James Hillman

A Living Myth: Collective Intelligence yields Collective Action

A COLLECTIVE REALIZATION: Humanity is collectively facing James Hillman’s dilemma in The Soul’s Code, where he says, “I can no longer be sure whether the psyche is in me or whether I’m in the psyche…” The national and personal borders that were so vital to identity are increasingly tested by swiftly advancing uncertainties. At the core is a mass realization by a culture engrossed in materialistic pursuit that perhaps, just maybe, something more is afoot.

“All great civilizations when they were flourishing had a living myth,” Marie-Louise von Franz (in above video clip on her work with Carl Jung).

The most popular films and books are stories centered around beings that have entered human experience from another realm. One only need look at the highest grossing films and bestseller lists to see that humanity yearns to be in touch with powers known by our forebears. Individuals want the pinnacle of Maslow’s pyramid and want it now. Our passage collectively will be via an alchemical and very hot journey, characterized by every emotion and, hopefully, resulting in a catharsis that leaves a handful of enlightened forefathers for successive generations. We will not fly to other galaxies until we plumb the very depths of our own collective memory and discover the wealth of psychological wisdom there.

So we are engaged in some collective projects now:

PROJECT #1: NO BORDERS – HUMANITY MIXES TOGETHER FULLY: The first project that is important in all of this is already well underway. The Internet has established itself as a borderless region, unbounded by national, religious and political obstacles. It has also sprung physical arms and legs, as evidenced in the swift overthrow of governments, politicians and other oppressors. VALUE: We advance beyond rigid religious systems that limit momentum and are violent to individuals, communities and other cultures. We overcome arrogance, ignorance and fundamentalism. There is more than one way to be a human. We are everything AND unique, all at once. In this way, we benefit from the cultural wisdom of others AND weave a powerful enough garment to absorb the heat of successive stages of an alchemical initiatory process. SAMPLE PROJECT: Can humans finalize the globalization of the planet WHILE retaining the unique, delicate and rich spiritual eco-systems of various regions? Can this unified world then identify and achieve collectively desired outcomes? Over and over again?


PROJECT #2: A GLOBAL MEDIUM & DELIVERY PLATFORM FOR ALL: The next project is also well underway, in the form of social networks and the myriad devices that social content populates. EXAMPLE: The World Wide Mind and THE Conversation Prism are perfect examples of how this rainbow wheel of social properties is animated by and animates human action. VALUE: Streamlining data analysis and action platforms facilitates achievement of the sample project above, namely collective action BY THE GLOBAL COMMUNITY toward COLLECTIVELY IDENTIFIED GOALS.

PROJECT #3: SUBMARINES INTO THE INTERIOR OF THE COLLECTIVE PSYCHE: The third project is just beginning. Via sophisticated data-mining solutions like PeopleBrowsr, Radian6 and others, as well as a deep understanding of social and human psychology, organizations are plumbing the depth of the collective unconscious.

Carolyn Kaufman describes Jung’s concept: “The collective unconscious is like psychic DNA: it contains “inherited” psychic material that links us not only to other humans in the present but also to our ancestors from the past. According to Jung’s theory, though each of us appears to function independently, in actuality we’re all tapped into the same global mind.”

Nikos Kazantzakis identifies the importance and value of being aware of the collective unconscious, “Myriad invisible hands hold your hands and direct them. When you rise in anger, a great-grandfather froths at your mouth; when you make love, an ancestral caveman growls with lust; when you sleep, tombs open in your memory till your skull brims with ghosts.”

VALUE: The goal of launching missions into the collective unconscious is that we discover what we have forgotten and link this to what we have invented IN ORDER TO reach what we desire.

PLUMBING THE COLLECTIVE UNCONSCIOUS FOR WISDOM: Again, humanity is collectively facing Hillman’s dilemma in The Soul’s Code, where he says, “I can no longer be sure whether the psyche is in me or whether I’m in the psyche…” Immersive mediums of expression and relationship like social networks clue us into deeper mysteries that CAN BE PLUMBED now and then turned into vehicles for going even deeper into our collective unconscious in search of wisdom, forgotten truth and stories. These in turn feed our evolution like nothing else can. In the old tribes, a teenage boy would undergo a ritual that threatened his life. Upon passing through, he had earned the right to sit around the fire with the men, to hunt with them and to enjoy the pleasures of women and family.

Our planet is undergoing such an initiation now, passing from fear and oppression INTO an era typified by simple technologies that resolve timeless human problems. The storyteller Michael Meade has said, “As nature rattles and culture unravels, mythic imagination tries to return to the world, for endings and beginnings are particularly mythic…myth makes meaning and helps a person find the meaningful path through life.”

Again, we will not fly to other galaxies until we plumb the very depths of our own collective memory and discover the wealth of psychological wisdom there. Do you have a different historical timeline that you like? “To keep the future open to all potentials, alternatives and dissenting possibilities, it is necessary to envisage alternative futures from different civilisational and cultural perspectives.” (Sardar) It may be the only way to get free of the “fate” and “karma” that previous generations are so deeply in love with. We do not need to have an apocalypse just because such a weight of humanity yearned for it…there are other optional endings. Cultivating a Choose Your Own Adventure approach is vital to survival at this point.

Soul Monitoring: Peering into the collective for meaningful connections

What if we saw image AS experience? One may use social intelligence tools to discover a community surrounding an image. NOW!

“It helps to regard soul as an active intelligence, forming and plotting each person’s fate. Translators use “plot” to render the ancient Greek word mythos in English. The plots that entangle our souls and draw forth our characters are the great myths. That is why we need a sense of myth and knowledge of different myths to gain insight into our epic struggles, our misalliances, and our tragedies. Myths show the imaginative structures inside our messes, and our human characters can locate themselves against the background of the characters of myth.” ~James Hillman

What if we saw the social networks as a soul-making exercise, one intended to train the human community in depth of experience? What if we saw image AS experience? What if we saw one aspect of our consciousness as follower and one as leader? And what if that leader was like a very clever Market Research Director using social intelligence gathering tools like Research.ly, Sysomos, Radian6 and the like? What if this leader in our psyche was peering into conversations within and deciphering meaning, finding insight and plotting direction?

James Hillman goes on to say, “Character is characters; our nature is a plural complexity, a multiphasic polysemous weave, a bundle, a tangle, a sleeve….I like to imagine a person’s psyche to be like a boardinghouse full of characters. The ones who show up regularly and who habitually follow the house rules may not have met other long-term residents who stay behind closed doors, or who only appear at night. An adequate theory of character must make room for character actors, for the stuntmen and animal handlers, for all the figures who play bit parts and produce unexpected acts. ”

Social monitoring tools give Market Strategists an opportunity to hear the voices within the culture and plot direction for the collective psyche. Ideally, digital engagement offers a bridge to both spiritual AND flesh encounters. Social networks like Meetup.com offer physical engagement with those who share a passion.

Imagine a person dreaming in his bed. He/she lives within a scene. The scene is distant, yet close; powerfully enwrapping the dreamer in another life, another place. We now have the ability to wake up, switch on our laptop and search the collective consciousness/sub-counsciousness using keywords in tools as simple as Google and as complicated as Radian6, Research.ly and Sysomos.

One may use social intelligence tools to discover a community surrounding an image. And within a very short amount of time, one may be with these people in the flesh, in that dream scene in the flesh. This experience, this journey, from image to flesh, from passion to experience, from my tight inner circle to the outer world, IS one of the greatest gifts social networks offer.

James Hillman writes, “The character truest to itself becomes eccentric rather than immovably centered, as Emerson defined the noble character of the hero. At the edge, the certainty of borders gives way. We are more subject to invasions, less able to mobilize defenses, less sure of who we really are, even as we may be perceived by others as a person of character. The dislocation of self from center to indefinite edge merges us more with the world, so that we can feel ‘blest by everything.’ ”

We now live in times when we can “dislocate from center” and be “blest by everything”. That’s the journey of the seeker in social networks. And no set of tools could be more effective than those that search the Interest Graph. Twitter is the Interest Graph, a place where individuals and groups have grouped themselves into lists and are sending out byte-sized messages with links to information related to niches. Jodee Rich, CEO of PeopleBrowsr, has said, “The trend I’m seeing is that the world is evolving from a social graph towards an interest graph.” Susan Etlinger, consultant at Altimeter Group, says, “I see social graphs and interest graphs converging. FOr example, people into fashion conecting online and going to events together.” Etlinger identifies here that movement I referred to earlier concerning the journey from searching online to meeting in the flesh.

When one realizes the potential of powerful social media monitoring solutions to connect one to one’s dream, the world changes dramatically.

Dreamtending/Collective Consciousness Research/Creative Exercise:

1. JOURNAL AND MEDITATE: Spend an hour before bed journalling and meditating on what you want out of life, what you want in your career, what you desire in a relationship.

2. DREAM PREPARATION: Tell yourself prior to sleeping that you will dream about this. Put a journal and pen next to your bed.

3. DREAM RECORDING: Upon having a vivid dream and waking, write down the dream.

4. SEARCHING THE COLLECTIVE: Go to your computer and use social media monitoring tools/social intelligence gathering solutions, to search the collective consciousness/unconscious using keywords from your dream journal.

5. CREATIVE EXPRESSION AND FLESH CONNECTION: Create a Kickstarter creative project or Meetup flesh-group based on this research AND your own creative process.

A single thought

One thought fills immensity. ~ William Blake

Humanity has the technology AND the psychic receptivity to collectively be aware of a single thought. This moment, when it first occurs, may go by unannounced BUT then, when successive occurences take place, Humanity will sit straight up, wide awake to the wonder AND danger of such a possibility! These SINGLE THOUGHTS, when expressed, will ripple through the texture of human consciousness and effect vast and irrevokable change. Those who post these thoughts, whether in the form of video, music, image or text may be astounded with the volume of response BUT a kind of responsibility that befits a poet-king/queen will come upon him/her/them.

In an age of viral videos, images and quotes, it is not too inflated to make this statement. The coming SINGLE THOUGHTS that will ripple through both conscious and subconscious fabrics of human thought will be the unifying pre-cursors to end-games in multiple arenas. Falling fences will be tipped over as a result of these thoughts and entire forms that existed for centuries may be transformed overnight.

Archetypal Psychology has much to say that applies in this area. James Hillman writes that the fundamental mistake in Western culture is a loss of soul, which is further identified with a loss of images and the imaginal sense. The result has been an intensification of subjectivity, showing…in a Western consciousness which has lost its relation with death and the underworld (Hillman, Archetypal Psychology).

Hillman calls for, and predicts, a re-animation of “things” by means of metaphor, which “gives sense and passion to insensate things”. He writes that the metaphorical perspective “revisions world phenomena as images, finding sense and passion where the Cartesian mind sees the mere extension of de-souled insensate objects (Hillman, Archetypal Psychology).

Our movement into image, both still and moving, has increased exponentially with YouTube receiving scores of billions of individual downloads per month in the United States alone, as an example. As Google TV comes onto the scene, the potential for unknown and perennial philosophies to emerge into open human consciousness will precipitate a rapid evolution of the collective human consciousness, which will in turn cause a greater receptivity to more complex and powerful ideas. Even as wide swaths of human societal structure fall down and disintegrate, the collective consciousness will be such that Humanity as a whole will absorb such a transition with grace and un-precedented creativity. The story of the imaginal cells within the process of metamorphosis is an image of this type of transition.

Imagining, composing, drawing, filming YOUR single thought that would ripple through the social fabric of the internet is a VITAL activity for individuals in ALL disciplines and verticals. It is a CENTRAL PLANET-SAVING activity in our times. To repeat, discovering your gift for humanity IS a CENTRAL PLANET-SAVING activity in our times.

Firmly within a renaissance of expression

The logos of the soul, psychology, implies the act of traveling the soul’s labyrinth in which we can never go deep enough. ~ James Hillman

Social networks are images of this labyrinth and virtual activities are just a fraction of the myriad activities occuring within the intangible fabric of the collective human psyche. Humanity has increasing evidence through the sheer volume of content pumping through social networks of the vastness of the imagination and the soul. The physical size of our Earth is minute compared to the endless worlds contained within the human psyche. Even spending one day searching various videos, photos, songs and events, one may find incredible variety. We ARE firmly within a renaissance of expression.

THE ADVENT OF GOOGLE TV, as one example, opens a fantastic new territory for ANYONE to make money from advertising RELATED to their video content. The major studios ought to run contests in which the world votes who gets to use their equipment to make movies, based upon viewership on Google TV and YouTube. The same goes for music. Humanity IS running itself, thanks to the fantastic inventions now in place for content distribution and collaboration.

It remains to be seen what humanity will orient around. Now that we have Google TV, LinkedIn, GIVEO and Facebook, a catastrophe like the BP Oil spill could be cleared up very quickly simply by harnessing the precision of these tools to (a) spread awareness, (b) identify the experts best suited to solve the issue, (c) garner support for getting the clean-up paid for and (d) following up with prizes and celebration!

THE TABLET REVOLUTION: In the coming 12 months, consumers will see a rapid acceleration in content for both Kindle-type and iPad-type tablets BUT iPad-type platforms will see the fastest climb due to multi-valent, holographic experience possibilities.

What is a holographic experience in the context of tablets and the social fabric of the internet? An example of such an experience in the social fabric of the internet could be as follows: Every tweet and Facebook status update is a blog post title (WordPress, Blogger, Posterous, Tumblr), every blog post a chapter in a digital book (eBook) populated by media, including (but not limited to), photos (Flickr), video (YouTube), music (Last.fm), and footnotes (Slideshare), every digital book a community (Ning), every community contains the full range of archetypal characters (The Conversation Prism), and each of those characters introduces your material to their tribes through tweets, blog posts, etc.


The FUTURE OF BOOKS involves dynamic, interactive communities oriented around text as a jumping-off point into worlds upon worlds, all searchable, all monitorable, all monetizable. For examples of how this is true spend an hour reading about the fabulous successes (and failures, which often are the best pre-cursors to success).

So, what does it take to develop such a community? Content, an audience, and the appropriate networks within the social fabric of the internet. Engage in the following important steps for proper social business integration. At each stage, employ appropriate Researchers (Analysts), Producers (Graphic Artists + Writers), Conversationalists/Community Managers (Brand Ambassadors) and Problem-Solvers (Strategists/Techies/Programmers).