Poetry’s “shimmering robes”

Carl Jung and Romantic Mythology of Intuitive Creativity


  • Paul H. Schmidt




Jung, Romanticism, visionary, numinous, artistic inspiration, analytical psychology, Freud, materialism, intuition, Spielberg, Lucas, Wordsworth Blake, Shelley, Plato, Kant


Despite the many essays that provide instructive tracing of Carl Jung’s archetypes in Romantic literature (and elsewhere), critics have declined to examine the important implications and consequences of parallels between Jung’s theory of artistic awareness and Romantic aesthetic ideology. This ideology finds expression in the language of Blake, Percy Shelley, Emerson, Coleridge, Wordsworth and others regarding artistic creativity, specifically its origins and aims, but especially the creative process itself. In this essay, I examine the way Jung samples Romantic ideas and imagery in his characterization of art and in his conception of the religious experience of the artist in the act of creation. In doing so, I suggest that attachment to popular (not always accurate) Jungian ideas about art has reinforced the continued acceptance of compelling Romantic myths about unconscious creativity. I argue that, in his essay “On the Relation of Analytical Psychology to Poetry” and other essays, as part of an effort to liberate modern conceptions of art from reliance on mechanistic views of the human mind, Jung impeaches the merits of the Freudian model tied to medical forensics and installs in its place a Romantic theory of art rooted in the idea of intuitive creativity.