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B. Jungian Psychology and Its Archetypal Insights

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how myths are the means by which archetypes, essentially unconscious forms, become manifest and articulate to the conscious mind
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  B. Jungian Psychology and Its Archetypal InsightsThe second major influence on mythological criticism is the work of C.G. Jung, the great psychologist-philosopher and onetime student of Freud who broke with the master because of what he regarded as a too-narrow approach to psycho-analysis. Jung believed libido (psychic energy) to be more than sexual; also, he considered Freudian theories too negative because of Freud's emphasis on the neurotic rather than the healthy aspects of the psyche.Jung's primary contribution to myth criticism is his theory of racial memory and archetypes. In developing this concept, Jung expanded Freud's theories of the personal unconscious, asserting that beneath this is a primeval, collective unconscious shared in the psychic inheritance of all members of the human family. As Jung himself explains in The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche (Collected Works, vol. 8) [Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 1960]):If it were possible to personify the unconscious, we might think of it as a collective human being combining the characteristics of both sexes, transcending youth and age, birth and death, and, from having at its command a human experience of one or two million years, practically immortal. If such a being existed, it would be exalted over all temporal change; the present would mean neither more nor less to it than any year in the166hundredth millennium before Christ; it would be a dreamer of age-old dreams and, owing to its immeasurable experience, an incomparable prognosticator. It would have lived countless times over again the life of the individual, the family, the tribe, and the nation, and it would possess a living sense of the rhythm of growth, flowering, and decay. (349-50)Just as certain instincts are inherited by the lower animals (for example, the instinct of the baby chicken to run from a hawk's shadow), so more complex psychic predispositions are inherited by human beings. Jung believed, contrary to eighteenth-century Lockean psychology, that Mind is not born as a tabula rasa [a clean slate]. Like the body, it has its pre-established individual definiteness; namely, forms of behaviour. They become manifest in the ever-recurring patterns of psychic functioning (Psyche and Symbol [Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1958]: xv). Therefore what Jung called myth-forming structural elements are ever present in the unconscious psyche; he refers to the manifestations of these elements as motifs, primordial images, or archetypes. Jung was also careful to explain that archetypes are not inherited ideas or patterns of thought, but rather that they are predispositions to respond in similar ways to certain stimuli: In reality they belong to the realm of activities of the instincts and in that sense they represent inherited forms of psychic behavior (xvi). In Psychological Reflections (New York: Harper, 1961), he maintained that these psychic instincts are older than historical man. . . . have been ingrained in him from earliest times, and, eternally living, out-lasting all generations, still make up the groundwork of the human psyche. It is only possible to live the fullest life when we are in harmony with these symbols; wisdom is a return to them (42).In stressing that archetypes are actually inherited forms, Jung also went further than most of the anthropologists, who tended to see these forms as social phenomena passed down from one generation to the next through various sacred rites rather than through the structure of the psyche itself. Furthermore, in The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious (New York: Pantheon, 1959), he theorized that myths do not  167derive from external factors such as the season or solar cycle but are, in truth, the projections of innate psychic phenomena:All the mythologized processes of nature, such as summer and winter, the phases of the moon, the rainy seasons, and so forth, are in no sense allegories of these objective occurrences; rather they are symbolic expressions of the inner, unconscious drama of the psyche which becomes accessible to man's consciousness by way of projection--that is, mirrored in the events of nature. (6) In other words, myths are the means by which archetypes, essentially unconscious forms, become manifest and articulate to the conscious mind. Jung indicated further that archetypes reveal themselves in the dreams of individuals, so that we might say that dreams are personalized myths and myths are depersonalized dreams. Jung detected an intimate relationship between dreams, myths, and art in that all three serve as media through which archetypes become accessible to consciousness. The great artist, as Jung observes in Modern Man in Search of a Soul (New York: Harcourt, n.d.; first published in 1933), is a person who possesses the primordial vision, a special sensitivity to archetypal patterns and a gift for speaking in primordial images that enable him or her to transmit experiences of the  inner world through art. Considering the nature of the artist's raw materials, Jung suggests it is only logical that the artist will resort to mythology in order to give his experience its most fitting expression. This is not to say that the artist gets materials secondhand: The primordial experience is the source of his creativeness; it cannot be fathomed, and therefore requires mythological imagery to give it form (164).Although Jung himself wrote relatively little that could be called literary criticism, what he did write leaves no doubt that he believed literature, and art in general, to be a vital ingredient in human civilization. Most important, his theories have expanded the horizons of literary interpretation for those critics concerned to use the tools of the mythological approach and for psychological critics who have felt too tightly constricted by Freudian theory.'Birth' has been interpreted by a number of historians including Wolfe, Langhorne and O'Connor from a Jungian viewpoint based on a number of items of evidence. Principally these are Pollock's assertion in 1956 that he had 'been a Jungian for a long time' (quoted in O'Connor and Thaw 1978, IV, p.275); the fact that he was in analysis with Jungian therapists - from early 1939 until summer 1940 with Dr Henderson and during 1941 with Dr. Violet Staub de Laszlo; that John Graham was by then a close friend of Pollock; Pollock's use of Surrealist imagery to depict archetypes; the title of the work which is suggestive of birth, part of the Jungian cycle of birth, death and rebirth. While not denying the probability that 'his art not only reflects a concern for Jung's central thesis of the collective unconscious but contains at least some reference to particular images and symbols discussed in his analytical sessions' (William Rubin, 'Pullock as Jungian Illustrator: The Limits of Psychological Criticism', Art in America, vol.67, Nov. 1979, p.106), both Rubin and Gordon reject the specificity of the arguments and sources for 'Birth' and similar works posited by Wolfe and Langhorne. Gordon maintains that Pollock could only have talked generally to his therapists about Jung:   Henderson offered Pollock the Jungian faith in a 'psychic birth-death-rebirth cycle' as well as the symbol ordering device of the circular mandala. And similarly de Laszlo recalls that she explained to Pollock the concept of rebirth in order 'to help give him hope and confidence' and also the meaning of the mandala as 'interrelating formally fragmented parts of the psyche' (Gordon 1980, p.44).Gordon maintains that no actual discussion of Jungian theory took place in these sessions, an assertion based on evidence supplied by both doctors, and that the role of the therapists, if any, in the making of paintings such as 'Birth' was in their encouragement, through the use of drawings brought to or executed during the sessions, 'to accept the babblings and doodlings of his unconscious psyche as part of his personal identity and eluctable fate as an artist' (ibid.). Where Wolfe contends that the hollow cylindrical object at bottom right represents a birth canal and is related to a Mexican source illustrated been in a book by Jung, Gordon proves that the illustration was not available in the USA until the year Pollock died. He concludes that the cylinder, which also appears in an undated drawing (repr. O'Connor and Thaw 1978, III, p.117 no.555), is in fact an unconscious symbol of a truly archetypal and autonomous kind with both male and female sexual connotations. 'Pollock's symbolism [is] Jungian because it is archetypal and archetypal because it is the unconscious product of psychic fragmentation' (p.43). Rubin concedes that a Freudian interpretation of Pollock might be equally plausible, although it seems clear from his choice of Jungian therapists that Pollock was less interested in Freudian concepts.Pollock's interest in Jung, who was much discussed by artists in this period, was probably stimulated both by his therapy and by John Graham's article on Picasso which extolled the virtues of the employment of the unconscious in the creation of works of art: It should be understood that the unconscious mind is the creative factor and the source and the storehouse of power and of all knowledge, past and future. The conscious mind is but a critical factor and clearing house. Most people lose access to their unconscious at about the age of seven. By this age, all repressions, ancestral and individual, have been established and free access to the source of all power has been closed. This closure is sometimes temporarily relaxed by such expedients as danger or nervous strain, alcohol, insanity and inspiration (Graham 1937, p.237).It is noteworthy that Pollock was indeed suffering from alcoholism at this time although he did not necessarily deliberately drink to unlock his unconscious. However, he may well have been struck by Graham's emphasis on the importance of the unconscious in the making of powerful art, his assertion that primitive races and primitive genius have readier access to their unconscious mind than so-called civilised people' (ibid.) and his stress on the notion of collectivity. Graham also emphasised spontaneity and 'pure relevating form' which would be more important for Pollock's later work. Although Jung's name was not invoked in this article, Pollock would certainly have been aware of Graham's interest in Jung either by extension or through subsequent discussion with him. 'Birth' is a painting of fantasy in which Pollock unmistakeably borrows forms from primitive artefacts and combines them with a free flowing application of paint, which suggests spontaneity, and with borrowings from Surrealist vocabulary.Yang Li  s  Mustard Seed Forest   | STACEY KOOSEL  españolYang Li (1982)  Mustard Seed Forest   (April 2012) Mediums: acrylic, plastic, aluminum. Yang Li (1982)  Mustard Seed Forest   (April 2012) Mediums: acrylic, plastic, aluminum. Yang Li  s Mustard Seed Forest is an installation that brings together Eastern tradition and history with Western contemporary aesthetics. She sourced inspiration and theory from a Ming and Qing dynasty didactic and philosophical Chinese traditional painting manual entitled The Mustard Seed Garden Manual of Painting (Jie Zi Yuan Hua Zhuan?????) also translated into English as The Tao of Painting   A study of the ritual disposition of Chinese painting. Which is not actually one book but rather a series of books curated by Li Yu between 1679 and 1701 with specialized themes such as: Book of Trees, Book of Orchids, Book of Rocks and Book of Feathers-and-Fur and Flowering Plants [1]. The manual was curated by Li Yu, in an attempt to consolidate the most appreciated artists   paintings from merely existing in private collections to becoming accessible reference points for professionals, which traditionally existed in three different classes: craftsmen, historians and the literati (scholars).The mustard seed itself being considered the smallest seed, and a mustard seed garden suggesting the concept that something larger and more complex can grow out of the most humble, insignificant beginnings. The western variant of the adage being,  mighty oaks from little acorns grow   which srcinates from the 14th century. There are other meanings attached to the idea of seeds in Chinese culture, such as the idea of death and rebirth. Which is derived from the process where plants have to die for the seeds to be harvested. This idea of birth-death-rebirth has been explored as a larger theme in Yang Li  s work, through the metamorphosis of a young, emerging artist.Yang Li (1982)  Calligraphy in Space   (2008). Medium: ceramic, wood. Yang Li (1982)  Calligraphy in Space   (2008). Medium: ceramic, wood.After Yang Li graduating from the Tianjin Academy of Fine Arts in China she moved to Tallinn, Estonia to study sculpture and Installation at the Estonian Academy of Arts. The desire to combine traditional Chinese aesthetics in contemporary Western forms was first explored in Calligraphy in Space (2008) a ceramic and wood sculpture.However, in her following works such as Baby Carriage (2009) and My Time (2009) she found herself in alien territory as an artist, working in mediums and styles that were the antithesis of her Chinese fine arts education in painting and calligraphy.Yang Li  s classical fine arts education in Tianjin included studying under a world renowned Master of traditional literati painting, Huo Chun Yang who is known for his exploration of Tao and Zen philosophy in his paintings. In the theoretical portion of her Master  s thesis, Yang explains how living in a different country, adapting to new cultures and learning new aesthetics changed her previous worldview and synthesized something new out of the old which was directly reflected in her work.

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Jul 23, 2017
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