Quotes: The Ecocritical Psyche: Literature, Evolutionary Complexity and Jung

Quotes from The Ecocritical Psyche: Literature, Evolutionary Complexity and Jung. Taylor and Francis. Kindle Edition. Rowland, Susan (2013-03-01).

  • It then makes use of the post-Darwinian development of Complex Adaptive Systems and the proposal by Helene Shulman that Jung’s psyche is the ‘missing link’ between nature’s complexity and ours (Shulman 1997).

  • To Jung, myths are a special kind of narrative that changes consciousness.

  • He believed that the unconscious part of the psyche was intrinsically creative, and at least in part could never be known by the rational faculty of the mind. In this way the psyche could be compared to a wilderness with its own indigenous wild creatures. (p. 2)

  • We see here that, like Darwin, metaphor becomes substantiated: light is not representing consciousness metaphorically; it is consciousness. Since consciousness has always been described in terms derived from the behaviour of light, it is… not too much to assume that these multiple luminosities correspond to tiny conscious phenomena. (Jung 1947/1954/1960, CW8: para. 396) (p. 11).

  • Attitudes to nature are, in essence, religious. Jung similarly believed that attitudes to psychic nature are, at root, religious, and that our psychic nature is the non-human nature within us. Or, to be even more precise, that religion is the traditional mode of symbolizing the space between what is human and what is not. (p. 27).

  • Woman, as was well known, partook of the lesser nature of ‘matter’ as a secondary creation for the benefit of man. In her deviousness as Eve, woman, unforgivably, stood for matter, sexuality, body and bringing death into the fate of humankind. Here, of course, woman is nature and man the culture that seeks redemption by perfecting his dominance over her. (p. 27).

  • Animism is a vision of the sacred where the divine inheres within the non-human world; it is not essentially separate from it. Every mountain, stream, tree, season, wind, valley etc. is sacred and has its own spirit. Under certain conditions these spirits can be articulate. One hugely important type of human work is to learn how to talk to them. So to live in these cultures is to grow forms of work through their careful complex relationship with the sacred entities of nature. Here ‘work’ means becoming more and more a part of nature. (p. 28)

  • seventeenth-century alchemy began as a symbolic embodiment in nature and initiated a process aimed at freeing the spirit from its matter. (p. 30)

  • Polyani’s ‘tacit knowledge’ is the kind of embodied, partly unconscious knowing that we acquire by body and psyche working together at levels not accessible to ego (separation) consciousness. Effectively, tacit knowledge is knowledge based on body and connection. It cannot be captured in words abstracted from embodied acts. Mythically, tacit knowledge is of the earth mother. (p. 36)

  • Art and culture advance through tacit knowledge, Wheeler argues. It is through the incarnated creative unconscious that the ‘new’ happens. Tacit knowledge means a complexity greater than comprehensible at the time; this complexity is not confined to cultural change. Rather, ‘complexity’ is now regarded as key to evolution in nature. (p. 37).

  • alchemy is, in essence, humanity’s creative engagement with naturally occurring transformative powers. (p. 48).

  • Complexity science ‘discovers’ earth mother happily alive in evolution, just as did Lovelock’s Gaia hypothesis, described in Chapter 1. At this point we may, as Shulman proposes, add the Jungian unconscious as a Complex Adaptive System. As inferred by Jung, the psyche is co-evolving because it interacts creatively with parallel systems in the cells of the human body, and with non-human CAS in nature. Jungian archetypes are inherited capacities for creativity and signifying, the qualities needed to become a complex co-evolving adaptive system. As Shulman puts it, ‘[o]ur human work of integration, which Jung called individuation, occurs within a larger context in which all of nature is integrating for coevolution’ (ibid.: 142). (p. 91)

  • Complexity science is one possibility for a new origin story for the imperilled modern world. And yet, intrinsic to complexity science itself is the capacity to flow, let go of certainty, morph, pedomorph, into some ‘other’ yet-to-be found understanding. The secrets of the Old One are that it needs the energy of the ‘young one’, flexibility, imagination and dreams, as much as requiring older qualities of inheritance, order and hierarchy. (pp. 99-100).

  • It is the trickster who injects additional complexity into the chronotope by offering a third way to the hunter-hunted dialogue. In fact, here we could counter Bakhtin’s horror of myth and augment Lewis Hyde’s archetypal trickster. For while hunter-hunted consciousness lacks the intrinsic creativity of the Jungian imagination, the trickster myth can mobilize the dialogical psyche in his heteroglossic playfulness (pp. 113-114).