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A Terrible Love of War by James Hillman

A Terrible Love of War (original 2004; edition 2004)

by James Hillman

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212580,976 (3.68)None
Title:A Terrible Love of War
Authors:James Hillman
Info:Penguin Press HC, The (2004), Hardcover
Collections:Your library

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A Terrible Love of War by James Hillman (2004)


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This is my second time reading this book, and I'm hitting the same difficulty that I had the first time around: I find Hillman's ideas fascinating and challenging, even when I don't agree with them, but his writing style is too dry for my tastes. So I hesitate to recommend this book to others, even though I liked it well enough to reread it. Hillman looks at war via mythology and archetypes. For the most part, he sticks to wars in Europe and North America and describes war through the Greco-Roman gods Mars and Venus. Talking about Venus's part in war is one reason I've remembered this book for ten years: Hillman points out that even though we say war is horrifying and dreadful (Mars), we also make weapons that are beautiful and talk about the bonds of love and affection that war creates between fellow soldiers (Venus). For Hillman, love is not the antithesis of war, which leads to the final chapter in which he looks at why Christianity, a religion of love, has inspired so many wars. Try this book if you think looking at war psychologically and through mythology sounds interesting, but be ready for writing that goes off on tangents and sometimes gets too dense to let the author's ideas through. ( )
  Silvernfire | Feb 5, 2017 |
Found this at the laundromat, go figure...but didn't find his Jungian investigation of why people persist in organizing ways to kill one another en masse very enlightening. The book does have a great bibliography, not surprising that a lot of first-rate minds have taken up this question. So I'm keeping it for further reading. ( )
  CSRodgers | May 3, 2014 |
Neo-Jungian ("archetypal") psychologist Hillman wrote this meditation on the place of war in human society in the awareness that it would probably be his final book. Just as Freud (in Moses and Monotheism) and Jung (in Answer to Job) used their last books to criticize and reimagine religious history, Hillman trains the fourth of his four essays in this book on the martial element in Christianity and its hypocritical concealment.

While I was as sympathetic to Hillman's views and arguments as ever, I didn't find this to be one of his more effective books. It was somewhat scattered and meandering. By his own admitted lights, it should have had a powerful, martial drive, but I didn't find that there. My hope that this book would inspire me in appreciating my connection with the martial aspect of the Lord of the Aeon was thus disappointed. Still, there were some valuable ideas scattered through what is really a quick read, ending on a note of perplexed aspiration.
3 vote paradoxosalpha | Mar 16, 2014 |
Hillman blames Christianity for just about everything and suggests that group-grope pagan ritual of Ares or other pagan deities of his choice might solve all. RUBBISH! ( )
1 vote Constance_Cumbey | Nov 1, 2009 |
Dear dear dear. I wish I had the green ectoplasm cover. Instead I get the bland Wal-Mart remainder 1950's pop psychology cover. And James Hillman is no pop psychologist! He's Jung's bastard American stepchild with a massive attitude. Not pretentious at all (neither was Jung, but you expect it in this kind of book) and rather obsessive in sharing his own biases not only as a straight man who never fought, but as an outspoken polytheist, in fact a polytheist revivalist as far as I've been able to tell (haven't looked at his previous decades of books.) His use of polytheism is entirely pragmatic however. His view is that all aspects of the human psyche must be confronted/appeased in order for any of them to move along in an sane and healthy fashion. Ancient mythology is unfailing in supporting this view, and he manages to co-opt the greater part of post-enlightenment military history to support it as well, most memorably via Gen. Patton. Somewhat less memorable his insistence that if you've read to the end, you are inevitably Christian in viewpoint. Which obvious contradictions I think tend to bring out the most shrieking mad irrationality of war. Polytheism again. It's 2008 right now and I can't get over a certain politician's view that the crucifixion is evidence of divine support for the death penalty(!!!) Hare Hare! ( )
1 vote diocletian | Jan 12, 2008 |
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The Lord is a man of war, The Lord is His name. -- Exodus 15:3
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One sentence in one scene from one film, Patton, sums up what this book tries to understand.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0143034928, Paperback)

War is a timeless force in the human imagination—and, indeed, in daily life. Engaged in the activity of destruction, its soldiers and its victims discover a paradoxical yet profound sense of existing, of being human. In A Terrible Love of War, James Hillman, one of today’s most respected psychologists, undertakes a groundbreaking examination of the essence of war, its psychological origins and inhuman behaviors. Utilizing reports from many fronts and times, letters from combatants, analyses by military authorities, classic myths, and writings from great thinkers, including Twain, Tolstoy, Kant, Arendt, Foucault, and Levinas, Hillman’s broad sweep and detailed research bring a fundamentally new understanding to humanity’s simultaneous attraction and aversion to war. This is a compelling, necessary book in a violent world.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:36 -0400)

"War fosters an impossible collection of opposites: murder, soldierly comradeship, torture, religious conviction, the destruction of the earth, patriotism, annihilation, hope for immortal glory. Wartime seems to propel life to its most vivid, most meaningful level. Engaged in the activity of destruction, its soldiers and its victims discover a profound sense of existing, of being human. The mind withdraws from this paradox, and, indeed, few writers have taken on the task of unlocking the baleful, intoxicating, and necessary force that is war. Instead, the bare fact that war has dominated human history since the earliest records and seems always ready to break out is ignored, condemned, or lamented."."James Hillman, recognized worldwide as a creative innovator in clinical and cultural psychology, draws upon his original thinking to uncover the essence of war. Examining reports from many fronts and times, letters from combatants, analyses by military authorities, and writings from Twain and Tolstoy, Kant, Arendt, Foucault, and Levinas, Hillman's broad sweep and detailed research bring a fundamentally new understanding to war's love and terror. Moreover, he reveals war to be a mythological force - Mars as a god that resides not only within the minds of generals but also within the souls of all mankind, within the tenets of our religions, within the very soil beneath our feet. Rather than dismissing war as the machinations of evil men, Hillman argues that through clear-eyed investigation, we can comprehend its myriad contradictions, and more than that, we can learn how to tame it."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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