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The Black Sun: The Alchemy and Art of Darkness

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The black sun, an ages-old image of the darkness in individual lives and in life itself, has not been treated hospitably in the modern world. Although modern psychology has seen darkness primarily as a negative force, it actually has an intrinsic importance to the human psyche. In this book, Jungian analyst Stanton Marlan reexamines the paradoxical image of the black sun a The black sun, an ages-old image of the darkness in individual lives and in life itself, has not been treated hospitably in the modern world. Although modern psychology has seen darkness primarily as a negative force, it actually has an intrinsic importance to the human psyche. In this book, Jungian analyst Stanton Marlan reexamines the paradoxical image of the black sun and the meaning of darkness in Western culture. Marlan draws on not only clinical cases, but also literature such as Goethe's Faust and Dante's Inferno, the black art of Rothko and Reinhardt, and other inspirations to explore the influence of light and shadow on the fundamental structures of modern thought as well as the contemporary practice of analysis. He shows that the black sun accompanies not only the most negative of psychic experiences but also the most sublime. The Black Sun offers insight into modernity, the act of imagination, and the work of analysis in understanding depression, trauma, and transformation of the soul. on a postmodern sensibility to develop an original way to look at the black sun and helps us explore the unknown darkness conventionally called the Self.


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The black sun, an ages-old image of the darkness in individual lives and in life itself, has not been treated hospitably in the modern world. Although modern psychology has seen darkness primarily as a negative force, it actually has an intrinsic importance to the human psyche. In this book, Jungian analyst Stanton Marlan reexamines the paradoxical image of the black sun a The black sun, an ages-old image of the darkness in individual lives and in life itself, has not been treated hospitably in the modern world. Although modern psychology has seen darkness primarily as a negative force, it actually has an intrinsic importance to the human psyche. In this book, Jungian analyst Stanton Marlan reexamines the paradoxical image of the black sun and the meaning of darkness in Western culture. Marlan draws on not only clinical cases, but also literature such as Goethe's Faust and Dante's Inferno, the black art of Rothko and Reinhardt, and other inspirations to explore the influence of light and shadow on the fundamental structures of modern thought as well as the contemporary practice of analysis. He shows that the black sun accompanies not only the most negative of psychic experiences but also the most sublime. The Black Sun offers insight into modernity, the act of imagination, and the work of analysis in understanding depression, trauma, and transformation of the soul. on a postmodern sensibility to develop an original way to look at the black sun and helps us explore the unknown darkness conventionally called the Self.

30 review for The Black Sun: The Alchemy and Art of Darkness

  1. 5 out of 5

    Morgan Blackledge

    The Rebis is the alchemical symbol for integrated “opposing” process e.g. male/female, darkness/light etc. According to the alchemical traditions, mater must undergo the stages of putrefaction i.e. death and dissolution, and purification, in order to differentiate opposing qualities, for later reconciliation. The alchemical texts are considered by the Jungians to be a rich metaphor for spiritual/psychological growth toward ‘wholeness’ i.e. integration of the individuals disowned shadow material wi The Rebis is the alchemical symbol for integrated “opposing” process e.g. male/female, darkness/light etc. According to the alchemical traditions, mater must undergo the stages of putrefaction i.e. death and dissolution, and purification, in order to differentiate opposing qualities, for later reconciliation. The alchemical texts are considered by the Jungians to be a rich metaphor for spiritual/psychological growth toward ‘wholeness’ i.e. integration of the individuals disowned shadow material with their consciously experienced and accepted psychological material. The Black Sun is offered as a pan-cultural sacred image (imago) of the shadow that is posited as a transitional object in the differentiation/integration process. The book explores the image of the black sun as it appears in various wisdom traditions, in art and literature and in Jungian psychoanalytic theory. Beyond that I have literally no fucking clue what this book is about. But I absolutely LOVED it. It’s like if RuPaul, Glen Danzig and Alan Ginsberg dropped belladonna and wrote a book. It’s so fucking weird and cool and dark. Yasssssss!!!!! 🖤🌞 🖤🌞 🖤

  2. 5 out of 5

    Rjyan

    It was OK. The central argument/analysis here-- that blackness/darkness/mortificatio is not just something we are supposed to Get Through/Work Through/Overcome, but an ever-present and indispensable part of life and growth and a kind of illumination itself-- this is good and important, very, yes. But I somewhat suspect that anyone with a desire to read this book has probably done some other reading on alchemy and psychology, right? And while it's neat how many different sources Marlan brings int It was OK. The central argument/analysis here-- that blackness/darkness/mortificatio is not just something we are supposed to Get Through/Work Through/Overcome, but an ever-present and indispensable part of life and growth and a kind of illumination itself-- this is good and important, very, yes. But I somewhat suspect that anyone with a desire to read this book has probably done some other reading on alchemy and psychology, right? And while it's neat how many different sources Marlan brings into the mix here, he never really introduces any big, original images or insight that you wouldn't have encountered already, especially if you've read some Hillman. If you're a fiction writer just looking to delve into the significance of the Black Sun as an archetypal symbol, there's some stuff in here for you, but it's pretty squarely aimed at practicing analysts and academics and probably ain't going to Blow Your Mind. However, I will never sell this book. There's 15 color pages and one of them has this picture from an old alchemical treatise that is too beautiful to part with. It's the green lion eating the sun. I most definitely want that picture in a handy place from now on.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Asmodeus

    One of my all-time favorite books.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Mafalda

    Although I really appreciated the fundamental concepts and ideas in this book, it ultimately fails to add depth to the main argument, thus making it very repetitive. Left me feeling as if there’s no real solid case for his point. However, it has beautiful imagery, so if you can get yourself a physical copy it’s worth a quick read :)

  5. 5 out of 5

    Qasim Zafar

    I loved this book. It offers a perspective on the alchemy of dark emotions that is incredibly unique, and at the same time draws from different writers and cultures to drive the points home. I especially loved the fact that unlike many other books, the author doesn't push some idealized notion of finding some sort of "light" at the end of the tunnel; but rather lays out the process for the proper integration of the darkness into the personality of the person undergoing the process, and also talk I loved this book. It offers a perspective on the alchemy of dark emotions that is incredibly unique, and at the same time draws from different writers and cultures to drive the points home. I especially loved the fact that unlike many other books, the author doesn't push some idealized notion of finding some sort of "light" at the end of the tunnel; but rather lays out the process for the proper integration of the darkness into the personality of the person undergoing the process, and also talks about the cost of improper or premature integration of opposing/ paradoxical forces. Whatever a person finds at the end of their process, they find.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Tara

    This looks sweeeeet.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kenneth McKrish

    Immensely enlightening and empowering read. Highly recommended.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Claire

    I found this book so interesting and a very thorough discussion of the symbol of the black sun within Jungian Psychology. The book explores how darkness within the individual can be experienced as consuming or result in rebirth, growth and healing. For me personally, I found it tricky to keep up with in places due to the complex ideas it was putting across. Which of course is not an issue with the book! But it might be a book for people with more background reading in this area, or perhaps like I found this book so interesting and a very thorough discussion of the symbol of the black sun within Jungian Psychology. The book explores how darkness within the individual can be experienced as consuming or result in rebirth, growth and healing. For me personally, I found it tricky to keep up with in places due to the complex ideas it was putting across. Which of course is not an issue with the book! But it might be a book for people with more background reading in this area, or perhaps like me, it’ll be one that’s read a few times to mine out all of the wonderful ideas it holds.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Dragos Triteanu

    good for the sould The book is a grim piece of poetry reflecting on the inexistence of the psychological Self (seen as undefinae concioisness) without the shining light of darkness

  10. 4 out of 5

    BabeofDarkness

    I adore Jung and will continue to research the Black Sun...

  11. 5 out of 5

    Louise Blackwick

  12. 4 out of 5

    Cae Hawksmoor

  13. 4 out of 5

    Al Straessle

  14. 4 out of 5

    haley

  15. 4 out of 5

    Shirley

  16. 4 out of 5

    Josh

  17. 5 out of 5

    Shirley Willard

  18. 4 out of 5

    Bokehboy

  19. 4 out of 5

    Karol Domański

  20. 5 out of 5

    Adine

  21. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jesse G.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Alice

  24. 5 out of 5

    Tait

  25. 4 out of 5

    Toro

  26. 5 out of 5

    Scandi Man

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jordan

  28. 4 out of 5

    David

  29. 5 out of 5

    Cait Davis

  30. 4 out of 5

    Reb

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