Published March 1, 2013
I read a book review in the New Yorker last week and have been puzzling over it since. The review was written by Joan Acocella about the book Missing: In Praise of the Unlived Life by Adam Phillips. Acocella says:
“Adam Phillips, Britain’s foremost psychoanalytic writer, dislikes the modern notion that we should all be out there fulfilling our potential. In his new book, he argues that, instead of feeling that we should have a better life, we should just live, as gratifyingly as possible, the life we have. Otherwise, we are setting ourselves up for bitterness. What makes us think that we could have been a contender? Yet, in the dark of night, we do think this, and grieve that it wasn’t possible. ‘And what was not possible all too easily becomes the story of our lives,’ Phillips writes. ‘Our lived lives might become a protracted mourning for, or an endless trauma about, the lives we were unable to live.’”
My first thought was to wonder what Carl Jung would say about that. (The article goes further to say that Phillips is a Freudian, so that explains that.) My second thought is that our unlived lives do become the story of our lives if we don’t deal with them in some way, and Jung tells us that this is really our life’s work. My third thought was that we should at the same time be living the lives we have in the most gratifying way as possible.
Published July 10, 2012
Tags: books, Myers-Briggs
Published February 5, 2012
Tags: books, Carl Jung
The Foundation of the Works of C.G. Jung holds the books from Jung’s private library and has embarked on a project to digitize them all for research purposes.
“The main content of Jung’s private library was contemporary literature of the 19th and 20th century, mainly about medicine, psychiatry, psychology and philosophy. Additionally there are a great number of books on antique cultures, gnosis, christian symbols, eastern religion, ethnology and occultism. The library also contains a collection of about 300 rare books (printed before 1800) on alchemy, theurgy and kabbala, as well as antique literature on dreams, writings of church fathers and of the latin and greek classic.”
You can access the collection at this site—ability to read German, French, Latin would be helpful!
Published December 8, 2011
Tags: books, dreamwork
Yesterday on NPR I heard a review of a new biography of American diplomat and Soviet scholar George F. Kennan, George F. Kennan: An American Life, written by John Lewis Gaddis. My ears perked up when I heard that the author had access to “Kennan’s diaries, even a dream diary.” Kennan lived to be 101 and requested his biography not be published until after his death—Gaddis started working with Kennan on the biography in the late 1970s.
Gaddis says about Kennan: “Well, if you had to single out one individual who probably did more than anyone else in coming up with the big idea of how the second half of the 20th century could be less dangerous than the first half was, I think Kennan would be right up there at the top of the list.”
I’m curious as to how much the author details about the dream diary in his book. Frank Costigliola, who is editing the diaries, says of the 20,000-page diary, of which the dream diary is a part: “The diary reveals in sharp detail the personal life and the political, philosophical, and spiritual concerns of America’s most famous diplomat. . . . Most of this magnificent diary focuses on Kennan’s inner life, on his critiques of societal developments, and on what he discerned with his acute senses. . . . In addition to the separate ‘dream diary’ kept from 1964–77, Kennan included in his regular journal accounts of strange and not-so-strange dreams. . . . ‘I am a teacher,’ he affirmed on several occasions. He also saw his role as ‘that of the prophet. It was for this that I was born.’”
Sounds like fascinating material for a dream researcher/writer—we don’t often hear about how dreams affect the life and work of such public figures. Kennan said the diary “might be more important in the light of posterity (assuming that there will be any posterity) than anything else I am doing these days.” We should all take this to heart, as to the importance of our own journal writings and inner work.
Published November 12, 2011
Tags: books, persona
From the blog “You Are Not So Smart,” promoting the book of the same name, this post is called “The Illusion of Asymmetric Insight.” Author David McRaney posits self-delusional misconceptions and the truth behind those misconceptions. One example is: “I celebrate diversity and respect others’ points of view.” The “truth” part of the post contains a story about a socio-psychological study of two groups of boys and how their cultures naturally evolve, or devolve, and discussion of persona as relates to current culture, including how that plays out on social media like Facebook. “You are unaware of how unaware you are.”
Published September 15, 2011
Tags: books, dreamwork
I highly recommend the suspense novel The Good Son, by Michael Gruber. One of the main characters is a Pakistani-American, Catholic/Muslim woman who is also a Zurich-trained Jungian analyst. How many spies in contemporary fiction do dream analysis for their terrorist captors?
Published June 28, 2011
Tags: books, unconscious
Here’s an NPR Fresh Air interview with neuroscientist and author David Eagleman, whose book Incognito has recently been published by Pantheon. Most interesting to me, from the NPR article:
“Your brain doesn’t like to keep secrets. Studies at the University of Texas, Austin, have shown that writing down secrets in a journal or telling a doctor your secrets actually decreases the level of stress hormones in your body. Keeping a secret, meanwhile, does the opposite. Your brain also doesn’t like stress hormones. So when you have a secret to tell, the part of your brain that wants to tell the secret is constantly fighting with the part of your brain that wants to keep the information hidden.”
Published May 6, 2011
Tags: books, visual art
“Genesis Frontispiece: Creation” with artwork by Donald Jackson with contributions from Chris Tomlin.
In our year of studying The Red Book, it’s interesting to come upon a modern-day illuminated book, produced by hand much in the same way as in medieval times. And even more interesting that this is a Bible, representing the traditional stories and teachings of the Bible but with symbolism that relates them to contemporary times. The St. John’s Bible was commissioned by Saint John’s University and Abbey in Minnesota, after being presented with the idea by Donald Jackson, Senior Illuminator to Her Majesty’s Crown Office, who had dreamed of creating a modern, illuminated Bible to celebrate the new millennium. Work began in 2000 and the final volume is being completed now by Jackson and a team of scribes and illuminators working in a scriptorium in Monmouth, Wales. The work is in seven volumes, six of which are available for sale in reproduction. An exhibition of prints is touring now and was recently on display at John Brown University in Siloam Springs.
Above: “Adam and Eve are presented as an African man and woman surrounded by patterned fabrics from various ancient cultures. Photographs of Ethiopian tribes-people influenced Jackson’s design. He wanted to link the notion of the Bible’s first man and woman with current archaeological and anthropological theories that humankind originated in Africa. The decorative framing around Adam and Eve includes African tapestry patterns and, on the right, a Peruvian feather cape. The horizontal stripes are details of Middle Eastern textiles and of white body painting on black skin. The poisonous coral snake, also depicted in the Creation and Garden of Eden illuminations, appears between Adam and Eve. Jackson’s use of a gold bar framing Adam and Eve is meant to suggest God’s presence as a framework for human life.”
Psalms frontispiece: “Superimposed on this image are digital voiceprints (electronic images of sound) of the monks at Saint John’s Abbey singing Gregorian chant; a Native American sacred song; a Jewish men’s chorus singing psalms; Buddhist tantric harmonics; an Islamic call to prayer (adhan); Taoist temple music; Hindu bhajan; and Indian Sufi chant. The voiceprints of the Saint John’s monks appear on every page, moving horizontally throughout the Psalms in gold.” (see detail below)
And an interesting representation of parables from the Gospel of Luke, one of which is extremely timely. The parables and one story are illustrated in diagonal bands that read in descending order from left to right. In the third band:
“Parable of the Lost Son (15:11-32): The erring son leaves the pigs he has tended and returns to his father, who runs to meet him and forgive him. The twin towers of the World Trade Center point to the need for forgiveness in our time and for seeking alternatives to revenge.”
There’s a very good online exhibition of images with descriptions of symbolism from the Library of Congress.
Published December 8, 2010
I wanted to call your attention to a couple of upcoming books out from the Fisher King Press. John Ryan Haule’s two volume Jung in the 21st Century arrives in January 2011. From the publisher:
“The first volume provides an original overview of Jung’s work, demonstrating that it is fully compatible with contemporary views in science. It draws on a wide range of scientific disciplines including, evolution, neurobiology, primatology, archaeology and anthropology. The second volume explores Jung’s understanding of synchronicity and argues that it offers an important contribution to contemporary science. Whilst the scientific world has often ignored Jung’s theories as being too much like mysticism, Haule argues that what the human psyche knows beyond sensory perception is extremely valuable.”
Fisher King Press publishes work concerning the study of Jungian theory, analytical depth psychology, myth, archetypal symbolism, and dreams. Please check their catalog and blog for other books and articles of interest.
Published December 6, 2010
Tags: books, symbolism
A Wall Street Journal article from December 1, 2010 annnounces the publication of a new book by the New York branch of the Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism. The organization’s holdings are a collection of 17,000 “mythological, ritualistic and symbolic” images meant to catalog, more or less, the whole of our collective human unconscious. The new book is The Book of Symbols, an 810-page volume assembled by ARAS in New York and published by art-book imprint Taschen. It took ARAS curator Ami Ronnberg and a core group of five women (plus an army of around 50 writers commissioned for the essays) 14 years to complete.
ARAS offers a free quarterly newsletter available via email and for $100/year you can join the ARAS Online to be able to access their entire holdings. The new book is surprisingly inexpensive ($26.39 on Amazon) for a 810-page, full color book.