In this ambitious case study, Mihăilescu Clementina  has started from  the supposition that the syntagm “degrees of awareness” can be cognitively explained via Mair’s idea of self as if it were “a community of selves”, in close relation to Palmer’s cognitive approach to the social mind as a community of the intermental and intramental structures. The author of the study has interlocked the classical rhetorical Aristotelian constructs of Logos (the thinking part of the intellect) with Pathos (the emotional part) through the actions of the “acting self”, or the so-called “personal Ethos”, and with Kelly’s “dimensions of transition” (or vectors of change). Kelly’s vectors of change as elements of study in a “self-characterization protocol”have also been incorporated in this study because they reveal the individual struggling to grow, to acquire degrees of awareness and to become a socially validated person.

Mihăilescu Clementina has also stood up with Kelly, who claims that, on the “logical” plane, a person mediates between “anxiety” and “certainty”. Since a person is not just a logical being, as he is also intuitively aware that life events are forcing a change in his self-identity, he will experience either “threat” or “fear”. The individual as personal ethos does not only perceive external and internal realities, he also acts within various social “roles”. The constructs of “aggressiveness” and “hostility” are closely related to performing social roles; the former implies the positive expansion of the “social applicability of his or her construct system”, while the latter alludes to the negative manifestations of somebody’s socially-invalidated behavioural patterns.

“Degrees of awareness” have also been interpreted via Kelly’s vectors of transition and via his symbolism of the box. Firstly, Mihăilescu Clementina has identified the fact that the individual is looking at the box-like environment, then, that he is in the box-like environment, finally that he entirely identifies himself with the box-like environment, which “feels” like a womb, offering him the possibility to experience the death of his old self and the birth of his new spiritual self.

Mihăilescu Clementina opines that the meta-fictional metamorphosis related to the symbolism of the box fully resembles both Murdoch’s unselfing based on giving up selfishness and on consciously acquiring altruistic psychological features and Jung’s individuation. Individuation consists of the integration of the conscious and unconscious sides of the characters’ individuality through the assimilation of various archetypes.

“Degrees of awareness” have also emerged from Mihăilescu Clementina’s approach to literature via Proust’s model, based on understanding and acquiring knowledge through recreating and interpreting one’s childhood, adolescence and the period of intense creativity.

Given the idea that  personal experiencing of life and literature also occurs via contrasts, the author of this genuine interdisciplinary study has turned to good account Blaga’s method of ”transfigured antinomy”grounded in the ”logic of the comprised third person”.

Mihăilescu Clementina states out the fact that for a credulous assessment of the ”comprised third”, Blaga has found support in Lupașcu’s claim that there is ”a third term T which is simultaneously A and non A”. She further highlights the fact that Lupașcu argues that the third term which merges existence and non existence is available on ”another ontological level of reality”. Properly employed, this third term T can be comprised within another duality ”noncontradictorily solved on an even higher ontological level”, claims Lupașcu, cited by Mihăilescu.

Since Lupașcu’s thesis contains the desirable doctrine of blending the opposites through the trans-modern logic of the ”comprised third person”, the author has further contemplated the trans-modern paradigm, via Basarab Nicolescu’s theory of a ”multidimensional reality”.

All the above mentioned theories have been applied on literary texts by Mihăilescu Clementina with a view to showing how an intuitive perceiver/ evaluator with a solid logical and professional structuring framework  like hers will employ them for decoding excessively well-elaborated constructions of literature.

The second part of Mihăilescu’s contribution comprises text analyses, via an interdisciplinary perspective, of various (post)modern novels from English and American literature. Mihăilescu’s  intension is to show, for instance, how Peter Ackroyd, the author of fascinating postmodern novels,is himself a complete personality through uniting his three selves in his role of author of the book significantly titled ”English Music”. Peter Ackroyd’s English Music as the title itself shows, is a highly original contribution based on our assumption that sensibility is a matter of interpretation and, as such, “English Music” stands for “the music of the mind” (Vianu, 255). Since the mind has been regarded by Jung in terms of archetypes considered by him as “inherited possibilities and predispositions of interpretation” (37), Mihăilescu assumed that the psychic equilibrium and significance of Ackroyd’s characters arise from decoding their dreams as expressions of the desire for wholeness (Jung, 37). The ”trance-like dreams” of the main character Timothy Harcombe, the son of Clement Harcombe, a medium and a healer, written in the third person singular and most of them imitating Lewis Carroll, John Bunyan and Charles Dickens start with the final words of the previous chapter and reveal  Ackroyd’s strategy of connecting the visible and the invisible, thus reflecting the novelist’s lyricism. The dream sequence experienced by Tim has been interpreted by the author tha study through the archetype of the child. The dreams being filled with the material of conscious experiences have been approached through an analysis of Tim’s unconscious drives.

As such, the unconscious search for his father in his dream intermingle with psychological patterns which involve both Charles Dickens and Mr Sherlock Holmes, regarded by her and commented upon as significant cultural references. Another suggestive cultural reference is that related to the composer William Byrd who appears in Tim’s dream concerned with the unconscious search for his mother, Cecilia, who died in childbirth. Mention has been made, in her interpretation, of Ackroyd’s having borrowed Eliot’s technique of recurring images related to music to give coherence to the text. William Byrd’s conviction that ”time is music”, assimilated by Tim, who regarded himself as Byrd’s spiritual disciple, has led to Mihailscu’s interpreting dreams as revealing the process of Tim’s growing up (decoding his dreams have ensured his self-achievement).

Mihăilescu has also assumed that both Jung’s and Proust’s theories can be regarded in relation to Sandu’s syntagm of ”spiritualization of the epistemologic frontiers” reflected in the synthesizing and unifying powers of the new ”Trans-Modernist ethos” which reverberates in the novel associated with the idea of a new type of humanism based on unity in diversity. References to the unity of past and present, of spirituality and science, of the character’s harmonious relation with himself and with his fellow creatures have been established through ”cognitive resonance”. From these shreds of evidence, Mihailscu has observed how Ackroyd’s character and, by implication, the author himself, dialectically mediates the logos (the thinking part) with pathos (his feelings) through the actions of his acting self, his personal ethos (Booth, in Gilder, 61 ).

Another modern author interdisciplinarily approached by Mihăilescu in her study entitled „Degrees of Awareness” is Richard Bach. His contribution “Jonathan Livingston Seagull” has offered her significant clues to the full truth regarding the main characters’ progress towards an intense self awareness. The dynamics of the process of the individuation which reunites the two poles – the conscious and the unconscious – has been employed by her to decode Jonathan’s consistent striving for accomplishing moral growth through truth, love, forgiveness. For activating such moral components, various archetypes have been identified and commented upon. The archetype of shadow approached by Mihăilescu in relation with Jonathan’s bringing to conscious view his need of being independent, of following his dreams, has further been completed by the anima and animus archetypes. Anima, associated with the feminine part of the soul, revealed the sources of his creative ability of improving his flying abilities, while animus, the masculine side of the soul, psycho-analitically interpreted as standing for the incarnation of meaning, has been identified with various characters who helped him reach a different state of consciousness. The archetype of the child which represents “our efforts to deal with the problem of growing up” has offered various interpretative clues regarding Jonathan’s developing personality. The archetype of meaning activated under the form of an old man has been identified by the author of the study in the form of Chiang who discloses to Jonathan that to be true to oneself, love and the ability to forgive are the inner energies meant to help him surpass frustration, limitations and to construct and permanently activate his being as a real centre of consciousness.

Considerations on the archetype of the self regarded as the archetype of the psychic totality and which consists in the “apprehension of our unique nature” and of our relation with cosmos itself have generated the most original part of Mihailscu’s contribution. The mathematical concept of complete induction which presupposes the merging of temporal and spatial realities has been turned to good account for decoding the most impressive images of the novel. The colour symbolism of the sky and of the sea which look silvery-blue in the present and silvery-green in the future has been related by her to some “transmutation” of the matter through colours. By virtue of having observed Richard Bach’s accomplishment of the imaginative unity between matter and light, illusion and reality, the unconscious and the conscious, all merging into one another, Mihăilescu has concluded that spatial, temporal and emotional unity suggests the activity of creative imagination based on the impulse of retrieving “the embryos of creation”. Turning archetypal structures into account has helped her visualize, in an original, emphatetic and illuminating manner, the unusual geometry of the psychological space of Richard Bach’s character.

To further illustrate the interdisciplinary novelty of Mihăilescu’s contribution, we have selected her suggestion that Bach’s character, through having archetypally experienced various degrees of awareness, has enlarged his field of vision. The natural consequence of this extension is ”the spiritualization of his epistemologic frontiers” and the appropriation of the ”Trans-Modernist ethos” and of a new type of humanism based on unity in diversity through ”cognitive and affective resonance”.

To Graham Greene’s The End of the Affair, analyzed by Vargas in terms of the ”ideal of invisibility” and the ”ideal of sanctity” which draw upon the emotional memory of the main character’s past experiences, Mihăilescu has responded from the emotional side, via George Kelly’s Psychology of Personal Constructs.

Since feelings are the basic foundation for the mind’s perceptive powers (in Swedenborg’s terminology) Mihăilescu found it convenient to approach the main character’s self as a ”tight box-like” construction, and to analyze her life experience turned into a ”transforming journey” through her conversion to Catholicism, her suicide, her miraculous disappearance and her further influence on the other people’s life.

For interpreting Anna’s miraculous disappearance and her further influence on the other people’s life, Jung’s concept of individuation has been turned to good account offering  an additional level of interpretation with ethical connotations. Mihăilescu has assumed that Anna has experienced individuation by bringing to conscious view the dark, repressed, hidden part of her personality and thus, she has acquired a higher degree of awareness regarding her behavioral issues.

So that she could more convincingly explain the meta-psychological connotations of Anna’s miraculous transformation through intense suffering and meditation, Buddhagostra’s Path to Purity cited by Suguna Ramanathan has also been considered in relation to her becoming invisible, yet preserving her capacity of discreetly influencing the life of the beloved ones.

For explaining the main character’s metaphorical death and her preserved capacity of influencing the life of the beloved ones and for elevating it through the ”Trans-Modernist ethos” into a unifying spiritual experience, Lupașcu’s ”third person” comprised within the duality existence-nonexistence and the character’s capacity of merging them on another ontological level of reality has been turned to good account.

Such intuitive perceiving of meaning has allowed Mihăilescu to respond to highly spiritual quality authors, for instance Iris Murdoch. The mechanical nature of morality depicted in Murdoch’s novel The Bell inspiringly interpreted by Conradi via degrees of unselfing has further been expanded by her through the identification and settlement of a ”tension of opposites” which involves sin, repentance and the discovery of the beauty of moral responsibility through paying attention to the others as a form of love, as a means of obtaining ontological fulfillment.

To achieve this audacious goal she has interlocked the classic Aristotelian constructs of Logos, Pathos and Ethos with the ”Trans-Modernist ethos” based on a new type of humanism through establishing unity in diversity: the unity of past and present of spirituality and materiality, of man’s harmonious relation with himself, with his fellow creatures.

The dichotomy ”certainties and doubts” present in Iris Murdoch’s novel entitled ”Henry and Cato” has been tackled via Kelly’s expression ”dimensions of transition” and Sandu’s approach to ”metaphysics in trans-modernity”. Sandu’s methodological grid turns into account Noica’s 27 levels of the real taken from Plato, Aristotle and Kant, all regarded by the Romanian philosopher as ”the most general ideas of the human mind”, thus perfecting the relationship between the being and the real. Due to Murdoch’s affiliation to Platonism, Mihăilescu’s analytical approach to her novel has only covered Plato’s concepts of ”being, state, movement, identity and alterity” (76).

The concept of ”metaphysics in trans-modernity” has become functional in relation to Mihăilescu’s concern with Brendan, the priest, who constantly focuses on Christ’s being ”a principle of change in human life” (190), and to what Lupașcu called the ”comprised third person”, meant to merge existence and nonexistence on another even higher ontological level (in Sandu, 76).

            Sacrifice, renunciation, ethical issues related to moral changes reverberate throughout the novel pointing clearly to what Ramanathan has called “the inescapability of infinite condition”. The trans-psychological conclusion attributed by Murdoch to Brendan when he was asked by Cato if he believed in God and answered “I let Christ look after my Christology”, reveals the Murdochian conviction that Christ can transform the human personality in a deep way,asserts Mihăilescu.

Brendan’s final remark “We live by redemption death. Anyone can stand in for Christ” (313) represents Murdoch’s firm conviction, embraced by the author of the study, that what matters is our unselfing (giving up selfishness) and the loving acceptance of things as they are and as they happen. The novelty of her approach to this novel arises from the employment of Kellian trans-psychological concepts of certainties and doubts and of loving regarded as means of encouraging and preventing unselfing.

Paralleling Sandu’s ”Trans-Modernist ethos” and applying it to poetry, Mihăilescu has assumed that Dag Hammarskjold highlights the new type of humanism based on establishing unity in diversity from the position of the Swedish diplomat who became one of the most influential V. N. Secretary-Generals in the post WWII period by proposing and implementing innovatory principles meant to solve the world’s complex problems.

Since her intention has been to show how Hammarskjold functions as a complete ”personality” merging ”logos” (the thinking part of his intellect) with ”pathos” (the emotional side) through the ”acting” self, on the one hand, Mihăilescu has depicted and commented upon his studies in political economy, philosophy, literature and French, and, on the other, on his collection of meditations entitled ”Markings”.

Due to the fact that his private self mainly arises from this contribution marked by unusual loneliness, alienation, self-doubt in spite of his strong belief in God, Mihăilescu has archetypally reconstructed it.

Her approach to ”logos”, that is his thinking embodied in various archetypal images (of change and of the self) has been associated with new ”subjective” interpretations of his complex personality in tune with her interdisciplinary grid.

Lupașcu’s ”third term T”, which, as concerns Hammarskjold’s self, is simultaneously doubting and non-doubting, has been comprised within this duality, noncontradictorily solved by Mihăilescu through analyzing his poetic contribution via Jung’s concept of individuation based on bringing his doubts, death, fears and suicidal impulses to conscious view. The cultural role of writer ensured Hammarskjold the opportunity to unify his split personality and to transfigure his inner life, firmly concludes Mihăilescu.

The development of Mihăilescu̕ s methodological interdisciplinary model has reached a climax with Lesley Saunders’ poetry, approached via Jung’s archetypal theory. It reveals that her poetic contributions are grounded in the characteristic “phenomenology” of the self which expresses itself through symbolic images. Since such images signify the unity of contraries, the desire for completeness, for surpassing psychological barriers, the dynamics of the process of individuation, promoted by Jung, which reunites the conscious and the unconscious, has extensively been used in analyzing Saunders’ poetry. Further improvements of the  interdisciplinary methodology have been ensured by turning into account Bachelard’s association of “embryo” and “reason” (embryo has been related to the unconscious, while “reason”, to the conscious).

The poetic space built by Saunders enriched with the psychological values of intimacy, of emotions, has been interpreted resorting to Jung’s animus (thinking) and anima (imagination), regarded by Mihăilescu as instruments of analyzing the poetess’ profound and complex self.

Her poems have been regarded as the poetess’ attempt at reconciling with her memories. We will only focus, in our literary review, on the poem entitled “Disguised as Herself”, centred on her room, approached by Mihăilescu through the archetype of intimacy, because, in her opinion, such a location is emblematic for that “profound background where the unconscious dwells”. If the room stands for some “closed symbolism”, the syntagm “no doves”, from the end of the poem, marks the frontier “between the real and the imaginary”, claims the author of this study.The imaginary itself, relieved of “ghost-like shadows” (negative memories), is the “embryo” of poetic creation generating the transmutation of negative meaning into a positive one. So, Mihăilescu opinates that “no doves” reads as “only doves” because only doves charged with anima-like values can save the individual from loveliness, fear and disappointment.

We will conclude our literary review to Mihăilescu Clementina’s study entitled “Degrees of Awareness in Modern British and American Studies” arguing that she has sounded as a persuasive voice in her attempt to reflect upon various writers and poets’ rich intellectual and affective experience revealed in the act of seeking a harmonious relation  between their multiple selves and the world aound them. The solidity of her arguments recommends the interdisciplinary methodology employed as valid and highly original.


                   Assoc. Prof. Dr. Emilia Tomescu, Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu

Recenzie publicată în revista Demersuri Creative nr. 28/ iulie 2018



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