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  • Writer's pictureKarey Pohn

“To Dream the Impossible Dream”

James Hillman, in Re-visioning Psychology (1992a) talks about the Knight Errant in the same chapter that he discusses bricolage, and he goes off on a tangent to do so. This dissertation is about bricolage, and it is a bricolage, and so part of the way that it is written reflects a kind of bricoleur style. As can be learned in the Methodology chapter [link] bricolage’s roots come from bouncing off the wall of a tennis court, and so in this dissertation, thanks to the Internet, you can bounce back and forth between different subjects and links. This to and fro movement is also very hermeneutic and is one of play’s major patterns.

We have James Hillman, a fellow bricoleur, to thank for being the pioneer in tangent taking, and while not following in his footsteps exactly, for that would not be much of an adventure, I will use his excursions as a precedent to take you on a few of my own.

In fact, a whole chapter of excursions awaits in the Disneyland part of the "Kaleidoscope of Culture," entitled "Extra Extra: Disneyland’s Optional Excursions." This also reflects the galumphant nature of play.

Hillman is also indirectly responsible for this dissertation’s audience and tone. Hillman thought that depth psychology should not be confined to the consulting room, but should go out into the world. So, my dissertation on play does just that. It has not only left the consulting room, but the halls of academia as well. Being available on the Internet and using examples from popular culture, this dissertation seeks to appeal to a more general audience, like Jung’s Man and His Symbols did over 40 years ago, in 1964.

Since I am writing for a wider audience, I will take time to explain things in more detail than might be the usual case. Jung (1964) combined a number of essays with over five hundred illustrations which “provide a unique running commentary on Jung’s thought,” and are “a reinforcement to his thought and are an integral part of Man and His Symbols” (Freeman, 1964). Freeman notes that Jung conceived of this book to explain his work to the general reader and devoted the last months of his life to writing his section and editing the book. Jung completed this task only ten days before his death in June of 1961.

This dissertation will also include pictures, a la Alice in Wonderland’s comments: "What is the use of a book, without pictures or conversations” (Carroll, 1975, p. 23). And it will occasionally have conversations in it as well. The entire last chapter of the "Kaleidoscope of Culture," entitled "Parting Shots," will be a back and forth conversation between our two “color commentators” Tele Sphoros and Rick O’Shea. Telesphoros is the central character of Jung's Bollingen stone. Look closely and you can see the symbol for Mercury in his coat. Rick O'Shea is a tennis ball who wears an ever-changing tam o'shanter, reminding us of bricolage's etymological roots. These two characters will appear at the beginning of each chapter and also sometimes within the chapters as well. When you see a ∆RC, you can click on it and a pop-up box will appear with a tête-à-tête between the two.

Speaking of conversations, the tone of this dissertation is conversational, it is not serious. This nonserious tone allows us to more easily play with the ideas, to try them on to see if they are useful. The works that are explored in the “Kaleidoscope of Culture” are likewise not serious. They are among the most popular items of popular culture and accordingly academia has been quick with the criticism. Yet I find in them the most serious play, and so I hope you can, too, and in the spirit of serious play, in serio ludere, consider them seriously. However, don’t let the nonserious tone fool you into thinking that the dissertation lacks academic rigor. One look at the reference section will put a lie to that notion. I prefer to think of the tone as allowing academic rigor without academic rigor mortis.

While many people are critical of things “Disney,” I share Brode’s (2004, 2006) perspective and see much of value in these works of popular culture. Maybe through my dissertation, we can see the archetypal importance of these cultural creations. And while we are on the subject of Disney, here’s the obligatory disclaimer, one which is similar to the comment section on DVDs: I have had no assistance from the Walt Disney Company with my dissertation. My work is entirely independent of that company, and except where I have quoted the words of Disney and his employees, which were found in various books, none of the opinions expressed in this dissertation are the opinions of the Walt Disney Company, its employees or affiliates.

This dissertation deals with creations of the imagination. As Hillman (1986), echoing Bachelard notes, this is where all the action is: the imagination is where everything takes place. Hillman also says: “The imagination as such is not very original, because, as archetypal, it is subject to the same ever-recurring, ubiquitous configurations and concerns” (p. 240). We will see this as well, as we keep coming back to the same theme in different ways.

This dissertation is also complex, because it deals with several different complexes. Hillman (1986) reminds us that a complex is a group of images held together by a common feeling tone” (p. 245) and that Bachelard’s work leads us to “an appreciation of complexes as emblems of the ways one engages and embraces the world . . . they are tools of the Unreality Principle. Their appearance makes the world anew” (pp. 236-237). While Freud felt that dreams were the royal road to the unconscious, Jung felt that complexes were the way to go. For me, the royal road is in the imaginal creations of modern popular culture, the collective cultural dreams, if you will, that are the modern descendants of myth, and hold these ancient archetypal energies. Hillman notes that you can access these complexes not only in the consulting room, but “in a single chair, alone with a book” (p. 251), to which I would add watching a DVD or going to Disneyland. Both Winnicott (1999) and Huizinga (1944/1955) tell us that culture comes from play, so the transitional liminal spaces of culture and the Internet, are appropriate places and ways to explore play.

Play is the “joker in the deck” (Turner, 1988), and it breaks rules—sorry APA, this one’s not exactly by the book, because it is on the Internet and reflects more of McLuhan’s (2003) electronic media consciousness. Play subverts the established order, and I will be doing this by using different conventions, in this unconventional dissertation. Believe it or not, there is a method to this madness, in fact as it turns out the “medium is the message,” as McLuhan nd Fiore (1967) so presciently foresaw, and as Groswiler (1998) noted “the method is the message,” too.

In passing I should note the use of “we.” This dissertation is a journey, that we—you the reader, and I, the writer are taking together, for I am taking the journey with you, and in the spirit of Hermes I have let myself be surprised by the synchronicities, and I invite you to do the same. “We” is also is inclusive, it acknowledges relationship, and fosters affiliation, which is an important part of play. Through this inclusive spirit and by using very readily available cultural pieces, it is my hope that this material, if useful to you, can be shared with others. Imagine watching Mary Poppins (Stevenson, 1964) or Chicago (Marshall, 2002) with your family or friends, and being able to talk about some of the different patterns of the Cosmic Game that are present, and how events in your life might be similar. All of these stylistic things are appropriate to the subject matter, play. Apologies also to APA for the abundant use of alliteration, which is done to enhance the playful style, for I see no reason not to be serious and playful at the same time. Some of the other unconventional conventions are a slight difference in heading structure and when you see a whole paragraph of purple, this indicates a “block quotation.”

Usually block quotations are indented, but in this dissertation they will be a different color and not indented. Also, most dissertations double-spaced, well you can imagine how many links and pages that would take! Also, when quoting from the different movies Mary Poppins and Chicago, I will not always cite the movie after each quote, but only at the beginning of each section, so if you see a quote without a citation in one of these chapters, it will be a line out of that movie.

My aim in this dissertation is also to provide resources to aid in further exploration. Links will be provided to especially meaningful things, as well as to citations that come directly from the Internet.

HINT: Many of you may not want to read this entire dissertation. Some of the parts are there to provide a context, to set the stage so to speak. All of the excursions, for example, are optional, and all of the historical portions are a bit galumphant as well. One way to get an overview is to look at the links, at the beginning of the different chapters and sections. They will let you know what to expect in each section, and their titles often reflect the tone. Also, look at the pictures, as they tell the story, too. If you read the beginning paragraphs of each chapter, it will provide you with a broad overview of that chapter, the lessons or reflections at the end of each chapter, will summarize the important play related ideas contained in that chapter, if you find that interesting, you can read the chapter.

Now, before we begin to explore the rest of the dissertation, let us get an idea of where you can find what or what you can find where, in other words, "A look at the layout." If you have already read the Welcome section, this look at the layout section is exactly the same there as it is here, so you can skip it if you want and proceed to the final warning.


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