SEEING THRU ART
THE ARTIST "CARRIES and SHAPES
the unconscious, psychic life of mankind"
AN INATE DESIRE - TO CREATE
An art-based renaissance or rebirth
This is a form of re-search in which we return to the past to remember (re assemble) and recognize (re think), revision (re imagine) and revolt (“roll back”).
There is an archetypal sense and sensibility to both the content and the composition of these images whose conceptual arrangement is based on an innate sense of vision and visual literacy that has developed through the ages.
“This world is but a canvas to our imagination.”
~ HENRY DAVID THOREAU
THE RED BOOK — The "SCHOOL" of his SOUL
This website explores C. G. Jung’s art-based methodology as an educational process embodied in The Red Book, a book that Jung (2009) referred to as the “school” of his soul (p. 500) and his soul called “art” (Jung, 1961, p. 185). Given that Jung (1933) doubted whether his “way of handling dreams even deserves the name of ‘method’” (p. 62), it may seem dubious to call what he referred to as his “technique,” when teaching his Red Book art process, and the “intuitive method” in The Red Book (TRB) a methodology. Yet, Jung (1961) said that “it [his creative and theoretical life] all began” in TRB, describing the later “details” elaborated in theories and terminology as “only supplements and clarification of the material that burst form from the unconscious and swamped” him during this process. Based on the creative wealth generated by this imaginal practice, for both Jung and his student/patients, I believe the term is justified.
"The greatest danger of traditional education is that learning may remain purely verbal." Jung
This section will help you, the viewer or audience of this website, to orient to, approach, and engage Jung’s art-based methodology and increase your visual literacy. As will quickly become apparent, this is more than the application of paint to paper (as is most art), and there are some distinguishing factors and characteristics to Jung’s approach (and the field of depth psychology) that will help you navigate your way through this material. This content, like the entire individuation or transformation journey that it facilitates, is not static but moves in a non-linear progression and this is a good place to begin your approach to the material
A PSYCHOLOGICAL LENS — The world ensouled
Viewing in this art process is not about the perception of the eye as a physical eye so much as the soul and her images as a psychological lens. This is a return to an older and more collective way of seeing or viewing that recognizes the soul as an animating force and honors her images as a means of individual and collective transformation or what Jung called individuation. Viewing the soul in art in this sense retrains us to view the soul in the world as an animated or ensouled whole. This is a reorientation that transcends but is facilitated by art as a means of participating more fully in the alchemical Great Work of Art.
Jung (1997) used different language for the eyes, using the terms eye of consciousness, eye of the background, and creative which Jung said “is in everybody, is the same everywhere, because that creative point of Shiva bindu is the world” (p. 307). In viewing art, the third eye combines “the two eyes as the male and female eye, the male eye being identified with the sun, and the female eye, the left eye, with the moon.” (p. 309). Combining the eye of the unconscious and conscious, of the night and day, the eyes connect with the right and left hemisphere of the brain to see the whole picture.
PLAY — Jung's confrontation with the unconscious
Jung returned to childhood play and creativity at the beginning of his “confrontation with the unconscious” that lead to and through The Red Book. Childhood can be seen as the formative experiences of our own childhood as individuals but also as a species—the childhood of humanity in which we lived in closer proximity and harmony with nature and animals. This historical childhood is characterized by creative fantasy and it allows us to reimagine, review or revision, and recreate a new future. This childhood perspective of creative play is at the heart of Jung’s art-based methodology, representing a return to a more creative approach to art as both creation and education.
“All children paint like geniuses. What do we do to them that so quickly dulls this ability?” “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”
MANDALAS — Archetypal wholeness
This ability to see the whole in the parts to remember the past is a key to the way that the soul perceives in a sight-based (including insight, intuition, or the imagination). The mandala, which incorporates the many parts of creation in both space and time into one circle or cycle is particularly relevant as a way of reconceiving or reimagining the art of creation as both a subject and a verb, a product (the present) and a process (the past).
Mandalas were an archetypal of wholeness, embodying individuation as a form of both personal and species adaptation for Jung and they will feature throughout this website and in the glossary as a way to perceive and hold time and space, the many and the one or as the soul’s multiplicity. This is a way of perceiving that returns to the past and past ways of knowing as orienting in alignment with the heavens above—as part of not apart from something bigger. It is a circumambulation of the image, as Jung might say, echoing Nietzsche and others.
"It is not to be thought; it is to be viewed. It is a painting." Jung of his soul