Erich Neumann: We find ourselves in a strongly extraverted phase
[Erich Neumann: I can well imagine that Palestine will get dangerously close to the abyss and I assume that the Jews, in a paradoxical situation, will then come to their senses—as ever.]
Dear Doctor Jung,
I had actually intended not to write to you from here until I had really settled in and had begun to form at least the start of my own perspective.
In the meantime I have realized that this is impossible, for my need to write to you grows rapidly while settling in takes longer.
In the first part of my time here, although there were a lot of practicalities to sort out, I was more in Zurich than I was in Palestine.
That was not such a bad thing, as only in that way could I get to grips with the not insubstantial surprises.
I did not, by any means, come here with any illusions, but what I have found extraordinary was that I haven’t found a “people” here with whom I fundamentally feel I belong.
I might have known that before, of course, but it was not the case, and the fact that the Jews here as a people, as a not-yet-people, seemed so extremely needy was a shock at first.
On the other hand, though, the landscape gripped me in such a compelling way that I couldn’t ever have thought possible.
Precisely from the place I hadn’t expected it, a vantage point emerged.
I haven’t fully made sense of this.
Anyhow, as you prophesied, the anima has gone to ground.
She made an appearance all nice and brown, strikingly African, even more impenetrable in me, domineering—with a sisterly relationship to many animals—a boa constrictor, a panther, an elephant, a wild horse and a rhinoceros—thus speaks an image.
That this gives me strength, however, I feel strongly.
Even dreams are confirming it.
The situation here is exceedingly serious, as I see it.
The original spiritual, idealistic forces who established the country, the core of the working class and of the land settlements are being repressed by a growing wave of undifferentiated, egotistic, shortsighted, entrepreneurial Jews, flooding here because of the economic opportunities.
Thanks to this, everything is escalating more and more, and a growing politicization of the best is obstructing all horizons.
But this politicization is inevitable as the situation of the country is devoid of all state authority and gives power to the negative individual like nowhere else does.
So everything points to fascism regardless of where it might originate.
As a people, the Jews are infinitely more stupid than I expected, while only a concerted effort could overcome the difficult situation of being sandwiched between the Arabs and the English.
Please don’t misunderstand me—I am not reproaching the Jew.
How could it be any different?
We come, as individuals, from who knows where and are then supposed to be one people.
That all takes time, but I must state it as it is.
So, I believe, the situation is rather muddled—but I’m not qualified politically and I haven’t been here long—and herein lies my hope.
I can well imagine that Palestine will get dangerously close to the abyss and I assume that the Jews, in a paradoxical situation, will then come to their senses—as ever.
Everywhere the economy is booming, it’s all hard work and speculation.
There is little interest in intellectual things except among the workers and almost none in things Jewish.
A newly prospering petit bourgeois middle class is evident everywhere, not only in Tel Aviv.
All of this is quite natural.
We find ourselves in a strongly extraverted phase—how else could Palestine be developed?
The Jews are coming to a—terrible—civilization.
It cannot be changed.
The traditionlessness of this struggle that has no core gives everything a rather ghostly demeanor. It is a people of infinite opposites.
What orthodoxy does exist here is so immeasurably foreign to me that I’m shaken by it.
Alongside this are the unprincipled speculators and then the hordes of people who, by the investment of their substance, have constructed the prettiest villages and landscapes out of deserts and swamps.
Overall, there are many individuals who are not yet visible, but who are there and whose time will eventually come, individuals for whom it will be worth it.
It is strange to recognize that my generation will only be an interim generation here —our children will be the first ones to form the basis of a nation.
We are Germans, Russians, Poles, Americans etc.
What an opportunity it will be when all the cultural wealth that we bring with us is really assimilated into Judaism.
I don’t share your opinion at all that there will be no Alexandrianism here, but rather, either nothing at all or something completely new, if, as I believe, despite everything, the Jews have retained their incredible ability to assimilate.
The way forward, as I see it, is certainly as hard as it is dangerous.
I actually fear that all our repressed instincts, all our desires for power and revenge, all our mindlessness and hidden brutality will be realized here.
Indeed, the ongoing development of the Jews failed precisely because, on the one hand, they were united in a collective-religious bond and, on the other, they were under pressure from other nations as individuals.
After the emancipation they caught up unnaturally quickly and powerfully with the Western trend toward the individual (secularization, rationalization, extraversion, the break with the continuity of the past), and thereby the shadow was finally “liberated,” and here in Palestine
it can reveal itself for the first time as, here, there is no external pressure.
That will not be pleasant—perhaps we will all be killed, but it’s no use—it simply must be out in the open at last and worked through. (I wonder often if I am projecting all of this, but it does seem to me to be more than mere projection.)
In the face of this apparently historic necessity, the chaos here becomes not only bearable to me but I also feel myself to be infinitely closely bound up with it; I emerge out of this to my own “people.”
I must, though, confess that I am quite often afraid at the same time.
I feel myself here to be quite accountable and I still know that my place is here, quite independently from whether the Jews will grant me this place one day or not.
Of course, I have very little to do, although there is still something, but I am not worried as I had reckoned with an extended lead-in time.
I am preparing a great deal, am absolutely not unproductive, and now—and this is new—and for this, along with infinitely more, I thank the work with you—it is no longer work “for me”; on the contrary it wants to exist in reality.
This includes a response to an article by Dr. Kirsch in the Jüdische Rundschau of
which you will be aware.
As it appeared in a very abridged version, the strongly critical Zionist aspect was deleted, so I’m sending you a copy.
I have now made contact with Dr. Kirsch whom I only knew fleetingly.
He gave me your reminder about writing to you—I hope though, dear Dr. Jung, that you will understand that I needed a short break to settle in here.
Now I’m ready.
Dr. Kirsch is of the opinion that you shared his perception of the 2000-year-old collective neurosis of Judaism.
I explore this as well as the essay by Rosenthal—which is equally as interesting and important—in a longer elaboration that I do not wish to send you in my barely legible handwriting.
In the course of next week I will send you a typed version.
Many questions are raised in it and only the typed piece will be the letter of “substance.”
I’d like to add something else too.
I’ve set myself the big challenge of getting you to write something fundamental about
I believe I can only do this by simply speaking to you about what is very
important to me.
After all, my efforts around the Rosenthal essay have taken me much further as I can show you here—but these are just notes for you, perhaps they’ll develop into more.
By the way—something else.
Mrs. Kirsch informed me at the end of a detailed conversation about my response, which confirmed my impressions of Dr. Kirsch’s essay, that I had gone against the comment of the Jungian analysts by responding in public.
I replied that I considered my response to be objectively necessary and important, and that I am not willing to retract factual material out of affiliations unknown to me.
It had been unpleasantly gossiped about, apparently, and I hope it is now over with, but I’d like to ask you to tell me if I have behaved incorrectly.
I do believe I can communicate with Dr. Kirsch within certain limits, but for me he is anything but authoritative, although, as Mrs. Kirsch informed me, in your opinion, he articulated the best thinking on the Jewish problem years ago, and has been authorized to educate
Jungian analysts, and his opinion coincides with yours, for example, on the Yahweh complex, the Christ complex, and on collective neurosis.
I very much strive for objectivity; I see much in these issues very differently from Dr. Kirsch,
and would like to and out for myself whether your opinion deviates so much from mine.
Until now I had formed a very different impression about this.
It would not have occurred to me to write to you about this were it not for Mrs. Kirsch’s intervention.
I have considered myself (and still do) to be very attached to you and your work—does this oblige me to a public conformity with your students?
I would be very concerned if that were the case, but I am convinced that it is not so.
To the best of my knowledge my response to Kirsch is free of personal issues.
I hope you will be able to make sense of my handwriting; if not, let me know and I will write my letters on a typewriter.
Dear Dr. Jung, it still seems too crass simply to thank you for what I have received
from you; I am ambitious enough to say that I hope to be able to give something to you
in return too.
I don’t think it is that I cannot say thank you—that is just not enough.
This is connected to the fact that I did not know what to do when you gave me the gift
of The Sermons.
E. Neumann ~Jung-Neuman Letters, Pages 68-70
[Note: written between 15 June 1934—the publication date of Neumann’s rejoinder to Kirsch—and 19 July
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