Jungian Society for Scholarly Study Conference - Notes from the Field

I have just returned from attending the 2012 International Conference of the Jungian Society for Scholarly Studies (JSSS) held August 8-11 in the French Quarter of New Orleans. This was the first time I had attended the JSSS conference and even jumped in fully with a presentation. The theme of the conference was “Affect and Action: Psyche in an Time of Crisis” and the over 90 presentations were primarily focused around the theme either at the individual or the at the global level. Jennifer Selig, the conference chair, did a wonderful job in grouping the talks according to similar ideas and themes thereby making it a common theme to hear one of the speakers say – I didn’t realize that the other speakers in my sessions were going to cover that but it fits right into what I am planning on presenting.


The Keynote Address was given by Samuel Kimbles, author of the Political Psyche, my copy has multiple stickies and notes, so I was pleased to hear his talk and to meet him directly. He discussed his work in multigenerational issues trying to understand how some past issues are still with specific groups in the present where he used the metaphor of a “phantom” to describe past issues that are unresolved. The Plenary Session speaker was Peter Dunlap who spoke the relationship between citizens and politicians with affect as an important aspect within the decision process.


From here the program of presentations continued to grow and expand per session. The most difficult decision was making the choice on which talks or round tables to attend. The conference was attended by writers, professors, therapists, scholars, and students thereby providing many diverse perspectives. I thought it would have been interesting to have a panel discussion or a moderated event where those on the therapy side who spoke about taking psyche into the world and those in the world who also talked about issues of psyche in the world could bring the two perspectives together in a forum. Myself, I have been working issues in the world, for many years and sensed the need for a new way of understanding what was happening and why, and therefore I am always intrigued to hear the therapists understanding of the world and what is missing.


The conference was open and there is a strong sense of acceptance on the many different topics. There was space for discussion and dialogue. I was inspired by many of the talks and kept my dissertation journal with me at all times – even lunch – to capture new and inspiriting ideas important to my own research. I would encourage anyone with an interest in Jungian studies and depth psychology to attend next year. And yes, to even present a paper as it was clear that the dialogue is important to move the ideas forward in this fast changing world that we live. I see such a need to make the unconscious – conscious in so many areas. Cheers Susan

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I'm back from the 2012 International Conference of the Jungian Society for Scholarly Studies in New Orleans. Glad they shortened it to JSSS or we would have been smacking each other with plastic name tags all week. Many good presentations and a chance to see old friends and make new heightened my enjoyment of the event. One of my new friends, however, made a comment that I was "obsessed with the carpet" in the Bourbon Orleans Hotel, and she was right.

I have been to many conferences where vital issues of cultural and personal concern were passionately and intelligently expressed only to have the attendees return home, fill up a file folder with the collected "freebies," write the title of the conference on the tab, and then file it next to last year's conference notes. Brilliant and impotent.

Now comes the rug part. There are two identical carpets that cover the lounge within the hotel (a beautiful hotel, I might add - say hello to Janelle in the restaurant). My new friend heard me comment more than once about the carpet. There was a curious lack of an image. The carpet center was a circle with rays flowing out from the center, something like a dart board. Not far from the center and at the top and bottom of the carpet design were two quivers filled with arrows. The one image missing was a bow.

A quiver filled with items honed to a cutting edge, sharpened to pierce the target of their trajectory. Arrows whose very purpose is only fulfilled if shot from a bow to a target. And a target, like a mandala, drawing sight to its center, helping clarify and focus the very spot where the arrow must pierce. But no bow, no bridge to get point A to target B. And it did bother me, this image, for it spoke to all those earlier conferences I mentioned. All those sharp, insightful arrows tucked away in file folders while the world keeps throwing up blood and tear soaked targets crying out to be seen.

The conference and the rug brought me to realize that no matter how many bows (techniques) any conference presents, and this conference offered several, it still takes someone to notch the arrow (psyche/wisdom), draw back the string (soma/sinew), and take aim at the center, the soul of the human cry. I am, we are all, the needed archers with sharpened arrows, a strong bow, and a target.

Thank you Ed and Susan for your excellent insights into the event. It was so fun to connect with you both, as well as the many other Alliance members who were there! I know there was some trepidation among JSSS board members about hosting it in New Orleans in August, but what a fun place it was to be--not to mention very interesting from a depth psychological standpoint due to its history. 

If you--or anyone else who presented there--managed to record your presentations or have notes or papers you'd like to share, let's put them here in the community. Let me know--I recorded mine and will share it as well so those who couldn't attend can still taste :)


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