Feb 1, 2011

February 1, 2011

Using imagery in therapy is energy medicine. If energy medicine can be defined as the means to change subtle energy systems in the body, then the use of imagery qualifies by addressing negative emotions in a way that can lead to transformation. Guided imagery, active imagination, and art therapy all can be used in this way.

The Red Book

September 21, 2009


The September 16th, 2009, issue of the Sunday New York Times Magazine (you may need a subscription to view it online) has a cover story on a "new" book, The Red Book,
coming out by
Carl Jung, the famous Swiss psychologist. This is the first publication of the notes and art he made during his famous period of reclusivity at which time time he courageously delved deeply into his unconscious. Many have thought him to have been psychotic during this time but what I have read in Memories, Dreams, Reflections, his autobiography and what I have seen about this book in this article (it is not yet available to buy) he was far from that. It has been noted that many of the theories and techniques for which he is noted had their origins from the work he did during this time. One of these was the technique of active imagination, which I have written about here before, and which is widely used now in the form of guided imagery, a practice I hold particularly dear. The image above is one of the illustrations done by Jung for this book.

The availability of this book will, hopefully put to rest the view that he was out of his mind during this period. Even the meager views of the book one can see in the Times Magazine and on Amazon reveal the high degree of organization with which he recorded his experiences.

The publication of this book is cause for celebration for those of us who look to Jung for wisdom.


Red Book at Rubin

Here is another article on the publication of The Red Book from the Associated Press via Yahoo News with more details by Ula Ilnytzky. The original book will be shown at the Rubin Museum of Art  in New York, October 7 to January 25, 2010.

Also, I now see that the price for this 205 page, 8.8 pound book in German with English translation published by W. W. Norton & Company will be $195. That price actually doesn't seem too much for what you will get but you may want to know that it can be pre-purchased
at Amazon now for $105.30 and in stock on December 4. (The sales rank in Books at Amazon is 112 and its not even out yet!)

Here’s an interesting interview with Jeff Mangum of the band Neutral Milk Hotel done by Marci Fierman on the Pitchfork web site on 02-01-02. In the interview he discusses a vision that he had that he describes as “active imagination”, a concept discussed in this blog some time ago. One album from this group that seems to have garnered high acclaim is “In the Aeroplane over the Sea”. I’m not yet familiar with the band or their music- – but I now will be interested to hear them. Interesting, yes? Tell me what you think. Enjoy.

Pitchfork: I know you’re interested in visions and dreams, and that you sometimes record other people’s visions and dreams for your montage pieces. Do you remember many of your own?

Jeff: I did have a vision about a year ago that had an impact on me.

Pitchfork: What was it?

Jeff: Well, I was lying in bed slowly coming out of sleeping, and this voice in my head told me to go back in; to not quite wake up yet, but just to stay in that in-between place. So I did. I slipped back down and stayed in the halfway point. Then I was standing on the ocean. I saw a blur come around, from my right side to my left. It was a hand putting something next to me. When I looked closer I saw that what the hand had put there was a little sea turtle. I looked up to see who had put it there, and there was this mulatto boy looking at me, smiling. I picked up the sea turtle and put in my hand and it turned into a butterfly. And then it turned into a black spider. It kept turning into a butterfly, a spider, a butterfly, a spider. It would pulsate between the two. I put my hands around it to grasp it and blood ran out of my hands and fell into the sand. Then as I let go of it, the blood rose up from the sand and turned again into the butterfly/spider. It hovered about a foot above my hand, and turned into a little ball of light. So that whole sequence repeated two or three times: it would land back in my hand, turn into a creature, and when I tried to hold it, it would crush again into blood, and when I would let go the blood would rise back up and turn into a ball of light.

Pitchfork: Do you know what it means?

Jeff: Yes, I pretty much understood it right away. I didn’t have to analyze it afterwards. The butterfly and the spider represented two opposing sides: all the things that I love and consider to be beautiful and gentle and wonderful, and all the things that threaten me… the things about life that I can’t come to terms with because they don’t fit into my nice, happy picture of the way I want the world to be. It kept morphing back and forth to show me that they’re both one and the same; they’re dependent on one another to exist. When I tried to grasp at either what I love or what I hate, I destroyed the very ability of being able to really penetrate the essence of either. By trying to understand it, I would just crush it. But when I let go and let it be what it was, it would turn into light to show me that both sides come from the same source. I think the vision was trying to tell me to just live and be joyful and stop creating these internal wars over all the pain that is within myself and that I see all around me. That’s how I interpret it.

Jeff: Yes. I spend a lot of time practicing active imagination before I go to sleep. What I’m feeling will manifest as images through active imagination. And then I go to sleep and those play out even more in my dreams.

Pitchfork: What is "active imagination"?

Jeff: It’s a Carl Jung term. It’s sort of staying in that place between sleeping and waking. Just allowing your mind to completely begin to flow with images. Allowing it to become whatever it becomes. You know, you go to bed filled with worries and thoughts, caught up in that everyday kind of thing. With this, you try to concentrate on what you think is really important, or some type of interesting or mysterious image, and then allow your imagination to become like a stream. You can let the stream go, and just observe it to see what happens.

I’ve always been interested in recording other people’s dreams. A lot of people are. You heard the montage piece. I’m trying to create a dream world with the montage. It’s like when you look at a Dada or surrealist montage– I just love taking fragments from everyday reality and recombining them. Everything in the natural world is so amazing, but because we’re used to seeing it in one way we take it for granted. We can see an anthill or a roach or a flower or anything, but we have this frame where our mind recognizes an anthill and then moves on, without taking the opportunity to have the sense of awe that we could have if we really looked at it. The montage is about taking pieces of reality and rearranging them– creating new frames to make you have to stop and look at things in a fresh way. It’s basically taking pieces of everyday reality and rearranging them to show people the magic that is inherent in all of these things already.

Pitchfork: Is this reframing process something you use in your songwriting in general? Do the songs come out of fragments?

Jeff: Yeah, usually I create tunes that are fragmented. I think the biggest obstacle for people with their creativity is that they feel they have to sit down and create this finished, polished product. Especially nowadays, it’s so easy to have a library of two thousand CDs, books and records. So many things. We’re used to having all of these finished works of art in our life that seem to arise out of nothing. I think that so much of the creative process is a fragmentary one, and then it’s about just allowing your intuition to put it together for you. It’s funny how you create something and you think you’re going in a million different directions, and then the thing you end up with is the thing that you wanted to create your whole life, but you’re just as surprised by it as anybody else.