When I was in graduate school I read The Symbolic and the Real by Ira Progoff (McGraw-Hill, 1963), and it had a tremendous effect on me, and I think was responsible for my becoming friends with my unconscious–or psyche, as he would call it.
Before that, in beginning therapy, I recall being asked about my fantasies, whereupon I said I never had fantasies. I came to understand that I had them, but didn’t take notice or recognize them. When I read Progoff, I came to recognize that deeper than fantasies were images. Progoff describes this process as follows:
“In the method of twilight imaging, the individual relaxes, closes his eyes, and permits himself to observe and describe the flow of imagery that flows upon the screen of his mind’s eye. This flow, which is the faculty of the image-making process of the psyche, is kaleidoscopic. It simply moves on, presenting itself in one form after another. Its energy is not integrated, but moves with no cohering principle, until a pattern is formed by the formless flow of the imagery itself. This is the “pure” process of the psyche. To the degree that it is not induced by any selfconscious attitudes, the pattern that is formed and dramatized is an authentic expression of the psyche and reflects what is taking place at its unobservable levels. The free flow of imagery thus becomes a channel by which the inarticulate depths of the person can communicate to consciousness the problems and the aspirations involved in reaching a fuller integration.” (p. 92)
Earlier this evening, while sitting in the dark after Spectrum had turned itself off, An image came to me of a giant walking past my patio window. I only imaged his huge feet tromping by, mashing things underfoot, and I was reminded of him stalking from the hurricanes of the southeast to the wildfires of the west coast. (How ethnocentric–I am largely ignorant of the details of the earthquakes and tsunamis and plane crashes abroad).
I reflected on the image of the giant stalking the land and climate change, and realized that prior to language there were silent images which issued from the protoplasm of the ancients. And then I found Progoff’s book on my shelf after turning on the light, and came to my computer to share.