Monday, March 28, 2011

Where is the Soul 12?

The Primacy of Imagery

Eco by Marc Didou, Queen's University,  March 2011, Centenary
Anyone who works with children will know how important images are for learning.  I suppose another way of saying this is that patterns and shapes are very important - after all images are made up of shapes and patterns.  A medical scientist whom I know believes that different languages set down different shapes, patterns or electric circuits in the brain.  His hunch was that this is true because he came across a case of a man who had lost his mother tongue after getting a severe bang to the head in an accident.  After it he could only talk in English which was a second language.  My scientist friend argued that the force of the blow had literally erased the German or first language pattern or shape or "image" in his brain. 

Likewise in the question of self-healing, images are of paramount importance.  We can heal ourselves through using meditative exercises which incorporate their use.  Of course, images can also frighten - the image of the Big Bad Wolf, the Monster, the Bogey Man etc - and there are no better people to frighten us than the Movie Moguls in Hollywood and other places where they make such films.

Returning to Hillman's and Ventura's correspondence, the former makes the point to his correspondent that the primary activity of the psyche is imagining. Hillman quotes Jung here should any support for his contention be needed: "The psyche consists essentially of images." (Quoted Hillman and Ventura, op. cit., p. 62)

Now, these images, according to Jung, are not just direct replicas of what we see.  Oh no, they are much more because they carry with them our perceptions of them, that is the unique way we percieve or bend them, given our particular perceptive machinery and then we uniquely interpret them.  Hillman quotes Jung as saying that indeed often our images have more to do with fantasy than with reality.  In fact, he says, that our fantacy image is related only indirectly to an external object.  In Hillman's words we are actually living "our own psychic reality."  Therefore, he argues, that we really do live in dream-time.  Or as Shakespeare puts it: "We are such stuff as dreams are made on."

Modern Sculpture, Ulster Museum, March 2011
Hillman goes on to argue that we are at our very core - at the soul's core - actual images, and our development as persons is nothing short of the actualizing, the realizing or the individuating of our unique central image.  Then he introduces us to some of the thought of the great painter and sculptor Michelangelo who maintained that to grow we must make real (my phrase) the "imagine del cuor" or the "image in the heart (soul)."  In other words our everyday history is very much of secondary importance - mostly all ego stuff about success and accumulation of things, prestige and money - to the deveolopment of the image in our hearts.

Picasso, according to Hillman, despised the idea of development and said quite often that he did so.  I'll repeat here a quotation from that brilliant artist which caught my eye and heart: "I am astounded over the way people let the word development be misused: I don't develop; I am."  (Quoted ibid., p. 63)  In short, we are images before we are history.  Now this is an astounding idea which is quite Platonic as it suggests that the image or the acorn or the daimon is innate or comes with the new life ab origine, literally in the embryo.

In my previous post I uploaded Picasso's last self-portrait where Hillman would have us believe that the white figure of the painter depicted therein is the image of the "free soul," or the "dream soul", or the "ghost soul," or even the "death soul."  These terms listed here, Hillman informs us, he takes from the mythologies of the native American Indians as well as the Eskimos.  We are always ourselves, right from birth until the moment of death.  This Self, though it is hard to believe given our modern education where we insist on evolution and development, is always itself and literally does not grow, though our awarewness of it may and does, of course.  At our deep heart's core we are acorn or image, and at our death we are acorn or image too.  The oak tree is not anymore itself after four hundred years or when it was a sapling or when it was an acorn or even after it had been felled at long last.  It is always itself like Picasso's image in the opposing mirrors which never changed as it extended outwards repeatedly to infinity.  (See ibid., p. 64)  

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