Monday, October 27, 2008

Journeying with Jung 24

Tangible Silence:  Chapter 22

As Jung was becoming more and more famous he craved more and more silence.  To this end he wished to build himself a refuge or retreat - not too far away from his home at Kusnacht which was on Lake Zurich.  He eventually found a lakeside site on the same side of the lake as Kusnacht, but at the other end, much further away from the city, between the villages of Bollingen and Schmerikon.  He could get there many ways - by car, by train and also by boat which would take four and a half hours given a fair wind.  The house of retreat was to mirror in some way a primitive hut but much bigger and made of stone, shaped, fashioned and built by his very own hands into several round towers with two floors.  It was now the year 1923 and C.G. was 48 and his mother had died in the February of that year at 75.  Here is Hayman's account of the plan for his spiritual retreat in this year of significant personal growth and loss:

Words and paper were too flimsy for the statement he felt driven to make about bereavement and rebirth - it would have to be in stone.  He wanted to build an alternative mother, a space for spiritual growth.  He said the experience of building was like being reborn in stone...  (Hayman, 249)

He even spent six weeks in a local quarry and learned how to cut heavy stones and move them.  He did much of the building himself, aided by two workmen and members of his own family.  He managed to complete his new spiritual refuge in the spring of 1924.  In all of this we can infer with little or no difficulty that Jung did not mind hard work, nor did he mind discomfort.  In fact, he lay no carpets at all on the uneven stone floors.  Nor, of course, were there electric light or running water.  It was not until eight years later that he had a well dug and a hand pump installed for water.  All of this was CG's attempt to become primitive, to become earthed, to become true to his origins.  Again Hayman is insightful:

Consciously or semiconsciously, he was modelling his life on that of primitive man, as characterised in the early work of Lévi-Bruhl.  He was not merely being playful when he made gestures in the direction of appeasing invisible forces, and his resistance to gadgets and innovations is sometimes reminiscent of the fear shown in 'simple societies' to everything that comes from outside.  (Ibid., 250-251)

He loved the manual work like chopping wood, carrying water from the lake which he boiled before use, and all the other basic chores reminiscent of more primitive times.  All the isolation he experienced there at Bollingen was conducive to trancelike reflection and to communing with the great 'collective unconscious' of the human race (which, of course, included all his ancestors, some of whom would visit him in his dreams).  He loved collecting and cutting wood for the fire - fire being the very power of the divine in us.  He also loved sculpting objects from stone and this practice he continued right into old age.  Once again Hayman has some pertinent comments on Jung's creativity and artistic obsessions:

Throughout the rest of his life, he devoted a lot of time to sculpting, carving and painting, but he insisted he was not producing works of art. 'I only try to get things into stone of which I think it is important that they appear in hard matter and stay on for a reasonably long time.  Or I try to give form to something that appears to be in the stone and makes me restless.  It is nothing for show...There is not much of form in it.' (Ibid., 252)

Jung was anything but a modernist and he castigated both modern art and modern literature as leading us away from our primitive roots.  Likewise modern culture, with its emphases on materialism, progress and success at all costs, was leading all of humankind away from their natural birthright and ended up alienating them from their true inner selves.  Jung felt that Picasso was schizophrenic and wrote off modern German literature in this trenchant and pointed statement: 'Contemporary literature, particularly German, is to me the epitome of boredom, coupled with psychic torture.'

The use of Introvert(ed) and Extravert(ed) for the first time, but in the Creative Process:

Lecturing in 1922 'On the Relation of Analytical Psychology to Poetry,' he maintained that there were 'two entirely different modes of creation': introverted and extroverted.  Hayman, once again, is succinct and particularly clear here:

Schiller's plays are examples of the introverted literature that expresses the writer's intentions, while in Zarathustra, Nietzsche let his material take him over.  (Eight years later Jung substituted the terms psychological and visionary for these two modes of creation.)

Though the extravert or visionary writer may think he is swimming, he is been swept along by the unseen current.  We should see the creative process as an autonomous complex implanted in the human psyche... A writer, according to Jung, may switch from one mode to the other: Nietzsche's carefully crafted aphorisms are generally different from his tempestuous Zarathustra.  In the greatest art, the creative process consists in the unconscious activation of an archetypal image.  'By shaping it, the artist translates it into contemporary language, making it possible for us to find our way back to life's deepest springs.'

(Ibid., 253)

Modernism, with all its concomitant ills - or modernity, if you wish - plunges us 'into a cataract of progress, which pushes us forward into the future with increasing violence the further it drags us away from our roots...' (ibid., 253-4)

Above I have placed a picture of the Martello Tower at Donabate Beach, Co. Dublin,

No comments: