Good interviews are—as proved copiously by RE/Search—a fantastic medium for embedding ideas in people. Thankfully there’s a brilliant book of interviews with the brilliant James Hillman, and this is it. It’s essential both as an introduction to his often subtle and complex ideas for the newbie, and a companion for those initiated into his written works—so shorn of personal detail, so avowedly anti-biographical. He stills squirms a little at being relatively exposed, but this messy discomfort is, characteristically, transmuted into the gold of lucid insight. The section discussing the interview format itself that kicks things off is wonderful, and the examination of the limitations of biographical writing makes it clear that, whatever your thoughts on Hillman’s lack of self-revelation, he’s thought long and hard about it, and has his fascinating reasons.
Further, I suspect a nice piece of deception at work here. The edition notice page contains the modest declaration: “‘Laura Pozzo’ [the name of the interviewer] is a pseudonym.” Is Hillman being grilled by his own anima, a figure created for self-analysis out of his “Italian fantasy”? Is this “Pozzo” as in Waiting For Godot?
While by no means a villain in a conventional sense of the word, Pozzo is sometimes considered (nominally) the “antagonist” of Waiting for Godot. Although he is not technically in opposition to the so-called heroes of the play […] he does bring chaos into their sheltered world.
Created or not, this introduction of questioning challenges into Hillman’s theoretical world works in the way the best interviews do.
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