At the risk of jumping straight to the conclusion before beginning to talk about the next stop in the journey, I would like to offer here some insights from James Hillman that were key in breaking the spell of my disembodied self and continue to inspire reflection and renew my place in the world.
The following two excerpts are from Hillman’s A Blue Fire, Selected Writings by James Hillman, edited by Thomas Moore.
“The overwhelming difficulty of communicating soul in talk becomes crushingly real when two persons sit in two chairs, face to face and knee to knee as in an analysis with Jung. Then we realize what a miracle it is to find the right words, words that carry soul accurately, where thought, image, and feeling interweave. Then we realize that soul can be made on the spot simply through speech. Such talk is the most complex psychic endeavor imaginable-which says something about why Jung’s psychology was a cultural advance over Freud’s talking cure, free autistic associations on the couch.
All modern therapies which claim that action is more curative than words and which seek techniques other than talk (rather than in addition to it) are repressing the most human of all faculties-the telling of the tales of our souls. These therapies may be curative of the child in us who has not learned to speak or the animal who cannot, or a spirit daimon that is beyond words because it is beyond soul. But only continued attempts at accurate soul-speech can cure our speech of its chatter and restore it to its first function, the communication of soul.
Soul of bulk and substance can be evoked by words and expressed in words; for myth and poetry, so altogether verbal and “fleshless,” nonetheless resonate with the deepest intimacies of organic existence. A mark of imaginal man is the speech of his soul, and the range of his speech, its self-generative spontaneity, its precise subtlety and ambiguous suggestion, its capacity, as Hegel said, “to receive and reproduce every modification of our ideational faculty,” can be supplanted neither by the technology of communication media, by contemplative spiritual silence, nor by physical gestures and signs. The more we hold back from the risk of speaking because of semantic anxiety that keeps soul in secret incommunicado, private and personal, the greater grows the credibility gap between what we are and what we say, splitting psyche and logos.
The more we become tied by linguistic self-consciousness, the more we abdicate the ruling principle of pscyhological existence…Man is half-angel because he can speak. The more we distrust speech in therapy or the capacity of speech to be therapeutic, the closer we are to an absorption into the fantasy of the archetypal subhuman, and the sooner the archetypal barbarian strides into the communication ruins of a culture that refused eloquence as a mirror of its soul.”
~James Hillman, Revisioning Psychology, pp 29-30.
” Since psychological ideas, or insights as I have sometimes called them, reflect soul, the question of comprehending them turns on one’s relation with soul and how the soul learns. The answer to this has always been “by experience,” which is tantamount to turning the question back upon itself, since one of the main activities of soul as we defined them at the beginning oif this book is precisely that of changing “events into experiences.” Here we are specifying how events become experiences, saying that the act of seeing through events connects them to the soul and creates experiences. Simply to participate in events or to suffer them strongly, or to accumulate a variety of them, does not differentiate or deepen one’s psychic capacity into what is often called a wise or an old soul. Events are not essential to the soul’s experiencing. It does not need many dreams or many loves or city lights. We have records of great souls that have thrived in a monk’s cell, a prison, or a suburb. But there must be a vision of what is happening, deep ideas to create experience. Otherwise we have had the events without experiencing them, and the experience of what happened comes only later when we gain an idea of it-when it can be envisioned by an archetypal idea.”
~James Hillman, Revisioning Psychology, pp 54.