Through a Jungian Lens

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The Ball’s In Your Court

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This photo was taken in Shanghai as a scene from the Costa Rican sector of the Central American pavilion.  I took it because of my association with Costa Rica and because of the actual representation of a woman with a ball.

The oldest artifacts in Costa Rica are stone balls which date from about 200 B.C.. before contact with Europeans.  Other than the fact that they exist and that they pre-date contact with the rest of the world, there is little that can be said about these balls.  In looking at this sculpture, I get a sense that this is all about the “game” of life.  And of course, for me, life is best represented in the image of a woman.

As a man, the image of a woman is also an externalised representation of anima, or the soul of a man.  I don’t mean to discount the reality that an image of a woman is a real representation of the person behind the image.  But when the image is not about a particular woman, then the image takes on an “archetypal” quality.  And it is to this quality that I project the contrasexual aspect of “self.”

Psychologically the anima functions in a man as his soul.  Jung described the anima as “the archetype of life itself.” [Jung, CW 9i, par 66] When a man is full of life he is “animated.”  The man with no connection to his soul feels dull and listless.  Nowadays we call this depression, but the experience is not new.  For thousands of years, among so-called primitive peoples, this state of being has been known as loss of soul.” (Sharp, Jungian Psychology Unplugged, p. 62)

I can’t speak for women, but the notion is that a woman’s soul is represented by the contrasexual animus, a masculine archetype.  Both anima and animus are representations of life.  To live fully, I can’t deny soul, I can’t deny the contrasexual aspects of self.  Denying soul leaves me a half a man.  I become reduced to functioning in a male body without meaning, no different that a biological machine.  Soul is the living water or “l’eau vive,” that courses through the psyche.  And, it is only with soul that I can find the will and energy to “play” to engage in being part of the game of life.


4 Responses

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  1. i like how the ball is rough and the woman is polished… reminds me of atlas with a much wiser attention to longevity, no need to try and trick hercules into carrying the “burden”…

    i admit that the whole anima, animus thing and all the various stages within that… (and jung in general) has me flumoxed – it seems at once overly simplistic and then with all these added complex curilques. i keep thinking of that story of the blind men trying to describe an elephant and thinking about occam’s razor…
    when i read about it, parts make me go “yeah, ok, i can see that” or “hmm, interesting” but for the most part i am left feeling like there is something missing just beyond the dance of words that is not being addressed… i can’t say what. it just does not feel complete and there is something off center about it. as though i need to step across the floor and look at the painting in the context of the wall and the room.
    like those folks that channel abraham… ok, some points are valid and it is interesting enough for that, but i just can’t take it too seriously, and i secretly suspect that if focused on too solely, it can be all rather distracting from a deeper knowing
    so either i am completely bound into my own unconscious and blinded with denial OR the tao that can be described is not the True Tao.
    i imagine that heretoo it is a slithering dance between the two options


    October 20, 2010 at 8:31 pm

    • For me, it is best to see this as a tension between what I know and the unknown. The space in between is where an answer is to be found, and likely that answer is not an either/or proposition.

      Robert G. Longpré

      October 22, 2010 at 12:43 pm

  2. sorry. let me emphasize that my criticism is with myself. all these folks i respect do so love jung and i am frustrated in that i just don’t get that “Ahh” feeling.
    it is like i am standing in the rain holding my wee little brain with my finger pointing to a puddle reflecting the moon and everyone is telling me to come inside, that it’s raining.
    know what i mean?


    October 20, 2010 at 9:04 pm

    • Yes, I know what you mean 🙂

      Robert G. Longpré

      October 22, 2010 at 12:43 pm

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