Through a Jungian Lens

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Active Imagination: Locating Libido Via Fantasy-Images

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Woman in Xin Bei Central Park - ChangZhou, China

Though it was a muggy, thick and gray day yesterday, I took a long walk which included a small park. Usually the park is bustling with people – grandparents with little ones, university students with their new-found loves, middle-aged people exercising and a few playing traditional Chinese instruments in the scattered gazebos by the small man-made lake. But this day, it was different.  The park was almost empty.  I guess I would have to blame it on the weather.

Today is no different.  The air is again thick. There is an absence of smiles and sunny dispositions in the faces I saw as I walked.  Later in the day, a light rain fell as though trying to release some of the pressure.  It made me think of tears, how one cries in order to relieve pressure that has built up within oneself.  Sometimes one doesn’t even know why one is crying, just that there is a need to let the tears flow and find some relief this way.

Strange how one’s mind travels, how imagination kicks in and takes one to different places.  As I wrote the above words I thought of weather patterns, how there are high pressure systems and low pressure systems.  High pressure systems and we have sunshine.  Low pressure systems give us rain.  The clash of the two systems give us storms.  Does the human psyche mimic nature?  Or, is is possible that the psyche is nature?

For me, the photographic images help draw out what is buried deep within myself.  Yes, the image here is of a young woman in a park, sitting on a stone bench with a cell phone in her hand and her shoes on the brick stone work of the ground.  But, the image is much more than a pictorial record of the scene.  As I look at it and let it sit with me, something is drawn up from the depths.  This happens with all of us with some images, not all images.  When it does happen, we have tapped into libido.

Libido can never be apprehended except in a definite form; that is to say, it is identical with fantasy-images.  And we can only release it from the grip of the unconscious by bringing up the corresponding fantasy-images.  … we give the unconscious a chance to bring its fantasies to the surface.” (Jung, C.W. Volume 7, paragraph 345)

So, when an image becomes more than the objective scene, it becomes numinous and allows me to make another journey into a world of shadows.  And there I listen and watch and learn and discover – self.


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