Book of Symbols (Taschen Hardcover)
By The Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism (ARAS)
The Book of Symbols combines original and incisive essays about particular symbols with representative images from all parts of the world and all eras of history. The highly readable texts and over 800 beautiful full-color images come together in a unique way to convey hidden dimensions of meaning. Each of the ca. 350 essays examines a given symbol's psychic background, and how it evokes psychic processes and dynamics. Etymological roots, the play of opposites, paradox and shadow, the ways in which diverse cultures have engaged a symbolic image — all these factors are taken into consideration.
Authored by writers from the fields of psychology, religion, art, literature, and comparative myth, the essays flow into each other in ways that mirror the psyche's unexpected convergences. There are no pat definitions of the kind that tend to collapse a symbol; a still vital symbol remains partially unknown, compels our attention and unfolds in new meanings and manifestations over time. Rather than merely categorize, The Book of Symbols illuminates how to move from the visual experience of a symbolic image in art, religion, life, or dreams to directly experiencing its personal and psychological resonance.
The Book of Symbols sets new standards for thoughtful exploration of symbols and their meanings, and will appeal to a wide range of readers: artists, designers, dreamers and dream interpreters, psychotherapists, self-helpers, gamers, comic book readers, religious and spiritual searchers, writers, students, and anyone curious about the power of archetypal images.
"The Book of Symbols is an exhaustive reference work that charts the visual representation of human experience. It's also a must for designers... Even at first glance the 800-page volume was thrilling... it was still possible, even now, for publishers to do something we have never seen before... This citadel of a book is divided into five main sections... Almost every significant area of human experience and symbolism is documented. Each symbol receives at least a double-page spread...The book's picture selection, a monumental feat of research, is outstanding, with images and artifacts from every culture and period in history to demonstrate the recurrence of these archetypal symbols... Regular TASCHEN designers Andy Disl and Birgit Eichwede of Sense/Net in Cologne have designed The Book of Symbols and once again have done a magnificent job. The two-column layout is restrained and unflashy as befits a project of this gravity, but not the slightest bit textbooky or dull. The balance of text and pictures against white space is perfectly measured: the book feels dense with information yet leaves plenty of room to breathe as you explore its corridors and chambers. It's a pleasure to get lost in. The Book of Symbols is a project of mind-blowing ambition and reach, and a book with an almost old-fashioned educational appeal. Bright, optimistic, bountiful and brainy, it makes you reel with a sense of wonder at the complexity of the human mind and soul... This fabulously instructive and inspiring work of reference will make an inexhaustible addition to any design studio library. No home should be without one either. All human life is in there. You can't ask for more than that."
--Creative Review, London