Sunday, November 06, 2011

The passing of James Hillman


 We were all deeply saddened to learn of James Hillman's passing on October 27th.

The Somatic Studies students were resident at Ladera on Monday, Oct 31st, so they were the first students on site after the news of Hillman's passing. We held a circle before class started in the morning. As we gathered quietly in the sun, after a time, a few students read passages from works by Hillman. Chris Downing was there (who is teaching in the Somatics program for the first time), and she noted that James Hillman died 50 years after Jung and at the same age, at 85. Joe Coppin told us he had heard that Hillman wanted to be buried in the Jewish tradition, without delay, but also because "he wanted to be able to hear each handful of dirt hitting the coffin."

During the faculty and staff memorial on Nov. 3rd, it was mentioned that a larger, more public memorial would be forthcoming in early December. Check the main Pacifica website for that information when it's available. Pacifica Graduate Institute's tribute page to James Hillman can be found here. [January 8, 2012 Update: A 2-day tribute to James Hillman and his work is planned for March 3-4, 2012 at Pacifica's Ladera Lane Campus. Check here for further information when it's available. I will post separately about this event when I know more details.]

Below is the James Hillman quote I shared with my class once we had assembled. This particular quote was helpful when I was writing my dissertation on the Human Genome Project because it quickly became obvious that it was the "root metaphors and operational myths" that needed to excavation and examination. I am so grateful for the few times I got to hear James Hillman lecture while I was a Mythological Studies student.
            "The science fantasy with its reliance upon objectivity, technology, verification, measurement, and progress—in short, its necessary literalism—is less a means for examining the psyche than for examining science. Our interest lies not in applying the methods of science in psychology (to put it on a “sound scientific footing”), but rather in applying the archetypal method of psychologizing to science so as to discover its root metaphors and operational myths.
            Science is not soulless at all. It too is an activity of the psyche and of the archetypes in the psyche, one of the ways of enacting the Gods. By psychologizing scientific problems, methods, and hypotheses we can find their archetypal fantasies. For science, also, is a field for soul-making provided we do not take it literally on its own terms."

                                                —James Hillman, Re-Visioning Psychology (1975), p. 169

Links with more information:
James Hillman's obituary at the New York Times online
Pacifica Graduate Institute's James Hillman tribute page
Thomas Moore remembers James Hillman at The Huffington Post
Remembrance at The Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture where Hillman was a founder

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