The Middle Passage: From Misery to Meaning in Midlife
Title #59. Why do so many go through so much disruption in their middle years? Why then? Why do we consider it to be a crisis? What does the pattern mean and how can we survive it? The Middle Passage shows how we may pass through midlife consciously, rendering our lives more meaningful and the second half of life immeasurably richer.
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Recommended Challenge for Greater consciousness & Individuation at Midlife, August 14, 2005
The Middle Passage: From Misery to Meaning in Midlife Studies in Jungian Psychology by Jungian Analysts; 59 by James Hollis, PhD was published in 1993 and is his first contribution to the series.
The "Studies in Jungian Psychology by Jungian Analysts" is a wonderful series published by Inner City Books with Daryl Sharp as founder and chief editor (himself an accomplished Jungian Analyst and writer). Marie-Louise von Franz is their Honorary Patron with 9 of her classic titles in the offerings. The publisher's charter was "...founded in 1980 to promote the understanding and practical application of the work of C.G. Jung. " Since then they've published over 110 titles in this series with other prolific Jungian authors such as Barbara Hannah, Edward Edinger, and Marion Woodman to name a few. Hollis is a Zurich-trained Jungian analyst practicing out of Texas where he is also the Executive Director of the Jung Educational Center of Houston. He's contributed 8 titles to the Studies in Jungian Psychology series himself. His most recent book (from a different publisher) titled: "Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life - How to Finally, Really Grow Up" is receiving critical acclaim as well. Incidentally, the author and I recently shared some correspondence and I found him to be warm, helpful, responsive and thoughtful.
The audio version of The Middle Passage is unabridged on 4 CD's with the author narrating in a calm, clear, and agreeable tone of voice with an elegant economy and effectiveness of words. I own a treasured, well-worn print copy of the 128-page book that is liberally underlined, dog-eared, and grossly highlighted.
Whether reading the book or listening to the author narrate, I am nearly overwhelmed at the compactness of meaning in his tightly composed sentences. This sense of being overwhelmed is most assuredly not a bad thing - it's a welcome invitation for re-listening to the audio book during my daily commute (a 95 mile round trip to work and home in southern California traffic gives nearly two hours of listening time!). Plus I get opportunities to reread the printed book as time permits as I have a new addition to the family - this equates to sleepless nights with our newborn baby boy...
Anyhow, it's a real pleasure opening this book and unpacking the riches within - and treasures they are! I reach into the bag and there are the gems, the gold in the content - but it's packed so tightly as to need diligent & mindful mining. I unpack the words, the sentences, and paragraphs and air them out, taking the concepts down different avenues of thought to glean new insights into the character of my self. I can't tell you the number times I've had "AHA!" moments - or the sublime experience where some subtle material gestated over time, gelling into meaningful mini-epiphanies. I can't tell you because it won't stop! A most gratifying experience!
I have only one minor criticism of this great contribution to Jungian analysis/literature. I can imagine some people possibly being turned off by the author's complex wording which might appear a bit pedantic on the surface. Some of the arguably abstract/esoteric language is not common to a layman's lexis yet they pose a rewarding challenge for the diligent reader. Here's a sample of random rarified words & phrases for example: existential angst, imagos, ineluctable dialectic, the modern Zeitgeist, politic real, portmanteau and (ready?) Jung's awesome word Auseinandersetzung. I've had to grant myself a little time adjusting to his rich vocabulary. Nevertheless it is a cogent, logical and lucid narrative where Hollis carefully defines his terms in the context of recognized Jungian terminology.
Hollis uses an abundance of prominent literary and historical figures including Christ, Dante, Stephen Dunn, T.S. Eliot, Nikos Kazantzakis
Review: The Middle Passage: From Misery to Meaning in Midlife (Studies in Jungian Psychology by Jungian Analysts #59)User Review - Linda - Goodreads
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I expected more from him in terms of way forward though. I truly enjoyed the connection with poetry and other writings to Jung and others. Read full review