5/3/2013 0 Comments
Working with Images
The context of this article relate to images, the Abbild, I use the German because the English "image" almost always evokes the idea of picture. So from a psychological standpoint any dream or visual image in one's mind while engaging life or others, is an Abbild, a representation of what goes on always beneath the surface of consciousness.
That being said, my experience is that it is a sad fact that this rich under-surface of Abbild / representations / images / etc. which we all have goes largely unappreciated. The most regular forms of it, of course, are the dreams we have each night. I say "each night" because the "problem" is that for most Westerners the dream is forgotten almost as quickly as it comes in the morning. So to "capture" the dream requires an intentionality -- the desire and determination to write it down, for without this these Abbild of the "underneath" of life go unheeded.
Now back to my statements (which, BTW, occurred in order):
1. Isn't it a wonderful grace that each problem in life, symptom, tension, restlessness, aimlessness, is at the the same time an evocazione?
So this morning, I was struck by what a wonderful thing it is that we, as human beings, have the possibility to "listen," what some have called in-hearing, or to "see," what some have called in-sighting or seeing through to these Abbild.
And furthermore, as one, who "takes care", in the sense of therapeia of many who suffer greatly in life, I do feel it as "grace" in the sense of "unmerited favor" that the "problem(s)in life, symptom, tension, restlessness, [and the] aimlessness" that many who come to me might feel are at the same time Abbild. So for me, every one of these "so-called" problems are evocations -- a calling out from the depths. And it goes without saying that as a physician and therapist, I feel these as helpful, perhaps essential for the suffering souls that "grace" has brought to my door.
2. A possibility to "find" the image, perhaps in a dream or expressed in the plasticità of the arts or in movements made by the hands or feet.
Here, I was reaching out to the suffering souls to perhaps "believe" (not sure that's the right word) that the Abbild is there all the time. The challenge is to find it, among all the noise of life, to get quiet to listen, to see. And then my thoughts shifted to all the wonderful ways in which these images come. To me, they came first in dreams. I began to have a series of complex and impenetrable dreams in my late 30's. Inside myself, I knew they were significant, but didn't know how to approach them. Here I was a neurologist and psychopharmacologist, a lapsed Freudian (never did completely track with Freud as a young psychiatrist-in-training nor did I do a Freudian analysis), who despite years of training didn't know how to work with my own dreams. So I grappled in the dark for many years.
Yet through my experience, and then from my experience in medical / psychological practice, first a Jungian-oriented practitioner and then as an Jungian Analyst (after I finished my training in Switzerland) I slowly became aware that these images came to people in many different ways. This is what I meant in my words "plasticità of the arts or in movements made by the hands or feet."
Plasticità is Italian and roughly translated "plasticity or suppleness." In Italian, nouns have gender and plasticità is a feminine noun. However, in America, we only have the word "plastic" which, at least to me, feels cold, hard, mechanical -- the manufacturing plastic products for the masses. While this, in itself, is neither good nor bad, the Western association to it, in my opinion, is somewhat fixed. One could say that "plastic" is "hard" and plasticità is "soft" -- of course, this is an oversimplification, but somewhat touches on my point here. So another way to express the living Abbild is to to draw, to sculpt, to create and express an artistic plasticità.
Any finally, my last statement, "in movements made by the hands or feet." This is perhaps a reaction to the persistent Western focus upon achievement. What I mean is that in America we tend to make everything a project or a goal or something we must get proficient in. And my experience is that this is so even in creative activity, such as in the arts (as mentioned in the above paragraph) regardless of whether one regards themselves an artist or more often, one who "plays" with art for fun or because they feel it inside themselves and express it on the canvas or the form that holds that expression. So, this statement appeals to the possibility to regard movements of all kinds, such as gardening (e.g., as something down with the hands) and walking (e.g. as something done with the feet) as creative expressions. And sometimes these Abbild are ones not expressed in dreams or not remembered from the dreams, or perhaps not understood from the dreams.
Anyway this is a very involved topic that I could write pages on.
3. The image or dream, a risonare, a "once again," a shout, a whisper, a sense upon the skin, can you hear it? Can you feel it?
Here, I was playing with the language, particularly our English words that begin with "re-" such as: re-verbation, re-sound, re-play (I add the hypen to help you see the "re-" in each one). By this I mean the "calling" back of an echo, that is the concrete expression of hearing a sound once again. So, this use of the Italian risonare, a verb that captures (at least I suppose it captures for Italians, all that I explained: the reverbation, the echo, the effort to replay a tape, a record, an MP3 file) is my feeble way to express something new, "can you risonare for a moment ... to the Abbild that lay within yourself? These are the "words, sound, voices" within a dream and the physical feelings, both in dreams and our dayworld, that are part and parcel of all emotions. I do understand that this is the difficult thing to accept for the more rationally-thinking-oriented people.
First a word of explanation, as a Jungian, I accept his distinction between feelings and emotions that a feeling is a value (at least that's how it is expressed as a concept, by the thinkers) and a tapestry / texture / mélange (French for a kalidescope of colors and shapes, which from a more Germanic conceptual framework are a mixture often of incongruous elements). The latter perhaps captures a bit what the feelers might experience of what the thinkers call "feeling values". I find that very few people can grasp the perception of a feeler's feelings, yet we must try. The mélange for the visual and the tapestry for its quality of inter-weaving and completeness. All terribly inadequate metaphors.
So this lame "can you hear it? Can you feel it?" is my way of caring for the suffering, the thinkers and the feelers, who may experience "emotion" in the bodily (the rapid heart beat, the sweating, the skin reaction, the difficulty breathing). These experiences are Abbild too and to allow this frame gives one imaginal possibilities that may help.
4. Can you allow in the “festina lentamente”? The lentaggine of Petrarch’s re-spect, or ispirare rispetto, a looking back? or a looking ahead?
This is my last statement and feels like the end of a flow of ideas and Abbild. I love the Latin statement "festina lente" -- the paradox of "hastening slowly". What a metaphor? So beautiful, so poignant, yet so true, at least in Western life. And here I was playing with that antiquated Latin phrase. So it felt right to allow the "lente" the verb to change into another word. First, to the Italian "lentamente" which is an adverb meaning "slowly," but then this continued to evolve, "wanting to be a noun" (now I do know that this experience may sound strange, a word evolving or moving. But this is what happens inside when one allows the Abbild some room to move on their own. One cannot pick where they go.). So that is the origin of the lentaggine, the Italian feminine noun, meaning "slow-ness", like, I imagine, the lentaggine of a turtle (Please, my Italian friends chime in here to express how you might use the word).
So my experience continues, and here it becomes girded in history, in Petrarch, Francesco Petrarch (July 20, 1304 – July 19, 1374), an Italian scholar and poet. So to look back with respect, the "rispetto" of Petrarch, means to be in awe of what we see from the inside. This is the wonderful reverence of being a human being, of being alive to experience the richness of the inner life and that this inner life is the religious life, the holy and wholly present life.
Jung's "Psychological Interpretation of Children's Dreams" was delivered as a course at the Eidgenossische Technische Hochschule in Zurich, Switzerland in 1938-39. [Read an Excerpt on our website.]
"The dream is, as you know, a natural phenomenon. It arises from no conscious effort. It cannot be explained by a psychology which is based on consciousness only. It ... is quite independent of the will or desire, or of the intentions of aims of the human ego. It is an unintentional happening, like all the events in nature. ... The difficulty lies in understanding this natural phenomenon" (p. 2).
RIW: What does Jung mean when he calls a dream a "natural phenomenon"? A dream may be considered like other bodily functions, perhaps even as the "output" of one of its "organs." For just as the heart, being the "pump" of the circulatory system, has its output of blood, an "output" of the seele [Ger. for soul or mind] is the dream. I hold that underneath conscious activity, the dream (or what Hillman calls "imagining") continuously occurs. When the tension of consciousness reduces, as during normal sleep or in pathology (e.g. Alzheimer's) or injury (coma or altered consciousness from toxins or injury) can one become aware of the activity of these visual images. It is during REM sleep with its associated brain wave activity that we become the dream state occurs. When we awaken, the ego, which never completely fades from functioning, even in sleep, is able to remember the autonomously produced imaginal activity from sleep. Dreams being ubiquitous to humankind clearly must relate to a natural functioning of the body. Beside the metabolic necessity of dreams, they have something to do with the imaginal matrix from which consciousness arises, the visual language that precedes auditory language. Jungian analysts hold that dreams reveal the creative and emotive forces that drive behavior as well as showing the counterpoint (i.e. compensation and complementary contents) of consciousness in symbolic form.
"Whatever we have to say about [dreams] must be acknowledged as our own interpretation. ... We are confronted by the difficult task of translating natural processes into psychical language. ... Whatever meaning one ascribes to [dream] events, [it] must always remain a human assumption, and nevertheless, [one should] attempt to comprehend the underlying primary facts. One is never absolutely certain whether one is reaching this goal, but the uncertainty is partially overcome [as one] ... observes ... [the dream] offers an intelligent solution" (p. 2).
RIW: Underlying Jung's words are his practice to first allow oneself to be moved by the imagery of our dreams. To "feel" a dream first gives back to its contents some of the original intensity they possessed while unconscious. One then amplifies the dream's motifs using both personal associations and parallel material from humankind's common experience. Lastly, comes interpretation, our own sense of what the dream means to us. An intelligent and sound scientific approach to the dream uses hypothesis, meaning that one's idea of a dream's meaning should always be kept flexible, waiting for the next alternative way of understanding it. This is the healthy "modicum of doubt" that Jung always taught his students to hold.
“My way of working is to take something already in place and twisting it, turning it, give it your own turn. They say about Bach, “He left no form as he found it,” and what I want to do with Jung or with Freud is to leave no form as I found it. Therefore, people say I’m twisting Jung – I think that the spirit in Jung’s work gets another shape each time you pick it up, and different people pick it up differently. I picked it up my way. Some have never put their own hands on it, really … they have played it back like a gramophone. Without Jung I would not have been able to think any of the things I thought. Pupils make a founder. Pupils take you literally and turn you into a founder. They take your thought and write theses about it, explanations, interpretations, and they want to practice it according to rules; they read what you said and they say, “That is what he said and I am going to do it that way”; and they stop twisting it!”
(Hillman, J.H. (1983). Inter Views, Spring Publications (Woodstock): p. 27.
On first reflection, by “twist” Hillman means to alter the psychological meanings in his own personal way. Yet his twists also seek to avoid becoming literal about Jungian psychology so as to pull something out of a concept or turn it by either isolating or fastening down some aspect, which adds to the original meaning a nuance or variation.
To attempt to “twist” a meaning gives it a non-linear or non-directional push, so that the process sets something in motion, but the caveat is to avoid the ego desire to get from point a to point b. Hillman-type twisted concepts attempt to spiralize the original idea, that is to hopefully enliven and expand them by giving it a more vegetal shape.
Twisting, as a psychological process, takes one on the snake-like saurian winding road of amplification and association where one can more easily give a concept a chance to re-shape and also it shifts the momentum away from linear interpretation. Twisting a concept becomes an internal “betracten” (Jung, 1997, p. 661) or brooding process that imaginally squirms and writhes, in the serpentine dance within the darkness. It becomes the devious rotating of an idea – the devolution of progressive thinking to enable something new to arise.
If one is not satisfied, desiring a further imaginal possibility, one may take on the move of process from twist to turn, which changes the motion from serpentine to rotary. Now we leave the reptilian analogy (domain?) and enter the imaginal world of warm-blooded mammalian function. This upsets the regular balance and order that we habitually use in everyday life process to move or even reverse the vantage point.
Jung, C.G. (1997). Visions: Notes of the Seminar Given in 1930-1934, Vol. 2, Princeton Univ. Press: Princeton. — at Boulder, Colorado.
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