Thursday, January 26, 2012


James Hillman (1926-2011)


This is the first in a series of blogs exploring an image of psyche marked initially by the blue phase in phrasing itself. The image is "the absence of winter." The blue phase in phrasing something is itself a metaphor for an experience that cannot quite be told and so it appears as an image doubling for itself which brings an insighting power to words enlivening the soul of words making new meanings possible where none were before. Since this is what the work of James Hillman does for me, I will use his image as that which is marking the space doubling for this other at work.  This idea underlies illustrator, Jason Stout's recreation of the photograph above of the late James Hillman. This image is provided in the article by Michael Ventura quoted below. Scroll down and click the link to see the image double in the Stout illustration and to read the article before reading on.

Poetic Space In January

Can you see the world in a word? If there is a desire to see the world in a word, perhaps it will lead to using words to mean themselves in fresh ways. Letting a word show us the world shining there is what it means to let words use us. This is soul.

The word is January and the world of the word names Janus. Remembered is the god of archways, Janus Divom Deus marking the way January is at work in the god now in my own literary ways. This January is marked by ending just at the beginning of something new that occurred everywhere. Color this “January” blue. Thusly “January” becomes a personified notion bringing endings and beginnings near each other just where they are separated forever. Blue earth, blue air, blue water, blue fire, but most of all, blue space, this January re-turns January clothed in the blue phase in phrases having the greatest emotional range. Hence the phrase, January “blues”.

Re-Turning Blue Fire

Recently I read Michael Ventura’s comment(s) in the article “Letters At 3am” published to the Austin Chronicle online January 13, 2012 also a Friday the 13th. Ventura is remembering James Hillman who dies in October of 2011. I have believed for some time now the way into understanding JH’s “letters” is through the soul of blue.

Among the remains of his remaining [letters] are words piling up syllables all of which reference “soul”. Already there is a thought going on in the back of my head for what JH means by soul, soul at the end of something, soul at the beginning of something. Soul says he, has a special relationship to death.

Jung said toward the end of his life, soul sees “in conspectu mortis” and perhaps so should we. Seeing life “from death’s point of view” also includes seeing life from a death’s point of view and to do this is somehow the beginning of something which marks the edges of its own embodying power or “soul.” Blue music has “soul” we say. “Blue” writes William Gass in the book, On Being Blue “is the color of everything that’s empty.” The material imagination is empty of bodies but not of embodying power. The one we loved is gone and the empty space more precious to us than any “thing” fills with images remembering our beloved. The images themselves re-member him, too. The embodying power which is “the soul” of psyche’s imaginal dimension brings liveliness to our images who fill with blue, emotive juices. Blue carries liquid desire. Color soul-image blue because these are images which outlive our bodies.

Something happens here for me which has to do with a certain photograph of James Hillman. I’m not certain at the onset, but this may be what I’m thinking about that my own mind cannot yet grasp. If so, this is what I’m trying to explore and about which I am really trying to write.

Who knows what Friday the 13th is doing here but the return of these quick remains in my head are enough to get a blue fire going. They are not all of it but they are the “mains” of the moment’s re-maining this January’s “whites.” A blue fire whitens soul-making weaving and unweaving in a way that links linen memories reminding me grandma, too, once added blue to the wash to whiten whites…white shades, subtle differences. William Gass again… “the shaded slopes of clouds…the constantly increasing absence...” because blue marks where the mind reaches for what has already escaped its grasp.

Led through the archway between inner and outer things a blue fire shapes invisibly. The dark matter making space for this space sets the de termini for the god, its range and limit, in other words its poetic “space” of reach through winter and the form the god manifests in, “Terminus” during winter’s ancient festivals celebrated toward the end of February―yes, Terminus a son of January! Hence Janus as Divom Deus renders gods’ ‘god’. In other words, a poetic space is made and marked.

January 13, 2012 comes but at the same time it is marked where remembering adds blue…the wild blue that exists in a yonder-making of darker matters, matters like death. Resurrection phantasies are out of the question here. Blue marks the middle way into and out of poetic way-making to which JH provides warning. Don’t be too upbeat in the making less you constellate the opposite and get thrown off this edge. Don’t accent a downbeat either. Neither nihilism nor materialism need constellate to re-main the remains of the middle way. For this edge is the edge of poetic space in which a poetic opening in the mind occurs.

January in time and of times is not this poetic space. This poetic space is another. This space carries making power in the powerful wonder of itself-- relinquished literally of attachment to material form, even one’s own death. A poetic basis of mind is mindfulness won wan-yondering just out of reach of thinking. Bluing puts a felt sense into our awareness and in the shaded, sloping hour of our thoughts, a constantly increasing absence brings embodying power to our words. Thank you JH for yours.

Reaching January Is Like Opening Letters At 3am

And what then can be said about the reach, the edge of winter in January thrown back upon itself? I begin to imagine within this space the force of life making this winter vanish into what it is much the way the universe vanishes into dark matter making deep space grow even deeper and farther away both out of reach and more presently present presented once more at a faster and faster rate.

The mind leaps and the mind races but the god who left the trace of its own passing vanishes into syllables and letters just where the dark space whitens and it is not yet dawn.

This “reach” in gods’ reach marks the limits of a mind’s largesse in the range of thought it makes possible through psyche’s images with which the mind thinks about what winter is. At the limits or edge of consciousness there must be a switch in the mode of thought itself occurring to bring together very disparate images gods leave in their passing between inner and outer realities of thought giving unique outer appearances to inner reaches linking at the same time inner reaches to outer spaces.

Perhaps this is where pure mind dances between rational and poetic reasoning back and forth, back and forth. No doubt this making-space is making space, too. I’m thinking of poetic space and it’s “stuff” as the “substance”, the dark matter, if you will that is the material imagination in-forming a poetic basis of mind.

Of Janus it is said the god forms in the psyche the image of a true dyad in a Trinitarian metaphor shaping nary a thing out of the void of pure mind. The gods’ god vanishes into what it is, a pure thought living just out of reach and sunrise.