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Letters Volume II

To Karl Schmid

Dear Professor Schmid, 25 February 1958

Please excuse my long silence!

Meanwhile I have submitted your two kind gifts to an attentive reading.

You can scarcely imagine what an encouragement it is for me to see someone making a sensible use of my ideas.

Forgive me for stressing this egocentric viewpoint.

The truth is that I have not been exactly spoiled in this respect and have often had to ask myself whether I have any “contemporaries” at all.

I was especially interested in your “Versuch tiber die schweizerische Nationalitiit,” a subject to which I have devoted some thought.

This by way of necessity, since I have knocked about a bit in the world And so could not help becoming conscious of myself as a Swiss.

True to my nature-loving bias, I have followed the call of the wild, the age-old trail through secluded wildernesses where a primitive human community may be found.

In my youth I made a discovery which was confirmed for me many years later by the inhabitants of the savannahs of Mt. Elgon.

There we came across people who had never seen any white men before.

We had to communicate with them through three languages.

We asked them what they were called.

They named their individual names-most unexpectedly, because all the tribes we had met till then had, without being asked, called themselves by the name of their tribe.

With visible effort and much hemming and hawing the Elgonyis came out with an obviously embarrassed answer which sent my black bearers into fits of laughter.

My headman, a long thin Somali, told me the “natives” were so stupid that they didn’t even know what they were called.

They said they were called “the people who are there.”

I found this very enlightening.

In my youth I “got at” Switzerland from four different directions:from Germany, from the Franche Comt, the Vorarlberg, and the Plain of Lombardy.

From the heights of the Black Forest you look across the Rhine into a wide bowl between the Jura Mountains and the Alps; from France you wander through gently rolling hills up to the steep precipices descending into this bowl.

From Italy you climb over the high Alpine crest which forms, as it were, the hinge of the mussel-shell, and from the Vorarlberg the Lake of Constance and the deep valleys of the Rhine and the Landquarts finish off the oval.

The people who sit in the shell and round its rim are the Swiss and that’s me.

Having to speak a different language depending on the locality becomes second nature and is a trifle compared with the overwhelming fact of the mussel-shell we are housed in.

We are “the people who are there” and need no name.

They are called “Swiss” only by accident.

Even the earlier name “Helvetii” did not sit with them naturally.

No other people could live here as they would then have the wrong ancestral spirits, who dwell in the earth and are authentic Swiss.

This feeling of primordiality seems to me the beginning of all

Everything that happens “outside” is echoed in the “resonant” Swiss who is my neighbour or even lives in the same house.

Usually I hear through him what is happening outside.

Strange or incomprehensible it may be, but not hatefully antagonistic.

One can talk with him about it, for as a Swiss, a fellow inhabitant of the mussel-shell, he is only half besotted by it and only fooled up to a point.

He may even be my cousin or brother-in-law and “in our family,” etc.

So everything that comes from outside is divided by or 3 and is always balanced by an “on the other hand.”

For this reason we are a constant stumbling-block to all the tomfooleries and excesses of the outside.

Sitting in the central mussel-shell, we are the “sons of the mother.”

Hence the old astrological tradition says that our zodiacal sign is Virgo.

However, there is no unanimity on this score, since the other version says that our sign is Taurus.

It is a virile, creative sign, but earthly like Virgo.

This ancient psychological insight expresses the fact that what is enclosed in the mother is a germinating seed that will one day burst through, as you have shown with other words and convincing examples.

The stolidity, inaccessibility, obstinacy and whatever else of the kind the Swiss are accused of are all marks of the feminine element Virgo.

The union of male and female alludes to the principium individuationis as a supreme union of opposites, as you too have proclaimed in the confusion of the present, at least for those that have ears to hear.

For this I am especially grateful to you. It is all so exceedingly delicate and yet so important that I cannot refrain from wishing it might yet be discussed by us Swiss, anyway under our breath, and an incontestable monument to the esprit Helvetien be erected, which would serve as a far-shining beacon to the rudderless Western world and would above all else enlighten our own darkness.

From those “outside” we should not expect too much at present.

After all, they have no nephews and nieces who speak a different language, nor do they live in the mussel-shell of the “Mother of All, the genetrix omnium.

I have reaped a rich harvest from your essay and I hope your book will find many eager readers .

Again with best thanks,

Very sincerely yours,

C.G. Jung ~Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, Pages 418-420