Notes On Alchemical Psychology* is a series of texts dedicated to personal creative therapeutic work, merging the old ways & the new. In this third note, I talk about the potency of juxtaposition, and ways it can help realign us.
The artistic value of juxtaposition in obtaining meaning is similar to a found object, objet trouvé, as it exists in itself , and merely needs to be seen. The artist provides the play, the composition, the contrast – of words, images, sounds – the audience provides the association, the meaning. If the artist is true, the layers of interpretation are manifold and potent. The space in between the juxtaposed subjects/objects becomes a true ocean of possibilities. An animist utopia. The spirits in all things align.
When juxtaposition is done for reasons of retaining attention, as it is used in the media, in commercialised versions of the original Surrealist intent, its exploitative motivations provide mere mental titillation, and an endless stream of contrasting probabilities, none of them with enough agency to allow for emotional release. An onslaught of aesthetic options, collages as confetti, thematic one-way avenues, taking us on luxury rides, and leading us nowhere.
In other words, the juxtaposition our eyes and minds are accustomed to is one of fragmentation. The modern condition juxtaposes constantly by contrasting, correlating, overlapping mediums, messages, moments, and the soup that is brewed from this mix of sensations is – as the final dish, inedible. When what is sought as remedy cannot be digested, it ceases to be medicine, rather it becomes the very poison one seeks to be relieved of. So we purge content.
The act of undoing ourselves, of being molecular, of separating from the entirety of being, unburdening the cohesive, and finding liberation in the parts that stand for the whole, letting go of debris, either becomes a soul’s pathway to reintegration, realignment, or a pathological process of compartmentalisation, where nothing we act on brings anything but instant relief. There is always an allegorical particle of our soul that is missing in another room, another country, a different time.
In seeking to realign this lost integrity, I am always open to the juxtaposition of elements in relative randomness around me, especially when in nature, an accidental display of unity I come across while moving through the day. This often, as is the case with the numinous, comes in moments of mental tension, emotional turmoil, some sort of despondence, a spiritual puzzle. A seized opportunity of an empty existential space which opens itself up for meaning. The Anima mudi as artist, the Soul of the World offering a so(u)ltion, in the form of an insight, a quickening, a releasing of sorrow, the salt of the human tear into the salt of the forgiving Earth.
The eye captures images it invents. This thought came to me in one of the many daily pilgrimages I took to work in a sprawling, heaving metropolis. We seek what will heal us, nothing is too banal to be medicine. And these holy juxtapositions, the ways the souls of particles in subjects/objects surrounding us contrast, adjust and align, the way we frame this narrative of the animist artistic, and absorb it as our own (because, in a way, we invented it), becomes a daily therapeutic practice.
We give our love by giving our attention to this moment of unity of two or more seemingly unrelated animated parts, finding themselves in the exact same space, at the exact same time, in meaningful relation, as a synchronistic dance of spheres. And because we give it/them our love, this moment, in its infinite potency, loves us back. Assists us in accessing the healing power of integration.
© Milana Vujkov
*NB These notes follow a personal journey, and are offered as philosophical & creative inspiration. Although I am a psychologist by education, the material within them is not therapy or substitute for therapy. However, they are dedicated as temenos for accessing the therapeutic numinous, in hope of being of good service to your soul in exploring the potentials of each moment in time.