To Elisabeth Metzger

Dear Frau Metzger, 7 February 1942

Your conception of the archetype as a psychic gene is quite possible.

It is also a plausible hypothesis that the archetype is produced by the original life urge and then gradually grows up into consciousness-with the qualification, however, that the innermost essence of the archetype can never become wholly conscious, since it is beyond the power of imagination and language to grasp and express its deepest nature.

It can only be experienced as an image.

Hence the archetype can never enter consciousness in its entirety but remains a borderline phenomenon, in the sense that external stimuli impinge upon the inner archetypal datum in a zone of friction, which is precisely what we might describe consciousness as being.

This view would do greater justice to the essentially conflicting nature of consciousness.

From the rest of your remarks I see that you have already formed trenchant views of the nature of the psyche.

Yours sincerely,

C.G. Jung

[Note: Distinction between the archetype per se, or psychoid archetype, and the archetypal image. Cf. Devatmananda, 9 Feb. 37, n. 1 ; also “On the Nature’ of the
Psyche,” CW 8, pars. 41 7f.