Imaginal Memory and the Place of Hiroshima

By Michael Perlman

Subjects: Japanese Studies
Paperback : 9780887067471, 214 pages, July 1988
Hardcover : 9780887067464, 214 pages, July 1988

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents




Part I Opening Reflections

1. Possibilities of Memory

2. Dwellers in the House of the Nuclear World

Part II Images in the House of Memory

3. Sources of Memory

4. Places and Images: The Art of Memory

Part III Remebering the Place of Hiroshima

5. Hiroshima as Place of Imaginal Memory

6. Imaginal Memory in the Nuclear World: Further Explorations

7. Final Openings

Part IV Appendixes

A. Mnemosyne and Lethe

B. The Rhetoric of Memory




Hiroshima claims a crucial yet neglected place in the psychic terrain of our individual and collective memories. Drawing on recent work in depth psychology and Jungian thought, this study explores the ancient art of remembering by envisioning "places" and "images" that are impressed upon the memory. Enthusiastically used by ancient, medieval, and Renaissance explorers of soul and spirit, the art of memory became a profound expression of striving for cultural reform and an end to religious cruelty.

Imaginal Memory and the Place of Hiroshima shows that images arising from the place of Hiroshima reveal, with stark exactitude, the psychic situation of our world. Specific images are explored that embody unsuspected psychological values beyond their role as reminders of the concrete horror of nuclear war. The process of remembering these images deepens into a commemoration of the fundamental powers at work in the psyche—powers that are critical to the development of a sustained cultural commitment to peace and to the deepening and revitalizing of contemporary psychological life.

Michael Perlman is a counselor at McLean Hospital.


"Imaginal Memory is a seminal contribution to the field of holocaust studies—and, beyond this, to the closely annexed fields of archetypal psychology and philosophical phenomenology. Rarely, has such an unusual and insightful combination of these three areas of inquiry been brought together. The result is a splendid book that will be of personal and professional interest to many readers." — Edward Casey, State University of New York, Stony Brook