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You see, our whole mental life, our consciousness, began with projections


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Zarathustra Seminars

[Carl Jung and “You see, our whole mental life, our consciousness, began with projections.”]

You see, our whole mental life, our consciousness, began with projections.

Our mind under primitive conditions was entirely projected, and it is interesting that those internal contents, which made the foundation of real consciousness, were projected the farthest into space into the stars.

So the first science was astrology.

That was an attempt of man to establish a line of communication between the remotest objects and himself.

Then he slowly fetched back all those projections out of space into himself.

Primitive man-wei!, even up to modern times lives in a world of animated objects.

Therefore that term of Tylor’s, animism, which is simply the state of projection where man experiences his psychical contents as parts of the objects of the world. Stones, trees, human beings, families are all alive along with my own psyche and therefore I have a participation mystique with them.

I influence them and I am influenced by them in a magical way, which is only possible because there is that bond of sameness.

What appears in the animal say, is identical with myself because it is myself-it is a projection.

So our psychology has really been a sort of coming together, a confluence of projections.

The old gods, for instance, were very clearly psychical functions, or events, or certain emotions; some are thoughts and some are definite emotions. A wrathful god is your own wrathfulness.

A goddess like Venus or Aphrodite is very much your own sexuality, but projected.

Now, inasmuch as these figures have been deflated, inasmuch as they do not exist any longer, you gradually become conscious of having those qualities or concepts; you speak of your sexuality.

That was no concept in the early centuries, but was the god, Aphrodite or Cupid or Kama or whatever name it was called by.

Then slowly we sucked in those projections and that accumulation made up psychological consciousness.

Now, inasmuch as our world is still animated to a certain extent, or inasmuch as we are still in participation mystique, our contents are still projected; we have not yet gathered them in.

The future of mankind will probably be that we shall have gathered in all our projections, though I don’t know whether that is possible.

It is more probable that a fair amount of projections will still go on and that they will still be perfectly unconscious to ourselves.

But we have not made them; they are a part of our condition, part of the original world in which we were born, and it is only our moral and intellectual progress that makes us
aware of them.

So the projection in a neurosis is merely one case among many; one would hardly call it abnormal even, but it is more visible-too obvious.

Nowadays, one might assume that a person would be conscious of his sexuality and not think that all other people were abnormal perverts; because one is unconscious of it, one thinks that other people are therefore wrong.

Of course that is an abnormal condition, and to any normal, balanced individual, it seems absurd.

It is an exaggeration, but we are always inclined to function like that to a certain extent; again and again it happens that something is impressive and obvious in another individual which has not been impressive at all in ourselves.

The thought that we might be like that never comes anywhere near us, but we emphatically insist upon that other fellow having such-and-such a peculiarity.

Whenever this happens we should always ask ourselves: Now have I that peculiarity perhaps because I make such a fuss about it? ~Carl Jung, Zarathustra Seminar, Pages 1496-1497