Thursday, November 03, 2011

James Hillman

A friend sent me the following notice, written by Thomas Moore about James Hillman (April 12, 1926 – October 27, 2011):

I'm writing this on the day that my dear friend, colleague, mentor and publisher James Hillman died. It's difficult for me to imagine my world without him after almost forty years of laughter, letters, ideas, planning, and frequent postcards. I don't know which side of James affected me more, his strong personality or his penetrating ideas. In any case, it was the friendship, so full of heart and constancy, that meant the most.

I wonder if one day the world will really discover Hillman's genius and the importance of his work. I don't know anyone, present or past, who has had a deeper understanding of human life and culture. For me, he was the standard against which I measured all other work, and I understand the great thinkers of the past through him. It is the Hillman Freud and the Hillman Jung that excites me.

On this significant day I recommend his books and essays to you. The Uniform Edition of his writings is well on its way in several volumes from Spring Publications. He will make you see the most ordinary things in a fresh light and will inspire you to live closer to life with profound appreciation of the world that displays itself to your senses. For all his intellectual brilliance, James was a sensual man, close to animals and free to express his own nature in his daily life.

I am a devotee of Jung, Emerson, Thoreau, Dickinson and many other giants of culture, but none has influenced me more or given me the joy of insight as much as James Hillman. In his later years, especially, he expressed his affection and gave his support to me at times of doubt and criticism. Today my heart is full of gratitude for having known him intimately and for having had the opportunity to learn from him. I feel moved to do even more to make his life work more accessible to a world that would be much better with his wisdom and point of view.

Wikipedia has this to say:

"Hillman has been critical of the 20th century’s psychologies (e.g., biological psychology, behaviorism, cognitive psychology) that have adopted a natural scientific philosophy and praxis. Main criticisms include that they are reductive, materialistic, and literal; they are psychologies without psyche, without soul. Accordingly, Hillman’s oeuvre has been an attempt to restore psyche to what he believes to be "its proper place" in psychology. Hillman sees the soul at work in imagination, in fantasy, in myth and in metaphor. He also sees soul revealed in psychopathology, in the symptoms of psychological disorders. Psyche-pathos-logos is the “speech of the suffering soul” or the soul’s suffering of meaning. A great portion of Hillman’s thought attempts to attend to the speech of the soul as it is revealed via images and fantasies."

I have been going to a discussion group in psychology for the last few weeks and what an experience that is! I promised myself not to quit until the end of the term as a test of my new resolve to be patient. The subject is the footprints of memory and the reading material is quite excellent, even when I don't agree with some of the ideas. Many of the participants in the group are therapists, present and past. What can I say, high intelligence, wisdom, compassion, understanding, open-mindedness, clearly articulated ideas and arguments are scarce commodities in that milieu. I'm only mentioning this by way of explaining my interest in this thinker and author. Hopefully I will have a better experience engaging with his writings than I do with this train-wreck of a group.

His book
"The Soul's Code: In Search of Character and Calling" is already on the way.

With many thanks to WillJames for thinking about me and sending me this information.


At 2:04 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hillman was one of the most interesting men of the 20th century because he understood what was necessary before one could be an integrated human being.


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