Ways of the Heart

Robert D. Romanyshyn

The essay possibly suits Romanyshyn better than the book; his cyclic, elliptical style seems to work better here than in his more expository Mirror & Metaphor. (Though in Technology As Symptom & Dream he achieves a fine, sustained argument.) Collecting his writings scattered through the ’90s into one volume, this book is an excellent introduction to Romanyshyn’s fascinating project: to marry depth psychology and phenomenology through striving towards a poetic sensibility. He constantly draws on a rich array of thinkers: Merleau-Ponty, Jung & Bachelard figure strongly, as does Henry Corbin’s revelation of the liminal mundus imaginalis and the esoteric heart in Sufi mysticism. But the masters here are the poets: Eliot, Keats, Cummings, and especially Rilke.

This is a book for reading in the right circumstance. On the rush-hour tube it seemed flat and repetitious. On a quiet sunny afternoon in the garden, with the breeze rustling the ivy, it shone with a light that rewards patience and sensitivity. Ranging from virtual reality to Rilke’s angels, from analysis of Descartes’ Cogito to vignettes from the author’s childhood, this is a highly readable introduction to a refreshingly honest, thoughtful and impassioned current in modern psychology.