Eighteen years after Jung. Biografia e teoria (Màdera 1998), Romano Màdera, Professor Emeritus of philosophy at the University of Milan-Bicocca and Jungian analyst (member of the AIPA1 and of the IAAP2), dedicates a new monograph to C.G. Jung.
During the intervening period, Màdera has laid out the theoretical and practical roots of the ‘Analisi biografica a orientamento filosofico’ (ABOF–Philosophically-oriented biographical analysis), based upon the encounter between the most important approaches in the history of depth psychology, somewhat ecumenically brought together, and the renewal of practices of the ancient philosophical schools (taking inspiration from the works of Pierre Hadot) (Màdera 2012; Màdera 2013a; Màdera 2013b; De Fiori 2016).
Furthermore, this period saw a momentous event in the publication of Jung’s Red Book. Liber Novus, which opened up new perspectives in
the understanding of Jung’s work.
Whereas in Jung. Biografia e teoria Màdera dwelled on fundamental concepts deriving from the connections between biography and theory (Màdera and Tarca 2003), in Carl Gustav Jung. L’opera al rosso,
Jung’s work is instead examined using Liber Novus as a starting point, as the title suggests: ‘The work in red’. Liber Novus becomes the trigger for a reconsideration of Jung’s work, the key to elucidating its meaning. In this book, Màdera appears to succeed in reconciling the analyst’s view, confronted in his daily life with psychic material, with the wider perspective of the philosopher who is able to tease out connections between life, culture and history.
Throughout his inquiry, Màdera touches upon philosophical, historical and cultural questions whilst rethinking the intersection of psychotherapy and philosophy.
Published in the series ‘Eredi’ (Inheritors), whose purpose is to edit monographs on the symbolic legacy of distinguished authors, Carl Gustav Jung. L’opera al rosso is not merely a simple historical and conceptual introduction to the work of the Swiss psychologist, but a journey to the heart of Jung’s thought, presented through a kaleidoscope of images, visions and 1 AIPA – Associazione Italiana di Psicologia Analitica (Italian Association of Analytical Psychology).
Moreover, important parts of the text are dedicated to carefully evaluating the links between the questions that lie at the core of Liber Novus and the historical and cultural events of the 20th century, and also to outlining what part of Jung’s legacy still speaks to us today.
Liber Novus is presented as not only Jung’s answer to his personal trials, but also as the reflection of historical and cultural upheavals.
Màdera reminds us of the way in which the themes presented in Liber Novus bear witness to a time of change, a crucial paradigm shift in
The Great War, for him, appears symptomatic of the crisis of the old traditionalist Europe and of the downfall of patriarchy, or what Màdera understands as the end of fathers as embodiments of the law.
In a biographical sense, Màdera argues that, after the break with Freud, Jung was ‘disappointed for the second time’ by fathers (Màdera 2016:18).
In the first two chapters of the book, ‘Imitation is Prohibited’ (Vietato imitare) and ‘Critique of the Fathers and the Crisis of Patriarchy’ (Critica dei padre e crisi del patriarcato), Màdera analyses the relationship between the historical crises of the time and the notion that ‘imitation’, meaning the structuration of personality by models, became out of
This is expressed clearly in a passage from Liber Primus: ‘Woe betide those who live by way of examples! Life is not with them.
If you live according to an example, you thus live the life of that example, but who should live your own life if not yourself? So live yourselves.’ (Jung, RB:231).
Consequently, Màdera sees the individuation process as it begins to emerge in Liber Novus as the imperative for everyone to find their own way, instead of following pre-mapped paths.
As Jung wrote in the same chapter of Liber Primus: ‘My path is not your path therefore I / cannot teach you. The way is within us, but not in Gods, nor in teachings, nor in laws. Within us is the way, the truth, and the life’ (Jung, RB: 231).
In this sense, Màdera argues that the ‘Murder of the Hero’, a pivotal section in the structure of Jung’s Liber Novus, is a metaphor for the crisis of patriarchy at the end of the 19th century, for which the Nietzschean ‘Death of God’ also stands as an image of a whole age on the wane.
In the chapter ‘The end of the hero and the sacrifice of the I’ (La fine dell’eroe e il sacrificio dell’io), the author underlines the analogy
between historical events (the murder of Archduke Franz Ferdinand) and biographical events (the dream of the murder of Siegfried).
According to Màdera, in Liber Novus, the murder of the hero reveals a psychic dynamic that takes place at the same time in the individual and in the collective, where killing the hero becomes necessary to avoid the search for an exterior scapegoat.
So, accepting the end of the hero involves realising the sacrifice in oneself. As Jung wrote in Memories, Dreams, Reflections, in reference to the dream of the murder of Siegfried reported in Liber Novus:
Siegfried, I thought, represents what the Germans want to achieve, heroically to impose their will, have their own way. ‘Where there is a will there is a way !’ I had wanted to do the same. But now that was no longer possible. The dream showed that the attitude embodied by Siegfried, the hero, no longer suited me. Therefore it had to be killed. […] This identity and my heroic idealism had to be abandoned, for there are higher things than the ego’s will, and to these one must bow. (Jung/Jaffé :180-181)
This theme is explored in the chapter ‘The shadow, the war and the scapegoat’ (L’ombra, la Guerra e il capro espiatorio). The murder
of Siegfried is read as the symbol of the end of an epoch and the sacrifice of the ‘I’.
This last point Màdera interprets as basically the springboard for Jung’s later theorisation of the disidentification with the persona.
Furthermore, Màdera examines the danger of the projection of the Shadow that is behind the dynamic of the scapegoat by drawing
on Erich Neumann’s Depth Psychology and a New Ethic (1949).
In the following chapter, ‘God is dead? An answer to Nietzsche’ (Dio è morto? Risposta a Nietzsche), Màdera goes from the dynamic
of the scapegoat to self-sacrifice, which he explains with these words:
In the catastrophe of the Great War that threw everyone against each other and stacked in the modern pyramids of sacrifice thousand of deaths, Jung sees the end of the hero, and believes to grasp the way of the overcoming of the demented mechanism of the scapegoat […]. When the way of the sacrifice of the other is understood as export and projection of the internal conflict, necessity appears to turn on himself what we charge to the other: a new way is opened, the one of the self-sacrifice (Màdera, 2016: 79).
This chapter is also the place in the book where Màdera explains why Liber Novus can be read in close relation to Nietzsche’s Zarathustra
and in which sense, as he writes, ‘Nietzsche is the double and the opponent that Jung will always meet again’ (Màdera 2016:55). In particular, Màdera sees in the ‘Supreme meaning’ (Übersinn) Jung’s answer to the
Nietzschean ‘Superman’ (Màdera 2016:89).
In the same chapter, Màdera relates the ‘divine child’ (göttliches Kind) at the end of Liber Primus, the new God which ‘reunifies what is divided’ and ‘joins the opposites’, to the notion of coniunctio that, he argues, is ‘the myth that defines Jung’s biography and constitutes the core of his thought’ (Màdera 2016:89).
Whereas, during the crisis of what Overbeck called ‘mythenbildende Kraft’ (mythbuilding force), and the crisis of ‘imitation’, it is no longer
possible to follow well-worn paths, Màdera stresses the important vista this opens up for Jung, enabling him to identify the regulatory function of the search for meaning as the fundamental therapeutic factor.
This last theme is at the core of the last two chapters of the book, where the author outlines what, according to his view, are the new territories opened up by Jung for posterity.
As he identifies in the chapter ‘Clinic of the Individuation’ (Clinica dell’individuazione), these new territories are characterised by four
fundamental factors: ‘the cognitive and therapeutical function of the image’, ‘the expressive value of the gesture and of the game’, ‘the irreproducible specificity of the biographical singularity’ and the ‘individual reelaboration of the outcome collectively inherited from the sense’ (Màdera 2016:103).
Finally, the legacy of Jung’s work is related by Màdera with the possibility offered by Jung’s thought for the renewal of philosophy as
a way of life and for opening up forms of lay spirituality.
These themes are explored in the seventh and final chapter, ‘Historical-biographical Psychology, Philosophy as Way of Life and Lay Spirituality’ (Psicologia storico-biografica, filosofia come stile di vita e spiritualità laica).
According to Màdera, Jung’s legacy consists primarily in having laid the basis for others to go beyond his thought. Since the time of models and prophets is over, Màdera writes: ‘the opening of the way from imitation to individuation is the clever paradox that allows us to abandon Jung—or any other master—to renew his teaching for the future’ (Màdera 2016:121). ~Alessio De Fiori, PHANÊS Vol 1, 2018 • PP. 142-146
De Fiori, Alessio. 2016. ‘Romano Màdera et l’Analyse Biographique à Orientation Philosophique’, Textes & Contextes 11, VARIA. Available on-line at https://pepiniere.u-bourgogne.fr/textesetcontextes index.php?id=984
Jung, Carl Gustav / Jaffé, Aniela. . Memories, Dreams, Reflections, tr. Clara and Richard Winston. New York:Vintage Books, 1989.
———. 2009. The Red Book. Liber Novus, edited by S. Shamdasani, translated from the German by M. Kyburz, J. Peck and S. Shamdasani, New York, Philemon Foundation and W.W. Norton & Co.
Neumann, Erich. 1949. Tiefenpsychologie und neue Ethik. Zürich: Rhein.
Màdera, Romano and Tarca, Luigi Vero. 2003. La filosofia come stile di vita. Introduzione alle pratiche filosofiche. Milan: Bruno Mondadori.
Màdera, Romano. 1998. Jung. Biografia e teoria. Milan: Bruno Mondadori.
———. 2012. La carta del senso. Psicologia del profondo e vita filosofica. Milan: Raffaello Cortina.
———. 2013a. Una filosofia per l’anima. All’incrocio di psicologia analitica e pratiche filosofiche. ed. by C. Mirabelli, Milan: Ipoc.
———. 2013b. Approaching the Navel of the Darkened Soul:
Depth Psychology and Philosophical Practices. Milan: Ipoc.