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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Ultraviolet Concrete: Dionysos and the Ecstatic Play of Aesthetic Experience
by Deimler, Devon Erin, Ph.D., Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2019, 454; 13806379
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation heeds archetypal psychologist James Hillman’s call for depth psychology to “also be a depth aesthetics” by considering Dionysos as an archetype of aesthetic experience. We respond affectively to the sensations of our interpenetrating everyday world of bodies, including our imaginal and ideational perceptions. Dionysos has been studied as an archetype of intoxication, indestructible life, madness, nature, bodily excitement, eroticism, festive inclusivity, theater, and liberation. This study reevaluates these qualities and more to discover how Dionysos and multiple figures of his thiasos create an archetypal background for the phenomenon of aesthetic experience. While Psyche serves Aphrodite, Dionysos serves psyche and may be considered a more comprehensive archetypal figuration for aesthetic experience than the goddess of Beauty.

Notoriously epiphanic Dionysos traverses all realms, but is most beloved of the earthly between—his ecstasy turned on, sustained by, and expressed via the aesthetic dimension. For Nietzsche, the profound surfaces of this embodied life are divine, a belief echoed in the work of Hillman, David L. Miller, and the philosophies of Phenomenology, Alfred North Whitehead, and the contemporary Speculative Realists, among others. In varying ways, all suggest the aesthetic dimension is the causal dimension—the inspired starting condition of reverie and cognition. This study suggests reading the aesthetics of daily life as “concrete poetry,” a term repurposed here as a metaphor for the concentrated instant in which an entire mythos is given in the very medium of an image. The “archetypal” is thus not defined herein as a first principle, in the universal or originary sense, but, more simply, as any particular event that deeply and experientially impresses upon us, creating an insta-mimesis of reactivity and recreation. Detailed evidence for this study’s broad thesis is given historically, conceptually (through philosophy, art theory, and depth psychology), mythopoeic- and mythologically, and with support from the aesthetic realm of the arts, including, in its conclusion, examples from twentieth-century artists, most primarily the Dadaists, Marcel Duchamp, and Dennis Hopper.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Slattery, Dennis Patrick
Commitee: Brottman, Mikita, Davis, Erik
School: Pacifica Graduate Institute
Department: Mythological Studies
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 77/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Classical Studies, Psychology, Aesthetics
Keywords: Aesthetics, Dionysos, Ecstasy, Hillman, James, Mimesis, The everyday
Publication Number: 13806379
ISBN: 978-0-438-92633-2
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