Psychological Types

We cannot, therefore, afford to be indifferent to the poets, since in their principal works and deepest inspirations they create from the very depths of the collective unconscious, voicing aloud what others only dream.

But though they proclaim it aloud, they fashion only a symbol in which they take aesthetic pleasure, without any consciousness of its true meaning.

I would be the last to dispute that poets and thinkers have an educative influence on their own and succeeding generations, but it seems to me that their influence consists essentially in the fact that they voice rather more clearly and resoundingly what all men know, and only to the extent that they express this universal unconscious “knowledge” have they an educative or seductive effect.

The poet who has the greatest and most immediately suggestive effect is the one who knows how to express the most superficial levels of the unconscious in a suitable form.

But the more deeply the vision of the creative mind penetrates, the stranger it becomes to mankind in the mass, and the greater is the resistance to the man who in any way stands out from the mass.

The mass does not understand him although unconsciously living what he expresses; not because the poet proclaims it, but because the mass draws its life from the collective unconscious into which he has peered.

The more thoughtful of the nation certainly comprehend something of his message, but, because his utterance coincides with processes already going on in the mass, and also because he anticipates their own aspirations, they hate the creator of such thoughts, not out of malice, but merely from the instinct of self-preservation.

When his insight into the collective unconscious reaches a depth where its content can no longer be grasped in any conscious form of expression, it is difficult to decide whether it is a morbid product or whether it is incomprehensible because of its extraordinary profundity.

An imperfectly understood yet deeply significant content usually has something morbid about it.

And morbid products are as a rule significant.

But in both cases the approach to it is difficult.

The fame of these creators, if it ever arrives at all, is posthumous and often delayed for several centuries.

Ostwald’s assertion that a genius today is misunderstood at most for a decade is confined, one must hope, to the realm of technological discoveries, otherwise such an assertion would be ludicrous in the extreme. ~Carl Jung, CW 6, Para 434