Books by James Hillman

LAMENT OF THE DEAD by James Hillman
HISTORY
Released: Aug. 26, 2013

"A brilliant collection, evocative of all that is wonderful and strange about Jung's Red Book and about the human psyche itself."
This series of transcribed conversations between two eminent scholars provides nuanced and provocative context for Carl Jung's Red Book and its influence on contemporary thinking. Read full book review >
HISTORY
Released: Aug. 1, 1996

What set of factors most influence the course of an individual human life? Nature? Nurture? The choices a person makes, including one's intimate relationships? Or is it the complex interplay of all of these? For Jungian analyst and prolific writer Hillman (Kinds of Power, 1995, etc.), the correct answer is apparently ``none of the above.'' Rather, Hillman focuses single-mindedly on each person's special daimon, an abstract, almost mystical notion lifted from Neoplatonic thought that he defines as ``an invisible nonhuman escort,'' and ``the lot your soul chose before you ever took a breath.'' This daimon, he argues, ``the essence'' or blueprint of each life, calls us to a very particular destiny, and it does not willingly suffer our neglect. In developing endless variations on this idea, he comes out sounding extraordinarily fatalistic, positing, for instance, that ``assassination was written in Gandhi's script.'' Thus, he largely downplays such basic aspects of the human condition as choice, conflict, ambivalence, chance, irrationality, and madness. And Hillman's intense focus on individuals and their unique fates means that the communal side of life, and specifically altruism and other positive social values, are also given little weight. Finally, as the following passage exemplifies, Hillman's prose often seems both confusingly bloated and maddeningly ethereal: ``I am different from everyone else and the same as everyone else; I am different from myself ten years ago and the same as myself ten years ago; my life is a stable chaos, chaotic and repetitive both, and I can never predict what tiny, trivial bit of input will result in a huge and significant output.'' This, and passages like it, are likely to leave many readers scratching their heads. This verbose book would have benefitted by being pruned into a stylistically far tighter essay, less declamatory and more reflective. (Author tour) Read full book review >
KINDS OF POWER by James Hillman
NON-FICTION
Released: April 20, 1995

Jungian analyst Hillman (coauthor, Freud's Own Cookbook, 1985, etc.) rambles on about a new, and hopefully healthier, paradigm of power for the business world. Hillman believes that business offers the closest thing our civilization has to a universal theology, and with that in mind he tries to destroy some old idols in the temple. In the first part of this book, he views two traditional notions of business health- -growth and efficiency—as limiting and even dangerous (Treblinka, he notes, resulted from the Nazis' push to kill with maximum efficiency). In contrast, he argues, the next century will need to stress service and maintenance, which place a premium on the personal dimension of life often devalued in the drive for growth and efficiency. Hillman then examines 20 different kinds of power, including prestige, exhibitionism, tyranny, concentration, authority, fearsomeness, purism, charisma, and subtle power. In the last section, he explores the power of myths on ideas, positing the existence of, and then characterizing, an armful of worldviews: the ``cyclical return'' of history; ``gloom and doom''; ``hopeful greening''; and ``apocalyptic catastrophe.'' Instead of dehumanizing control, he aims for ``maximizing through discretion, rather than direction.'' Well and good. The problem comes with his method of analysis, which is long on examining the etymology of words and the classical myths that illustrate forms of power, but is short on applying any of this to contemporary business. His tactic is ``to keep the ideas brief, quick, heated and scattered.'' The result is often psychobabble (``The intelligent exercise of power begins in the mind that has insight into the deeper structures of actions''). In his gnomic one-liners, Hillman comes across as part latter- day Emerson and part Sensitive New Age Guy, but the reader is likely to view the whole as flapdoodle. Read full book review >