C. G. Jung in Dialogue and Dispute
Considering that C. G. Jung belonged to the introverted attitude type and that consequently his manifold and often extraordinary inner experiences were bound to have provided special meaning, his great readiness for conversation and meetings, and also for confrontation and debate, might be surprising.
Those who are haunted by experiences that go far beyond the “average” threaten many times to become isolated.
Not seldom do the words “No one understands me” come to their lips-a complaint that the old man did in fact voice often.
Undeniably, experiences which may be called-in the strict sense of the word-esoteric, “inner” things, not only cannot be imparted to others at will, but can only be understood-so far at least-by those few who have attained similar inner perceptions and insights.
The “reality of the soul,” as Jung learned to see it, consists in the fact that it cannot be adequately described by the categories of the inside, or the depths. ~Carl Jung, Jung by Gerhard Wehr, Page 469
The dimension of the inter-(personal) always comes into play, especially in Jung’s primary field of endeavor, psychotherapy.
Here the decisive factor is that, and how, the person faces his fellow human beings, for “analysis is a dialogue demanding two partners. Analyst and patient sit facing one another, eye to eye; the doctor has something to say, but so has the patient.”
Important as the method of “treatment” is in itself, compared with the relationship of analyst and analysand its significance is nevertheless secondary.
It is so because the relationship between two people is built and worked out not only on the conscious level.
On the one hand each of the two is in contact with his own unconscious, but on the other hand the unconscious of one acts upon and reacts to the unconscious of the other-a process of relationship which can at best be only very incompletely brought into the open, and at worst hardly at all.
It is self-evident that the encounter with the patient, or client, has great significance for the psychotherapist.
Jung acknowledged how much he had learned from them not only for his research but also for the process of his own self-knowledge:
My patients brought me so close to the reality of human life that I could not help learning essential things from them. Encounters with people of so many different psychological levels have been for me incomparably more important than fragmentary conversations with celebrities. The finest and most significant conversations of my life were anonymous.
Naturally this is called for by the doctor’s obligation to confidentiality, but also by the mystery of togetherness which escapes transcription.
As far as the confrontation with certain “celebrities” goes, however, Jung-himself a famous person early on-did not avoid such meetings, as is shown by his multifarious cooperation with congresses of all kinds and in certain social circles such as Count Hermann Keyserling’s “School of Wisdom” in Darmstadt and even more Olga Frobe-Kapteyn’s Eranos conferences in Ascona.
But it is also documented by his work, in which opinions on prominent contemporaries are found, and not least by the wealth of correspondence which continued to
the last months of his life.
Most interesting and instructive are Jung’s statements representing his insights and research results against other points of view.
One might have thought that dialogue, genuine conversation, would have a particularly good chance between two dialogicians, not in the sense that one simply agrees with or “gives in” to the other, but more that of careful listening and a readiness to take seriously the “immense otherness of the other,” as Buber said.
If one tries to test this by example and turns, for example, to Jung’s encounter with the dialogue thinker Martin Buber, the attempt comes off as a bitter disappointment.
Buber, only three years younger than Jung, had himself gone through a phase of inner (mystical) experience as a young man, before he was able to make the step from mysticism to dialogue and thus to the “I and Thou,” the dimension of the inter human.
After this turnabout was completed, Buber reacted with extreme sensitivity when he saw the interpersonal falling prey to an a personal, “mystical” inwardness.
In his book The Eclipse of God (English edition 1952, German 1953), Buber considered the relation of religion and philosophy, illustrating it with examples of a number of historical positions from Spinoza to his contemporaries Sartre, Heidegger, and Jung.
To encounter the reality of religious belief, for Buber, meant “to live devoted to the believed, unconditionally affirmed, absolute essence.
In all great philosophy, in contrast, it appears that rational truth means to make the absolute its object, from which every other object must derive.”
Hence, he said, religion was based on a true I-Thou relationship, whereas the philosophical act led to a view of unity, an I-It experience.
“The existent, to man, is either opposite or object.
The nature of man is built upon this duality in his relationship to the existent-opposition and observation.”
What he had said of the basic attitude of philosophy Buber transferred to that of the psychological view.
With this the difference between him and Jung was obvious, because for Jung religion was always also “a living connection to the psychic processes that are not dependent on consciousness, but take place in the obscurity of the psychic background.”
And God-called by Buber the “most loaded of all human words” -was usually conceived of by Jung as “autonomous psychic content.”
Buber was anxious to declare that in this way the being or nature of God, God’s Thou-ness, was denied or at least missed.
On the basis of numerous indications offered by the Jungian conceptual framework (for example Self and Self-becoming), and by means of numerous references to the basic writings of analytical psychology, Buber arrived at the conclusion that what was involved here was Gnostic ideas without exception, and that meant ideas which contradicted in principle the Judea-Christian belief in God.
For Buber the case was clear: whoever chose the path of Gnosis as Jung had and granted only the “reality of the soul” missed the “eternal Thou” and added to the “eclipse of God in our time” -a weighty charge.
- G. Jung took up the challenge.
A debate lasting some years was set in motion, in which-even before the writing of Buber’s Eclipse of God-a number of younger contemporaries engaged who felt themselves obliged as much to Jung as to Buber, among them Hans Trlib and Arie Sborowitz.
Jung would even have been prepared to abandon the label “Gnostic” that had been hung on him without further ado, had it not been a nasty swear word in the mouth of a theologian.
However, the fact that Buber proceeded from ideas that had been raised continually in theological circles compelled the affected party to oppose him.
It was the erroneous assumption of this critics, which Jung had corrected time and again, that he spoke of a being or nature of God, when in fact as a psychologist
he admitted only experience as his sole basis for knowledge.
Thus Jung wrote in one of his replies:
It should not be overlooked that I deal with those psychic phenomena which prove empirically to be the bases of metaphysical concepts, and that when I say, for example,
“God,” I can refer to nothing other than demonstrable psychic patterns which are indeed shockingly real. … It is certainly not the task of an empirical science to determine
the extent to which such psychic contents are influenced and determined by the presence of a metaphysical Godhead …. I do not doubt his [Buber’s] conviction of his living relationship to a divine Thou, but I am, as always, of the opinion that this relationship first of all goes to an autonomous psychic content which is defined one way by him and otherwise by the Pope.
Moreover Jung was afraid that Buber, out of understandable ignorance of psychiatric experience, failed to comprehend what he really meant by “reality of the soul” and the process of individuation.
Buber, like the one he had called into question, likewise could not fend off a certain irritation when he complained of an alleged “transgression of the boundaries” on the part of psychology: “We want to get out of this ingenious ambiguity once and for all!”
Correspondingly unambiguous, then, was the judgment handed down in the same context on the incompetence of psychology on the truth-content of belief in God, as if Jung had ever had such an assertion in mind.
Hence, in his reply to a retort of Jung’s, Buber wrote: “Psychology, which treats of the mysteries without understanding the attitude of faith to the mystery, is the modern manifestation of Gnosis.
Gnosis is to be understood as not only a purely historical but an all-human category. It … is the real adversary of the reality of faith …. ”
Buber’s surprisingly harsh judgment implies the accusation that C. G. Jung, as the witness and mediator of present-day religious experience, was to be made jointly
responsible for the eclipse of God.
For even in one of the first chapters of Buber’s book of that title we find the sentence:
“Whoever is unwilling to endure the effective reality of transcendence, our opposite, as such collaborates on the human side in the eclipse.”
But was such an unwillingness present in the psychologist?
All the same, the dialogue between these two intellectual founding figures of the century was doomed to failure from its inception.
Jung could not remember there ever having been any “personal friction” between the two opponents, “and I do not think that Buber has ever been impolite
to me. The only trouble with him is that he does not understand what I am talking about,” reads a letter to an American inquirer from 1952.
This rather casual note should of course not be taken as a minimization, as if this controversy were solely a theoretical misunderstanding that would not allow two old men to reconcile themselves.
For even the empiricist Jung was enough of a homo religiosus to be concerned with the troubling question of the experience of God and its theological, or psychological,
interpretation down to the last months of his life, with explicit reference to Buber.
Scarcely less problematic turned out to be the relationship between Jung and many of his contemporaries who had been schooled in depth psychology.
As a rule these critics began by taking for granted Jung’s extraordinary contributions in the investigation of the life of the human psyche, but then drew attention to the far-reaching consequences made necessary by a critical coming to terms with analytical psychology.
So, in this respect, Baron V. E. von Gebsattel pointed to the danger of a style of psychologism (which Jung himself denounced!), when in Jung, or rather the Zurich chool, in the sense of Buber’s criticism the “inner God” was placed ahead of the personal God of biblical faith, for example.
The image of man which underlies Jungian psychology, he said, might involve archetypal factors which were constellated by inner experiences, but the authority that could make the decision vis-à-vis the unconscious was lacking. Gebsattel reduced his apprehension to the quite simple denominator: “If this is not psychologism, then one might just as well call an elephant a daisy and claim to be a botanist.”
That such statements do little to promote useful dialogue is obvious, even when they are repeated by other prominent colleagues such as Viktor E. Frankl, for example, 13 or varied as by Medard Boss.
With Erich Fromm, who had openly voiced his aversion to Jung since the mid-thirties, as with Paul J. Stern after him, Jung rose to the status of “prophet of the unconscious.”
But as such-as Fromm attempted to portray him-he had not proclaimed prophetic wisdom but rather, and this with regard to the tension-filled thirties, produced only the “naive assertions of a reactionary romantic,” or perhaps a ruthless opportunist.
To be sure, Fromm also did not hesitate to attribute all sorts of contributions and advances, beyond Freud, to his unliked colleague from Zurich.
But his contempt could hardly have been more appalling when he wished-subliminally!-to make Jung jointly responsible for the contemporary intellectual crisis
of modern people:
“The majority, of course, still cling to religious conceptions, but for most these conceptions have become empty formulas, and no longer the expression of a reality to which they feel tied. Under these circumstances Jung’s lack of commitment and authenticity is fascinating to many who find themselves in the same situation. With his
blend of outmoded superstition, indeterminate heathen idol worship, and vague talk about God, and with the allegation that he is building a bridge between religion and psychology, Jung has presented exactly the right mix to an age which possesses but little faith and judgment.”
With this he nearly attained Ernst Bloch’s level of Jung-defamation.
With some bewilderment Rainer Funk, in his carefully edited edition of Fromm’s works, noted how surprised many readers continually were at the sharp, not to say shameful statements on the part of the great Jewish social philosopher.
Funk suspected some “very personal reservations.
One cause of these might also be the fact that Jung had been able to attract many-and above all wealthy-people with his psychology in the United States …. ”
From being a critic of Freud, Fromm quickly became his apologist, concluding:
“Although psychoanalysis has much to thank him [Jung] for, essentially he disregarded the central core of it, the search for truth and the deliverance from illusions,
and replaced it with a seductive spirituality and a brilliant obscurantism.”
Indeed, he said, for Freud there was at least still the category of truth; Jung equated God with the unconscious.
The problem of truth, or truthfulness, did not exist for him at all.
How particular Fromm himself was about the truth can be read a few lines further on, where he purported to unveil Jung’s past at the time of the Third Reich:
“Jung praised the Nazis as long as they were winning, and when they lost the war he turned away not only from the Nazis but the whole German people. In his personal conduct he displayed a lack of conscience and veracity.”
This could only have been written by one ignorant of the facts.
While these statements were. written when the accused could no longer defend himself(!), Fromm’s criticism that Jung’s concept of truth was “untenable” was an old one.
It was found in the lectures which Fromm presented at Yale University in 1949-the same Terry Lectures to which Jung had been invited twelve years earlier.
In a brief statement Jung had published on another occasion (London, 1958), he recalled that it lay outside the reach of people to make absolute assertions, although it was ethically imperative to be fully responsible for one’s own subjective truth.
Every human judgment, however great one’s subjective conviction might be, is subject to error, especially judgments which deal with transcendental subjects.
Fromm’s philosophy, I am afraid, has not yet gotten past the level of the twentieth century; but man’s drive to power and his hubris are so great that he believes in an absolutely valid judgment.
No scientifically thinking man with a sense of intellectual responsibility can afford such arrogance.
These are the reasons why I insist on the criterium of existence, in the domain of science as well as in that of religion, and on immediate and original experience.
Facts are facts and contain no falsehood.
It is our judgment that brings in the element of deception is Jung evinced a peculiar delight in expressing opinions on matters of art.
And he made no secret of how much he revered the recognized masters of “classical” music, poetry, and pictorial art.
The productions of the moderns were much more problematic for him.·
To the Welsh painter Ceri Richards, who to his surprise had presented him with a painting in 1958, the seventy-eight-year-old Jung confessed that he had no relation
whatever to modern art, unless he understood a picture.
And by understanding he meant, for example, when a picture could be grasped “as a confession of the secret of our time.
“Generally, he said, it was apparently the duty of modern artists “to show the world in its obscurity.”
Jung only regretted that artists mostly did not know themselves what they were doing.
Unquestionably, here too it was not the art or literary critic speaking, but the doctor and psychologist, in the strict sense of the psychology of the archetypes, which did not inquire after some possible neurotic personal limitations on the part of the artist concerned, as could be expected of psychoanalysis.
For Jung the secret of creativity was altogether “a transcendental problem which psychology cannot answer, but only describe.”
In an essay on “Psychology and Literature” from the year 1930, in which Jung expressed himself on this subject, he did admit that the personal psychology of a
writer, and thus any creative person, could if need be followed into the roots and the furthest branches of his work.
But the nature of a work of art consisted not in the personal characteristics, rather-and this is where the archetypal dimension came into play-in the fact that it rises far beyond the personal, speaking from and for the spirit and the heart of humanity …. Every creative person is a duality or a synthesis of paradoxical qualities.
On the one hand he [The Artist] is human and personal, but on the other an impersonal, creative process …. Art is innate in him as a driving force which takes hold of him and makes him its instrument …. As a person he may have moods and wishes and his own aims, but as an artist he is “human” in a higher sense, he is a collective person, a carrier and former of the unconsciously active psyche of humanity.
In concrete terms, it was not a person with the biography of a Goethe who created Faust, “but the psychic components of Faust made Goethe.
And what is Faust? Faust is a symbol, not a mere semiotic reference to or allegory for something long known, but the expression of something deeply alive at work in the German psyche, which must have helped Goethe to be born.”
Among the writers with whom Jung was directly or indirectly connected relatively early was Hermann Hesse.
Struggling with a number of personal problems and psychosomatic complaints, the author spent a convalescent stay in the Sonnmatt sanatorium near Lucerne in 916 and placed himself in the psychotherapeutic care of Dr. Josef B. Lang, a student of Jung’s.
Through Lang he became better acquainted with Jung’s work, beginning with Symbols of Transformation.
Hesse’s reading of Jung continued for some years, about as long as work in depth psychology continued to interest him.
Beyond this there were meetings between the Zurich psychotherapist and the writer, who lived in Montagnola.
Jung recognized that Hesse had adopted and elaborated on his thoughts in some of his books, first in Demian (1919), and also in Siddhartha as well as Steppenwolf.
In particular, it was the man who is searching for his true ego and aspiring to self-realization whose fate the novelist dramatized.
Considering that Hesse was working on the Demian material as Jung was still occupied with his own confrontation with the unconscious, but the writer let himself be guided by the psychologist, it is striking that the latter, as one of the first readers of Demian, wrote to Hesse on 3 December 1919.
_Your book affected me like the light from a lighthouse in a stormy night.”
Who, then, had shown the light to whom?
Hesse commented in retrospect:
“I have always had respect for Jung, but his writings have not had as much of an impression on me as those of Freud.”
A respect, cooled somewhat by distance, which was displayed until his old age in Hesse’s critical reviews, but also revealed itself in greetings and signs of a certain
friendship. Hesse remembered having a nice impression when he had read at the Club in Zurich and had a few sessions of therapy with Jung in the early twenties;
“only at that time I began to realize that for the analysts a genuine relationship to art is unattainable; they all lack the organ for it.”
Yet the psychologist could not pass over the artist’s productions with indifference.
The following episode may be typical of the style and the difficulty of a dialogue between the two.
In the autumn of 193 6, Hesse had sent to Kusnacht a copy of “The Dream of Josef Knecht,” a short poem, which later found inclusion in The Glass Bead Game.
Jung expressed his thanks to Hesse for sending it and seemed “deeply impressed by the beauty of its form and content,” but immediately added the curious psychologist’s question as to whether it was an actual dream and who the dreamer had been.
The poet, he said, however, need not answer. And apparently he did not, for no reply from Hermann Hesse exists.
And that itself is an answer. A number of other authors, particularly English-speaking ones, became connected with Jung.
Among the first of these was H. G. Wells, whom Jung called his friend as early as the twenties and whose biographer Vincent Brome identified as practically a Jungian.”
His novel Christina Alberta’s Father contained almost word-for-word descriptions of the Jungian anima concept.
In the first volume of his trilogy The World of William Clissold, which appeared in London in 1926, was a long section in which Jung appears, characterized in a sympathetic manner, discussing with a small audience questions of the development of consciousness and spirituality after a reading in the Queen’s Hall.
In the 18 November 1928 edition of the Neue Zurcher Zeitung one could read a letter from Wells to the editor, in which he wrote concerning Jung:
“It would be inadmissible for me to judge him as a man of science and philosophy; this should be left to his colleagues. But as a writer concerned with all the questions of the human soul and the development of human society, I consider Dr. Jung’s thoughts, writings, and experimental results … a bright light in my darkness and a gold mine for reflection.”
After World War II the English author and dramatist J.B. Priestley was also among the numerous visitors who came to Kusnacht and interviewed Jung, who confirmed how much he had enjoyed some of the writer’s novels and plays. Jung called Priestley’s 1946 BBC presentation Description of a Visit to Carl Jung “a masterpiece.”
The positive contact continued, for some years later Jung still appeared to be deeply impressed when he got hold of an article from Priestley’s pen praising his output, which he found confirmed Priestley’s understanding of his work.
So his letter of 8 November 1954 read:
You as a writer are in a position to appreciate what it means to an isolated individual like myself to hear one friendly human voice among the stupid and malevolent noises rising from the scribbler-infested jungle …. Your succour comes at a time when it is badly needed … . ”
Finally, Jung’s lifeline crossed early with that of James Joyce.
During the First World War the still rather unknown later author of Ulysses (which appeared in Paris in 1922) stayed in Zurich; in fact he was supported by the same Edith
Rockefeller McCormick ( 18 7 2-193 2) who was close to Jung and vigorously promoted his Psychological Club and thus Jung’s work.
He himself only met the Irish writer personally much later, when the latter consulted him on account of his mentally disturbed daughter Lucia.
Jung arrived at the conclusion that his mentally ill daughter was her father’s real femme inspiratrice; that is, that his unconscious psyche (anima) had been extensively identified with her, whereas Joyce himself was afflicted with a latent psychosis by this very fact.
His “psychological” style is definitely schizophrenic, with the difference, however, that the ordinary patient cannot help talking and thinking in such a way, while
Joyce willed it and moreover developed it with all his creative forces.
Which incidentally explains why he himself did not go over the border. But his daughter did, because she was no genius like her father, but merely a victim of
It is obvious that in the case of Joyce and many other modern authors or artists a gray area must be dealt with if one wishes to incorporate considerations of depth psychology, especially when one reads Ulysses, which makes considerable demands on reader and translator from the point of view of its language alone.
When Jung wrote to the author living in Zurich, in 193 2, he confessed that he had been brooding for almost three years on this book, which was so monstrous in its
It had presented the world, he said, with disturbing psychological problems, and even given him, the psychologist repeatedly called on. for advice, “no end of trouble.”
He had learned a great deal from it, but what he had to say about it was not without a note of contradiction, for especially here condemnation and admiration lay very close together for Jung.
Hence he confessed:
I shall probably never be quite sure whether I did enjoy it, because it meant too much grinding of nerves and of grey matter. I also don’t know whether you will enjoy what I have written about Ulysses,” Jung wrote to Joyce, referring to his essay, the monologue “Ulysses,” because I couldn’t help telling the world how much I was bored, how I grumbled, how I cursed and how I admired. The 40 pages of non-stop run in the end is a string of veritable psychological peaches. I suppose the devil’s grandmother knows so much about the real psychology of a woman, I didn’t ….At all events you may gather from my article what Ulysses has done to a supposedly balanced psychologist.
As we learn from Joyce’s biographer Richard Ellmann, the writer, who was famous for this sort of thing, showed Jung’s letter around proudly as evidence of his now-certified psychological perspicacity.
His wife, Nora, who would know, countered the supposed knowledge of women which Jung had confirmed in her husband with the pithy statement:
“He [Joyce] doesn’t understand a thing about women …. ”
This is what can happen to one person of insight when another one ratifies his power of penetration!
As for Jung’s monologue on Ulysses, in 1927 Daniel Brody, director of the Rhein Company in Zurich, published a German edition of Joyce’s book.
Apparently it was also he who had asked Jung for a psychological interpretation.
The only version known today is one that was clearly revised later and published in 1932 in the Europaische Revue in Berlin, and then included in Wirklichkeit der Seele (1934), and is the only detailed piece of literary criticism we have from Jung’s pen.
As a psychotherapist who could not stop doing therapy whatever he did, and as a psychiatrist who stood by his “professional bias,” Jung warned his reader.
Anyone who expected, in contrast, that he would offhandedly explain Ulysses in particular, and modern art in general, as a product of schizophrenia missed the mark.
Still, he said, there was a certain analogous relationship, in that for example the schizophrenic showed “seemingly the same tendency” to alienate reality from himself,
or conversely himself from reality.
And generally speaking:
In modern artists it is not individual illness that produces this tendency, but the spirit of his time. He responds not to an individual impulse but to a collective flow, which, it is true, has its source not directly in consciousness, but rather in the collective unconscious of the modern psyche. Because it is a collective manifestation, it also affects the various areas identically, painting as well as literature, sculpture as well as architecture.
Jung thought it indicative that Vincent van Gogh, one of the spiritual fathers of modern art, had actually been mentally ill.
In any case, in this context, seen from the archetypal, collective point of view, Joyce’s Ulysses was “a document humain of our time, and more: he is a mystery.” The psychologist from Kusnacht called to him:
“Ulysses, thou art a veritable prayer-book for the white-skinned man whose faith is in objects and who is accursed by objects! Thou art an exercitium, an askesis, an agonizing ritual, a magical procedure, eighteen alchemical retorts arrayed one behind the next, wherein with acids, poisonous vapors, coldness, and heat, the Homunculus of a new world consciousness is distilled! Thou sayest nothing and betrayest nothing, 0 Ulysses, but thou workest ….
No less effective was the pictorial art of a Pablo Picasso.
Jung had also devoted a shorter essay to him in 1932.
The essayist was able to persuade himself of the great Spaniard’s power of magical attraction when a Picasso exhibition consisting of 460 pieces was staged at the Zurich art gallery in September and October of that year.
This time too the psychologist, who worked as a painter and sculptor himself, had not picked up his pen of his own accord, but was approached by the Neue Zurcher Zeitung.
And because Joyce embodied, as it were, the “literary brother” of pictorial artists of the rank of a Picasso, Jung transferred to him the analogous relationship he asserted there, inasmuch as it involved perceptions and creations which received their decisive impulse from the deep regions of the human psyche, and hence did not stem from
Here, as always, he was contradicted.
Occasionally Jung had to confront his critics, who found his articles on Joyce and Picasso too negative.
But the elderly Jung rejected the suggestion that he undertake a similar analysis of, say, Klee or Kokoschka.
He would have kept on being contradicted.
Those born later would do well to realize that several generations had passed since that relatively early experience, and the factor that had once been particularly disquieting had lost its explosive effect.
The general consciousness had caught up.
Jung’s interpretation contained no devaluation, in that he saw the creative artist in the context of mystery and initiation, with its passages through catharsis and nekyia.
Therefore he was able to write of Picasso, for example:
In view of Picasso’s bewildering diversity one hardly dares suggest it; I would rather say what I have found in my material. The nekyia is not an aimless, purely estructive, titanic crash, but a meani gful katabasis eis antron, a descent into the cave of initiation and secret knowledge. The journey through the history of the soul of humankind has as its goal the restoration of the person as a whole ….
Among the large group of those with whom Jung exchanged views in various fields was the English art historian and writer Sir Herbert Read, like Jung himself often a lecturer at Eranos.
A chapter in his book The Art of Art says Criticism is devoted to Jung and was published as a special offprint by Rascher Verlag on the occasion of Jung’s eighty-fifth
The elderly honoree attested to the author’s courage and honesty, “two qualities the absence of which in my critics hitherto has hindered every form of understanding.
Your blessed words are the rays of a new sun over a dark sluggish swamp in which I felt buried,” Jung opened his vote of thanks of 2 September 1960.
And then again the lamentation found so often in his late letters:
I often thought of Meister Eckhart, who was entombed for 600 years. I asked myself time and again why there are no men in our epoch who could see at least what I was wrestling with. I think it is not mere vanity and desire for recognition on my part, but a genuine concern for my fellow beings …. I see the suffering of mankind in the individual’s predicament and vice versa …. After 60 solid years of field-work I may be supposed to know at least something about my job. But even the most incompetent ass knew better and I received no encouragement. On the contrary I was misunderstood or completely ignored. Under those circumstances I even grew afraid to increase the chaos of opinion by adding considerations which could not be understood.
Was total lack of understanding and refused dialogue the answer to one who was willing for it?
Then, as far as Joyce and Picasso were concerned, the depth psychologist characterized them both as “masters of the fragmentation of aesthetic contents and accumulators of ingenious shards.”
He saw at work the strength which led to dissolution. In both cases, he said, they were pandering to the morbidity of their time. Ruthless strength in Picasso; negative
aspects in modern art per se-such was Jung’s pessimistic summary at the age of eighty-five.
Herbert Read responded carefully to Jung’s views in his reply of 19 October 1960.
He confirmed the fragmentation process he had referred to as being manifested in contemporary artistic production, but rejected the notion of a willful destructiveness.
“The motive [of the artist],” Read explained, “has always been (since the beginning of the century) to destroy the conscious image of perfection ( the classical ideal of objectivity) in order to release new forces from the unconscious. This ‘turning inwards’ … is precisely a longing to be put in touch with the Dream, that is to say (as you say) the future. But in the attempt the artist has his ‘dark and unrecognizable urges,’ and they have overwhelmed him. He struggles like a man overwhelmed by a flood. He clutches at fragments, at driftwood and floating rubbish of all kinds. But he has to release this flood in order to get nearer to the Dream. My defence of modern art has always been based on this _realization: that art must die in order to live, that new sources of life must be tapped under the crust of tradition.”
Read referred to the transitional character of the entire era, as Jung himself had repeatedly confirmed it, and adduced Simone Weil, in whom we find the dictum:
The essence of created things lies in their transitional nature. They are intermediate terms leading from one to the next, without end. They are connecting links on the way to God, and we must come to know them as such. ~Simone Weil cited by Carl Jung, “Jung” by Gerhard Wehr, Page 485
All in all, C. G. Jung’s talent for dialogue, despite its size, was probably impaired here and there; it was always conditioned by the point of view of depth psychology, be it in opening up new perspectives or marking off extra-psychological viewpoints.
Herbert Read concluded his account of his meeting with Jung in his garden in Kusnacht-which probably took place in the early fifties-thus:
“In the course of our long conversation we had gone into the garden, and now Jung sat in the cool shade of a tree, more than ever like a Chinese sage. We listened to the plashing of oars in the water and the sound of distant voices, and fell into silence, in which we became aware that here too a meaningful coincidence held sway. It seemed as though the earth, sky, and water had also been listening, and the oneness of the impression was the oneness of complete sympathy, the sympatheia which according to the Stoic doctrine draws together all elements in peace and harmony.” ~Gerhard Wehr, Jung: A Biography, Pages 469-485