Symbolic Life

By writing a foreword to Gertrud Gilli’s drama in verse, I do not wish to evoke the impression that it needs a psychological explanation in order to heighten its effect.

Works of art are their own  interpretation.

The Dark Brother does not share the modern obscurantism of certain contemporary paintings, nor is it a direct product of unconscious activity which would require interpretation and transcription into generally intelligible language.

The play is modern, however, in so far as the central process of Christianity, the divine drama, is reflected in the sphere of human motivations.

A bold stroke indeed ! But has not the personality of Judas always been a problematical figure in the redemption mystery?

For certain Protestant theologians and historians, Christ himself has been stripped of his divine incarnation and become simply a founder of religion, a very superior and exemplary one, it is true, and his passion mere human suffering for the sake of an ideal, thus lending considerably more plausibility to the human protagonists and antagonists.

Only in the mythological phase of the mind are heroes representatives of light and purity, and their adversaries embodiments of absolute evil.

The real man is a mixture of good and bad, of self-determination and supine dependence, and the borderline between genuine ideals and personal striving for power is often very difficult to draw.

As for the genius, his role as the mouthpiece and proclaimer of new truths is not always felt as an unmixed blessing by ordinary mortals, especially where religious beliefs are concerned.

In one form or another, the figure of the redeemer is universal because it partakes of our common humanity.

It invariably emerges from the unconscious of the individual or the people when an intolerable situation cries out for a solution that cannot be implemented by conscious means alone.

Thus the Messianic expectations of the Jews were bound to rise to fever pitch when, as a result of the corruption that followed in the wake of Herod the Great, all hope of an independent sacerdotal order or kingdom had vanished, and the country had become a Roman province lacking any form of autonomy.

It is therefore readily understandable that these Messianic expectations centred on a political redeemer, and that more than one enthusiastic patriot sought to fulfil this role—above all Judas of Galilee, whose insurrection is reported by Flavius Josephus, and who, boldly but quite logically, entangles the eponymous hero of this drama in a similar task.

But underlying the divine drama there is a different plan, which is not concerned with man’s outward, social, or political liberation.

It focuses rather on the inner man and his psychic transformation.

What is the use of changing the external conditions if man’s inner attitude remains the same?

It is all the same, psychologically, whether his subjection is the result of external circumstances or of intellectual or moral systems.

True “redemption” comes about only when he is led back to that deepest and innermost source of life which is generally called God.

Jesus was the channel for a new and direct experience of God, and how little this depends on external conditions is amply demonstrated by the history of Christianity.

Man lives in a state of continual conflict between the truth of the external world in which he has been placed and the inner truth of the psyche that connects him with the source of life.

He is pulled now to one side and now to the other until he has learnt to see that he has obligations to both.

In this sense Gertrud Gilli’s play gives expression to a universal and timeless human fact: beyond our personal and time-bound consciousness, in our interior selves, there is enacted the everlasting drama in which the all-too human players reach out, yearning and shrinking at once, for the deeper truth, and seek to bend it to their own purposes and their own ruin.

If Judas in Gilli’s play is depicted as the dark brother of Jesus, and if his character and fate are reminiscent of Hamlet’s, there may well be deeper reasons for this.

One could imagine him more active and aggressive, for instance as a fiery patriot who has to get rid of Jesus from inner necessity, because Jesus as the corrupter of the people obstructs his plans for their liberation, or else because Judas sees him as the political Messiah and then betrays him out of disappointment and rage.

In this sense, too, Judas would be his dark brother, since in the story of the Temptation the devil of worldly power stepped up to Jesus in much the same way as Mara tempted the Buddha.

Judas might easily have become a hero after the manner of classical drama.

But because his dependence catches him on every side and he can scarcely act on his own initiative, he becomes an exponent of the human drama which, though played out within the confines of the earth’s shadow, has at all times accompanied the divine drama and often eclipsed it. ~Carl Jung, CW 18, Pages 776-778