Romanyshyn, Robert

In defense of a Quixotic imagination

Robert Romanyshyn

Quixote, who is neither mad nor sane, inhabits the landscape of imagination. Imagining windmills as giants, he is the emblem of a quixotic figure whose quest continues today as we, like Sancho Panza, accompany him as he sallies forth to challenge our dichotomies of the true and the false, the real and the unreal, and to make a dent in the walls we build to safeguard ourselves from the strangeness of the unknown. Quixote is also a necessary dreamer whose mission to remember and recover a lost world inspires a seemingly impossible dream of being a witness for the value, necessity and validity of a poetic reality increasingly marginalized in the age of technology.

Phenomenologists, who are born daydreamers and witnesses before being critics, are kin of Don Quixote. So too is Carl Jung, who, in spite of his suspicion of the poetic and visual arts, does defend a poetic basis of mind. Romantic poets like Coleridge and Keats also belong to this lineage. In the context of psychotherapy, Quixote stands as an image of the necessity to enact in movement the embodied imagination. In the context of education, he can transform the art of teaching, fleshing out ideas and, like the arts and humanities in general, deepening one’s capacity to imagine him/herself as other, which is a foundation for an ethical pedagogy. Finally, Quixote as a living presence can re-figure the art of writing. The Frankenstein Prophecies is an example of a style of writing in service to imagining windmills in their many guises.



Robert Romanyshyn is an Emeritus Professor of Psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute. Author of eight books including a book of poems and his forthcoming Victor Frankenstein, the Monster and the Shadows of Technology: The Frankenstein Prophecies, he has published essays in psychology, philosophy, literary and education journals, written a play about Frankenstein’s Monster, has done radio and TV discussions as well as online interviews and webinars and made a DVD movie of his trip in 2009 to Antarctica. In addition, he has given keynote addresses at conferences, lectured at universities and professional societies and conducted workshops in the U.S., Europe, Australia, South Africa, Canada and New Zealand.

His areas of interests are the value and necessity of the arts and humanities in psychological education, making a place for unconscious dynamics in research, the art of memoir writing, the psychology of technology especially in terms of climate issues and social media, grief and the healing power of poetry, dream work, and the art and practice of psychotherapy.