The Hermit Poet

January 14, 2005

Jung’s Two Types of Writers

Filed under: Criticism,Poetry,Quotes — Neil Aitken @ 1:54 pm

Jung makes an interesting distinction between two types of writers in his essay, “The Relation of Analytical Psychology to Poetry.”

Writer #1

is wholly at one with the creative process, no matter whether he has deliberately made himself its spearhead, as it were, or whether it has made him its instrument so completely that he has lost all consciousness of this fact. In either case, the artist is so identified with his work that his intentions and his faculties are indistinguishable from the act of creation itself.

Writer #2

is not identical with the process of creation; he is aware that he is subordinate to his work or stands outside it, as though he were a second person; or as though a person other than himself had fallen within the magic circle of an alien will.

Patricia Monk sums up the differences nicely:

In the writer of the first type, then, the shaping techniques available to the conscious mind will not distory or hamper, but facilitate the transmutation of the unconscious content into verbal form because, during composition, the conscious and unconscious levels of the psyche are completly integrated. Furthermore, in the transmutation by the shaping techniques, the unconscious will lose nothing of its energy.

But the other poet, who feels the creative force as something alien, is one who for various reasons cannot acquiesce and is thus caught unawares.

Which really just means that there are poets and writers for whom creation comes as a natural flow from their unconscious resevoir which then can be channeled and shaped as it comes. These writers marry conscious craft and unconscious instinct.

And, conversely, there are other writers for whom writing requires the imposition of an external force — writing is either an excising or assimilation of an alien presence. These are the writers who frequentlhy insist that they can only write when “something hits them” or when “the spirit moves them.”

One Response to “Jung’s Two Types of Writers”

  1. Pris Says:

    I’ve always loved Jung’s insights and enjoy seeing this applied to poets/writers. Thanks!


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