Introduction: Emil A. Fischer undertook to interview twenty Swiss men and women prominent in cultural life, and he published the resulting articles in a small book entitled Schopferische Leistung (Thalwil, i946)—”Creative Achievement.”
Fischer began his conversation by asking Jung about “the strange aphorism that is carved into stone above the entrance door of the house:Vocatus atque non vocatus deus aderit.”
This was an opening that interviewers often hit upon. Jung had the inscription carved over the door when he built the house, in 1909.
It came from an old copy of Erasmus that he had bought while a university student.
Emil A. Fischer: Is there any special relationship between this saying and your Weltanschauung or your life’s work?
Dr. Jung: “Called or uncalled, God is present!” It is a Delphic oracle. The translation is by Erasmus.
You ask whether the oracle is my motto.
In a way, you see, it contains the entire reality of the psyche. “Oh God!” is what we say, irrespective of whether we say it by way of a curse or by way of love.
Isn’t the psyche of the artist and the intellectual particularly complex and worthy of closer consideration? So far, too much one-sided attention has been focused on the morbid aspect of the matter.
I wonder why there is so much nonsensical theorizing about the pathology of outstanding people.
Most psychopaths are not geniuses; and on the other hand there are many geniuses who do not show the slightest traces of pathology.
What is much more signiﬁcant in this context is the shadow! It is important to see also the negative sides of great men.
On Palm Sunday, Christ temporarily played the role of a political Messiah.
His negative side and his power are symbolically displayed in the temptation by the Devil. Biographies should show people in their undershirts.
Goethe had his weaknesses, and Calvin was often cruel. Considerations of this kind reveal the true greatness of a man. This way of looking at things is better than false hero worship!
Emil A. Fischer: Where do you get the incentive for your creative work, Professor? One is always in the dark about one’s own personality.
One needs others to get to know oneself.
Having said this—I actually started out by simply doing routine scientiﬁc work.
I always followed the motto that it is worth doing something only if you do it right! The incentives for my creative work are rooted in my temperament.
Diligence and a strong desire for knowledge accompanied me throughout life.
I do not derive any satisfaction from knowing things superﬁcially: I want to know them thoroughly.
When I came to the conclusion that I had only hazy notions of the primitives, and that it was not possible to acquire full knowledge about them through books, I started traveling in Africa, New Mexico, and India.
For the same reason I also started learning Swahili.
Emil A. Fischer: What were the circumstances that induced you to work in the ﬁeld of psychological research? Dr. Jung: Even as a small boy I noticed that people always did the contrary of what was said of them.
I found some of the people who were praised quite unbearable, whereas I thought others who were criticized quite pleasant.
I noticed the inconsistencies in the behavior of adults quite early on, because I spent my formative years in Basel, in a rather odd environment, which was frequented by people with a complicated psychic structure.
When I was barely four years old, someone said to me in an exaggeratedly childish tone: “Where do you think you are going with your rocking horse?”
I reacted quite the enfant terrible: “Mama, why does this man say such nonsense?” Even as a child I clearly felt that people did not say what was really in their minds.
Emil A. Fischer: Isn’t it possible for people to come to psychology in exactly the opposite way? Don’t some people feel attracted to psychology because they want to ﬁnd an explanation for the chaos within themselves?
Dr. Jung: Certainly! If you take a critical look at people, you will ﬁnd that some of them are involved in psy- chology only in order to demonstrate that “the other person” is even more neurotic.
However, in the kingdom of the blind the one-eyed man is king.
Emil A. Fischer: Isn’t nature particularly important for you to sustain and enhance your personal productiv- ity?
Dr. Jung: Nature can help you only if you manage to get time for yourself. You need to be able to relax in the garden, completely at peace, or to walk.
From time to time I need to stop, to just stand there. If someone were to ask me: What are you thinking of just now ?—I wouldn’t know.
I think unconsciously.
Emil A. Fischer: How important is the time factor in your scientiﬁc activity? Isn’t it a great strain for you to work both as an analyst and as a research scientist?
Dr. Jung: My time has always been divided.
Either I dealt with patients, or I did research work.
For a time, I used to see patients only in the afternoons. The mornings were devoted to scientiﬁc work.
In earlier years I worked a lot at night, especially during the ﬁrst World War.
Until the middle of my life I worked chieﬂy in the morning, and after I was 36, chieﬂy in the afternoon.
In the last ten years I’ve turned again to working in the morning.
Emil A. Fischer: How do you react to disturbances?
Some occultist authors recommend that their adepts go into retreat to enhance their energies. Do you think that creative energy grows as a result of isolation?
Dr. Jung: The energy is there, but I must have the possibility of “casting my net.”
Once I have all the material, nothing and nobody must get near.
I am not as sensitive to noise as Carlyle, who installed triple glass windows and saw to it that all the fowl and dogs near his property were bought up.
But when I am in the active creative process, any disturbance is downright physically painful.
I have a little house at Bollingen, to which I retreat and where I can work undisturbed when my notes and preparatory studies have reached the stage where I can start writing.
Emil A. Fischer: Do some Yoga systems oﬀer the possibility of developing one’s creative energies?
Dr. Jung: Yoga can liberate certain psychic contents and natural dispositions but it cannot produce them. You can’t make something out of nothing, not even with will-power.
And what is will-power?
To have will-power means that you have a lot of drive. Creativeness is drive!
A creative calling is like a daimonion, which, in some instances, can ruin a person’s entire life. Carl Jung, C.G. Jung Speaking: Interviews and Encounters, Pages 164-167