Editor's Introduction


  • Elizabeth Èowyn Nelson




Chaos and Interdisciplinarity, the theme of this volume of the journal, reflects the topic of the June 2019 conference of the Jungian Society for Scholarly Studies held in Asheville, North Carolina. I doubt that anyone imagined how relevant the topic of chaos would be, several months later, as we go to press in March 2020. At the Spring Equinox, which reminds us of the fundamental fact of ceaseless change, humanity is facing the social, cultural, economic, and political chaos created by the COVID-19 pandemic. We do not know what the future holds. It is said that the opposite of chaos is order, but kindness may be its true opposite, or its antidote and medicine, when chaos is painful, when it spreads, disease-like, among persons. Kindness takes little effort, but it begins with attention—and attention is scarce when chaos reigns. Chaos distills attention into the present moment and draws the heart toward the thoughtful action one can take in the only moment there is. Then one chooses to be kind or cruel, generous of soul or miserly. Momentary acts of kindness are more than momentary medicine: they are a tincture that dissolves into the chaos and, when recollected hours, days, or months later, soothes our response to it. “Performing random acts of kindness and senseless beauty,” a popular motto years ago, is a flawed idea. Kindness should be intentional and habitual, a generous impulse from one soul to another. Better: Perform intentional acts of kindness and enduring beauty. And so, at this moment, I name the great acts of kindness that made the 2020 volume of the journal possible: our terrific editorial team, especially Heather, Lisa, Matthew, and Peter; our generous peer reviewers; and the artists, poets, and scholars whose work is featured in these pages. The contributors explored the topic of chaos from a rich array of disciplines, including anthropology, art history, biology, climate science, complexity theory, cultural studies, ecology, economics, ecopsychology, ethics, folklore, genetics, literature, mythology, neurobiology, psychedelic research, religious studies, and shamanic studies. Methodological approaches include arts-based research, autoethnography, case study, hermeneutics, and phenomenology. May our work be a contribution to a thoughtful world and a reminder that beauty is always worth creating.

Elizabeth Èowyn Nelson, General Editor