The kingdom of heaven, global climate meltdown and international networks of terror, the beloved who completes us, and the virtual cybervillage all have something in common. As products of our imagination, symbolic expressions of totality like these orient individual and collective life. Both panacea and poison, our dreams of totality power religious beliefs, sociopolitical programs such as capitalism and globalism, psychology's narratives of wholeness, even our ideas about individual and cultural health. When dreams of totality go bad, and they often do—becoming totalitarian or fundamentalist—they are more destructive than any plague or natural disaster.
Dreams of Totality explores images of wholeness in cultures from ancient civilizations through today. It explains why symbols of totality appear without fail in response to chaos and distress, how they subsequently entomb us, and then eventually deconstruct as disenfranchised elements of psyche and society press for inclusion. Today, unmoored dreams of totality like globalization and the virtual Web community are taking over our collective imagination at the same time we are being exploited by a surfeit of image–industry spin. But as this book explains, we can't go backward into malignant nostalgia for a time when the gods spoke as one, take refuge in fractured fundamentalisms, nor should we succumb to a casual relationship to truth. Rather, preserving the creative function of dreaming of totality while at the same time loosening its often-deadening grip—an Rx for taking the medicine of totality when there's nothing at the center—is crucial as we try to cultivate an ethic of responsibility and integrity toward one another on a global scale.
Praise for Dreams of Totality
In a compelling, energetically erudite, witty and light-hearted manner, Sherry Salman shows us where and how to look for meaning and purpose when our dreams of wholeness fall apart in the face of today's complexity and confusion.
POLLY YOUNG-EISENDRATH, PH.D., EDITOR, THE CAMBRIDGE COMPANION TO JUNG, AUTHOR, THE SELF-ESTEEM TRAP
This book is for those of us who struggle to find a footing in the twenty-first century. The ground has transformed into a wobbly web, and to be in Sherry Salman's bright, wise company is a relief and a refreshment. I emerged from this reading experience less lonely and more awake. The center does not hold? Read this book immediately. It helps.
MARIE HOWE, NEW YORK STATE POET LAUREATE, AUTHOR OF WHAT THE LIVING DO
With unerring poise, the integrity of Sherry Salman's prose reflects long experience with both the 'poison and panacea' that intimations of totality can be. As a clinician, she fully empathizes with the need for security that can drive us to latch onto simplified models of wholeness at times of uncertainty and change. Recognizing, however, a deeper responsibility to the future of humanity, in which our present knowledge will only be a part, Salman eases Jungian psychology into the twenty-first century, reminding us that only an evolving consciousness, structured by an imagination that is free to release as well as contain, can ever lay claim to being complete.
JOHN BEEBE, AUTHOR OF INTEGRITY IN DEPTH
With this lyrical, post-postmodern text we are enticed into the improvisational flow of analytical psychologizing. The age-old fantasy and longing for totality is turned inside out as the reader is challenged to open up to a new understanding of the sublime.
JOE CAMBRAY, PH.D., PRESIDENT, INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR ANALYTICAL PSYCHOLOGY, AUTHOR OF SYNCHRONICITY: NATURE AND PSYCHE IN AN INTERCONNECTED UNIVERSE
TABLE OF CONTENTS
PART I: IMAGINING TOTALITY
Chapter 1: Womb and Tomb: Opening and Closing
Chapter 2: Poison and Panacea: A Universal Medicine
PART II: OF HUMAN THINGS
Chapter 3: Psychology's Dreams
Chapter 4: Society's Dreams
Chapter 5: Sacrifice: Blood Payments and Open Wounds
PART III: NOTHING AT THE CENTER
Chapter 6: Masking and Unmasking Imagination: Virtuality and Its Transgressions
Chapter 7: The Rx
About the Author:
Sherry Salman, Ph.D., is a psychoanalyst and an internationally recognized author and speaker on the imagination in postmodern culture and psychological life. A founding member and the first president of the Jungian Psychoanalytic Association, she received her B.A. from Vassar College and a Ph.D. in neuropsychology from the City University of New York. She has served as associate editor for three professional journals and as a consultant for the Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism. Her work has appeared in numerous journals and in the popular press.