Image: John Laylard and Erich Neumann at Eranos Conference 1958
Dr. Erich Neumann,
My Dear Professor Jung,
Your letter was as much a great joy as a surprise.
I must admit to you that I in no way expected to cause a stir or even a scandal in the close-knit circle of Jung students with my Ethic.
In my opinion I have only summarized, thought through to the end, and formulated in a way that cannot be misunderstood what you yourself have stated or implied countless times.
It is absolutely fair enough that the emphasis of your interest did not exactly focus on the ethical consequences, but shifted more and more to the later
phases of psychic development, and that seems to me to derive from your own development.
You went through the weight of the ethical problematic in your time as student, friend, and opponent of Freud and then grew beyond it.
But then the necessary polemic against Freud has caused a section of your students to turn a blind eye to how much blood was spilled in this debate, and how your moral courage in separating from Freud perpetuated Freud’s moral courage with which he set himself against his time.
Indeed, you have personally emphasized over and over again—at least in many conversations with me—the significance of the moral stance of the “ego” and of the strength of the “ego,” but, in your writing, this aspect is often less evident as is the obvious therapeutic aspect in general.
My inner “consternation,” to formulate it in an exaggerated way—about the condition of the Jung students in Zurich, now evidently to me at least, seems I fear, to be substantiated.
If I found something amiss, for example, or not as it should be, there were only two reactions, either they said—in a highly satisfied way—yes, yes that is just the shadow, or they smiled in a rather superior way about my provincial attitude, which was thought not quite up to it simply because I made a value judgment about where one ought to allow the wisdom of the unconscious to prevail, beyond good and evil.
But they seemed to me all too often to mistake the unconsciousness of the ego for the wisdom of the unconscious.
If pure ambition and casting side glances at both “university and church,”—and also power and money—belong to the foundations of the C. G. Jung Institute, then one should let this institute be eradicated, because it is, in fact, abusing your name and endangering your life’s work.
You know, and I know all too well, that my strong Mars tendency signifies a danger, but my heart rose when you wrote to me that you have a “strident nature.”
I understand most deeply that it can no longer be your task to get involved in the battle of the day, and for God’s sake please do not misunderstand me
and think that I am requesting a defense of Ethic or even of my person, but I do request you—in your role as “fire brigade commandant”—not to extinguish too enthusiastically, where the fire, that ancient cleansing method of humanity, could possibly eradicate some filth.
Some of the reservations against your teaching are based on the unrevolutionary and all too bourgeois stance of your students who always wish to anticipate the wisdom of the “third half of life” before they have the struggles of the first behind them.
The synthetic and superior stance of your age, which contains the opposites, conceals from your “heirs,” who ogle at the so-called treasures of this world and want to have everything at once, the aggressive and revolutionary character of your work—and despite everything—of your being.
I do not wish to conceal from you that it sometimes seems to me that you are yourself rather complicit in this.
I know that psychologists are not a “religious order,” but I do not understand fully how it can be that the necessary fourth is the devil, and in the patronage of the institute can sit enemies of this devil—legitimate and serious enemies.
I confess even that I am naïve enough to consider Mrs. Jacobi’s Catholicism as offensive—to put it unkindly etc., etc.
Where’s the “new ethic” now, you will perhaps ask me, and you could say that what I am attacking, like “Savonarola,” is precisely one of their and your conclusions.
But I believe that is not the case.
In my experience, this acceptance of the fourth is, as the fine German language puts it, a “devilishly dicult” matter, and in no way so pleasant and easy a thing as, say, a compromise.
You see, the neutral stance of Switzerland also has its risks alongside all that is good.
With the exception of you, of course, they have not experienced the evil that has the whole world by the throat, and this is the bourgeois-ethical inadequacy that endangers your students.
(This is what, for example, brings a man like Layard, despite everything, much closer to me than Mrs. Jacobi with her Shadow Lover and the Rautendelein.)
Please do not misunderstand me.
I do not mean one individual thing and I can be mistaken in every detail, but what frightens me is the absence of passion of the spirit that, for example, is suggested in your implied reaction to my text, everywhere seeking reassurances against the truth.
Of course there is nothing I would want less than to damage you or the institute and I can now assure you that I would respond positively to a request from the institute not to publish my book there.
At the same time, though, I would like to assure you that my fervent efforts will continue to prove myself worthy of “the hate of the pussyfooters.”
I am doing a lot of work—a small text, an interpretation of Eros and Psyche.
I have taken a chapter from the large book Psychological Development of the Feminine and wish to publish it separately.
I’m working on the images volume for the “Great Mother,” etc., etc.
It gives me much pleasure.
For this New Year, I wish for myself that everything will sort itself out and that it will be possible to speak to you this time in connection with the Eranos conference.
I hope there will be peace here by then.
Anyway, I am eternally grateful that it has always been possible for me to go on working “undisturbed” or, better, unhindered by wars and unrest.
But precisely this fact strengthens the feeling of responsibility in me of producing something at least passable.
(Many thanks by the way for the help on the index for Origins, which is a great vexation.)
In hoping that you understand me when I am possibly overstating things—as is my tendency—I remain,
Neumann ~Erich Neumann, Psychology in Exile, Page 277-280