van den Berk, Tjeu – Jung on Art

  • creativity and train of life: The book “Jung on art”, written by Tjeu van den Berk, could be read in many different ways. For instance, it could be read as a handbook on creativity with its well known axes – “society/ individual” and “nature/ culture” that are organizing the relationships between “individual”, “field” and “domain”. However, I decided to try a more life-closed and temporal-closed reading on it, keeping in mind the fact that it is about “art” and “creativity”. So, I imagined it like a train route with different stations along a mountain landscape. Marcia Karp, in fact, is hinting to such a possibility when she is saying: “The train [stations]… evoke the stages of one’s life, the people (…) and the events. (…) Imagine [one] life as a [train route]; people get on and off; events happen; there are losses and gains, and the journey goes on until the end” (1994: 36). Accordingly, every chapter is a station in this route, and they have the following names: cyptomneses (chapter 1) or the hidden memories; complexes (chapter 2) that are a collection of ideas and images which are clustered around unconscious drives; participation mystique (chapter 3) where the unity of personality and reality happens when the organism partakes in medium; symbols (chapter 4) as image of the unconscious that relate to each other in different relationships, but not in causality ones; ethic functions – like thinking and feeling; and aesthetic functions – like sensing and intuiting (chapter 5) with more emphasis on the last ones; manadala (or the cryptograms concerning the self) and the square stone (near the Bollingen tower) is the name of the 6th station; the distinction between the process of art (encircling the extroverted and introverted attitudes) and the product of art (having much to do with materia and forma) is to be found at the 7th station; while the last two stations are about modern art – Cubist, Surrealist, Abstract and Dadaist art – that were both criticized (chapter 8 and the discussions on Thomas Stearns Eliot & Marcel Duchamp) and praised (chapter 9 and the analysis of Yves Tanguy). Every chapter presents who coined the name of the station, offers a list of books where Jung discussed this name and, finally, takes some examples where it to be found in daily life. The idea of the train of life is not new and, more surely, not discovered by Marcia Karp. Along the history of ideas it has many masks and clothes like: snakes, ladders, rivers, trees and pyramids. Each of these masks and clothes could be fitted in a separate book and this is the reason I’ll not discuss them further here…

The image:


  • Marcia Karp (1994): “Spontaneity and creativity. The river of freedom” in Paul Holmes, Marcia Karp & Michael Watson (eds): “Psychodrama since Moreno. Innovations in theory and practice”, Routledge, pp. 27-44
  • Tjeu van den Berk (2012): “Jung on art. The autonomy of the creative drive”, Routledge

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