Half the World

From “The Red Book”, Liber Primus p.252 by C. G. Jung:

“The image of the world is half the world. He who possesses the world but not its image possesses only half the world, since his soul is poor and has nothing. The wealth of the soul exists in images. He who possesses the image of the world possesses half the world, even if his humanity is poor and owns nothing. But hunger makes the soul into a beast that devours the unbearable and is poisoned by it. My friends it is wise to nourish the soul, otherwise you will breed dragons and devils in your heart.”

This resonant passage comes after Jung has explained that by the age of forty he had “honour, power, wealth, knowledge and every human happiness.” When reading this I had had envy for such things and felt ashamed of my lowliness in such matters. Jung goes on to state that “the vision of the flood seized me.” This refers to a particularly unsettling vision of something akin to the flood Noah experienced, a levelling of mankind, prior to the outbreak of the Great War. The next passage is stunning:

“My soul, where are you? Do you hear me? I speak, I call you - are you there? I have returned, I am here again. I have shaken the dust of all the lands from my feet, and I have come to you, I am with you. After long years of long wandering, I have come to you again. Should I tell you everything I have seen, experienced, and drunk in? Or do you not want to hear about all the noise of life and the world? But one thing you must know: the one thing I have learned is that one must live this life. Do you still know me? How long the separation lasted! Everything has become so different. And how did I find you? How strange my journey was! What words should I use to tell you on what twisted paths a good star has guided me to you? Give me your hand, my almost forgotten soul. How warm the joy at seeing you again, you long disavowed soul. Life has led me back to you. Let us thank the life I have lived for all the happy and all the sad hours, for every joy, for every sadness. My soul, my journey should continue with you. I will wander with you and ascend to my solitude.”

Jung goes on to state that, “He whose desire turns away from outer things reaches there place of the soul.” In relation to such things I have often wondered how, in relation to such things it could be possible to bring forth the psyche in photography. It is something I am working on in a book entitled “Seeking Psyche”. I have taken this idea from Jung of half worlds. Also I am exploring the idea that we have two hemispheres in our brain, one that relates our consciousness to things as an individual acting in the world, one that relates ourselves to the broader consciousness of the cosmos, which is in fact perhaps not strictly ‘ourself’ but the Anima Mundi, the soul of the world. I am realising this in photographing by using two photographs layered in various ways together. Here is a selection of the working drafts:

Cameron MaynardComment