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Carl Jung on Jazz, Cinema, Sports and the Human Body.

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Modern Man In Search of a Soul

So I am refuted all along the line, like a man who predicts a thunderstorm when there is not a cloud in the sky.

Perhaps it is a storm beneath the horizon that he senses-and it may never reach us.

But what is significant in psychic life is always below the horizon of consciousness, and when we speak of the spiritual problem of modern man we are dealing with things that are barely visible-with the most intimate and fragile things -with bowers that open only in the night.

In daylight everything is clear and tangible; but the night lasts as long as the day, and we live in the night-time also.

There are persons who have bad dreams which even spoil their days for them.

And the day’s life is for many people such a bad dream that they long for the night when the spirit awakes.

I even believe that there are nowadays a great many such people, and this is why I maintain that the spiritual problem of modern man is much as I have presented it.

I must plead guilty, indeed, to the charge of one-sidedness, for I have not mentioned the modern spirit of commitment to a practical world about which everyone has much to say because it lies in such full view.

We find it in the ideal of internationalism or super-nationalism which is embodied in the League of Nations and the like; and we find it also in sport and, very expressively, in the cinema and in jazz music.

These are certainly characteristic symptoms of our time; they show unmistakably how the ideal of humanism is made to embrace the body also.

Sport represents an exceptional valuation of the human body, as does also modern dancing.

The cinema, on the other hand, like the detective story, makes it possible to experience without danger all the excitement, passion and desirousness which must be repressed in a humanitarian ordering of life.

It is not difficult to see how these symptoms are connected with the psychic situation.

The attractive power of the psyche brings about a new self-estimation -a re-estimation of the basic facts of human nature.

We can hardly be surprised if this leads to the rediscovery of the body after its long depreciation in the name of the spirit.

We are even tempted to speak of the body’s revenge upon the spirit.

When Keyserling sarcastically singles out the chauffeur as the culture hero of our time, he has struck, as he often does, close to the mark.

The body lays claim to equal recognition; like the psyche, it also exerts a fascination.

If we are still caught by the old idea of an antithesis between mind and matter, that present state of affairs means an unbearable contradiction; it may even divide us against ourselves.

But if we can reconcile ourselves with the mysterious truth that spirit is the living body seen from within, and the body the outer manifestation of the living spirit–the two being really one-then we can understand why it is that the attempt to transcend the present level of consciousness must give its due to the body.

We shall also see that belief in the body cannot tolerate an outlook that denies the body in the name of the spirit.

These claims of physical and psychic life are so pressing compared to similar claims in the past, that we may be tempted to see in this a sign of decadence.

Yet it may also signify a rejuvenation, for as Holderlin says: Danger itself dosters the rescuing power. ~Carl Jung, Modern Man in Search of a Soul, Pages 218-220.