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Jung, Tolkien, and the Fate of Mythopoesis in Post Modernity

April 16, 2004 @ 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm PDT


In Western Thought, the hero, the mythic expression of ego-development, expands consciousness by subduing the dragon , i.e. the “chaos” sensed by ego-consciousness in the categories of nature, instinct, mother. In this program we will explore the idea that while Jung initially abided by this traditional fantasy of ego-development, there is a persistent dimension in his work that recognized the implications of consciousness becoming encapsulated in the ego-complex; this obliged Jung to accentuate the actions in the psyche that strive toward a post-ego mythology.

Though nowadays consumed as a fashionable expression of a classic hero myth, J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings , exposes the perplexing failure of the hero to effect psychic transformation in the contemporary ‘postmodern’ psyche. This incapacity, ironically present as the hero’s triumph, or, in psychological terms the pinnacle of ego-development, signifies, in Tolkien, a threat to “middle earth”, an unprecedented waning of the mythopoeic factor of the psyche. The claim is that the hero, through this deconstruction, presently, leads not, as it once had, into progressive states of originality, but into regressive states of compliance. This is manifest politically as globalization, and in current psychopathology as an “empty” depression, both of which are instinctively felt as a distance from “mother”. I take these to be the abiding concern of Jung’s analytical psychology, and Tolkein’s Trilogy; taken together they inform a radical rereading of the developmental psychology and heroic mythology that dominantly impose upon the current practice of psychotherapy.

Related Workshop: Jung, Tolkien, and the Fate of Mythopoesis in Post Modernity

Mark Kuras, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist and Jungian Analyst. He is an Assistant Professor at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, as well as the clinical Director of the Acute Treatment Unit. He is a charter member of the Jungian Psychoanalytic Institute and currently serves as the Director of Training.


April 16, 2004
7:30 pm - 9:30 pm PDT
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First United Methodist Church, Collins Hall
1838 SW Jefferson Street
Portland, OR 97201 United States
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