Meetings with Jung: Conversations Recorded During the Years, 1946-1961

Bollingen, 12th September 1950

Sitting by the lake, C.G. spoke of the need for knowledge; we have to know a lot, for example about symbols, and the contents of the unconscious.

When people are confronted with strange or overwhelming inner experiences they may wonder if they are mad, or think they are ‘different’, separate.

But when the significance of the experience is shown to them, and its content understood – for instance parts of a dream, or a picture – their anxiety is relieved and they feel less isolated.

We must know these things and impart the knowledge.

We spoke of the shadow and I said it puzzled some people.

He said it was very simple: in analysis it is the first thing constellated by the unconscious; behind it, further from consciousness, is the anima (or animus) and other collective material.

The shadow can represent the whole of the unconscious – that is both personal and archetypal contents – or just the personal material which was in the background and not recognised, not wanted.

But it has to come forward and be assimilated into consciousness, it is essential.

He said he had learned never to start an interview beyond a few pleasantries – ‘How are you?’ – but to wait for the patient, because the instincts, the archetypes, lie in between and we don’t know what may be there.

But at times in conversation some topic occurs to him for no apparent reason, and he talks about it and finds it is just the right thing.

For instance the other day he began talking to a woman doctor about his African tour and snakes, and wondered why he was telling her all this; then it turned out to be absolutely relevant for he discovered that she was deeply interested in these things.

So we wait and the instincts guide us.

Commenting on a patient’s dream he said that when people become too introverted it can happen that they think too much of the past.

‘People do this and don’t expect much of the future; they need to develop expectancy –something fresh can happen.’

C.G. looks very well.

After talking to him I had a chat with Toni Wolff on the terrace.

Before I left she got me some lunch.

We lit a fire in the grate and heated some coffee and I carried it to the terrace with some bread and cheese.

The place has a very restful recreative atmosphere.

As I left I passed C.G. and said goodbye.

He was lying on a chaiselongue reading in the place where we had been talking.

I write this now in glorious sunshine sitting on the bank by the side of the road just above the Tower, still, as it were, in the restful unhurried atmosphere of it all.

14th September 1950

We spoke of Korea, and also of Communism.

This, C.G. thought, had arisen because of the failure of the Church.

The Church has had its gestapo – the Inquisition – and its domination; worldly power it always used badly, kept people down and poor.

Hence the new Roman dogma, the deification of matter, materia.

This is the point, and it is the quaternity, and the feminine principle.

We talked again of the shadow.

He said, ‘Yes, it represents everything that is obscure, and it can be personal or collective, we just have to
observe it and see.’

He spoke of it as all that was not realised; it could be good or bad.

He spoke also of a multiplicity of women in dreams, a plurality of animas, because man’s attitude could be collective in this.

I asked about the origin of his work on types and he said this began entirely by studying Freud and Adler; the one was rather extraverted (Freud) and the other rather introverted (Adler).

At this time he (Jung) abandoned all desire for a career; it was possible for him to do this economically, and he decided to find out what we were really dealing with in the mind.

He came to see Freud and Adler as having entirely different approaches.

15th September 1950

I asked C.G. about the Christmas tree; he said it was a great symbol because it was the life growing in winter, the winter solstice, and that is what Christ is, the light in the darkness.

But the tree can be many things – phallic, or the unconscious.

I asked what a blind person’s conception of archetypal ideas would be.

He said he had no experience of this; certainly blind people would need to express the archetypes but it was difficult to know in what form – for example the horse or the ford; it was hard to say how these would be experienced without vision.

We spoke of Kant.

He said he had quoted Kant, who had a notion of the unconscious and of the obscurity of what things were – Ding an sich – we just don’t know what things really are in themselves, we have only our impressions of them.

We talked sitting under a canvas roof he had rigged up on the terrace.

16th September 1950

Cold, so we sat in the upper room.

He spoke of his house.

He had on the table the little oil lamp he used when he wrote about the association tests, and always used here – a very soft light.

He would not have electric light installed, or the telephone.

He had built the house like those of mediaeval times with thick stone walls and small windows, so when you are inside you are contained; if you want to see more you can go out.

He spoke with much feeling of all these old things and I wondered about more recent times.

He said we need a certain distance between us and events.

He found it difficult to keep fully in touch with the implications of what was happening now, for instance the atom bomb; hence the need to get apart, get quiet, in this place.

He values the things he has to do here, the necessary things, little jobs; they are not a waste of time.

We get emptied by too much work and these trivial things restore us.

People are too busy to live, but what do they do with their time, the time they save?

It is better to live and be someone and not get absorbed in activity all the time.

I referred to Heraclitus, and he said Heraclitus knew a lot and he had got the notion of enantiodromia
from him.

It was important to have a philosophic background and to know the theories of cognition.

He spoke also of Descartes, and of Descartes’ dream, which compensated for his one-sided attitude.

This is mentioned in a book he has written on synchronicity.

A physicist in Zürich is writing on this with him, from the physicist’s point of view.

They are having difficulty in getting photocopies of some manuscript which is in the British Museum.

He said this work with the physicist on synchronicity was the last of such writing he would do; it required tremendous concentration and took too much out of him.

He had decided to do no work for a year, except what he wanted.

He told me his wife had started to learn Latin, and also some natural science, after her fifth child went to school.

Now she can read all the mediaeval Latin texts.

He used to wonder how he would ever read all the books he had: ‘I didn’t know I would have so long, and now I can read.’

He mentioned a doctor who never read anything but medical journals; then he retired, and there was nothing to live for – life was empty, had come to an end, and he died.

Of archetypes: they are the way instinct shows itself.

It was ridiculous for Freud to say there was only one kind of energy, we don’t know what energy is.

So he himself hesitated to use the word and used ‘libido’ instead.

We see only the manifestations of energy.

It was rubbish to think sex could be the only drive; those who said that were just ignorant, knew nothing.

He referred to the comfort a patient got from the idea that his illness was because of something in the past, in the parents perhaps.

But he has the illness now.

If a man has a bullet in his leg he may find out who shot the bullet, but he has it in his leg and it is this which must be dealt with.

We cannot help simply by showing him that someone shot at him; we are driven to think of the present problem and to deal with it.

The patient has the neurosis now, the parents haven’t got it.

Speaking of astrology, C.G. said he did not concern himself in the least with whether it was true or false.

All that he found of value was that it could give a hint, some indication of things he did not know.

And so it was with graphology.

He spoke of his concepts as purely hypothetical, only hypotheses, and if better ones came along he would accept them.

As to what things really were we just didn’t know, we could only try to find out as far as was possible.

He was wearing drill trousers (old) and jack boots, or rather high laced boots, very thick and tough looking, and a wind jacket, plus his green apron.

Just going out to work in his garden I think, but he sat and smoked and talked. ~E.A. Bennet, Conversations with Jung, Pages 54-65