“I don’t paint a picture I allow the picture to paint me” Carl Jung (1875-1961), Founding Psychologist
“Images are the language of the Psyche“
Our world is constituted by our language which for most of us is words in the English language.
Therefore all current meaning, truth and value are man made by outside influences. They affect our conditioning by well meaning parents, teachers and work. We wonder who we are!
The language of images can come from dreams, fantasies and imagination. Images are symbolic representations that have meaning at the individual level. They help us choose what to be. This may be more important than what we choose to do. Image guide us to the self understanding.
All the Arts are involved in Image making.
As humans we operate by psychological laws that state we are alive. Energy gives us life and can be called life energy or as Jung preferred Psychic Energy. We don’t have psyche, we are psyche which means we have a potential for awareness, an unlimited capacity for knowing all. Most of us don’t apply this potential therefore we are in a state of unknowing. Jung called this the Unconscious as opposed to the conscious. What we know is the tip of the iceberg. What we don’t know, what we are unaware of is the vast bulk of the iceberg under water.
Jung suggested the goal of life is to bring all that is unconscious to the level of consciousness. Then we are made whole. Wholeness is the goal and images can chart the progress of every human life to this end.
Words can of course convey images but mostly they are weak. There are exceptions in the case of poets but they are few and far between. The weakness of words is their multi-meanings. For example the word hand “on the other hand” and “hands up!”.
This situation leads to poor communication especially between opposite personalities, cultural difference and ideologies from east and west.
The language of images speaks to the heart in the same way dreams are pertinent to the dreamer alone. Here the images become symbols that have meaning. They chart the course of individual human life.
Symbols are different to signs. For example a stop sign only signals stop. A symbol can be a form of energy that Jung called Psychic Energy and has meaning at the individual level.
Symbols are universal such as the circle.
Cross, Snake and Cube. Young children draw the Sun as symbol without being taught. Here they express an Energy which is without words.
If they add form and colour to their expressive symbol the emotional impact deepens. Such expression becomes a form of therapy and therefore healing. Here a picture is worth a thousand words.
Here the alternative language of images and symbols can enrich a human life.
The adage of children drawing the sun can be carried into adulthood through what Jung called Active Imagination. At the expressive level a symbol be downloaded by simple scribble. This should be done in less than thirty seconds. This differs from the doodle which takes longer and allows the ego to take over and distort the meaning. When this happens the doodle can be described as outside in. The thirty seconds scribble can be described as inside out.
As a Visual Artist I birth Symbols on a daily basis, imbuing them with the addition of form, colour, subjective expression and claim them as beautiful. This quest for beauty contracts with the ugliness of this world. The poet Keats invented the saying “Beauty is Truth and Truth is Beauty”.
The search for beauty cannot be objective. Beauty is a by-product of imagination, fantasy and the dream.
These have no role in the conduct of our secular and materialistic world. Our present world brings depression failure and illness especially mental illness.
Image and symbol sees the world in terms of myth and legend. They can be seen in the Visual Arts, Poetry, Music and all Creative Expression.
When this expression takes place a new way of seeing the world comes into being. It is based on stories and human imagery.
This is very different to seeing the world in terms of a mathematical framework and structural regularities.
Instead of seeing this world from above it needs to be balanced by seeing each individual world from below, using dreams which contain images and symbols.
It is time to choose!
We have to make sense; we have to transform chaos into cosmos. The challenge is to develop freedom and Creativity.
The present world is full of desires and this is done collectively. All our knowledge is crowd knowledge, all our meanings which are collectively misunderstandings, are crowd understandings. Crowd survival is the name of the game.
To be truly modern each individual must go it alone. Thus the modern is basically a Dreamer who communicates inwardly through the use of symbols.
We do this through the innocence of becoming where we choose our own values and thus energise ourselves.
Then life opens out into a broad plateau of peace which can be described as the peace that passes understanding.
Here lies true meaning which should be the goal of every human life.
It is time to choose!