Wolfgang Giegerich: The End of Meaning and the Birth of Man

“No, evidently we no longer have any myth.” “Our myth has become mute, and gives no answers.”  [Today] “we stand empty-handed, bewildered, and perplexed […]” “There are no longer any gods whom we could invoke […]” ~Carl Jung, The End of Meaning and the Birth of Man, Page 1

it would be far better stoutly to avow our spiritual poverty, our symbol-lessness, instead of feigning a legacy to which we are not the legitimate heirs at all. ~Carl Jung, The End of Meaning and the Birth of Man, Page 1

[modern man dwells with himself alone], “where, in the cold light of consciousness, the blank barrenness of the world reaches to the very stars. ~Carl Jung, The End of Meaning and the Birth of Man, Page 1

[We] cannot even get it into our heads that no myth will come to our aid although we have such urgent need of one. ~Carl Jung, The End of Meaning and the Birth of Man, Page 1

My whole being was seeking for something still unknown which might confer meaning upon the banality of life. ~Carl Jung, The End of Meaning and the Birth of Man, Page 2

They [Pueblo] get up in the morning with the feeling of their great and divine responsibility: they are the sons of the Sun, the Father, and their daily duty is to help the Father over the horizon—not for themselves alone, but for the whole world. You should see these fellows: they have a natural fulfilled dignity.” They are “fulfilling [their] role, [their] role as […] actors in the divine drama of life.  ~Carl Jung, The End of Meaning and the Birth of Man, Page 2

…“soul has become lonely; it is extra ecclesiam and in a state of no salvation.”  “No, evidently we no longer have any myth.”  ~Carl Jung, The End of Meaning and the Birth of Man, Page 9

I am convinced that the growing impoverishment of symbols has a meaning […] ~Carl Jung, The End of Meaning and the Birth of Man, Page 10

We cannot turn the wheel backwards; we cannot go back to a symbolism that is gone. […] I cannot go back to the Catholic Church; I cannot experience the miracle of the Mass; I know too much about it.  ~Carl Jung, The End of Meaning and the Birth of Man, Page 21

[…] never before was the power of absolute destruction given into the hand of man himself. It is a ‘godlike’ power that has fallen into human hands. The dignitas humani generis has swollen into truly diabolical grandeur.  ~Carl Jung, The End of Meaning and the Birth of Man, Page 21

Meaninglessness inhibits the fullness of life and therefore is equivalent to illness  ~Carl Jung, The End of Meaning and the Birth of Man, Page 27

“The greatest limitation for man is the ‘self’; it is manifested in the experience: ‘I am only that!’” Is this not enough? Do I really have to be more than I am, do I really need the higher orders of a “symbolic existence in which I am something else, in which I am fulfilling my role, my role as one of the actors in the divine drama of life.  ~Carl Jung, The End of Meaning and the Birth of Man, Page 29

“We cannot turn the wheel backwards; we cannot go back to a symbolism that is gone.1 “[…] the wheel of history cannot be turned back. Even the Emperor Augustus with all his power could not push through his attempts at repristination.”  ~Carl Jung, The End of Meaning and the Birth of Man, Page 32

In the end we dig up the wisdom of all ages and peoples, only to find that everything most dear and most precious to us has already been said in the most superb language. Like greedy children we stretch out our hands and think that, if only we could grasp it, we would possess it too. But what we possess is no longer valid […]  ~Carl Jung, The End of Meaning and the Birth of Man, Page 32

All the gods and demons, whose physical nothingness is so easily passed off as the ‘opium of the people,’ return to their place of origin, Man […] ~Carl Jung, The End of Meaning and the Birth of Man, Page 38

So long as a symbol is a living thing, it is an expression for something that cannot be characterized in any other or better way. The symbol is alive only so long as it is pregnant with meaning. But once its meaning has been born out of it, once that expression is found which formulates the thing sought, expected, or divined even better than the hitherto accepted symbol, then the symbol is dead, i.e., it possesses only an historical significance. We may still go on speaking of it as a symbol, on the tacit assumption that we are speaking of it as it was before the better expression was born out of it. […] For every esoteric interpretation the symbol is dead, because esotericism has already given it (at least ostensibly) a better expression, whereupon it becomes merely a conventional sign for associations that are more completely and better known elsewhere. Only from the exoteric standpoint is the symbol a living thing.  ~Carl Jung, CW 6, Para 806