Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Where is the Soul 13?

The Power of Images

Celtic pattern from replica of Muiredach's Cross
My last post was all about the power of images in learning, remembering and indeed right in the heart of our emotional SELF - they can both frighten and heal us, depending on what images we are dealing with.   Hillman quotes the great artist Picasso to emphasize the important role of imagery to our very sense of SELF.  Deep at our heart's core, or deep at our Soul's core lies our own authentic image which we have to find according to Picasso and Hillman.  This is our essential image or acorn which basically encapsulates the core of our identity.  We have to do a fair bit of prospecting or mining or archaeology - you are free to use your own preferred metaphor here, of course - to find our real image, our true acorn, our true Self or Identity.

I am Image

This subtitle here above is a direct quotation from the great Picasso, and one typical of an artist who essentially works in images.  I have already discussed in various posts how healing images can be when used with visualizations and meditation and how nowadays various types of therapies use such techniques as part of their approach to help heal the patient.  Hillman puts his philosophy of psychology thus: "[We] are imagination before [we] are history."  (op. cit., p. 63)

What the great Samuel Beckett would make of Hillman's contentions above I do not know, as I was once quite taken with the bleakness of Beckett's writings and found his prose pice "Imagination dead, Imagine" in turns paradoxical, entrancing, confounding, provoking, depressing and confusing.  I probably could add many more adjectives here, too.  As this author progressed in his chosen craft he pared his work down to only the very barest of essentials and seemed to cut out a multiplicity of images and made plays of characters buried up to their necks in barrels or soil or whatever.  I also remember attending a Beckett Exhibition some three or four years back in the Pompidou Centre and there was a film of one of his pieces which showed the lips of a character talking (a disembodied mouth if you like) and all one saw was the lips. However, it does show you the power of the imagination if it can imagine its own non-existence or more correctly its demise.  In a similar vein Hillman quotes a poet namely Wallace Stevens who wrote many poems on the importance of the imagination to our little lives.  In a poem called The Plain Sense of Things, Stevens argued that "... the absence of the imagination had/ Itself to be imagined." (Quoted We've Had a Hundred Years of Psychotherapy (Harper, 1993), p. 63).  Stevens is ad idem with Beckett here.

It's Not a Question of Age

Dinosaur, Ulster Museum, March 2011
As I've said many times before in these pages, Hillman is always provocative.  That's what makes the likes of Hillman, R.D. Laing and Ivor Brown so very worthwhile reading.  Whether you agree with them or not is beside the point.  The fact that they make their readers question their own presumptions, think again, look at a problem from a different angle etc IS THE POINT!.  Good philosophers always read what their opponents are writing.  This sharpens their thinking.  Here Hillman argues with respect to the image or acorn age or time simply does not come into the equation.  The image or acorn  or daimon is there in the oak from seed to sapling to mature tree, right there till it is felled and cut up for fuel.  Let me quote here Hillman's poetic words:

Time is not the primary factor; an image is not cumulative, and the late stages of life are not the fullest and finest presentation of one's seed... The job of life becomes one of making its moments accord with the image, or what might once have been called "being guided by your image" (or daimon or angel)."  (Ibid., p. 64) 

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