[Carl Jung on “Kierkegaard.”]
To Arnold Kiinzli
Dear Herr Kiinzli 16 March 1943
That Kierkegaard was a stimulating and pioneering force precisely because of his neurosis is not surprising since he started out with a conception of God that had a peculiar Protestant bias which he shares with a great many Protestants
To such people his problems and his grizzling are entirely acceptable because to them it serves the same purpose as it served him you can then settle everything in
the study and need not do it in life.
Out there things are apt to get unpleasant.
I am to be sure a doctor but even more than that I am concerned with the saving good of man for I am also a psychiatrist I would have said to Kierkegaard straight off It does not matter what you say but what it says in you to it you must address your answers.
God is straightway with you and is the voice within you
You have to have it out with that voice Whatever stuffing Kierkegaard had in him would then have been plain to see.
A changed man certainly but a whole one not a jangling hither and thither of displeasing fragmentary souls
True creative genius does not let itself be spoilt by analysis but is freed from the impediments and distortions of a neurosis.
Neurosis does not produce art. It is uncreative and inimical to life. It is failure and bungling.
But the moderns mistake morbidity for creative birth—part of the general lunacy of our time.
It is, of course, an unanswerable question what an artist would have created if he had not been neurotic.
Nietzsche’s syphilitic infection undoubtedly exerted a strongly neuroticizing influence on his life.
But one could imagine a sound Nietzsche possessed of creative power without hypertension—something like Goethe.
He would have written much the same as he did, but less strident, less shrill—i.e., less German—more restrained, more responsible, more reasonable and reverent.
Jacob Burckhardt might have been a friend to him.
Neurosis is a justified doubt in oneself and continually poses the ultimate question of trust in man and in God.
Doubt is creative if it is answered by deeds, and so is neurosis if it exonerates itself as having been a phase—a crisis which is pathological only when chronic.
Neurosis is a protracted crisis degenerated into a habit, the daily catastrophe ready for use.
To the question whether anxiety is the subject or object of the philosophers, I can only answer: anxiety can never be the object unless it is, or was, first the subject. In other words, anxiety, as affect, always has us, wherefore we say—lucus a non lucendo and euphemistically!—” I have anxiety.”
The philosopher starts from the anxiety that possesses him and then, through reflection, turns his subjective state of being possessed into a perception of anxiety.
Question: is it an object worthy of anxiety, or a poltroonery of the ego, shitting its pants? (Compare Freud, “The ego is the seat of anxiety,” with Job 28:28, “The fear of the Lord, that is wisdom.”)
What is the “anxiety of the ego,” this “modestly modest” over-weeningness and presumption of a little tin god, compared with the almighty shadow of the Lord, which is the fear that fills heaven and earth?
The first leads to apotropaic defensive philosophy, the second to “knowledge of God”.
Would you have the time and inclination to review Walter Ehrlich’s Der Mensch and die numinosen Regionen (Chur, 1943)?
A philosopher who leaves the sham science r of psychology far below him and with godlike nimbleness bestrides the rainbow bridge of hypostases without being seized with vertigo.
We empirical worms stare up at the heights gawping
I can send you the book if you would care to do it
The review would be for the new Zeitschrift fur Psychologie not more than 3-4 typewritten pages preferably less With best regards
C.G. Jung ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol 1, Pages 332-334.