LETTER TO EMMA JUNG FROM NORTH AFRICA (1920)
Grand Hotel Sousse
Sousse Monday, March 15, 1920
This Africa is incredible
. . . Unfortunately I cannot write coherently to you, for it is all too much. Only sidelights. After cold, heavy weather at sea, a sparkling morning in Algiers. Bright houses and streets, dark green clumps of trees, tall palms’ crowns rising among them. White burnooses, red fezzes, and among these the yellow uniforms of the Tirailleurs d’Afrique, the red of the Spahis, then the Botanical Gardens, an enchanted tropical forest, an Indian vision, holy acvatta trees with gigantic aerial roots like monsters, fantastic dwellings of the gods, enormous in extent, heavy, dark green foliage rustling in the sea wind.
Then thirty hours by rail to Tunis. The Arab city is classical antiquity and Moorish middle ages, Granada and the fairy tale of Baghdad. You no longer think of yourself; you are dissolved in this potpourri which cannot be evaluated, still less described: a Roman column stands here as part of a wall; an old Jewess of unspeakable ugliness goes by in white baggy breeches; a crier with a load of burnooses pushes through the crowd, shouting in gutturals that might have come straight from the canton of Zurich; a patch of deep blue sky, a snow-white mosque dome; a shoemaker busily stitching away at shoes in a small vaulted niche, with a hot, dazzling patch of sunlight on the mat before him; blind musicians with a (hum and tiny three-stringed lute; a beggar who consists of nothing but rags; smoke from oil cakes, and swarms of flies; up above, on a white minaret in the blissful ether, a muezzin sings the midday chant; below, a cool, shady, colonnaded yard with horseshoe portal framed in glazed tiles; on die wall a mangy cat lies in the sun;ia coming and going of red, white, yellow, blue, brown mantles, white turbans, red fezzes, uniforms, faces ranging from white and light yellow to deep black; a shuffling of yellow and red slippers, a noiseless scurrying of naked black feet, and so on and so on.
In the morning the great god rises and fills both horizons with his joy and power, and all living things obey him. At night the moon is so silvery and glows with such divine clarity that no one can doubt the existence of Astarte.
Between Algiers and Tunis He 550 miles of African soil, towering up to the noble and spreading shapes of the great Atlas range, wide valleys and plateaus bursting with grapes and grain, dark green forests of cork oak. Today Horus rose out of distant, pale mountains over an unending green and brown plain, and from tie desert there sprang up a mighty wind which blew out to the dark blue sea. On rolling, gray-green hills yellow-brown remains of whole Roman cities, small flocks of black goats grazing around them, nearby a Bedouin camp with black tents, camels, and donkeys. The train runs into a camel which cannot make up its mind to get off the tracks; the beast is killed; there is a great running up, shrieking, and gesticulating of white-clad figures; and always the sea, now deep blue, now hurting the eyes with its glitter in the sunlight. Out of olive groves and palms and hedges of giant cactus floating in the flickering, sun-shot air rises a snow-white city with divinely white domes and towers, gloriously spread out over a hill. Then comes Sousse, with white walls and towers, the harbor below; beyond the harbor wall the deep blue sea, and in the port lies the sailing ship with two lateen sails which I
You stumble over Roman remains; with my cane I dug a piece of Roman pottery out of the ground.
This is all nothing but miserable stammering; I do not know what Africa is really saying to me, but it speaks. Imagine a tremendous sun, air clear as in the highest mountains, a sea bluer than any you have ever seen, all colors of incredible power. In the markets you can still buy the amphorae of antiquity things like that and the moonlll! . . .~Carl Jung; Memories Dreams and Reflections; Pages 371-372.