Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Thought for the Day: James Hillman on Literalism's Assault on Imaginal Understanding

Without metaphorical understanding, everything is only what it is and must be met on the simplest, most direct level. Everything then is a call to action and the hero is there to realize himself in a reality that serves his literal notion of it. A view of reality that does not recognize other views is of course delusional. In the heroic ego’s case, the delusion is self-divinization, the perspective of the human ego as the superior, indeed the only, actuality. The rest is not real. . . .

Without imaginal understanding, we may expect killing, as if our culture cannot ever take down the wild Western ego until it has restored the ancient sense of image and recovered the imaginal from the broken shards of reformational literalism.

James Hillman, The Dream and the Underworld (NY: Harper & Row, 1979), p. 115.