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The Soul's Code: In Search of Character and Calling
     

The Soul's Code: In Search of Character and Calling

4.1 6
by James Hillman
 

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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

Overview

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 life—a way of seeing, and a way of recovering what has been lost of our intrinsic selves.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Decades ago, pioneering Jungian analyst and author Hillman (Kinds of Power) challenged the assumptions of Western psychology by applying the ancient concept of "soul" to the modern psyche. Rendered in simpler terms by his protg, bestselling author Thomas Moore, Hillman's work on soul has fed the public imagination with the nourishing idea that we are vastly deeper and more permeable to the influences around us than we may think. Here, Hillman discusses character and calling, introducing an "acorn theory" that claims that "each life is formed by its unique image, an image that is the essence of that life and calls it to a destiny." Borrowing the language of Plato's Myth of Ur, Hillman suggests that this imaginary sense of our lives or callings drives each of us like a personal daimon or force. Drawing on extraordinary lives from Judy Garland to Coco Chanel to Hitler, he describes the movements of the daimon, showing how it can use everything in our environment, from lucky accidents to bad movies, to allow the acorn to "grow down" and express itself in the real material of our lives. Without succumbing to oversimplification or wishful thinking, Hillman challenges the reductive "parental fallacy"the contention that our early experience with our parents determines our selves and our futures. The daimon, he says, pulls us up out of mere conditioning to have a fate. In this brilliant, absorbing work, Hillman dares us to believe that we are each meant to be here; that we are needed by the world around us. Simultaneous Random AudioBook; author tour. (Aug.)
Library Journal
Hillman has written ten books, but he is best known as the inspiration for Thomas Moore's Care of the Soul. Now, for this book on finding one's personal calling, he's getting a big print run himself.
Kirkus Reviews
What set of factors most influence the course of an individual human life? Nature? Nurture? The choices a person makes, including one's intimate relationships? Or is it the complex interplay of all of these? For Jungian analyst and prolific writer Hillman (Kinds of Power, 1995, etc.), the correct answer is apparently "none of the above."

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.

From the Publisher
“[An] acute and powerful vision . . . Offers a renaissance of humane values.”—Thomas Moore, author of Care of the Soul and The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life
 
“Champions a glorious sort of rugged individualism that, with the help of an inner daimon (or guardian angel), can triumph against all odds.”The Washington Post Book World
 
“[A] brilliant, absorbing work . . . Hillman dares us to believe that we are each meant to be here, that we are needed by the world around us.”Publishers Weekly

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780679445227
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
08/13/1996
Edition description:
1st ed
Pages:
352
Product dimensions:
6.07(w) x 9.62(h) x 1.17(d)

Meet the Author

A world-renowned lecturer, teacher, author, Jungian analyst, and former director of the Jung Institute, James Hillman (1926-2011) was born in New Jersey and spent much of his life in Europe. He was the author of over twenty books, translated into ten languages, including The Myth of Analysis and Reinventing Psychiatry (nominated for a Pulitzer in 1975).

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