Home and Archetype: A Review of “At Home in the World”

When John Hill performed the role of Father Victor White in  The  Jung-White Letters, he seemed possessed by the spirit of the man.  In John Hill’s recent publication,  At Home in the World: Sounds and Symmetries of Belonging, leaves me wondering if he has now been possessed by an entire cloud of witnesses comprised of Irish poets spanning centuries.  There is a lyrical quality that pervades the book and the publisher, Spring Journal Books, has done a marvelous job with the layout, cover design, the references, and every detail of the book.  Perhaps John Hill pulled his inspiration from a Fairy fort but the result is magical.

As the February 4th conference Architecture of the Soul:  The Inner & Outer Structures of C G Jung, (with Murray Stein & Andreas Jung) approaches, this is a timely read.  Hill’s scholarship is systematic and rigorous, but the book is replete with powerful and evocative language.  Hill gently weaves into the text many others who have shaped and influenced him like Paul Ricouer, Ernst Cassirer, along with one of my favorite fiction writers, Jhumpa Lahiri.  The thesis of his book may appear self-evident but I could not have imagined the depth and breadth of material I found in this book.

John Hill has been practicing Jungian Psychoanalysis for forty years and it shows.  He has been devoted to matters of the spirit even longer.  The reader will enjoy the subtle, perceptive way Hill incorporates clinical material from client’s dreams and narratives.  It is refreshing to encounter a writer who also lays himself bare to the reader without crossing the line into self-indulgence that can easily become a spectacle.   This is an analyst who comprehends that self-disclosure, even within the pages of a book, can be a powerful tool. And I suspect he also understands that self-disclosure can also be unwieldy. Therapists do well to stay alert for moments when self-disclosure serves their own unmet needs for mirroring and affirmation since they may easy remained it is for their client’s benefit.

Modernity has ushered in unprecedented opportunities for homeowners to furnish their dwellings in cohesive, well designed styles that may sold as an entire package.  Some furniture retailers make it easy to avoid making mistake by standardizing entire groupings of furnishings.  IKEA is not unique in its ability to commoditize home furnishings and to impart a sense to its customers that a unique look can be achieved on a budget.  The sheer volume and global reach of an IKEA testifies to the inclination to make a home unique through elements that are in fact standardized.  Such a home, according to Hill may be at risk of being left “…. without a soul.”

In contrast, we will have the opportunity on February 4th to participate in a conference whose outer, visible subject is

The Home of C. G. Jung.  After reading Hill’s, At Home in the World: Sounds and Symmetries of Belonging, I suspect the upcoming conference presented through Asheville Jung Center will end up being about our own magnum opus, our home.  We each approach this differently, just as we each approach the magnum opus of our individuation differently.  For some, the reliance on a standard assortment of furnishings provides a personal space that avoid too much personal disclosure but also impedes personal discovery.  For others, the home provides a platform of self-expression.  There are homes I have entered where I could sense the disconnection between the soul of its inhabitants and the structure itself.  There are limitless permutations for combining the inner dimensions of our being and the outer structure of our home.  And according to John Hill, “When a home becomes a mere product, dissociated from one’s own personal and collective history, it is probably in danger of losing its soul.” (pg11)

Some individuals delight in assembling elements into a home.  They strive for that ineluctable symmetry between the inner call of the soul and the outer manifestation of their home.  When we speak of homemaking as a function of managing the household we miss the much deeper connection between the demands of keeping things going in a family and the making of a home.   Hill notes, “We live in a world that offers us two different ways of seeing it — one functional and the other symbolic.”  (pg47)  It seems there as many different modus operandi for fashioning a home as there are styles of composition, materials  and technique for the artist.

Good teachers like John Hill convey complex subjects in clearly understandable ways.  The five or six pages on transference provide a good illustration and despite their conciseness Hill does not sacrifice the rich, evocative quality of his prose.

 

Images alone do not necessarily address key psychological issues or cross the great divide between Thou and I … (pg112)

 

Often in the deep constellations of transference and countertransference, the client finds the opportunities to relive much of the past.  …  The analyst must realize that he cannot indulge in the fantasy of providing a home for all those who need one. (pg113)

 

I live on the hyphen as a Cuban-American.  My soul has one foot firmly planted in the United States of America where I was born while the other foot, the one possessed of dreams of return to an island I have never known, has nowhere to step.  Countless others share my experience of life on the hyphen. The nations that bookend their hyphen do not separate us nearly as much as the hyphen unites us.  We who are hyphenated are a diaspora in our own right.  We are caught between two homes the one we left and the one where we dwell.  But we are all likely to find ourselves somewhere along the continuum of a home we have known, a home we know now, and a home that awaits us.

Salmon Rushdie writes that, “Exile is a dream of a glorious return.”  Like Odysseus, we  may find ourselves in a seemingly endless pursuit of a return home.  John Hill reveals to us some of the personal details of his own life away from his native Ireland without being mawkish.  At Home in the World would be wonderful preparation for the upcoming conference Architecture of the Soul:  The Inner & Outer Structures of CG Jung, (with Murray Stein & Andreas Jung).  It will also be a great resource for anyone interested in the psychological implications and underpinnings of home from a Jungian perspective.

John Hill gave a gifted performance of Father Victor White in The Jung White Letters  that moved me to examine the chords that resonated through Jung’s relationship with Sigmund Freud and later Father White.  It also deeply moved me to consider what chords resonate through my relationships with men in my life.  Now At Home in the World has moved me to examine from a fresh perspective my relationship to place.  It has stirred a renewed interest in exploring the spaces and structures, past, present, and future that are called home in my life.  Hill’s last paragraph reads like a closing hymn in prose and here he reveals a dream that arrived as he brought the book to completion.

… All at once the dream flashed across my mind, and I “knew” what it was trying to say.

…The house was my book on home.  The brickwork symbolized the thoughts and ideas of others who had influenced me, and contributed to its making.  The rough-hewn stones indicated that the work was connected with my identity.

… I have built the house from the materials of the earth.  It is a house that contains, but it is also open to the world and to the spirit.  Hopefully it can be an object of delight and contemplation, not just for me, but also for all who have crossed its threshold, so that you, dear reader, may appreciate your own home in new and creative ways.

Invitation

Take a moment to consider the word “home”.  Let your imagination run free and let yourself be transported to homes you have occupied, homes you have wished to occupy, homes you have left, homes you have awaiting you in the future.  Consider what home means in your interior life and notice where the interior experience or awareness of home is in sync with the structure you call home and where the two seem out of sync. Please consider posting a comment about “home” so that we might open the doors and let one another peak in.

Len Cruz, MD

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Comments (10)

  • Avatar

    Thomas Singer

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    Len,
    You are doing a great job with your reviews and introductions to the seminars! I still think of your very timely ideas about the dumbing down of America as a cultural complex–which I think is absolutely true, chilling in its implications, and a daily pain to have to live with.
    I think your idea of looking at that phenomenon in terms of the history of anti-intellectualism in America would be a great contribution to the study of cultural complexes and hope that you will keep me posted on your thoughts about it. We are introducing a new research project on ARAS Online devoted to the study of image and cultural complex (introduced in next edition of ARAS Connections–late March, 2011) and it would be great if you contributed something related to dumbing down and anti-intellecutalism as a cultural complex by demonstrating it through images, perhaps including cartoons.

    Best,
    Tom Singer

    Reply

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    Debbie Tallarico

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    As I speak the word “home” aloud I am reminded of the internal vibrational movement I experience in chanting the mantra – “OM” in my yoga practice. AS I concentrate on the sensation of the vibration moving up from base chakra to crown chakra I experience embodiment as home.

    Reply

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    Robbert van Leerdam

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    Associations on home:

    Home is where the heart is. The best place is when you fully recognise the heart in all it’s glory and the heart in return fully recognises you. Relations will be true, work will be true and the place you live in will be true…
    Home obviously is the association of the soul, it’s material resonance is the home you live in. Draw me your home and I will tell you of the home the soul dwells in.

    Greetings friends and happy living,
    Robbert

    A great caravan arrived at a certain place where they found no habitation and no water.There was a deep well, but no bucket and no rope. To test for fresh water, they tried a kettle to a rope of their own and let it down. It struck something, and they pulled, but the kettle broke away. They sent down another and lost it too. After that they lowered thirty volunteers from the caravan, but they also disappeared.
    There was a wise man there. he said, “I wil go down.” He was nearly to the bottom when a terrible dark creature appeared. “I can never escape from you,” said the man to the monster, “but I hope at least to stay aware, so I can see what’s happening to me.”
    “Don’t tell me long stories! You’re my prisoner. You’ll never leave unless you answer one question.”
    “Ask it.”
    “Where is the best place?”
    The wise man reflected, “I am totally helpless here. If I say Baghdad or some other beautiful place, it may be that I will insult his hometown by not mentioning it.” So he replied, “The best place for someone to live is where he feels at home. If that’s a hole in the middle of the earth, then that’s it.”
    “Well said. You are a rare human being. Because of your blessing, I’ll set the others free in youre care and give you authority over the world. I’ll take no more prisoners, and I’ll release the waters of this well.”
    I tel this story for the inner meaning, which might be phrased in other ways, but those attached to traditional forms will accept this version. They’re hard to talk to. Tell just a slightly different parable, and they won’t listen at all.

    Mevlana Rumi & Shams i Tabriz

    Reply

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    YVONNE ZAHIR

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    I found that living in a home has provided a vital
    process for my learning disabled young son.
    At age 9 years he decided he wished not to go to
    school any longer, as children teased him about being
    in special education. Being in a home where he tended
    to the outdoor property, I asked him to consider and
    tell me what he saw happen in the changes of the seasons. He went through the early development of the
    trees and plants surrounding the home. He got stuck a
    bit when he became angry with the OAK TREE…as it did
    not drop all of it’s leaves in the fall….hanging on
    to some of them through the winter…then dropping the
    rest down in springtime.
    I said a little prayer that the energies of nature
    provided with care of property surrounding the home
    would assist me. In a few moments I got the insight
    that my son was like the mighty OAK tree. As far as
    his learning style..being labeled..disabled…I said
    that indeed…he WAS A MIGHTY OAK.
    His leaves….(what he learned) would come slowly..just like the OAK gets it’s leaves later than
    the surrounding Maple trees. Once he learns he will
    hold onto his learned material longer than others, and
    the leaves (learned material) will drop off..when a
    NEW BUD…more learning..will force the old dried
    leaf to fall to the ground….replaced with the NEW
    LEAF…(new material).
    Need I say, he developed…hope…and has grown to a
    fine 32 yr old successful person in the business field.
    Having a home and attending to nature around it is a
    grounding and learning experience, filled with many
    opportunities to connect to natural rhythms.
    Thank you for the opportunity to express a sacred
    experinece filled with symbolism.
    I will soon be publishing a memoir called Jung, Behind
    Bars, A Memoir of Freedom..as I brought Dr. Jung’s
    teachings behind prison bars.
    Thanks again, Yvonne Zahir 1/29/2011

    Reply

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    Frances gilley

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    I love your site.

    It’s rare to find a website forum that focuses on Carl Jung. Kaleidoscope has been one for several years, however, it will be closing in February, 2011.

    A new one has been started called:

    http://dreamsandindividuation.org/

    This is an opportunity for serious dream workers and those on the path to individuation, to share.

    Thank you,

    Frances Gilley Ph.D.

    Reply

  • Avatar

    karin

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    Since I read your previous post, I have been reflecting on my relationship with my home, internal and external, and I have just written a post about this on my own blog – too long to post here but have a look if you’re interested. I liked Le Corbusier’s quotation in your previous post about the home being the treasure chest of living; and, as a yoga student and teacher, it also made me think that the body is the treasure chest of the spirit. This is what I have explored a bit in my post.
    I also like the idea and image of living on the hypen. I am not sure what the precise requirements are to qualify for such a description, but I certainly often feel as if I’m living on the hyphen!

    Reply

  • Avatar

    Chuck McIntyre

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    Congratulations to your Center for your news letter.
    I have a different aspect of home and house. I repeat two paragraphs below showing a difference.
    My struggle with the Jungian community, is the apparent lack of awareness of the warriors that are returning from the current wars.James Hillman wrote “A Terrible Love of War” and published it in 2004. I have know James for a long time, and his book has been the focus of working with returning warriors,and PTSD and MST. One of the moving moments in today’s warriors is people saying “Welcome Home”
    The organization IAVA produced a TV commercial showing the effect. So as DR. Len Cruz mentions in his lament/longing, where does The Jungian field address this aspect of Home? And as Dr. Cruz illustrates, there is a difference between house and home.I think,if we as Jungians do not look at the effects of the implications of Hillmans work on the aspect of our nations wars, Jungian analysis will be missing for these returning warriors, military and civilian for at least twenty years, and how many of us will still be here?
    With All Due Respect
    Chuck McIntyre
    chuckmcintyre@hotmail.com

    I live on the hyphen as a Cuban-American. My soul has one foot firmly planted in the United States of America where I was born while the other foot, the one possessed of dreams of return to an island I have never known, has nowhere to step. Countless others share my experience of life on the hyphen.

    … I have built the house from the materials of the earth. It is a house that contains, but it is also open to the world and to the spirit. Hopefully it can be an object of delight and contemplation, not just for me, but also for all who have crossed its threshold, so that you, dear reader, may appreciate your own home in new and creative ways.
    So as … I have built the house from the materials of the earth. It is a house that contains, but it is also open to the world and to the spirit. Hopefully it can be an object of delight and contemplation, not just for me, but also for all who have crossed its threshold, so that you, dear reader, may appreciate your own home in new and creative ways.

    Reply

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    Gillian Holloway

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    I think of home as being an interior feeling, a sensation. As I drift off to sleep sometimes, there is an interior lightening that occurs. I feel relieved to let the day go, and have the sensation of being in a softly lit space. There is a familiarity to this shift, and I always feel that I am coming home.

    It happens sometimes in nature as well, riding a horse through the woods, or sitting down beneath a tree on a warm day. In some hazy way, I count the strength or weakness of this signal to be mindful of the subtle, but all-important level of life that provides the nourishment and the purpose.

    Reply

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    E. Mark Stern, Ed.D., ABPP, Professor Emeritus, Graduate Faculty, Iona College, New Rochelle, NY

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    I was drawn to references re: Father Victor White. I was fortunate to have had an opportunity of visiting with him in his Oxford study in August of 1957. We were introduced by a mutual friend Dr. Franz B. Elkisch who we both knew through the Guild of Pastoral Psychology and who played an active professional psychiatric role with a therapeutic community We spoke of his newly appointed role as chaplain of this then thriving therapeutic community then housed in two (or more?) large flats in London. The Jungian-themed community then accommodated adults ranging from those suffering from severe personality disorders to what one might have loosely defined as moderate psychotic behavior. The operation was spearheaded by a Jungian expressive arts therapist, Mrs. C. K. Ginsberg. Early mornings, the residents were encouraged drew their dreams prior to discussing in a group format them with their flat mates. Scriptural readings along with a form of role playing happened most evenings. Those who were capable of working on the outside were encouraged to do so. Others receptive to housework maintained the living quarters. Lastly, there were a significant portion of residents barely capable of maintaining themselves, but able, on whatever level, to maintain their place within this intentional community. I had been invited by Mrs. Ginsberg to an early morning dream-themed assembly. White wanted ideas of how to best be a meaningful clergy presence in this therapeutic community. I believe I was of some little help to him. But sadly, I am at a loss to recall the particulars of our exchange.

    Reply

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    Rosalind Archer

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    I was born in Africa, moved to the Middle East when I was 7 years old and was sent to boarding school in Scotland when I was 9… Home was always far away, and always a moving target–first in Scotland, then northern England and finally London and Sussex. But by the time my parents had moved out of the great metropolis of London, I too had taken up my father’s habit of wandering the world, taking up work and partners in Europe, UK and finally the US… All my life I have longed for a home that is constant and on occasion I have found it–when I married in US, I was certainly trying to secure a solid base, and I did, the marriage was a “home” of a sort as were the various apartments and houses we occupied. During that time, my work was in renovation, design and decoration of other people’s homes. This would raise a sort of longing in me which was often quite painful–I so wanted to create a home from start to finish with my and my husbands needs and ideas enfolded into the walls, floors, windows and fabric of every part of the house. Our marriage crashed on the rocks of my unconscious desire for this when we bought and renovated a beautiful house in the South of France–my needs were not his, after all… So, back on the road, literally, with my current partner who is a tour operator for North African tours. In the past 4 years I have travelled with him to the deepest parts of the Sahara Desert, sleeping in tents and making our 4X4 a house, a home that carries our life with us. Unfortunately this business is on hold for now but I live in another foreign country with two passports and am ready to travel at the drop of a hat. You might think that for all the peripatetic travelling I’ve done, I would have few belongings and travel light–no, no, no! I always have lots of baggage even for over night and where I live, in a lovely rented house, which I would love to stay in for ever, I am surrounded by many of the objects I have collected, inherited, created (I am also an artist) over the decades. I have to have them much to the chagrin of my partner. I often travel with some item that embodies home for me, whether its a balm whose scent reminds me of my bedroom or a scarf that reminds me of New York, or a pen that was given to me by my father when I was at school and of course the journal du jour. Things, bits, objects, stones, tree bark from various parts of the world, shells from different beaches dotted across the globe… Travel brought home… Home for me is unstable, it can disappear at any time, but somehow it resurrects some where else, my objects rediscovered out of boxes and wrapped paper–the newspapers from another country, another date, another home…

    Reply

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