“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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