Join Robert Romanyshyn, Ph.D, in conversation with Bonnie Bright, as they discuss the ecological implications hinted at through Frankenstein's monster, and how our culture must shift to survive.

Originally aired July 15, 2015
(approx 37 mins)

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The Frankenstein Prophecies:
Jungian-Archetypal Reflections on Ecological Crises and the God Wars

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Robert Romanyshyn Ph.D. is an Affiliate Member of the Inter-Regional Society of Jungian Analysts and an emeritus professor of psychology in the Clinical and Depth Psychotherapy Programs at Pacifica Graduate Institute. He has authored six books, including his most recent Leaning toward the Poet: Eavesdropping on the Poetry of Everyday Life, has contributed chapters to numerous edited volumes and has published essays and reviews in many professional journals. In addition to lectures and workshops presented in the U.S., he has lectured in Europe, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and parts of Africa.

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  • I really enjoyed this interview with Bonnie and Robert. It got me thinking about different aspects of individuation. My introduction to the Frankenstein story has been a deep study of the movie Young Frankenstein as a kid. Lately, I found that Percy and Mary Shelley were friends of Lord Byron, which got me interested in the story again. Mary's friend John William Polidori  supposedly popularized the modern romantic vampire genre.

    Controversy aside, I woefully have only Edith Hamilton's Mythology (which does cover the Prometheus myth) for greek myth reference. Klemens' tip about Kerenyi led me to get his Prometheus, Eleusis, and Dionysus books. Without having read Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, I can't comment yet but it seemed to me that the good doctor's intentions were always pure in his creation of the "monster".

    The horror from one perspective may be the new world coming into being, which has not yet been accepted into the collective unconscious, hence all the fire and lightning symbolism, the sense that one is playing with forces that are not fully understood.

  • I missed that part of Prometheus myth where Man accepts the fire "and lived happily ever after." Somehow a song like June Carter's "Ring Of Fire" still managed to find its way to my iTunes library.

    There's a biography I really enjoyed (and highly recommend) titled "American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer." Do you feel the authors' invocation of Prometheus is inappropriate here as well?

    As for stealing from Mozart for advertising jingles, I don't care that John Williams stole like a madman from "Rite Of Spring," "The Planets," and a million other classical sources for the "Star Wars" soundtrack. When I hear "Dun. Dun. Dun. Dun...DUN! Dun dun dun DUN! dun! Dun dun dun DUN! dun DUN DUN DUN DUNNNNNN!" my ears sprout Princess Leia buns. Joseph Campbell's do too from beyond the grave.
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    The Greek myths are sacred texts. They should be treated with the utmost respect and reverence. The objective reasoning mind was synthesized by the Pre Socratic Greek philosophers thoughts on the nature of God embedded in those sacred texts. They also constitute a map of the internal aspect of nature, as synthesized by the best empiricists ever. And along comes a scribbler looking for adulation ...what else could hillman with a self admitted mother complex crave... who reads the current political correct idiocy into the myths because archetypes aren't really real and thus they are subject to the masturbatory machinations of his poetic imagination. It is worse than someone taking excerpts from Mozart or Tchaikovsky and using them in an advertising jingle.  And instead of being embarassed they expect adoration for their daring and advanced intellectual prowess. 

    The shadow is an archetype. The other archetypes tend to despise the shadow. Whereas they express the dark side of their nature to those who resist their ability to exercise their own instinctual prerogative..... those Who stand in the way of their instinctual/archetypal expression. The Hillmanites can only deny mats winther et als critique of Hillman for so long. Its time the Jungians took back the reality of the archetypes from these poetic poseurs.... The only reason the Hillmans and the Geigerich's hung around is because of the numinosity of Jung's name gave their practises instant credibility and a flow of patients. 


  • Are you arguing that enlightenment -- man being given fire and consequently the ability to "play with fire -- can't have a shadow side? Maybe this is a leap, but I keep thinking of the refrain in the new "Mad Max: Furry Road" movie: "Who killed the world?" More or less, it’s a world that ended not in ice, but fire, and I can see in Frankenstein that taste of desire.
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    Kerenyi has compiled the phenomenologies of the Greek Gods and Heroes. The days of cherry picking and misinterpreting glittering bits and pieces from the myths to suit ones poetic/imaginal fancy,  to stroke ones vanity and to awe and manipulate the ignorant and uninformed are long gone except in the Ghettoes of intellectual history and romantic poetry classes.

    Kerenyi has produced the equivalent of the Guttenberg Bible for the Greek myths. The general public now has access to the surviving remnants of a mythological construct/heritage devised by the pre-eminent empiricists of all time. They mapped a large swathe and the most relevant part of the internal aspect of nature/ the psyche ... this is the Greeks greatest gift to our historical legacy. The days of using greek myths as a pissing post for your poetic imagination and subjectivistic vanity are waning rapidly.... 

  • You are right. I am not arguing with you!

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    With due respect, I am going to ask you to present some evidence indicating the presence of monstrosity within the Prometheus myth. The Prometheus mythologem constitutes the established phenomenology of the Promethian archetype. A psychologist at least, cannot slice and dice the mythologem for bits and pieces and then use them to pursue his own poetical subjectivity/fancy. A Hillmanite or a romantic poet can, but not a Jungian psychologist. He has to concern himself with the Greeks empirical  elucidation of the archetype in itself and also its contextual place in the Homeric mythological pantheon/system. I just about choked on my waffles when he made light of Orpheus, so that he could cater to the feminist mind set/prejudice of his audience. The Greek myths must be treated with respect and reverence. As Kerenyi states in Prometheus, The Archetypal Image of Human Existence, "He presents a striking resemblance  and a striking contrast to the Christian Savior. More than any other Greek god,he intercedes for mankind, makes common cause with men. Therein lies his resemblance. But Christ suffered human existence as a man.His whole mission depended on his close bond with mankind.The paradox is the faith of the Christians who believe him to be a God. Prometheus never appears as a man. He is a mythological being and never was anything else." kerenyi Prometheus page 3. 

    You are not arguing with me ... You are standing against Kerenyi and Dietz. Poetic subjectivism is poetic subjectivism. It has little to do with Psychology at all. It was not just music but mythopoetry that emanate from the orphic realm. see Kerenyi Heroes of the Greeks section on Orpheus... Mythopoetry being the understanding of the gods and their interrelationship or whatever... people are waiting on me

  • The Prometheus image is complex and ambiguous enough to carry Shelley's sense of monstrosity and the Greeks sense of hubris while simultaneously carrying within it this sense of Prometheus as a benefactor of mankind. As a symbol it unites these opposites and provides an opportunity for healing. Romanyshyn is, to my mind, right on target. My new book furthers this line of thinking, but applies it to the linguistic turn.

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    Orpheus and Eurydike. Through tragic circumstance Orpheus was severed from his own soul mate, Eurydike. Orpheus was not fated to rescue her from the Underworld. The finality of death guaranteed that, Orpheus was fated to look back, lose his soul, and wanderendlessly through the rest of his life. As to Rilke, do you think he might have done some homework and concluded Eurydike drank from the river of Lethe on her entry into the Underworld. Someone with no memory would say who. 

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    developing a poetic sensibility as an alternative to the empirical sensibility that underlies the foundation of the technological mind.  -- Romanshyn. Jung was first and foremost an empiricist. Jungian psychology is the product of Jung's empiricism. Jungian psychology is heart and soul of depth psychology.... 

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