Albert Oeri:

I suppose I first set eyes on Jung during the time his father was pastor at Dachsen am Rheinf all and we were still quite small. My parents visited his—our fathers were old school friends—and they all wanted their little sons to play together. But nothing could be done. Carl sat in the middle of a room, occupied himself with a little bowling game, and didn’t pay the slightest attention to me. How is it that after some fifty-five years I remember this meeting at all? Probably because I had never come across such an asocial monster before. I was born into a well-populated nursery where we played together or fought, but in any case always had contact with people; he into an empty one—his sister had not yet been born.

In the middle years of my boyhood, we sometimes visited the Jung family on Sunday afternoons at the parsonage at Klein-Hiiningen, a community near Basel. From the outset,because he realized that I was no sissy, and he wanted me to join him in teasing a cousin whom he regarded as one. He asked this boy to sit down on a bench in the entrance way. When the boy complied, Carl burst into whoops of wild Indian laughter, an art he retained all his life. The sole reason for his huge satisfaction was that an old souse had been sitting on the bench a short time before and Carl hoped that his sissy cousin would thus stink a little of schnapps. Another time he staged a solemn duel between two fellow students in the parsonage garden, probably so that he could have a good laugh over them later. When one of the boys hurt his hand Carl was truly grieved. Father Jung was even more upset, for he remembered that in his own youth the father of the injured boy, seriously hurt during duelling practice, was carried into his own father’s house. We were especially afraid that there would be trouble at school. But when our old headmaster, Fritz Burckhardt, heard of the accident, he merely asked the “duellists” with a mild smile, “Have you been playing at fencing?”

I got somewhat better acquainted with Jung behind his back by secretly reading his school compositions awaiting correction in my father’s study. Since my father generally allowed a free choice of topics, one could cheerfully bring up whatever one liked, provided one had any ideas at all. And Jung had plenty of ideas even then, along with the ability to present them. Nevertheless, he would not have received his diploma if the demand for a definite statement of proficiency in all subjects had been rigorously enforced at that time. He was, frankly, an idiot in mathematics. But in those, days, happily and sensibly, failing marks were ignored when the partially untalented student was known to be otherwise intelligent.

Jung really wasn’t responsible for his defect in mathematics. It was a hereditary failing that went back at least three generations. On October 26, 1859, his grandfather wrote in his diary, after hearing a lecture by Miner about a photometrical instrument: “I understood just about nothing at all. As soon as anything in the world has the slightest connection with mathematics, my mind clouds over. I haven’t blamed my boys for their stupidity in this respect. It’s their inheritance.”

Apropos of this quotation, I will take the opportunity to say a few words about Jung’s family history. His father was, as already mentioned, the pastor Paul Jung, born December 21, 1842, and died January 28, 1896. He was the youngest son of the diary keeper quoted above, Dr. Carl Gustav Jung, Senior, doctor and professor of medicine at Basel, born September 7, 1795, in Mannheim, where his father was medical advisor and court doctor; he died June 12, 1864, in Basel. Carl Gustav senior had a strange fate. As a young doctor and chemistry teacher at the military school, a great career seemed to lie before him in Berlin. But through his activities as a fraternity member and his participation in the Wartburg Festival, he became involved in the whirl of demagogic persecution, and spent thirteen (according to other versions, nineteen) months in the Hausvogtei prison,finally being set free without ever having been sentenced. He then went to Paris, where Alexander von Humboldt helped him to obtain a position at the University of Basel. He had thirteen children from three marriages. His third wife, mother of the pastor at Klein-Hiiningen, was descended from the Freys, an old Basel family. Although he was not a psychiatrist but, in order, professor first of anatomy and then of internal medicine, he founded the “Institute of Hope” for retarded children, and lavished upon the inmates year after year the most personal love and care. His student, the Leipzig anatomist Wilhelm His, wrote: “In Jung, Basel possessed an unusually fine and rich human and heartened his fellow man for decades; his creative powers and the ability to give warmly of himself bore fruit to the benefit of the University, the city, and above all, the sick and needy.”

Now for the other side. Carl Gustav Jung’s mother, the Klein-HUningen pastor’s wife, was born Emilie Preiswerk, the youngest child of Basler churchwarden Samuel Preiswerk (September 19, 1799—January 13, 1871) and his second wife, a pastor’s daughter named Faber from Ober-Ensingen in Wurttemberg. C. G. Jung’s maternal grandfather, like his father’s father, had thirteen children. Jung has himself given some information about the psychic constitution of his mother’s family in his first paper, “On the Psychology and Pathology of So-Called Occult Phenomena.”‘ Churchwarden Preiswerk, administrator of the Basel church, was a visionary who often experienced entire dramatic scenes complete with ghost conversations. He was, however, also a very intelligent and learned gentleman, specifically in the area of Hebrew philology. His grammar book was held in such high esteem by the Jews that in America one of them changed his name to “Preiswerk.”

Otherwise the Preiswerks are a patrician family of Basel, and thoroughly Aryan. Pastor Paul Jung, by the way, had an interest in Semitic philology in common with his father-in-law. In GOttingen he had studied under Ewald, and was not only a theologian but also a Doctor of Philosophy. To sum up:\ scientific abilities and interests are well represented in Jung’s paternal as well as maternal ancestry, but, those who possessed them were quite dry, scholarly types.

As far as I know, Jung never considered studying anything but medicine. And he applied himself vigorously to its study from the summer semester of 1895 on. That very winter his father died. I remember how, shortly before his death, he who had once been so strong and erect complained that Carl had to carry him around like a heap of bones in an anatomy class. Carl’s mother together with both children moved into a house near the “Bottminger Mill” in the Basel suburban community of Binningen. She was a wise and courageous woman. When her son once happened to sit in the Zofinger pub until dawn, he thought of her on the way home, and picked her a bouquet of wild flowers by way of appeasement.

Carl—or “the Barrel” as he is still known to his old school and drinking companions—was a very merry member of the Zofingia student club, always prepared to revolt against the “League of Virtue,” as he called the organized fraternity brothers. He was rarely drunk, but when so, noisy. He didn’t think much of school dances, romancing the housemaids, and similar gallantries. He told me once that it was absolutely senseless to hop around a ballroom with some female until one was covered with sweat. But then he discovered that, although he had never taken lessons, he could dance quite well. At a festival in Zofingen, while dancing in the grand Fleitern Platz, he fell seemingly hopelessly in love with a young lady from French Switzerland. One morning boon- after, be entered a shop, asked for and received two wedding rings, put_ twenty centimes on the counter, and galled for the door. But the owner stammered something about the cast of the rings being a certain number of francs. So Jung gave them back, retrieved the twenty centimes, and left the store cursing the owner, who, just because Carl happened to_ possess absolutely nothing but twenty centimes, dared to interfere with his engagement. Carl was very depressed, but _never. ta_aled the matter again, and so “the Barrel” remained unaffianced for quite a number of years.

From the first, Jung very actively participated in the Zofingia club meetings, where scholarly reports were read and discussed. In the minutes of the Zofingia, of which, by the way, he was president during the winter semester 1897/98, I find mention of the following papers given by him: “On the Limits of Exact Science,” “Some Reflections on the Nature and Value of Speculative Research,” “Thoughts on the Concept of Christianity with Reference to the Teachings of Albert Ritschl.”

Once, when we couldn’t get a speaker, Jung suggested that we might hold a discussion without specifying the topic. The minutes read, “Jung vulgo ‘Barrel,’ the pure spirit having gone to his head, urged that we debate hitherto unresolved philosophical questions. This was agreeable to all, more agreeable than might have been expected under our usual ‘prevailing circumstances.’ But ‘Barrel’ blithered endlessly, and that was dumb. Oeri, vulgo ‘It,’ likewise spiritually oiled, distorted, in so far as ,such was still possible, these barreling thoughts …” At the next meeting, Jung succeeded in having the word “blithered,” which he held to be too subjective, struck from the minutes and replaced by the word “talked.”

In this single instance, Jung failed in what he was otherwise generally successful in doing, that is, in intellectually dominating an unruly chorus of fifty or sixty students from different branches of learning, and luring them into highly speculative areas of thought, which to the majority of us were an alien wonderland. When he gave his paper “Some Thoughts on Psychology,” as club secretary I could have _recorded some thirty discussion topics. It must be remembered that we were studying in the second half of the nineteenth century, a time when an attitude of open materialism was firmly entrenched among doctors and natural scientists, and when so-called scholars of the-humanities expressed a kind of total and arrogant critique of the human spirit. Yet despite this, Jung, by choice an outsider, was able to keep everyone under his intellectual thumb.

This was possible—and I would not wish to conceal it because he had courageously schooled himself, intensively studying occult literature, conducting parapsychological experiments, and finally standing by the convictions he derived therefrom, except where corrected by the result of more careful and detailed psychological studies. He was appalled that the official scientific position of the day toward occult phenomena was simply to deny their existence, rather than to investigate and explain them. For this reason, spiritualists such as Miner and Crookes, about whose teachings he could speak for hours, became for him heroic martyrs of science. Among his friends and relatives he found participants for seances. I cannot say anything more detailed about them, for I was at the time so deeply involved in Kantian critique that I could not be drawn in myself. My psychic opposition would have neutralized the atmosphere. But in any case, I was open-minded enough to merit Jung’s honest zeal. It was really wonderful to let oneself be lectured to, as one sat with him in his room. His dear little dachshund would look at me so earnestly, just as though he understood every word, and Jung did not fail to tell me how the sensitive animal would sometimes whimper piteously when occult forces were active in the house.

Sometimes too Jung would sit late into the night with his closer friends at the “Breo,” an old Zofinger pub in the Steinen district. Afterwards, he didn’t like walking home alone through the sinister Nightingale Woods all the way to the Bottminger Mill. As we were leaving the tavern, therefore, he would simply begin talking to one of us about something especially interesting, and so one would accompany him, without noticing it, right to his front door. Along the way he might interrupt himself by noting, “On this spot Doctor Giitz was murdered,” or something like that. In parting, he would offer his revolver for the trip back. I was not afraid of Dr. Giitz’s ghost, nor of living evil spirits, but I was afraid of Jung’s revolver in my pocket. I have no talent for mechanical things at all, and never knew whether the safety catch was on or whether, due to some careless motion, the gun might not suddenly go off.

At the end of his University years, Jung went into psychiatry. Because I was out of the country for some time, I don’t remember the transition period. He had simply found his destined way. That I could not doubt when I visited him once during his residency at BurghOlzli and he told me of his lively enthusiasm for his work. It was somewhat painful, though, for this old sinner to see that he had begun to follow his master, Bleuler, on the path of total abstinence as well. At that time he would look so sourly at a glass on the table that the wine would turn to vinegar. Jung very kindly showed me around the institution, accompanying the tour with informative comments. In the wards, restless patients stood around or lay on their beds. Jung engaged some of them in conversation from time to time, wherein their delusions became perceptible. One patient spoke eagerly w me, and I was listening just as eagerly, when suddenly a heavy fist whizzed through the air right next to me. Behind my back an irritated patient who had been lying in bed had sat up and tried to punch me. Jung did not contest my fright at all; instead, he told me that the man could hit with great force if one didn’t keep a certain distance from his bed. And at the same time he laughed so hard that I felt like that beleaguered sissy at the Klein Hiiningen parsonage. ~C.G. Jung Speaking; Pages 3-10.

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