Symbolic Life

In so far as poetry is one of those psychic activities that give shape to the contents of the unconscious, it seems to me not unfitting to open this volume with an essay which is concerned with a number of fundamental questions affecting the poet and his work.

This discussion is followed by a lecture on the rebirth motif,  given on the occasion of a symposium on this theme.

Drama, the principal theme of poetic art, had its origin in ceremonial, magically effective rites which, in form and meaning, represented a Spcofxevov or Spafia, something “acted” or “done.”

During this time the tension builds up until it culminates in a TrepeirereLa, the denouement, and is resolved.

Menacingly, the span of life narrows down to the fear of death, and out of this angustiae (straits, quandary, wretchedness, distress) a new birth emerges, redemptive and opening on to larger horizons.

It is evident that drama is a reflection of an eminently psychological situation which, infinitely varied, repeats itself in human life and is both the expression and the cause of a universally disseminated archetype clothed in multitudinous forms.

The third contribution is a case history.

It is the description of a process of transformation illustrated by pictures.

This study is supplemented by a survey of mandala symbolism drawn from case material.

The interpretation of these pictures is in the main formal and, unlike the preceding essay, lays more emphasis on the common denominators in the pictures than on their individual psychology.

The fifth and last contribution is a psychological study of E.T.A. Hoffmann’s tale “The Golden Pot,” by Aniela Jaffe.

This tale of Hoffmann’s has long been on my list of literary creations which cry out for interpretation and deeper understanding.

I am greatly indebted to Mrs. Jaffe for having undertaken the not inconsiderable labour of investigating the psychological background of “The Golden Pot,” thus absolving me from a task which I felt to be an obligation. ~Carl Jung, CW 18, Pages 525-526