrounding park belonging to the great scientist Martial Canterel. Within the grounds are scientific, theatrical and philanthropic spectacles created and demonstrated by the scientist, and described by the narrator. The reports on the events are incredibly dry and may be tedious unless the reader enjoys the merits of manipulating incredulous materials or conceiving the co-ordinates of theatrical sets, and their relationship to each other. Until chapter six I believed this could become charming as each report was followed with sublime passages that revealed the context of each episode. I accepted the author's needs to experiment and liberate the novel and perhaps investigate the influence of cinema on art, but it eventually seemed pointless, and an act of egotism, then sadism. I felt at war. I pitied Roussel's naivete... I live in a new fast age of compulsory education, RAM and smart plastics, and this present world is natural and consequently my doubt - effortless. Whatever. The book is a premium account of weirdness, horror and beauty... and fantastically presented for 65.9% of the time.(less)
Apart from the illusive context switches... the six characters' interpersonal dynamics were particularly entertaining. Each life begins with a single...moreApart from the illusive context switches... the six characters' interpersonal dynamics were particularly entertaining. Each life begins with a single emotional position, and proceeds to a complex familial chamber of negative support - which occasionally points to a dim possibility of resolution. But a solution to their predicament is probably not the point - the joy of the play being in the circular performance, and it being about the slew of identity.(less)
Liberating while directly encouraging philosophical change, a reevaluation of the idea of goodness as truth, and his stray into the language of psycho...moreLiberating while directly encouraging philosophical change, a reevaluation of the idea of goodness as truth, and his stray into the language of psycho-dynamics. The future-telling and stereo-typing of peoples and genders read like a right-wing conservative comment board and was subsequently an attention killer (the credibility of his thoughts on masters and slaves was entirely dependant on my knowledge of Beckett plays). The criticism of religion seemed arcane and defunct; possibly a symptom of the effectiveness of his work on the 20th century, and my secularity (however, the idea that the souls of Europe have been weakening for hundreds of years because of the influence of Christian piety was interesting). Some sublime spiritual prose, with surprisingly affective thoughts on music, particularly Wagner. The garden party in the closing Epode was a nice touch.(less)
Death on Credit; the bleakest of black humour about people destroying themselves by their insistence on nurturing/caring for those - in this case the...moreDeath on Credit; the bleakest of black humour about people destroying themselves by their insistence on nurturing/caring for those - in this case the protagonist Ferdinand Bardamu - who do not want it. Celine makes a pustulant farce of altruism, and an ultimately wearisome view of the human arc. (less)