Stay with the Image

Known                        -                    Unknown
Conscious                   -                    Unconscious
Manifest                      -                    Latent

[...] the point is that consciousness floats; a psychic fluidum, as Mesmer might have called it, wrapping around and all through the analytical session.

It doesn't belong to either party.

Sometimes the patient has an insight, and another moment the analyst is conscious by simply being reticent, and another moment the consciousness is really in the image.

For instance, a black snake comes in a dream, a great big black snake, and you can spend a whole hour with this black snake talking about the devouring mother, talking about the anxiety, talking about the repressed sexuality, talking about natural mind, all those interpretive moves that people make, and what is left, what is vitally important, is what that snake is doing, this crawling huge black snake walking into your life [...]

[...] and the moment you've defined the snake, interpreted it, you've lost the snake, you've stopped it, and then the person leaves the hour with a concept about my repressed sexuality or my cold black passions or my mother or whatever it is, and you've lost the snake.

The task of analysis is to keep the snake there, the black snake, and there are various ways for keeping the black snake [...] see, the black snake's no longer necessary the moment it's been interpreted, and you don't need your dreams any more because they've been interpreted.

But I think you need them all the time, you need that very image you had during the night.

For example, a policeman, chasing you down the street [...] you need that image, because that image keeps you in imaginative possibility [...] if you say, "Oh, my guilt complex is loose again and is chasing me down the street," it's a different feeling, because you've taken up the unknown policeman into your ego system of what you know, your guilt.

You've absorbed the unknown into the known (made the unconscious conscious) and nothing, absolutely nothing has happened, nothing.

You're really safe from that policeman, and you can go to sleep again.

[James Hillman]
A Blue Fire, p.74

The content of the symbol is not easily replaceable by content one already knows. Its manifestation is its most appropriate expression. There is no way to replace it.

[Jung] disliked for anyone to forget this point and just interpret dreams according to ready-made theories or known ideas. His warning, "Do anything you like, only don't try to understand [dreams]," reflects his attitude well.

[...] we would appreciate the importance of both understanding a dream and nonunderstanding a dream.

Or we might spend our entire effort on interpretation, while also remembering nevertheless that that is not the primary importance of the dream.

Amplification [...] is an effective method. Similarly, using the contents of amplification also has two directions, understanding and nonunderstanding. We cannot forget that both are important.

[...[ by the amplification of nonunderstanding, we open ourselves to discovery.

[Hayao Kawai]
Buddhism and the Art of Psychotherapy, p.134-5


Elaboration and clarification of a dream-image by means of directed association and of parallels from the humane sciences (symbology, mythology, mysticism, folklore, history of religion, ethnology, etc.)

Since the unconscious, as the result of its spatio-temporal relativity, possesses better sources of information than the conscious mind - which has only sense perceptions available to it - we are dependent for our myth of life after death upon the meagre hints of dreams and similar spontaneous revelations from the unconscious.

As I have already said, we cannot attribute to these allusions the value of knowledge, let alone proof. They can, however, serve as suitable bases for mythic amplifications; they give the probing intellect the raw material which is indispensable for its vitality.

Cut off the intermediary world of mythic imagination, and the mind falls prey to doctrinaire rigidities. On the other hand, too much traffic with these germs of myth is dangerous for weak and suggestible minds, for they are led to mistake vague intimations for substantial knowledge, and to hypostatise mere phantasms.

[C.G. Jung]
Memories, Dreams, Reflections, p.348, 411

He had told Richard that his Hopi friend was involved in a very vast and complicated struggle that was taking place on many levels. The old man's cancer was only a small part of this whole struggle, and he explained that things like this needed to be seen in a wider context.

It is always necessary to be aware of and consider the entire situation. 

It is always necessary to be cognizant of what the spirit wants.

It is a mistake to think that the only way to help a sick man is to take away the illness.

[Doug Boyd]
Rolling Thunder, p.202

[...] the label gives the viewer [...] too much, it pacifies him too soon.

To see a poem or a picture as fulfilling a category is to reach a premature sense of it. Naming or labelling is important because it is the most effective means of making something familiar, and familiarity is necessary if the arts are to be managed.

The snag is that the familiarity comes too soon, the label imposes local clarity by ridding the work of its mystery and releasing the viwer from his hesitation. But it's hard to make this point without giving the impression that I want people to remain hesitant or insecure forever.

I want them to postpone their security.

Most cultural forces are working towards making the arts comfortably familiar. The problem is how to break off the impression of familiarity in time to let the force of the artistic vision come through.

[Denis Donoghue]
The Arts Without Mystery, p. 77

A lot of hostility against art is based on people's misapprehension that they're supposed to be understanding it, and failing to.

Actually, this failure is a sort of success, because it leads us away from habit, from repetition, from recognition.

'Derstand, understand, un-understand'

My idea about ideas [...] is that we burn them up too quickly. We get rid of them by immediately putting them into practice. We only know one thing to do with an idea: apply it; convert it into something usable. And it dies right there in the conversion. It loses its generative power.

This sterilizing of ideas happens often when I give a talk. Someone in the audience asks, "How does that work?" "Can you give an example?" These are questions from what's classically called the Practical Intellect, whereas my talk was ideational, another aspect of reason altogether.

Explain means to lay out flat [...] when a speaker puts out an idea and then answers a question about how it works, he or she is depriving the listener of the full impact of the idea and where it might carry the listener if pondered. My answer tends to channel the thought only in one direction, generally my direction.

Again, it's that latent child in the head who believes himself, herself, unknowing (innocent), who asks questions and expects someone else to carry the work of thinking.

[...] we don't have places for entertaining ideas. And that is precisely what we're supposed to do with an idea: entertain it. This means having respect for ideas in themselves: letting them come and go without demanding too much from them at first [...]

That word "entertain" means to hold in between. What you do with an idea is hold it between - between your two hands. On the one hand, acting or applying it in the world and on the other hand, forgetting it, judging it, ignoring it, etc. So when these crazy things come in come in on you unannounced the best you can do for them is to think them, holding them, turning them over, wondering awhile.

Not rushing into practice. Not rushing into associations. This reminds of that: this is just like that. Off we go, away from the strange idea to things we already know. 

Not judging. Rather than judging them as good and bad, true or false, we might first spend a little time with them [...] Putting the idea in practice stops the play of ideas, the entertainment from going on.

[Ideas] give you eyes, new ways of seeing things. Ideas are already operating in our perspectives, the way we look at things. We take our usual ideas for granted, and so, ideas have us rather then we have them.

For ideas to be therapeutic, that is, beneficial to the soul and body politic, they must gather into themselves, garnering force, building strength, like great movers of the mind's furniture, so that the space we inhabit is rearranged. Your thoughts, feelings, perceptions, memories have to move around in new ways, because the furniture has been moved.

Viable ideas have their own innate heat, their own vitality. They are living things too. But first they have to move your furniture, else it is the same old you, with your same old habits trying to apply a new idea in the same old way. Then nothing happens except the loss of the idea as "impractical" because of your haste to make it "practical"

A long-lasting idea, like a good poem or a strong character in a movie or a novel, continues to affect your practical life without ever having been put there. Ideas that live, live in us and through us into the world.

[James Hillman]
We've Had a Hundred Years of Psychotherapy - And the World's Getting Worse, p.142, 143, 144, 145, 146

[My artworks are] numbered for a reason. They’re numbered because you should have your experience.

Why should you be bogged down with my titles and how I thought about it and my poetic reasoning? No, that’s not necessary. Either you’re going to be drawn into it [or not]. It’s a black hole; gravity should pull you in and you should have that experience. Why should I actually infringe and dictate? It’s ridiculous.

I learn more from people who have lived with the works. … They go out, people get to live with them, security guards get to stand around them in museums, and they know more in the end about that whole experience, and they tell me things. I listen and I hear and it’s like, “Wow, I hadn’t thought of that.” It’s beautiful.

But if I were shut off, and said, “This is what it’s supposed to be about, this is how are you supposed to think about it,” that’s stupid as hell. Why would I want to get in the way of that?

In a way, I’m also being educated. It should be not only a synergy, but a complicity between the viewer and the artist, and so I’m wide open to that.

[Leonardo Drew]
'Leonardo Drew and The Mother'

[...] what deconstruction finds at work in Mallarmé's text is the very reverse of a rich multiplicity of sense attaching to certain privileged 'themes'.

It is the effect of an endless displacement of meaning, one that constantly baffles and frustrates the desire for some assurance of thematic unity or grasp.

A phenomenological reading would assimilate these words to a complex of themes which could then be traced back - at the end of many fascinating detours and delays - to some ultimate source of interpretative unity and truth.

But this is to ignore the problems that arise as soon as one follows out the intricate logic that relates each of these terms in a series of endlessly self-effacing gestures.

[...] It is only by a certain conceptual strategy - a move to repress or contain these effects - that writing can be held within the limits laid down by any kind of thematic or phenomenological approach.

[Christopher Norris]
Derrida, p. 59, 60

Goethe, whose scientific writings are fascinating and too little known today, warned against the tendency immediately to reduce observation to conception, thus losing the power of the object in all its newness to help us break out of the otherwise unbreachable defences of our conceptual systems.

He wrote that the student of nature ‘should form to himself a method in accordance with observation, but he should be careful not to reduce observation to a mere concept, to substitute words for this concept, and to proceed to treat these words as if they were objects’.

In general language is the route by which this conceptualisation occurs: ‘how difficult it is to refrain from replacing the thing with its sign; to keep the object (Wesen) alive before us instead of killing it with the word.’

[Iain McGilchrist]
The Master and his Emissary, p. 373

"In astonishment we restrain ourselves"

We step back, as it were, from being, from the fact that it is as it is and not otherwise. And astonishment is not used up in this retreat from the Being of being but it is simultaneously drawn to and, as it were, held fast by that from which it retreats. Thus, astonishment is a disposition [...] in which and for which the Being of being unfolds.

For Descartes, truth is determined and validated by certainty. Certainty, in turn, is located in the ego. The self becomes the hub of reality and relates to the world outside itself in an exploratory, necessarily exploitative, way. As knower and user, the ego is predator.

For Heidegger, on the contrary, the human person and self-consciousness are not the center, the assessors of existence. Man is only a privileged listener and respondent to existence. The vital relation to otherness is not, as for Cartesian and positivist rationalism, one of "grasping" and pragmatic use, it is a relation of audition. We are trying "to listen to the voice of Being." It is, or ought to be, a relation of extreme responsibility, custodianship, answerability to and for.

Of this answerability, the thinker and the poet, der Denker und der Dichter, are at once the carriers and trustees. This is because it is in their oneness to language (to the logos), in their capacity to be spoken rather than to speak that the truth, or can we say with Wordsworth and Hölderlin "the music of being," most urgently class for and summons up response.

[George Steiner]
Heidegger, p. 31-2

Definition states what something is and where it is separated from what it is not. Definition excludes by cutting out what does not belong. 

As much of the soul is ambiguous and as knowledge about it is still incomplete, and may always be, sharp definitions are premature. 

The major problems which one brings to an analysis are the major problems of every soul: love, family, work, money, emotion, death; and the defining knife may rather maim these issues than free them from their surrounds. 

Definitions are anyway more appropriate to logic and natural science, where strict conventions about words must be followed and where definitions serve closed systems of operations. The psyche is not a closed system in the same way. 

Definition settles unease by nailing things down. But the psyche may be better served by amplification, because it pries things loose from their habitual rigid frames in knowledge. Amplification confronts the mind with paradoxes and tensions; it reveals complexities. This gets us closer to psychological truth, which always has a paradoxical aspect called the unconscious. 

The method of amplification is rather like the methods of the humanities and the arts. By revolving around the matter under surveillance, one amplifies a problem exhaustively. This activity is like a prolonged meditation, or variations on a theme of music, or the patterns of dance or brush-strokes […] This permits levels of meaning in any problem to reveal themselves, and it corresponds to the way the soul itself presents its demands by its iterative returning to basic complexes to elaborate a new variation and urge consciousness on.

[James Hillman]
Suicide and the Soul, p. 147-8

The romantic theoretician – it is, of course, imprecise to speak of theory or thought in this context — lets the image do its own thinking.

Abandoning himself to permutational or antithetical play with the ideas of others, he inflates linguistic designations of these ideas to an ambiguity rich in allusions.

Thus there are no romantic ideas, but only romanticized ideas.

[Carl Schmitt]
Political Romanticism, p. 144

That they lie outside of human control - unwitnessable - gives dreams much potency: They remain open to enormous interpretive possibilities, while individuals need not commit themselves to a particular meaning. Social construction can take place around them without attributing creativity to individuals.

[Fred R. Myers]
Pintupi Country, Pintupi Self, p.52