Chapter 27: Hitler is a Medicine Man:
Not alone is this title apt, it is also gripping. A central image from this chapter, for me at least in being a crazy bibliophile, is that of the book burning of the Nazis in the year 1933, which year this chapter deals with in the life of Dr. Carl Gustave Jung. Switzerland, which always had its financial house in order, remained largely unaffected and untroubled by the fallout of The Wall Street Crash of October 1929. A patient of Jung commented on Switzerland during these frightful times thus:
'Like Shangri-La or the Magic Mountain, it was high up or mysterious and somehow magical or mystical, otherworldly, untroubled.' (Quoted Hayman, 310)
I shall not offer any excuses for Jung's attitudes to Hitler and to the Jews as these attitudes were quite complex. It is too simplistic to say that he was a Nazi sympathiser - which he definitely was not. It is also too simplistic to say he was an anti-Semite - which he definitely was not. However, he did express less than clear (and very complex) views on both areas. However, I shall return to these contentious views later in these posts when I have done more extensive research of the subject. However, I feel that our Dr Jung, who was a man essentially of the soul, was a little too isolated from the stark reality of war which ravaged the countries around his "Shangra-La" existence in Switzerland.
However, to return to the book burning incident - a potent example of what may be termed biblioclasm - alluded to in my opening paragraph I should like to quote from the great German-Jewish Romantic Heinrich Heine, who stated, "Where books are burned, human beings are destined to be burned too."
Ironically enough, among the thousands of books burned on Berlin's Opernplatz in 1933, following the Nazi raid on the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft, were works by Heinrich Heine(1797 –1856). To commemorate the terrible event, one of the most famous lines of Heine's 1821 play Almansor was engraved in the ground at the site: "Dort, wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man am Ende auch Menschen." ("Where they burn books, they will ultimately also burn people.") In the original text, Heine had been referring to the burning of the Quran during the Spanish Inquisition.
In 1834, he made another remarkable prophecy in his work The History of Religion and Philosophy in Germany: "Yet, it will come and when you hear a crashing such as never before has been heard in the world's history, then you know that the German thunderbolt has fallen at last. At that uproar the eagles of the air will drop dead, and lions in the remotest deserts of Africa will hide in their royal dens. A play will be performed in Germany which will make the French Revolution look like an innocent idyll." (Quoted at this site Here )
Among the 20,000 books burned by the Nazi youth groups on that fateful and tragically symbolic day were those of Freud as well as works by Heinrich Heine, Thomas Mann, Karl Marx, Erich Maria Remarque, and H.G. Wells. I often wonder were any of Jung's books burned? I cannot get any evidence to suggest they were.
The Germans are a Dark and Chthonic Race:
It is important to state that Jung who was more concerned with "interior" psychological events than "exterior" political ones (my terms) and resisted commenting on public events. This may seem more than a little careful and somewhat cowardly. Yet, I cannot say I would have been any braver in my own stance on politics were I to have lived at the time. Long before swastikas and other symptoms of neo-paganism had erupted all over Germany Jung had referred to what he termed the 'chthonic quality' of the German people, who, he felt, had only been half civilised by Christianity. As Hayman so succinctly puts it:
Still unredeemed, their darker half 'remains connected with the residue of the prehistoric age, with the collective unconscious which is subject to a strange and constantly increasing activation'... and he wrote in 1916 that 'the "blonde beast" is likely to become more threateningly audible as it paces about in its subterranean prison.' (Quoted ibid., 311)
Now the word Chthonic here is very interesting. Chthonic refers to, designates, or pertains to, deities or spirits of the underworld (or the very centre of the earth), especially in relation to Greek religion. It derives from the Greek χθόνιος or khthonios which means "of the earth". Hence Jung means that the Germanic peoples were earthy, subterranean even, and while this word refers to the possible abundance of the earth it is also redolent of death as the core of the earth or Hades or the Underworld would conjure up a certain shady and deathly landscape. This word also has other resonances as some chthonic cults practised ritual sacrifice that often happened at nighttime. Offerings usually were burned whole or buried rather than being cooked and shared among the worshippers. So this word has a rather eerie and prescient content to it when it was used by Jung.
(To be continued)
Picture of my brother Pat and I atop the basalt colums of the Giant's Causeway, o Antrim, August 2008