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The Red Book and The Dead

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The Red Book (Philemon)

  1. Jung’s critical task in “working over” his fantasies was to differentiate the voices and characters.

For example, in the Black Books, it is Jung’s “I” who speaks the Sermones to the dead. In Scrutinies, it is not Jung’s “I” but Philemon who speaks them.

In the Black Books, the main figure with whom Jung has dialogues is his soul. In some sections of Liber Novus, this is changed to the serpent and the bird. In one conversation in January 1916, his soul explained to him that when the Above and Below are not united, she falls into three parts-a serpent, the human soul, and the bird or heavenly soul, which visits the Gods.

Thus Jung’s revision here can be seen to reflect his understanding of the tripartite nature of his soul. ~Red Book, Introduction

  1. I: “But I do not belong to the dead. I live in the light of day: Why should I torment myself here with Salome? Do I not have enough of my own life to deal with?” ~Carl Jung; Red Book.

When the time has come and you open the door to the dead, your horrors will also afflict your brother, for your countenance proclaims the disaster. Hence withdraw and enter solitude, since no one can give you counsel if you wrestle with the dead. Do not
cry for help if the dead surround you, otherwise the living will take flight, and they are your only bridge to the day. Live the life of the day and do not speak of mysteries, but dedicate the night to bringing about the salvation of the dead. ~Carl Jung; Red Book

  1. Then turn to the dead listen to their lament and accept them with love. Be not their blind spokesman / there are prophets who in the end have stoned themselves. But we seek salvation and hence we need to revere what has become and to accept the dead, who have fluttered through the air and lived like bats under our roofs since time immemorial. The new will be built on the old and the meaning of what has become will become manifold. Your poverty in what has become you will thus deliver into the wealth of the future ~Carl Jung; Red Book

  2. In Book II of the Odyssey, Odysseus makes a libation to the dead to enable them to speak. Walter Burkert notes: “The dead drink the pourings and indeed the blood they
    are invited to come to the banquet, to the satiation with blood; as the libations seep into the earth, so the dead will send good things up above”

Jung had used this motif in a metaphorical sense in 1912 in Transformations and Symbols of the Libido: “like Odysseus, I have sought to allow this shade [Miss Frank Miller] to drink only as much so as to make it speak so it can give away some of the secrets of the underworld” ~Red Book, Footnote #223.

  1. On the significance of the Sermones that follow; Jung said to Aniela Jaffe that the discussions with the dead formed the prelude to what he would subsequently communicate to the world, and that their content anticipated his later books. “From that time on, the dead have become ever more distinct for me as the voices of the unanswered, unresolved and unredeemed.” The questions he was required to answer did not come from the world around him, but from the dead. One element that astonished him was the fact that the dead appeared to know no more than they did when they died. One would have assumed that they had attained greater knowledge since death. This explained the tendency of the dead to encroach upon life, and why in China important family events have to be reported to the ancestors. He felt that the dead were waiting for the answers of the living (MP, pp. 258-9; Memories, p. 217). See note 134 (p. 243), above, concerning Christ’s preaching to the dead in Hell. ~Red Book; Footnote 78.

  2. I teach this God to the dead since they desired entry and teaching. But I do not teach him to living men since they did not desire my teaching. Why; indeed, should I teach them? Therefore, I take away from them no kindly hearer of prayers, their father in Heaven. What concern is my foolishness to the living? The dead need salvation, since they are a great waiting flock hovering over their graves, and long for the knowledge that belief and the rejection of belief have breathed their last. But whoever has fallen ill and is near death wants knowledge, and he sacrifices pardon.” ~Philemon; Red Book.

7 I could not grasp what else Diahmon said. I spent a long time pondering his words, which evidently he had spoken to the dead, and I was horrified by the atrocities that attend the rebirth of a God. ~Carl Jung; Red Book

Image: Hermes Psykhopompos sits on a rock, preparing to lead a dead soul to the Underworld. Attic white-ground lekythos, ca. 450 BC