Hell in a basket

Hillman: My friends talk about decency. Isn't it extraordinary how the world goes on working with decency, in spite of it all? Somebody falls, somebody tries to help them. There's just an immense reservoir of human decency around. It's a great power in the world, for keeping thing going, in spite of all the corruption.

Therefore we can't predict, we can't say the world is going to hell in a basket, it's too easy. You run the risk of being caught in an archetypal fantasy.

Ventura: That's the danger I always run into.

Hillman: Any one of the archetypal fantasies, whether it's "the world is getting better" or "the world is going to hell in a basket" - these are myths that seize us and are comforting, because any single one you get into is comforting.

Ventura: Whoa, how is "it's all going to hell in a basket" comforting?

Hillman: If your nature is dark, you may find the darker fantasy comforting. Another friend of mine's fantasy that comforts him is that everything is senseless and all our systems are attempts to make sense of what is essentially senseless. Therefore you're always in a valley, you can never get out of the valley, no matter which system you set up. I find that a despairing notion, but for him it's a mythological fantasy that gives comfort and safety.

And when you say to him, "Look, you're just hiding in that one," he says, "No, don't you see how despairing it is, there's no safety?" But he's safe inside a fantasy of no safety.

Ventura: If you say it's all beyond prediction or control - that in fact your fantasies don't fulfill themselves in the long run, they contradict themselves in the long run - then you can't control it with your systems, because life is beyond what we can think about it. Life is going to fool us all.

Hillman: Life is beyond what you can think about it. We need, nonetheless, to think about it.

Ventura: We have to, because that's how human beings are made.

Hillman: That's part of life, to think about it.

[James Hillman]
with Michael Ventura
We've Had a Hundred Years of Psychotherapy - And the World's Getting Worse, p.233, 234

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