Friday, June 26, 2009

Carl Jung and the absence of myth

I came upon a passage in Jung's autiobiography (Memories, Dreams & Reflections, which I named our little Babalon 1-off demo after) so serendipitously that I feel the need to transcribe it here.

It has equal relevance not only for my past work but one of the fundamental issues I've wrestled with the majority of my life. If anything it is this very problem which has driven me time and again back to the subject of myth, it is what I am again shooting at with the Immanence of Myth, though I feel I am shooting at a hidden target while blindfolded, and to make matters worse the target is moving around on me. But nevertheless it is the same target, and that is the psychological and cultural problems posed by the absence of myth. To many they seem an idea in the background, at the most of secondary importance. For me it has always been an issue of primary importance, to such an extent that as I said it is possibly the fundamental catch 22 that seems to underlie my life, at least from age 16 to the present. I have seen these traits in many of those who have walked aside me at least for a time, as well as, at times, in myself. (Which is to say, I don't think this passage is about me but rather prophetically touching upon a cultural/psychological crisis that he -- and many others -- have seen coming for a long time.)

So, to the passage:

"...It is obvious that in the course of his practice a doctor will come across people who have a great effect on him too. He meets personalities who, for better or worse, never stir the interest of the public and who nevertheless, or for that very reason, possess unusual qualities, or whose destiny it is to pass through unprrecendeted developments and disasters. Sometimes they are persons of extraordinary talents, who might well inspire another to give his life for them; but these talents may be implanted in so strangely unfavorable a psychic disposition that we cannot tell whether it is a question of genius or fragmentary development. Frequently, too, in this unlikely soil there flower rare blossoms of the psyche which we would never have thought to find in the flatlands of society.

...Among the so-called neurotics of our day there are a good many who in other ages would not have been neurotic- that is, divided against themselves. If they had lived in a period and in a milieu in which man was still linked by myth with the world of the ancestors, and thus with nature truly experienced and not merely seen from outside, they would have been spared this division with themselves. I am speaking of those who cannot tolerate the loss of myth and who can neither find a way to a merely exterior world, to the world as seen by science, nor rest satisfied with an intellectual juggled with words, which has nothing whatsoever to do with wisdom.

These victims of the psychic dichotomy of our time are merely optional neurotics, their apparent morbidity drops away the moment the gulf between the ego and the unconscious is closed. ... The spirit does not dwell in concepts, but in deeds and in facts. Words butter no parsnips; nevertheless, this futile procedure is repeated ad infinitum."

1 comment:

  1. And this is why Carl Jung is the one person I would meet, Living or Dead, and why he was such a central part of my damn thesis.




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