Archetype, Architecture, and the Writer

Archetype, Architecture, and the Writer

Archetype, Architecture, and the Writer

Archetype, Architecture, and the Writer


"Altogether, the work is a delight, offering an unusual, provocative view on the disparate texts, with the added pleasure of lucid graceful prose." -- Journal of Modern Literature

Bettina Knapp probes the nature, meaning, and use of the architectural metaphors and archetypes that pervade all literature.


"I built the house in sections, always following the concrete needs of the moment. It might also be said that I built it in a kind of dream. Only afterward did I see how all the parts fitted together and that a meaningful form had resulted: a symbol of psychic wholeness." So wrote C. G. Jung after he had the "Tower" house built for himself on the edge of Lake Zurich in Switzerland. It was "a kind of representation in stone of my innermost thoughts and of the knowledge I had acquired."

Jung's tower, which may be considered an architectural metaphor for an inner psychic climate, was archetypal in nature: it existed as a primordial image in his collective unconscious. Jung was the chief architect (the word stemming from the Greek architekton, master builder) in concretizing his inner vision, in revealing relationships existing between different aspects of his psyche. Surrounded by a moat, the tower acted as both a retreat and a protection from the outer world. It could be said that Jung's emotive roots were embedded in this architectural monument: it was a sacred space where the inner riches lying buried within his collective unconscious nourished him continuously. By organizing or shaping space, Jung had articulated the mysteries existing inchoate within him in a visual language.

Architecture as a spatial creation is the outer garment of a secretive and vital system; it is a nonverbal manifestation of a preconscious condition. A completed and relatively fixed architectural structure is nevertheless a dynamic and organic entity, a system of coordinates that relates inner and outer spheres and in so doing creates a complex of new harmonies and tensions. Within its walls, columns, ceilings, chimneys, windows, turrets, or other structural elements, an edifice may be looked upon as a world in itself--a microcosm--an expression of a preexistent form that may be apprehended on a personal and temporal as well as a transpersonal and atemporal level. As such, it may be considered archetypal.

An archetype is an elusive concept that cannot really be fully defined. Jung, the creator of this seminal psychological notion, wrote:

Archetypes are, by definition, factors and motifs that arrange the psychic elements into certain images, characterized as archetypal, but in such a way that they can be recognized only from the effects they produce. They exist preconsciously, and presumably they form the structural dominants of the psyche in general. . . . As a priori conditioning factors they represent a special psychological instance of the biological "pattern of behavior" which gives all things their specific qualities.

Archetypes, perceived in the form of primordial images, are present in dreams, legends, fairy tales, myths, religious and cultural notions, and modes of behavior the world over. They are elements in perpetually mobile psychic structures, which, until manifested in events, patternings, and configurations . . .

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