Animal Presences by James Hillman

By James Hillman

Uniform version of the Writings of James Hillman, quantity 9

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For the imagist the dream has an inherent overdetermination. It is stuffed with its own grounds for archetypal significance. There can be no improvement on the dream or basis for the dream beyond the dream. The image has all it needs: pink, penis, body, nude, sausage, piglet, delight, felt, erect, upright, rose, play … What could more amplify the image than this coalescence, this layered density (Dichte) that makes each dream also a fiction (Dichtung)? When archetypal psychology urges the maxim “stick to the image” (following Jung who writes, “To understand the dream’s meaning I must stick as close as possible to the dream images” 14), it is saying that associations and amplifications can do little more than the image has already done; associations and amplifications become substitutes for the dream itself.

Symbols are not things so much as rhetorical agents, ways of persuading images toward their fuller scope and depth. They are like alchemical agents. They catalyze, dissolve, tincture the dream images, activating their Wirkung. This offers an opportunity to make clear how I employ amplification and why I do so. First, amplification improves skill by providing knowledge, and, as I remember Karl Kerényi saying to me once after I was complaining about a boring, though learned, lecture, “aber das Wissen schadet nichts” (but knowledge does not harm).

In psychology, we might be speaking of the aesthetic anima – a docile, gentle, virginal quality of graceful awkwardness and heightened sensitivity, yet which has a killing kick if approached wrongly or too closely. A mother who is herself “frigid” fears that her daughter will become sullied, thereby losing their common giraffe totem. ), ethnology or anthropology, and cultural history – in short, mythos. We have turned to the Geisteswissenschaften for the appearance of the animal in imaginative contexts.

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