“I think we need to get very clear between us that the world is against eros and friendship. We are on the same ‘tree,’ and so we produce similar fruit.”
– James Hillman to Thomas Moore, circa August 24, 1993
James Hillman was my dear friend, from whom I learned much at our dinners, on walks and drives, and during collaborations in writing and speaking. He was devoted to the ideas of C.G. Jung and yet was fiercely willing to go his own way. He was always on the lookout for soul, always the therapist, even when he turned his attention away from individuals to the world. To me his key ideas are: psychological polytheism, the individuation of everyone and everything, the importance of beauty, the primacy of narrative and image, a distaste for making everything conscious, seeing through everything including oneself, and giving up all literalism and symbolic talk. For the most part he was critical of things spiritual, and this is where he and I differed, at least in style.
I would like to take this three-part series as a rare opportunity to talk about what I learned from James Hillman, the man as I knew him, and how his ideas, so carefully crafted, could solve most of the world’s problems today.
Over the course of these sessions, we will discuss three themes:
How did James Hillman make valuable additions and corrections to Jung’s work?
The central roles of Hermes and Aphrodite in James Hillman’s mythological psychology.
How does James Hillman’s Archetypal Psychology translate into cultural renewal, a personal philosophy, and a psychotherapy?
Descriptions of the three days’ presentations:
Probably the best example of Hillman’s devotion to Jung and the thrust of his own thought is his book Anima, where one page is Jung writing about anima, the facing page Hillman’s own creative responses. Hillman critiques the use of gender in the concepts of anima and animus. He proposes polytheism instead of wholeness and unity. He suggests focusing on the individual rather than on types.
Hillman often invoked Hermes as the spirit of paradox, fresh thinking, surprise, ideas as revelations rather than rational conclusions. He felt that Hermes is essential to therapy for allowing insights to appear and for discoveries to be made.
Hillman suggests re-imagining our problems, social and personal, rather than trying to solve them on their own literal terms. He describes therapy as arriving at a new fiction of our predicaments. He understands that soul-making has to be a way of life.
Thomas Moore, PhD, is author of the bestseller Care of the Soul and twenty-five other books on the depth psychology of everyday life. He has a Ph.D. in Religious Studies from Syracuse University, as well as degrees in theology and in music. He has been a psychotherapist for over thirty years and frequently lectures for Jung societies, medical conferences, churches, and therapy organizations. His most recent books include Ageless Soul and Soul Therapy.
Hosted Online via Zoom
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