Friday, August 4, 2017

Eliza Ivanova and Kent Williams

Discovered an amazing artist today through the Bud's Art Books email:

Eliza Ivanova:

Here is her first book, just released:

And while I was in there they suggested the 2 latest books by Kent Williams which I haven't picked up yet, so I ordered those as well:

And Not Strangers: Drawings in Mixed Media (of the same model):

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Possibly the best book yet - and it's a freebie! Plus 2 bonus books that also look amazing

The Archetypal Imagination by James Hollis

Free PDF download (Official and Legal)

I was looking at this book on Amazon (link below the image) when I discovered a link to a free PDF version on the publisher's website. A godsend, because it's a fairly expensive book, and though it seemed like the best of all the books I've got in this recent spree - the one that speaks most personally and profoundly to me - I wasn't prepared to shell out more money. Not $20 plus shipping anyway. But the preview really did stir my imagination deeply, so I grabbed the PDF and started in on it (though I'm currently into about half a dozen books already hah!)

James Hollis seems to be one of a group of recent-ish post-Jungians who have absorbed and advanced his work in ways that I personally find exciting. As much as I like Edinger for his incredibly clear and well delineated explanations of Jung's ideas, Hollis just has a knack for writing that captures the numinous spark - he's more of a creative and inspired soul, or so it seems to me anyway.

I would say the same about Lionel Corbett - author of these books:

The Religious Function of the Psyche 

(Sorry, no free version)
Traditional concepts of God are no longer tenable for many people who nevertheless experience a strong sense of the sacred in their lives. The Religious Function of the Psyche offers a psychological model for the understanding of such experience, using the language and interpretive methods of depth psychology, particularly those of C.G. Jung and psychoanalytic self psychology. The problems of evil and suffering, and the notion of human development as an incarnation of spirit are dealt with by means of a religious approach to the psyche that can be brought easily into psychotherapeutic practice and applied by the individual in everyday life.
The book offers an alternative approach to spirituality as well as providing an introduction to Jung and religion.

Psyche and the Sacred: Spirituality Beyond Religion

(Nope, this one either!)
Lionel Corbett describes an approach to spirituality based on personal experience of the sacred rather than on pre-existing religious dogmas. Using many examples from Corbett's psychotherapy practice and other personal accounts, the book describes various portals through which the sacred may appear: in dreams, visions, the natural world, through the body, in relationships, in our psychopathology, and in our creative work. Using the language and insights of depth psychology, he describes the intimate relationship between spiritual experience and the psychology of the individual, revealing the seamless continuity and intermingling of the personal and transpersonal dimensions of the psyche. Corbett also discusses the problems of evil and suffering from a psychological rather than theological perspective, and suggests some of the reasons that traditional religious institutions fail to address adequately these problems. Based largely on Jung's writing on religion, but also drawing from contemporary psychoanalytic theory, Corbett describes an approach to spirituality that is gradually emerging alongside the western monotheistic tradition. For those seeking alternative forms of spirituality beyond the Judeo-Christian tradition, this volume will be a useful guide on the journey.

Monday, July 24, 2017

All Booked Up!!

I've been on an insane book-buying spree. All set up with long-term reading material. If you click to enlarge the picture you should be able to see all the titles - if not you can download it and blow it up on your computer. Or I'll just grit my teeth and type up the entire list here:

*Still waiting on the first volume of the Bible to come in - they sent me another copy of vol 2 by mistake. 

Oops - looking back I see I had already shown 3 of these books in the last book-related post. My bad! With this many coming in it's hard to keep track. I should have checked the blog before snapping the pic. 

I've now made most of the listings into links. I didn't just buy them full-price but found decent used copies. In the case of Existential Psychotherapy I found it cheaper on eBay than on Amazon. I didn't post a link to the Reader's Digest Bible because there isn't a listing on Amazon or elsewhere I could find that really explains what it is. I learned about it from Jordan Peterson - it's essentially had the repetitions edited out and things explained in a way that's understandable to a modern readership. Also it reads like a story - straight through rather than being broken up into numbered chapter and verse. I think it will be much easier to understand - hopefully anyway. The other versions can be pretty incomprehensible. 

I also got myself a nice centennial Smith-Waite Tarot Deck, arrayed here on top of the Jung and Tarot book. In the case of the Tarot cards and the Bible, it's important to note that they are not to be taken literally. For Jungian purposes the Tarot is not for telling the future - rather it's a complex and extremely useful set of symbols that can be used to explore and come to an understanding of the contents of the human psyche, in the same way dream symbolism can. Same for the Bible. In fact Jung stated that before science switched our understanding of the world to one based on reductive materialism and practicality, there came the great age of Religions and Mythology. This was a time when humankind was very unconscious and had a strong tendency to project the contents of their psyche out onto the stars (as constellations to be divined through Astrology), into the Heavens (Religion), and into the Mysteries of Matter (Alchemy, soon to transmute into Chemistry).

There had already been thorough studies into comparative religion and comparative mythology (finding similarities between various ones all around the world), but Jung discovered WHY all the similarities. In his own words (well - loosely - don't feel like looking up exact wording), in the 15th century God fell out of the sky and into the human psyche. For modern people, it's vitally important to understand religion and mythology, otherwise you can fall prey to nihilistic despair.

For example, dreams that seem terrifying can suddenly reveal themselves to be profoundly healing and transformative if you have some knowledge of creation myths. Bloody, violent dismemberments - especially of giants or figures that refuse to die - often represent the killing of the old god who needs to be destroyed and whose body gives birth to the new world, in which the new god can grow and prosper. This is actually a very positive and reassuring dream, and it's only through an understanding of mythological symbols that it can be understood properly. So I'll be filling my head with as much as I can stuff in there.

And my most recent Kindle purchases:

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

About Jung scholarship

A comment found under the listing for the book Carl Jung (Critical Lives) by Paul Bishop @Amazon:

A stimulating amplification of the "textual Jung," not another "Red Book" auntification
ByHapax Existentiel on December 14, 2014
Format: Paperback|Verified Purchase

As a reader of scholarly books and articles on the history of psychoanalysis and C.G. Jung, I would have to say that Paul Bishop's book is the most fascinating volume to appear since Richard Noll's "The Jung Cult" back in 1994. For me, Jung simply does not make sense outside of his German historical and cultural context. The rather fulsome, uncritical Jungian literature sidesteps German cultural influences and tend to portray Jung as a mystical prophet who somehow lived and worked outside of history. In recent years Sonu Shamdasani's early efforts at scholarship have been replaced by weakly footnoted coffee table books and New Age spiritualist dialogues with James Hillman passing as "profound" intellectual discourse. Additionally, Shamdasani's relationship with the Jung family and estate as their "approved" court historian since 2000 renders his Jung scholarship unverifiable and open to a round of charges of being yet another "auntification" and protective whitewashing of Jung's image (he's now an aesthetic literary figure like William Blake, apparently). Jung is big business, after all. No one will be allowed to check the original archival sources against Shamdasani's claims unless approved by the Jung heirs. Good luck with that. This throws much of The Red Book research into question.

So thank god for the many high-level books on Jung by Paul Bishop. This one, however, is his best.

Paul Bishop is now the undisputed "preeminent" Jung scholar.

Bishop securely places Jung in the archaic stream that also carries Goethe and Schiller. He engages the textual Jung, not the biographical or even (much) the historical Jung. But Bishop make the case that it is the ideas of the man that are important, and he does so in a judicious manner, citing the major authors of the secondary literature (Ellenberger, Homans, Kerr, Noll, Shamdasani). Bishop also uses primary sources by German and French authors who may not be familiar to readers of works on Jung because they do not write specificially about Jung but about themes found throughout his work. These are excellent.

This is it -- the best critical biography of Jung in existence. Highly recommended

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Latest haul of books

All this reading I'm doing is an antidote to the reductive and mechanistic nature of rational materialism that has overtaken Western civilization.

  • Shadows of the Sacred - Frances Vaughan
  • Cosmos and Psyche - Richard Tarnas
  • The Eternal Drama - Edward Edinger (Reading Greek Mythology as an expression of the human psyche)
  • The Discovery of Being - Rollo May (Existential psychotherapy)
  • States of Grace - Charlene Spretnak
  • Ego and Archetype - Edinger
  • The Psyche in Antiquity book 2; Gnosticism and Early Christianity - Edinger
  • The Bible and the Psyche; Individuation Symbolism in the Old Testament - Edinger

I'm really loving the Edinger books right now - he's a great explicator of Carl Gustav Jung's ideas. 

Jung's great discovery (one of them) was that in pre-Enlightenment times, when mankind's psyche was still rather primitive, he tended to project it out into the void to create myth and religion, as well as early philosophy and alchemy. By studying these ancient sources we can witness the inner workings of the psyche itself. Each of Edinger's books delves into a different era, but they all demonstrate that the psyche is the real source of the numinous and the miraculous.

Kindle purchases:

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Important note on Edinger's Ego and Archetype

I've just bought Ego and Archetype, which uses primarily Biblical references and symbols to explain Jung's concept of Individuation. In browsing the customer comments I found this little gem and wanted to put it here as a reminder to myself for when I read the book:

Good start but loses focus
The first two parts of this book are a great condensation of the individuation process which seems somewhat dispersed in Jung's writings. I particularly thought his discussion of the inflation and alienation cycle was very good. He goes into detail of potential blocks in the cycle and where those blocks later lead to difficulties in the process.
Where I thought he lost his way was in his gradual shift from using biblical reference to support his discussion of individuation to what seemed, at the end of Part II, to become primarily biblical exegesis. The quotes slowly start dominating the text and the relation of the symbols, e.g. the blood of Christ, to individuation seem tenuous. He also goes over some material, e.g. Job, alchemy, the Philosopher's Stone, etc., that Jung has elsewhere discussed at length and I didn't think Edinger's take added much new here. If you haven't read these topics in Jung already or only have a casual interest it might be a good summary but for me it was repetitive.
One chapter I found curiously flawed was "The Trinity Archetype and the Dialectic of Development". Edinger starts the chapter by taking Jung to task for being to too focused on finding the "missing fourth" when interpreting trinity symbols, in particular the Holy Trinity. He goes on to make a useful distinction between the quaternity, representing essentially the components of the Self, and the trinity, representing the process of individuation. In his view, the Holy Trinity relates to the process of individuation, i.e. the ages of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, not the actors/archetypes for which they're named. The Holy Trinity being a symbol of developmental process then is in no need of a fourth as Jung proposed.
Yet, I think he misunderstood Jung here and his interpretation is at odds even with his own earlier discussion. The "age of the Son," being the dialectic antithesis of that of Father -- totality, unity, identification of ego with Self -- is an age of *duality*, not the one-sided view promulgated by the Church of the Son looking back to the lost age of the Father. The reconciliation of opposites during the age of the Son is precisely what brings about the new, higher-level unity in that of the Holy Spirit. What is missing in the psychological interpretation of the age of the Son is that very opposite with which to reconcile, e.g. the devil, Satan, the unconscious forces. Even though Edinger quotes Jung as characterizing this age as "a sharpening of opposites," he seems to overlook the import: the "age of the Son" is really a misnomer and might better be named the "age of Two Sons." This is what I believe Jung was alluding to and is supported by many passages in which he discusses the disavowal and externalization of the dark side in Western monotheism.
If Edinger had brought more Eastern religion to bear on the discussion, with its heavy emphasis on the duality of existence and three-phase process of unity-duality-unity, he may have come to an different conclusion on this particular symbol. But his supporting examples are skewed to the West, mostly biblical, and his few forays into the East not very profound.