What Jakob Burckhardt says about the new state
Miss Wolff I would like to read to you what Jakob Burckhardt says about the new state.”
In a letter to a German friend, Friedrich von Preen, he gives a prophecy of future conditions.
Oh, how many things dear to educated minds they will have to throw overboard as mental “luxury.” And how strangely difficult to us the new generation will grow up. It may happen that we shall appear to the younger ones as wholly based on luxuries as the French emigrants appeared to those people to whom they fled. The essential political nature (commonwealth) of people is a wall, in which this or that nail still can be driven, but the nail has no hold any longer. Therefore in the agreeable twentieth century, Authority will again raise its head, and it will be a terrible head. At last the taking of everything as merely provisional, this right to every wilful innovation, this privilege of every cupidity, will come to its end.
Alas, what will happen to so many interests dear to us? To science, for instance, which is so used to take the back seat on the car of “Progress in general”! How little will the new authority care about science.
Prof Jung: That is a very remarkable prophecy. It must have been written before the end of the eighties because Nietzsche “died” then.
Miss Wolff: Then when Nietzsche was sending Zarathustra to Gottfried Keller,:l he wrote him a letter (Rome, June 1883) describing his
condition while writing the book as follows:
How strange! Out of a very abyss of feelings in which I was thrown by this past winter, the most dangerous of my whole life,
all of a sudden I rose and for ten days I was as if under the brightest sky and high over lofty mountains. The fruit of these days is
now lying before you.
Prof .Jung: That is a valuable contribution.
Well, the feeling of such a condition brings up the realization of what the differentiated individual must feel when forced to live in such a state, and that we now find
in the chapter on “The Flies in the Market-Place.”
He admonishes his friend to flee to solitude, to nature, to be like a tree, because, he goes on:
Where solitude endeth, there beginneth the market-place; and where the market-place beginneth, there beginneth also the noise of the great actors, and the buzzing of the poison-flies. In the world even the best things are worthless without those who represent them: those representers, the people call great men.
He says that the best things are of no account in the world characterized by such a state; because no individual is allowed to stick out, the
best things can hardly exist.
If they do exist, they must be shown, and for that demonstration there are special individuals like actors.
So if the role of a king is to be demonstrated, an actor is needed who demonstrates a king-or the hero, or the god-and then people call those showmen or actors the great men.
Little do the people understand what is great-that is to say, the creating agency. But they have a taste for all representers and actors of great things.
The great things come into the world through people who are invisible, and then they must be shown by people like play actors, who have
just as much relation to the great things as a playactor has to his role.
You know that famous passage in Hamlet, “What is Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba, that he should weep for her? … “4
Around the devisers of new values revolveth the world:-invisibly it revolveth.
Here he describes the very important fact that when a great thing is created, it is in the world; but since it is unconsciously in the world,
since it is not visible, it is only known by the collective unconscious.
It is in the collective unconscious of everybody, and therefore everybody will turn to it; they are made to turn to it quite against their conscious will perhaps. And they don’t know to what they turn-if they notice at all that they are turned!
“But around the actors revolve the people and the glory; such is the course of things.”
They are turned to the real thing, yet what they discover is the play actors who show it, so they see the mere outer appearance of the thing.
“Spirit, hath the actor, but little conscience of the spirit.}
He can act it as if it were his own product, as if it were really himself, and that could be called a lack of intellectual conscience.
“He believeth always in that wherewith he maketh believe most strongly-in himself.”
If he does not believe in himself, he is a bad actor.
He must believe in himself, must believe that he is the very thing he represents-or he does not represent it.
While the one who invents it always presents it in a way which is inspired by intellectual conscience; he doesn’t say: “This is myself,” and so people don’t see it.
They cannot, it is too subtle. They only see the man who is acting it.
“Tomorrow he hath a new belief, and the day after, one still newer. Sharp perceptions hath he, like the people, and changeable humors.”
“To upset-that meaneth with him to prove. To drive mad-that meaneth with him to convince. And blood is counted by him as the best of all arguments.”
Here we come to modern history.
“A truth which only glideth into fine ears, he calleth falsehood and trumpery. Verily, he believeth only in Gods that make a great noise in the world!”
Nowadays, you hear many such great noises. A noise is the evidence that it is something; the more one makes a noise about it, the more one convinces people. We have it in our ears in recent events in Switzerland.
That should be an argument.
“Full of clattering buffoons is the market-place. The playactors who identify themselves with the best thing. and the people glory in their great man! These are for them the masters of the hour.
But the hour presseth them; so they press thee. And also from thee they want Yea or Nay.”
Those people are also in a hurry, speak of conquest and cannot wait:
This is the day of the Lord! Now is the time! Step up to be a witness! Don’t wait any longer because we are in a hurry to secure our success!
Alas! thou wouldst set thy chair betwixt For and Against?
On account of those absolute and impatient ones, be not jealous, thou lover of truth! Never yet did truth cling to the arm of an absolute
That hardly needs any comment.
On account of those abrupt ones, return into thy security: only
in the market-place is one assailed by Yea? or Nay?
Slow is the experience of all deep fountains: long have they to
wait until they know what hath fallen into their depths.
Away from the market-place and from fame taketh place all
that is great: away from the market-place and from fame have
ever dwelt the devisers of new values.
Flee, my friend, into thy solitude: I see thee stung all over by the
poisonous flies. Flee thither, where a rough, strong breeze bloweth!
Now what does he mean by poisonous flies? Why just this peculiar figure of speech?
Mrs. Fierz: Could they not be words which are in the air, stinging and poisonous?
Prof. Jung: Well, swarms of flies are poison in the air, so it might mean the thoughts that are flying about, the rumors, the newspapers,
or a slogan of the day. And from poisonous flies one gets terrible infections like blood poisoning; they are an awful pest.
This symbol of blood poisoning or infection often turns up in dreams where a collective infection is meant, frequently represented as a venereal or tubercular infection, or any other contagious disease.
You see, the one on the way of individuation is naturally exposed to collective infection; all the obvious truth he hears out in the marketplace is decidedly poisonous because it is absolutely against his way, his attempt. It tells him how wrong he is and how things ought to be done, which is all against his grain.
If he allows himself to be infected by such views, he will soon die as an individual and be part of a flood or a great river; he will rush
along and think himself a great fellow, but he is only one fat sheep perhaps in a whole herd, no more.
So it is an almost mortal danger to expose oneself to the flies of the marketplace.
Of course one could ask, is there no possibility of immunity-a protection against this infection?
Should such a differentiated individual not be particularly protected just by his differentiation? And I should say, yes he ought to be protected:
I don’t think differentiation is of any use if one is simply more exposed to such dangers than before. But this danger of infection
comes from a certain condition. Do you know what that is?
Mrs. Baumann: By being in participations through his unconscious.
Prof Jung: Yes, and by his likeness to the flies in the marketplace.
Nietzsche is a fly too, and he forgets all about it when he aims at the Superman.
You see, identifying with the Superman means that he is no longer a fly in the marketplace.
If he could only realize that he is just one of those ordinary people, he would be aware that it was quite natural that he should participate in that movement, and then it would not be dangerous.
He would say, “Naturally, the collective man in myself is feeling for them or against them, but inasmuch as I am not a collective man, I don’t mix in with all that.”
One could say, “Inasmuch as I am a body I am in the same swing; yet inasmuch as I am human I am out of it. I don’t identify with it as I don’t identify with my body or with the lower layers of my psyche.”
So the danger Nietzsche describes here is only valid inasmuch as he has an inflation; he identifies with the Superman and leaves the ordinary man behind, as we saw long ago.
And naturally he has then no longer the protection of the collective being that surely would allow him to be one of the crowd in the marketplace without getting a dangerous infection.
Such infections only happen when one is not humble enough, when one immodestly and immoderately identifies with one’s ideals or the ideals of the Superman; then naturally one has no basis, but is suspended in the air, only to come down and wake up, perhaps, having fallen into a deep black hole.
“Flee into thy solitude! Thou hast lived too closely to the small and pitiable. Flee from their invisible vengeance! Towards thee they have nothing but vengeance.
That would not be the case if he could accept his shadow, the collective man in himself; inasmuch as he cannot, naturally he will have the
whole world against him.
“Raise no longer an arm against them! Innumerable are they, and it is not thy lot to be a fly-flap.”
You see, he should accept the fact that he is one of the flies; he cannot wipe out the ordinary man because he is one of them, and if he tries to do so he simply creates a hysterical dissociation in himself.
“Innumerable are the small and pitiable ones: and of many a proud structure, rain-drops and weeds have been the ruin.”
If you don’t take care of it, sure enough that will come.
“Thou art not stone; but already hast thou become hollow by the numerous drops. Thou wilt yet break and burst by the numerous drops.”
One can only say, don’t be a stone because you are human; if you are a stone as well as a human being, you will hollow yourself out by your own raindrops: your own life will hollow you out.
You should not be stone, you should be flexible.
“Exhausted I see thee, by poisonous flies; bleeding I see thee, and torn at a hundred spots; and thy pride will not even upbraid. Blood they would have from thee in all innocence; blood their bloodless souls crave for-and they sting, therefore, in all innocence.
But thou, profound one, thou sufferest too profoundly even from small wounds; and ere thou hadst recovered, the same poison-worm crawled over thy hand.”
What does he mean by this peculiar figure, the poisonous creature, der Giftwurm, in the German text?
Mrs. Fierz: Did he not once dream that he had a toad on his hand?
Prof. Jung: Yes. Bernoulli published the correspondence between Nietzsche and his friend Overbeck, a professor of church history in
Basel-it was he who fetched Nietzsche back from Turin to Basel when he broke down.
Now in this correspondence, he mentions the fact that Nietzsche always suffered from the peculiar phobia that when he saw a toad, he felt that he ought to swallow it.
And once when he was sitting beside a young woman at a dinner, he told her of a dream he had had, in which he saw his hand with all the anatomical detail, quite translucent, absolutely pure and crystal-like, and then suddenly an ugly toad was sitting upon his hand and he had to swallow it.
You know, the toad has always been suspected of being poisonous, so it represents a secret poison hidden in the darkness where such creatures live-they are nocturnal animals.
And the extraordinary fact is that it is a parallel to what actually happened to Nietzsche, of all people-that exceedingly sensitive nervous man has a syphilitic infection.
That is a historical fact-I know the doctor who took care of him. It was when he was twenty-three years old.
I am sure this dream refers to that fatal impression; this absolutely pure system infected by the poison of the darkness.
But that kind of thing happens to such people; I don’t say it is always venereal disease-any other infection or injury may happen to people
who are too intuitive, who live beyond themselves, without paying attention enough to the body, to the reality of life.
We of course hate to talk of disgusting or evil or dangerous things; we are like primitives in that respect. It is unfavorable to mention them. Yet we cannot live in a world which is not, but have to live in a world which is.
If Nietzsche had paid attention enough to the reality of his extraordinary sensitive nervous system on the one side, and to the fact of the world on the other side, he would have been very careful to avoid situations in which he could have gotten such an infection; he would have known the effect
it would have in his life. Such a situation is not unavoidable.
But it is to just those people whose reality sense is defective that those things do happen.
To anybody else it would not be so terrible, but to a nervous system such as Nietzsche possessed it was a horrible fatality, and I think
that this dream expresses it.
Sitting beside that young woman the fact came back to him unconsciously and he felt forced to tell her of the dream in order to inform her:
“Don’t touch me! I am unclean-marked by my fate. He had to give her full information.
People do that when they talk to you unconsciously; they always provide you with the necessary information about themselves.
It often happens that perfect strangers tell you all about themselves, provided you cock your ears and provided it is important to them to do so.
So I think the poisonous creature that creeps over his hand is really the quintessence of what the world did to Nietzsche.
But it could do such a thing to him only through the fact that he did not pay attention.
He was not aware of the world, did not see it as it was, because he did not see himself as he was.
In this way it could happen.
“Too proud art thou to kill these sweet-tooths. But take care lest
it be thy fate to suffer all their poisonous injustice!
They buzz around thee also with their praise: obtrusiveness, is
their praise. They want to be close to thy skin and thy blood.”
It is perfectly true that as soon as somebody sticks out-when he goes ahead, for instance-many leeches try to get to the foreground by
drinking his blood; but they can only do it when such a man is absolutely unaware of his body, of his real existence. If he is aware of it he
simply brushes the flies away.
Miss Wolff: The flies could get at Nietzsche, also, because he was too isolated. He frightened his friends away, being very intolerant with
them. Yet, even if they did not understand him, they were really very good friends. He was too much alone, and because he did not attend
enough to his relationships, that amount of psychic energy which is to be applied to them was being sucked out of him by collectivity. So he could not just brush off the flies.
Prof Jung: Well, if he had known the collective man in himself he would have been protected, but he was too much alone and so was separated from the open door to himself through which all the leeches could creep in.
‘They flatter thee, as one flattereth a God or devil; they whimper
before thee, as before a God or devil. What doth it come to? Flatterers
are they, and whimperers, and nothing more.”
That that flattery is another source of the infection is of course perfectly obvious.
You see, projections can happen through hostility or a negative attitude as well as through a so-called positive attitude; those are simply two different ways of carrying projections or infections.
“Often, also, do they show themselves to thee as amiable ones.
But that hath ever been the prudence of the cowardly. Yea! the
cowardly are wise!
They think much about thee with their circumscribed soulsthou
art always suspected by them!”
Well, he describes here the condition of a general idea which had not yet reached consciousness, which is in the collective unconscious, causing as I said, an infection of consciousness which can show, for instance, in a peculiar inflation.
You know, when a person has an unconscious content-say a certain archetype is constellated-then his conscious, not realizing what the matter is, will be filled with the emanation or radiation of that activated archetype.
And then he behaves unconsciously as if he were that archetype, but he expresses the identity in terms of his ego personality, so that everybody who is clearsighted and not prejudiced will say, “Oh, well, that fellow is just inflated, he is a pompous ass, he is ridiculous.”
For he unconsciously plays a role and tries to represent something which he has taken to be his own self-of course, not the self in the philosophic sense-but merely his ego personality exaggerated by the influx and emanations of the unconscious archetype.
You see, the unconscious, activated archetype is like a rising sun, a source of energy or warmth which warms up the ego personality from
within, and then the ego personality begins to radiate as if it were God knows-what.
But it radiates its own colors, expresses the archetype in its own personal way, and therefore it appears as if the ego were all-important.
Whereas the ego is of no importance at all in reality, but is simply urged from within, pushed forward and made to perform as if it were important.
The importance is the greatness that is behind.
For instance, you find in the Upanishads the cosmogonic myth of Prajapati, the first being who, when he found that he was all alone, that
there was nothing which was not himself, began to talk to his own greatness, or the greatness within himself spoke to him.’
You see, the original philosophic mind makes that difference-the ego thinks, “I am all alone,” a pretty miserable condition.
But there is also a greatness which is peculiarly myself, yet it is not myself; it speaks to me and even tells me that which I did not know.
So this is merely a projection of that original mind which knows very clearly that the opinions of consciousness are of little importance, and that it is a greatness behind that consciousness which speaks the truth.
But if one is unconscious of it, then naturally one has an inflation and behaves as if one were the greatness. ~Zarathustra Seminars, Page 603-612
Footnote: Burckhardt wrote further: “It has long been clear to me that the world is moving
towards the alternation between complete democracy and absolute lawless despotism .
. . . Only people do not like to imagine a world whose rulers utterly ignore law, prosperity,
enriching work, and industry, credit, etc. … ” (Basel, 13 April 1802). The Letters of
Jacob Burckhardt, eel. Alexander Dru (;\lew York, I9.’i:)).