Saturday, June 27, 2015

Letters to Gilda about Sea Glass

I am about half way through your book. It is very powerful. Your understanding of how people and life operate seems kind of like an xray view (or an MRI!) of what I generally experience as chaos and confusion. It is simultaneously unsettling, validating, and liberating to begin to understand my own experience from the perspective that you share in your essays. Certain passages feel especially powerful and relevant to me, and too much to thoroughly process. So I want to take small bites and digest them. But stonger that that desire is the pull to consume more, to discover what else is in there. So I read on, hoping my head, or heart, will not explode.

I could say more, but that's all, for now. Thank you for putting this together and getting it out into the wider world.
—Ben Allan
• • • • •

“Jungian analyst Gilda Frantz’s new book, Sea Glass: A Jungian Analyst’s Exploration of Suffering and Individuation, is a rare gem. Part memoir, part application of depth psychology to everyday life, it takes the reader on a journey that begins with Frantz’s family history as a child of the Depression who was abandoned by her father and raised by a mother with the spirit of a wandering Gypsy. As the tale unfolds, she marries not only a prominent Jungian analyst but the budding Jungian community in Los Angeles, and eventually becomes an analyst herself. As she grows into womanhood and motherhood, she encounters the dark side of life in ways that few of us do. With a heroic and deeply impassioned attitude she demonstrates in a living way the alchemical principle that wisdom is the refined, distilled byproduct of suffering. With chapter titles like “Growing Up Poor in Los Angeles,” “Birth’s Cruel Secret,” “On the Meaning of Loneliness,” “Dreams and Sudden Death,” and “Redemption,” she fathoms in rich detail what it means to struggle with the opposites within oneself. The warm, inviting tone of Frantz’s writing has the quality of an intimate fireside chat, with reminiscences of days long gone and intimations of eternal mysteries waiting for us. This book is a pleasure to read.”
Michael Gellert, Jungian analyst and author of Modern Mysticism, The Fate of America, and The Way of the Small

• • • • •

We have surely met through Amrita and one of her Shantimayi gatherings. But that is beside the point.

I am reading your wonderful wonderful book which i bought at Amrits's urging. Thank goodness. I am in one of those quiet periods when small ailmnts force us blessedly to cancel , rest and be quiet..a perfect time to read.

I can hardly find words to tell you how much i love your book and find it so deeply meaningful. I dont have a jungian background so this is a beautiful window through a woman's voice and one of a similar culture.

I fear when i go the source and/or maria von Franz, there wont be the same resonance.

I just finished the chapters on gender/sexuality and am stunned by their jaw-dropping tenderness and beauty ...and the wisdom of native Americans.
Carol Moss

• • • • •

I got home late last night to find Sea Glass at my doorstep.

After reading the introduction and first chapter before going to bed and cried. What a beautiful expression of your life. I can't wait to continue on the journey and will savor each page.

Thank you for listening to that voice and sharing your life and wisdom with the world.
Shawnee Isaac Smith

Friday, June 19, 2015

A Review of Sea Glass

Sea Glass: A Jungian Analyst’s Exploration of Suffering and Individuation. 

Reviewed by Miles Beller

Gilda Frantz is a Jungian analyst. She is smart. She is wise. She is clever. She is charismatic. And, yes, she is delightful.

That she is my friend has little bearing on any of this. Truth is, these truths are inarguable, sure facts as certain as May following April and that up is the opposite of down. One would sooner win an argument disputing direction of the Earth's rotation or how many commandants those original tablets held than be foolish enough to question Gilda’s qualities. I am quite certain had Cole Porter known Gilda Frantz, he surely would have included her in "You're the Top."

But this is a book review I've been told, a book review in a Jungian journal that ought to address the interests of Dr. Jung's latter-day disciples. Well, that's all well and good. However, Gilda Frantz is too fine a writer to measure by any one singular yardstick, by any one predetermined standard of a solitary scientific pursuit. Consequently, there will be no juggling of Jungian argot or terminology in this review, no inside baseball references to shadows and self and the unconscious that gets collected. These considerations are best left to assaying textbook collaborations or the output of academic apparatchiks. You see, Ms. Frantz is first and foremost a writer, a writer who sets down words with precision and purpose and in a way that radiates poetry’s shine. "Loneliness is a preparation, not just a separation," Ms. Frantz tells us on page 56 in the article “On the Meaning of Loneliness.” Can it be said any more precisely, any more finely?

Ms. Frantz never lets content override the craft of writing, never allows jargon to jostle the transcendent interplay of words. The girl can't help it. As Ms. Frantz shows us, to write well is to set things down with an innate sensitivity to what you are experiencing and expressing, to intrinsically know how to arrange words, how to place them in a certain order so they speak with authority, grace, conviction, and courage. Gilda Frantz is keenly aware that to write well is to know this world and the one inside of you intimately and truly, and yet be able to embrace the very opposite of what you know at a moment's calling. She knows, too, that good writing can contradict itself, be uncertain, be everywhere at once, that good writing sometimes is quiet, faraway, and distant. Her writing underscores that no rules, no codebook get you there. You do it by yourself for yourself, alone and away from those things you buy or consume. What satisfaction there is comes after stepping away from the writing, and even this is fleeting, transitory.

Gilda Frantz makes manifest the certainty that good writing is an end in itself, a way of seeing by explaining and explaining by seeing. Things are turned around, upside down, run in reverse. But the writer is never really aware of doing any of this. Gertrude Stein put it this way: that the only moment that matters in writing is the pen striking the paper. What happens before and after does not count. Gilda Frantz knows all this by heart because it is in her heart. She comes by it naturally, writing well intrinsic to who she is.

Graduate programs will tell you that given enough money and time these things can be acquired, not unlike learning to ride a bicycle or getting the knack of typing quickly. But they cannot. No amount of study or repeated application can teach you to write well. These things come from everything you have been through and from things you are not even aware of. Drills or exercise, appropriation or subordination, as Gilda Frantz knows, cannot instill these things.  Hemingway said good writing is not interior design but architecture. Gilda Frantz builds what she writes with an inner understanding, a natural affinity for what is inherently true. "Agelessness is the ability to live with passion until the moment we die," Ms. Frantz tells us on page 164 of “Being Ageless: The Very Soul of Beauty,” and two pages later she adds, "Agelessness involves living with the awareness of death as a natural sweetener of life." Again, the architecture of these observations is acuity of thought compressed into an expansive arc of highlights and penumbras. The tensor strength of the ideas comes from few words that pack much. Reading Gilda Frantz, we are reminded that when you write well, it is as if you are there but not there, are letting other forces also determine the course. Mastery and escape, T. S. Elliot said of what it takes to break free from the gravitational pull of influence and accommodation, of the writer’s will to ask new questions rather than proffer old answers.

Reading Gilda Frantz is to experience this, to turn off that big, crowded highway onto new roads of expectation and creation. You cannot follow a street map to arrive at good writing, cannot strategize your way to rendering something that will last after you are gone. Impulse, intuition, happy accidents, and keeping open and aware get you there, or at the very least point you in a promising direction.

If you haven’t gotten the idea by now, let me be blunt. Gilda Frantz's Sea Glass is a multifaceted collection of writing refracting language and life in a new and sustaining way. It is kaleidoscopic and it is prismatic, giving off a deep spectrum of brightness, reflecting a multitude of angles and inquiries. Unquestionably it deserves an honored berth on the psychology of self. Yet it is writing that transcends classification or genre, writing that offers abiding bounty to the reader of the literary memoir and the personal essay. It is writing you can come back to and find something new every time.

Gilda Frantz has a writer's soul, telling us things in such a way that we see them for ourselves. William Faulkner was once asked by a student about the secret to writing well. Go home and write, the Nobel laureate offered. Through the years Gilda Frantz has made evident this impeccable advice. When I read her, I am in the care of a serious and skilled writer. "The flame is fate," Ms. Frantz informs us on page 31, after a passage concerning alchemy. Instantly the point ignites, recognition's immediate light bursting bright.

There are no shortcuts to writing well, no cutting of corners, no wham-bam tricks to dazzle and amaze. No Houdinis slip out of shackles to command kudos and currency. Time ticks on and what is lasting and true survives, speaking to us now as forcefully as it did when first made. As Gilda Frantz makes clear in her first collection, writing well is a life sentence. It is intimately tied to who you are, this in concert with an inborn instinct for words and how best to assemble them. In “Being Ageless: The Very Soul of Beauty,” the author avows, "When we are old our skin becomes more transparent, and so must we" (p. 179). How I wish I had written that.

As is true of Ms. Frantz's writing, I'm going to keep this trim and vigorous. Just how gifted a writer is Gilda Frantz? Let me count the ways. She is nimble and she is resourceful, able to leap complex subjects in an artful bound. She is challenging and she is reflective, surprising, enlivening, elevating, and captivating. Gilda Frantz is self-aware and yet ever searching, knowing yet able to embrace opposites. There are many things I could say about Gilda Frantz and her book, Sea Glass. However, the essential is this: Sea Glass is accomplished literature, delivering an author at the height of her powers, a Jungian analyst who knows her stuff but above all else is a writer of enduring vision and feeling.

About the reviewer
Miles Beller is an editorial board member of Psychological Perspectives and has written for The New York Times, Harper’s Bazaar, and Life magazine. Beller was appointed the Joan Nordell Fellow at Harvard University's Houghton Library while a Scholar in Residence at Cabot House. His novel Dream of Venus (Or Living Pictures), set in the 1939 New York World's Fair, was recommended by Publisher's Weekly as "challenging the distinction between fiction and fact," and Book Magazine called it “a risky and ingenious experiment that makes the novel like the fairgrounds."