Sunday, November 14, 2010


In this clear and engaging discussion Marie-Louise Von Franz explores creation myths through the lens of Jungian analysis. Creation myths, she argues, are not really about the making of the world, but usually describe the birth of conscious awareness of ourselves as separate from the world. This of course happened to our species in the depths of Time (and the event is nicely re-imagined in Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey). But each of us goes through the process in our youth as well (with quite a few exceptions, alas).

I found her descriptions of the neurotic processes creative people fall into when they cease making Art quite interesting. Now I understand why I've been a basket case much of my adult life. The creation myths, according to Von Franz, give us clues about how the artistic mind functions, and I found a few passages to which I could relate:

there is a type of creative personality who has, in spite of his or her creative gifts, succeeded in adapting and conforming to collectivity and has built up a strong ego consciousness. Such people generally need a smashing-up experience before they can create again.

Hear, hear! I always wanted as a youth to "walk the Earth," as John Travolta said in Pulp Fiction; I dreamed I'd roam around and absorb and write about whatever I experienced. Buying a house and all that other adult bullshit has sealed my Muse in an icy tomb.

Von Franz describes this type of person as one who will gradually cut himself off from contact with friends and family until his isolation drives him to depression and despair, at which point he can start creating again. Or, at which point he starts drinking too much. Sounds familiar!

At any rate, this book is the second Von Franz I've read, and I'm very excited to tackle her Grail Legend, written with Emma Jung. It was recommended to me by a painter friend who is undergoing analysis, and who found it useful himself in un-blocking his creativity.


ellen cherry said...

i need to borrow these two books. immediately! hope you guys are good. :)

ellen cherry said...

oh, and return some of your books that i already have!

Nyarlathotep said...

You can borrow at any time. You might want to start with a different Dixon, however. His stuff is a bit weird and can be an acquired taste!