Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Journeying with Jung 29

Wherever I go I cannot go too far without returning to some thought or intuition provoked in me by reading from anywhere in Carl Gustave Jung's vast body of written work.  I now return to Hayman's biography of the founder of Analytical Psychology. 

Chapter 26 - The Purity of Divine Dirt:

I loved the quotation about Jung from the pen of Barbara Hannah quoted at the beginning of the chapter.  (Barbara Hannah was born in England but went to Zurich in 1920 to study with Carl Jung. She lived in Switzerland the rest of her life and was a practising psychotherapist and teacher at the C. G. Jung Institute. She was the author of Encounters with the Soul: Active Imagination.)  Anyway, this is what Hannah had to say about our man:

The opposites were so much united in him, and he was by this time so whole, that more one-sided people were inevitably drawn to him to get a least a glimpse back into their own lost wholeness.  (Quoted Hayman, 298)

Jung on Art and Literature:

Jung was of the opinion that great art transcended the personal.  We have already alluded to the fact that he never regarded himself as an artist even though he pursued mandala drawing as a way of relaxing and engaged with the deep inner spiritual self.  In a lecture in 1922 he had said that he always protested against 'the reduction of art to personal factors.'  (Quoted ibid., 298)

Great literature, he said, draws its strength not from individual experience but from the life of mankind, while the great poets, such as Dante, Goethe and Nietzsche, speak 'with the voice of thousands and tens of thousands, prophesying changes in the consciousness of the period.'  It is when consciousness becomes lopsided in a society, or when wrong-headed attitudes become dominant, that archetypal ideas rise to the surface in dreams and artistic vision.  'A great work of art is like a dream,' and it meets the psychic needs of the public.  (Ibid., 299)

A great artist is similar to a medium who becomes a conduit for a higher power - call it imagination or inspiration or divine spark.  Jung says that such a person who is an artist has some lack or inadequacy in his personality.  Then his creativity comes in from somewhere and monopolises his energy and, thereby, drains him of his humanity.  Jung then goes on to assert that such a person might behave like a spoilt child, might even become ruthless, selfish or even very vain.  In this way only might such a person maintain the vitality of his or her own ego. (see ibid., 299)

Another Metaphor: Depth Psychology as an archaeological Dig:

Once again, as I have stated many times before in these posts, images are significant when working with psychotherapy and psychology - especially when one is working with clients or patients.  This point comes up strongly for Jung when he meets the American therapist/analyst Christiana Drummond Morgan (born Christiana Drummond Councilman) (1897-1967) She is mostly remembered as the lover of American psychologist Henry Murray and, like many women of that time, as a muse whose real contribution to society was their ability to inspire a man. Unfortunately and sadly Christiana committed suicide at 69 years old.  When Carl Jung met Christiana in the late 1920s - 1927, to be precise -he stated that he considered her the manifestation of the perfect feminine, une femme inspiratrice whose role was to act as a muse to great men. Jung conducted a seminar, called the "Vision Seminars" in October 1930, analysing Christiana's many drawings and dreams. She had created mythic visions chronicling her struggle with the feminine and masculine forces in her world. 

Among the many things Jung stated during this seminar was the fact that he considered Christiana a typical intellectual, 'exceedingly rational' with a 'one-sided development of the thinking function (T) and therefore an inferior feeling function (F). (See ibid., 300).  I'll let Hayman take up the story here:

His primary concern in the seminars he said, was with individuation, and his main theme would be 'the development of the transcendent function out of dreams'... he was addressing the needs and the complexes of each individual in the room...

Because Christiana had been cut off from the unconscious, he said, it had been painful for her to move downwards into it... She needed to know more about 'the inside of the mountain'...

As Christiana dug her way down from New England puritanism to primary instinctuality, her regression had struck him as archaeological... He portrayed what had gone on as a journey  backwards and downwards through ancient matriarchal mystery religions to the deepest level of vegetation, where she represented herself as a tree rooted in the earth with arms branching into the heavens.  She resumed the journey forwards and upwards through classical, Mithraic and Christian mysteries.  (Ibid., 300-3001)


The Primacy of the Universal/Collective Unconscious (Archetypal) over the Particular/Personal Unconscious:

This is another obsession of Jung's as he gets older.  While he might have declared that his concern was with the individuation process in all sessions of analysis and in these seminars, his focus was almost completely on the symbolic and archetypal.  While Christiana's dreams and visions may have started off with all the usual personal stuff they began to come to 'the fundamental things' which laid the ground work  for 'the production of the symbols which brought about the solution of the problem.' (Quoted ibid., 301)

Hence in all of the later Jung's work, whether written or clinical. he always searched for ways in which the collective unconscious may have been at work.  Listen to this strong and almost surprisingly therapeutically unfriendly statement: "I omit personal details intentionally because they matter so little to me.  We are all spellbound by those external circumstances and they distract our attention from the real thing.' (Quoted ibid., 301)

Jung on the Ego and the Self

Our man is very clear here.  He says succinctly:

Nobody understands what the self is because the self is just what you are not - it is not the ego... The ego discovers itself as a mere appendix of the self... The ego is always far down in the muladhara and suddenly becomes aware of something up in the fourth story, above, in anahata, and that is the self' (Quoted ibid., 303)

It is important to note here that Muladhara  means "root place"  and that it is the first of the main seven chakras according to Hinduism; that Anahata  is the fourth primary chakra according to the Hindu Yogic and Tantric traditions and that the word means "unhurt, unstuck or unbeaten."  It is also important to point out that the image of the multi-storeyed house represented the human psyche for Jung with the lower storeys referring to the unconscious strata while the higher ones refer to the conscious strata of the psyche.

From such delving down into the unconscious one eventually does come back up renewed, if not covered in varying degrees by "the purity of the divine dirt."

Above a picture I took of the hexagonal columns of basalt rock at the Giant's Causeway, August 2008

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