Religion and Alchemy

This is counterintuitive and totally true.

This is counterintuitive and totally true.

The fundamental thesis Jung is advancing about the relationship between Alchemy and Psychology is that for pre-scientific humans there is not a sharp distinction between subject and object and thus this leads them to unconsciously project their own inner states onto external objects (especially objects that are mostly unknown to them), so a reflective analysis of alchemical symbols becomes revelatory about the unconscious psychic life of this time period. Prior to this rational segregation of experience the world was a totally different one, phenomenologically, as people did not distinguish between the qualities of the object they were perceiving and their own values, emotions, and beliefs. It is partly for this reason that the alchemists cannot say aloud exactly what the philosopher’s stone really ‘is’ and why there are so many different symbols for the work.

It’s just what Scott McCloud says in Understanding Comics (1993). The more open-ended and undecided the object of intentionality, the more the subject automatically fills “it” in with “self.”

McCloud, S. (1994). Understanding Comics.

McCloud, S. (1994). Understanding Comics.

What is most interesting: the attribute that calls forth this empathic filling-in by the subject is ignorance.

Read the whole argument below:

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Here’s the idea employed as an abstract space:

The climax, positioning known faces on the dimensions of McCloud’s Picture Plane.

The climax, positioning known faces on the dimensions of McCloud’s Picture Plane.