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Image: Fowler and Edith Rockefeller McCormick
Carl Gustav Jung, 1875-1961 : A Memorial Meeting, New York, December 1, 1961
From his published writings we know the subjects that engaged Jung’s creative interest in the later years of his life.
It may be of interest to try briefly to convey what a personal contact with Jung over the past few years revealed as to his other interests and his daily occupations during those years.
In the first place it should be noted that two activities which had occupied an important part of his earlier working years had diminished to almost nothing during his later years.
These two were his professional analytical sessions and the writing of lectures and scholarly papers to be read at meetings of various kinds.
On the other hand, there was to the very last a powerful continuing urge toward the expression in writing of his conceptions and convictions.
This took the form of the publications of the last years and a number of other works, including collaboration on a volume of recollections shortly to be published.
In connection with a forthcoming book of essays, he wrote during the last year of his
life an introduction which, originally planned to be of relatively moderate size, finally ran to nearly one hundred pages of handwritten manuscript.
The fresh flow of the man’s creativity was remarkable, considering the state of his health and the limits of his strength.
The drive to create, to give birth, to express, was plain to see, as well as the subsequent reposeful satisfaction of the creator when the task was done and the tension a thing of the past.
It must by no means be forgotten that during the last ten or twelve years of his life Dr. Jung made massive revisions of his earlier works to prepare them for inclusion in his Collected Works in Bollingen Series, for whose existence we can all be so grateful to Mr. Mellon and his associates.
The boldness and energy which were required to undertake the profound and far-reaching changes Jung made in several of his earlier texts could well have overtaxed the capabilities of a far younger man.
Once, when I commented on this, Dr. Jung said that this program had not been accomplished without a severe drain on his strength and energies.
Many people who are here this evening are acquainted with Jung as a correspondent.
His profession and his own nature had, throughout his life, made him a prolific writer of letters, and so it is not surprising that an important part of the work of his later years was the voluminous correspondence he carried on with people all over the world. Hundreds of people know the conscientious and painstaking manner in which Jung addressed himself to the questions and personal problems people brought to his attention in the hope that a reply might shed light on their perplexities or their troubles.
Because he took his responsibilities so seriously and knew that the meaning of each word he wrote would be weighed with the greatest care by the recipient, the writing and dictation of letters was for him a ponderous and, in the later years, a wearing task.
In addition to the personal letters, Jung carried on a large correspondence with scholars in many different fields.
A great many of these letters amounted to short but illuminating essays on psychological and philosophical subjects, with especial emphasis on the psychological aspects of religion.
Although his analytical practice was reduced to a minimum, during his later years Jung had appointments almost every day, when he was at Kusnacht, with many of his former pupils and co-workers.
He gave freely of himself in consultation and counseling, and was most generous of his time and effort in reading, correcting, and making suggestions in connection with the many manuscripts which were laid before him by their authors.
Although not work in the professional or literary sense, Jung’s sculpture in stone, briefly referred to by Dr. Harding, because of its creative nature deserves to be mentioned at this point.
It is not widely known that Jung was a highly competent artist in working with stone.
In the garden of his house at Kusnacht are several of his sculptured works.
There is the small erect head of a snake.
There is the figure of a bearded man with three pairs of arms, which reproduces in stone the wood carving of his childhood that played such an important part in the inner life of his years as a boy.
Also at Kusnacht is the beautiful plaque in limestone which Jung carved in the months following his wife’s death.
We see, delicately and tenderly done in bas relief, the branch of a fig tree with four leaves remaining and one which has just fallen off.
At his summer home at Bollingen, on the upper Lake of Zurich, Jung carved over his fireplace the challenging words: “Quaero quad impossibile” (I seek that which is impossible).
Those who have visited there will remember the striking limestone cube which was left over by the builders of the tower and which, beautifully chiseled in Latin and Greek by Jung, describes itself as an orphan.
At the base of one of the towers is carved the face of a fool, that face which Jung saw laughing at him at just that spot when the statistics of the first draft of his article on synchronicity went awry.
Close by the fool are Jung’s most recent carvings, which consist, on the one hand, of a bear with a sphere and, on the other, of a kneeling female figure whose hands are upraised to receive milk from the udder of a sacred cow.
As an offset to Jung’s work there was his rest and recreation.
His rest consisted as a rule of a reasonably good night’s sleep and an after-lunch nap.
And it was not only a normal offset to his work, not only the proper thing for a man of advanced years, but also the necessary response to the many illnesses with which Jung had been afflicted since the trip to India in the winter of 1937-1938.
This is not the occasion to discuss the place of illness in Jung’s life, but anyone who was in close contact with him during his last years knows that he bore his infirmities with fortitude and patience.
Although it had its moments of serenity and rich enjoyment, his old age was by no means always tranquil and untroubled.
But meet it every day he did, with energetic and never-failing positiveness, with intense concentration on whatever he was engaged in, and with complete immersion in every activity, whether it was a philosophical discussion, the dictation of a letter, the carving of a roast, the chopping of kindling for his fire, or the detailed study of a map as preparation for our day’s drive.
After Jung’s days as a walker, a cyclist, and a yachtsman were over, his recreation consisted principally of his activities while at Bollingen and the drives he took in his own automobile and in those of friends.
We do not have the time tonight to do more than touch on Jung’s life at Bollingen, but it would be improper not to speak of it because, as it had been over so many years, Bollingen was of great importance to Jung in the last decade of his life.
It was here that he got away from the strenuous routine of his life at Kusnacht.
It was here that life was more simple, more informal, and, above all, closer to nature:
the water of the lake, the wind, the trees which surround the tower, the low mountains which were the familiars of the place.
Here Jung’s sense of participation in nature, and what he felt to be the primordial quality of simple living, restored his strength and provided him with quiet satisfaction.
It was here at Bollingen that Jung enjoyed being the highly competent cook that he was, producing with the devoted help of others the delectable dishes which he was capable of.
There was work to be done in the garden, firewood to be chopped, and all the other activities of country life which Jung enjoyed and which gave him so much.
And here, too, were quiet opportunities for meditation and for creative writing.
The second form of recreation which assumed a large place in Jung’s later years was the motor trips that took him into every corner of the Switzerland he knew so well and loved so much.
All his life, starting from his walking and bicycling days, Jung was a great traveler.
By the time he had reached his latter seventies, however, it seemed as if for physical reasons the days of his travels were pretty well over, as if his geographical horizon, once of global dimensions, had shrunk to virtually the immediate surroundings of the Lake of Zurich.
Fortunately, this did not finally prove to be the case, for there began in the early 1950’s a series of drives which grew in frequency and length from year to year.
Every spot in Switzerland was visited and excursions were made into the neighboring regions of France, Germany, and Italy.
The result was that Jung had the pleasure of seeing once again the places where he had been as a youth and a young man, and of widening his extensive and extraordinarily detailed and intimate acquaintance with every part of his beautiful and richly interesting country.
Thus it was that the circle of his travels, instead of contracting during his latter years, expanded in such a way as to afford him satisfactions which he had previously not thought possible.
And so passed the days and years of Jung’s last decade.
Through it all and to the end, he was fully engaged in living, in vigorously carrying out his responsibilities, in honoring his relationships to other people, in pursuing his varied interests, and in creating-always creating.
Did Jung at times speak the word that lives, the word that nourishes?
Different people will of course have different answers to this question. But I will give you the answer of one woman.
Two or three years ago, when Jung was attending an art exhibit in Zurich, a woman introduced herself to him and expressed her gratitude for what he had done for her.
Dr. Jung asked her if this had come about through reading his books. Her reply was: “Those are not books. That is bread.” ~Fowler McCormick, A Memorial Meeting, New York Dec. 1, 1961, Page 10-16