Jung: A Gift Will Soon Arrive

           I am offering a gift today. Accept it if you will: There is just enough time to prepare for the publication of a long awaited book that may be as significant as any to be published in this dawning century. But to be prepared to hear what this author has to say, you must first read something else.

            The new book is C.J. Jung’s Red Book.  It will be published in early December. The work is part journal, part critical account of one of the most amazing intellectual journeys and experiments of the twentieth century.

            Jung was a Swiss psychiatrist and contemporary of Freud’s; he was a protean genius, who, like Freud, was present at the creation of a new science: one devoted to trying to understand the role and power of the unconscious in individual and group life. So much of the past century fell under the sway of this radical new teaching we now toss terms around as though their meanings were self-evident: we repress things, engage in meaningful slips of tongue and refer to experience as archetypical.

            Jung and Freud broke ranks over what to make of the unconscious. Freud saw sexuality as the paramount force impelling human action and conduct. He scandalized Europe with his essays on infantile sexuality. And he insisted that those with whom he worked regard his views on sexuality as something akin to dogma: his new science had certain fundaments that must be accepted. There could be no new physics of the psyche without the gravitational pull of desire.

            This made Jung uneasy. Surely there was more to the world than this.  Jung was suspicious of Freud’s insistence that there was and could be something akin to a rational explanation or approach to the forces giving shape to our lives. Jung sought something we all seek: meaning. He did so by trying to observe the unconscious at work and without preconception.

            When he broke from Freud, Jung turned inward, recounting his dreams, reveries and fantasies in a series of notebooks he later transformed into an incomplete volume known as the Red Book. This volume sat for many years in a bank vault, under lock and key and the foreboding rectitude of an executor’s watchful eye. The family has now consented to publication.

            What to make of this new book? 

            Jung’s heirs are deeply ambivalent about the work. Would it not show the author to be a man dangerously close to mental illness, perhaps swept within the vortex of psychosis, for several years? Would publication tarnish the reputation of a man already suspect given the unconventional character of so many of his ideas?

            Well before I became a lawyer I tried my hand at teaching. I sat at the head of a conference table at Columbia and walked students through great books I had read and tried to comprehend. In one year-long course, we would start with Plato’s Republic and sprint through several dozen impossibly difficult works, often ending somewhere around the time of Freud. As each class ended, I would collapse in despair. Had civilization run its course? Had we marched from hope, through illusion and then settled into elegant and fashionable despair? I wanted nothing of the parlor game of intellectuals; I fled academe.

            We did not read Jung. And now I wish we had.

            I’ve just finished Jung’s Memories, Dreams, Reflections. The book is liquid fire. It gives an account of what led to the writing of the Red Book, and what followed from it.  If you have time to read only one book between now and December, this is the book you must read. Period. If it does not speak to a deeper sense of self alive to a world of meaning, I will be surprised. This book is a homecoming, and a premonition of something amazing that will soon take shape when the Red Book is published.

            Now cometh the Red Book. That is a gift I shall soon receive, and I am counting the days until my copy arrives.

Comments: (2)

  • Oh, pal. You are already kneeling at the foot of a...
    Oh, pal. You are already kneeling at the foot of a new alter...one that also promises "A Better You!" The problem with psychiatry and the American Psychiatric Association is that the are the only category of "science" that was able to impose an entire medical protocol on society--up to and including affecting laws that govern society--upon which they have no basis of proof for anything they are saying. Freud just said essentially, "It is this way. It means X," and medicine had no basis to respond critically. And so, it was ushered in and accepted as fact, and this "science" was given incredible power of influence in every circumstance.
    Think of all the people this "science" has called insane, and had them locked up and it turns out, we now know, that these humans were sick, or autistic, or deaf, or just _____. (fill in anything you wish.) When in fact, this "science" was just falling way short.
    Jung was influenced by much more spiritual information and metaphysical information. But that analytical and experiential information, again, has never been proven. In both cases, it is possible that both their interpretive teachings are germane only to themselves. But how could that be!? They came to heal the world! Aren't we all the exact same??? Isn't it interesting that this industry is never questioned as, possibly, leaving anything out. Or, only being theories that are developed to a point? Nope, if a shrink says it, then it is law.
    They can have people removed from homes, families, jobs, with a phone call. I can't believe that psychiatry has been allowed to get away with this. But it is only because there was no counterpoint of reference at the point in which S. Freud ushered in this new "science." It is very likey it was the mentally ill analyzing the mentally ill. Or highly neurotic analyzing the highly neurotic. But how would they know? They could only see the world through their own perception and mental abilities they had at the time. Which could be, well, anything. But boy, did we buy it, hook, line, and sinker.
    Who says there aren't major layers of information and perception that we have yet to crack? Unlike scientifically proven medical advancement, there could very well come a time where an entirely new accepted line of thought of analytical interpretation comes along and completly throws the old school out the door. Psychiatry is also the only "science" that is affected--and admits that it is affected--by "Trends." WTF? There will come a day, anon predicts, when much higher level perception and information floods forth, and it will make all this F & J stuff look like bloodsucking to relieve fevers. Less so for Jung, who at least had the humility to give it over to higher powers of influence that he couldn't understand or define so well. Just look at all the personal behaviors that have become accepted social behaviors--just because the psychiatric industry sanctioned them. And, in most cases, it was because that same industry failed to crack the nut of them, and so, they took the easy way out and decided that these previously questional behaviors were sanctioned as acceptable. Who says you can't be healed in a (holy) instant? The American Psychiatry Associaiton, that's who. Because THEY need to believe that it takes years to "work through" mental issues. If people align with the thought that they could "heal" themselves by a shift of their own perception that only takes an instant--why it would put these doctors out of business. And, after all, these psychiatrists would all say that these
    people are crazy. And they would win. Because they designed this entire system to include absolute rights of power. Sounds like you might have a case here.
    Posted on October 18, 2009 at 5:39 pm by Anonymous
  • Your excitement is radiating all over your words. ...
    Your excitement is radiating all over your words. Please share your insights here as you read these works.
    I'm more interested in your commentaries on Jung than the Jung text themselves.
    Posted on October 19, 2009 at 10:41 am by Bread man

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