"What we wish to know, and most desire, remains unknowable and lies beyond our grasp."
With these words, James Hollis leads listeners to consider the nature of our human need for meaning in life and for connection to a world less limiting than our own.
In The Archetypal Imagination, Hollis offers a lyrical Jungian appreciation of the archetypal imagination. He argues that without the human mind's ability to form energy-filled images that link us to worlds beyond our rational and emotional capacities, we would have neither culture nor spirituality. Drawing upon the work of poets and philosophers, Hollis shows the importance of depth experience, meaning, and connection to an "other" world.
Just as humans have instincts for biological survival and social interaction, we have instincts for spiritual connection as well. Just as our physical and social needs seek satisfaction, so the spiritual instincts of the human animal are expressed in images we form to evoke an emotional or spiritual response, as in our dreams, myths, and religious traditions.
The author draws upon the work of the poet Rainer Maria Rilke's Duino Elegies to elucidate the archetypal imagination in literary forms. To underscore the importance of incarnating depth experience, he also examines a series of paintings by Nancy Witt.
With the power of the archetypal imagination available to all of us, we are invited to summon courage to take on the world anew, to relinquish outmoded identities and defenses, and to risk a radical reimagining of the larger possibilities of the world and of the self.
©2000 James Hollis (P)2012 Redwood Audiobooks
"This book on archetypal imagination is a feast of poetic and artistic references to the numinosity of the imagination." (Journal of Analytical Psychology)
"Those interested in Jungian psychology, spirituality, and healing will appreciate...this book." (Review of Texas Books)
"Hollis has written a brief, elegant, and well-crafted volume that looks at aspects of the archetypal imagination." (Choice)
I wish I had liked this book better. I really enjoyed and got a lot out of Dr. Hollis' other audio books, all of which I highly recommend. There's value here too, but the book is very different from the others.
To begin with, this is not written for a broad audience but rather for those who have a solid background in the works and theories of C.G. Jung. In particular, Dr. Hollis uses Jung's theories to explicate works of the archetypal imagination - including the poetry of Rilke and works of art by artists he's known. And he uses those works of art to discuss Jung's theory of the archetypes. Hollis' erudition and knowledge of the arts is impressive and is very much on display, particularly in his discussion of Rilke.
The discussion of visual art does not work in an audio book. It is possible to download a free pdf copy of the book through the Texas A&M University website, but if you are like me (and a lot of people) and listen to audio books on your daily commute, that may not help much.
There is a very strong spiritual theme here (though if you are a literalist about religion, Hollis' works are probably not for you - he's very clear about not having any patience with literalism in religion). This focus is much more pronounced here than in his works for a broader audience. I would have preferred more of a focus on the psychological than the spiritual, but as I said, this book is not like his other works.
On another note, the narrator does a good job in English (strong voice, clear enunciation), but mispronounces many of the foreign words (especially German) that are peppered throughout the text. My knowledge of German is limited to a couple of years in high school, and that was enough to make me cringe at some of the mispronunciations.
If I thought the book were worthless, I would not have spent this much time discussing it. My feelings are decidedly mixed - I really wanted to enjoy this book, but ultimately didn't. Someone with a more specialized theoretical interest might. I'll put this one aside, and look forward to the next of his audio books that's addressed to a broader lay audience.
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