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The Writing in the Stars

The Writing in the Stars: A Jungian Reading of the Poetry of Octavio Paz

RODNEY WILLIAMSON
Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 176
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/j.ctt2ttqv4
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  • Book Info
    The Writing in the Stars
    Book Description:

    The Writing in the Starsexplores Paz's life and ideas by establishing a dialogue between the structure and recurring images of his major poems and the ideas of Carl Jung.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8505-5
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-2)
  3. Prelude
    (pp. 3-13)

    The very conception of this book is predicated on the possibility of distinguishing two basic modes of human thought: a rational, fact-oriented kind, which seeks to establish essentially linear connections of causality and consequence, and a symbolic, associative kind, which establishes networks of meaning by relating images and metaphors. The latter engages what we call the imagination and is the stuff of both poetry and sacred or religious thought. The possibility of distinguishing the two does not imply that they are normally dissociated in the practices of real life. Indeed, they are very often interrelated in thought processes, with either...

  4. Phase One Libertad bajo palabra: The Dialogue with the Other
    (pp. 14-48)

    The first poetic phase we describe is that of Paz’s early poetry from the 1930s onward, leading up toPiedra de sol, his first major poem, in 1957. To characterize it as a phase, we see it as dominated and directed by the dialogue between an ‘I’ (yo) and a ‘you’ (tú). This is not to say that other views are not possible. Guillermo Sheridan’s excellent 2004 biography has done much to fill in the wealth of detail necessary for an appreciation of the Paz of this period as a revolutionary, socially committed poet.¹ But the dialogue between Paz and...

  5. Phase Two Piedra de sol: The Birth of Ego Consciousness and the Search for Self
    (pp. 49-93)

    Before we begin our commentary onPiedra de soland the Jungian symbols and concepts which can illuminate its meaning, it is useful to briefly examine some prefatory materials relating to the ideas of history, cosmogony, and time with which Paz was preoccupied at the beginning of this second phase of his creative development, during which he emerged as a world-famous, internationally recognized poet. We hope that the reader will bear with us in our attention to prefatory detail, knowing that it relates to Paz’s essential purpose in this, his first long poem.

    In a televised presentation on pre-Columbian art,¹...

  6. Phase Three Blanco: Mandala and the Ritual of Meaning
    (pp. 94-110)

    In the third phase of his creative development, Octavio Paz fully assimilates concepts from eastern philosophy, religion, and culture into the aesthetic of his poetry.Blancoin this respect represents a moment of maturity and fruition.¹ Our dialogue between Paz and Jung will continue now along two separate lines: on the one hand, the current of archetypal images connected with the mandala in dream symbolism and in this poem; on the other, the resonances between the two with respect to the concept of relativism which Paz draws from Madhyamika Buddhism and which, for Jung, informs the development of his depth...

  7. Phase Four Vuelta, Nocturno de San Ildefonso, and Pasado en claro: The Circular Journey and Return to the Source
    (pp. 111-130)

    In Jungian psychology, the human life cycle is clearly divided into two halves: the first concerned with the birth of ego consciousness, the second with the birth of the self. On various occasions Jung refers to the first and second halves of life, but it is Neumann who sums up the matter succinctly, relating the two halves respectively to the motifs of dragon fight and night sea journey: ‘The dragon fight of the first period begins with the encounter with the unconscious and ends with the heroic birth of the ego. The night sea journey of the second period begins...

  8. Phase Five Carta de creencia: The Human Couple
    (pp. 131-140)

    The title of phase five might be defined in contraposition to that of Jorge Aguilar Mora’s bookLa divina pareja: Historia y mito en Octavio Paz(1978) on the essays of Octavio Paz, dealing with a non-divine pair of concepts in an abstract manner. The themes ofCarta de creencia(1987) are human themes and at their centre is a/the human couple, presented in a divine manner. Perhaps no poem of Paz is more religious than this one, since the human couple is portrayed against a backdrop of references to Adam and Eve and the garden of Eden, and the...

  9. Conclusions: A Handful of Words
    (pp. 141-144)

    In our brief study, we hope to have shown how the life and work of Octavio Paz have, through multiple circularities, come full circle. His last creative phase can be seen, in its simplicity and true to Paz’s style, as much a beginning as an end, but an end it certainly is, in the sense of a culmination. The purpose of the dialogue we attempted to set up between the discourse of two revolutionary and creative minds of the twentieth century, the resonances we have sought to establish between the words and images of the two, despite their focus on...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 145-158)
  11. References
    (pp. 159-166)
  12. Index
    (pp. 167-172)