Everything is animated

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Hillman: Somehow we've got to see that "personal relationship" is a symptom of our culture. Read what the Muslims feel, what the tribal societies feel, what we know of antique culture, of Chinese culture today: they weren't hung up on romantic love, as we are, expecting all our sexual fantasies, and other fantasies, to be fulfilled by the person we sleep with. Why are we in our Western culture of the nineties, in the therapeutic culture of the white bread world, so hung up on the significant other for fulfillment?

Ventura
: You tell me, Doc. 'Cause we're just like everybody else, you and I, full of longing to have our sexual fantasies fulfilled - or at least serviced.

Hillman
: All right, I will tell you! My obsessive sexual fantasies, and yours, come straight from Descartes. Because Descartes, the good Jesuit-trained Christian that he was, declared to Western civilization that only human persons have souls. No soul anywhere else. And, since love always seeks soul, you've got to have a "significant other," as psychology calls it.

That's why we have those images on billboards, in the movies, on the tube, of hungry mouths kissing, the divinely perfect man and divinely perfect woman with lost soft eyes and luscious washed hair, flying into each other's arms, getting it on. Notice these couples are always isolated. On an empty beach, a sailboat, a private bathtub. No other voices. Just us.

... The only solution can come when the world is re-animated, when we recognize how alive everything is, and how desirable.

Maybe that's what consumerism and advertising are really all about, unconsciously, compulsively: a way to rekindle our desire for the world.

[James Hillman]
with Michael Ventura
We've Had a Hundred Years of Psychotherapy - And the World's Getting Worse, p.177, 178, 184


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A famous Japanese anthropologist Iwata argues that among the Japanese as well as most southeast Asian people, whether the people are formally Buddhists or Christians, there exists an intuition of animism. 

Everything surrounding human life, including mountains, hills, rivers, plants, trees, animals, fish and insects, has its own spirit (kami), and these spirits communicate with one another as well as with those who live there. Apparently most Japanese are familiar with such spirits, and experience them: natural things cannot, therefore, be seen by them merely as objects, as in Western science.

We should be careful before we patronise or dismiss any element of this sophisticated culture, in which there have been high standards of education and literacy for centuries during which half our populations could barely sign their name.

[Iain McGilchrist]
The Master and his Emissary, p. 453


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Related posts:-
Soul in Things
Active Imagination

1 comment:

  1. Community is built when we sit in circles, when there are windows and the walls have signs of life [...]

    [Peter Block]
    Community, p.151

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