C. G. Jung
Joseph Campbell
The Soul
The word 'soul' seems to be used in the sense of the Latin equivalent 'anima,' which carries with it the idea of 'vital principle' or 'life'. Its gender is feminine, and the psychologist C. G. Jung more-or-less identifies it with the feminine part of a man's psyche. It is often personified as a woman by the unconscious. The mythologist Joseph Campbell associates it with the goddess.
Out of Death Comes Life
At the beginning of the story Joe is losing his soul. He has fallen out of love with life and has become what Dede later calls a 'lump'. Also, he is a hypochondriac, who readily accepts Dr. Ellison's 'brain cloud' diagnosis. Ellison tells Joe that this illness has no symptoms but is terminal. Now that Joe thinks he has only a short time to live, he begins to appreciate life again. In fact, he begins to find his soul.
He immediately expresses his renewed appreciation of life by hugging the dog and the old woman. Next he tries to help the little flower that had been stepped on.
Along with his renewed zest for life there comes an expression of total disgust for his soul-robbing job and he quits. In contrast to the bitter words exchanged by Joe and Mr. Waturi, there is a beautiful moment when Joe expresses tenderness toward Dede. (I think Dede reflects a certain temporary state or condition of Joe's soul.)
The death-life paradox is cleverly exploited in the scene with Dede in Joe's apartment. Dede asks what happened to Joe to make him so 'alive,' and Joe (in effect) tells her it is because he is dying.

Saturday, March 28, 1998