The Collage Path:
Get a box

To take the first step on the collage path, get a box. Put the box in your room or office and start throwing things into it. From among your personal collections and daily debris, begin to gather, and put into your box, photographs and other things that evoke special feeling and suggest something of the texture of the life you lead. You may also wish to take some new photographs of things you might want to include in your collage.

The initial instruction to the collage maker is:

“Get a box. Put the box in your room or office and start throwing things into it. What things? Anything you might want to use in a collage—debris from your current life (letters, tickets, news clippings, photos) or mementos from your past (yearbook pictures, bits of old clothing),”



Every step on the collage path symbolizes some aspect, or bundle of aspects, of psychic growth; the path as a whole symbolizes the conditions in which such growth can occur, and the incremental achievements in symbolizing capability of which it is comprised.

The collage process as a whole, therefore, does not merely utilize and transform existing symbols; the collage path itself actually symbolizes symbolization, in several senses of ‘symbolize.’

First, functioning as an elaborate metaphor, the collage path foregrounds the inner logic, the “microgenesis,” of subjectivity.

Second, as a suportive matrix, it provides a milieu where incipient developmental programs may be activated.

Third, as a mirror, it refects and reduplicates psychic maneuvers and imaginary consellations.

Finally, as method, it unites these functions under the common umbrella of an integrated technique.

The collage path begins with gathering, containment, and holding—literally in a box and symbolically in the space of dialogue that the collage process will provide. At the level of primary development, these activities correspond to the organization of the baby’s undifferentiated urges through the maternal care received in early infancy. At the level of sustaining creation (adult symbolization) they correspond to the initiation of thought in acts of collecting, ordered gathering, laying side by side.

The collage path is a kind of “midspeak.” Every point on the path is registered in a double-take, because each point corresponds to points on two other loops of the psychoforamtive gyre: a point on the trajectory of Child Development (the inner loop), and a point on the trajectory of Adult Symbolization. The first correspondence gives the collage path its structural-cognitive reverberations; the second its existential-phenomenological reverberations.


With the aid of a box, the path begins by eliciting ‘object-ties,’ those diverse personal attachments, involvements and concerns whose highly charged radii extend, like the spokes of a wheel, from the outer world to the core of the self.

“Getting a box” establishes a literal holding environment for symbols of these radiating objects and contexts. The collage itself will soon provide a common place of meeting for these dispersed elements.

Get a box polylogue