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97 of 98 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful and engaging. It gives pause for reflection.
"Blue Fire" is an anthology of selections from James A. Hillman's major works, including "Insearch: Psychology and Religion," "Suicide and the Soul," "Healing Fiction," and others, including journal and magazine articles in such diverse publications as "Spring," "Utne Reader," "Institute Newsletter,"...
Published on September 28, 2000 by Mark Hammond

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20 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hillman? Or Moore Presenting Hillman?
I'll try to keep this short and to the point. Hillman is obtuse -- he is more of a psychological poet than a psychological writer. He has been very prolific, apparently, since these are highlights from his many (22+) books -- each article with a 'presentation' by Thomas Moore (author of the very popular Care of the Soul series). It's hard to figure out who "owns" this...
Published on May 22, 2009 by Davidicus Marcus


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5.0 out of 5 stars A rich new awareness, August 30, 2013
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This review is from: A Blue Fire (Paperback)
I love this book. The commentary by Thomas Moore is so enlightening. I imagine -- it's like being instructed on Socrates by Plato. The work, which I'm still in process of bringing into my world, is opening up a dimension of existence for me that I live in but do not understand. Hillman's work requires a surrender, and Moore encourages that surrender by illuminating the depths.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Purchased to add to my J. Hillman collection, January 28, 2013
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This review is from: A Blue Fire (Paperback)
Purchased to add to my J. Hillman collection. I haven't read it, yet, but whatever I think about it, I'm keeping it in my personal library collection.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Blue Fire, May 7, 2007
This review is from: A Blue Fire (Paperback)
As a psychotherapist, I can't tell you how important i believe Hillman's contribution to the field of psychology is. His championing of the soul, it's intricacies and shadows, it's necessity as the form that formless spirit coolly appreciates, is an healing offfering for the spirit/matter split of modern consciousness. Read this book, and prepare to be amazed.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A new Existential Psychology as a universal cartographical map of the Soul, March 15, 2013
This review is from: A Blue Fire (Paperback)
This is a rare an exciting book indeed, penned by a bona fide genius. It is a complicated narrative about the poetic nature and basis of Mind. Here in a series of essays abstracted from Hillman's best work, Thomas Moore skillfully introduces us to James Hillman. Through these ideas he tells us why Hillman thinks that Jungian psychology is the only "real" psychology there is. Hillman thinks this is so because only an expanded vision of Jungian psychology vectors man's mental processes; actions and activity back to the center of man's very existence, his soul. Poetry, among many other things, emanates directly from the soul. And here in Hillman's hands the notion of soul is no longer just another glorified psychological and existential metaphor, for Hillman believes that the irreducible component of man's mental functioning is not literary, not the word, but that ephemeral cosmically connected element called an image, a human artifact that can only emanate from the soul.

It is the "mental image" that precedes words and thus emanates directly from the very center of man's existence, his soul. And since words require images in order to attach any meanings whatsoever, it is a simple matter to conclude that the notion of a soul could hardly rely on anything other than the images they generate. Thus, the grand conclusion that we can draw from Hillman's work is that man's mental functioning has nothing at all to do with language, per se. For at best language is a halfway house between what the mind really does (generate images) and what we have been trained to accept (that it formulates ideas through language). Even poetry itself is not about words per se either, but about the images we can draw from using words. We tend to forget that words are used to sharpen our images and not the other way around.

This unfortunate almost cosmic misunderstanding about the role images and words play in mind/brain and psychological functioning (that the mind operates on words instead of on images) is especially unfortunate and problematic if one has been trained through the Freudian school of insights of ego mechanisms, instincts and other meta-psychological, scientific and literary essences. However, if one does as James Hillman has done: allow the mind to roam freely, moving seamlessly and unforced upward and further inwards towards the next level of inner depth (to Jungian archetypes that is), the root node of the mind's functioning becomes all but self-evident. And there we all discover together that fundamental mental functioning has nothing at all to do with words and language per se, that the mind is not literary at all, but has everything to do with images, imagination and fantasy. And while its secondary output - the one that mediates between what the mind really does and the way we have trained ourselves to think it does -- may indeed be literary, the brain's primary functioning mode still works only on images; not on words. Hillman believes that it is the soul that is at work in imagination, fantasy, myth, psychopathology, psychological disorders and metaphor.

Accepting this profound axiomatic realization: that the ABC's of mind, and thus of psychology, are images rather than words, opens up a whole new venue of possibilities for mapping the mind, for understanding its cartography, the universal nature of consciousness, the way the mind goes about the business of determining its own meanings, avenues for building a more soundly based and thus a more robust disciple of psychology, as well as for better understanding of the mechanics of mind and how it goes about accomplishing its primary role of self-organization.

The Hillman paradigm of the psychology of man attempts to put the pylons of the skeletal framework on an entirely different and much deeper footing. Psychology must be more than its second order literary manifestations. It must be more about the meanings man's images, his imagination, and his myths and fantasies generate than about the words used to describe them. In the Hillmanian psychology: "The image is the message; the word is the mere carrier of that message."

The mind's purpose and a final proof of the existence of the soul

It is a given that the mind is a self-organizing mechanism that can both see and monitor its own functioning -- think about itself, and is purposeful in the mental activities that it carries out both within and outside itself. In order to organize itself, the mind seeks out the images in events that it needs and that give rise to meaningfulness, value and the full range of experience. In this task of manufacturing meaning out of its own sense data, consciousness as well as unconsciousness is ever-present and conjoined in both space and time to conspire in the meta-mind activity.

Basking in such deep Hillman insights as found in this book, makes it all seem quite elementary, automatic and self-evident to the reader. He will discover that there is nothing in "mind functioning" or "brain architecture" that is logically prior to the formation of its primary datum that becomes both its input and primary output, an image.

It is through images that the mind is able to see itself as well as understand how it makes sense of everything beyond itself. Co-terminus with the self-evident purposes of our brain (which apparently is to organize itself and then use this organization to survive) is its desire to understand itself. It is this last aspect of mind that gives it a reflexive character and the quality of not just having a separate existence, as say as an "ego" or "consciousness," but also and most importantly, as having an existence as a "cosmically connected entity." That is to say, the ability for the soul to reflexively see itself connected to the rest of the cosmos as an integral part of its oneness is what allows it to transcend existing paradigms of psychology. Indeed if this internally generated sense of meta-meaningfulness, this existential sense of original cosmic self-purpose, which grows out of either the internal ether (that is to say out of nowhere), or is taken from the universe at large -- and of which men as far back as the Greek Philosophers have been keenly aware of -- is to have a name at all, then what better name to give it than the "soul?"

Hillman's "soul" thus is no longer a mere artifact of language, no longer just a figure of speech, a metaphor, but the putative center of human self-awareness and existence. There, per logical necessity, it becomes a self-organizing data point necessarily connected via consciousness to the larger universe, one that has a body of skin and bones as its temporary space ship and operational home base. However, as Hillman notes, this "soul" is more a perspective than a substance, a viewpoint or consciousness of things, rather than a thing itself. This self-generated perspective is by its very nature reflective. It mediates between events and calibrates the difference between "the self" and "everything else that happens." It is a kind of consciousness that rests upon its own self-sustaining and imagining substrate - an inner ongoing presence that is simply "there" even when all our subjectivity, ego, and consciousness are "not there."

And as profoundly and peculiarly speculative as this may sound, logic dictates that the soul must be a factor independent of the events and images in which it is immersed. Therefore since at a minimum we are aware of the images our minds generate, we are, as the French Philosopher Rene Descartes so famously put it: "je pense donce je suis;" or in Latin, "cogito ergo sum," or in English, I think (or I can form images in my mind), therefore I am (or, alternatively, therefore the soul must exist). QED. Twenty Stars
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hillman sampler, November 30, 2008
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This review is from: A Blue Fire (Paperback)
This is an excellent overview of Hillman's work. It's just that a little at a time is all I can inhale!
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5 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'a wee over my little head but incredibly confirming stuff', January 3, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: A Blue Fire (Paperback)
Just enjoyed gently nourishing myself with this a few pages each night. What I understood of it delighted the heck out of me.
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A Blue Fire
A Blue Fire by James Hillman (Paperback - June 19, 1997)
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