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NUM-INOUS COMICS PT. 2

This essay is a very belated response to a " part 1 " published in February 2015. The gist of that essay was a response to a corre...

Saturday, February 23, 2013

JUNG AND CENTRICITY

Before I continue with my observations regarding the "monster" and "villain" personas, I need to iron out some details with regard to my concept of *centricity.*  I had not given the concept this name when I addressed the notion of *focal presences* in 2010 and did not name it until this 2012 essay.

In this recent essay I quoted Jung on what he called the "sovereignty" of a given psychological function in a given subject's outlook:

This absolute sovereignty always belongs, empirically, to one function alone, and can belong only to one function, because the equally independent intervention of another function would necessarily produce a different orientation which, partially at least, would contradict the first. But since it is a vital condition for the conscious process of adaptation always to have clear and unambiguous aims, the presence of a second function of equal power is naturally ruled out. This other function, therefore, can have only a secondary importance.

Jung does not invoke "sovereignty" as a specific term, in contrast to the way Bataille uses it to mean what I'd translate as "megalothymotic dominance."  What Jung is really addressing is the proposition that though a subject's psychological makeup may include influences from all four functions-- once again, sensation, intution, feeling, and thinking-- only one can be dominant.

I compared this broadly to what I term "centricity" in the four Fryean mythoi; i.e., that every coherent fictional story should logically fall into one of the four *mythoi* even though they may possess elements of other mythoi, as illustrated in the essay BUFFY THE MYTHOS SLAYER.  In addition, the same logic that "there can be only one" applies to centricity with respect to the characters in those fictional stories; only one person, or one interrelated group of persons, can occupy the figurative "center" of the narrative.

In PSYCHOLOGICAL TYPES Jung doesn't use the metaphor of a circle and its center.  He uses another metaphor to illustrate his insight on the relation of his two principal types-- the "extravert" and the "introvert"-- with respect to their orientation:

For the extravert the object is interesting and attractive a priori, as is the subject, or psychic reality, for the introvert.We could therefore use the expression 'numinal accent' for this fact, by which I mean that for the extravert the quality of positive significance and value attaches primarily to the object, so that it plays the predominant, determining, and decisive role in all psychic processes from the start, just as the subject does for the introvert.


From my reading of Jung I don't think he ever came to use the term "numinal accent" very much, though I think that he always stayed true to the concept of a "quality of positive significance and value" pertaining in the psychologies of human beings.  I imagine that "accent" never became a regular Jung-term because it's a little too limited in the ways it can be applied.  To make it work the psyche must be compared to a word with more than one syllable, as in the Dictionary.com definition of "accent:"

 "prominence of a syllable in terms of differential loudness, or of pitch, or length, or of a combination of these."
 

In other works, however, Jung would emphasize the importance of the circle as a symbol of psychic wholeness. Not only does the circle make the best symbol for the psyche, it is also the ideal symbol of the coherent fictional work, where one finds the "quality of positive significance" at the center while other, less central qualities accrete around that center like debris around a black hole.  And the central character or characters are the means by which we know that central significance.

On a quick aside, once I would have used the term "dynamis" for the "quality of positive significance," which Jung elsewhere called "libido."  Now, however, I've drifted into using the term as a substitute for Frye's concept of "power-of-action," while "dynamicity" applies to a character's literal physical power.  I still would not use "libido" as Jung did, but might use his other word "numinal"-- derived from the term "numinous," devised by Rudolf Otto-- to connote that centralized significance.

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