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

Bollingen, 14th September 1959

Talk after breakfast with C.G.

He spoke of Aquarius and the significance of Khrushchev’s visit to America.

He thinks that Khrushchev is getting uneasy because of China; Russia with two hundred million people is hemmed in between the West and, in the East, China with six hundred million people; and China won’t always do what he wants.

He sees China as a danger.

He was very interested about the Russians hitting the moon and read every detail in the English papers we had brought with us.

He mentioned later a reference in a Swiss paper to the fact that there was no proof that they had hit the moon – it could have
been a device that the messages ceased at that time.

He had not thought it possible that the course of the missile could be followed.

15th September 1959

C.G. spoke of Ernest Jones and some of the inaccuracies in his biography of Freud.

He said Jones had always been simply a follower of Freud; he had not added any original ideas.

When Jones was writing his book on Freud he never asked him (C.G.) anything about the early years when he and Freud were working together.

As Freud and Ferenczi were dead, C.G. was the only person who could have given him accurate information, and he could easily have done so.

Jones was not there, and there were a number of errors in his book.

At supper, speaking of his granddaughter’s wedding, which was followed by a feast and a wedding cake, he said, ‘You see,
there are always traces of the old things!’

The wedding cake is a mandala and the bride and bridegroom are the royal wedding couple, the King and Queen, for that evening, and they preside over the gathering. That is symbolism; it belongs to life.

16th September 1959

C.G. said he liked to finish his coffee at breakfast slowly – I then come to life with no hurry.

“Omnis festinatio a parte diaboli est”,’ he quoted in Latin – ‘all haste comes from the devil’.

It is an old alchemical saying.

I asked him again about the carving of the face of Mercury on the stone at the side of the Tower.

He said, ‘I got terribly stuck when I was working on synchronicity, in the part about statistics.

Then I saw that face in the stone and put my papers away and got my tools and carved it.

It was the impish Mercury.’

He went on, ‘The alchemists knew this hindering thing and Mercury was often mentioned by them as the jester.’

18th September 1959

I asked C.G. how Freud had come to think of him as anti-Semitic.

He told me that he had always talked freely to Freud as to a friend; Freud despised his Jewish associates in Vienna, and he himself had found those in Freud’s circle unattractive when he first went to Vienna.

There were very few Jews in Switzerland then and no antiSemitism; he had never been anti-Semitic.

What he felt about Freud was that he had taken just one of the instincts or drives and tried to explain everything
in those terms.

He suggested later that the concept of sex was too narrow; there were many other urges, for example nutrition was very important.

His own notion of libido was of mental energy.

He wanted Freud to widen his concept to explain facts better.

The concept (not the theory) was a wide notion: energy was obvious in many ways other than sex, so the concept of energy was, as in physics, a wider one than Freud had conceived.

Typology is a description of specific manifestations of energy.

Bergson used the term élan vital, but again he was too specific; what is élan?

It is simply energy and so, said C.G., why not call it that?

Bergson used the term as a specific instance of mental energy; but the term energy is not absolutely precise, we don’t know what energy is, it is an abstract concept.

His own concept of mental energy is not a theory.

Energy is irreversible and goes in one direction, and the goal of energy is no energy – that is entropy.

The aim of an oak tree is to be an oak tree; it can only grow from below to above, in one direction.

19th September 1959

We left Bollingen and went on to stay at the Hotel Bad at Schmerikon.

23rd September 1959

C.G. and Ruth came for dinner at the Hotel Bad.

He said that he remembered Seif, and that he had been at Munich when Freud fainted. (Seif himself had told me that.)

I asked if it were true, as Ernest Jones had said, that Seif ‘joined’ Jung.

C.G. said that never happened at all, Seif had joined forces with Adler. (I had met Seif at an Adlerian meeting in London.)

26th September 1959

Talk in the afternoon after tea at Bollingen, sitting in the courtyard.

I asked about the effect of Christianity upon non-Christians in Europe, for example the Jews; he had mentioned in Aion how the Christian tradition affected people inevitably.

He said that amongst the Jews there was, as it were, a parallel effect, for in the Cabbala there were similar matters mentioned and the Jews, in a way, were in the Christian tradition.

But of course Christianity was not widespread; there were pockets of Christians.

St. Paul’s teacher, Gamaliel, was a noted Cabbalist.

He said also that for the first thousand years of Christianity (or more) it was quite harmonious and where the ‘pockets’ or groups were Christianity was fully accepted.

Then about 1100 or so came many schisms.

This was the spread of knowledge laterally as well as vertically (that is spiritually), and he said he had mentioned this in Aion, and that Pisces – he pronounced it with a hard ‘c’, Piskes – was like this: the sign was a perpendicular and a
horizontal fish, they went in opposite directions.

And now we are coming to the end of the Pisces era, as was foretold nearly two thousand years ago by the Arabian astrologer Albumasar.
The pre-Christian time was Aries.

I asked about the picture which is the frontispiece in Aion and he said this meant the Aion, the era.

This was the Mithraic god, and we know of similar pictures; the god was represented in the temples of Mithras.

The snake is endless time.

In a postcard from Arles another picture of Aion was shown together with the signs of the Zodiac; the head of Aion was missing.

He said we had practically no written historical records of Mithraism.

I asked about the future of psychology.

This he could not foresee – it was conceivable that advances would be made in the field of biochemistry and physiology.

It was also possible that our hard-won knowledge of psychology and the psyche and kindred things would be buried for five hundred years.

C.G. had been reading a review in a theological journal from, I think, Czechoslovakia, which criticised him.

But, he went on, the theologians seem incapable of seeing what he means, and yet it is quite simple.

They resent his intrusion into theology as if it were their private preserve, an area where they alone had special knowledge.

Yet we have no such absolute knowledge.

They want something to be ‘true’, just as people deride mythology saying it is not ‘true’.

He is not interested in the establishment of absolute truth but in observing facts.

So far as mythology goes the interesting thing is that the myths are repeated, that is a fact and a very important one.

But discussing whether the myth is ‘true’ or not is a waste of time.

He would not regard the myth as the dream of a people.

Often a myth contained some factual knowledge which ‘hit’ something, and so it went on, was expressed afresh; such things are important because they are factual.

We can have ideas about God; but whether they are ‘true’ or not, or whether they are ‘absolute’, cannot be answered.

He said he is constantly criticised for saying things which are ‘anti-Christian’ or ‘anti-theological’, such as all the nonsense about the privatio boni.

I asked about split libido and he referred to the inevitable polarity of the energic force, its dual nature.

So far as introversion or extraversion went they were simple variations, different expressions of energy.

But the energy moves in one direction; that is its nature – it does something, or you see something is done.

I asked him about the symbol of the house and in particular the mediaeval house of his dream.

‘Well,’ he said, ‘in a dream we see the house as our husk, and we are just in it.’

Thus with the mediaeval house dream he was just there, in this beautiful eighteenth century house, as he stood on the first floor.

It was as if it was where he lived, and presumably his family were about somewhere but they were not evident.

When he reflected about it later the house had some association in his mind with his uncle’s very old house in Basel which was built in the old moat of the town and had two cellars; the lower one was very dark and like a cave.

In the dream he wondered what was below and went down the steps; near the bottom it was of Roman construction, very old, and in this room were stone slabs for a floor just as there are at Bollingen.

There was a ring in one of the stones and this he lifted and went down more steps.

The light came in when he lifted this slab.

Below he saw bones and skulls and old pottery, all very ancient.

The important thing for him was the stratification, the layers of different ages.

This was how he eventually came to the notion of the collective unconscious.

Houses, he said, often came in his dreams.

Thus before he took up the study of alchemy he had a dream of a house with two wings quite new to him – he did not know they were there.

He looked on this dream as indicating something in his own psychology he did not know about, and the repetition of the dream meant it was being forced to his attention.

In his father’s room in this house were many zoological specimens in glass vessels; C.G. had earlier a special interest in zoology.

In his mother’s room were cages, like bird cages, only they were houses, and they were for the ghosts (that is, the flitting ideas in the mind) to lodge in.

And there were wonderful old books in the library, most lovely manuscripts and old volumes.

He associated these also with his uncle’s old house in Basel from which he got many books – one a lovely lexicon which he has at Bollingen.

This dream was a forerunner of his interest in alchemy.

He has often dreamt of houses with additional rooms and this has meant there were many things he had still to
find out and that they were there, in ‘his house’. ~E.A. Bennet, Conversations with Jung, Pages 295-308