Animal Presences by James Hillman

By James Hillman

Uniform version of the Writings of James Hillman, quantity 9

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By definition, amplifying means enlarging, adding details, enriching – so when does one achieve sufficient stuff? Where does one stop? Therefore, second, limits must be set arbitrarily in the selection of material by the analyst and patient according to their proclivities and the exigencies called heuristic. Therefore, third, amplification does not achieve an objective context in which “pig,” say, inheres, nor can it impartially circumscribe the connotations of pig. Hence amplification cannot be called a method in the scientific sense but an anecdotal mode, imparting allegorical suggestions, wisdom, and moralisms.

This coat, as zoologists have noted, does not conceal or camouflage – which is anyway a paranoid militaristic term originating in 1917 and misapplied to ecological conformity – but gives heightened visibility for communication at great distances. Giraffes must be seen; they do not call to each other. The pig’s coat is its very torso, as if it were naked. Stuffed as sausage, compact as ham, it presents itself as flesh, meat. Loud, bulky, it goes after roots, while the giraffe extends into extremities and upwards with the trees into the air.

Without benefit of a bestiary, its text is the living form. The reading of living form, the self-expressive metaphors that animals present, is what is meant by the legends that saints and shamans understand the language of animals, not in the literal speech of words, as much as psychically, animal soul to animal image, speaking with animals as they come in dreams. To read the animal, to hear it speak, requires an aesthetic and ecological perception for which psychology has yet to train its eye and find words that are not just allegorical moralisms, beyond metaphors of piggishness, mousiness, monkey tricks and bear hugs, beyond simplistic metaphor altogether, beyond grasping at the meaning of the animal; to that aesthetic apperception of what is presented, responding to the significance of its form, an appropriate, appreciative response, grateful that it is even there, that it has come to the dream, and that this visitation is a momentary restoration of Eden.

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