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

Bollingen, 2nd July 1957

Arrived in Bollingen.

Very hot day, and I was tired from the journey.

We ad dinner by the lake; the plan is to bring the wooden table beside the lake, and everything is carried out by Ruth Bailey and me.

The Tower is an amazing place.

The entrance opens into a courtyard which has two exits, both with doors which bar; there is an outer space, also enclosed by a wall and by part of the house, and again a barred gate.

There is only one door into the house, as there is at the house in the Seestrasse, and this door is very heavy with an immensely strong lock and two yale locks.

The windows are all small and barred including those upstairs.

The hall leads to the kitchen; this is the base of the original tower which C.G. built in 1923.

Formerly the kitchen door was the main entrance to the house so it, too, is heavy with a very sturdy lock; the door leading upstairs to the study and the new room (built in 1956-57) can also be locked.

C.G. sleeps in the old tower, so he can be quite isolated.

If a robber entered through the front door he could still get no further unless he blew off the locks.

So it is like a fortress and quite mediaeval in character.

6th July 1957

At breakfast, speaking of concentration C.G. said he became so concentrated when he was writing that he did not notice simple interruptions.

Yesterday he had been writing in the morning for two hours when Ruth came to say it was time for lunch.

He was quite surprised, it was as if he had not been there, and as if he had not done any writing; it was all absorbed, all

I mentioned Coleridge and the man from Porlock interrupting him when he was writing Kubla Khan so that he could not continue.

At once C.G. asked, ‘What did the man want? What was his message?’

I did not know. ‘But that was very important’, C.G. went on, ‘it must have touched a complex – made a hole into the unconscious, and what he was writing disappeared.

Also we have to ask why such a person as Coleridge was up in the air with his feet off the ground.’

It was remarkable how he got straight to the point – to me a new one – and made the whole picture alive.

Speaking of ideas of God, he said he had had a Kantian training, and spoke of Ding an sich, God like that, not our idea of God, but God as something unknowable.

All over the world people have ideas of God, but these are their subjective ideas and not objective.

He said of good and evil that we must always have both, an upper implies a lower; the good implies the not-good as the light the shade.

Our subjective point of view was always just that, and we could not make dogmas from it.

Things are what they are, a tree is simply a tree; if we say it is a ‘good’ tree that implies our relationship to it but says nothing about the tree; it may be ‘bad’ for some other animal.

He has been writing about flying saucers, of which we know nothing; all we know is that something has been observed.

It might well come from Mars or some other source in space.

Two forms are described: one is circular and another cigar shaped; the latter could contain, as tablets in a tube, the former.

He mentioned a record in an old newspaper of which a few copies exist in the library in Zürich, and one has a picture exactly like those we see today.

Very few pictures exist although there are too many records to be dismissed as nothing.

We say things are ‘nonsense’ when they do not fit in with our generally accepted ideas.

But when people speak of something as ‘only imagination’ he points to cars or aeroplanes and says that before they were finally constructed they were ‘only imagination’, for imagination is something.

7th July 1957

After breakfast, sitting in the shade where we had the table, I spoke to C.G. about obsessions and their element of secrecy.

He agreed, and said that intuitive people were often asked, ‘What shall we do now?’ – they anticipate the future.

Following a remark made by C.G.’s son, Franz Jung, who arrived last night with two of his sons, I raised a question about people waking in a dream just before the climax, and suggested it was because they feared something in themselves.

C.G. said that it was often because something in their unconscious clashed with their accepted views.

He gave an example of a theologian who had come to him.

This man had a repetitive dream of being on a mountain; below was a wood, and in the wood a lake which he knew was there although he had not seen it.

In a later dream the image was carried further and the priest was in the wood and came to the lake.

There was a ‘breath’, a slight movement of the water by the breeze, and he woke very frightened.

‘Well,’ said C.G., ‘that is a familiar theme, have you any associations?’

I asked what was familiar, and he said it was like the stirring of the waters in the story in the Bible; it meant that the man could be cured, or that a cure was possible, but it would mean giving up his theological views, or altering them, and this he feared to do.

He went on to speak of the natives in Africa – they had a natural psychology.

During his visit to Mount Elgon he had noticed how accurately the natives, among whom he spent some time, observed the characteristics of people in his party.

He was himself always careful of his emotions, and was reserved and kept something back; so they respected him and regarded him as old and wise.

He was fifty but his hair was white, and therefore (as their hair is never white except in very old age) they thought he
was about a hundred years old.

They would bring him their dreams and ask if they were favourable or not; if the dreams were unfavourable they would not move that day.

I mentioned that the manifestations of hysteria had changed; for example in India and Burma the Indians got the classical hysterical symptoms and the British did not.

He said it was the same here, people hardly ever got the old hysterical symptoms nowadays.

C.G. had been reading a paper by a Mr. Routh (Fellow of All Souls) on the possibility of a new Reformation.

This article was very good, he said; but it missed the really important point – that a reformation cannot come from historical research or such parallels but only from the heart of individual experience.

So it must be today, an event springing from the present time.

The teaching of the past, for example of St. Paul or of Jesus, can be edifying, but in itself does nothing; Paul himself had a sudden revelation.

Unless there is a personal religious experience – realising from the inside what it means – nothing happens.

Such an experience can take many forms, for instance falling in love; anything which is really lived. ~E.A. Bennet, Conversations with Jung, Pages 230-267