Through a Jungian Lens

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Out on a Limb

with 10 comments

This is another photo that surprised me when I looked more closely at it.  If you look to the left-hand edge of the crane’s arm, you will see a man.  When I took the photo I was more interested in the crane and the composition of the sky.  I would have to say it is a “happy accident” to have the man in the image.  How was it that I was able to take the photo at the precise moment that “he” would be at the edge of the arm as if “out on a limb?”  Now, I know that I could never find myself in such a situation; well, not in the physical dimension.

One can never give a description of a type, no matter how complete, that would apply to more than one individual, despite the fact that in some ways it aptly characterizes thousands of others.  Conformity is one side of a man, uniqueness is the other.  Classification does not explain the individual psyche.  Nevertheless, an understanding of psychological types opens the way to a better understanding of human psychology in general” (Jung, CW 6, par 895)

I am impressed by those that can go out on a limb such as this man.  I lack the courage and the temperament to stick out, to risk in full view of others.  I prefer to keep low and stick to the shadows and not be noticed all that much, at least most of the time.  Personally, I prefer to take risks and go out on a limb within my inner landscapes.  There I know I have my privacy and there I have the courage to do what I would never consider in the outer world.  So, what does that say about me?  What does the image say about the man at the edge of the crane’s boom?  Are these kinds of questions even worth considering when one knows that each individual is exactly that, an individual?

I think that these are relevant questions that one needs to ask as one tries to understand oneself and at least a bit about others.  For the next while, I will be using Daryl Sharp’s book, Jungian Psychology Unplugged as a take off point for my posts.  That said, I will at times write just as the spirit moves me when a particular image evokes something that doesn’t fit with my reading of Sharp’s book.  The first chapter of the book talks about psychological types.  So, for the next while, I will likely find the faces of China as my photographic subject material.  I invite questions and supplementary commentary in hopes that it will allow me a better chance to communicate  with you in a fuller dialogue.


10 Responses

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  1. I might be assuming too much here, but I don’t know that you haven’t gone out on a limb yourself, professor, given that you have launched on the adventure of traveling to China to teach at university. The man on the crane, or any of the rest of us, might suggest that he or we would rather walk the crane any day, than stand before a room of students in his own country or another and lecture about history or Jungian psychology or any other subject. I guess it comes down to the perspective of what we choose to call our limb…or someone else’s…which goes back to what you and Jung said about being individuals. We can’t assume to describe a type, no matter how complete, that would apply to more than one individual, even though it seems to fit the thousands. Very nice post, Robert…and beautiful picture…of you (in him) out on your own limb. I salute you!


    September 2, 2010 at 11:02 am

    • 🙂 Not too much of a risk as this is year three at the same university in the same community with familiar colleagues and friends. The first time I travelled here to work, it was about going out on a limb.

      Robert G. Longpré

      September 2, 2010 at 4:38 pm

  2. Yes, good luck as you put yourself out on a limb! I was in China last summer teaching English, and our guide pointed out the scores of cranes in Hangzhou, joking:
    “The crane is the national bird of China.”


    September 2, 2010 at 12:10 pm

    • I’ve heard the same statement many times 🙂 Still, it is amazing to see more than thirty of these from the apartment windows. It is as though the building frenzy has been raging unchecked. In the two year absence, a lot of new buildings have been finished where none existed when we left – and now occupied. A park around a lake has disappeared as expensive housing has replaced the wildness that exposited when I first arrived here in August of 2006.

      Robert G. Longpré

      September 2, 2010 at 4:46 pm

  3. Love the balance in this photo.And so clear, all the black lines slim and straight and finely drawn.Out on a limb, yes, scary, but we all do it in our own way, to test how far we will go.

    abha iyengar

    September 2, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    • Thanks, Abha. 🙂

      Robert G. Longpré

      September 2, 2010 at 4:49 pm

  4. This is a very nice photo, well composed and nicely capturing that nice sky!
    Like you, I don’t like to “stick out”, I prefer the background, but in each of us there is that adventurous spirit, whether it is climbing out to the end of a boom or trying to capture beautiful photographs from the shadows! Those beautiful photographs will eventually “stick out” thereby putting the spotlight on you, accept it with grace and humility.


    September 2, 2010 at 7:26 pm

    • Thank you for your comments. Yes, we all end up somehow, out on a limb in some dimension. It would be nice if “my” limb was tied to my photographs and my writing, my attempts at transparency and being accountable as a human being.

      Robert G. Longpré

      September 2, 2010 at 9:12 pm

  5. People do fall from limbs, you know.


    September 3, 2010 at 1:13 am

    • Yes they do. But people also fall when standing on flat ground and sustain serious injury. One shouldn’t hold oneself in a prison of “safety” in hopes of avoiding “hurt.” Living is a risk. To live fully is the greatest risk.

      Robert G. Longpré

      September 3, 2010 at 5:52 am

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