Parker, D. and Evans, M. (2009) Lost for words/lost in words: painting and the unspeakable unconscious. Paper presented to: 2nd International Conference of the International Association for Jungian Studies (IAJS) : Psyche, Power and Society, Cardiff University, 9 - 12 July 2009.
In May 2008 colleague and fellow painter Michael Evans and I presented plenary papers to the conference on Psyche and Image at the San Francisco Jung Institute. Both papers addressed issues concerning abstraction, the unconscious and spiritual transcendence via the practice of painting. Following on from this we offer the following outline topic for the Cardiff conference. Often a source of discomfort, to be “lost for words” implies a situation where words adequate to match or understand experience cannot be found. Perhaps a more troubling experience for our time is to be “lost in words”, we become “trapped” in language, separated from primary experience. This may be symptomatic of a culture still clinging to notions of rationalism, seduced by its own ability to describe, measure and ultimately dominate external reality. Using abstract painting as our example, we propose that the non-rational, wordless or intuitive as a form of experience/knowledge is vital for both a healthy psyche and culture. Meaning experienced in this way may be unique and essential, acting as a counterbalance to the excessively technocratic and rationalist culture of many western industrial nations where the non-rational or intuitive is systematically downgraded and marginalized in importance