The Wounded Researcher: Research with Soul in Mind
Pacifica faculty member, Robert Romanyshyn most intriguing is more than a provocative cover of a bird woman/man sitting at a desk in study mode, a painting titled Creation of the Birds by Remedios Varo. Yet it is not difficult to be arrested by the cover and to dream of what it points one to inside the book. Packed with Robert’s own experiences as a researcher for decades, and containing numerous case histories of students’ work over the years, the author’s own turn on research is one of collapsing the old paradigm of the dispassioned scholar mastering and manipulating his subject matter. Quite the contrary is true here: the subject matter bends and torques the psyche of the researcher.
The vocabulary of the text gives it away as no ordinary “How To” methodology that one follows to achieve a desired goal. Rather, and listen for a moment to his lexicon: “The Hermeneutic Spiral,” “Loitering in the Vicinity of the Work,” “Transference Dialogues,” “Research as Vocation,” “Research as Unfinished Business.” One begins to feel into this language to guess, quite correctly, that research is less an intellectual activity and more a form of therapeia, even an aesthesis–a showing forth, or an uncovering of soul, both soul of material and soul of the being who dares to engage his/her work on an imaginal level.
Dialogue replaces monologue with material to be under-taken so that the researcher is indeed taken-under, to a level of apprehension that is closer to poetry than to a card catalogue or on-line search engine. The engine driving this study is an unadulterated belief that the imagination is its own form of knowing–and that research is far from dry; nor is it all wet–rather it is more akin to a moistening into knowing, a positive regard for the material as subject, not object and wherein objectivity itself is called into radical interrogation.
Based on and stemming from C.G. Jung’s and James Hillman’s work, but including a battery park of other sources, Robert’s text is delightfully intertextual, interdisciplinary and inter-psychic. Knowing the author since 1972, I learned here more of his habits of writing and thinking, for his own work loops uroborically back on itself, much in the way Dante’s Commedia is as much about its own creation as it is the pilgrimage the poet invokes and completes. The text comprises its own feed back loop. Process and product are stitched together with great skill and mastery.
Disabuse yourself of any ideas that this is “Just Another” research spin. No: something new is breaking forth from the ancestors to inform Robert’s style and pedagogy, even his pedigree as researcher. Be delighted AND informed by engaging it; I sense one will never re-search with quite the same flashlight again.
New Orleans: Spring Journal Books, 2007. ISBN: 978-1-882670-47-5. In the series: Studies in Archetypal Psychology. Series Editor: Greg Mogenson