Black Books

In the Black Books in the 1920s, one finds the lengthening shadows of death, commencing with Jung’s grief at his mother’s death, followed by the premature deaths of close friends (Hermann Sigg in 1927, and Hans Schmid in 1932) and patients (George Porter and Jerome Schloss in 1927).339 In an entry of 1927,

Jung referred to thoughts regarding the death of his wife and himself.

Jung’s father had died at the age of fifty-four; in 1929, Jung himself reached this age.

The proximity of mortality brought with it intimations of immortality.

That year, he wrote in his “Commentary on The Secret of the Golden Flower” that as a physician he attempted to “strengthen the conviction of immortality,” especially with older patients.

Death, he argued, should be seen as a goal rather than an end, and he designated the latter part of life as “life toward death.”

Two years later, in his paper “The Turning Point of Life,” he elaborated on this theme, characterizing the psychological transformations of the midlife transition.

He noted that the notion of life after death was a primordial image, and that it made sense to live in accordance with this.

From the perspective of a doctor of souls, he argued, it made sense to regard death as only a transition.

Three years later, he wrote a paper on “Soul and death,” characterizing religions as systems for the preparation for death.

He argued that, given the collective soul of humanity, death might be regarded as the fulfilment of life’s meaning.

Belief in an afterlife was anthropologically normative, and it was rather secular materialism that viewed death as a pure cessation.

This was an aberrant development, viewed from a historical and cross-cultural perspective.

The issue of death became particularly acute at midlife.

From then, “only those  remain living who are willing to die with life. Since what happens in the secret hour of the midday of life is the reversal of the parabola, the birth of death.”

The Black Books chart how Jung negotiated the “reversal of the parabola.”

Seen from this perspective, his personal transformation, his individuation, was a preparation for death. ~The Black Books, Vol. I, Page 103-104