Every one wants to understand art. Why not try to understand one song of a bird? Why does one love the night, flowers, everything around one, without trying to understand? But in case of a painting, people have to understand. If only they would realize above all that an artist works because he must, that he himself is only a trifling bit of the world, and that no more importance should be attached to him than to plenty of others things in the world which please us, though we can’t explain them.
Picasso’s insight is my segueway to say that I’m teaching a class on image at Pacifica Graduate Institute next year. Images lose their power when we try to explain them. Instead, we can “befriend” them, noticing their presence and the effect they seem to want to have on our life and the lives of those around us. When Pacifica sent me the title, “The Purpose and Power of Image” and the course description, I knew this class was mine. Here’s the description:
Depth psychology has always maintained a close relationship with image—-the literal images which visit in our sleep, the fantasy images we flirt with while awake, the autonomous images that appear “out of nowhere,” the metaphorical images we have of ourselves and others—the psyche is always creating images. In turn, those images give shape to our psyche, an idea which archetypal psychologist James Hillman explores in his work. Hillman proposes that “at the soul’s core we are images,” and that life can be defined as “the actualization over time” of the images in our hearts and souls. Hillman goes even further by suggesting that our unique images are the essence of our life, and “calls [us] to a destiny.” Students will study the writings of James Hillman and others on the purpose and power of image in psychological and creative life and meditate upon the core images meaningful to their lives and work.