Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Journeying with Jung 42



A Colourful Character:

To say the least, Carl Gustave Jung was a colourful character.  He even heckled at lectures where he felt the lecturer was wrong or was misrepresenting his views.  Like Freud, he liked to exert his authority.  The fault he most criticised in the founder of psychoanalysis he had in abundance himself - a good example of projection.  We also read in chapter 35 of Hayman's biography that Jung loved to cheat at parlour games like cards - it is even reported that he cheated at patience.  Also like Freud, he was a very poor loser. He also could be very rude with people and behave exceedingly ignorantly by ignoring them.  It is also interesting to learn that he was subject to fits of anger.  All of this somehow does not fit with those pictures of the benign bespectacled old man smiling at us from all those usual pictures we see of him in books.  However, such is life and we should not be too surprised.  The uplifting part of this biography is actually the fact that Jung is presented as a well balanced man, warts and all.

The Presence of Death: 

As Jung grew older he felt the presence of death in his life more and more.  However, death and dying did not unhinge him as he looked on it as an essential part of life.  Foe him living and dying were interdependent and closely interwoven.  By the Spring of 1950, he knew that his wife Emma was dying slowly of cancer, that most fearsome and most unpitying of diseases.  At this stage Jung was 75 while Emma was just 65. (See Hayman, 404-5)

The Fourth Dimension and Consciousness:

I'll let Hayman speak once again:

In work for publication Jung had usually avoided such terms as fourth dimension and synchronicity, but in the spring and summer of 1951, these ideas became central to his work.  In May, while he was chiselling an inscription, it occurred to him that 'consciousness is only an organ for perceiving the fourth dimension, i.e., the all-pervasive meaning, and itself produces no real ideas.'  Jung had never felt more inclined to embrace this pre-Newtonian belief in a unitary world permeated by a coherent divine intention.  It is consisting with the assumption that creative writing consists in taking dictation from the collective unconscious.  Perhaps there was 'something like an "absolute knowledge" which is not accessible to consciousness, but probably is to the unconscious, though only under certain conditions. (Ibid., 410)

The Problem of Evil:

Jung's Answer to Job was written quickly, like the Septem Sermones ad Mortuos, but the ideas had been fermenting for a long time.  'This book has always been on my mind,' he told Mircea Eliade, 'but I waited 40 years to write it.  I was terribly shocked when, still a child, I read the Book of Job for the first time.  I discovered that Yahweh is unjust, that he is even an evil-doer.'

He often thought about the Book of Job, and in a letter to a clergyman at the end of 1945 he wrote: 'For every thinking man the question arises: What about God's omnipotence?  Above all, what about his morality?  He dickers with the devil, allows himself to be hoodwinked, and, out of sheer insecurity, torments the wretched Job... What does it mean when he calls on God to defend him against God?  And how does this conception of God square with the New Testament one?'  (Quoted ibid., 410)

Ignoring all the references to Jesus as God's only son,  he insists that he had an elder brother Satan, who was a trickster.  It may have been his idea to put a serpent into the Garden of Eden.  Job confronts Yahweh's contradictory nature, and in this way gains the upper hand.  As described in Answer to Job, his enlightenment resembles that of the young Jung, who understood that a God who shits on his own cathedral is not altogether benevolent. (See ibid., 412)  Hayman continues:

But He is not immoral.  All this is 'the behaviour of an unconscious being who cannot be judged morally.'  It is naive, says Jung, to assume that the creator of the world knew what He was doing.  He was not a conscious being... evil can emerge from 'divine unconsciousness and lack of reflection.'   In Memories, Dreams, reflections Jung will develop the idea that God was unconscious when he created the world.  (See ibid., 412)

What Jung calls 'the answer to Job' is the cry of despair from the cross - "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"  It is then when his human nature reaches divinity, according to Jung.  He goes on to argue that God cannot be a paragon of goodness or virtue.  God cannot bring himself to totally dislike His beloved Satan.  There is evil in the Godhead.  I am here probably simplifying Jung to some little extent at least, but no matter, I feel it gets to the heart of things here. (Once again, see ibid., 414)  I will return to the question of God and to the question of the psychology of religion later in these posts.  Such speculations must wait for further reading on my part and for not a little meditation on  and contemplation of the same.



Above I have uploaded a picture of CG Jung as the Stone Mason!

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