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Carl Jung on: “L’Atlantide”


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Analytical Psychology: Notes of the Seminar given in 1925 by C.G. Jung (Collected Works of C.g. Jung)

Mr. Bacon read the report of the committee on L’Atlantide.

The committee were of divided opinions as to the proper psychological interpretation.

One view was that the book demonstrated a conflict in Benoît’s mind between his spiritual side and a tedency toward material considerations.

It was felt, for example, that he was conscious of misusing the messages of the unconscious for the sake of writing “bestsellers.”

Looked at from that angle, Antinéa was not accepted as a true anima figure—that is, a creation of unconscious fantasies—but was taken as having been more than half constructed with a view to literary effect.

Another view represented in the committee was that the book represented a conflict between what was ratio- nal and what was irrational in Benoît’s psychology, rather than as a conflict between a spiritual and a materialistic viewpoint.

Mr. Aldrich, differing from both of these viewpoints, presented a minority report in which he valiantly defended Antinéa not only as a true anima figure, but also as being a symbol of positive importance.

According to his view, Antinéa was neither a good woman nor an evil one, but complete on all sides. He has summarized his report as follows:
“The natural complement of a complete woman is a complete man.

Insofar as the man is incompletely developed, or refuses to give her more than one side of his nature, he may expect that she will punish him. In Benoît’s romance, the hero is split in two: the sensual side of him is personified by Saint-A vit, while Morhange stands for an infantile and conventional sort of spirituality.

In effect, the hero goes to Antinéa and says, ‘I tender you my sensual side, because Nature drives me; but I mean to deny you any participation in my spiritual side because, according to my conventional morality, love of woman and spirituality are opposites and cannot be reconciled.’

Naturally, this aroused a devil in Antinéa—as it would in any woman who had any individuality.

Obviously the right woman for a man is the woman who complements his own stage of development: the mother is suitable for the baby, the wife for the man who is winning his place in the world, and the hetaira—the completely developed woman, the comrade—for the man who has achieved complete individuality, the Wise Man.

Antinéa would have been a delightful comrade for a Wise Man; but for a man who had not passed out of the Warrior stage she was as inappropriate and fatal as a wife would be for a baby.”

Dr. Jung: The most interesting point about this book is the way in which it differs from She, is it not, Mr. Bacon?

Mr. Bacon: Yes, I must say I was a little confused in trying to get at the differences, but for one thing there is the theme of luxury greatly emphasized in Benoît’s book.

Miss Raevsky: Not only that, there is a sensualism that is much developed in it, even in Antinéa.

Dr. Jung: Yes, if you think of the outside details, there is a tremendous difference.

In L’Atlantide as you say, there is an atmosphere of luxury, the beauty of the place is dwelt upon, the way which the people are received is described so as to bring out the details, while the corresponding features in She are very sparsely treated. Benoît is outspokenly esthetical.

One could [not?] imagine an Anglo-Saxon writer paying as much attention to these physical details.

Haggard pays a good deal of attention to them himself, in fact, as for example when he describes an after- noon tea under perfectly absurd conditions, but when Haggard does this, it is with a sort of frugality; it is the sort of sensuality that belongs to the sportsman, while Benoît’s is that of the salon.

When you mention the sensuality in L’Atlantide, you have something, but there is a still greater difference.

Benoît fully acknowledges the place of sexuality, while in Haggard it always appears as a fiendish element. In Benoît it plays a big part, while in all of Haggard’s books it is decidedly in the background.

One could say that one had here the French and the Anglo-Saxon viewpoints in opposition.

We cannot assume that the Anglo-Saxon view is the only one in harmony with Heaven; we must assume that the French view has also justification.

So it is worthwhile to go into some detail about this question of attitude. In order to do that we must pay some attention to Antinéa.

I am not sure if the class got a very clear picture of Antinéa.

Mr. Bacon, will you describe the ways in which Antinéa differs from “She”?

Mr. Bacon: Antinéa is a much more physiological object than “She,” who is very nebulous. Antinéa is represented as full of animal desire.

Mr. Aldrich: “She” says nothing to me, while Antinéa is to me a real woman.

I think I was the only member of the committee who did not think of her as poison.

If the author could only have got himself together and not approached her as a split personality, he would have found Antinéa a very nice girl.

Dr. Jung: But you must admit it is a bit of a bad joke to have a salon full of dead men. Mr. Aldrich: Ah, but she gave them immortality.

Dr. Jung: I must say that view is a little too optimistic, but it is true that Antinéa is usually depreciated, unnecessarily so if her circumstances are taken into consideration.

She is an omnipotent queen who can have her every mood and whim satisfied. Such an Oriental queen can be very cruel without being vicious.

If we compare her with other similar types, she is not so bad. Moreover, she is in a difficult situation.

She is a woman who has not been hampered by interferences of education; she could unfold quite completely, but we should not assume that this is the best thing that can happen.

She sees and appreciates natural values, and she is intelligent and educated intellectually, but she has had no education in the higher values.

One can be doubtful, of course, about whether or not these higher values are worthwhile, but it would be a mistake to think they can be utterly neglected.

If we compare “She” with Antinéa, we can see that the tragedy hangs about this matter of values.

“She” is tortured for thousands of years till she admits them.

Antinéa is not even so far along that she admits or sees their existence, and so she does not fight, and we see that Antinéa is on a lower level than “She.” Our sympathy therefore goes to the latter.

But Antinéa has all the charm of the native woman, all the erotic power and instinctiveness that goes with such a woman.

This is somewhat gone in “She,” for “She” is already under the influence of things.

But we must remember that Antinéa is not a real woman, but the anima of a Frenchman, and here we have a typical difference between the French and the Anglo-Saxons.

If ever there was a book that could throw light on this difference it is this one.

I should like to hear from you on this point. How do you explain this peculiar difference? Mr. Schmitz: I believe that the difference between the French and the Anglo-Saxons,
between the French and the rest of Europe for that matter, arises out of the difference in their relation to the pagan world.

The French are the only people having a direct connection with this world. When the Romans conquered Gaul they surrounded it with Roman culture.
So when Christianity came, it found France a civilized state in contradistinction to Germany.

The Germans resisted Roman culture, so there is no continuity of tradition with the pagan world. Christianity found us barbaric, and our paganism has remained with the barbaric element in it.

This difference runs through the whole French culture. Dr. Jung: What Mr. Schmitz says is very true.

Therein lies the reason for the difference between the French and the Anglo-Saxon viewpoints.

Gaul was civilized in early times; it even contained a fertile Roman culture at a time when Germany and the Anglo-Saxon were in a most primitive state of development.

In those days even Paris was in existence as a civilized place, and there were poets, even emperors, coming from the natives of Gaul.

It was, in other words, a rich civilization, the old Gauls having been assimilated into the Roman people.

The Celtic languages disappeared, and the Germanic tribes that came in were absorbed by the Romanized

population and so received the Roman civilization also.

On that basis Christianity was planted, not on a wild people as in Germany.

Therefore there is an absolute continuity between the Roman mentality and that of the Middle Ages. There is no break.

Even certain early Church Fathers were French.

Besides the Roman, there was a strong Greek influence that reached up the Rhone, and cultural influences from the Mediterranean came at a very early date.

All of these influences from the pagan world had a peculiar effect.

They fortified the antique layers to such an extent that Christianity could not undo it.

The same is true more or less for all the Mediterranean peoples; that is, they remained more pagan than Christian.

It would be hard to say this to a Frenchman, because the French think of themselves as good Catholics. And so they are, in one sense; even when most skeptical they are still good Catholics.

Otherwise Voltaire and Diderot would not be as acceptable as they are.

Thus one can be Catholic in a negative way, and be pleased with venom against the thing formerly most rever- enced.

Those within the Church have a most positive attitude.

They center about Catholicism because they feel it embraces life.

Within its scope paganism persists, and so one finds among the most religious Frenchmen a full recognition of sexuality.

Today their point of view about sexuality is that it is amoral.

It is just obvious that it is accepted, and morality scarcely enters into the question.

A man goes regularly to church and keeps up whatever sexual practices he may see fit, for sexuality in his eyes has nothing to do with morality.

That is why sexuality receives the special treatment it does in France.

This peculiar difference explains, I think, every difference between “She” and Antinéa.

And since Antinéa has so definite a character, we can reconstruct something of the author’s conscious and ar- rive at an appreciation of a modern Frenchman.

Then there are other figures that throw much light on French psychology. Take Le Mesge, for example.

Here is a pure rationalist living in an altogether irrational way, a thing typical of the French.

It is characteristic of the French mind to allow the limit of irrationality in behavior, and nowhere else can one see so many comical figures in reality; but they are nonetheless rational in their viewpoints.

Then Count Bielowsky, in spite of being a Pole, is a typical French figure of the Third Empire, a habitué of Paris.

His figure forms a necessary counterpart to that of Morhange, whose flirtatious attitude toward the church is compensated by Bielowsky’s flirtatious attitude toward “high life.”

The mediating figure between the two is Le Mesge.

Such contradictions always demand a compromise, and this comes about through a rational mediation. But here there is too little life, so then Saint-A vit is brought in to provide temperament and passion.
A Frenchman always allows himself to have “fits,” where he can apply a whole arsenal of rhetoric.

There comes out a long series of tremendous words, put together in a perfect style, and then he is all right.

Mr. Aldrich: Morhange, according to the way I see him, has only a very feeble spirituality. I don’t believe he ever had a religious emotion.

Dr. Jung: But you are Anglo-Saxon and he was a Catholic.

We can never know what Sacré-Coeur means to them, nor how they can excite themselves over the image of the Virgin.

We can say then that there is a peculiar atmosphere in L’Atlantide, and an altogether different one from She. This is something I felt very profoundly and wonder if you did not also.

When one reads such a book one asks oneself, “What does it lead to?” What does it mean to you?

Mrs. Zinno: It seems to me a going to death rather than to life.

Mr. Bacon: There is an indefinable sense of cheapness about it to me. It ends as if preparing for a sequel.

Mrs. Zinno: I think the figure of “She” is an effort to connect unreality to reality, but Antinéa remains stuck in unreality, that is, the unconscious.

Dr. Jung: You have touched upon something important there.

Antinéa does not try to get out, she makes no attempt to reach the world, nor to let the world reach her. “She” is planning to rule the world, to get at it in some way.

That is a peculiarity of the Anglo-Saxon, this desire to get at the world and rule it.

It is quite conscious in England, and probably in fifty years will be equally so in America. But the French point of view is to remain where they are.
The French are really not concerned with ruling the world, it is an affectation that Napoleon, who was not a true Frenchman, brought—i. e., the idea of dominating Europe.

The French are concerned with their own country.

It is no wonder then that Antinéa sticks where she is. What I really feel about the issue is that it is hopeless.

It will be repeated one hundred times, and then there is an end of the whole business.

Antinéa will die, and then she will be on a throne in all her royal beauty with appropriate adornments.

It is a sort of apotheosis, something one can see at the end of a film, the idea of La Gloire.

There is a pantheon of fallen heroes, and there the whole thing ends in vain ambition.

Now, in She there is the feeling of enormous expectation at the end. One does not know, but the future is looked for.

What makes a great difference between the anima of the Frenchman and that of the Anglo-Saxon is that the latter contains a mysterious side of promise, therefore there is more feeling of spiritual potencies in
“She” than in Antinéa.

All that element is taken out of Antinéa by the supposition of her birth.

That rational suspicion is, of course, a tremendous depreciation of the function of the archetypes. It is the “nothing but” spirit again.
The value is gone from the archetype.

It says, “You can’t base yourself on the archetypes, so it is better not to build at all, the ground is not safe.” This is a peculiar fact that has to be reckoned with in the analysis of Frenchmen.

It is very hard to get them to take it seriously enough. Their rationalism is blocking them at every point.

They have an exact view about everything and know what it is to the last dot.

They exhaust themselves in that fight.

Because of this knowing how everything works, they are inclined to depreciate the immediate facts of the soul, and to assume that everything is the result of an old civilization.

This was the attitude they had to take up in the Middle Ages as a compensation against the force of antiquity.

Christianity was not strong enough to hold them at the beginning, and this rationalism gave support to the Church.

The relation of this rationalism to the Church is something that an Anglo-Saxon can hardly understand.

Dr. de Angulo: Will you discuss the point made in the report of the committee to the effect that Antinéa was not an unconscious figure but was put into the unconscious setting deliberately?

Dr. Jung: I think Antinéa is partly conscious and partly unconscious.

When the Anglo-Saxon says she is twisted by the personal unconscious, he is commenting on the peculiar racial character of Antinéa.

Mrs. Jung: Could you say something about the relation of the animus to immortality in the same way that you discussed the anima and immortality?

Dr. Jung: The animus seems to go back only to the fourteenth century, and the anima to remote antiquity, but with the animus I must say I am uncertain altogether.

Mrs. Jung: It had seemed to me that the animus was not a symbol of immortality, but of movement and life, and that it is man’s attitude that gives that different aspect to the anima.

Dr.Jung: It is true that the animus is often represented by a moving figure—an aviator or a traffic manager.

Perhaps there is something in the historical fact of women being more stable, therefore there is more move- ment in the unconscious.

Mr. Schmitz: Surely there could have been no repression of the animus at the time of the matriarchy. Dr. Jung: We cannot be too sure.
Mrs. Zinno: The figures of gods carry the idea of immortality, do they not?

smuch as they are also animus figures and come into women’s dreams, I should think one could say the animus carried the meaning of immortality also.

Dr. Jung: Yes, that is true, but there remains a tremendous difference between the animus and the anima.

Mr. Schmitz: Is immortality in the individual?

Dr. Jung: No, only as the image. Immortality belongs to the child of the anima. Inasmuch as the anima has

not brought forth, she assumes immortality. When she brings forth she dies.
But this problem of the anima and the animus is far too complex to be dealt with here. The End Carl Jung, 1925 Seminar, Pages 146-168