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Food, images, and a review

Updated: Dec 26, 2021

The adventures continue in Cyprus. Oranges are abundant on the tree in the back yard so we have begun juicing them, and also shelling pecans from the tree. Nothing beats freshly-picked food!

We have continued church-crawling in Cyprus. Earlier this week we visited two of them. We’ll start with the ancient Byzantium Agios Neophytos Monastery. This church was not unlike the Monastery of Chrysorrogiatissa, which I described last week. The iconography is everywhere… and I must confess that iconography leaves me a bit cold.

I presented a paper in Poland 2-1/2 years ago on the topic of iconoclasm, and one of the declarations made by James Hillman about the final outcome was that—while it seems the iconophiles eventually got their way—it was Hillman’s contention that they ultimately lost the battle. I believe that was because the church set forth all kinds of rules regulating the portrayals of the figures, and they became so rigid that no life of any kind could enter into the images.

This was driven home to me at the Agios Neophytos Monastery when we went outside to walk 20 yards across the way and visit the hillside where we entered the three caves where Saint Neophytos lived starting in 1159. 

These began as a single natural cave that had been inhabited by a previous hermit, and Neophytos enlarged the space with his bare hands (they say), eventually creating three caves known today as the Cell, the Bema and the Naos, which he dedicated to the Holy Cross.

His life as a hermit attracted religious individuals in the area who brought him food and gifts. His air of sanctity inspired others to visit him, and the Bishop of Paphos ordained him as a priest and required him to take a disciple in 1170, which started the monastery which now bears his name. Legend says Neophytos only came out of his cave on Sundays to preach the gospel and lived up there until he died in 1219 at the age of 85.

The three caves are adorned with ancient frescoes. According to an inscription, several frescoes were completed by the painter Theodoros Apsevdis (or Apseudes) in 1183. Sometime during the beginning of the 13th century the chapel’s frescoes were replaced, and only a few pieces survive from the earliest wall-paintings. These are said to be among the finest Byzantine frescoes in the world!

The 13th century frescoes reveal a different style from the original, previous paintings. According to art critics, the earlier style is characterized by a “rococo” manner of painting while “Comnenian provincial” and “linear style” (the later style) is more austere and could be characterized as “monastic.”

(More than you could ever want to know about the paintings is contained in an article posted here:

Frankly, I don’t care who painted what—it was a numinous experience to be alone in the caves with these images! They took my breath away. They were so unlike the stilted icons we encountered inside the church.

Apparently the original basilica below was completely decorated with frescoes, but a large part of them were destroyed during the period 1585-1611 with the exception of a few tantalizing fragments on the walls and arches harking to a former glory. I find that heartbreaking, because I would rather be inside a church with these original frescoes than with the traditional icons, which almost seemed to have been factory-made (at least to my eye).

Exiting there, we made our strenuous way up a steep hill to a small chapel dedicated to St. Ephrem high over a gorge. Fortunately it was paved and easy to mount, but I felt as though I were climbing the slope to Monségur once more—it was steep! 

Worse, we arrived at day’s end as the light was failing, and there was no illumination from which to view the heavily decorated interior. This place of worship was so brand spanking new that the lights had not been wired up yet. But it was gorgeous—decorated with imitations of ancient murals and icons, intended to stand for what a genuine Byzantine church would have originally looked like.

We plan to return another day at an earlier time, and will drive there next time instead of mounting that steep staircase, glorious as it was to climb up into the clouds.

I’m spending this weekend online with Mick Cooper, a psychotherapist I admire. He co-wrote a book with John Rowan on The Plural Self before Rowan passed away a few years ago. Saturday’s webinar was on “Relational Depth,” and Sunday’s workshop is on “A Pluralistic Approach to Therapy.” Nearly 250 people were on the webinar Saturday, proof that the webinar format is still effective and maintains an amazing reach. (Plus who doesn’t love learning in their jammies?) I don’t know Mick Cooper’s typology, but I keep getting a vibe of ISTP from him, and I daresay “pluralism” is a way of addressing the diverse typologies of patients, which very much aligns with my values.

Speaking of type, I can at last talk about the review I poured myself into writing many, many months ago. Dr. John Beebe invited me to appraise Merv Emre’s book, The Personality Brokers, for a special issue of the Jungian Journal of Analytical Psychology to be dedicated to psychological types, scheduled for release at the end of the year (this being the centenary year of the original publication of Jung’s famous book, Psychological Types).

I let John know that I was willing to do that, but I didn’t consider that text very “Jungian” since it was written by an obscure English teacher trying to make her reputation by trashing Isabel Briggs-Myers and the MBTI. I honestly didn’t even want to dignify that book with a review in a respected, high-profile journal. I counter-offered to review a couple of other books on typology, one of them being James Hillman’s posthumously-published book, Types Into Images

I knew James Hillman—he was part of my PhD program (implied by the “Archetypal Studies” part of its title), and I had met him in person at several events. He was quite a “somebody” in the Jungian world, greatly esteemed, and his words are treated as hallowed by his many fans (Hillmanians), and they will resound into the future, long after his tragic demise.

Hillman hated typology. Passionately. Bitterly. His biography doesn’t tell us enough yet (it’s underway) to disclose when he made the sharp right turn from being highly interested in type and presenting brilliant seminars on the topic to bashing it at every opportunity, commencing with his presentation in 1976 at the famed annual Eranos Lectures, and published as Egalitarian Typologies Versus the Perception of the Unique. A couple of years ago a book was released posthumously—Types Into Images—which revised and expanded greatly on Hillman’s initial type-bashing lecture.

That book troubled me deeply. As greatly as I respect Hillman, his views about typology contradict my own (with a few exceptions), and I wanted to speak my truth back to him, arguing with him beyond the grave (and also for the benefit of anyone trapped inside the echo chamber who is unlikely to hear a contrary opinion that does not entail an attack on his character). 

To be honest, I wanted Beebe to write that review ever since the book was released—but in my negotiations to arrange a JAP review it fell on my shoulders to do the deed (albeit with his support and help). Be careful what you wish for!

It was not simple nor easy to write. After pouring myself into it and identifying the arguments to erect my edifice, the number of words I was permitted for my essay comprised about a third of the size I had compiled. It was rather like designing a condominium, only to discover that you barely have room to erect a cottage (and they begrudge you even the size of that modest structure!). 

I undertook an extensive process of composing, cutting, re-working, re-thinking, reviewing, editing, responding to challenges by Beebe and two (two!) editors before it went out the door. But I’m proud of it, and it’s my small “Davidian” challenge to Hillman the “Goliath.” It’s not much, but I took a stand, as small as it is on the face of it.

The issue was finally published this week:

If you are interested in typology, this issue will be required reading for you to come up to date on the “state of the art” with respect to typology.

With any luck, this will be the first of two articles on typology authored by yours truly that will be published by the end of the year.

Stay tuned for more!

warmly, -Dr. Vicky Jo

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