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Carl Jung “The Red Book”

Appendix B
Commentaries pp.86-891
Enantiodromia of the life-type

It is difficult to force this image to make a statement.

Yet it is so allegorical that it ought to speak.

It differs from the earlier experiences in that it is more witnessed than experienced.

For that matter, all the images that I have placed under the title “Mystery play” are rather more allegorical than actual experiences.

They are certainly not intended allegories; they have not been consciously contrived to depict experience in either veiled or even fantastic terms.

Rather, they appeared as visions.

It was not until I reworked them later that I realized more and more that they could in no way be compared with the experiences portrayed in the other chapters.

These images apparently are portrayals of personified unconscious thoughts.

That follows from their imagistic manner.

They also called for more reflection and interpretation than the other experiences, to which I could not do justice with cogitation, because they were quite simply experiences.

The images of the “Mystery play,” on the other hand, personify principles accessible to thinking and intellectual understanding, and their allegorical manner accordingly also invites such an attempt at explanation.

The action is set in a dark earthly depth, evidently an allegorical representation of the inner depths beneath the extension of the bright space of consciousness or the psychic field of vision.

Sinking into such a depth corresponds to averting the mental gaze from outer things and focusing it on the inner dark depths.

Gazing at the darkness to some extent animates the previously dark background.

Since gazing at the darkness occurs without conscious expectation, the inanimate psychic background has an opportunity to let its contents appear, undisturbed by conscious assumptions.

The preceding experiences indicated that strong psychic movements were present that consciousness could not grasp.

Two figures-the old sage and the young maiden-step into the field of vision, unexpectedly for consciousness, but characteristic of the mythological spirit upon which consciousness rests.

This configuration is an image that forever recurs in the human spirit.

The old man represents a spiritual principle that could be designated as Logos, and the maiden represents an unspiritual principle of feeling that could be called Eros.

A descendent of Logos is Nous, the intellect, which has done away with the commingling of feeling, presentiment, and sensation.

In contrast, the Logos contains this commingling.

But it is. not the product of such blending, or else it would be a lower animalistic psychic activity; yet it masters the blend, so that the four fundamental activities of the soul become subordinate to its principle.

It is an independent principle of form that means understanding, insight, foresight, legislation, and wisdom.

The figure of an old prophet is therefore a fitting allegory for this principle, since the prophetic spirit unites in itself all these qualities.

In contrast, Eros is a principle that contains a commingling of all the fundamental activities of the soul just as much as it masters them, although its purpose is completely different.

It is not form-giving but form-fulfilling; it is the wine that will be poured into the vessel; it is not the bed and direction of the stream but the impetuous water flowing in it.

Eros is desire, longing, force, exuberance, pleasure, suffering.

Where Logos is ordering and insistence, Eros is dissolution and movement.

They are two fundamental psychic powers that form a pair of opposites, each one requiring the other.

The old prophet expresses persistence, but the young maiden denotes movement.

Their impersonal essence is expressed by the fact that they are figures belonging to general human history; they do not belong to a person but have been a spiritual content of the world’s peoples since time immemorial.

Everyone has them, and therefore these figures recur in the work of thinkers and poets.

Such primordial images have a secret power that works just as much on human reason as on the soul.

Wherever they appear they stir something linked with the mysterious, the long gone, and heavy with foreboding.

A string sounds whose vibration reverberates in every man’s breast; these primordial images dwell in everyone as they are the property of all mankind.

This secret power is like a spell, like magic, and causes elevation just as much as seduction.

It is characteristic of primordial images that they take hold of man where he is utterly human, and a power seizes him, as if the bustling throng were pushing him.

And this happens even if individual understanding and feeling rise up against it.

What is the power of the individual against the voice of the whole people in him?

He is entranced, possessed, and consumed.

Nothing makes this effect clearer than the serpent.

It signifies everything dangerous and everything bad, everything nocturnal and uncanny, which adheres to Logos as well as to Eros, so long as they can work as the dark and unrecognized principles of the
unconscious spirit.

The house represents a fixed abode, which indicates that Logos and Eros have permanent residence in us.

Salome is represented as the daughter of Elijah, thus expressing the order of succession.

The prophet is her producer, she emanates from him.

The fact that she is assigned to him as a daughter indicates a subordination of Eros to Logos.

Although this relation is very frequent, as manifested by the constancy of this primordial image, it is nevertheless a special case that possesses no general validity.

For if these were two opposed principles, one could not arise from the other and thus depend on it.

Salome is hence apparently no (complete) correct embodiment of Eros, but a variety of the same. (This supposition is later confirmed.)

That she is actually an incorrect allegory for Eros also stems from the fact that she is blind.

Eros is not blind, since he regulates, just as well as Logos does, all fundamental activities of the soul.

The blindness indicates her incompleteness and the absence of an essential quality.

By virtue of her shortcoming she depends upon her father.

The indistinct glittering walls of the hall point to something unrecognized, perhaps something valuable that wakens curiosity and attracts attention.

In this manner, creative involvement is woven even deeper into the image, so that an even greater animation of the dark background becomes possible.

Such enhanced attention gives rise to the image of an object, which to all intents and purposes expresses concentration, namely the image of a crystal, which has been used to produce such visions since time immemorial.

These figures, which at first are incomprehensible to the beholder, evoke dark processes in his soul, which to a certain extent lie even deeper (such as in the vision of blood), and whose perception requires an aid like the crystal.

As has been said, however, this expresses nothing else than an even stronger concentration of creative attention.

A figure like the prophet, which is clear and complete in itself, arouses less curiosity than the unexpected form of blind Salome, which is why one may expect that the formative process will first address
the problem of Eros.

Hence an image of Eve appears first, together with images of the tree and the serpent.

This apparently refers to temptation, as already encapsulated in the figure of Salome.

Temptation brings about a further movement toward the side of Eros.

This in turn forebodes many adventurous possibilities, for which the wandering of Odysseus is the fitting image.

This image stimulates and invites adventurousness; it is as if a door opened to a new opportunity to free the gaze from the dark confinement and depths in which it was held fast.

Hence the vision opens onto a sunny garden, whose red blooming trees represent a development of erotic feeling, and whose wells mean a steady source.

The cool water of the well, which does not inebriate, indicates the Logos. (Therefore Salome also speaks later of the deep “wells” of the prophet’)

This suggests that the development of Eros also means a source of knowledge.

And with this Elijah begins to speak Logos undoubtedly has the upper hand in this, my case, since Elijah says that he and his daughter have always been one.

Yet Logos and Eros are not one, but two.

In this case, however, Logos has blinded and subjugated Eros.

But if this is the case, then the necessity will also arise to free Eros from the clutch of Logos, so that the former will regain vision.

Therefore Salome turns to me, because Eros is in need of help, and because I have apparently been enabled to behold this image for precisely this reason.

The soul of the man is more inclined to Logos than to Eros, which is more characteristic of the essence of the woman.

The subjugation of Eros through Logos explains not only the blindness of Eros but also the somewhat strange fact that Eros is represented precisely by the not-so-pleasing figure of Salome.

Salome denotes bad qualities.

She brings to mind not only the murder of the holy one but also the incestuous pleasure of the father.

A principle always has the dignity of independence.

But if this dignity is taken from it, it is debased and then assumes a bad form.

We know that psychic activity and qualities that are deprived of development through repression degenerate and thus become bad habits.

Either an open or secret vice takes the place of a well-formed activity and gives rise to a disunity of the personality with itself, signifying a moral suffering or a real sickness.

Only one way remains open to whoever wants to free himself from this suffering: he must accept the repressed part of his soul, he must love his inferiority, even his vices, so that what is degenerate can resume development.

Wherever Logos rules, there is order but too much persistence.

The allegory of paradise where there is no struggle and therefore no development is fitting here.

In this condition the repressed movement degenerates and its value is lost.

This is the murder of the holy one, and the murder happens because, like Herod, Logos cannot protect the holy one on account of his own weakness, because he can do nothing else than hold onto himself, thus inducing the degeneration of Eros.

Only disobedience against the ruling principle leads out of this condition of undeveloped persistence.

The story of paradise repeats itself, and hence the serpent winds its way up the tree because Adam should be led into temptation.

Every development leads through the undeveloped, but capable of development.

In its undeveloped condition it is almost worthless, while development represents a highest value that is unquestionable.

One must give up this value or at least apparently give it up to be able to attend to the undeveloped.

But this stands in the sharpest contrast to the developed, which perhaps represents our best and highest achievement.

The acceptance of the undeveloped is therefore like a sin, like a false step, a degeneration, a descent to a deeper level; in actual fact, however, it is a greater deed than remaining in an ordered condition at the expense of the other side of our being, which is thus at the mercy of decay.

The scene of the action is the same place as in the first image.

The allusion to a crater heightens the impression of a large cavity that reaches far down into the interior of the earth; this depth is not inactive, but violently discharges all kinds of matter.

Since Eros poses the most serious problem at first, Salome enters the scene, blindly groping her way toward the left.

Even what appear to be negligible details are important in such visionary images.

The left is the side of the inauspicious.

This suggests that Eros does not tend toward the right, the side of consciousness, conscious will and conscious choice, but toward the side of the heart, which is less subject to our conscious will.

This movement toward the left is emphasized by the fact that the serpent moves in the same direction.

The serpent represents magical power, which also appears where animal drives are aroused imperceptibly in us.

They afford the movement of Eros the uncanny emphasis that strikes us as magical.

Magical effect is the enchantment and underlining of our thought and feeling through dark instinctual impulses of an animal nature.

The movement toward the left is blind, that is, without purpose and intention. It hence requires guidance, not by conscious intention but by Logos.

Elijah calls Salome back.

Her blindness is an affliction, and as such demands healing.

Closer scrutiny at least partially invalidates the prejudice against her.

She seems to be innocent, and perhaps her badness ought to be attributed to her blindness.

Logos asserts its power over Eros by calling back Salome.

The serpent also obeys Logos.

It rests with Logos and Eros to emphasize the power and significance of this image.

A natural consequence of this magical, powerful view of the union of Logos and Eros is the strongly felt smallness and insignificance of the I, which finds expression in a sense of boyishness.

It appears as if the movement toward the left, following blind Eros, is not possible, or effectively disallowed, without the intervention of Logos.

From the perspective of Logos, following a movement blindly is a sin, because it is one-sided and violates the law that man must forever strive for the highest degree of consciousness.

Therein lies his humanity: The other he has in common with animals.

Jesus also says, “If you know what you are doing, you are blessed; if you do not know what you are doing, you are damned.”

The movement toward the left would be possible and permitted only if a conscious, seeing notion of it ‘existed. Formulating such a notion is not possible without the intervention of Logos.

The first step toward developing such a notion is to become controlling the flesh, since he has altogether moved beyond conscious of the goal or intention of the movement.

Hence Elijah pleasure and suffering.

Passion, whose conquest still requires so asks about the intention of the I.

And it must admit its blindness, much effort in the case of Christ and does so incessantly and in that is, its ignorance about intention.

The only recognizable ever greater measure, has left Buddha and surrounds him as a thing is a longing, a wish, to unravel the embroilment caused by blazing fire.

He is both unaffected and untouchable.

But if the living I approaches this condition, its passion may leave it, though it will not die.

Or are we not our passion?

And Salome.

And what happens to our passion when it leaves the I?

The eye is consciousness which only has eyes in front.

It never sees what is behind it.

But that is where the passion it has overcome in front regroups.

Unguided by the eye of reason, unmitigated by humaneness, the fire becomes a devastating, bloodthirsty Kali, who devours the life of man from within, as the mantra of her sacrificial ceremony says: “Hail to you, 0 Kali, triple eyed Goddess of dreadful aspect, from whose throat hangs a eyed Goddess of dreadful aspect, from whose throat hangs a necklace of human skulls. May you be honored with this blood!”

Salome must of course despair of this end, which would like to turn Eros into spirit, since Eros cannot exist without the flesh. In resisting the inferiority of the flesh, the I resists its female soul, which represents everything that strives to suppress consciousness, against spirit. Thus this path also results in an opposition.

Hence the I returns from beholding the figures embodying its conflict.

Logos and Eros are reunited, as if they had overcome the conflict between spirit and flesh. They appear to know the solution.

The movement toward the left, which started from Eros at the beginning of the image, now commences from Logos. He starts moving toward the left, to complete with seeing eyes what began in blindness. At first this movement leads into greater darkness, which is then still somewhat illumined by the reddish light. The color red points to Eros. While it does not emit a bright light, Eros at least provides an opportunity to recognize something, perhaps even merely by inducing a situation in which man can recognize something, provided Logos assists him.

Elijah leans against the marble lion. The lion as a royal animal signifies power. The stone suggests unshakeable firmness, thereby expressing the power and solidity of Logos. Once again awareness commences first, although now in, greater depths and in renewed surroundings. Here the I experiences its smallness in renewed surroundings. Here the I experiences its smallness even more as it is even further removed from the world it knows, where it is conscious of its value and meaning. In these new surroundings there is nothing to remind it of its meaning. Hence it is obviously overwhelmed by so much otherness, which so completely eludes its own discretion. Elijah assumes control of developing awareness.

The appearance of living figures should not be taken personally, even though one is obviously inclined to assume responsibility for them.

In reality such figures belong just as much or little to our personality as our hands and feet.

The mere presence of hands or feet is not characteristic of personality: If anything about them is characteristic, it is merely their individual character.

It is thus characteristic of the I that the old man and the young maiden are called Elijah and Salome; they might just as well have been called Simon Magus and Helena.

What is significant, however, is that they are biblical figures.

As proven later, this is one of the peculiarities of the psychic entanglement belonging to this moment.

The awareness of the alluring idea of spiritual power shifts the question of Eros into the foreground again, once more in a new form: both the possibility indicated by Eve and the one represented
by Mary are ruled out.

Hence the third possibility remains, namely filial relationship, which avoids the two extremes of the flesh and the spirit: Elijah as the. father, Salome as the sister, the I as the son and brother.

This solution corresponds to the Christian notion of childhood in God. Salome-as Mary makes up the as-yet-absent mother in what is a formidably ensnaring manner.

This has a corresponding effect on the I.

There is something undeniably cathartic about the Christian solution because it seems to be altogether possible.

There is a child in each of us; in the elderly, it is even the only thing still alive.

One can have recourse to the childlike anytime, on account of its inexhaustible freshness and adherence.

Everything, even the most ominous, can be rendered harmless through retranslation into the childlike.

After all, we do this often enough in everyday life.

We even manage to tame a passion by leading it back to the childlike, and perhaps the flame of passion collapses in a childlike lament even more often.

Thus there are many prospects for which the childlike can seem to be a satisfactory remedy, including not least the far-reaching effect of our Christian education, which hammers into us the notion of childhood in hundreds of mantras and hymns.

Salome’s remark that Mary is their mother must thus appear even more devastating.

Since this prevents the childlike solution from developing, it immediately prompts another thought: If Mary is the mother, then inescapably I must be Christ.

The childlike solution would have canceled all reservations:

Salome would no longer pose a threat, since she would be only the little sister.

Elijah would be the caring father, whose wisdom and foresight would have left the I to its own devices with childlike trust.

But this is the unfortunate drawback constituted by childhood as a solution: every child wishes to grow.

Being a child involves the burning desire and impatience for future adulthood.

If we return to being a child for fear of the dangers of Eros, the child will want to develop toward spiritual power.

But if we flee into childhood for fear of the dangers of the spirit, we fall into arrogating the power of Eros.

The condition of spiritual childhood constitutes a transition in which not everyone can remain.

In this case it stands to reason that Eros demonstrates to the I the impossibility of being a child.

One might think that it is not that awful to renounce the condition of childhood.

But only those who fail to grasp the consequences of this renunciation think that way.

It is not the loss of immemorial Christian views and the religious possibilities they ensured -many bear this loss all too easily-but rather that what is renounced refers to the much more profound attitude that far transcends the Christian outlook, which provides individual life and thought with a tried and tested direction.

Even if one has long abstained from Christian religious practice and has long ceased to regret this loss, one continues to behave intuitively as if the original views still existed by right.

One fails to consider that a discarded worldview needs to be replaced by a new one; in particular one fails to be clear about the fact that renouncing the Christian outlook erodes present-day morals.

Renouncing childhood means that no emotional or habitual dependence on hitherto valid moral views any longer exists.

The hitherto valid view has arisen from the spirit of the Christian worldview.

Notwithstanding all free thinking, our attitude to Eros, for instance, remains the old Christian view.

We can now no longer bide our time peacefully without questioning and doubt, or else we will remain in the state of childhood.

If we merely reject the dogmatic view, our liberation from the well-established will be merely intellectual, whereas our deeper feeling will persist on the old path.

Most people, however, are unaware of how this sets them at odds with themselves.

But later generations will become increasingly aware of this.

Yet those who notice this will realize with horror that renouncing resumed childhood ousts them from our present times and that they can no longer follow any of the traditional ways.

They enter uncharted territory, which has neither paths nor boundaries.

They lack any direction, since they have forsaken all established bearings.

This realization, however, dawns upon very few, since the vast majority makes do with half measures, and remains unperturbed by the stupidity of their spiritual condition.

But then tepidity and slackness is not to everyone’s taste.

Some would rather abandon themselves to despair than adhere to a worldview completely removed from the well-trodden paths of their habitual behavior.

They would rather venture into a pathless, dark land at the risk of perishing there, even if this should outrage all their cowardice.

When Salome remarks that Mary is their mother, which means that the I is Christ, this means in brief that the I has left the state of Christian childhood and has taken the place of Christ.

Nothing could be more absurd, of course, than to assume that the I thus would be presuming excessive importance; on the contrary, it takes up a decidedly inferior position.

Previously it had the advantage of being part of the crowd rallying behind a powerful figure, but now it has exchanged that for solitude and forlornness, rendering it as alien and lonely in its world as Jesus was in his, without possessing that great man’s outstanding attributes.

Being at odds with the world requires greatness, but the I experiences its almost ludicrous meagerness.

Which explains its horror at Salome’s revelations.

Whoever steps beyond the Christian outlook, yet does so definitely, falls into a seeming abyss, an utmost solitude, and lacks any means of hiding the fact.

Of course one would like to persuade oneself that this is not all that bad.

But it is.

Abandonment is about the worst thing that can happen to man’s herd instinct, not to mention the daunting task with which we thus burden ourselves.

Destruction is easy, but rebuilding is difficult.

Thus the image ends with a sense of gloom, which stands opposed, however, to the tall, quietly burning flame encircled by the serpent.

This view denotes devotion coupled with the magical compulsion expressed by the serpent.

Thus an effective counterpart is set against the disquieting sense of doubt and fear, as if someone were saying, “Of course your I is full of unease and doubt, but the constant flame of devotion
burns in you more strongly and the compulsion of your fate is more powerful.”

The far-reaching premonitions of the second image plunged the I into a chaos of doubt. Hence an understandable desire arose to rise above the confusion to attain greater clarity, as expressed in
the image of the beetling mountain ridge.

Logos appears to be leading the way.

What occurs next is the image of two opposites, expressed by two serpents and the separation of day and night.

Daylight signifies good, whereas darkness represents evil.

As compelling forces, both assume the figure of serpents.

Therein lies concealed an idea that subsequently assumes great importance: whoever encountered a black serpent would have been no less surprised at encountering a white one.

Color does not dispel fear.

What this suggests is that perhaps an equally dangerous, bewitching power resides in good as in evil.

Essentially, the good needs to be regarded as an inherently no-less-dangerous principle than evil.

In any event, the I could decide to approach the white serpent just as little as the black one, even though it believes it can or must by all means entrust itself more to good than to evil.

But the I is rooted to the spot halfway, transfixed, and observes the struggle between the two principles within itself.

The fact that the I remains in this middle position implies the advance of evil, since anything but unconditional surrender to the good impairs it.

This finds expression in the attack of the black serpent.

But the fact that the I does not partake of evil constitutes a victory for the good.

This finds expression in the black serpent growing a white head.

The disappearance of the serpent denotes that the opposition of good and evil has become ineffective, that is, that at least it has lost its immediate significance.

For the I this means a release from the unconditional power of the hitherto abiding moral point of view in favor of a middle position freed from the pair of opposites.

But neither clarity nor a clear view has been gained thereby; hence the ascent continues to the final point of elevation, which might grant the longed-for outlook. ~Carl Jung, Liber Novus, Appendix B, Pages 365-369.