2019 

2019 

“The Comic Book as Mystical Text: Trauma, Initiation, and the Empowered Imagination in Grant Morrison’s The Invisibles.”
American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting
San Diego, CA
November 23-26, 2019

Acclaimed comic book author Grant Morrison utilizes explicitly visionary and mystical phenomena in his narratives to redefine the boundaries of what a comic book is – even its potential for transmitting “mystical” epistemological and ontological truths.  Morrison’s use of such themes re-crafts the comic book as a gateway for readers to their own potential “non-ordinary” encounters through a form of empowered imagination.  In this 50th anniversary year of Comic Con, this presentation seeks to further anchor the study of comic books in the academic study of religion and comparative mysticism through an examination of three “case studies” that demonstrate initiatory and traumatic material.  In each instance, new forms of knowledge or self-identity are revealed to the initiate through injury, confrontation with unconscious traumatic memory, or near-death experience.  This mystical “gnosis” serves as a “double revelation,” imparting hidden knowledge not only to the character in question, but transmitted directly to the reader.

“Comic Books, Creativity, and Madness: Supernormal Powers and the Cracked and Fragmented Self” 
Creativity & Madness Conference
Santa Fe, NM
July 29-August 2, 2019

This presentation traces the history and appearance of so-called multiple states from their earliest role in the development and theorization of scientific psychology at the turn of the 19th century with the work of William James, Frederic Myers, Theodore Flournoy, and Morton Prince, to MPDs later resurgence in the 1980s, and its evolution and further theorization as “dissociative identity disorder” in the 1990s.  This historical “genealogy” serves as the theoretical basis to examine both the madness of the Marvel character “Legion” in The New Mutants comic book series as well as the creative – and profound – therapeutic healing that he undergoes.  In doing so, this highly illustrated presentation raises important questions around the nature of pathological versus non-pathological dissociation, how extreme states of psychological fragmentation and madness can be visualized, much less theorized, and takes up anew William James’ centuries-old question regarding the possibilities of “supernormal powers” and their potential relationship to psychological trauma. The presentation concludes with a depth psychological reading of The New Mutants through the contemporary lens of Jungian analyst and clinical psychologist Donald Kalsched’s mytho-poetic model of what he terms the “Self-Care System” (SCS).

“Dark Phoenix Rising: Fire, the Feminine & Film” 
Transformando Conciencia - KPFK 90.7fm
June 4, 2019

 

 

“A Visionary Gnosis: Comic Books and the Illuminated Imagination” 
Art & Psyche Conference IV: The Illuminated Imagination
University of California, Santa Barbara
April 4-7, 2019.

Typically viewed as “low culture,” and rarely considered of psychological importance, certain comic book authors have nonetheless defied convention and utilized the medium to visually depict esoteric and mythological imagery that often “illuminates” the symbolic and numinous nature of the psyche.  When interpreted from a depth psychological perspective, other-worldly, futurist, and often downright “strange” comic book fantasies come alive in meaningful, visually stunning, and richly symbolic ways.  This presentation explores the work of contemporary comic book author Grant Morrison's The Invisibles as a gnostic epiphany and visionary medium meant to encode deeper truths about mind, matter, and the nature of the psyche – in other words, the comic book as an expressly “illuminated” – and illuminating – phenomenon.   

“Transformations of the Feminine Divine:  X-Men’s ‘Dark Phoenix.’” 
Transformando Conciencia - KPFK 90.7fm
January 9, 2019

Dark Phoenix Rising: Fire, Feminine & Film - David Odorisio
00:00 / 00:00
Transformations of the Feminine Divine: X-Men's 'Dark Phoenix' - David Odorisio / Vanessa Valdez (host)
00:00 / 00:00

2018 

“Phoenix Force and Feminine Jouissance: Reading Myth in Comic Books & Pop Culture”

Hosted by the Joseph Campbell Foundation Mythological RoundTable® Group of Los Angeles

Santa Monica, CA

December 13, 2018

"Mysticism, Method, and Madness: Depth Psychological Hermeneutics and the Academic Study of Religion"

Pacifica Graduate Institute

Santa Barbara, CA

November 10, 2018

 

"Comic Books, Film & Myth"  

Panel Discussion with Crispin Freeman; moderated by Will Linn

Studio School

Los Angeles, CA

October 3, 2018

“Phoenix Force and Feminine Jouissance: Reading Myth in Comic Books & Pop Culture”

Pacifica Graduate Institute 

Ladera Lane Campus

Hosted by the Joseph Campbell Foundation Mythological RoundTable® Group of OPUS Archives & Research Center

Sunday, April 22, 5:30-7:30pm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fire consumes. Powerfully, it reduces to ashes. Fire is not only a great destroyer – it is vital in sustaining life itself. Locally and globally, our current situation heralds great destruction. Are there symbols of hope, healing, and regeneration amidst that which has been – or needs to be – reduced to ashes? Political and environmental uncertainty. On-going and escalating abuses of male authority. Much has been burned already. Much more is yet to be seen.

What do our cultural stories – our popular myths – have to say about the potential for rebirth? In ancient mythology, the Phoenix represents a symbol of great destructive power, but also life-giving rejuvenation. This Roundtable presentation will examine the continuing incarnation of the “Phoenix Force” over a 35-year span of X-Men history, including her many retellings, resuscitations, and reincarnations, in order to invite reflection on what this ancient symbol of regeneration has to say to modern times.

Reading Phoenix, and her sinister emergence as “Dark Phoenix,” alongside a combined feminist and depth psychological lens, reveals the enduring cultural legacy of a character that has evolved over decades, largely through the imagination of male authorship. Viewing Phoenix through the category of sexual difference raises questions regarding comic books, male fantasy, and the ability of female characters to carry, withstand, and even subvert the male gaze through the erotic subjectivity of what Lacan referred to as “feminine jouissance.” The presentation will include reflections on the forthcoming film, X-Men: Dark Phoenix, and invite the cultural interrogation of “Why Phoenix? Why Now?”

2016 

"Dionysus in Depth: Mystes, Method, and Madness in James Hillman's Re-visioning of Psychology" 

American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting

San Antonio, TX

Nov. 20, 2016

 

With a focus on the embodied, emotional, and erotic nature of Dionysus, I show how these qualities came to formulate the core theoretical vision of Hillman’s archetypal hermeneutic, and serve as a critique of traditional psychological epistemologies, as well as of normative scholarly approaches in both the humanities and sciences. In “saving” image, symbol, and even the “mystical,” from an analytic, disembodied, and misogynist reductionism, Hillman’s "Dionysian" archetypal psychology champions a form of transformational subjectivity, and personally redemptive mysticism, through an ontological affirmation of what Jung understood as the reality of the psyche.

"The Alchemy of Embodiment"

Yoga Meets Depth Psychology: Embodying the Sacred, Encountering the Soul

Pacifica Graduate Institute

Santa Barbara, CA

July 16, 2016

 

Alchemical practices, East and West, offer a mysticism of the body where matter itself is a primary source of inquiry and locus of Self revelation

"James Hillman’s Tantric Sadhana:  'Notes on the Meaning of Kali Symbolism' and the Healing Potential of Hindu Tantra" 

Pacifica Graduate Institute

Santa Barbara, CA

July 1, 2016

James Hillman’s early psycho-biography and initial research at the Jung Institute in Zürich can be understood through the lens of a depth psychologically-informed “tantric hermeneutic.”  From his “failed” expedition to Kashmir, including the important matrilineal dream of his Mother-Grandmother, through the Jung Institute and his first research paper on the fierce Hindu Goddess Kālī, and onto his later archetypal explorations of the puer and Hero, I will show how Hillman’s maternal dream work both constellated and was “worked through” in scholarly and imaginal ways that can be considered “Tantric.”  

"Depth Psychology and Religious Studies" 

University of Texas, El Paso

Feb. 8, 2016

 

This public lecture sponsored by the UTEP Religious Studies Department addresses the unique contributions and differences among Freud and Jung's psychologies of the unconscious and their implications for the academic study of religion. 

2015 

Dissertation Defense:  "Alchemical Hermeneutics" 

California Institute of Integral Studies, San Francisco, CA

Jan. 2015

 

An overview of alchemical symbolism, processes, and history, with a focus on applying the practices of Western alchemy as a depth psychological interpretive lens to four texts/traditions in the field of religious studies:  Patanjali's Yoga SutraThe Dark Night of St. John of the Cross, and the metaphor of the "heart" in the Upanisads and in Eastern Christian Prayer (hesychasm)

© 2014-2019

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