Memory of Carl and Emma Jung by Dorothy Sawyer

Less than a year after our wedding, Baldwin and I were on our way to visit Carol Baumann, his mother, in Zurich, Switzerland.

It was the summer of 1948.

On a student ship called the Tabinta, several fellow passengers openly envied us our probable opportunity to meet one of the century’s great men, Carl Jung.

When we were invited to a Sunday afternoon tea at the Jung’s house in Kusnacht, it was a good event among other good events.

We were not making mental notes as though to record for posterity a Grand Moment. We simply lived it.

Only relatively recently did I realize that in our occasional retelling of that good rime, we had almost completely omitted references to Emma Jung.

While the clothes, postures, words and gestures of Carl Jung were vivid in our recountings, there were no details about Frau Jung at all.

There actually were times when I asked myself or Baldwin: did I only imagine that she was there?

What we both now remember is a quiet woman, alert and aware but soft in manner, who was more of a presence than a visible performer.

This first her own description of herself as a person with a strong introverted sensation function-one who is present, taking it all in, recording everything in accurate and exquisite detail, but inwardly, with almost no outer evidence of the rich activity within.

With Carl Jung, however-what a difference!

When he came out to where we waited for him on the terrace that day, he ARRIVED.

Wearing shorts, smoking a pipe, he came out of the house with vigorous motion and sat, center stage, as though with a warm and friendly purpose.

I was twenty-four, discovering new worlds with a man I had married only the previous year and whom I found very attractive and appealing.

This other man sitting with us, fully at home in his energetic body full of intention, was really alive, too, fully present.

He was, I thought, dynamic and virile, focused and aware. I liked his defying of the stereotypes of age; I liked his bare knees and his open readiness to attend to what we had to say.

At the times when we compared our separate impressions and mental notes with each other, Baldwin and I wondered at the many topics it was possible to cover easily in that short rea-rime interlude.

I think the intensity of that visit was evoked partly by a genuine, clean attention that Carl Jung gave to each subject of the conversation and to each of his guests.

We, the young couple, had a secure feeling of being totally accepted, highly regarded, interesting people worth listening to.

I think all of us there felt a little more alert and dramatic in his presence.

Carl Jung had clear opinions on every subject that arose, often bringing in additional subjects to amplify what we had already shared.

We, the guests, said we were planning a trip “behind the iron curtain.”

Responding warmly, he told us of an idyllic, turn-of the-century Europe when travel was easy and borders were only on maps.

He spoke of a Europe where living was comfortable and secure for many, where international friendship had not yet been replaced by a defensive nationalism which later closed borders and ended in massive bloodshed.

The Jung’s “pet” wild swan came to call, to beg for food.

Jung informed us that it really had a vile temper, and that many swans were not as gentle as they looked.

Baldwin’s mother recalled a time when, painting near a lake, she heard but did not see some swans taking off from the water.

This seemed a clumsy, difficult affair as the heavy bodies tried to lift. The feet and wings made a sound clop, clop–a little like the hoof beats of a horse.

She thought of the Pegasus myth and wondered if it was started or at least reinforced by such common events.

In 1948 , my degree in music composition was still new.

A book had been published just recently on mathematics and music, with reference to a piece of music based on the contours of the New York City skyline.

Did I think , Jung asked me, that human imagination might have to give way or be out-classed by mathematical creations?

I thought carefully and said I hoped not, but I was not sure.

About that memorable moment when Jung said “Good” in response to Baldwin’s statement that humankind could indeed end all life on this planet: I prefer nor to suppose or judge too definitely what he meant.

I remember something like a sting of irony in his voice that said, to me, there was a possible mix of meanings.

I thought there was something of the quality, in that tone, of man’s craziness having gone so far that maybe it could be time to be done with it, and good riddance.

Bur that does not preclude simultaneous other possible meanings.

If Jung’s statements were attentive and emphatic, Emma Jung hardly spoke at all, except quietly with Baldwin’s mother, in the background; or with other members of the household providing the gentle, hospitable touches that appeared with seeming effortlessness.

I believe that this quietness was just her way of being.

Her communications were all around, in the air, in the atmosphere, in the things of the environment.

But this communication was not with words, outer motion or outward performing.

With the perspective of over thirty years since that meeting, I can appreciate that our visit was what it was because of two people-Carl and Emma, too.

If Jung seemed to evoke in us a sense of who we might really be, so, I believe, did she, in all the subtle realities of her just being there. ~ C. G. Jung, Emma Jung and Toni Wolff – A Collection of Remembrances; Pages 79-81.

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