Carl Jung and the Creative Subconscious


Carl Gustav Jung, 1912

Someone told me recently that the pyschologist Carl Jung believed the work reveals something about the author.  We discussed this idea for a few minutes before it hit home in a very scary fashion, because we were discussing my works of horror.  I realized that at least sometimes my own subconscious fears may influence, if not determine, the course of my stories.  Storylines reflecting the subconscious fears of the author makes a lot of sense, because, to my mind at least, dreams and nightmares also originate in and reflect the undercurrents of the subconscious.

So, what do you think?   Is the subconscious wellspring responsible for the creation of dreams the same one responsible for creative works?  What does this say about authors like Yann Martel who wrote “Life of Pi”?   What does it say about authors like Clive Barker and H.P. Lovecraft and even myself?

While we are at it, here are three quotes from Jung to provide additional food for thought.  What do they say about writers of horror?   I found them at The Painter’s Keys:  Art Quotes from Carl Gustav Jung.

“Often the hands will solve a mystery that the intellect has struggled with in vain.”

“The secret of artistic creation and the effectiveness of art is to be found in a return to the state of ‘participation mystique’ – to that level of experience at which it is man who lives, and not the individual…”

“The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves.”

“The Terror” from the Wen Fu

Here is an interesting section/stanza from the ancient Chinese work Wen Fu (The Art of Writing).  It is entitled “The Terror”.

I worry that my ink well will run dry, that right words cannot be found ; I want to respond to the moment’s inspiration.

I work with what is given ; that which passes cannot be detained.

Things move into shadows & they vanish ; things return in the shape of an echo.

When Spring arrives, we understand that Nature has its own reason.

Thoughts are lifted from the heart on breezes, and language finds its speaker.

Yesterday’s buds are this morning’s blossoms which we draw with a brush on silk.

Every eye knows a pattern, every ear hears a distant music.

Wen Fu was written by Lu Chi (261 AD – 300 AD), who was a scholar, a military leader, and the the Literary Secretary in the the Emperor’s court.  It is very short and may take an average reader 15-20 minutes to complete.  The hardcopy  translation I have was written by Sam Hamill and published by Breitenbush Books in 1987.   A far more poetic version can be found at

I like to peruse Wen Fu occasionally, because the language is simple yet mystical while the ideas are straightforward yet metaphorical.   What fascinates me most about the work is that the principles it expresses are eternal and universal.   The underlying principles that guided Lu Chi’s art are the same ones that underlie ours nearly two thousand years later and in a society (and language!) that would have been completely alien to Lu Chi.  What’s more, Lu Chi describes the experience of writing from a very intimate standpoint to which any author who is passionate about his art could relate.

What are your thoughts?  What principles of writing are eternal and universal?  What do you see in the stanza above?

“Dream Warrior” to be Published

My short story “Dream Warrior” is currently slated to be published by the online magazine Sorcerous Signals  in their February, 2013 issue as well as their February, 2013 issue of Mystic Signals (a print edition combining Sorcerous Signals and The Lorelei Signal).

For my friends and relatives not familiar with the publishing industry:  please be advised that the story is only scheduled to be published in February and that I do not have an exact date yet.   The last edition was published on November 12, therefore it will probably be published about mid-February.  In my experience, stories appear on schedule about 90% of the time.   Occasionally, something happens and the story has to be delayed, but (again, in my experience) the story always appears.

I would like to thank the editor of Sorcerous Signals, Carol Hightshoe, for accepting my work.  I overlooked her letter of acceptance in my e-mail in October and was not aware of “Dream Warrior’s” acceptance until she diligently and professionally followed up and inquired about the story some time later.

The story is about a teenage boy in Corpus Christi, TX, who seeks revenge on the hoodlums responsible for the rape and death of his girlfriend.   After his first attempt fails and they threaten his life, he runs to Mexico to live with his great-grandfather, who teaches him the ways of the ancient Aztec sorcerers so that he can have his revenge.

I got the idea for the story while researching south Texas history for another (as yet unfinished) story and came across a website on Aztec sorcery.  Its author, whose name unfortunately escapes me at the moment, graciously responded to my inquiries and provided me with a wealth of fascinating information.  If I can find his name and website in my e-mails, I will publish them later.

I hope everyone enjoys “Dream Warrior”.    Please help me thank Carol and her staff by visiting the site often and encouraging everyone you know to do the same.   Check your local media outlets for Mystic Signals.

ETA Hoffmann


Unless you are a literature/horror aficinado, you may never have heard of  Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann, a German writer from the late 18th century.  He predated Poe by almost half a century and in his time was probably as well known then as Stephen King and Clive Barker are today.   His stories were considered terrifying in his time.   Several of his stories were the basis for the well-known opera by Jacques Offenbach “Tales of Hoffmann”.  If you have never heard the music from this, it would be worthwhile to listen for it or to buy a CD of it.  It is very impressive.  As with the photo of Stoker, I obtained this image from Wikimedia Commons, where it is listed as being in the public domain.

Bram Stoker


For those of you, who, like I, have never seen a photo of Bram Stoker, author of Dracula, here he is.    The photo is from Wikimedia Commons and is listed as being in the public domain.

Whose skill with grammar do you admire most?

Most writers think of modeling their style after that of a famous writer.   A large part of any writer’s style is his use of grammar.   For example,  Hemingway’s lean, muscular, sparse, style is well-known.  His use of punctuation (which I am including under grammar) is also spare, using and where most writers would use commas in a rhetorical technique known as syndeton.    Whereas Hemingway’s minimalist approach is masterful, somewhere in the middle of the scale is Mario Puzo (The Godfather) whose mediocre grammar skills often show up in comma splices and dangling prepositions.   The writer I consider a master of both style and grammar is F.Scott Fitzgerald (The Great Gatsby).

My question to you is:  whom do you consider to be a master grammarian/stylist?