humanizing the photograph with archetypal energy

Through scientific understanding, our world has become dehumanized. Man feels himself isolated in the cosmos. He is no longer involved in nature and has lost his emotional participation in natural events, which hitherto had a symbolic meaning for him. Thunder is no longer the voice of a god, nor is lightning his avenging missile. No river contains a spirit, no tree means a man’s life, no snake is the embodiment of wisdom, and no mountain still harbours a great demon. Neither do things speak to him nor can he speak to things, like stones, springs, plants, and animals. He no longer has a bush-soul identifying him with a wild animal. His immediate communication with nature is gone for ever, and the emotional energy it generated has sunk into the unconscious.

Jung, C. G.. The Undiscovered Self (Jung Extracts) (Kindle Locations 2397-2402). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.

When there is only an image, it is merely a word-picture, like a corpuscle with no electric charge. It is then of little consequence, just a word and nothing more. But if the image is charged with numinosity, that is, with psychic energy, then it becomes dynamic and will produce consequences. It is a great mistake in practice to treat an archetype as if it were a mere name, word, or concept. It is far more than that: it is a piece of life, an image connected with the living individual by the bridge of emotion.

Jung, C. G.. The Undiscovered Self (Jung Extracts) (Kindle Locations 2428-2432). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.

These two psychological statements combine to form a kernel of why some visual art works and some don’t. Convey a timely archetypal symbol and the image becomes significant art by the humanizing connection. I was an avid student of Jung’s works so I am versed in his language and recognize it easily in photography and other forms of visual art.

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