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Merchant, J. (2018). Colman, Warren. Act and Image: The Emergence of Symbolic Imagination. New Orleans: Spring Journal and Books. 2016. Pp. 338. Pbk. £24.96.. J. Anal. Psychol., 63(1):134-136.

(2018). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 63(1):134-136

Colman, Warren. Act and Image: The Emergence of Symbolic Imagination. New Orleans: Spring Journal and Books. 2016. Pp. 338. Pbk. £24.96.

Review by:
John Merchant

In Act and Image, Colman addresses a topic central to analytical psychology, that of the origin and nature of symbolic imagination. In doing so he traverses an extraordinarily wide range of disciplines as diverse as historical anthropology, cognitive archaeology and paleontology in addition to analytical psychology. And whilst arguing for a position, the book's flowing and readable style makes the research Colman presents highly accessible to a general Jungian readership.

It is noteworthy that the responses Act and Image has already elicited as in ‘ground breaking’, ‘thought-provoking’, ‘rich and vital’ and a ‘tour de force’ are a testament not only to the depth and range of the complexities discussed but to the challenging conclusions Colman draws. As a consequence this book will be of immense interest not only to those Jungians who are interested in symbolic imagery but also those more concerned with the theoretical underpinnings to analytical psychology and archetypal theory in particular.

Beginning with the evocative image of the 40,000 year old (Upper Paleolithic) Lion Man artifact from Hohlenstein-Stadel in Germany, Colman poses his fundamental question (and one which substantially occupied Jung himself) - where do symbols come from? This is the book's starting point in explaining how such an artifact conjoining human and lion characteristics could come into being. The Lion Man image and the book's title could lead some readers to expect an elucidation of early hominid archetypal experience, and Colman does outline the classical Jungian position on archetype.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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