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January 9, 2009

BehindTheMedspeak: James Hillman's 'anima mundi'


I'd never heard of Hillman until this past weekend, when I happened on the following in Harry Eyres's "Slow Lane" column in the Financial Times:

"In my view all sorts of aspects of contemporary life are rightly called soulless. Convenience food, the overuse of mobile phones, modern trains designed like aeroplanes (no carriages for conversations and Hitchcock film plots), hermetically sealed hotel rooms.

"The writer I find most illuminating on all this is the maverick American psychologist James Hillman. Hillman draws attention not just to the individual human soul, the locus of salvation or damnation for Christians, but to the world soul, 'anima mundi'. According to Hillman, psychotherapies will never work unless they 'take into account the sickness of the world ... you have to see that buildings are anorexic, that language is schizogenic, that normalcy is manic, and medicine and business is manic.'"

OK then, over to Amazon I went to find a book by Hillman.

There are a dozen available, and the sense I got from reading the reviews is that Hillman's difficult as a writer and compelling as a thinker.

Me being lazy as an individual, I wanted something not too long and not too hard.

I think I found the right combination in the title up top.

What sealed the deal for me was this blurb by Thomas Pynchon (Thomas Pynchon!): "Finally somebody has begun to talk out loud about what must change, and what must be left behind, if we are to navigate the perilous turn of this millennium and survive."

More praise from him on the book's cover.

If it's good enough for Thomas Pynchon, it's plenty good enough for me.

On another note completely: I found the illusion created by the book's cover (top) โ€” that it isn't vertical on my computer screen but instead tilts to the left โ€” impossible to overcome, no matter how much I reasoned with myself and used a straight edge to prove it was indeed plumb.

You too?

January 9, 2009 at 02:01 PM | Permalink


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Me too! Just tilted though - and just on the top! The bottom is straight.


Posted by: Pamela Daley | Jan 9, 2009 10:39:32 PM

Me too! It appears to be slightly wider at the bottom than the top, or slightly bent somewhere in the middle....however a straight edge shows this to be false!

Posted by: EEJ | Jan 9, 2009 3:50:34 PM

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