Deconstructing and Reconstructing Individuation


The following reflections constitute a preliminary dive (or cannonball) into an area of Jungian thinking that is in very dire straits: the construct of individuation.  Why is it in dire straits?  The reasons are many, and I don't intend to systematically delineate all of them in these essays.  To name a few . . . because the Jungian individuation construct is flawed and does not work.  Because the individuation construct is mired in very woolly language and thinking communicable only to "believers".  Because the developmental and archetypal schools of Jungian thought have already moved on to reject or ignore or degeneratively redefine the individuation construct the classical school has always cherished and locked safely in its trophy case to gather dust.

These are perhaps strong accusations, although not truly original ones.  Some of the previous critiques of the individuation construct are quite valid, in my opinion.  But they commonly lead to a debunking and rejection of individuation as a useful psychological or psychotherapeutic paradigm.  Individuation has often been (to its critics) a piece or archaic, useless clutter to be tossed out during any spring cleaning of the Jungian household.  My perspective is different.  What I think we have here is no trophy or tattered antique.  Rather, it is an exquisite, but broken, instrument.  It must be deconstructed, taken apart, carefully cleaned and repaired.  But it can then be reassembled in a functional form.

To recast that analogy, it is as if the instrument of individuation was incorrectly assembled (and perhaps designed) by Jung and his early and more classical followers.  When it was wound up with the hope of spinning into some kind of perpetual motion, it quickly sputtered to a halt.  Since then, the classical true believers in the original assembly of individuation have insisted that it is really a great instrument . . . but with numerous qualifications.  It is-but-is-not X, Y, Z.  It is endless and has only a symbolic/imaginal conclusion.  As a movement toward wholeness, it is always growing and growing asymptotically.  If you are becoming frustrated with its lack of payoff, you simply aren't doing it right . . . although only a qualified Jungian can subjectively assess whether or not you are doing it right (payment for this assessment is much appreciated, although buying the book of said Jungian is the next best alternative).

There is a great deal of mystification and fluff padding the abundant failures of individuation to prove itself equal to the classical Jungian propaganda about its transcendent sublimity and incalculable worth.  Like any god who does not show at the designated time and place, individuation has become mythic, fantastic, arcane, and much abstracted and rationalized.  It's failures are always failures of the believer or pursuer and never of the paradigm itself.

I envision a work of scholarship that systematically analyzes the history and construction of the individuation construct, pulls together various ideas, quotations, social and historical contexts . . . a kind of critical biography of this Jungian deity.  Such a work is, I think, necessary.  But I do not intend to attempt it, certainly not in these essays.  I don't intend to attempt it in part because it is a massive task involving a great deal of tedious scholarly research that would be of minimal interest to me.  But more importantly, I won't attempt it because I have absolutely no expectation that there would really be an audience interested in such a work, no matter how "necessary" I feel it is.  More accurately, I don't think the audience that would be interested in a critical history and analysis of individuation would be very interested in where it would lead.

Where I think it would lead is to the death of a beloved god.  That death would have to be defended against and denied all the more forcefully and delusionally, driving Jungian thinking deeper and deeper into dysfunction, hypocrisy, and ineffective isolation (or occultism).  I do not want to serve that destruction and decline of Jungian thought (although it will probably get there eventually on its own terms).  If an author were to write the kind of historical critique I am envisioning, it would only be embraced by critics of Jungianism, providing more fodder for the condemnation and dismissal of Jung and his ideas.  Jungians would, I feel quite sure, be utterly unable to make any use of it.

As precedent (among many smaller examples) I give the Jung-bashing books of Richard Noll.  Noll's books did indeed stir up the Jungian community and definitely contributed ammunition to opponents of Jungianism.  They even had a subtle but seriously destructive effect on Jungianism, contributing to (although, of course, not originating) the splintering of the Jungian tribe into at least three schools in conflict with one another in complex ways, all diverging from a center.  Noll gave more embodiment to a characterization of Jung that many Jungians want to get away from, to distance their own Jungianism from.  But fleeing from this shadowy Jung and from a point of central convergence in Jungian thought that functioned as a core value system and "origin myth" has led many Jungians into self-conflict with their own Jungian identity.

Noll's books fueled this explosion considerably despite the fact that they themselves were very weak and often misleading in their anti-Jungian arguments . . . despite the fact that, literally speaking, most of Noll's implications and accusations were untrue, and provably so (as Sonu Shamdasani demonstrated in his own debunking of Noll's scholarship, Cult Fictions, 1998).  But if fallacious and antagonistically partisan pseudo-scholarship could wound (or aggravate an old wound in) the Jungian "soul", imagine how much more damage a completely logical, valid, and abundantly evidenced critique of a Jungian "god" would do.

If Jungians could not take any valuable lessons (e.g., some serious shadow examination) from the Noll debacle, how would they recover from a more accurate and penetrating assault?  Richard Noll made a mistake that Jungians should count as a great and miraculous blessing: he imagined that Jung was the weak link in Jungianism.  And if Jung were attacked as a charlatan, those who worshiped him would be defeated.  But Jung, despite his well-advertised shadow, is by no means the weakest link in the Jungian chain.  He even remains as strong as ever, despite brushes with various kinds of "sinfulness", with sexism, colonialism, antisemitism, and inflation.  Jung, the man, weathers these storms, emerging a little more ragged yet all the more impressive for his survival.  The weakest links in the Jungian chain, although they can be said to stem to varying degrees and in complicated ways from Jung's own complexes and personal equation, are those linked on by many of his followers and the creative, intellectual, and social choices they have made.

The Jungians (even the self-declared "post-Jungians") have not convincingly managed to improve upon Jung's theories and attitudes, even as various splinter groups have adopted many means of differentiating themselves.  No splinter tribe has moved along its chosen road without leaving some very valuable ideas and understandings behind.

My own desire is not to destroy Jungianism and Jung's thinking, but to build anew from its center.  That is, a new revisioning.  In this revisioning, various critiques of Jung and Jungianism will be implied.  But my goal is not to merely substitute a new god for an old one, say, to reject Jung's supposed "monotheism" for an alternative "polytheism" as was one staple of James Hillman's revisionism.  I am not, like Hillman, a disenfranchised, prodigal son setting off on his estranged road away from the realm of the father . . . the direction largely defined by that puer escape and defiance.  My goal is to contribute to a (substantially linguistic) repair of Jungian theories, not to their rejection or defiance.  I am not driven by seeking "difference" to father Jung's thinking.  I want to get the old instruments working again.  And this is not in the service of "resurrecting the Father" (at least not directly and intentionally).  It is not the "Father", but the tribe and its utility that I would like to serve.  I would like to see the Jungian tribe become survivable.  I don't care if we are good sons and daughters or prodigals.  What matters to me is that we learn to adapt and not die out.

There is something that Jung started . . . not as much a set of ideas as a set of valuations.  The expression of these valuations is not, for me, the alpha and omega.  It does not need to be purified of its taint and raised up to glory.  It is an ancestor that contributed DNA to us Jungians, and we seek to adapt and mutate and find fitness within our environment.  Our environment is not Jung's environment, and so there are new and other pressures upon us to adapt.

What I want to address and help illuminate is an individuation construct that actually works and is non-delusional.  As ambitious as that sounds, I have to confess up front that reconstructing individuation in this functional way requires the sacrifice of many conventional Jungian sanctities and precious dogmas.  For instance, the idea that individuation is a good in itself, that it is universally to be desired and pursued, that it leads to enlightenment and transcendence, that it saves, that it heals, that it betters the individual.  It is that fantasy of individuation that makes it attractive to most people, and it is this desirability that allows individuation to be commodified for a lay-Jungian, self-help audience and market.

To hear Jungians talk about individuation is to hear an evangel, the Good News of potential salvation through faith.  But individuation (as I will go on to construct it) is more of a heresy, or even sin, than it is a salvation of the individual.  Individuation is a Mark of Cain, not the blessing of the house of Abel.  Individuation is not the transcendent movement of the individual toward wholeness.  It is the excommunication of the individual from the "whole" state of participation and its mystique.

As I reconstruct individuation, the question that a good and obedient Jungian would have to ask is: "Why would I want this cheap and shoddy thing instead of the resplendent numen of classical individuation?"  And the only answer, dissatisfying though it may be, is: "Because it is more real and genuine than the resplendent numen classical individuation imagines."  This genuine individuation will simply not be attractive to most people . . . and it is not prescribable universally for our various modern ills.  Yet it is only this unprescribable, less desirable, and much harder won individuation that can be historically and psychologically studied and validated.

The path of individuation is not a chosen path, and it is not a path for the believer.  It is a path of compulsion, perhaps a "Calling", a path of last resort, a surrender to something destructive.  It does not reward faith with solace and fulfillment.  It can be brutal . . . and there is no pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, no treasure mythically awaiting the seeker.  What treasures individuation holds are created by the individuant, not found or won.  There is no manna.  What is gained instead is responsibility, duty.

Jung remarked that the individuation journey never ends while we live.  Only in death can it be completed.  That is too mystical and grand for my tastes, but I will offer a similar aphoristic bone as aperitif:  Individuation's a bitch, and then you die.

Individuation Credentials?

On what basis do I offer a revised individuation construct that (supposedly) contradicts the prevailing (largely classical) Jungian model?  My revision has very similar origins to Jung's original construct.  That is, it derives largely and initially from personal experience.  Jung's individuation model, although he felt it was corroborated by his patients' experiences, derives almost entirely from his own "confrontation with the unconscious" beginning around 1913 after his split with Freud.  This becomes especially clear now that we have the publication of the Red Book, Jung's individuation opus.  The material, characters and narratives of the Red Book serve very neatly to demonstrate the theory of individuation Jung proposes in his scholarly publications.  The attitude Jung prescribes to the would-be individuant is very much the same attitude he adopts in his Red Book experiment.  His scholarly characterizations of the unconscious, the anima, the mana-personality, the persona, the hero, the wise old man, the shadow, and various other staples of his theory all have clear foundations in the Red Book.  For more on this subject, the reader can peruse my essays on the Red Book here at Useless Science.

I don't mean to jauntily claim credibility for my revisions based on some kind of divine revelation or specious spiritual enlightenment or attainment.  My intention is to demonstrate that experience, although extremely important, is only useful in such a revisionary venture to the degree that its artifacts can be logically explained and argued for.  I will attempt to argue that the revised individuation paradigm I will propose is also better supported by texts (many of which Jungians are quite familiar with and have also depended upon for corroboration of Jung's theories), is "more archetypal", and is more elegant and logical than the conventional Jungian paradigm.  Still, there is a very distinct sense in which both Jung's and my individuation paradigms are highly personalized creative works emerging in the specific clothing of our personal languages.  As I will explain later, individuation as a whole owes its shape immensely to a very arbitrary languaging process.

From roughly the age of 16, I began to devote the lion's share of my mental energy to pursuing and understanding individuation.  It was not a whim, a psychedelic trip, a spiritual or philosophical flirtation.  It was an absolute immersion in what I now recognize to be a "Calling".  Although I had a conscious desire to seek self-betterment, to overcome ignorance and "unconsciousness", and (at the very beginning) to "attain" higher states of mind or soul, it never felt like individuation was optional to me.  It was individuate or die (this dire imperative was recognized and validated in tribal cultures, as I will explain in later installments).  This threatened death was both spiritual and potentially literal (in the form of madness and/or suicide).  The feelings Jung describes at the onset of (and during) his confrontation with the unconscious were extremely familiar to me, and they served as one of the primary attractors that brought me to Jungianism.  In Jung I saw a person who had experienced what I was experiencing and who had survived, managing to transmute the dismemberment and dissolution of that confrontation/Calling into more golden stuff.  I sought to walk in his footsteps and orient myself with his field notes.  I wanted to survive and heal from the same disease Jung suffered.

I owe Jung my life for this assistance, as I would have had no idea how to proceed without the initial container of his language and example.  I was familiar with other religious and spiritual traditions (and sampled them), but none of these helped keep my path "true" in the least.  Instead, they fed the looming madness that seemed to trail and taunt (and sometimes control) me.  Jung's language was a panacea, enabling me to find brief but essential moments of clarity.  It is out of gratitude for this "medicine" that I continue to consider myself a Jungian today (despite many deviations and heresies) and work in my shadowy, agonistic fashion to serve the "treatment" of the Jungian tribe.

Another identification factor for me with Jung was his response to the same kind of confrontation/Calling.  Like Jung, I did not merely want to endure and pass through this experience.  I wanted to understand it as thoroughly and accurately as I could.  Not everyone is (and probably very few people are) so analytically inclined.  Certainly, even as Jungianism centers around an "analytic community", most Jungians seem contented with religious artifacts, dogmas, and totems and do not also ask what these things are in themselves, what they are objectively.  But Jungian psychology originated (and was practiced by Jung) as a analytical enterprise.  And it was this analytical orientation that differentiated Jungian psychology from a religion.  Jung was (again, as the Red Book amply demonstrates) an astute and powerfully driven researcher of the "soul".  As much as he championed "experience" with the unconscious, he seemed more motivated by (and more adept at) the desire to know, verifiably, what the nature and artifacts of the unconscious really were.  It is this analytical, objective, and often rationalistic Jung that, in my opinion, has all too often been lost as a guide in Jungian and post-Jungian psychology.  But it is this Jung that is most responsible for Jungian theory . . . and it is this Jung that is, I believe, most extraordinary and rare.  By contrast, Jung the guru and/or spiritual adventurer was merely of a type, a generic personage who did not especially set himself apart from others of his kind.

As I undertook my own self-experiments, even from the first years of my Jung-illuminated individuation event, I began to pencil practical revisions into the margins of Jung's guide book, to note what "worked" and what didn't in the field.  It would be nearly two decades later that these notes were reconstructed into a theory of individuation.  For most of the interim, it never occurred to me that a "theory of individuation" was of any use.  Individuation, like survival in the wild, was a practical art.  My eventual desire to recast my experimental "field notes" into an intellectualized theory came about only because I tried to talk to other Jungians about the stuff of these field notes and found they had no idea whatsoever I was talking about.  Understanding eventually that my practical Jungianism was heretical, I felt a need to better formulate it and describe it as logically and clearly as possible.  Only then did I find myself wearing the shoes of a "revisionist".  Before this, I simply felt that my "revisions" and "heresies" were logical applications of Jung's own ideas and principles.

The stuff of my revisions will be laid out and argued in the following essays, but there is one general difference that I will set down here.  Much of my early individuation work was focused (like Jung's Red Book dialogs) on interactions with anima figures.  I have transcribed and commented upon the highlights of this anima dream series at the Useless Science forum.  This served as the mystical bedrock of my individuation event.  In more recent years, especially as I tried to have discussions with other Jungians about the anima and animus, I came to see that what I had long felt was a very elegant and purely archetypal encounter was largely foreign to many Jungians.  I started calling this stage of individuation in which the animi figure is discovered, engaged with, valuated or redeemed from the shadow, and then eventually initiates the (heroic) ego, the "animi work".  The animi work is (as I experienced it and only very recently found corroborating evidence for) extremely archetypal and should (like all individuation motifs) be traced back to the mythos of shamanic initiation, where the shaman's marriage to a spiritual spouse is a common factor of his or her initiation into full-fledged shaman-hood.

The animi work is also what a great many fairytales describe (typically those that end in marriages that endure "happily ever after").  The shamanic and folk (and alchemical) precedents of the animi work are substantial, but (as I found out) the animi work is not well understood at all among Jungians.  The reasons for this are complex and require careful analysis to explicate (this analysis will follow).  For now, I will posit two potential reasons why the anima work is not adequately understood through the Jungian paradigm of individuation.  First, as much as Jung and Jungians have indulged in the adoration and analysis of fairytales, the archetypal constructions that Jung most used and Jungians inherited tend to derive more from the heroic epics of great patriarchal civilizations, especially ancient Greek, Roman, and Judeo-Christian cultures.  I believe that the renderings of archetypes like the hero and the animi portrayed in fairytales stems from an even more ancient and pre-civilized source.  Perhaps the origin of these heroic archetypal fairytale motifs is the narrativizing of prehistoric shamans who explained (in song, poetry, dance, and theater) just what their spirits were doing in the other world while their bodies remained in the material world of their audiences and patients.

In other words, heroic epics and cultural myths (especially of the patriarchal cultures on which Western civilization was founded) are archetypally degenerate.  Jung did not adequately recognize this, and Jungians are the heirs of this distorted archetypal theory.  It has lead us to (often subtly but importantly) misread the very texts we have used to corroborate Jungian theory.  And of course there are many, as all our texts were written or redesigned in the historical, modern era.  They have been culturally recontextualized, and wherever this cultural recontextualization also served the promotion of a modern, patriarchal ego-ideal (like Gilgamesh or Heracles or Siegfried), distortions of the prehistoric shamanic archetypal structures and dynamics arose.  Many fairytales (even those rewritten in the last few centuries) do not suffer from serious distortions like these because they have never served as vehicles of promoting a cultural ego-ideal.  This is also why fairytales have just as many female as male heroes, while cultural myths and epics depict the journeys of only male heroes.

The second reason that the animi work is not well understood among Jungians is that Jung was extremely ambivalent about his own anima experience.  On one hand, Jung sets a stellar example of the kind of psychic awakening and development that can come out of valuatively engaging with the animi (as personification of the unconscious Other).  Not only did he write the anima dialogues that went into the Red Book, he rewrote them in fancier language and elegant calligraphy and accompanied them with detailed oil paintings.  Not many people would give so much time and consideration to their animi.

On the other hand, Jung spent more time "fighting off", rejecting, chastising, denying, and demonizing his anima during these engagements than he did wooing, valuating, loving, and learning from it.  He ultimately and definitively refused to be initiated by the anima.  And he developed a rationalization of a theory holding that the anima was both essential soul and wicked temptress that had to be approached while maintaining one's stoic autonomy.  This in spite of all he knew about the historical symbols like the alchemical Coniunctio or the hieros gamos.  It appears to me that Jung felt any "unions with the god/goddess" had to be conducted only intellectually and rationally so the ego could maintain its separateness and sanity and not become a victim to the "dark side" of the god.

Here it is absolutely essential to recognize that this attitude of Jung's (right or wrong, we will not argue for the time being) is utterly in defiance of archetypal mysticism, in which the human and the divine Other do in fact unite.  The Jungian method of individuation deviates in this essential factor from conventional mysticisms.  I cannot even begin to express how massive a difference this makes, and how dramatically it snowballs as Jungian theory is spun around this core of "anti-mysticism".  And again, I reiterate what I wrote above regarding Jung as more of a rationalistic, objective, "soul researcher" than a mystic.  The dressing up of Jung postmortem as a mystic or spiritual adept while downplaying (and often even forgetting) his rationalistic proclivities is an act done in bad faith.  It turns out Jung the rationalist dominated Jung the mystic once all the tallies are taken.  Jung the mystic is not a figment of the Jungian imagination, but the predominance of Jung the mystic in Jungian constructions of the founder is simply an unfortunate and self-deceiving wish fulfillment fantasy.

The period of individuation I call the animi work encompasses all of Jungian individuation.  It is not the end of the archetypal process of individuation.  Or rather, whatever we would like to call the instinctually organized process of post-adolescent psychic growth, adaptation, and development . . . Jungian individuation only makes up a small (but very dramatic and important) portion of it.  Moreover, one of the reasons that Jungian individuation is said to have no end or to be cyclical is that the deviations of the conventional Jungian paradigm from the archetypal animi work prevent the process from reaching its completion.  That is, Jungian individuation is habitual or like a complex in the sense that it is destined to fail again and again.

This is also to say that the animi work (and therefore Jungian individuation also, should it revise itself adequately) is a finite episode in the individuation process.  The languaging and relanguaging of the animi work can continue throughout life and until death.  But the event of the animi work itself is not only finite, its duration (when properly facilitated) is often fairly short (often measurable in months rather than years and definitely not in decades).  This brief duration corresponds to the nature of the animi work as a rite of passage or initiation.  How we understand, live out of, and dynamically language that initiation is a massive undertaking that will take years (probably decades) to come to any kind of fruition and usefulness.  But the event of initiation itself is like a scarification, a ritual wound struck once and worn ever after.

There's no sugar coating it.  The implications of this critique and revision are massive.  They suggest that the Jungian house of individuation is built upon sand.  The bad news is that this is, I fear, very much the case.  But the good news (not nearly as dramatic as the bad news, regrettably) is that the phenomenal artifacts of the individuation process Jungians study are very much the right ones.  There is just a fly in the Jungian individuation ointment, a poisonous element (based largely in the two factors just mentioned above).  I believe this "taint" or parasite can be extracted and that the Jungian "waters of life" will then be able to clarify.

Rationally, this revision doesn't ask that much.  To a non-Jungian, it is probably six of one, half-dozen of another.  The real challenge in achieving this clarification of individuation for Jungians, though, is relinquishing the habitual death grip on some very sacred cows.  Cows like "all heroic figures are inherently inflated", or "the anima and animus are always morally equivocal and must be related to with great caution", and most of all "Jung was the Risen Christ and messiah of the modern soul whose gospel is the way, the truth, and the life".

That is, I am arguing that the main thing standing between the prevailing Jungian individuation paradigm and theory and more accurate, more archetypal/historical, and more functional ones is a quasi-deification of Jung.  So long as we believe (even if only unconsciously, as is the case with many "post-Jungians") that Jung was a great mystic who had more or less the last word on individuation, Jungian individuation will flounder, and its waters will remain dark and unsustaining.  Additionally, Jungian individuation theory will remain highly esoteric, arbitrary, cultic, and incompatible with more scientific psychological methods and ideas.

The completion of the animi work is not the "master work" of individuation.  It is an initiating threshold that must be passed through in order to begin the so called Great Work depicted in alchemical mysticism.  So, to put it into those alchemical terms, the animi work (which again, encompasses and transcends all of Jungian individuation) is like the derivation of the alchemist's prima materia.  The culmination of this first and essential process is indeed the Coniunctio, but Coniunctio in alchemy is not a hieros gamos, not some transcendent and elating union of the conscious and the unconscious or of man and God.  Coniunctio, unequivocally, is death . . . the product of dissolution or dismemberment.  And it is followed by Nigredo, blackening, decay, putrefaction.

The skewing of Jungian individuation feeds the perversion and misunderstanding of the alchemical process, where, classically, union (of Sulfur and Mercury, Sol and Luna, or the heroic ego and the animi) is equal to death and NOT some kind of transcendent rebirth.  There is enormous misuse of the alchemical terms Coniunctio and Nigredo in Jungian parlance, and this misuse compounds the dangerous misunderstanding of individuation.

I will argue that the alchemical model is more functional than the Jungian.  The alchemical opus corresponds, like shamanic initiation and fairytale heroism, to the true individuation archetype (which I will generally call, the mysticism).  Alchemy is in fact an inheritor, a true heir, of the shamanic tradition (and no doubt some of its symbolism), as Mircea Eliade makes quite clear in The Forge and the Crucible: The Origins and Structure of Alchemy.  It makes for a difficult situation.  Alchemical allusions and terminology have become signature Jungian affectations, no doubt contributing (along with many other Jungianisms) to a disconnect with other academic and scientific fields.  And yet, despite extensive research on Jung's part (much of it quite thorough if not terribly well organized), Jungian psychologization of alchemical symbols and processes suffers some fatal flaws.  It would be easier for a progressive, revisionary Jungian if alchemy were just a bunch of gibberish and Jung's psychologization of it fundamentally pointless.  Then alchemy and its extreme convolutions and complexities could just be set aside.

But as it turns out, alchemical mysticism or Hermetic philosophy depicted a crucial turning point in the history of human mysticism.  Medieval alchemy (like Jungian psychology) attempted to depict the archetype of mysticism in proto-scientific, quasi-material terms.  Alchemy, which mostly died out with the advent of modern chemistry, recorded the last episode of practical "soul work" in human history before the languaging of the soul fell into ruin.  Jung's valuation of alchemy showed intuitive prowess, but he was still a "modern man in search of a soul".  In search of, not in relationship with.  Jung's ideas suffer from the problem he addressed: reinventing the wheel that had for millennia been mysticism.

The alchemists also carried the torch of the shamanic mystical tradition and symbolism through much of the Christian era, even elucidating the initiatory and shamanic elements resident (but dormant) in the Christian myth.  Alchemy carried and preserved the "material soul" during these centuries of anti-material, Platonic Christianity, until it was relinquished to modern science . . . which regrettably suffered from an overly reductive, positivistic rationalism more directly inherited from dogmatic Christian theology than from highly imaginative and complexity-tolerant alchemy.

Revisioning the psychology of alchemy is a book-length project in itself, so later parts of this essay will only touch briefly upon the relationships between alchemy and individuation.  Additionally, the alchemical opus depicts a much more extensive process than Jung's individuation paradigm does.  This essay will spend much more time reworking the stages of individuation Jung and Jungians have most concerned themselves with than it will on the more esoteric and subtle facets of later individuation.

One last thing to clarify is that I do not, in criticizing Jung's theories, mean to air some kind of general disrespect.  I can think of no higher form of respect to pay Jung than the devoted attempt to build on the foundation that he laid.  It is quite possible to marvel at the accomplishments of the man while also disagreeing on some of the finer points.  That should go without saying.

During most of my 20+ years as a Jungian, I adhered mostly to the letter or Jung's ideas.  I know what it is like to accept and not reflect upon the many Jungianisms Jungians take for granted and do not analyze or evaluate.  It was only gradually that I felt forced to question these assumptions . . . as they began to show their flaws in practice.  If one does not attempt to apply Jung's individuation theory as a kind of quasi-spiritual, psychotherapeutic discipline, I suspect one will not stumble upon the seams and frayed ends of the theory.  But to live and practice individuation is to need it to be a functional instrument and languaging tool.  To take individuation as a totem or object of belief and projection and identity construction, one doesn't need an individuation theory to be robust and highly accurate.  Just as a religious believer doesn't need God to be perfectly defined and beyond reproach.  That's what rationalization and imagination are for.

When using Jung's works as a foundation, we are faced with a great deal of complexity and seeming (as well as actual) self-contradiction.  As frustrating as this is for a reader of Jung. I am sympathetic to the condition and construction of Jung's writings.  He was trying to language a complex, dynamic object (the psyche) in a way that connected ancient religious ideas and terminologies to modern thinking.  Jung's project was a languaging project.  Specifically, it was a psychologizing project.  I believe it was more a languaging project than, for instance, a religious or mystical or even philosophical project.  Jung meant to bring older (often archetypal) ideas about the human soul into a suitable modern dialect.  He was not necessarily trying to tell the world things about the soul that had never been known before.  He was trying to treat a kind of Orwellian wound in modern language that prevented us from being able to talk functionally and with sophistication about the soul.  It is in this sense that Jung was part of the romantic tradition of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

But that languaging project was a vast and complicated undertaking, and psychology itself, though modern, was (and remains) in its "pre-paradigmatic" infancy.  Jung's project served the religious and mythopoetic imagination more than it did the rationalistic, scientific, post-Enlightenment, positivistic trend of modern thought.  But his modern intellectual means, his inherited language and culturally constructed selfhood was distinctly rationalistic, scientific, and post-Enlightenment.  We could say (in Jung-speak) then that he was seeking the solution to a union of perceived Opposites.  How does one manage to get archaic mythic thinking and modern scientific rationalism to play nice together?

I don't think Jung solved this problem, but I do think he made some very noble and enterprising attempts to formulate a modern language of the soul.  Sometimes, he did not deconstruct the language of the day well enough to recognize its arbitrary cultural constructions, its prejudices and unfounded assumptions . . . and other times he did not deconstruct older religious and mythic languages well enough.  In Jung's finished product (not a completion of a task, but simply the state of things when he died), many cultural artifacts, both modern and ancient, remain and remain relatively unreflected upon.

With only a few exceptions, Jungians have not engaged in the conjunctive soul-languaging task that Jung devoted himself to.  Instead, they found in some of his attempts comfortable and idyllic grottoes tucked away from the modern world where they could sip a bit from the sacred font.  And this is where most Jungians set down their roots.  But I think that these anti-modern grottoes of thought and language were for Jung more like weigh stations where bits and pieces of his thoughts paused briefly while he figured out how to bring them together and into motion with other thoughts.  This dynamic and ongoing reassociation effort has never been an important (or remotely conscious) thrust in Jungian thinking post-Jung.

A vaguely parallel effort has moved forward in recent years to connect Jungian thinking with postmodern academic theory.  I suspect that the desire behind this is to pick up some of the scraps that fall off the academic table (rather than say, attempt to innovate in either the liberal arts or social sciences . . . occasional declarations of such intentions strike me as overblown and fantastic).  Misguided though this effort might be on some levels, it may inject some languaging awareness into Jungian thought.  The struggle then will be whether Jungians can maintain a sense of Jungian selfhood and not be totally assimilated into postmodern theory and study.  I would prefer to see Jungians glean some languaging awareness from these fields without begging from them or risking assimilation and loss of selfhood . . . but it is hard for Jungians to break out of the habitual complex of oscillating between grandiose puerism and shame-ridden (shadow-identified) dejection.  The relationship with the puer in Jungian culture is home to serious malignancy.

Regardless of whether Jungians will start to pursue a renewal and continuation of Jung's languaging project en masse, that project will be (and has been) my own chosen path.  And what I have found in picking through the Jungian corpus is that Jung has done most of the preliminary work for us.  That is, he has established the prima materia necessary to select and distill from.  Jung's great strength as an intuitive thinker enabled him to sniff out the psychic material one would need to construct a viable, contemporary psychological paradigm.  He had his fingers in all the right cookie jars: myth, fairytales, religion, pre-modern/tribal culture, mysticism, dreams, creativity, art, imagination, spiritual disciplines, psychological pathologies, evolutionary biology, and what is now called complexity theory.  Jung was drawn to these areas and driven to valuate the psychic phenomena or data these realms of human thought and experience produced.  And he not only valuated them separately, but recognized the value of their interrelation.

Jung was a great valuator of psychic phenomenon, and I think it is this pattern of valuation that serves as the thriving root system of Jungian identity.  It is what draws people to Jungian thinking and what sustains the compulsion and numinousness of Jungian ideas and objects of study and wonder.  It is my attraction to and valuation of this same root system that leads me to consider myself a Jungian (even as I have many languaging conflicts with other Jungians).  The problem we face (as a Jungian identity group or tribe) is that we do not have a very conscious appreciation or understanding of our relatedness.  We do not very well understand this root structure of psychic valuation or pay much attention to its survival and growth.  Despite the powerful emphasis on the "unconscious" and the "depth" of the psyche in Jungian dialect, our eyes remain fixed on the manifest, egoic, and superficial constructions of Jungianism.  That is, the terms, beliefs, compulsive identity constructions, totems, taboos, and trends.  We speak frequently of God and gods, of soul and spirit and numen and "anima mundi", but we relate to these things only superficially and to the degree that they forge for us a collective sense of identity.  That is, we respond to their value, but the response is unconscious.  We feel the value of these things, but we don't know what it is we are feeling or why.  Our experience of these valued things is totemic and static, and the things themselves are related to only as language-totems, husks, informational constructs, signifiers loosed from what they signify.  This is the superficial stuff of our tribal identity construction, and we feel only the unconscious drive to preserve these husks, having no insight into the dynamic, complex objects these husks were originally meant to represent.

We remain in a state of fundamentalism, where the text must be preserved vigorously and at all costs . . . a kind of defense of the Word of God.  But we relate to this God only through the defense of its Word, not intimately, not as a dynamic, complex, living entity or system.  We have clung to static informational signifiers at the expense of the very "soul" we so adamantly chant about.  This is what happens when languaging doesn't remain dynamic and responsive to the living and growing complexity of the thing it is designed to express and describe.  Jung spent his life trying to language the soul, and that process was one of continuous evolution and change as he responded to the shifting and many-faceted complexity of the object itself.  We Jungians have spent our decades since engaged in the worship of mere snapshots of the process that Jung himself engaged in.  We have mistaken the text for the object, for the god itself.  And so, we have lost the god, the source of living, dynamic complexity.

Jung, I contend, was a better valuator of psychic phenomena than he was a languager or psychologizer or interpreter.  On a valuative and intuitive level, Jung grasped the relatedness and importance of his object of fascination and study.  But his languaging intelligence trailed behind.  His collected works leave us field notes and piles of loosely organized but relatively unanalyzed data.  Yet it is this languaging Jung that has been deified by Jungians . . . even by those Jungians that struggle with and attempt to reject father Jung, the tribal founder and demigod.  Rejection of a deity (which is usually substitution of one deity for another) is a form of religious behavior, and that rejection or criticism is chosen instead of some kind of relationship to Jung the valuator.  Jung the valuator remains hidden in shadow, a kind of alien or invisible being.

I am essentially saying that we have erected false idols, idols that serve the defense of the Jungian ego and identity construction and do not serve the Jungian tribal Self.  We do not have a communal relationship with the Self.  Our Jungian endeavors are largely determined by the desire to satiate our egoic wants.  The study and valuation of the soul has been eclipsed by our need to have the soul languaged in such and such a way . . .  so that we can feel secure in our adopted sense of tribal identity.

The genuine process of individuation is a psychic movement that would dissolve and reconstruct this state of selfhood.  It would dismember the inflexible and inflated self-interest of prevailing Jungian egoism and reorient the intentional drive of Jungian identity to the facilitation of the Self-as-Other.  Therefore, my critique and revision of Jungian individuation theory is directed not merely at bettering the understanding of the individuation phenomenon, but also at the treatment of the Jungian soul (or Self), which I feel compelled to respond to due to my valuation of it.

Individuation is always directed at this manner of project, is always devoted to the valuation of the Self system and the relanguaging of the Self in highly aware egoic terms (as a Logos).  To individuate is to feel this instinctive compulsion and to follow its organizational thrust until it is no longer truly "optional" or chosen.  For the individuant, the egoic facilitation of the highly valuated Self system principle has become the new seat of identity.  Individuation itself is a finite process of establishing this condition of devotion and responsibility to the Self-as-Other.  It is ultimately an ethical movement.

Go to Individuation, Part 2, "Wholeness and Selfhood"

C.G. Jung’s Red Book: A Critical Review

Although many Jungians interested in the publication of the Red Book have not yet had the opportunity to read it (especially due to the supply vs. demand and cost prohibitions . . . as of February 2010), a number of reviews have already appeared.  There has been something universally dissatisfying to me about these reviews.  They are not necessarily dishonest, but they strike me as inadequately far-seeing and insufficiently critical (in the analytical sense, not the oppositional sense).  Woolly thinking is not that unusual in the Jungian mindset, but some of this signature woolliness seems to be trickling out into the construction of the Red Book's publication in non-Jungian media, as well.  Of course, it makes for more interesting press if the publication of the Red Book is constructed as a "happening".

Although sobriety and restraint do not usually color my calling card, compensation certainly does . . . and I feel that there is some need for a compensatory review of the Red Book.  My previous reflections on the Red Book dealt with its psychology (and therefore Jung's psychology), but here I would like to provide a slightly more literary review of the text.  I will forgo the standard descriptions of what the Red Book is and how it came about (both the original and the newly published facsimile).  In other words, this is not a newbie's review of the Red Book.

One of the reasons I did not initially jump on the bandwagon of Red Book reviewing is that I find the Red Book nearly un-reviewable.  There is no such thing as valid universal criticism of texts.  Texts have to be placed into a context of purpose and the specific construction of their audience.  These don't have to be the ones the author assigns to the text, necessarily . . . but when talking critically about a text, it must be fixed and contextualized in some way.  One of the major problems with reviewing the Red Book is that it is ultimately impossible to say what this context should be.  Jung's own contextualization is complicated and rather vague.  Editor Sonu Shamdasani believes (and make a valid case in his introduction) that Jung intended the Red Book to be published . . . which would lead us to assume that the audience for the Red Book would consist of a combination of those interested in Jung's personal life and psyche (e.g., the audience for Jung's autobiography, Memories, Dreams, Reflections) and those who practice or study Jungian analysis (who would presumably look upon the Red Book as a case study of an especially rich individuation process).  Related to and subsumed in these groups are those Jungians who are looking for a kind of paternal root and foundation to their own Jungianism, a touchstone.

It is this latter subgroup that pumps up the excitement of the "happening" and generates the tribal numinosity around the unveiling of the Red Book, although in my personal experience, relatively few Jungians are willing to admit how significant this factor is to them while also looking upon it psychologically and with an analyst's investigative fascination.  I noted this because I would describe this analytical fascination with the relationship between the Red Book and my own "Jungianized" psyche as my primary orientation (as previous posts in the Red Book Diary make clear).  At this point, I have been a bit surprised to see how many Jungians who obviously feel a numinous participation with the Red Book (and with Jung himself) seem compelled not to accept the shadow inheritance evident in the Red Book.  That is, arguably, the Red Book offers insight into the individuation process and into the "way of Jungian individuation", a kind of Jungian identity mysticism.  To the degree that such an identity mysticism is participated in through the Red Book, the shadow of this identity is also participated in (although perhaps unconsciously).  As Jung himself pointed out, every ego position casts a shadow, for to take any position is to engender its opposite or that which the chosen position neglects or opposes.

Therefore, to deny that there is a shadow inheritance for Jungians in the Red Book is to deny that the Red Book has anything to do with Jungian identity . . . which would be absurd.  The publication of this book would not be a "happening" if it had nothing to do with identity.  The book's numinosity for Jungians is essentially a factor of participation.  If the book proves to be numinous to non-Jungians, that too would be due to a willingness to participate in the book's identity mysticism.  Mysticism relates to Mystery (as in the Mystery religions), which is etymologically rooted in "initiation" . . . and an initiation is an identity transformation or reorientation based in participation with a group, tribe, god, or ideology.  Individuation itself can be seen as a generic mysticism . . . while Jungian individuation is a construction of that mysticism through "Jungian-approved" terms, ideas, symbols, and dogmas.

With that in mind, I would like to embark on a journey of contextualizations (and scrutinies of those contextualizations) for the Red Book.  We must first contend with the discrepancy between the way Jung contextualized the Red Book (as far as we can discern) and the way Sonu Shamdasani, the Philemon Foundation, and W. W. Norton & Company have contextualized its publication.  There has been much grumbling and some debate about whether the Red Book should have been published.  Aligned against Shamdasani are various Jungians who feel that the Red Book was too personal to have been published or that it was not really intended to be published, and Shamdasani's efforts to do so were violating on some level.

My position on this is fairly partisan: I definitely feel that the publication of the Red Book was legitimate and necessary (for Jungian psychology to have any chance at evolving).  The fear that the book will verify to the public that Jung was mad (or a Nazi or a this or a that) is if not absolutely irrational, entirely unimportant.  That is, anyone who feels the Red Book proves that Jung was insane already thought Jung was insane.  To the more balanced perspective, there ends up being no fodder whatsoever in the Red Book to corroborate a diagnosis of psychosis in Jung.  If anything, Jung's attitude (as narrator-persona of the Red Book) is extremely sober, Swiss, Christian, upright, and skeptical of/resistant to the fantasies his imagination regurgitates.  This is not to say that he remains unaffected during his psychic journey.  His reactions are very emotive and dramatic (melodramatic at times).  But they are largely the emotions of (to put it a bit too plainly, perhaps) a prude . . . and not a decadent of any sort.  Anyone who has been through an individuation event similar to Jung's (psychotic or otherwise) should be constantly struck while reading the Red Book with how defiant and resistant Jung's narrator persona is to the whole endeavor.  It is not unfair to say that Jung's narrator spends the majority of his attention and effort refusing, denying, resisting, and being disgusted by much of what has fantasies ask of him.  He is not a true supplicant, an initiatory sacrifice.   His "triumph" (and perhaps his personal goal) during the journey is in consistently maintaining some degree of detachment and non-compliance with the "unconscious".

It must be noted that this makes Jung a very odd mystic.  By the standards of mystical convention, Jung remains in some not insubstantial way unchanged as he undergoes his Mysterium, defying the archetypal "intent" of the transformative initiation process.  This is not to say that he is utterly unchanged, but he is definitely not utterly changed, either (as an initiate into some form of Mysteries would typically be or feel; rather Jung's transformation is more characterized by an increase in confidence and sophistication that comes from succeeding willfully at a task he had set out to accomplish . . . Jung is concerned primarily with reaching his own standard of achievement or attainment and does not allow the achievement to be define for him by the psychic forces he engages with).  Of course, there is a historical precedent in initiate figures like Christ, Buddha, and many others of temptation by some form of evil during the initiation or identity transformation.  And this temptation is (archetypally) to be resisted.  But Jung seems to treat the entire phantasmagoria of his process as a temptation.  He is immensely skeptical of the whole affair.  It is odd, as Jung was critical of what he saw as a Christianization of mythical pagan personages that lumped and reduced them all into the Christian devil.  And yet, in the Red Book, Jung's narrator is overtly concerned that most of the personages of his imagination are "of the devil".  Jung's stance is that of somewhat less "heroic" St. Anthony.

This attitude (one might even call it anti-Jungian) compliments the significantly Christian orientation of the Red Book's narrative.  Much of this narrative and the process it describes depicts Jung as a Christian trying to come to terms with a psyche that is either non-Christian or only perversely Christian.  The Jung of most of the published Collected Works (the Jung we are more familiar with) was less prudishly Christian where matters of the unconscious were concerned.  Yet, at the same time, some aspect of his Christian prudishness stuck with him.  He maintained throughout his life that some degree of egoic resistance to the power of the unconscious had to be maintained in a psychically healthy individual.  Jung may have outgrown the state of mind that carried him through the creation of the Red Book in various ways later in his life, but the Red Book very neatly depicts his own prescribed methodology for dealing with the "irrational" and numinous unconscious.  Jung demonstrates his method of what could be called the maintenance of a "strong or resilient ego" during periods of psychic transformation.

I found this demonstration fascinating (and troubling).  On one hand, Jung proves that this kind of ego-resilience can be achieved . . . and I would have thought it utterly impossible.  Now I (and every other Jungian) can finally see what he meant by this ego-preservation and strengthening.  On the other hand, there are two significant problems with this prescription.  First, it is still entirely impossible for the many millions of people who aren't Carl Jung or aren't equipped with the same degree and kind of temperament, will, intelligence, and perseverance he was (and so the method is still unprescribable, at least in a psychotherapeutic context).  Second, this fortification against and detachment from the psychic process of radical identity transformation does not come without repercussions and externalities.

As I wrote previously in the Red Book Diary, I am not satisfied with Jung's treatment of the soul and anima figures in the Red Book.  He never values them to the degree I feel is warranted.  The other side of this coin is that he overvalues the wise old man/patriarch figures of his fantasies, especially Philemon (he seems to eventually see through the previous ones after flirting with them . . . flirting being the most accurate term for his relationships with them).  One can speculate from this that Jung might have had either a father fixation or some significant homosexual tendency (or both).  We know he had such feelings for Freud at one point (as he himself admitted in a letter to Freud).  I'm not inclined to make too much of this or sensationalize it or displace it into our more homosexuality-perceptive postmodern cultural context.  It doesn't matter to me if Jung had a more or less latent homosexual tendency.  I don't think that is any kind of secret passageway into the true workings of Jung's personality.

But I do feel that his intellectual and quasi-erotic attraction to these powerful patriarch figures coupled with his seeming distaste for more emotive and "irrational" female figures says a great deal about Jung's psychic constitution.  It is the kind of thing that would stand out to an analyst who observed Jung as a patient.  What it "means" is hard to determine (perhaps impossible) . . . but it is definitely significant.  We note, as we don this lens, that although Jung remains thoroughly un-seduced by the anima figures in the Red Book (even as he had always characterized the anima as a seductress), he is repeatedly seduced by the patriarch figures.  With a number of these patriarch figures, he has a "morning after" epiphany and then provides a corrective to the previous episode.  But the female figures never penetrate Jung or get him to comply with most of their requests.  More importantly, perhaps, what they have to say and represent is generally not well understood by Jung.  Even when he dismisses them, he fails to see all of them or see through them . . . and they seem to be more genuinely Other to Jung's ego position.

Observing this, we are forced to ask why it is that Jung characterized the anima as so seductive when in fact he himself was substantially more susceptible to patriarch figures and their magical "Logos".  There is in this an easily detectable worm in the apple of Jung's anima theory.  It is even fair to say that Jung seems to have projected his seducibility onto the anima, when in fact it was the Logos-bearing masculine that muddled his mind and attracted his "irrational" heart.  As obvious as I find this conclusion to be in both the Red Book and (along side the Red Book) in Jung's Collected Works, I feel doubtful that many Jungians will leap to the same conclusion.  There are many Jungian tribal affiliations and identity constructs that would have to be seen through and deconstructed before this "obvious" conclusion can be made.  But I feel it is obvious to anyone who is not caught up in those Jungian identity constructs unconsciously.  When Jungians will be able to intelligently and constructively discuss this topic I don't know.

This latent "complex" in Jung's psychology and in his individuation model ultimately raises the question of whether this model (as portrayed in the Red Book) is the only valid one to pursue.  That is, is "Jungian individuation" really an adequate representation of archetypal individuation?  To say the least, I feel Jung's model deserves substantial scrutiny and is probably in need of revision.  I have addressed that somewhat in other installments of the Red Book Diary, and it is only tangentially important to this review, so I will leave it at this for now.

To return to the issues of contextualization, we know that Jung primarily created the Red Book to help signify and study his own individuation experience and engagement with the unconscious.  But he seems to have frequently used it as a touchstone in conducting some of his analyses with patients and more personal interactions with colleagues.  He relied on the Red Book for help in orienting some patients (and himself) to their own irrational and numinous psychic experiences.  He did not necessarily say: "See how I did this?  Do it like that."  But he did treat the contents of the Red Book like pure archetypal manifestations of psychic complexes and scenarios.  In some sense, then, he conducted his analyses (and his mentoring of other analysts) out of the Red Book (not just as a physical text but as an experience of "THE Psyche").  He therefore obviously felt the book had some value in this regard.

In my opinion, valuing the Red Book in this way is very much akin to valuing it as a relevant case study (of individuation).  That is, he does not seem to have directly prescribed visionary experiences out of the Red Book to his patients and colleagues.  Rather, Jung saw the Red Book as a modeling text not unlike, say, Faust.  It did not necessarily represent capital-T Truth, but it portrayed something with universal or archetypal elements that could readily be related to other people's experiences of certain psychic phenomena.  It is my opinion, therefore, that Jung (at least in part) contextualized the Red Book as a case study relevant to the study of the individuation process and the treatment of analysands.  If he also felt the Red Book was a mystical indoctrination text, this does not show as obviously in Shamdasani's reconstruction of the Red Book's history of usage.

And yet, Shamdasani and the publishers have not really positioned the Red Book as a more or less "scientific" case study.  They have promoted it as a numinous text that will revolutionize Jungian scholarship and perhaps mysticism itself.  The book is designed by the publisher and editor to function as a totem, a religious object with some kind of mystery embedded within that possesses transformative powers.  The totemization of the Red Book is quite evident also in the sheer size and cost of the book, in its devotee-perfect facsimile-plus-translation construction, and especially in the (to my mind) odd and excessive promotion of the book's publication with "viewing" and lecture events structured as if some mystical convergence of the universe had occurred . . . and everyone should be excited.  The dawning of the Age of Aquarius, perhaps.  Thus my calling the events of and surrounding the publication of the Red Book a "happening".

But these things encourage us to ask if the specific construction and presentation of the published Red Book is not a displacement (and perhaps even a misappropriation) of Jung's initial contextualization.  I don't mean to proffer a fundamentalist gripe regarding the "amorality" of misappropriating a text.  It is not at all uncommon for objects of art to be appropriated by various ideologies.  An artist even expects this (or should) to some degree.  To create art is to give birth to something the artist no longer fully controls (and perhaps exercises no control over whatsoever).  Although such appropriation can also occur with more academic and philosophical texts, the blatant acquiescence to appropriations evident in the Red Book's publication and promotion seem to make a definitive statement: this is an object of art more so than an academic text.

And this is the arena of conflict with Jung's original contextualization that we as both audience members and potential critics should be most concerned with.  What is it, really, that this object of art called the Liber Novus is representing, and what is this representation saying?  What is being represented is not as much a text created by C.G. Jung as it is an art object (and aesthetic/philosophical statement) coined from the psyches of Sonu Shamdasani, the board of the Philemon Foundation, Norton, and not insubstantially, the collective Jungian and quasi-Jungian imagination.  That is, to some degree (and sometimes very directly and materially in the case of donations to the Philemon Foundation or contributions of effort to its projects and organization) Jungians as a collective have licensed Shamdasani to melt down and reconstruct a Golden Calf, a "craven image", a totem from the numinous stuff of Jungian fantasy and longing.  We should not be deceived by the fact that the Red Book is a dedicated facsimile of the original or that Shamdasani's scholarship bolstering and cradling it is profoundly thorough and excellent.  The Red Book is still a Golden Calf, a totem . . . because that is how it has been position and conceived, and that is how it has been received and how it was intended to be received.

Golden Calf analogy not withstanding, I don't have any intention of playing Moses and chastising all the Jungian idolaters.  What was done, despite having some potential offensiveness to Jung's memory and some of the feelings of the Jung family members, was not a sin.  It is, though, a fascinating psychic phenomena well worth the careful investigation and analysis of Jungians all over the world.  Such analysis, at least publicly published, is it seems, still forthcoming.  It doesn't bother me that the publication of the Red Book has been a totemization.  On some level, I am actually happy to see this, because it provides Jungians a rather transparent psychic artifact, holds up a mirror to our tribal identity, tells us what we want, what we need, where our dreams and fantasies reside.  But my perspective is probably far more analytical than that of most Jungians (curiously so, since I am not an analyst . . . but not being an analyst helps enable me to maintain a slightly more distanced/less participative perspective on the Red Book publication as phenomenon).

But the choice to promote the Red Book as an art object inadvertently (I think) enters it into the realm of aesthetic critique.  Although many Jungians have pranced and brayed about Jung-the-artist, those who are more artist (or art critic) than Jungian remain nonplussed by this new "art discovery".  As well, they should be (says my own inner art critic).  No doubt Jung was a surprisingly talented artist (and a pretty good fiction writer) for also being a world-renowned psychologist and theorist.  But he was not and is not a true contributor to the history of modern art.  Which is absolutely fine, because he had no interest in being any such thing.  This isn't to say that some latent talent for art couldn't have been developed by Jung . . . if he had had a different personality.

In this artistic contextualization of Jung and his Red Book, we need not be concerned that Jung's inner visions will be interpreted by the ignorant and the non-believers (the "uninitiated") as evidence of his madness.  But there is certainly cause for concern that Jungians will foppishly parade themselves out into the modern world with their flies down.  The embrace of the Red Book's artistic contextualization merely demonstrates how profoundly naive and out of touch Jungians typically are where the modern is concerned.  Personally, I only feel a small twinge of shame about this.  Mostly, I find Jungian daftness endearing in the way an absent-minded professor might be endearing.  Like this fictional professor, Jungian naivete regarding the "real world" does not mean that Jungians are fools.  The "real world" is not so hot . . . and "perfect" adaptation to its conventions is by no means something Jungians have coveted or should begin coveting.  But there is still some degree of the Emperor's New Clothes phenomenon afoot here.

And I also wish that Jungians wouldn't have tried to reintroduce themselves (and their mystical founder) to the world in so naive a fashion.  Because I feel that Jungianism really does have something to offer the "rest of the world" (even the modern world) . . . and that it is more an issue of our habits, complexes, and blindnesses that prohibit this offering than it is the narrowminded stupidity of everyone else (who do not recognize the"true Christ" in their presence).  Jungians (who advocate such an opinion) are correct, I think, to place much importance on the publication of the Red Book.  The Red Book's publication can help revitalize Jungianism.  But the elixir belongs to and must be drunk by Jungians themselves, not the rest of the world.  The Red Book is not the Gospel . . . it is a potential wake-up call to Jungians alerting them to the fact that they have next to no grasp of their own psychic foundation and no conscious or constructive influence over the way they build on that foundation.

By making this event into a Golden Calf, Jungians tempt their own internalized shadow-Moses to stumble down from the real ecstasy on the mountain and be horrified with the abuses of "salvation".  But no one is that Moses in the flesh.  It is only a personage within all Jungians that roars out from depths within to say that we are on the wrong path, that we have lost the eternal flame, that we do not understand.  Like Prufrock's women who come and go talking of Michelangelo who tell him, "That is not it at all.  That is not what I meant at all."  It's an affective, perhaps even non-verbal voice from the Self that reacts to the ego position and indicates that we have "fallen from grace" and would do well to "get right".

But the publication of the Red Book beyond the Jungian tribe is not that important.  It does not "dare to disturb the universe".  It is not "Lazarus, come from the dead, come back to tell you all.”  And we Jungians are not Prince Hamlet.  We are merely an "attendant lord" in this whole unfurling Passion play . . .

one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.

T.S. Eliot gives us a wonderful image when he compares the woman who tells Prufrock: "That is not it at all.  That is not what I meant at all."  He tells us that this revelation affects us "as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen".  That is, it projects and illuminates our complex (and our stuckness in it) outward into the publicly visible realm.  Outside of our own grandiose and Lazarus-like conceptions of ourselves, we are observing "the eternal Footman hold our coats and snicker".  We are revealing far more than we think we are.  And the objective, then, is not to become more expertly guarded, but to actually pay careful attention to what exactly it is we are revealing.  What may prove mildly embarrassing "publicly" is a vehicle for our own deeper reflections and possibly, our transformations.

But we have to be ready to look at ourselves, at our Jungianness and realize that although we may very well "have heard the mermaids singing each to each" . . . they do not sing to us (and did not keep singing to Jung, as the Red Book demonstrates).

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown.
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

I don't necessarily think Jungians are collectively ready to embrace their alchemical dissolution.  But the publication of the Red Book affords us a unique opportunity to become reacquainted both with ourselves as Jungians and with a more human version of our tribal founder.  In other words, the Jung we stand to discover (if we are lucky and willing to see) is not the Jung-as-Christ from his Salome and serpent vision.  Yet it is the Jung as true spiritual and psychological founder of our tribe and its identity totems.  We now have deep access to Jung's psyche, his complexes, his obsessions and egoic attitudes.  This Jung is a veritable Pluto of psychic wealth willing to pass on his inheritance to us . . . so long as we are not kneeling in a line with open mouths or upturned hands or ready to cross ourselves or shout hallelujah.

I do not mean to advocate disrespect, but the secret to creating the Philosopher's Stone is to learn to recognize the Philosopher's Stone on your own psychic dung heap.

The Red Book that C.G. Jung created was not an object of art (where art is a public consumable).  But the Red Book that Shamdasani and Co. have given us is.  Or rather, the phenomenon of the Red Book's publication they have given us is.  It's a kind of performance art . . . and it will not glorify Jung or Jungians.  But it is exquisite in the way it "throws the nerves in patterns on a screen" like some magic lantern.  And those illuminated and projected nerves are the nervous system of our Jungian tribe . . . which we have either forgotten about or never known.  These patterns await our investigation and communion like ancient hieroglyphs.  We will have to learn how to read a new language.  And the rest of the world will be as befuddled or misunderstandingly mesmerized by Jung as they have always been.

I think we are standing at the cusp of something new.  It may not be the Age of Aquarius.  In fact, it could very well be the beginning of the Jungian Ice Age and great extinction.  I only know, or feel, that it is an opportunity.  Nothing will be delivered.  Resigned to this inevitability, we have nothing left to us but to create.


Red Book Diary – A Failed Individuation Journey?

I finished reading the Red Book this weekend (10/24/09).  There are many things I wanted to reflect on along the way, episodes for this diary.  I still hope to get to at least some of these.  By the conclusion of the book, there were so many thoughts stirring in me.  I found myself slightly cranky.  Not really disappointed . . . the feeling was deeper and more complex, something very difficult to process.  The crankiness or moodiness comes from the anxiety of being unable to build a bridge from affect to language.

I would like to use this unnumbered installment of the diary to reflect on these feelings (it is being written after the 3rd installment).  Many of my reactions in this post will be personal.  I don't want to do much (and ideally no) textual criticism here.  I want to try to suss out what the Red Book meant to me both before I read it and after, how I positioned myself in respect to it and how it has changed me.

As the perhaps provocative title of this post intimates, one of the key questions for me at the end of the book was: does this elaborate mystical fantasy of transformation that Jung indulges in and soldiers through amount only to a failed individuation?  I don't mean that it was "just an illusion" or that it was delusional, psychotic, or meaningless.  I mean that it depicts a genuine individuation event, but that event does not bear fruit or even achieve what it set out to.

To compare the process and goal of the individuation event recorded in the Red Book with my own theory of the individuation (or simply the anima work) process, the conclusion would have to be that, indeed, the Red book ultimately depicts a failed individuation.  It bothers me, though, to be inclined toward this conclusion.

It disturbs me in some way, and yet everything I've been writing over the past couple years or so predicted this.  All the criticism I've written of Jung's theories and of Jungian theories has suggested that Jung and Jungians do not understand the animi work, have not developed a theory that describes it to its completion or that makes sense of it as a whole, and have bungled or at least left dangerously unfinished a viable theory of individuation.  The precedent for these failures is evidenced in the Red Book . . . and that also (if it is possible to establish logically, and it may not be) suggests that my hammering on about the complexes of Jungianism (the Jungian tribe) being firmly rooted in Jung's own complexes is a more viable argument than I even assumed it was.  After all, those failures that are described or implied in the Red Book remain major dark spots in Jungian thinking: the anima, individuation, Christianity, dualism, spiritualism, the hero, the somewhat unseaworthy attitude toward science, patriarchal egoism, lack of adequate differentiation in the shadow, a narrowminded and prudish attitude toward inflation.  These are all elements of what I have been calling the Jungian Disease.  In the Red Book, Jung deals extensively with all of these things . . . and in my opinion, he fails to find a functional paradigm with which to understand them and grasp their interrelationship.

One of the reasons the outcome of the Red Book should not really be too surprising to me is that I have essentially developed my revisionary theories as a treatment of this very disease.  The larger struggle that remains where these theories are concerned is a matter of convincing Jungians to take seriously that they actually have a disease or complex like the one I have described.  It is no doubt much harder for certified Jungian analysts to pathologize themselves and their tribal affiliations than it was for me to pathologize myself as I struggled with the accompanying fevers and delusions of the Jungian indoctrination I fed myself on.  I have always been my own primary guinea pig in the numerous attempts at treatment I've experimented with.  Although I think I applied the Jungian treatment successfully and to significant effect, having to devise ways to treat my own residual Jungianness has been more of a creative and often divisive process.

I think I am over the hump on this leg of the treatment, but the real trick is to treat the specific "poisonousness" of my Jungianism without amputating that Jungianism.  Amputation of any poisoned organ of tribal affiliation does not generally work.  We merely take our disease to a new tribal affiliation until its poisoning manifests.  Then we blame that new tribal affiliation or ideology or religion and fly off to find something we haven't polluted yet.  But even in a cultural or tribal complex there is a fusion between personal and tribal complexes that is inextricable.  I don't mean to prescribe a kind of Jungian treatment by returning to one's original religion, necessarily.  After all, it is unlikely that any tribe or institution has the answers readily available to the problems of its own complexes.

If one, say, has some kind of "Christian complex", going back to the Church or seeking any kind of return to faith is not likely to resolve it, because the Church has no solutions for its real devils.  But the symbols of the tribe or institution can be revised, reworked, pushed to evolve.  It takes a dangerous and potent imagination and an ability to "live in sin" or violate tribal taboos, but it is possible.  The alchemists are a case in point.  They tried to treat the Christian complex they were born into (which was generally a devaluation of matter, instinct, soul, the body, and the feminine).  There is no evidence that alchemists wanted to refute their Christianity or even saw their Work as in opposition to the Christian tribe.

To the extent that the alchemists succeeded in their experiment, a treatment of the Christian disease was devised . . . but its application or regimen was so convoluted and strange that it could not be distributed like some kind of Communion wafer at mass.  In order for alchemy as treatment of Christianity to be affective, one had to become an alchemist and devise elaborate, mystical variations on the general understanding of the alchemical opus.  Each had to, in essence, write his (or her?) own Red Book in which a personal Logos was developed.  I.e., alchemy was a mysticism.  The result, though, was esoteric writing that did not make adequate sense to most others.  Those to whom it did have some resonance still had to recreate the alchemical experiment in their own ways.  It wasn't self-help.

In treating the Jungian Disease, one likewise must find some way, despite what may overtly appear to be heresy, to feel and perhaps still be Jungian.  I'm not sure if other Jungians must be convinced of this.  But it is a necessity of the participation mystique or transference to the totem of the Jungian tribe.  If one individuates, one must do so in association with a tribe.  The tribe is needed in order for there to possibly be an individuated relationship to it.  We cannot individuate in a vacuum.  Even individuation is ultimately all about Eros, about how the individual relates to others and to the tribe with which she or he is most deeply affiliated.  And the validation of that individuation is still determined by the tribe, not by the individual.  The tribe validates the individuant by making use of the individuant's individuatedness, innovation, or revision in some (conscious or unconscious) way.  That is, the tribe must itself form a relationship to the individuant in order for that individuation to be entirely valid.  And if a tribe has an excessively difficult time forming relationships to its individuants, the tribe will gradually begin to ossify and crumble.  That relationship is what allows tribes to be adaptive and survivable in times of environmental crisis.

As for Jung, although there may be many others of note, two tribal affiliations stand out to me.   The first is to a kind of 19th century, rationalistic medical science that believes in rigorous, detached thinking as a kind of patriarchal virtue.  The second is to German romanticism with all of its occult fascinations, its Christian and pagan mysticisms, its arcane metaphysics and spiritualisms.  Jung was no doubt an individuant from both of these tribes.  That is, he stood in relationship to them by also distinctly apart from them.  But he did not, I think, manage to find a way to stand equidistantly between them.  He stayed a bit too much within the opposing tribes participation mystique when he criticized the other.  As a modern, one who stands among but not truly within the innumerable tribes of modern society, Jung's individuation was not completed.  That is, he did not succeed at understanding all of his tribal affiliations to the modern and differentiating them in himself.  He accepted some of his cultural constructions as granted and true.  Perhaps greatest among these accepted constructions was the patriarchal myth of the great man who with individual power subdues chaotic nature and renders it usable to human hands, anthropomorphizes it, perhaps even commodifies it.

In the Red Book, episode after episode of visions pit Jung against the implications and seductions of this tribal affiliation of which he is significantly blind.  And episode after episode, he fails to grasp its impermanence, arbitrariness, and constructedness.  Sometimes he ends these encounters feeling he has failed to understand something, and sometimes he leaves them feeling he has conquered and forced a transformation.  But the inflation of those achievements soon fades, and Jung is back to an abject state of frustration and despair again.

With each failure to comprehend the apparition of the Grail that passes before him, he does generally learn something, sees through some subtle illusion, lifts some veil.  And in this process, he develops (at least the foundations of) many brilliant insights about the modern and about the ways humans deceive themselves.  Yet he prides himself too much on his differentiating cleverness and seems to think he can solve every puzzle, slice through every Gordian knot with the fast blade of his intellect (a Jungian might say, "thinking function").  Sometimes this causes him to leave an encounter or conversation feeling like he has comprehended something of the "Mysteries" only to recognize in the next episode that this comprehension was inadequate or even totally incorrect.

Jung, the narrator of the Red Book, is a devout and very extreme "thinking type" at the beginning of the book.  He has numerous encounters with characters that make him feel complex emotions and affects and beg him to feel his way through various hells and puzzles rather than think his way through.  He understands that he must, in order to follow the hunger of his Self and his instinctual process of individuation, somehow integrate or form a more developed relationship to his "inferior feeling".  He concocts many mystical rituals and anointing conversations with gods, souls, and wise men that are at least in part meant to lead him toward his inferior function.  But he never really gets there.  He is (in my opinion) continually distracted by patriarchal godhead and gods, great men, prophetic attitudes.  He wants so passionately to work on the masculine god image that he seems to completely misunderstand that the relationship with the soul/anima is the true vehicle for this "knowing of God".  The message of the anima work is that one must feel and love God or the Self before any gnosis can occur.  The union of ego and Self does not come in the arena of mind, and although Jung's soul figure does try to convince him that this work is about love (not knowledge or enlightenment or transcendence), Jung can accept this only abstractly and intellectually.  He cannot erotically and Erotically unite with the Self-as-anima because he keeps looking for a patriarchal god figure, something more egoic, more like him and not so Other.

The Jung at the end of the Red Book is no more in touch with his feeling than he was at the beginning.  In fact, he seems significantly less so, because not only do his soul figures become demonized and perverted by the end, he actually finishes the Red Book (as if this could somehow make sense or be the fruit born from all that went before!) with the Seven Sermons to the Dead.  The Sermons are pure metaphysics, Gnostic theology, hierarchies of form in the Godhead.  There is nothing feeling-oriented about them at all.  They are pure "thinking type" texts, the thinking function at its most transcendentally inflated and detached from the earth of its feeling.

To the degree that Jung conceived individuation as some kind of integration of the inferior function or the formation of a more valuating relationship to that function, the process recorded in the Red Book is an abortion.  Without doubt, the thrust of the book's mysticism is all about such an integration/valuation . . . but Jung never accomplishes this in a tangible way.  We cannot say that he has become either more feeling or more conscious of his feeling intelligence as complex and valuable by the end of the book.  He does peak somewhere along the way.  It seems like he is making slow progress and may eventually "get it".  But the last chapter (Scrutinies) marks a distinct retreat into thinking type inflation and devaluation of its other.

This seems to bring to mockery Jung's notion of the transcendent function.  I've always felt that this concept was, although not really incorrect, at least overly mystified and woolly.  Jung's Red Book fantasies portray much of the transformative mysticism, dance out the usual symbols of transformation, but for me the whole process of this mystical transformation stayed almost entirely within the realm (and the grip) of the thinking function.  As he was contaminated with the numinousness of these images he may have felt like he was transforming, but I could detect no real evidence that any transformation of perspective had occurred.

Of course, this is not to say that Jung's individuation process stopped with the journeys recorded in the Red Book.  He lived (I believe) more than 30 years after he stopped working on the Red Book.  Also, it has been my experience that individuation events (like the mystical hazings of the Red Book) become more meaningful as time passes and one is able to language and process the experience better and in more practical ways.  These transformations feel immense when they occur, but then we go back to our everyday lives and find that we have not become gods nor devised any significantly better living strategies.  The real grunt work is done after we detach from the breast of the numinous . . . even as it feels much more mundane and terribly slow and small.

But, despite the inevitability that Jung continued to individuate in ways after his Red Book experience, those flaws that mark his failure to individuate or adequately valuate his inferior function (and soul) depicted in the Red Book always in some way remained a part of his theories.  Even his late works like Aion and Mysterium Coniunctionis bear the indications that those wounds that remained exposed at the end of the Red Book were still bleeding and unhealed.

Jung notes in his unfinished epilogue to the Red Book that he turned away from the project when he discovered alchemy, whose symbol system better allowed him to make sense of his inner world.  And yet, I detect in Jung's alchemical writing the same kinds of mistakes and failures of valuation he made in the Red Book.  Actually, the Red Book is extremely alchemical even preceding Jung's alchemical studies.  It gets at least one of Jung's mistakes with alchemy correct.  Namely, it shows that the Nigredo comes after the Coniunctio . . . or that the Coniunctio leads directly to the Nigredo.  In most of Jung's alchemical writings, the Nigredo is made to seem like a primary state of loss of soul or depression from which individuation then can begin.  This is sometimes more implied than directly expressed by Jung, but as I have written numerous times previously, this is a grievous and unforgivable error . . . even if it is only implied.  It has enabled Jungians to see every depressive introduction to the archetypal or instinctual unconscious as a "Nigredo experience".  But the true alchemical Nigredo is in fact a rather advanced mystical achievement dependent upon enormous sacrifices and painful differentiations and revaluations and enantiodromias.  The Blackening stage of the Nigredo is actually the first forged state of the Philosopher's Stone.  It is not merely the initial dissolution or dissent into the Mercurial bath.

Jungians (who have continued to misuse this symbol in their psychology and metaphor making) have introduced and perverted a mysticism in service of an indoctrinating process.  It is, to me, not only an intellectual and scholarly mistake, but an ethical failure.

Of course, no true Nigredo is depicted in Jung's Red Book (or it wouldn't be a failed individuation process).  There are plenty of deaths and rebirths, descents and ascents, treks through desert and hell.  And aspects of the Nigredo are intimated in the symbols flashing over the pages.  But it never completely feels right to me.  Jung fails to valuate the Other (as anima) and join with it . . . so he cannot find the Coniunctio or truly understand that its sacrifice means both the sacrifice of his newly valued anima (which is to be valued above all other things if the Coniunctio is to ever have the teeth it needs to be a valid threshold experience) and of his newly emergent heroism.  And if there is no true Coniunctio, there can be no Nigredo . . . which is the product of the Coniunctio.

These failings that come under the captivity of the thinking function may also be directly related to one particular fact.  Namely, that the Red Book (though it mentions dreams occasionally) is entirely an active imagination exercise.  Its fantasies develop out of a fully conscious Jung.  And even if that consciousness is relaxed somewhat in order to allow fantasies to well up, the power of consciousness to translate and direct images is still significant.  I have always felt skeptical about active imagination as a provider of genuine individuation material.  And I say that even as a poet and artist myself.  So I know that the instinctual Self can find its way into art . . . as can our autonomous obsessions and complexes.  In my experience, the Self enters conscious creation only in unexpected ways.  We might devise an active imagination fantasy in which we make a token sacrifice in the hope of conjuring a god, and then the god shows up where we can capture or converse with it.

But in art, we cannot call the gods to action with our will or even our need.  We can only make significant openings in ourselves, set out the right kinds of feasts, show the right kind of hospitality.  And this is done through various convolutions and accidents and slips of control . . . abaissment du niveau mental.  The gods only appear in ways we do not dictate.  And it is quite likely that we will not recognize them at first, even that we will despise and reject them in the form they appear.  Jung makes use of the story of Philemon and Baucis, who invited the disguised gods into their humble home and cooked their only goose for these strangers.  He (or maybe something below the surface in him) is on the right track with this symbol, but what is not adequately expressed by Jung is that, in the city of our psyche, there is only one small voice of hesitant valuation, one little impoverished couple, one Philemon and Baucis.  The rest of us rejects the gods, cannot ever see the gods, and even probably hates the gods.

We cannot become the great valuators of the gods (the Self), knowing them, anticipating them, conjuring them with magic (Jung makes Philemon a magician with such powers!).  We have to settle for very subtle, very occasional signs that must practically be divined.  Even to grant bodies, voices, and personages to affective dynamics of the Self system can be to force captivity and therefore devaluation upon the gods.  Perhaps some relative innocent could get away with asking a god to take human form and join a conversation, but Jung was a genius, a man of extremely powerful intellect.  That brilliance leaves substantially less room for the gods to slip into the manikins Jung molds.

It seems to me that conducting a mystical transformation through active imagination is simply too precarious, involves too much control, too much ego.  This sort of thing must be done through dream work or through ritual.  I can see a creative ritual in which some monument or offering is erected ceremonially to a mystical encounter of the past.  And the Red Book claims to be that.  But it is just so difficult to give these dialogs and fantasies utterly over to the unconscious, especially for a modern, very brilliant, very knowledgeable, but very lopsidedly "thinking type" man like Jung.  He just exerts too much egoic power over the theater to allow it to put on the divine play.

And yet, he does surprisingly well, considering.  It does seem to me that the gods and the Self process slip onto and off the stage.  They can occasionally be glimpsed behind the figures in the fantasies they have been impressed into playing.  At least until "Scrutinies", in which the presence of an Otherness seems to finally disappear altogether.  Still, even before that, it seemed to me that Jung's narrator was able to assert too much control over the dynamics of the encounters, and his projected others only got to say what it was he was willing to allow them to say most of the time.

I am also speaking from a personal prejudice here, because I have had a very (strikingly) similar experience to that recorded in the Red Book, but mine was done through dream work.  I never trusted my own conscious imagination and intellect to lead me or conjure true encounters with my soul (even as I hungered to be able to have such sorcery at the time).  What I call my anima work experience took place in a dream cycle, and the anima figures had total autonomy . . . while even my dream ego belongs to the construction of the dream and not my conscious will.  In the inevitable comparison between this dream cycle and the Red Book, I can't help but see that the dream sequence depicted a much more elegant and less muddled construction of the anima work.  It took me many years to even begin to be able to language that experience functionally, but even from the middle of the dream sequence, I had learned to valuate my anima.  And I never experienced any sort of deception or dangerous seduction from these anima figures.  There was never anything I had to resist, to fight off from the anima in a "manly fashion".  (I did have one dream in which an impostor-anima tried to emasculate me, but a genuine anima figure arrived before this happened and told me I shouldn't submit to it.  Anima Work Dream #4, Coniunctio and Sacrifice).

It makes me think that the complexity and complication (and length) of the Red Book is largely a product of Jung's resistance to and lack of valuation for his anima or soul.  By this resistance, he devised hell after hell to traverse, grand puzzle and grand temptation after grand puzzle and temptation.  But there is no puzzle to solve, no dangerous temptation to resist in the anima.  One merely commits oneself to valuing this figure and process utterly, essentially falling "madly" in love with her.  And then one refines that love and valuation, stripping away selfishness and control of the Other, demand that the Other provide, save, or complete the ego.  The anima work progresses on the quality of the heroic ego's love for the anima . . . and concludes only when the heroic ego comes to see that the ultimate state of love is one in which the desire for the Other to be connected to or even within oneself is seen through and recognized as a desire for that Other to provide for the ego.  To love is to ask (or demand) no providence.  It is to facilitate the Other in its specific uniqueness and drive . . . and not blindly or out of unquestioning belief, but out of a deep knowing of the Other's needs and potentials.

At that point, the initial model of romantic love can segue into the facilitating, valuating love of the Self.  Therefore, the animi-as-romantic-partner and twin or soul mate is relinquished and depotentiated, as is the heroic sense of self that woos that kind of partner.  What seemed at first like it would be a glorious Coniunctio, a hieros gamos, becomes instead an acceptance that ego and Self are and must be in some sense divided and differentiated in order to fulfill the deepest love.  This division is not a distancing, but a sense that it is relationship (meaning a self and an other) that is the engine of the personality, not transcendence or becoming or oneness.

In the Red Book, Jung never stops crying out, "Save me, teach me, forgive me, anoint me, obey me".  But he is generally not very responsible with what he does and says to the representatives of the Self.  And he can imagine himself in the role of receiver or demander or thief or murderer (thief of another's life or soul) . . . but as giver, facilitator, intentional healer, as one who treats the other in an enabling or constructive way, Jung is significantly impotent.  This is at times pointed out to him by his soul . . . but he doesn't get it.  And eventually he becomes Demonic and powerful enough to intellectualize, pervert, and mystify the soul's voice, effectively neutering the functional and Self-driven Otherness in his psyche.

That description makes hims sound like a fiend . . . and I don't think that was the case.  In fact, what Jung devised incredible devious and sophisticated ways to achieve and rationalize, most people do without even thinking.  They don't suffer guilt for the murder of their gods.  They are so detached from ever valuating the Self or the Other.  Jung's battle with valuation of this Other was a testament to his sense of ethics.  But in the end, after winning many small but important compromises at the negotiating table, he was simply conquered by the Demon.  But at least he was conquered and did not freely give himself to the Demon with excitement and desire like most people do.  Those compromises he won allowed him to imagine and understand the processes of individuation and mystical initiation very thoroughly (although not completely) on a thinking level.  His contribution won from these compromises is extremely important, and it gives us a way into this citadel of Self.  It may only be a way paved with words and intellectualized thoughts, but it is a way.  And if one has a facility with language, an ability to not fall into transfixed fixed revery at big words and ideas but to put them to use, make them practical, survivable, adaptable, changeable, this tunnel Jung constructed is a great boon, a red carpet rolled out for us to stroll easily down, that ushers us functionally in.

It is more as a mysticism that Jung's psychology flounders.  As a psychology and an attempt at a science of soul, it offers great possibilities.  It is a wonderful foundation and first step, and as a science, it lends itself to being revised logically and as needed.  But as a dogma, as a fully elaborated way and model of individuation, what Jung left us is poisoned.  Not incurably so, at least I hope.  But it is infected.  And to the degree that we use Jungianism as a mysticism and not a science (which is considerable and, I think, even underestimated by those who claim to resist and dislike Jungianism's mysticisms), we perpetuate the Jungian Disease.

Still, I feel grateful for having some truly useful foundations and for having a diseased Jungianness to treat.  It is a great blessing to have something treatable at hand, because many indoctrinated Jungians are analysts.  They are better equipped than we tend to imagine for the treatment and even redemption of the Jungian tribal soul.  But our pride and poisoned mysticism clouds this for us.

I will leave this emotive response off here.  And although I only give the most fleeting valuation of the blessing of treatability the Red Book offers in the previous paragraph (after excoriating Jung for his devaluations of the Other in the many words preceding), I do want to reiterate that this treatability is what most stuck with me in the end.  Yes, the road ahead is intimidating . . . and I have little faith in the Jungian ability to diagnose and treat the Jungian complex effectively.  But the Red Book's depiction of disease illuminates the structure and origins of this disease.  It makes treatment possible and logical.  At this point, Jung and his personal demons no longer stand in the way of Jungian treatment of the tribe and the progressive revisioning of analytical psychology.  Now, only the Jungian demons we have inherited remain.  The battle with these demons has come down from the unreachable ethereal heavens and relcoated itself into our individual psyches.  We fight, therefore, with ourselves to effectively treat Jungianism.  And although these fights with ourselves are the easiest ones to lose . . . they also make victory a possibility.


Red Book Diary – 3

Margin of Error for Jung's Personal Equation

The second fascinating episode of the Red Book (after the previous dialogs with the soul) involves the already somewhat familiar fantasy encounter with Elijah, Salome, and the black serpent that Jung discussed in MDR (as well as at a conference in 1925).  What I would like to do here is an off the cuff analysis of Jung (and his psychological construct of the anima) based on this fantasy or active imagination.  I don't mean this to be anything like a thorough or clinically adequate analysis of either Jung the man or of Jung's analytical psychology . . . but there is a decent chance that it is possible to shed some light on both of these by looking analytically at this fantasy.  I won't reconstruct the plot.  I'm just going to jump right in.

I propose that Jung's anima is not equivalent to Salome (as depicted in this fantasy of a sequence leading up to the mysterium or deification of Jung or Jung's thinking function).  This didn't occur to me until I saw the full text of this sequence as depicted in the Red Book.  But now I feel it is more accurate and functional to see Elijah, Salome, and the black serpent all as dissociated aspects of the anima figure or process in Jung's psyche.  I am here, of course, applying my own revisioning of Jungian anima theory and making no attempt to adhere to traditions and conventions in Jungian thought.

So, along these lines, I see the anima (and animus) as prefigurations of or envoys to the Self.  I agree with Jung that the animi figure is primarily a transitional figure in the psyche and that it represents a process that has some sense of a beginning and an end.  Systemically, it characterizes a process of state change or phase transition where the system reorganizes itself in a seemingly sudden cascade.  Therefore, it can also be seen as a threshold experience or initiation (when viewed in a more colorful and perhaps tribal way).  We also have alchemical symbolism and chemical reactions to look to for metaphorical grounding.

Two preliminary questions must be asked and addressed.  1.) Why are these three figures all parts of the anima? and 2.) If these three together represent a whole, why do they appear here as divided?

As to the first question, some functions of the anima (or animus) when metaphorically personified are as follows (this is a non-exhaustive list).

  1. To present the Self-as-Other to the ego as something incredibly valuable and attractive, something that must be present or connected with in order for the person to be truly "whole" or healthy.
  2. To help break down the rigid egoic structures that have stalled the personality in a state of Bad Faith (I call this stasis-making influence in the personality, the Demon . . . and Jung, to the partial degree he differentiates it in the Red Book, calls it the "spirit of our time" and contrasts this with the "spirit of the depths", a kind of Self system; he might also consider it a "persona", but this I feel is inadequate).
  3. Along with #2 above, to catalyze a reorganization or state change in the system of personality through what seems initially to be a seduction or poisoning that works to dissolve the prior too-static structure and organization of the system.
  4. To woo the ego away from an attitude of Parental dependence on the Self and a desire for the Self-as-God/-Parent to provide sustenance, inspiration, salvation, and libido to the ego.  (See the excerpt quoted in installment 2 of this diary in which the soul says to Jung's narrator, "You speak to me as if you were a child complaining to its mother.  I am not your mother." [p. 236])
  5. To activate the archetypal hero or heroic ego (Jung means something entirely different by this term than I do), who is the true lover of the anima . . . and eventually (after the anima work is complete), the devoted facilitator of the Self system.
  6. To inspire, co-create, and help conceive (along with the hero in the completed Syzygy) the beginnings of a "Logos" or languaging in which the ego can translate (to some degree) and respond to the needs and "thoughts" of the Self.  Therefore, the anima (in its envoy role to the Self) serves as the initial translator of the Self's affective prelanguage.  The anima makes this language more personal and familiar to the ego.  But the culmination of the anima work (or animi work) is the inheritance of responsibility for the translation and languaging of the Self's organizing principle by the ego.  The acceptance and fulfillment of this responsibility is what I mean by the term "heroic".

We can see in light of this abbreviated list that the functions performed in Jung's mysterium fantasy by Elijah, Salome, and the black serpent are all aspects of the anima process and figure.  Salome as "other" (especially to Jung's prudish, rationalistic thinking function/narrator) represents the affect and sensuality of the anima, the desire for the hero and the attraction of that hero.  She is the invisible borderline where the erotic becomes the Erotic, where romantic and sexual desire becomes "spiritualized" or equated with the instinctual necessity of a functionally interrelated and homeostatic Self dynamic.

Elijah represents the Logos-bearing function of the anima, that which translates the affect of the Self-as-God into the Word.  As the father of Salome, he also represents (as is made more overt in a subsequent fantasy) a kind of alchemical Old King for whom Jung's heroic ego is the replacement and rejuvenation, the New King.  This accords with anima function #6 above.  The inheritance of responsibility for the Logos is part of the animi work.

The black serpent represents the instinctual, regenerative, and transformative aspect of the unconscious as initially portrayed through the anima figure.  Her "love" and partnership is not merely a "completion" or blissful fulfillment of selfish longing (and seeing it as such will prevent the anima work process from completing itself).  This union is a kind of sting, a scarification, or initiation wound.  The anima wound or Coniunctio can take numerous forms, but what is really being marked on the ego is a kind of initiation event and passage into psychic adulthood.  What is taken away (the healthy unmarked, "virginal" flesh where the wound will now be) is the provident relationship to the Self-as-Parent/Provider.  It is like the mother's nipple plucked out of the infant's mouth, a kind of weaning.  In the place of this absent breast, a terrible new burden is left: the burden of responsibility for the welfare and facilitation of the Self system.

This would typically correspond with an individuation event where the individual is severed extensively from his or her tribal affiliations (which were part of the complex that maternally provided the milk of Eros and the sense of tribal identity on which the rigid system of personality has become overly-dependent, necessitating the state change into a more dynamic and adaptive system).  That is, the initial environmental imprint of the Self is the mother, then the family, then the tribe.  We develop (more or less unknowingly) a somewhat infantile dependence on the sense of identity and protection these things provide.  But in the individuation event of the animi work, the Self is being re-imprinted because the old imprinting has left too many dissimilarities between the Self system and its tribal construction.  The Self system is inherently adaptive, dynamic, and fluid . . . while socialization and tribal indoctrination is a matter of laws, rules, specific procedures and role plays, status and hierarchy . . . things that are static and not animate of themselves.  The animi work strips much of the imprinting and "languaging" away from the Self image and allows a new, more individual, and more dynamically adaptive myth to be established in its place.  This myth of self-creation is what I mean by the term Logos.  But at the end of the animi work, we have not yet developed a Logos though which we can functionally interact with the Self.  The animi figure always did this for us . . . and that service is no longer provided.  What follows this animi work is a period of gradually figuring out how to construct a viable Logos in conjunction with the input and needs of the Self.

In this sense, the symbol of a "prophet of God" is one who has established a Logos that effectively conveyed and facilitated the instinctual Self system, allowing it to enter the world/environment as a mechanism of adaptation.  But environment changes . . . especially as we mature and pass from infanthood into adolescence and on to adulthood (all of which constitute different human environments).  Therefore, the Old King (languaging relationship of the ego to the Self) must be dissolved and reconstituted by a more adaptive New King.

The skin-shedding serpent represents the ability to change states or alchemically "transmute" into something rejuvenated.  But its power or mana (as we can derive from its blackness) is chthonic, deeply instinctual, somewhat reptilian.  That is, it is a fully autonomous process at its core in which no egoic intelligence is detectable.  It is alien and devalued/othered.  It is the Self or animi as process or mechanism rather than as familiar and somewhat egoic personage.

These elements can all be seen fairly evidently in the triad from Jung's fantasy.  But do they have to be split in this way, and if not, why have they been?  In my own anima work experience, there was no such division.  But there was a transition at one point from a more erotic/sexualized anima figure to one that was a Logos-bearer who taught me (in a dream) something about that role.  That dream made it clear that clinging too tenaciously to the sexual/attractive aspect of the anima amounted to a missing of "the point" and a temptation of dependency.  She had always been a Logos-bearer, but I had not initially realized this, as I had too intellectual and verbal a notion of language (or, as the anima herself phrased it, my thinking and language was initially filled with "Germanisms").

But in Jung's fantasy, something more severe is impeding the fluid wholeness of the anima . . . and Jung has a very hard time seeing his own "Germanisms" (though there is a moment in the Red Book during which his overly Germanic thinking or attitudes are brought under scrutiny!).  I have the feeling that we see Jung's anima divided into three characters (only one of which is clearly female) because of the extent of his personal and cultural prejudices and misogyny.  He simply cannot understand that the Logos is borne by the anima . . . even as his visions proceed to beat him over the head with this (again, he may have some breakthroughs later in the text on this account, but I have not finished reading the whole book yet).  He also (we can presume from the differentiated black snake figure) struggles to understand that there is a transformative element in the erotic.  Sex and woman are devalued objects for Jung here.  He is really only able to value Elijah, the so-called wise old man figure.

But before the mysterium fantasies, Jung dialogs with his soul as a unified entity (see transcription at the end of the second installment of this Red Book Diary).  Following the mysterium fantasies, Jung reconstructs the same basic scenario of Elijah and Salome as a sleepless evening spent in the castle of an old scholar who is obsessed with his books and his "kept" daughter, who yearns to connect with the outside world (through Jung-as-stranger).  I think I will write separately about that episode in greater detail, but for now it is worth at least mentioning that the old scholar from that fantasy (who Jung associates with Elijah at one point) is so obsessed with his books that he ignores Jung's presence and doesn't enter into any intellectual conversation with him (which Jung whines about to the daughter in a later scene).  There is the Old King showing his age and his impaired Eros.  After Jung finally comes to accept the daughter as a vision of his soul and grant her a bit of valuation (it's an epic struggle!), she concludes their meeting with the conveyance of regards from Salome.

My hunch is that the anima work cannot be brought to fruition and completion if the anima figure is not fully valuated and allowed to be the Logos bearer it truly is.  This work is all about valuation of that which is other to the ego . . . and Jung gets this, but must keep it in a glass-walled case of rationalization and intellectualization.  It is fine to learn by small steps, but I worry that Jung's resistance is so severe, that he will never get to the journey's end at this pace and with this prejudice on his back.  I mean to suggest that there is something essential missing or broken in Jung's dissociation of the anima into erotic female, wise old man, and snake.  It is like an engine with the spark plugs removed.  It can't really rev.  The car won't run.  The system can't convert fuel into fire and drive the mechanism.

I am also encouraged to speculate on something that I have always distantly wondered about: the place of the wise old man in the Jungian pantheon.  It is one of the signature Jungian archetypes . . . and it has always struck me as a pocket of disease where Jungianism has a complex.  I have long felt that Jungianism has an artificial identification with the senex . . . and a corresponding shadow projection onto the puer.  Yet, from the perspective of one outside the tribe, Jungianism is clearly a puer enterprise.  It is only within the tribe that we feel our indoctrination and membership enable us to be wise and old.  Far from being a mid-life philosophy, I feel Jungianism is very specifically adolescent.  The desire to identify with the senex is a failure for us.  A failure to individuate, a failure to valuate the puer, a failure to look into our own tribal shadow in a constructive way.

In my own anima work, although older male Self figures (usually portrayed in dreams by my father) played significant roles from time to time (although not usually as teachers), I never had a wise old man figure emerge.  In waking life, I certainly experienced some father/mentor hunger at various stages . . . but I also saw how my desire for this led to destructive projections or could have (in which I demanded far too much from any potential "initiators")*.  Perhaps my fantasy of Jung himself most of all fit this role and transference for me when I was younger . . . but this fantasy was never one of discipleship or initiation.  Rather, it was more of a commiseration on one level and a feeling of valuation for my "individuation sufferings" on another level.  This fantasy-Jung had no answers for me, just a sense that there was precedent and meaning in my dark, meandering path.  When I pursued an active imagination exercise (in the writing of a song) exploring (among other things) this fantasy of Jung, I met him inside the belly of a whale and he said he would grant me a wish in return for a favor.  His problem was that he was supposed to be dead, but couldn't seem to find his way into the underworld.  He had gotten lost or trapped in a dream in which he was dreaming that he was me.  He told me, "Your life is stupid.  You're a fool."

*This will likely be the topic of a future installment of this diary, as Jung's narrator goes on to petition numerous potential wise old men teachers, throwing himself deferentially at their feet like a disciple-in-waiting, only to eventually see through the "wisdom" they represented.  He comes to identify as a devil because of this irrepressible dark urge to undermine or see-through his paternal masters.  My suggestion (to be elaborated in that future installment) is that this devilish unraveler of dogmas in Jung's psyche is, although he doesn't seem to recognize it, his anima.  There are also interesting parallels between these episodes of failed discipleship in the Red Book, and Jung's falling out with Freud.

I asked him (a la Parsifal) if I should search for a Grail (if I was to be a fool, that is).  Instead, he handed me a photograph of the "underground phallus" from one of his earliest dreams recorded in MDR.  I asked him what I could do for him and my thigh started to bleed.  He replied, "You got Visa, they don't take American Express?"  But I had not "credit" on me, so he then asked for my body in order to make a peace offering to the dead.  I gave this to him in the form of a "crate full of lead".  And the wish I made in return for this favor was to be back in my bed.  The wish was granted: I was back in my bed . . . in the belly of a whale!

A series of misadventures ensued . . . and as I finally started to "get it", I met Jung again.  He was floating down the river Styx on the crate full of lead I had given him while in the whale.  My anima (as Persephone) and I waved to him from a ship we were sailing on, and he threw us a cup.  Persephone filled this with Ambrosia and we both drink as Jung passed, finally, into the land of the dead.  This song (called "Talkin' Hades Return to the Underworld Blues") could be seen as an example of my own "mysterium" or "deification" fantasy corresponding to the fantasy Jung relates of Elijah, Salome, and the black serpent (I have to say, though, that my song is significantly less portentous and more humorous than the Red Book . . . but nowhere near as pretty . . . and this says something interesting about both myself and Jung).

The deification fantasy that Jung does describe in the final mysterium fantasy requires further reflection.  Even as he seems an unwilling participant in the process to some degree, there is undeniably a grandiosity to it all (as there is in my song, where I "find myself" by remembering I am Hades).  Two things must be said about this symbol and the grandiosity that surrounds it.  First is that I believe some of this grandiosity to be a usually side effect of the numinous experience of initiation . . . but I also think that the grandiosity of Jung's fantasy is inadequately tempered by the right kind of humility.  That "right kind of humility" is one that (in this case) needs to supplant the temptation to intellectualize the experience and make wordy, abstract, metaphysical philosophies out of it.  There is just a bit too much "interpretation" in Jung's thinking function assessment following the deification fantasy.  He dulls and distorts it . . . and has a hard time disentangling the symbol of deification (what I would more subtly call heroic initiation or response to the heroic Call) from the exaltation of his thinking function to a level of spiritual truth-saying.  That latter turn or interpretation is, I believe, the temptation of inflation or Demonic colonization of the heroic knighting experience.

For instance, becoming the new "prophet" replacing Elijah is a bit too presumptuous.  The status of "prophet" in one's own psyche is reserved for the heroic ego who has developed an intricate and sophisticated Logos through which the Self system's dynamism is facilitated.  The heroic knighting or response to the Call that is, I think, the real psychic event Jung's fantasy is depicting, is merely the beginning of a journey that will (if fulfilled) end in the Logos-bearing . . . and only after the anima is fully valuated and united with.  And then, to bear the Logos is, especially at first, to bear not-knowing, to have no adequate language, to be lost in blackness and instinctual affect and shadow.  It is no mastery, no "truth-saying".  In Jung's interpretations and elaborations of his mystical encounters in the Red Book, there is an abundance of languaging . . . and that abundance helps resoundingly demonstrate this languaging's inadequacy and Jung's "thinking-type" fear of or defense against not-knowing.

But in fairness, the response to the Call does essentially allow the "Holy Spirit" to descend upon the heroic ego in baptism . . . and that will always lead to intuitions about what the completion of the anima work will bring . . . and numerous Demonic attempts to skip ahead and identify with that fantasy of the completed Self and mystical Goal.  I don't therefore mean to condemn Jung only to inflation.  But I do feel that this mysterium deification should not be interpreted by Jungians as indicative of an "individuation" or spiritual/mystical transcendence.

One thing that Jung either misrepresented or I have misremembered in his MDR retelling of the Red Book deification fantasy is Salome's worship of the deified Jung "as Christ".  In the Red Book, Salome does tell Jung he is Christ (and he replies to her in a way similar to Christ's reply to Pilate: "You, Salome, say that I am Christ?").  She wraps Jung's feet with her hair as the black serpent coils around his body and his face becomes like that of a lion and blood flows from his body.  And when she rises up from this act, she is no longer blind (the symbol of her blindness, by the way, doesn't strike me as any kind of archetypal anima blindness . . . rather it is Jung's projection of blindness and lack of insight upon her.  This blindness personifies the blindness of Jung's thinking function).  Elijah tells Jung his work is done for now.  As Jung leaves feeling somewhat deeply moved but perhaps somewhat unworthy and out of place, Elijah erupts into a huge white flame while Salome, enraptured (and with the snake wrapped around her foot), "kneels before the light in wonderstruck devotion".

Even in the role of Christ, it is as if Jung play only a bit part, acts as a kind of cog in the mysterium ceremony, which seems to have more to do with Elijah, Salome, and the black serpent.  Salome's role here is that of a recipient or bearer of the Logos flame.  Her eyes are opened for it.  And just as she is granted her sight, so is Elijah transformed into pure fire and light.  Jung is not yet ready to take on this responsibility.

Below, I make an error in understanding the notation for the layout of the Red Book.  The painting pictured here is not what I originally assumed it was.  The painting actually depicts the hatching of the egg into which Jung placed Izdubar to carry him inside a house in a later passage.  Jung worships what is released from this hatching; it is not Salome.

One of the reasons I wanted to write this diary of reflections on the Red Book in such haste is that I wanted to allow room for even mistaken reactions like this.  What I learn from this particular one is that the strong emotional reaction I had to Jung's interaction with Salome and his soul (and his misogynistic attitudes in general) led me to associate in my own mind Jung's dream of his father and this painting.  Jung, in fact, has much less of a problem bowing down before images of masculine transcendence and power (as he continuously gravitates toward wise and/or learned men in the Red Book journeys).

Still, this is more of an error of scholarship/citation than a substantive mistake.  As I wrote in my reflections on Jung's dream of his father, the failure to completely bow down to Uriah-as-the-Highest-Presence is a failure to observe the supremacy or greater value of the true hero and sacrificed partner of the anima over the "Great Man", David, who steals/usurps the lusted after Bathsheba and has her husband killed/betrayed in a most cowardly of ways.

I have been learning as I progress through the Red Book that my desire for Jung to "get it", to find a way to valuate his anima as I feel it should be valuated, is an obstacle in the path of my understanding of the text.  I think my assessment of Jung as somewhat "anima-impaired" and prone to misogyny is valid . . . but the Red Book seems to have at least as much to do with Jung's relationship to his own heroism and his relationship to masculine images of divinity, wisdom, and power/mana.  I'll continue to investigate this as this diary progresses.

What I wrote below about the anima as Logos-bearer also remains valid . . . although Jung may not have recognized this.

I am also reminded in the painting of this scene (in which Salome's head is touched to the floor in supplication to the Logos flame) of Jung's dream of his father, the fish-skin bible, and Uriah as the Highest Presence that I previously posted some reflections on.  In that dream, although Jung's father assumes such a position in regard to Uriah-as-Highest-Presence, Jung cannot quite bring himself to touch his head to the floor.  It seems to parallel his attitude toward the anima-as-Logos-bearer.  Just as Jung was witness to Salome's devotion to the Logos flame, he is a witness to his father's devotion to Uriah.  But this witnessing is not the same thing as participating.  Perhaps Jung felt that such participation would have been a sacrifice of his autonomy and right to choose, but this is unconvincing to me.  One must participate in order to be fully transformed.  Autonomy and analysis can come later.  We cannot language these things before or even while we live them.  If we try to do so, we merely create a barrier between ourselves and the fire of transformation, the fire of instinctual affect, which is the force of the Self's organizing principle.

Jung seems to be constantly in conflict with his drive to participate in his own mysticism.  He moves from denials and protestations to distancing interpretations and displacements.  Rarely does he seem to exist in the moment.  It's odd because the Jung of the Collected Works is not what I would call a skeptic.  In these books he seems to usually participate in the subject matter and even falls into flights of poeticism, distraction, and digression.  As a writer, he is often at the mercy of a kind of creative momentum that appears to be a horse that directs its rider.  Of course, this feeling is more readily derived from his later writings . . . while the stuff of the Red Book mostly came on the heels of his split with Freud and "confrontation with the unconscious".  But the dream of his father mentioned above was a dream from late in his life . . . and where the anima was concerned, all of Jung's writing and lecturing seems to have exhibited this inability to completely touch his head to the ground, to valuate.

One last thing to mention in the context of this mysterium fantasy is something that also comes up in various places in the Red Book.  This is the idea of becoming Christ or a Christ instead of worshiping Christ.  This is a bit of Gnosticism that Jung wrestled with.  It intrigued him, but I sense a lot of consternation in his experience of this "Christhood" . . . and the Jungian disease I have written about elsewhere has a distinct problem with its temptation to identify as Christ rather than as Christian.  Jungians typically meet this temptation by thrusting the symbol of Christhood into the shadow.

Jung himself made what I feel is a drastic (but of course, common) error in equating the self (I prefer to use the capitalized Self) with Christ and with the "Christhood" of the whole personality.  The figure of Christ is not the same thing as what I call the Self . . . and this Self can never be "me".  It is not something I can become, even as it is always something that is "also who I am".  The Self is always Other on some level.  But the symbol of Christ is actually a representation of the "ideal individuant" or heroic ego sacrificing itself to valuate and facilitate the Self system.  As a devout "anti-Gnosticism" the Catholicism that Jung inherited contains an inextricable element of propaganda against Gnostic identification with Christ.  The Catholic Christ is exalted beyond human reach through totemization and taboo . . . and his gory Passion and crucifixion function as kinds of ornaments or scarecrows meant to ward off the Gnostic impulse.

But that Gnostic impulse is a natural event in any individuation process.  The heroic ego must be identified with for the animi work to progress.  By tabooing the individual identification with Christ, the Church tabooed the hero, and effectively thwarted the individuation process by associating the natural emergence of the heroic attitude with shame and terrible sin.  This is not merely an accident, as it was the desire of the Church to act as a monopoly where the communion between man and God was concerned.  Gnosticism was a great danger to the success of the Church because it encouraged individuals to self-create their spirituality, to self-validate.  Gnosticism did not seek to profit from implanting itself into a gatekeeper role.  But there is no doubt that the Church did profit, and it profited enormously . . . even as it also served a pivotal role in the destruction of a "middle class" and the lopsided redistribution of wealth in the Western world . . . the establishment of a wide scale serfdom.

There is more to the Christian self-deification taboo than pure sinfulness, but Jung doesn't really deconstruct the Church and its theology.  He seeks merely to revise it.  And even as his inclinations (as those of any individuating person) lean toward the Gnostic disposition, for Jung it is a matter of righteousness and true faith to properly reconcile this Gnostic revisioning with Catholic religiosity and theological dogma.  Jung directed most of his Christian criticism at Protestantism, but he did not exert much effort to deconstruct Catholic Christianity and Church doctrine.  And this is where the self-deification taboo and the anti-Gnosticism originate.

Therefore Jung (with the Jungians after him) has attempted to understand and pursue individuation without resolving the Catholic taboo placed on the hero.  This leaves Jungians in conflict with themselves, continuously see-sawing between the temptation to self-deify and the crushing, Demonic shame that holds that bit of Gnosticism to be inflated, immoral, and mad.  Of course, before Gnosticism, the Mystery religions carried out deification initiations where the madness of the god (Dionysus) was engaged ritualistically as a transformative agent . . . and this process, it seems, did not involve all the self-flagellation that Catholicism would introduce.

I would propose that the taboo and the intense shame surrounding the stuff of individuation as well as the tremendous temptation of grandiosity individuation seems to offer are not actually the products of necessity or inevitability.  These are cultural artifacts (largely, not entirely), the baggage of Catholic inheritance.  As this heroic self-deification was tabooed by the Church, it had no way of ritually bringing individuals into and out of the madness of identification with the god.  Here, Christianity is an irresponsible parent that can only shame but doesn't know how to nurture or "hold".  There is no Christian vessel of transformation for the individuant . . . and that makes the wilderness of the heroic journey all the more terrible and difficult to endure for Christianized Westerners.

Regrettably, Jungians have inherited a wholesale version of this from their founder, who was a deeply Christianized thinker.  Jung definitely made inroads in the heroic journey against the sway of Christian taboo and dogma, but he did not manage to differentiate the self-deification taboo in the roots of the Christian inheritance.  The result was a dissociation, an exaltation and prescription of individuation on one hand, but a shadowed and repressed individuation swampland on the other.  On the Jungian map of individuation, "There be dragons" is written over all the uncharted boundaries.  But what Jung was not adequately clear about was that these uncharted areas of the Jungian world are unavoidable for those who choose or are compelled to pursue individuation.  Therefore, for most of the Jungian tribe (who respect the map's dogmatic warnings about boundaries and dragons), individuation is a totem that can only exist as a sacred tribal object but not as a truly Jungian path of identity.  Individuation is a god we worship rather than a road we walk . . . just as Christ is an object of distanced worship for Christians to be petitioned with prayers and sheepishness, and not a true model to follow.

But if Jungians could find a way to look farther back into the ancient mystery religions, we could at least begin to imagine that the deification can be ritually "held" as a threshold of transformation.  How that could be done in the modern world is up to our invention . . . and it won't be easy.  But the pre-Christian (as well as the alchemical) past allows us to entertain that the successful navigation of such thresholds is at least possible.

What we Christianized moderns so often fail to realize is that becoming Christs is not as exalting as we imagine it to be.  It is the Church and its propaganda that tabooed and exalted Christhood far beyond human reach.  But for initiates into the Mysteries and for early Gnostics, "Christhood" was something that many people could participate in without becoming "superior beings".  Christhood, after all, is not about the power and the glory of transcendence.  It is actually about the facilitation of the god, of God, or of the sacred on earth . . . the facilitation of the instinctual, adaptive Self system in the environment.  Platonic Christianity ripped spirit away from its grounding in instinct . . . and in the process, created the spiritual disease of inflation and psychotic grandiosity.  But that grandiosity that Jungians so fear is properly understood as the product of a dissociation that resulted from the devaluation of instinct (the fall of Sophia or the soul into lifeless Matter).  As the Gnostic myths tell us, the freeing of this soul from Matter or instinct is the province of the Logos.

Jung's Salome is a soul figure who has fallen into Matter (as blinded, beheading, desirous sensuality).  She has been devalued and not allowed to have sight and language.  But she hungers to unite with the Logos . . . and as a figure of Jung's soul, she desires to be redeemed in the ensouled Logos of Jung's language and thought.  But he fails to create an adequate vessel for her to be born in or redeemed through.  We only glimpse her through the cracks in his resolve, where she is surrounded by shadows.

Maybe Jung found ways to enlarge these cracks as he proceeded through his life and psyche.  But the literature he left his intellectual and tribal heirs leaves no directions for accomplishing this.  There is merely a vague indication that, somehow, it should be accomplished.  But because we do not know how and have not been shown the way by the father, we fail again and again and have developed a complex around this with its myriad illusions and misdirections.  We devote a great deal of time and energy to trying to escape from the sword of this complex . . . but we rarely choose to face the blade and work to transform it.  Like Jung in the Red Book, we mostly shrink away from our soul and from the threshold of initiation it governs.


Red Book Diary – 2

Partitionings and Prejudices

Two things struck me most as I began reading Jung's Red Book.  The first was that it felt very familiar.  It felt (more so than sounded) a lot like things I had written during my anima work.  My journal writings were a lot less formalized . . . there were no revisions, no sense that they would become a product intended for an audience.  But that feeling of somewhat grandiose clawing to make sense of the rush of numinous images and affects that come from the dissolution experience, that feeling of being in over your head in something both fascinating and terrifying, that feeling of being utterly ill equipped to make much sense out of what you are experiencing.

Jung's writing also felt familiarly Jung-ian to me.  All of the dualism, the dichotomization of Opposites, the idea that everything "light" must have a "dark" component.  This seems to run throughout the Red Book.  It is a core layer of Jung's mysticism.  But what is most interesting (to me) in seeing it applied in this style and topic of writing is that it seems . . . perhaps "tacked on" is not the right term, but it seems very much a kind of arbitrary interpretive paradigm held up to a spontaneous psyche that does not really divide so easily into opposites.  And that leads me to my second initial impression.

In Jung's fantasy dialogs with his soul, we see a very distinct opposition.  Jung obviously senses and means to explore this opposition with the text's experiment.  Jung's identity in the Red Book (at least thus far) is, well, not quite that of a scientific rationalist, but certainly a devoted skeptic of anything irrational, mystical, seemingly "untoward".  In the terms of his own type theory, he is an extreme thinking type.  At least this is how he portrays his egoic attitude.

The opposition to the soulful madness and irrationality of the unconscious really stood out to me, because it was not the way I have experienced the unconscious or the anima.  One gets the impression that Jung was "playing up" the degree of his thinking type orientation.  Or rather, that he sought to identify with this typology excessively as a kind of defense, yet it was not completely natural to him.  After all, he was making the decision to have dialogs with his soul and record them in this grandiose, projection-laden, mystical text.  If he had really ever been a scientific rationalist, it's doubtful any such project would have ever been embarked on.

What I think I mean to get at here is that the splintering or compartmentalizing of personality complexes that would come to define much of Jungian psychology develops here as a paradigm or mold fit over an interaction with the spontaneous unconscious.  As one not entirely satisfied with Jungian type theory and the (over-)differentiation of numerous things psychic into specific archetypes, personages, and complexes, the splintering paradigm seemed partly artificial to me.  That is, I believe it was "honest" on Jung's part, but the division and "oppositionalism" struck me as the product of an arbitrary and under-investigated attitude or prejudice in Jung's thinking.

Still, to see these divisions helps us to understand Jung's thinking and theories.  But as a person all too familiar with the abstract, philosophical muddling about in language that the "intellect" is inclined to do when trying to make sense of the "soul", I felt that there was a powerful distinction in the value of what was being written that could be made between what Jung's "thinking function" narrator expressed in the name of interpretation and what Jung's soul figure/s expressed.  And of course, Jung's thinking function narrator has significantly more to say about everything than his soul does.  When the soul speaks, it seems as though Jung's thinking function really doesn't understand at all . . . and then it must go off in spirals of contemplation, speculation, conceptualization, and interpretation.  But these spirals (though I recognize them as an essential aspect of this kind of active imagination/meditation project) felt completely empty to me.  They meant nothing.  Yes, they sound deep and philosophical . . . but they are just elaborate, intellectualized ways of backpedaling and evading the direct comments and criticism of the soul.

I don't mean to completely discredit them.  It is easy to see how a number of Jung's staple theories evolved out of these abstracting, spiraling speculations.  So, for the historian in us, these parallels may seem fascinating.  But as "Philosophy", as insight into the Self system or into the anima, they are a worthless currency.  As one who has minted a great deal of this kind of worthless currency, I recognized its stamp.  I found myself impatient with this part of the text, and I skimmed over it (as much as my guilt over skimming the "sacred Red Book" would allow me).  But during these interpretive passages I found myself hungering for the return to dialog with the soul . . . or at least the retelling of visions and archetypal fantasies.

I don't feel put out by this thinking type "filler", but I worried as I slogged through it that other Jungians would see great wisdom and truth in these passages.  I'm not sure (and will have to wait to read other Jungian takes on these writings).  But these extremely familiar writings are what I call "projection texts".  That is, the texts themselves are meaningless or at least not really important, but the author has introjected him or herself into the subtext, which is a kind of transformative vessel.  We (who write) need to make such vessels and create such projection texts, because it is how we find our soul.  It is a way to let aspects of the Other into our minds in the hope that they will somehow fertilize us.  But it is easy to get lost in the textual facade (for both authors and audiences).  Much postmodern theoretical writing is a matter of projection texts.  The result of such writing is not (for the most part) a furthering of universal knowledge or the creation of a better way of seeing a particular issue.  What happens is that those who fall into a transference with these texts tend to unconsciously move toward classical tribalist formations.  The texts are totems (things into which great tribal value is projected) . . . and they must be worshiped.  They are used for indoctrination and the regulation of tribal beliefs.

Jung was not writing for this reason . . . and it is doubtful that most such writing is made to be propaganda.  It is mostly heartfelt and deeply believed in by its author.  But the problem of the mysticism of language is that it deceives us with the ruse of seeming to hold a latent sense or to be somehow interpretable.  It isn't.  This is not what such writing "means".  This kind of writing is about getting lost in the woods in the hope of finding oneself some place magical.  For the original author, this could be a communion with the Self or soul (as in the case of the Red Book).  But for other readers who are drawn to these texts, there is less draw toward their soul than there is to a sense of tribe.  The facade of these texts becomes the dogma of the tribe.  As Jungians already struggle in this arena, I worry that the Red Book would not help them out of that rut.

But for me, one who is curious about the soul of Jung and of the Jungian tribe most of all (and who doesn't want to fall into an unconscious participation mystique with the Jungian tribe), I wanted only to hear from Jung's soul figure.  Jung the narrator only really came alive for me when he was in conversation with her.  And that is the Jung that is least known to us, the one we are looking for in this Red Book.

In addition to the extreme "thinking type" posture Jung's narration takes in the Red Book, it is also very evident that Jung (or this thinking function aspect of his personality) exhibits deep-seated misogyny.  This distaste for women and the feminine goes way beyond a culturally constructed "19th century, patriarchal prejudice".  Often, Jung puts this fear and suspicion of women into terms that well predate his era . . . and even point back to a kind of Christianized association of woman with the devil.  It isn't quite a Malleus Maleficarum level misogyny, but it is severe.

This didn't come as any surprise to me, as this attitude is evident in his Collected Works, as well.  But it is pointed enough in the Red Book that it seems completely fair to say that Jung has some kind of "complex" where women and the feminine are concerned.  To be fair to Jung, though, the inner exploration recorded in the Red Book marks an attempt to address and repair this misogyny.  But we can say with certainty, being familiar with Jung's later writing on the animi and women's psychology, that the attempt to repair this misogyny through the psychic events that inspired the Red Book did not entirely work.  It didn't entirely work, but it seems to have worked a bit.

Jung portrays himself (his thinking function) in the Red Book as ever the reluctant participant in the "debauchery" of the unconscious's irrational assault (at least until he can rationalize away its sting).  An assault led or characterized by the anima, soul, or Salome.  I remain (being about half way through the text at this writing) uncertain whether Jung has exaggerated his thinking function and its misogyny and prudishness out of a "theatrical dissociation" into roles.  An alchemical text that would come to interest and perhaps influence Jung greatly later in his life was The Speculative Philosophy by Gerhard Dorn.  Dorn's writing takes a very similar dissociative approach (and significantly resembles Jung's Red Book writings) . . . although, in the case of that text, it is fairly clear that Dorn is employing this knowingly as a literary device.  This device was commonly used at least since ancient times.  Whether Jung employed it knowingly or not, it certainly lends itself to his theory of personality structure and complexes.

Whatever the case, Jung's narrator in the Red Book is not all that likable a fellow.  He comes across as simultaneously a bit thick (where otherness is concerned), prone to grandiosity, and excessively fortified with prejudice and prudishness.  Jung may have preferred to interpret some of these qualities as "womanish", but in my opinion they are really a shadow aspect of a rigidly constructed patriarchal masculinity.  He exhibits a pronounced fear of "penetration" or contamination (this is something of an oddity, because Jung was very valuative overall in his published writings where the irrational contents of the unconscious were concerned).  Every foreign thing from the unconscious must be elaborately and sometimes aggressively defended against for many paragraphs before a little bit of empathy and openness develops in his posture.  Even after this empathy is allowed to have a small space in consciousness, more rationalizations and limitations are then placed upon it.  The so called "soul" seems to be severely throttled throughout much of the dialog.  In MDR, Jung wrote something to the effect of having to lend his own voice to his anima/soul because she didn't have one of her own.  I would interpret this more along the lines of: Jung had to force himself to stop choking "her" for a few seconds at a time just to let her squeak out a few words.

And those words that do get out are much more important (to Jung's mental health and to our understanding of Jung's psychology, both personal and academic) than the tirades of rationalized prejudice and squirming that Jung's narrator performs.

I would like to quote a few paragraphs from this dialog here (p. 236-237):

Experiences in the Desert

After a hard struggle I have come a piece of the way nearer to you.  How hard this struggle was!  I had fallen into an undergrowth of doubt, confusion and scorn.  I recognize that I must be alone with my soul.  I come with empty hands to you, my soul.  What do you want to hear?  But my soul spoke to me and said, "If you come to a friend, do you come to take?"  I knew that this should not be so, but it seems to me that I am poor and empty.  I would like to sit down near you and at least feel the breath of you animating presence.  My way is hot sand.  All day long, sandy, dusty paths.  My patience is sometimes weak, and once I despaired of myself, as you know.

My soul answered and said, "You speak to me as if you were a child complaining to its mother.  I am not your mother."  I do not want to complain, but let me say to you that mine is a long and dusty road.  You are like a shady tree in the wilderness.  I would like to enjoy your shade.  But my soul answered, "You are pleasure-seeking.  Where is your patience?  Your time has not yet run its course.  Have you forgotten why you went into the desert?"

My faith is weak, my face is blind from all that shimmering blaze of the desert sun.  The heat lies on me like lead.  Thirst torments me, I dare not think how unendingly long my way is, and above all, I see nothing in front of me.  But the soul answered, "You speak as if you have still learned nothing.  Can you not wait?  Should everything fall into your lap ripe and finished?  You are full, yes, you teem with intentions and desirousness!--Do you still not know that the way to truth stands open only to those without intentions?"

I know that everything you say, Oh my soul, is also my thought.  But I hardly live according to it.  The soul said, "How, tell me, do you then believe that your thoughts should help you?"  I would always like to refer to the fact that I am a human being, just a human being who is sometimes weak and sometimes does not do his best.  But the soul said, "Is this what you think it means to be human?"  You are hard, my soul, but you are right.  How little we still commit ourselves to living.  We should grow like a tree that likewise does not know its law.  We tie ourselves up with intentions, not mindful of the fact that intention is the limitation, yes, the exclusion of life.  We believe that we can illuminate the darkness with an intention, and in that way aim past the light.  How can we presume to want to know in advance from where the light will come to us?

let me bring only one complaint before you: I suffer from scorn, my own scorn.  But my soul said to me, "Do you think little of yourself?"  I do not believe so.  My soul answered, "Then listen, do you think little of me?  Do you still not know that you are not writing a book to feed your vanity, but that you are speaking with me?  How can you suffer from scorn if you address me with those words that I give you?  Do you know, then, who I am?  Have you grasped me, defined me, and made me into a dead formula?  Have you measured the depths of my chasms, and explored all the ways down which I am yet going to lead you?  Scorn cannot challenge you if you are not vain to the marrow of your bones."  Your truth is hard.  I want to lay down my vanity before you, since it blinds me.  See, that is why I also believed my hands were empty when I came to you today.  I did not consider that it is you who fills empty hands if only they want to stretch out, yet they do not want to.  I did not know that I am your vessel, empty without you but brimming over with you.

This was my twenty-fifth night in the desert.  This is how long it took my soul to awaken from a shadowy being to her own life, until she could approach me as a free-standing being separate from me.  And I received hard but salutary words from her.  I needed that taking in hand, since I could not overcome the scorn within me.


Red Book Diary – 1

Personal Equations, Tribal Equations

My copy of Jung's Red Book arrived 10/14.  I haven't had time to read the whole thing yet, but I wanted to start compiling a journal of reactions, reflections, analyses, and so forth.  And I wanted to do this as I was reading rather than after . . . thus the "diary" descriptor of the post title.

First, confessions.  Although I remain suspicious and even rather worried that the publication of the Red Book will be made into a(nother) counterproductive phenomenon by the spiritualistic drive or disease of Jungians, that it will become a totem object that is placed on a pedestal or in a museum exhibit and not truly interacted with or employed at its deepest (and most tribal) levels . . . I also have a touch of the fever.  I'm not sure if it is exactly the same in my own case . . . but it isn't exactly different, either.

For me, the Red Book is also perhaps an object of transference representing a kind of Holy Grail (as author, Sara Corbett, of the New York times article on the Red Book's publication called it).  I'm not really sure what other Jungians want "their" Red Books to be.  A new touchstone that returns them to the source of their tribal religion?  A way to reach out and touch the robe of Jung the prophet?  A demonstration of Jung's mystical pedigree?  Another labyrinth of bliss-following to get lost in . . . now that the real world has encroached more and more?

Those are the cynical ways of looking at it.  I also have selfish motives (for the invitation of cynicism).  Primarily (in the selfish classification, at least) is that I have developed a fairly unique reconstruction of animi (anima and animus) process or work over the last 20 years . . . from the very beginning of which I had felt that the experiences I was recording and the interpretations of these experiences I was constructing were potentially a substantial contribution to Jungian psychology.  I knew enough about the Red Book (mostly from Memories, Dreams, Reflections) to suspect that it recorded a very similar set of experiences for Jung.

Part of that belief in an accord is a matter of transference that drove my own individuation process for years and indoctrinated me into the Jungian tribe in my late teens.  But there are also rational reasons for suspecting such an accord.  Namely, Jung's professional writing on the anima, it has always seemed to me, belies his deep psychic participation with that inner figure.  I always saw it as a strange expression of self-conflict that Jung would write so critically about the anima while also having devoted the many years and tremendous energies to an "anima project" like the creation of the Red Book (which is, of course, a much edited and revised text . . . as editor, Sonu Shamdasani's extensive footnotes superbly illustrate).

My own anima experience was not filled with all the "signature Jungian" conflicts and resistances that Jung's was.  My inclination was simply to dive right into the anima's gravity.  And that (a kind of falling in love, perhaps) never led to any delusion, psychosis, lapse of ethics, or other decay.  Delusion, psychosis, lapse of ethics, and decay (which I like to call the "dissolution experience" of individuation) were certainly my bedfellows at the time I was doing my anima work, but the anima never encouraged these things.  I now attribute those slips and temptations to the Demon.  But I was also much younger and less "socialized" than Jung during this process.  I was (properly, I believe) an adolescent.  It was not a "mid-life crisis" situation for me.  I say "properly", because I have since come to understand the animi work as a function of late adolescence . . . which is postponed until midlife for most moderns as well as in the confusion of the Jungian model (which is too spiritualistic, not naturalistic enough).

As I formulated my animi theory (in recent years) and tried to discuss it with Jungians, I found that they were not able to understand it.  It was foreign to them . . . and my deviations from Jungian doctrine were met with resentment.  Other than its basic foreignness, I came to see that the animi theory I was arguing for was upsetting to conventional Jungians because of a dangerous implication it made: that conventional Jungians were essential "not initiated", that their experience of the numinous unconscious has been non-transformative . . . any indication of transformation being a kind of facade or worship artifact of totemic objects.  This observation would have it that, for conventional Jungians, individuation itself is a totemic object . . . not a lived experience.

This possibility did not occur to me until I saw how put out and/or perplexed many Jungians were by my revisioned animi theory.  It seemed to me that this gut reaction was brewing away in some of them even as they did not recognize what it was about "me" that disturbed them.  But the deep implication of my revisioned animi theory is that, if my theory is correct, it follows that much of Jungian "mysticism" and individuation is a sham.  I have not yet found any evidence that would contradict my revision of anima theory . . . but it is hard to test.  As with Jung, my ideas on this did not come from textbooks, but from personal experience.  My personal creative and professional struggle has largely been a matter of trying to trust my own experience . . . and my interest in science, rationalism, and skepticism has extensively evolved out of my own (often Demonic) self-examinations, self-trials, and self-tortures.

Through all of that, I had more reasons to think and feel that my revisionary theories were credible and useful than the contrary.  When I realized a mistake, I revised my theory.  And I have revised my theory a lot . . . but through all of that, a thread of consistency has remained.  Many of the initial observations and interpretations of my anima work experience have held up, at least as foundations for more complex and "adult" theory-building.

The Red Book, therefore, represents to me a kind of opportunity to demonstrate 1.) the credibility of my theory for someone other than myself (and more importantly, for Jung, whose psychology, healthy and diseased, is the foundation of our Jungian tribal identity), and 2.) that my criticisms of Jung's and Jungians' anima theories, my claims that there is a "Jungian Disease" or complex that veils this issue for us, can be substantiated through the analysis of Jung's anima work text.

As for it being a kind of "Holy Grail", if the Red Book does lend itself to my transference projections, and I can make my arguments clearer through the use of this text, there is a chance of aiding a kind of "rejuvenation of the Father" who is fed from that Grail.  Not a return to fundamentalism, but a kind of alchemical reinvention of the "Old King" into the "New".  I of course don't mean a new totem or figurehead for the Jungian tribe, but a way of revaluating and revisioning Jungianism that is an effective healing or treatment of the Jungian disease . . . a Good Medicine.

It is hard for me to separate my selfish desires to be awarded some kind of identity and status by the Jungian tribe (in whose shadow I've found myself exiled) . . . where I mean basic acceptance and the offer of tribal rights or humanness, the right to survive within the tribe, not any kind of grandiose status . . . from my more archetypal and Eros-driven sacrificial drive to help rejuvenate the damaged Jungian system of valuation.  The former is an egoic desire, the latter a Self-driven reorganizational process which is more collective or tribal than personal.  The former addresses my own feelings of impotence without a tribal credentialing (or while dissociated from the tribe's Eros), while the latter is a potential movement of tribal Eros that I have been able to glimpse and find a way to participate in.  Even as there is a great deal of potential for alignment between these two drives, I have found myself in deep self-conflict over this issue . . . attempting to extract the egoic desires from the process so they don't too badly damage what seems to me to be a healthy treatment of the tribal Eros by the reoganizational and instinctual Self system.  And much more than I would have liked, I have failed to make this extraction and differentiation successfully.

Part of this is due to insurmountable odds and resistance of the Jungian tribe.  I work against participation mystic and tribal/totemic religiosity as an "agonist".  And this agonism constellates archetypal dynamics in the relationality between myself and other, more conventional Jungians.  The more resistance I meet, the more difficult it is to extract my egoic selfishness and derailing desires from the potential rejuvenating process I am glimpsing.  Perfect balance here is impossible, and my inability to be perfect (and feeling that I must be in order to make a useful contribution to Jungian tribal treatment) allows a space in me for the Demon to occupy.

So there is perhaps a bit of refreshment in this "Holy Grail" for me as well . . . in the sense that it gives me a task in which to be more useful to the tribe.  And here, with this text, all Jungians are placed on an equal footing.  Equalized by not-knowing.  We are all getting into some never really explored realm of our ancestral psychology here.  And I very strongly suspect that we will find our conventional interpretive theories and dogmas not adequate to the task of bringing Jung's experience recorded in the Red Book into better focus or transmuting the stuff of the Red Book into any kind of elixir for the Jungian tribe.

It isn't Jung that the Red Book offers a chance to reinvent . . . this chance is afforded to Jungianism.  If we will have to devise new ways and means of understanding the Red Book, this invention will also serve the larger reinvention of Jungian thinking.

But on the skeptical side, I doubt this will happen.  Jungians have shown themselves almost entirely incapable of functional self-reckoning or collective self-treatment.  It is a safer bet that Jungians will simply muddle the Red Book with their projections and fantasies, rendering it inert, sapping its soul, its reorganizational potential.  Still, I am hoping against predictability that this trend will somehow be overthrown.  And if such an overthrow is to occur, I would happily contribute whatever I could to the revolution.

This diary will collect my wanderings and wonderings about the Red Book.  I will attempt to reflect and analyze it in terms of both my own personal equation and the Jungian tribal equation.  I don't know what to expect.  I don't currently have great hopes that anything will come out of the Red Book for Jungians.  And I suspect that I stand to benefit even less.  But it is at least a viable opportunity to institute change.  The publication of the Red Book is a serpent's venomous bite on the Jungian tribal heel.  If it doesn't kill us, it will make us stronger.