The Soul's Code: In Search of Character and Callingby James Hillman
Plato and the Greeks called it "daimon," the Romans "genius," the Christians "guardian angel." Today we use the terms heart, spirit, and soul. To James Hillman, the acknowledged intellectual source for Thomas Moore's bestselling sensation Care of the Soul, it is the central and guiding force of his utterly compelling "acorn theory"in which each life is formed by a unique image, an image that is the essence of that life and calls it to a destiny, just as the mighty oak's destiny is written in the tiny acorn.
In this new look at age-old themes, Hillman provides a radical, frequently amusing, and highly accessible path to realization through an extensive array of examples. He urges his readers to discover the "blueprints" particular to their own individual lives, certain that there is more to life than can be explained by genetics or environment. As he says, "We need a fresh way of looking at the importance of our lives."
What The Soul's Code offers is an inspirational, positive approach to lifea way of seeing, and a way of recovering what has been lost of our intrinsic selves.
Rather, Hillman focuses single-mindedly on each person's special daimon, an abstract, almost mystical notion lifted from Neoplatonic thought that he defines as "an invisible nonhuman escort," and "the lot your soul chose before you ever took a breath." This daimon, he argues, "the essence" or blueprint of each life, calls us to a very particular destiny, and it does not willingly suffer our neglect. In developing endless variations on this idea, he comes out sounding extraordinarily fatalistic, positing, for instance, that "assassination was written in Gandhi's script." Thus, he largely downplays such basic aspects of the human condition as choice, conflict, ambivalence, chance, irrationality, and madness. And Hillman's intense focus on individuals and their unique fates means that the communal side of life, and specifically altruism and other positive social values, are also given little weight. Finally, as the following passage exemplifies, Hillman's prose often seems both confusingly bloated and maddeningly ethereal: "I am different from everyone else and the same as everyone else; I am different from myself ten years ago and the same as myself ten years ago; my life is a stable chaos, chaotic and repetitive both, and I can never predict what tiny, trivial bit of input will result in a huge and significant output." This, and passages like it, are likely to leave many readers scratching their heads.
This verbose book would have benefitted by being pruned into a stylistically far tighter essay, less declamatory and more reflective.
- Transworld Publishers Limited
- Publication date:
Meet the Author
A world-renowned lecturer, teacher, author, Jungian analyst, and former director of the Jung Institute, James Hillman was born in New Jersey and spent much of his life in Europe. He is the author of over twenty books, translated into ten languages, including The Myth of Analysis and Reinventing Psychiatry (nominated for a Pulitzer in 1975). He lives in Thompson, Connecticut, and is the father of four.
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There are 4 basic world hypotheses that underlie our scientific models, including pdychology. We are all familiar with the mechsnistic model, which manifests as behavioral and cogbitive-bdhaviorl theorypies; the organismic model, which is reflected in the stage theories of development, such as Freud and Piaget, and: the contextualist models, such as Harry Stack Sullivan. The fourth model, which is based on the Platonic theory of ideal images, is represented only in the theory of the archetypes of C. G. Jung and the subsequent Archetypal Psychology of James Hillman. Jsmes formulation is as valid scientifically as any of the others, but is not taken seriously by the mechanistic theorists predominating in American psychology, largely due to a tendency to be unable to extricate themselves from the fundamentalist faith in embracing their favored world view. Hillman, standing outside of he currently prevailing zeitgeist of the cognitive-behavioral mythos, provides a very lucid expoosition of an alternative framework that places the immediacy of our felt experience, squarely at the center of the psychology of the soul. Based on the Platonic theory of the ideal image, Hillman's Archetypal Psychology brings meaning back into the practice of psychology, and offers a view of the lsndscape of the soul, revealing the depths of our experience as living beings in a living world. His work offers us an antidote to the flat, horizontal world of behavioral psychology by opening perception to the vertical dimension of the upper and lower worlds of our being that we so desperately need to see and integrate into our individual and collective lives so as to bring healing into contemporary society. You will find Hillman's work offers true sustenance for your hungry soul.
As I read Hillman's theory of 'the acorn' the more it seemed to me that it sounded like the old fashioned concept of 'destiny' or 'calling.' Sometimes i thought he was indulging in more than a bit of creative fantasy--pushing his cases history to their 'imaginal' limits. I did not get anything out of it, went back to my beloved and much read 'Puer Papers.' Late Hillman is not as impressive as early Hillman.
Walked in with a dil<_>do and a whip. "Hello?"