Friday, December 05, 2008

Journeying with Jung 44

Chapter 36:  She was a Queen:

This current chapter covers the period from August 1951 until the 27th November 1955 when Emma Jung died.  It is to her that the title of this chapter refers.  During this time period  he gave the Eranos lecture entitled "On Synchronicity."  He also replied to Martin Buber's sharp criticism of his work and thought and Victor White had come to stay for a short period at Bollingen, though their relationship was by this time somewhat strained.  Toni Wolff was to die on the 19th of March 1953 and in June of that year the first volume of his Collected Works was published.  Victor White was sent to California by his superiors in the autumn of 1954 to cool his ardour and to have him silenced as it were - there he would be far less likely to promulgate his unorthodox views about psychology and religion.  In May 1955 CGJ broke off his correspondence with the Dominican priest.  That year also Aniela Jaffé took over as Jung's secretary.

Falling out with Fr. Victor White O.P. - The End of a Relationship

In the end these two friends fell out over the essential nature of evil.  The classical Christian doctrine of Evil's being a deprivation or absence or corruption of the Good was a tenet Fr. White could not drop at any cost - even if that price meant the end of their relationship.  This doctrine went back to St Thomas Aquinas who had taken it lock, stock and barrel from St Augustine of Hippo way back further in the fifth century A.D.  The classical statement ran tersely in Latin thus: "Malum est privatio boni" which translates "Evil is the privation of the Good."  In a letter to White at this disputatious period Jung had said: "because it belittles and derealises Evil," the doctrine of privatio "weakens the Good, because it deprives it of a necessary opposite."  (Quoted Hayman, 420)  In one of his last letters to the founder of Analytical Psychology White wrote:

For myself, it seems that our ways must, at least to some extent, part.  I shall never forget, and please God I shall never lose, what I owe to your work and friendship.  (Quoted ibid., 427)

Though he afterwards wrote to Jung occasionally, he received no reply for over four years.

Debate with Martin Buber:

I remember many years ago reading Buber's little classic I and Thou (Ich und Du) for philosophy class in Mater Dei Institute of Education.  As I recall it the gist of this famous book went thus: Buber's basic premise was that we experience life as Encounter.  For him there were basically two categories of encounter in every individual's life, viz., (1) An I-You (Ich-Du) encounter and (2) an I-It (Ich-Es) encounter.   In short both of these pairs which describe these forms of encounter categorize the modes of consciousness, interaction, and being through which an individual engages with other individuals, inanimate objects, and all reality in general. Philosophically, these word pairs express complex ideas about modes of being - particularly how a person exists and actualises that existence (existentialism). As Buber argues in I and Thou, a person is at all times engaged with the world in one of these modes.

When we engage in an I-You relationship or encounter we are fundamentally engaged in a powerful and life-affirming dialogue.  On the other hand when we engage in an I-It relationship we are essentially involved in a monologue.  Other words I might use with reference to our first category of encounter here would be: mutual, two-way, interactive, meeting, exchange, realistic experience, dialogue, encounter, engagement, concrete existence, the now-ness of the encounter, authenticity of being, being grounded in one's own existence.  Now Buber would add that the twin realities of infinity and universality are made actual in these real encounters.  In other words they become more than mere concepts - they are experienced as real or actual.  However, the I-Thou relationship or encounter cannot be measured empirically, Buber stressed that it was indeed real and perceivable.  Now Buber was not alone a philosopher but a dyed-in-the-wool Hasidic Jew.  For him every Ich-Du relationship shared to some extent in the most important Ich-Du relationship of the lot that between the individual and his creator God.   One key Ich-Du relationship Buber identified was that which can exist between a human being and God. Buber argued that this is the only way in which it is possible to interact with God, and that an Ich-Du relationship with anything or anyone connects in some way with the eternal relation to God.

To create this I-Thou relationship with God, a person has to be open to the idea of such a relationship, but not actively pursue it. The pursuit of such a relation creates qualities associated with it, and so would prevent an I-You relation, limiting it to I-It. Buber says by being open to the I-Thou, God will eventually come to you. Also, because the God Buber describes is completely devoid of qualities, this I-You relation lasts as long as the individual chooses. When the individual finally chooses to return to the I-It world, they act as a pillar of deeper relation and community. 

Buber's philosophy is Jewish existentialist if I may be so bold as to categorise this great man's ideas.  I have always found his writing very rich indeed and very deep too.  It is no wonder that he should have found difficulties with Jung's writings and Jung's beliefs which to a greater or lesser extent psychologised the notion of God as Other, God as transcendent Being by bringing it far too much down to earth for him, in other words humanising God too much, reducing him to a factor or reality within the human Collective Unconscious.  In theological terms this sort of approach to God would be called immanentist.   It's at this point that I wish to return to Hayman and quote him somewhat more fully than usual:

In February 1952 an attack on Jung appeared in the German monthly Merkur.  Writing on 'Religion and Modern thinking,' the septuagenarian Jewish philosopher Martin Buber called him 'the leading psychologist of our day,' but blamed him for helping to precipitate 'the eclipse of God.'  As he had explained in his 1923 book I and Thou, Buber believed in God as 'the eternal Thou,' and held that we achieve authenticity only by confronting him directly.  If Gnosis was knowledge, what mattered to Buber was devotio: bringing faith alive through mutual confrontation with God.

Jung had 'overstepped the boundaries of psychology' by defining religion as 'a living relationship with psychical events independent of and beyond consciousness in the darkness of the psychical hinterland.'  This would mean that religion cannot be regarded as a relationship with a primordial being and presence that remains transcendent.  If God is an 'autonomous psychic content,' he has no reality outside the human psyche.  Jung contends that 'metaphysical statements are statements of the psyche and are therefore psychological,' but every statement is psychological when considered with regard to its origin, not its meaning.  If the soul experiences only itself, not God, there is no I-Thou confrontation, and Jung is proclaiming a new religion of psychic immanence...

Jung was inclined to let conscience be overruled by belief in the unity of good and evil.  The place of God is usurped by the individuated self.  In effect, Buber argued, Jung was saying 'the important thing for the "man of modern consciousness" is to stand in no further relations of faith to God.'  Instead of letting our conscience discriminate between right and wrong, good and evil, he wants the soul to be integrated in the self that unifies good and evil.

Jung wants the self to include others, but in Buber's terms, this can only be done by making them into an it instead of a Thou.  (See Hayman, 421)

There is much more that could be said on the Buber-Jung debate, but it is beyond the scope of this post.  I shall discuss the psychology of religion later on and the recent books on God by such scholars as Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, and others.  However, that must wait until I have more time and myself more organised.

The Death of Toni Wolff:

Toni (Antonia Anna) Wolff (1888 - 1953) was  his patient and then a lover who would later became a Jungian psychoanalyst. The extramarital affair between Jung and Toni Wolff was openly enacted through a course of ten years even to the extent of living in Jung's house at Kusnacht. Indeed he began eventually to call her his "second wife", his legal wife being Emma Jung.    During her psychoanalytic career Toni Wolff published very little, but her best-known paper was an essay on four "types" or aspects of the feminine psyche: the Amazon, the Mother, the Hetaira (or Courtesan), and the Medial (or mediumistic) Woman.

Toni was thirteen years younger than Jung, and it had never occurred to him that she might die first, though she had suffered since the war from arthritis, contracted when she had worked as an ambulance driver for the Red Cross.  And, ignoring the advice of doctors, she smoked forty cigarettes a day.  On the 19th of March 1953 she was telling Jung about her summer holiday plans, and on that very night she died.  Emma broke the news to him.  he grieved for three days before he resumed working.

Under a gingko tree that had been given to him by students, he carved a small stone bas-relief in her memory in Chinese letters:  "Toni Wolff, Lotus, Nun, Mysterious."  (See ibid., 424)

Jung on "Wholeness":

There are so many words we can associate with Jung and I have listed most of them at one time or another in these posts, but one of the most famous to my mind at least must be that of "whole" and all its associated words.  Let's listen more fully once again to Hayman's words:

'The religious longing for wholeness' was indestructible.  Though it played 'the least conspicuous part in contemporary consciousness,' it was stronger than the instincts for sex and power.  (At the age of eighty-three, Jung had not stopped arguing with Freud and Adler.)  What the striving for wholeness wanted, said Jung, was 'to free the individual from the compulsion of the other two instincts,' which 'have stood in the way of man's higher development.'  (Hayman, 430)

Yet another note on Schizophrenia:

I am constantly finding small throw-away notes on issues in this wonderfully whole and integrated biography.  Here yet again I find another insight into this dreadful psychosis:

Over lunch, Jung talked about schizophrenia as 'a protection from the shadow, and usually the collective shadow.'  (Ibid., 431)

The Death of his wife Emma:

Jung was extremely erect and dignified for an old man at Emma's funeral.  "She was a Queen," he told his friends after the funeral service and he then started to weep.  Onlookers recalled that he seemed to have become smaller - to have shrivelled up.  He simply looked like any other small weak old man.

On Gardens and the Country versus the City:

Everyone, Jung maintained, should have their own plot of land or garden space so that he or she can allow their instincts to come back to life.  People need roots and space indeed to find them and put them down.  I remember a lecturer I had years ago saying that everyone of us must get the clay under our finger nails from time to time.  Indeed, I know so many people for whom gardening is the ultimate therapy.  Jung also said that big cities were responsible for our uprootedness and alienation, two words which have become so common in public parlance these days that they are now virtually enshrined in the concrete of our towns and cities.  If Myles na gCopaleen spoke about how his gardaí had become so many per cent bicycle from all the cycling they did - I allude here, of course, to The Third Policeman by Brian O' Nolan - modern men and women must have a very high percentage of concrete in their constitution.

Above I have uploaded a picture of the Hasidic Jewish philosopher Martin Buber.

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