This meetup will give us a deeper look into James Cameron’s 2009 film Avatar and through that to the ecopsychology of modernity.

This is a free meetup but a $5.00 donation is greatly appreciated to help us offset our costs. There will be a donation basket at the meetup. Thank you in advance for your support!

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Why was the film Avatar so popular? The success of the film suggests that it speaks both to and out of the collective psyche. Popular film often seems to be ‘mere’ entertainment, without any deeper psychological or spiritual meaning. It is there to entertain, to provide a momentary escape from daily life and to ‘wow’ us with dazzling effects and suspenseful drama. Although Avatar is, in many ways, a “popular film,” seeing through the images and motifs of the film can provide us a deeper insight into the unconscious relationship our personal and collective psyches have to nature and what the psyche is telling us. The obvious environmental themes of the film make clear it is an expression of the ecopsychological situation of collective modernity.

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This is important in order to understand the ecopsychological situation as it actually is. The emotional and skewed perspectives of the polarized environmental attitudes that currently form the collective conversations on the environmental crises make it impossible to adequately address the situation. Only from a perspective that is free of these imbalances can we approach the healing and transformation of our relationship to the natural world, both personally and collectively. This meetup will help us see through the images of the film to the archetypal foundations of the psyche. Through this “uncovering,” the relationships we have to these archetypes can be intentionally tended and transformed.

Looking at Avatar as an expression of the collective psyche in response to the environmental crises reveals the characters and images of the film as potential modes of consciousness and brings many new insights to one of the most significant issues we face as a species. Rather than seeing Avatar as merely another popular Hollywood film, this meetup will attempt to look through it and see the world as it actually is, providing a more solid footing from which the perilous environmental situation can be addressed.
After a brief twenty minute presentation of a conference paper, this meetup be opened to questions and discussion on the topic.

This is a free meetup but a $5.00 donation is greatly appreciated to help us offset our costs. There will be a donation basket at the meetup. Thank you in advance for your support!

(The film will not be shown at the meetup, but if you get a chance to watch it beforehand, it would be helpful for discussion).

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Abstract of the conference paper that will be presented:

Modernity’s relationship with the earth seems marked by polarized attitudes of over-idealization on one side and a destructive and exploitative view on the other. Passionate arguments pull the psyche into one camp or the other where it becomes increasingly difficult to assess the situation. This paper is rooted in the depth psychological approaches of C.G. Jung and James Hillman, and aims to gain a fuller view of this ecopsychological situation by looking deeper into the environmental images of the 2009 film Avatar. It will consider the full psyche, conscious and unconscious, as real, forming the basis of our personal and collective ways of seeing, experiencing, and relating to the world. In this, the psyche is understood to be inherently multiplistic, contradictory, and symptomatic, expressing itself in a dialogue through diverse modes of consciousness.

By recognizing in the film’s images the many different “persons” of the psyche (Hillman, 1977, p. 35, 37, 41), the true nature of the pluralistic and unconscious ecological situation will be uncovered. This paper brings out the archetypal themes of Avatar and opens up many nuances of our ecopsychological attitudes, allowing us to engage the inherent multiplicity of the deeper psyche. Arguing that as we “listen-through” (Hillman, 2005, p. 96) to the film, this paper will enable a more accurate view of our ecopsychological situation. Looking at Avatar as an expression of the collective psyche in response to the environmental crises reveals the characters and images of the film as potential modes of consciousness and brings many new insights to one of the most significant issues we face as a species. Rather than seeing Avatar as merely another popular Hollywood film, this paper attempts to look through it and see the world as it actually is, providing a more solid footing from which the perilous environmental situation can be addressed.

References

Hillman, J. (1977).  Re-visioning psychology.  New York: Harper & Row.

Hillman, J. (2005).  Senex & puer.  G. Slater (Ed.). Putnam, CT: Spring Publications.

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