Symbolic Life

The author of this book is no ordinary explorer, of whom there is no lack nowadays, but one who still understands the almost forgotten art of travelling with all his senses open.

This art or, as we might also say, this gift bestowed by the grace of heaven, enables the traveller to bring back from distant shores more than can ever

be captured by cameras and tape-recorders, to wit, his own experience through which we glimpse the lure of foreign lands and peoples.

This alone makes them come alive for us as we listen to the tale of the clash of two worlds.

The “subjectivity” so rightly feared by science here becomes a source of illumination, conveying to us flashes of insight which no description of facts however complete can attain.

This is a matter of taking notes with scrupulous objectivity.

Instead, the “sensitive traveller” creates an experience which does not, like a factual record, consist merely of the data of the senses and the intellect, but of those countless, indescribable, subliminal impressions which hold the traveller captive in a foreign land.

Certainly his objective description tells us a great deal, but his emotion, his being carried away, means far more.

It reveals something that cannot be expressed in words : the wholeness of prehistoric nature and preconscious humanity, which for the civilized man and inhabitant of a virtually enslaved earth is utterly alien and unfathomable.

All sorts of possibilities hang invisibly in the air, yet somehow we have always known of them ; realities of which an age-old, nearly forgotten knowledge in us evokes a distant echo; a longing that looks back to the golden haze of a childhood morning, and forward to fulfilment at the millennium.

It is the intimation of a pristine wholeness, lost and now hoped for again, that hovers over the primeval landscape and its inhabitants, and only the story-teller’s emotion can bring it home to us.

We understand and share his passionate desire to preserve and perpetuate this fathomless splendour, for which a National Park would be but a feeble substitute, and we lament with him the devastation that threatens it because of our civilizing barbarism.

In Kenya an old squatter once said to me: “This ain’t man’s country, it’s God’s country.”

Today it is dotted with goldmines, schools, mission stations and where are the slow rivers of grazing herds, the human dwellings clustering like wasps’ nests on yellow and red cliffs beneath the shade of acacias, the soundless eternity of a life without history?

The author’s aim is to preserve the life of a primitive people, the Lappish Skolts in northern Finland, who have been robbed of their reindeer herds, and thus protect at least a little bit of that primeval age from irremediable disaster.

May his wish be granted. ~Carl Jung, CW 18, Pages 782-783