Ogni Pensiero Vola: the embodied psyche in Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life



Izod J & Dovalis J (2014) Ogni Pensiero Vola: the embodied psyche in Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life. International Journal of Jungian Studies, 6 (2), pp. 151-158.

The Tree of Lifetouches on embodiment of the soul in an early sequence covering courtship, marriage and the first pregnancy of a young couple. In a delicate formal scene, Mrs O'Brien, nearing full term, treads gently along a river's edge summoning infant souls luminous in white linen. She opens a minute book of life to one of them, preparing his entry through the iron gates that open on embodied life. Presently, the infant soul rises up from his underwater home beyond the reach of conscious awareness: Mrs O'Brien gives birth to her first son, Jack. This is the boy who will eventually become a middle-aged man in crisis. Ravaged then by grief for his long-dead younger brother and his own inability to live at peace with his family or himself, his memories, visions and reflections accumulate in a way that makes him a suffering Hermes for the early twenty-first century. The initiating episode of the infant's birth complements the embodied and affective experiences of those in the audience who accept the film's sensual invitation to steep themselves in the immense scale of its gorgeous sounds and images. They then discover on the pulse that, more than the history of one Texan family, it attempts nothing less than the necessary re-creation of the godhead for the early twenty-first century. Contrary to the rigid medieval dogmas of so many orthodox religions,The Tree of Lifeassures us not of a changeless eternity but rather the sacred and ceaseless metamorphosis of numinous energy.

embodiment; Job; Jung; Malick; numen; The Tree of Life

International Journal of Jungian Studies: Volume 6, Issue 2

Publication date31/12/2014
Publication date online06/05/2014
Date accepted by journal17/03/2014
PublisherTaylor and Francis

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Professor John Izod

Professor John Izod

Professor Emeritus, Communications, Media and Culture