A VISIT FROM MORAVIA
Introduction: The Italian novelist Alberto Moravia, whose writings had been censored by the Fascists, was working during the postwar period as a correspondent for L’Europeo (Milan).
In the issue of December 5, 1948, he published a brief article on a visit to Zurich; the title translates as “The Psychoanalyst Jung Teaches How to Tame the Devil,” though only the latter half is devoted
to an interview with Jung, extracted here.
The first part is about Swiss banking and Italo Svevo, his fellow novelist.
In 1952, incidentally, the Roman Catholic Church put all of Moravia’s books on the Index.
Alberto Moravia: I am on my way to visit C. G. Jung in one of Zurich’s suburbs.
Here are the luxurious villas of the banking and commercial bourgeoisie, surrounded by vast gardens.
They have their offices in modern, austere, and bare buildings in the center of town.
Looking for Jung’s villa along the main thoroughfare, in pouring rain, I am reminded of the American novelist Scott Fitzgerald, writer of another post-war generation. In one of his beautiful novels’ he describes to
perfection the psychoanalytic milieu of Zurich: An American millionaire, much disturbed by his daughter’s state of mind, brings her to Zurich to one of the most famous and expensive psychiatric clinics. There it is simply discovered that the daughter, at the age of fifteen, had been seduced by just that loving father.
She falls in love with her physician, who cures her, marries him, and goes to live with him on the Riviera. . . .
But here, at last, is No. 228 Seestrasse, the street of the lake.
The rain is pelting down on the yellow leaves of the tree-lined avenue, at the end of which one can see the entrance to a villa.
I ring the bell and Jung’s secretary opens the door.
In a few minutes Jung himself ushers me through the waiting room into his study.
Jung is an elderly man (he is 74), of stocky build, with a strong face reddened by the continuous flames of a cheerful fireplace.
He has a white mustache, penetrating eyes, and white, dishevelled hair.
A man of middle-class appearance, dressed in rough woolen sporty clothes, breathing a bit laboriously, stout, and with a pipe in hand.
He asks me to sit down in an armchair, in front of a bright lamp which nearly blinds me.
He, instead, possibly because it is the habit of a psychoanalyst, sits down facing me, his face in shadow as if he wants to study me without being himself scrutinized.
Thus, with my face illuminated and his in darkness, we begin our conversation.
We talk in French, which Jung speaks fluently despite a somewhat harsh German accent.
The first questions and answers are awkward.
Then, no doubt because his examination of my face has given him a favorable impression, Jung warms up and begins to talk with greater ease.
Naturally the discussion revolves around his theories and books, all of which I know only superficially, and in particular the theory expounded in his last book, Symbolik des Geistes.
Digressing at times, Jung explains to me some of the ideas of this latest work and its connection with the theory which gave him fame.
In the new book, the most important part apparently concentrates on an “attempt at a psychological explanation of the dogma of the Trinity.”
This book has caused much talk in Switzerland, precisely because of his interpretation of the Christian Trinity.
In short, according to Jung, the Christian dogma represents a symbol for the collective psyche; the Father symbolizes a primitive phase; the Son an intermediate and reflective phase; and the Spirit a third phase in which one returns to the original phase, though enriching it through the intermediate reflections.
Jung would like to add to that Trinity a fourth figure so as to transform the whole into, so to speak, a Quaternity.
This fourth figure is the direct antithesis to the clear and conscious function of the first three: it would possess an obscure, subconscious function, and would represent—according to Jung—the devil.
In order to make this idea of a Quaternity comprehensible, Jung connects it with his well known theory of the psychology of the unconscious.
He roughly reasons as follows: In ancient times the devil, i.e., the unconscious, existed in direct relationship to the spirit, or the conscious.
This relationship was highly beneficial; the conscious nourished with its light the shadows of the unconscious; with its positivity the negativity of the unconscious; with its rationality the instinctuality of the unconscious.
The ancient religions were aware of the relationships between conscious and unconscious; and what is more, they encouraged them.
Yahweh, for instance, was not only God but also Devil.
However, beginning with Christianity and particularly the Reformation, the unconscious, that is to say the devil, has become increasingly thwarted, suppressed, forgotten, obliterated.
With Luciferian pride the Nordic Protestant believes he can do without the devil.
And so, acquiring strength in direct proportion to that excess of repression, the unconscious suddenly explodes catastrophically in various diabolical and destructive ways, Jung explains that thus one can understand the clearly demonic and suicidal tendency of European civilization on the threshold of the first World War.
At that time the devil, i.e., the unconscious, for too long repressed and even forgotten, took his revenge by driving men to regard with sensual joy destruction and death.
At this point Jung graphically conjures up the picture of trains full of exuberant soldiers, the locomotives bedecked with flowers, leaving Berlin for the front in 1914, and he explains this joy at the imminent massacre with the joy of a finally achieved union with blood and death, i.e., the unconscious.
Jung proposes the same explanation for the monstrous and automatic cruelty of the Nazis during the second He says that this time once again the World War.
He says that at this time once again absence of a healthy relationship with the devil gave origin to an explosion of unprecedented and destructive fury.
He concludes that it is necessary to restore as quickly as possible these relationships: and if necessary, to create precisely that Quaternity.
On this strange prediction, much in tune with the Faustian atmosphere, I leave Jung.
Outside it continues to rain. Through the rain I make my way back to Zurich. Carl Jung, C.G. Jung: Interviews and Encounters, Pages 186-189
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