Chapel of the Snows: Transfiguration, the Ghost


The idea of suicide, understandable as it is, does not seem commendable to me. We live in order to gain the greatest possible amount of spiritual development and self-awareness. As long as life is possible, even if only in a minimal degree, you should hang onto it, in order to scoop it up for the purpose of conscious development. To interrupt life before its time is to bring to a standstill an experiment which we have not set up. We have found ourselves in the midst of it and must carry it through to the end.
— C.G. Jung, correspondence, July 10, 1947
What if I should discover that the poorest of the beggars and the most impudent of offenders are all within me; and that I stand in need of the alms of my own kindness, that I, myself, am the enemy who must be loved—what then?
— C.G. Jung
SCHEME IIA, Front Elevation, east, pencil on vellum, July 19, 1959

SCHEME IIA, Front Elevation, east, pencil on vellum, July 19, 1959

“The house that Robert Venturi designed for his mother in Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, and had built in 1964, is arguable the most architecturally influential building of the second half of the twenieth century.” [1] 

“The five room house stands only about 30 feet (9 m) tall at the top of the chimney, but has a monumental front facade, an effect achieved by intentionally manipulating the architectural elements that indicate a building's scale. A non-structural applique arch and "hole in the wall" windows, among other elements, together with Venturi's book Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture were an open challenge to Modernist orthodoxy. Architectural historian Vincent Scully called it ‘the biggest small building of the second half of the twentieth century.’” [2]

SCHEME IIC, Front Elevation, east, pencil on vellum

SCHEME IIC, Front Elevation, east, pencil on vellum

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF REBIRTH; SUBJECTIVE TRANSFORMATION

Diminution of Personality

"An example of the alteration of personality in the sense of diminution is furnished by what is known in primitive psychology as 'loss of soul.' The peculiar condition covered by this term is accounted for in the mind of the primitive by the sup- position that a soul has gone off, just like a dog that runs away from his master overnight. It is then the task of the medicine- man to fetch the fugitive back. Often the loss occurs suddenly and manifests itself in a general malaise. The phenomenon is closely connected with the nature of primitive consciousness, which lacks the firm coherence of our own. We have control of our will power, but the primitive has not. Complicated exercises are needed if he is to pull himself together for any activity that is conscious and intentional and not just emotional and instinctive. Our consciousness is safer and more dependable in this respect; but occasionally something similar can happen to civilized man, only he does not describe it as 'loss of soul' but as an 'abaissement du niveau mental,' Janet’s apt term for this phenomenon. It is a slackening of the tensity of consciousness, which might be compared to a low barometric reading, presaging bad weather. The tonus has given way, and this is felt subjectively as listless- ness, moroseness, and depression. One no longer has any wish or courage to face the tasks of the day. One feels like lead, because no part of one’s body seems willing to move, and this is due to the fact that one no longer has any disposable energy." [3]

SCHEME IIIA, Front Elevation, east, pencil on vellum

SCHEME IIIA, Front Elevation, east, pencil on vellum

"This well-known phenomenon corresponds to the primitive’s loss of soul. The listlessness and paralysis of will can go so far that the whole personality falls apart, so to speak, and consciousness loses its unity; the individual parts of the personality make themselves independent and thus escape from the control of the conscious mind, as in the case of anaesthetic areas or systematic amnesias. The latter are well known as hysterical 'loss of function' phenomena. This medical term is analogous to the primitive loss of soul.

Abaissement du niveau mental can be the result of physical and mental fatigue, bodily illness, violent emotions, and shock, of which the last has a particularly deleterious effect on one’s self- assurance. The abaissement always has a restrictive influence on the personality as a whole. It reduces one’s self-confidence and the spirit of enterprise, and, as a result of increasing ego-centricity, narrows the mental horizon. In the end it may lead to the development of an essentially negative personality, which means that a falsification of the original personality has supervened." [3]

Vanna Venturi House, Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania, Scheme III A

Vanna Venturi House, Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania, Scheme III A

SCHEME IIIB, Front Elevation, east, pencil on vellum

SCHEME IIIB, Front Elevation, east, pencil on vellum

"When I had the vision of the flood in October of the year 1913, it happened at a time that was significant for me as a man. At that time, in the fortieth year of my life, I had achieved everything that I had wished for myself I had achieved honor, power, wealth, knowledge, and every human happiness. Then my desire for the increase of these trappings ceased, the desire ebbed from me and horror came over me. The vision of the flood seized me and I felt the spirit of the depths, but I did not understand him. Yet he drove me on with unbearable inner longing and I said:

‘My soul, where are you? Do you hear me? I speak, I call you—are you there? I have returned, I am here again. I have shaken the dust of all the lands from my feet, and I have come to you, I am with you. After long years of long wandering, I have come to you again. Should I tell you everything I have seen, experienced, and drunk in? Or do you not want to hear about all the noise of life and the world? But one thing you must know: the one thing I have learned is that one must live this life." [4] 

SCHEME IVA, Front Elevation, east, pencil on vellum, July 12, 1961

SCHEME IVA, Front Elevation, east, pencil on vellum, July 12, 1961

"'This life is the way, the long sought-after way to the unfathomable, which we call divine. There is no other way, all other ways are false paths. I found the right way, it led me to you, to my soul. I return, tempered and purified. Do you still know me? How long the separation lasted! Everything has become so different. And how did I find you? How strange my journey was! What words should I use to tell you on what twisted paths a good star has guided me to you? Give me your hand, my almost forgotten soul. How warm the joy at seeing you again, you long disavowed soul. Life has led me back to you. Let us thank the life I have lived for all the happy and all the sad hours, for every joy, for every sadness. My soul, my journey should continue with you. I will wander with you and ascend to my solitude.’" [4]

Vanna Venturi House, Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania, Scheme IV B

Vanna Venturi House, Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania, Scheme IV B

"The spirit of the depths forced me to say this and at the same time to undergo it against myself, since I had not expected it then. I still labored misguidedly under the spirit of this time, and thought differently about the human soul. I thought and spoke much of the soul. I knew many learned words for her, I had judged her and turned her into a scientific object. I did not consider that my soul cannot be the object of my judgment and knowledge; much more are my judgment and knowledge the objects of my soul. Therefore the spirit of the depths forced me to speak to my soul, to call upon her as a living and self-existing being. I had to become aware that I had lost my soul.

From this we learn how the spirit of the depths considers the soul: he sees her as a living and self-existing being, and with this he contradicts the spirit of this time for whom the soul is a thing dependent on man, which lets herself be judged and arranged, and whose circumference we can grasp. I had to accept that what I had previously called my soul was not at all my soul, but a dead system. Hence I had to speak to my soul as to something far off and unknown, which did not exist through me, but through whom I existed." [4]

SCHEME IVB, Front Elevation, east, pencil on vellum

SCHEME IVB, Front Elevation, east, pencil on vellum

SCHEME VI, Front Elevation, east, final presentation, ink on mylar, December 8, 1962

SCHEME VI, Front Elevation, east, final presentation, ink on mylar, December 8, 1962

"He whose desire turns away from outer things, reaches the place of the soul. If he does not find the soul, the horror of emptiness will overcome him, and fear will drive him with a whip lashing time and again in a desperate endeavor and a blind desire for the hollow things of the world. He becomes a fool through his endless desire, and forgets the way of his soul, never to find her again. He will run after all things, and will seize hold of them, but he will not find his soul, since he would find her only in himself Truly his soul lies in things and men, but the blind one seizes things and men, yet not his soul in things and men. He has no knowledge of his soul. How could he tell her apart from things and men? He could find his soul in desire itself, but not in the objects of desire. If he possessed his desire, and his desire did not possess him, he would lay a hand on his soul, since his desire is the image and expression of his soul.

If we possess the image of a thing, we possess half the thing.

The image of the world is half the world. He who possesses the world but not its image possesses only half the world, since his soul is poor and has nothing. The wealth of the soul exists in images. He who possesses the image of the world, possesses half the world, even if his humanity is poor and owns nothing. But hunger makes the soul into a beast that devours the unbearable and is poisoned by it. My friends, it is wise to nourish the soul, otherwise you will breed dragons and devils in your heart." [4]

CHAPEL OF THE SNOWS; ALL IMAGES, AS WELL AS TEXT [1] TAKEN FROM MOTHER'S HOUSE: THE EVOLUTION OF VANNA VENTURI'S HOUSE IN CHESTNUT HILL, EDITED AND INTRODUCED BY FREDERIC SCHWARTZ; TEXT [2] TAKEN FROM WIKIPEDIA; TEXT [3] TAKEN FROM FOUR ARCHETYPES, C.G. JUNG; TEXT [4] TAKEN FROM "REFINDING THE SOUL," THE RED BOOK (LIBER NOVUS) BY C.G. JUNG, EDITED BY SONU SHAMDASANI