31a August 2010 Writing Fiction and Contact with the Unconscious

At the risk of repeating some of what I’ve said before, I believe it’s time once again to explore some of thoughts concerning the relationship between writing fiction and doing Active Imagination. I keep going back to what Jung said about the imagination, that it “is active, purposeful creation.” [Jung on Active Imagination, p. 145] He goes on to say that:

“A fantasy is more or less your own invention, and remains on the surface of personal things and conscious expectations. But active imagination, as the term denotes, means that the images have a life of their own and that the symbolic events develop according to their own logic — that is, of course, if your conscious reason does not interfere. You begin by concentrating upon a starting point.” [Jung on Active Imagination, p. 145]

I believe this to be a perfect description of what happened during my last AI session with the Centaur. I put myself at the starting point of wishing to meat the Unicorn again. The next thing I saw was the mouth of a cave, and just a second later the Unicorn appeared within it. As I moved forward, everything just happened. A series of images appeared and then the encounter with the Centaur. I had wisdom on my mind, and my Unconscious led me through the events that followed. Jung also makes the following statement:

Each time, naturally, you mistrust it and have the idea that you have just made it up, that it is merely your own invention. But you have to overcome that doubt, because it is not true. We can really produce precious little by our conscious mind. All the time we are dependent upon the thing that literally fall into our consciousness… And so when we concentrate on an inner picture and when we are careful not to interrupt the natural flow of events, our unconscious will produce a series of images which make a complete story. [Jung on Active Imagination, p. 145]

The aspect that things “literally fall into our consciousness” makes perfect sense to me and describes what I believe is happening. What does bother me is that I do participate in the action/discussion and have an effect on what happens. I’m not passive during the process. However, Jung also states that

…the person… should not just be included passively in the vision, but that he should face the figures of the vision actively and reactively, with full consciousness. [Jung on Active Imagination, p. 62]

This is what I am doing, or at least what I believe I am doing. I am so used to dealing with my Unconscious while writing fiction (40 years of it) that it will take a while for me to sort out all the aspects of my Unconscious from my Conscious.

The other aspect of this is that I’m meeting with Unicorns and Centaurs, so that someone reading this might think that I’m consciously doing this to attract attention to my blog. I’ve considered this a possibility also. But I also know that I’ve been interested in both Unicorns and Centaurs for some time and have done quite a lot of research on them. Therefore, they seem to be a natural vehicle for my Unconscious to use to communicate with me. These beings just seemed to fall out of my Unconscious and into my sessions, so that it wouldn’t be prudent for me to invalidate them. Jung says:

Taking the other side seriously is an essential prerequisite of the process, for only in that way can the regulating factors exert and influence on our actions. Taking it seriously does not mean taking it literally, but it does mean giving the unconscious credit, so that it has a chance to cooperate with consciousness instead of automatically disturbing it. [Jung on Active Imagination, p. 58]

With that I suppose I should rest my case. The imagination is a thrilling, albeit also frightening, thing to work with, and that is the reason authors become so committed with the process of writing fiction. It is where you can experience the source of the material as it develops before it’s put on the big screen. Movies are a product of the creative process and a result of the interaction between consciousness and the unconscious. The unconscious is exotic. Don’t expect anything less of it.

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