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Saturday, February 26, 2011


Never heard of Hillman. I read a lot and follow the theories of many scholars and practitioners. He is in his eighties? Funny I know nothing about him at all, not even a reference in a bibliography. Well, who knows---maybe he is the master of uncertainty? I thought Werner Heisenberg had that one tied up. But, then again, Heisenberg was a physicist.

I'm only slightly less ignorant of Hillman than Dave since I have heard of him before.

The part about growth being cancerous after childhood appeals to me because I'm sick and tired of hearing about "personal growth" and irritated by morons who write about "growing" a business.

But I bet that's not exactly what Hillman is saying and I don't know if I'm interested enough to find out.

Besides, I enjoy my petty irritations :-)

I've come across the name a number of times but never read him. He certainly sounds like a California charismatic, which raises concerns for the reasons you mention. But he also sounds like a latter-day existentialist, and this intrigues me.

While all other areas of medicine are primarily technical challenges involving dysfunctional parts of the body, psychology and psychiatry pertain to the basic question of how it is that one should live (since the brain is not just another part). Perhaps he approaches the matter too smugly for some, but it sounds like Hillman wages combat against all the too-pat answers to the existential question that human beings tend to take refuge in.

The trickster beckons at the same time that his pretentiousness repels. If Bob Dylan were a therapist, maybe he would be Hillman.

Hillman knocks down easy targets. His observations are profound compared with trite deterministic psychologies, but he does not otherwise offer anything particularly revolutionary. Sitting with dreams without interpreting? Uncertainty? *eyeroll*

Hillman is the figure behind the Archetypalist branch of Jungian psychology. That branch flourished in the 80's and 90's but is less prominent now. I suspect Hillman is the reason for its blossoming and the slow fading of that blossom.

His musings on symbols -- like salt for example -- are quite good. He wrote an essay on betrayal, in an early collection of his essays called Loose Ends, that is wonderful. His ideas about the soul of the world, anima mundi, are provocative and important, I think.

But he doesn't have a lot of clinically applicable things to say. I see him as someone who raises some interesting ideas but it for others to take those ideas and go with them because that is not his style.

I have read a lot of Hillman but am not influenced by him, being more clinically inclined myself.

I now know more about Mr. Hillman and thank those who have responded with wit and experience. I expect I'll not be too curious now. He sounds like someone with too many answers (I've heard someone say that before---just can't place who or when, CWD*) I have some comments to make for another blogger friend, so, goodbye for now. You are all delightful.
(*CWD: chuckle with discretion)

Well I guess I'll take a closer look at Hillman.

I've read about five of Hillman's books. Every one of them was worth the effort (and some of them, but not all of them, require a bit of effort). The collection of poetry for men, with introductory essays to each section, that he did with Robert Bly & Michael Meade is one of my favorite anthologies....

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