Author Topic: Wolfgang Giegerich as an "Archetypal Phenomena" (complex?) in Jungianism  (Read 13729 times)

Matt Koeske

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There have been a few previous posts (and and least two whole threads) on this forum dedicated to Jungian analyst and author, Wolfgang Giegerich.  Or more accurately, they were dedicated largely to my reactions to Giegerich.  I continue to find Giegerich fascinating . . . his ideas in themselves less so.  In fact, I would never have spent as much time as I have reading, reading about, and writing about Wolfgang Giegerich if not for the fact that Wolfgang Giegerich is such a significant and curious phenomenon in Jungianism today.  As I am something of a student of "Jungian cultural anthropology", any significant or curious Jungian cultural phenomenon is interesting to me.

The occasion for this particular post is an article I just read in the Journal of Analytical Psychology (September 2011 issue): "The interiorizing movement of logical life: reflections on Wolfgang Giegerich" by Ann Casement (Journal of Analytical Psychology, 2011, 56, 532–549). 

This article is significant in at least two important ways.  First, this is really the first introduction of Giegerich and his ideas into the psychoanalytic/developmentalist oriented Journal (JAP).  And the article really is written like an introduction of something new and significant.  Giegerich (more or less associated with the archetypal school of Jungianism, although in certain ways divergent from and critical of James Hillman) has been around (and been a Jungian cultural phenomenon) for a while now (as long as two decades, maybe).  That the JAP chose to have little or nothing to do with Giegerich is itself no doubt a reflection of developmental/psychoanalytic Jungianism's decided autonomy from other forms of Jungianism . . . and the JAP's tendency to embrace this autonomy (in practice, if not always admittedly).  So that the JAP is (especially as a relative latecomer) choosing to incorporate a reaction to Giegerich into its intellectual purview would seem to mark a particular development of thought in developmental Jungianism.

I am not suggesting that this development is one in which developmental Jungianism is necessarily ready to embrace Giegerich or incorporate Giegerich's thinking into the developmentalist program.  But something special is going on here, and any "anthropologist of Jungianism" must sit up and take notice.

It should be noted that one of the other major Jungian journals, Spring (the premier journal of the archetypal Jungian tradition), is in many ways quite a "Giegerich-fest", publishing many of Giegerich's much-longer-than-normal articles (obviously without daring to suggest revision or condensation).  A recent issue (Vol. 84, Fall 2010) was essentially dedicated to Giegerich and his 70+ page central article, "God Must Not Die! C.G. Jung's Thesis of the One-Sidedness of Christianity".

The second special significance of Casement's article is that the article's mode itself is very unique in the pages of the JAP.  I can't remember ever reading another JAP article on a Jungian thinker that attempted to summarize and introduce his or her entire theoretical program or philosophy (and without criticism or even really any comment, at that!).  That is, never before do I remember a JAP article treating a Jungian author or analyst like such a special Jungian cultural phenomenon. This is a very rare and quite flattering (perhaps curiously flattering) treatment of a single Jungian author.

For a number of years now, I have been arguing that Giegerich is a Jungian cultural phenomenon, and must be understood (essentially, although of course not only) as such.  Years before the JAP chose to notice or at least acknowledge this. 

Although, another curiosity is that Casement and the JAP do not at all acknowledge (and I strongly suspect do not realize) that they have treated Giegerich as a Jungian phenomenon.  That is, they have bought into or mystically participated in the Giegerich phenomenon . . . but they have not consciously or psychologically analyzed either the phenomenon itself or their urge to mystically participate in it.

I have to admit that this doesn't really surprise me.  I have bemoaned (rather crankily, I admit) that Jungians (of all sub-tribes) seem to have no consciousness of their own society or culture or identity construction.  Defining the term "soul" differently than Giegerich (or any other Jungian) does, I would say that this lack of consciousness of tribe, culture, identity construction, or participation mystique is the equivalent of Jungians not understanding (or even really knowing/recognizing) their "soul" . . . the Jungian soul.  I grumble about this because there is so much soul talk in all manners of Jungian thought and literature.  And interestingly, no one uses that term more than Wolfgang Giegerich . . . although his use of its is especially protean, unique, and ultimately "mystical".  It is the primary incantation, the magical or "power" word for Giegerich that means (to oversimplify) "my own personal and subjective Truth, the secret Philosopher's Stone I am sole possessor of and gatekeeper in the Jungian tribe for."

If Jungians should be experts in any one area, it should be the "soul".  In fact, there seems (to me) to be no area they are more ignorant of (despite living, thinking, and becoming personalities within its, to borrow G's term, "logic").  That, I confess, offends me ethically . . . because I think of myself as Jungian.  I call myself a Jungian.  The hypocrisy in Jungianism regarding the understanding of "soul" saddens and annoys me.  It is shameful.  And it is a sickness.

Not that a sickness is shameful.  That it is shameful and a sickness are not the same thing at all.  Arrogance is shameful (the false and inflated claim of special knowledge not really possessed).  The sickness is something deeper (something actually elemental to and affecting the Jungian "soul").  The sickness is something that can only be worked with psychotherapeutically or "shamanically" (i.e., through a complex process of transformation or "healing" of identity).  It is "a shame", but it is not "shameful".

But one must have an ethical reaction to pride in a false selfhood.  As a tribe member, I find it something to be ashamed of and to openly condemn.  As a conscious and "initiated" member of the tribe, I feel sympathy (and empathy) for the Jungian disease of soul.  I want therefore to raise consciousness of it, to attempt to better understand it, to figure out ways that it could be treated.

This is why I post this article under the "Jungianism on the Couch" category of the forum.


I will begin my observations on the Jungian "Giegerich Phenomenon" in the next post by reposting a message I wrote for an IAJS (International Association for Jungian Studies) list discussion.  Some aspects maybe be slightly out of context, but the gist of it is relevant.  It probably goes without saying that I was not really able to get other IAJS members to consider Giegerich as a cultural phenomenon, archetype, or complex of the Jungian tribe . . . so there are no relevant responses from other members to post here (offering either expansion or counterpoint).  Some more personal conversations related to Giegerich or his ideas did ensue, but the topic I meant to pursue (and which this thread is devoted to) was met merely with (predictable) silence).

Here is also the abstract of the Casement article in the JAP.  If anyone is interested in the full article, please contact me privately.


Quote
Abstract: The following article is an account of my discovery of and subsequent immersion in Wolfgang Giegerich’s work. A sampling of his voluminous writings on the soul is set out to illustrate how he attempts to penetrate thinkingly into psychological phenomena and his claim that this inevitably brings out their internal dialectic. The article summarizes his critiques of Jung, Hillman, and The Red Book: Liber Novus.
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Matt Koeske

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Re: Wolfgang Giegerich as an "Archetypal Phenomena" (complex?) in Jungianism
« Reply #1 on: September 05, 2011, 07:48:56 PM »
Posted to the IAJS discussion list on April 14, 2011 [contextualizations for Useless Science forum are written in blue text within brackets]:

Although I didn't regret the debate between Giegerich and Romanyshyn [articles in Spring: "The Psychologist as Repentance Preacher and Revivalist: Robert Romanyshyn on the Melting of the Polar Ice" by Giegerich in vol. 82, and response "Who is Wolfgang Giegerich?" by Robert Romanyshyn in Vol. 84, the same volume mentioned in the previous post; there are also numerous other articles addressing this debate in vol. 84 and yet more in vol. 85], I was disappointed in its sprawling lack of clarity.  Dan's [IAJS member and moderator, generally a Giegerich advocate] distillation of the central issue gives us a topic well worth grappling with . . . whereas I could barely manage to finish Romanyshyn's meandering 37 page odyssey with the seductive title, "Who Is Wolfgang Giegerich?"  To me, it was like a spinning top that finally stumbled into stillness (but achieved nothing beyond its spinning).  It seemed to continuously evade and not even adequately acknowledge Giegerich's charging bull rhetoric.  I couldn't help but feel that if Romanyshyn's approach wasn't so passive/indirect in response to Giegerich's attack (despite obviously seeming hurt and riding on affect), the reader wouldn't have had to endure the interminable dizziness of the essay.  But if there was one greatest failure of Romanyshyn's essay, it was not telling us anything useful about "Who Is Wolfgang Giegerich?"

Personally, I would really like to know, because I find him a fascinating Jungian personage.  I remain skeptical about his psychological theories, but as a "cultural happening" in the Jungian world, an expression of the "Jungian tribe", it is actually incredibly relevant and even important to know who Wolfgang Giegerich is.  That is, what Wolfgang Giegerich means to Jungianism.  After all, who is this man whose 60 page barrage against Jung's construction of Christianity is not only published in a major Jungian journal, but published as a "happening" in itself?  Why do we want to read these incredibly complicated "endless jams" of lit-crit performance art knocking chunk after chunk out of Mt. Jung?  What drives Giegerich's antagonism, and why do we want to voyeuristically attend these gladiatorial exhibitions?  What does it say about Jungian culture that we give so much stage to Wolfgang Giegerich?  And it is only in Jungian culture that Giegerich could perform his art . . . no other venue would endure so much abstract talk about the soul.  Despite his antagonisms of the master, Giegerich is wholly ours.  He is a kind of Jungian Athena born fully armed from Father Jung's head (perhaps where Hephaestian Hillman split it open with an ax?).

A quote I stumbled upon from Justin Martyr: "They said that Athena was the daughter of Zeus not from intercourse, but when the god had in mind the making of a world through a word (logos) his first thought was Athena."  Thus springs the "soul's logical life"!

I can't regret any personal debates between Giegerich and any other Jungian, because he is "Our Giegerich".  To appropriate his thinking a bit . . . Giegerich is an expression of the Jungian soul, and his destructive behavior is absolutely logical.  At best, he is like an alchemical acid that dissolves our precious Jungian Gold, eventually allowing it to unite with its estranged Mercury (soul).  At worst, he is a vicious gun for hire doing the shadow work (in theatrical fashion) that other Jungians have not had the cojones to attempt.  I'm reminded of the fascinating Clint Eastwood arechtypalist western High Plains Drifter.  If Giegerich has not been adequately engaged by other Jungians (is this true?), it's probably because Jungians have typically struggled to engage with cultural phenomena within their own tribe.  I.e., we have failed to adequately engage with "Jungian soul".

In any case, I second Judith's "dread of the heavy hand of psychology dealing with traumatic disasters - natural or other" and for the same reasons she lists.  I am generally leery about the subjugation of nature to psyche, while in my own experience, much the opposite seems true.  Despite my unwillingness to celebrate Giegerich as a Jungian theorist (rather than an expression of the Jungian soul . . . i.e., an "acting out"), I remain more sympathetic to his position than to Romanyshyn's in the soul and nature debate.

Still, where Dan questions (on behalf of Giegerich and Romanyshyn) "whether, in fact, culture is the primary matrix of soul, or whether it is the individual", I'm inclined to suggest: both and neither.  I would first qualify this by saying that arguing about what the soul is or what its matrix might be is "scientifically" fruitless.  It is anyone's personal language against another's.  The debate is really over what the concept of soul means to us . . . where by "us", I especially mean Jungians.  Deciding what soul is, is really a matter of constructing identity (in the Jungian tribe/s) and not some kind of objective determination drawn from the analysis of data.  Defining soul is an act of saying who we are and what we value and believe in.

My example above of Giegerich himself (or his cultural persona) as an expression of soul (in Jungian culture) chalks one up for the "cultural matrix" side.  But cultures do not have psyches, except in the metaphorical sense.  Psyche exists only in individual humans.  Psyche is like our individual cognitive hardware and expressions of soul like the Giegerich phenomenon are like software viruses (memes?) that can run on this hardware.  But where the meme leaps from one psyche to another it has no independent existence.  It must be hosted to exist.  And what hosts it has its own specific structures and dynamics.  I.e., it is not a "blank slate".  The virus doesn't define the individual souls as much as the individual souls engender the virus (in the form of a susceptibility).

So on one hand Our Giegerich is a soul phenomenon.  But at the same time, our susceptibility to the Giegerich phenomenon is a soul structure.  We must ask, then, how did this soul structure develop?  We could take a survey of Jungian cultural history and no doubt come up with many formative events . . . and those events would be traceable back to individual "souls".  Why did Jung say W?  Why did von Franz say X?  Why did Fordham say Y?  Why did Hillman say Z?  Etc.  There is an essential relationality or community to tribal identity-construction or "soul-making".  To use another analogy, how does a folktale get its form?  It doesn't have a single author.  In a sense it is authorless (i.e., no single individual psyche made it).  But as it leaped from one psyche to the next, it mutated to a form determined or filtered by that psyche.  It comes to us not psyche-less, but poly-psychic.

But we could also say that soul's matrix is neither culture nor the individual.  That instead, soul emerges substantially from biology, from our genes . . . which are records of our evolutionary history.  This is an angle that Giegerich is not very keen on, and which I feel constitutes a major weakness in his program.  He is right, I think, to throw acid at the aggrandized individual in classical Jungian thought . . . but his vision of "culture" strikes me as a personal fantasy.  It doesn't escape the very individuality he means to compensate.  But it is often easier to see nature/genetics at work in culture and sociality than it is in individuals.  I am referring to such things as status structures, inclusiveness/exclusiveness, participation mystique, "reproductive fitness", sex differences, institutions of leadership, education, work, play and belief, etc.  We can look at a thing like technology and desire to locate soul there . . . but technology is something we have significant control over, something we determine more or less consciously.  But we continue to implement our technologies in a way that seems to promote a mode of human living that we do not determine, but is primarily determined for us by our "instinctual" needs and predispositions.  Technology does serve some soaring, puer "freedom of the mind" as much as it facilitates preexisting human tendencies.

For instance, we live now in an age of information and widespread connectivity.  A great deal of technology has poured into this in recent decades.  But is this really "changing the way we relate" as much as enabling a relational predisposition?  And where relational change does seem to be pressed upon us, what is lost (also from the "soul") for these technological advances?  If too much is lost, will soul change to fit technology or will technology change to accommodate soul?  If indeed soul does constrain technology, then this may be all the more reason to connect soul with genes.

In some alchemical conceptions (such as those of Gerhard Dorn that Jung and von Franz made so much of), Soul acts as a medium between Spirit and Body . . . where "Spirit" would equate more to the modern "ego" and "Body" would equate more with "instinct".  Soul is a transformative threshold between self and Other.  It emerges where relationality occurs.  Where we relate deeply and valuatively with an object or Other, soul is pronounced.  But soul is only a transitional object, not an ultimate one.

This is, I believe, also the case with Our Giegerich.  As a "soul phenomenon", I think it is less essential that Jungians engage with Giegerich than with what he illuminates (if only by explosive demolition) and represents.  Direct engagement with Giegerich is slippery.  He dissolves more than he coagulates.  To engage with him, his volatility would have to be fixed.  That is, his approach would have to be contextualized . . . not within the philosophical labyrinth of his own language (that is about as contextualizing as Narcissus' pond), but in some issue that he leads us to and begins to dissolve.  Giegerich is like a diviner . . . or a dowsing wand.  He excels at pointing us to the spots where we need to start digging.  But I remain skeptical about getting too caught up in asking him how he got there.  That inquiry seems like only a distraction to me, where we are only procrastinating the grueling, sweaty work of picking up a shovel and breaking ground.

One thing that Giegerich seems to imply when locating soul in a cultural matrix is that what happens in the world (whether natural disaster or sociopolitical event) is "soul" and thus should be reflected upon rather than protested.  This doesn't sit well with me, and it marks one of those times he leads us to issues we need to better understand and probably make changes in our approach to, while not getting too bogged down in the directions that got us there.  Giegerich comes too close to saying that whatever happens is "good" and was "meant to be".  Like any diviner, he is disengaged from the immediacy of worldly events.  In the realm of "soul", there is a grand pattern emerging that becomes the "psychologist's" concern.  I agree with Giegerich that Jungian individualism has had a dissociative ("out of touch") effect on Jungian identity and thought.  But I'm not convinced that Giegerich provides a treatment for this.  He only pokes a finger into the wound.

In the instance of his assault on Romanyshyn, Giegerich alerts us to the distinct possibility that one of our favored Jungian approaches to "relating to Nature" is a self-deluding fantasy (perhaps in the soaring mythopoetic vein).  But he has nothing therapeutic or constructive to offer us if indeed his critique is valid (and I suspect it is).  Therefore, as a therapist (of the cultural soul) or healer, he gives nothing.  Giegerich's dissolving approach to the Jungian Gold is not, in this sense, "shamanic".  It doesn't mean to treat.  And this is a serious problem with the phenomenon of Our Giegerich.  Romanyshyn, by contrast, means to treat the soul (even if his intentions are muddled or misguided).  What do we make of Our Giegerich here?

I think this is the great danger of engaging in Giegerich's Mercurial dissolution of the Jungian Gold.  This lack of "shamanic intent" in Giegerich must be understood and scrutinized . . . specifically in the context of all his pro-soul talk.  I am unconvinced that Giegerich treats the Jungian soul with true gentleness and concern.  He does not valuate the soul (in the sense that alchemy valuated soul and Nature through its transmutational process of "Projection").  Ultimately, he appropriates it.  Instead of treating the Jungian soul to restore it to health and vitality, Giegerich would assimilate Jungian psychology into a Giegerichian psychology.  I don't mean that he has the conscious intention of conquering Jungian thought and subjugating it to his own philosophical ideology.  But I do feel he is caught up in a kind of "archetypal movement" of the Jungian soul, where he identifies (unconsciously?) with the Gold-dissolving agent of the soul's self-regulating and self-organizing process.

The archetypes of the shaman and the trickster are very similar.  They play largely the same role in relationship to the tribe.  One of the main differences is that where the trickster instinctively and compulsively seeks to dissolve the cultural Gold of the tribe (i.e., its identity constructions, arbitrary laws and dogmas), the shaman consciously recognizes a need for dynamic balance between dissolution and coagulation.  Like the alchemist, the shaman contains the dissolution/coagulation process in a vessel.  Containment is the chief objective in both "treatments".  The psychotherapeutic model strives for the same thing.  A narrative ritual process (or languaging) contains and makes meaningful the "work of the soul".  The trickster has no concern with containment or with the care and treatment of the soul.  For the trickster, dissolution and volatility are the only desires.  They erupt forth like appetites.

There is a lot of trickster in Giegerich.  And where Jungians would let him run "off leash", his corrosive volatility will gradually break down the Gold of Jungian culture and let it evaporate into the air.  I think that a healthier approach to engaging with Giegerich is to contain his volatility.  Let him do what he does best, encourage him even.  Celebrate his corrosiveness.  But employ him in a contained process of treating the Jungian soul.  Rebuild what his assaults have shown to be flimsy or decayed.  Dig down deeper where his dowsing has pointed us.  It is in this containment (which again, I feel is a shamanic or psychotherapeutic task) that we have failed to engage, that we have failed the "soul".  Too many of those who have praised Giegerich have praised him instead of making a psychotherapeutic approach to the wounds he poked his finger into.  If there is one lesson to take away from Giegerich, it is that we need to be healers (of the soul) and not intellectualist fans . . . whether of Jung or of Giegerich or some other demagogue.
« Last Edit: September 05, 2011, 08:04:55 PM by Matt Koeske »
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Matt Koeske

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Re: Wolfgang Giegerich as an "Archetypal Phenomena" (complex?) in Jungianism
« Reply #2 on: October 01, 2011, 06:35:54 PM »
Wolfgang Giegerich: Jungian Phenomenon? Archetype? Complex? . . . Theorist?

I have occasionally encountered other Jungians who do not like or do not understand (and do not want to understand) Wolfgang Giegerich and/or his theories.  I have yet to encounter another Jungian who is inclined to look at Giegerich as a cultural phenomenon, who feels Giegerich's significance is, to appropriate his own phrasing, a movement or expression of the "soul".

In more classical Jungian terminology, we would say that Giegerich is "possessed by an archetype".  That is not entirely "wrong", but I actually prefer the Giegerich-ese of an expression of "soul" . . . even if I have a largely different definition of the term "soul" than Giegerich has.  Even if I disapprove in various ways of the way he uses the term.

"Possession by an archetype" or "identification with an archetype" or "archetypal inflation" is a flawed term that classic Jungianism wears like a prejudice.  This prejudice distorts the way the psyche is seen in general (i.e., it enables a view of the psyche or "unconscious" or "anima" as potentially dangerous . . . like an oppressed population is potentially dangerous to a despotic regime).  It erroneously attributes both an ability to possess, and even more importantly, a desire or will to possess the ego to a cognitive system that is not accurately characterized by such "anthropomorphizing" . . . or we could say "shadow projection".

The idea (important to Jung, and although less important to subsequent Jungians, still often a habitual belief) is one of the most serious and blinding flaws of Jung's (and classical Jungian) thinking, and one that has not been adequately addressed and debunked.  It remains a lingering and unpsychological archaism that few Jungians today care about or focus on, but which prevents Jungian thought from becoming both more modern and more scientific.  It is a foundational assumption that cannot bear the weight of a progressive and functional psychological theory.  Unfortunately, as important and interesting as that topic is, this examination of the Giegerich phenomenon is not the place to digress on it enough to do it justice.

I will say that there are situations in which something like classical Jungian "archetypal inflation" can occur, but I do not attribute these pathological inflated identifications with any kind of will of the "unconscious" or autonomous psyche.  Rather, I see such "possessions" as more the territory of the psychic figure and introject I call the Demon.  As an introject, it is not "organic" in the way most classical Jungian archetypal "personages" tend to be.  I recommend to anyone interested in following this strand of thought farther looking at the essays I've written on the Demon either scattered throughout this forum or (more easily tracked down) on the Useless Science blog.

The important thing is that the attribution of such possession or inflation of the ego to a "sinister, archetypal force or personality" lurking in the Self or internal Other is an old Jungian tale of bogeymen.  All such inflation is a matter of enforced stasis through fortification on the natural dynamic personality.  Such stasis is the mark of the superegoic Demon introject.  The ego is always susceptible to various scripts, behavior laws, and masks that promise it the perfection of stasis and impenetrability from any other (which would inevitably lead to affectation and change, forms of dynamism).  Where the Demon is a strong force in an individual's psychic organization, inflations that appear like "archetypal inflations" can occur and tend to use a script or belief in some form of "self-transcendence" as a subroutine to ward of penetration of any otherness or of any psychic dynamism.

Such inflations are common during dissolution events (such as those that precede individuation events), as they work to stave off the true changes of identity that dissolution of the ego tends to potentiate.  One has a traumatic/numinous experience (say of God or the Self) that destabilizes but also excites the ego.  The quickest way to staunch the bleeding and stop the terrifying dynamic processes that dissolution sets in motion is to find some kind of "enlightenment" or religious truth, a special, secret wisdom that neatly puts all the chaos of transformation in order (a new, yes, but decidedly static order).  I.e., it becomes something commodifiable or something that can be turned into a law or routine . . . Ten Commandments, Eightfold paths, some kind of static truth that serves to relieve some or even all of the cognitive dissonance that being involved in a dynamic, transformative process or in a relationship with a genuine and powerfully affecting Other necessitates.

If anyone reading this is more familiar with my ideas, they should be concerned about differentiating such "wisdom scripts" and enlightenment routines from what I call Logos.  Logos (as I define it . . . very differently than the classical Jungian use of the term) is not ever a static script or answer or Truth.  Rather, it is a dynamic languaging process characterized by a kind of creative (or co-creative) dialog . . . as for instance between "ego" and "Self".  It is not "wisdom from the Self", but the ego's ethical and devoted attempt to continuously try to understand the dynamic structure and function of the Self in a language the ego can at least partially grasp.

In practice, this requires a constant re-languaging based on the cues one learns to interpret from the Self's responses to egoic "proposals".  The most conventional and functional format for such Logos work is dream work.  It is rare for Logos building to begin in any other medium, because the demand on one's ethics and "consciousness" are simply too great.  We just don't know when we are lying to ourselves . . . and we really aren't good enough to care even when we suspect we might be.  Dream work can really keep us honest . . . if done rigorously and within a good-enough paradigm.  But it is easy enough to "cheat" at dream work, too . . . which remains a problem within the conventional Jungian usage of dream interpretation.

It is possible to learn the beginning of a Logos from years of successful dream work, and to then take this dynamic and ongoing Logos work beyond dream work and into other creative work.  But it is always extremely difficult (probably impossible) to keep up the dynamic Logos dialog or collaboration of ego/Self without an external vessel to "project" into.  That is, the idea of holding active imagination dialogs with the Self in one's head or imagination (as Jung proposed and practiced) is not something I've ever seen to be effective.  One needs a creative project, a vessel of interaction that one is not entirely in control of, some place where the Other can be invited (and come) in.

Dreams do this hard work for us.  Even deeply meditative imagination is simply not a hermetically sealed vessel.  Some genuine "Otherness" can slip in on occasion, but the medium is dominated by the ego . . . as is much art.  Like dream work (preferably with others who are committed and knowledgable), the other common suitable vessel for genuine Logos creation is psychotherapy . . . but psychotherapy rarely goes far enough to really invite the Self-as-Other to the table of selfhood.


This barely scraping the surface of ego/Self relations will regrettably have to suffice as a context within which my examination of the Giegerich phenomenon can proceed.  Of course, all this language swerves dangerously close to numerous classical Jungianisms that not only would Giegerich adamantly reject, but so would I.  My critique and analysis of Giegerich is far from being a classically Jungian one.

To return to the track, we should ask the question: am I proposing that Giegerich is "archetypally inflated or possessed"?  The answer is yes . . . sort of.  I don't mean that as a diagnosis of Wolfgang Giegerich (which I am not in a position to make with any accuracy).  I can only speak of the Giegerich phenomenon in Jungian culture, that is, the way that the construction of Giegerich as a Jungian personage that influences and is in relationship with the Jungian tribe or tribal identity emerges from the literature surrounding Wolfgang Giegerich.

But, to be less evasive, I do have a strong suspicion that the theories Giegerich so abundantly spins bear the stamp of a sort of possession and are marked by a sense in which what they seem to say textually can be distinctly differentiated from what they say subtextually or contextually (or within the context of Jungian culture and identity construction).

I honestly can't make much sense of Giegerich's theories textually.  They strike me as fancy convolutions and linguistic dancing about.  Intuitively and as a matter of experience, I have learned that such writing styles tend to mask a very contrasting subtext in which very powerful cultural and subjective statements are being made.  That is, statements of identity construction.

The JAP article by Ann Casement that stimulated this essay topic reminded me (once again) of how little sense can be made of Giegerich's theories on a more "universal", intellectual, or philosophical level.  Condensed by casement in her article (as far as I can tell, quite functionally), Giegerich's ideas seem much more like pure nonsense than they do when one wanders through one of his 50 page essays . . . let alone through a few books collecting them.  One is more susceptible to the "good news" (gospel) when one is being wined and dined by the master linguist himself.

Fans of Giegerich will not find my radical dismissal of his ideas even remotely fair . . . but even in our most opiate-enhanced daydreams of the True Word of Giegerich's writing, we have to be able to recognize that all that talk of soul and things depth psychological can only exist within the context of the acceptance of a Jungian worldview.  Giegerich has no chance of making sense to a non-Jungian.  He is not really a "philosopher" for this reason.  He does not write and think within a real historical philosophical context.  He may have appropriated some Hegel and smatterings of a few other philosophical thinkers, but he is cut entirely from Jungian cloth.  And he speaks a language that only acolytes can endure or see value (let alone sense) in.

In other words, Wolfgang Giegerich is not the Jungian savior who is going to translate/repackage and sell Jung to academia or to science or to some other field that doesn't already speak and believe some kind of Jungian dialect.  As I argued in my previous essay, he is "Our Giegerich".  He belongs entirely to the Jungians.  This in itself is (or should be to anyone psychologically curious) an extremely interesting and telling phenomenon.  Even Jung (the prototype and progenitor of all Jungians) was not so distinctly and specifically tribal and insular.  He was not only comprehendible to Freudians or to French dissociationists or to Victorian occultists or mystically-oriented German romantics.  He strove to speak and to formulate a universal psychology . . . one that had many roots within Western medical psychology and maintained a relationship with Western science, Western theology, and Western philosophy.

Wolfgang Giegerich, very curiously, is not at all a proponent of a "universal psychology" (although he certainly writes as though appropriating "psychology" for his one particular linguistic system).  The pragmatic question to ask is: how might Giegerich and his thinking be "good" for Jungian psychology?  Where "good" would mean that it not only helps strengthen and progress Jungian thinking "internally" and the Jungian study of its chosen phenomenon, the psyche/mind . . . but also helps inform "humankind" about the psyche/mind beyond Jungianism.  Beyond Jungianism (and other more tribal and exclusive psychologies like psychoanalysis), the "universal language" of the world that seeks to study and understand the human mind is, of course, science.

Giegerich has no interest in science and neither the willingness nor the ability to dialog with it.  He argues passionately for a psychology cut off from science (and everything else).  He argues for what I would call a tribal "psychology" . . . or more accurately, a tribal (almost a "cultic") ideology.  Very small, very specific, very exclusive.  This kind of argument will, of course, appeal to no one that is not already oriented to a very small, truly exclusive, and very anti-scientific worldview.  Again, cut from the Jungian cloth with the sole purpose of clothing Jungians.

There is, in my opinion, a kind of contradiction here with the way Giegerich criticizes Jung, particularly for Jung's overemphasis on the individual and lack of interest or sophistication when dealing with social, political, and technological issues of modern culture.  Giegerich is one of Jung's most adept and most influential critics.  I don't think he is always correct in his criticisms (I'll address this more thoroughly below) of Jung, but I do think he is usually in the right ballpark.  For instance, that Jung overemphasizes the individual is an apt criticism, but Giegerich seems to miss much of the subtly in Jung's reasoning for placing so much emphasis on the individual (as opposed to the society the individual lives in) while swept up in his (Giegerich's) berserker fury of opposition and coup.

In general, Giegerich reduces Jung's complexity and sophistication in order to more affectively oppose him.  There is a sense in which Giegerich's criticism is driven by a "daimon" (to use the favored Jungian term of equivocal description of the sense of will organizing a complex).  This gives Giegerich a kind of religious zeal that is (to many Jungians) very infectious.  It touches what seems to be a previously dormant nerve in the Jungian "unconscious", stirring a motivation below the threshold of awareness.  This series of essays is meant to examine this phenomenon and try to answer (or at least intelligently guess at) why this particular susceptibility (and the lack of awareness regarding it) exists in the Jungian psyche.

The particular kind of zeal that infuses Giegerich's criticism of Jung feels very subjective to me.  There is, I suspect, a strong personal subtext to it.  It is not (not that it really pretends to be) anything like an "objective" and detached analysis of Jung's shortcoming's as a theorist and psychologist. 

Yet, there is a kind of disguising of this subtextual subjectivity and its pronounced affect in the way Giegerich elaborates these criticisms in such complicated, philosophical language.  He presents a kind of argument in support of his critiques, but the argument is largely dependent on the validity of Giegerich's philosophical worldview.  For instance, Giegerich's criticisms typically do not illuminate self-contradictions, hypocrisy, or inner incompatibility in Jung's statements.  Instead, Jung's statements are usually contrasted with what Giegerich complexly (and to my mind, vaguely) argues is "true" based on his own theory and opinion.  In other words, I read Giegerich as saying that Jung was wrong about various things not because Jung's ideas are contradicted by scientific studies or new and widely accepted knowledge so much as because the philosophical "truth" of Jung's ideas is inferior to the philosophical "truth" of Giegerich's ideas.

Giegerich essentially has a different opinion than Jung on these topics . . . but his argument for the validity of this different opinion is often very opaque, and it depends on numerous assumptions that require belief (and do not depend on evidence of any tangible or even logical kind).  As a result, Giegerich's critiques of Jung and Jung's ideas depend on portraying Jung as philosophically flawed (and, by implication, inferior to Giegerich).  Giegerich is not, therefore, presenting either a scientific (data-based) or truly logical argument against the purported flaws in Jung's thought.  Instead, he offers a philosophical/religious "truth", a non-evident revelation that only one of special insight can comprehend . . . and it is this non-evident (or not overtly logical or evidenced) "truth" that trumps Jung's "truth".

This technique of argument accompanies consistent portrayals of Jung as a theorist who dealt in such quasi-religious "truths".  Giegerich faults Jung for such "prophetic" and religious reasoning or ideology (or psychological motivation).  Simplistically put (but not inaccurate, I think), I feel Giegerich is projecting his own style of thought and philosophical rationalization onto Jung.  Yes, there is a hook in Jung for this kind of projection (meaning Jung is culpable of some of the things with which Giegerich saddles him), but from what I can discern, Jung's culpability on this account is less than Giegerich insinuates . . . and less than Giegerich's own culpability.

What this looks like to me (after we peel away the convoluted and distracting language Giegerich uses) is a subtextual, personal war waged against Jung by Giegerich.  That is, the war is waged against Giegerich's construction of Jung . . . which makes a better (i.e., inferior and more convenient) opponent than the real Jung might have, and consequentially helps exalt Giegerich's criticism ("proving" Giegerich all the more brilliant and insightful).

I characterize this as a "personal war", because the context of Giegerich's criticism does not seem to me to be constructive.  It is not directed at improving Jungianism or extending (even through revisionary contradiction) Jung's initial project.  Giegerich's is a decidedly different project . . . and his criticism is directed at replacing Jung's project with Giegerich's.  Most of this is implied, but to my mind, not subtly.  Giegerich faults Jung for Jung's program or mission.  He makes it clear that this is an area in which Jung's approach was flawed.  And although Giegerich does not overtly state what the "proper" psychological mission should be, it is obvious from the things he criticizes and how he criticizes them what Giegerich thinks about psychology's mission.  And the nature of his criticism of Jung is evangelical and quasi-moralistic . . . as if Jung's error's were almost "sins" or ethical failings rather than logical attempts to analyze and explain psychic data.

To put it heavy-handedly but succinctly, it is as if Giegerich means to overthrow Jung as a personality behind Jungianism.  The character of Giegerich's criticism is that of a coup.  Although nothing so exposed is stated, the unavoidable implication is that Giegerich should become the chieftain and supreme personality behind Jungianism.  This is implied because Giegerich is supplying Jungians with the "right ideology".  I do not mean to say that Giegerich either implies or even remotely believes/desires that he should be adopted as the "New Jung".  But there is no room for collaborative disagreement with Giegerich's approach.  He is not and does not pose as a contributor to the Jungian program.  He and his theories are alternatives.  Incompatible alternatives.

And it is therefore inevitable that many of Giegerich's biggest fans become "less-Jungian" as they become "more-Giegerichian".  And this conversion experience lends itself to the indoctrination of acolytes.  I have no idea and do no mean to claim that this is all according to Wolfgang Giegerich's "cunning plan" to "take over Jungianism".  I am not concerned about "intentionality" . . . neither what Giegerich's may be nor how it might be accurately discerned.  What I think we are seeing is more of a linguistic structure to Giegerich's writing and thinking that, taken to its fullest extent, could lead only to one thing . . . which would be the conversion of (some) Jungians to "Giegerichians".  Just as some Jungians have become Freudians and vice versa . . . or as some Jungians become, essentially, "Fordhamians" or "Hillmanians".

Like Fordham's and Hillman's, Giegerich's is a rhetoric of fissure or tribal splintering.  And whether or not it is the core of his personal motivation to be seen as such, Wolfgang Giegerich is the charismatic personality behind "Giegerichism".  He is precisely that thing that he faults Jung for being and for desiring to be: a prophet.  This is not a psychological diagnosis.  It is a rhetorical analysis.  It is a structural fact of the nature of Giegerich's language, his rhetoric.
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Matt Koeske

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Re: Wolfgang Giegerich as an "Archetypal Phenomena" (complex?) in Jungianism
« Reply #3 on: October 01, 2011, 11:19:21 PM »
Tricksters, Shamans, and Charlatans and the Jungian Tribe

As a very strong and revisionary critic of Jung and all schools of Jungianism myself, I feel I understand this.  It is something I have tried to analyze painstakingly in my own rhetoric.  I constantly ask questions of my own drive to critique and revise Jungian thought.  I ask what the nature of my relationship and desired relationship is toward Jung and toward Jungianism.  I have had a number of pivotal dreams that portray my deep concern and identity entanglement with Jungianism and the very issues I see emerging from Giegerich's rhetoric.

I am critical of Giegerich because I feel his rhetoric and ideas do not show adequate signs of the kinds of self-examinations I have attempted to undertake (and have found essential to maintaining a psychological perspective on the motivations and rhetoric of strong, "revolutionary" criticism).  I don't pretend to have this kind of self-analysis perfectly figured out, and I am not prepared to offer an ideal model for how it should be done.  But I have learned a few of the "tricks" and themes.  And, as any psychologist (or student of psychology) should be, I am fascinated with the psychology of the critical, reformative, constructive (healing?), and destructive motivations involved in the acts of dissent, critique, transformation and reform.  In fact, I find these motifs (perhaps archetypes?) of transition and transformation crucial to the understanding of the individuation process.  And I see the critic/visionary/re-visionary/reformer as an "archetypal" personality state (in regard to a dynamic process) within the context of tribe and identity (see some of my accumulating essays on tribe and identity here).

These tribal personality states are connected with other more familiar Jungian archetypes, namely, the hero (especially what I call the valuating hero, or shaman archetype) and the trickster.  The shaman and the trickster are two points on the same archetypal continuum.  In some ways they are extremely similar, but in other ways, they are (or can seem) polar opposites.

As much as I criticize Wolfgang Giegerich for what I feel are partly personally motivated (and perhaps unexamined) orientations toward Jung and Jungianism, I do not mean to fault him for getting mixed up with the energizing and pattern conforming archetype/s of the shaman/trickster.  I suspect that any revisionary or reformer or strong critic (of one's own tribe) must have some variation of a distinct and powerfully compelling relationship to these archetypal structures and dynamics.  It is not merely that one is "possessed by the archetype" . . . and therefore that one should strive to disentangle oneself form it in the name of psychic health and "egoic autonomy".  As above, I disagree with Jung on precisely how the relationship between the ego and the autonomous psyche works . . . and best works.

That Giegerich is infused with the pattern and drive of the tribal trickster is not, in my mind, either a problem or a defect of his personal psychology or his psychological theories.  It's an inevitable expression of the relationship between an individual and his or her tribe in a certain typical state.  That is, it is the property or state of a dynamic system.  It is not a moral issue, not "bad" or "good", "right" or "wrong", healthy or unhealthy, "conscious" or "unconscious", "individuated" or "un-individuated".  It is neither neurotic nor psychotic.  It is merely a property of a particular situation.

It is how, precisely, we relate to the dynamics and inevitable structures of this situation that contributes to issues of mental health and self-awareness.  For instance, it would come as no surprise to the average Jungian that a total lack of awareness of the structure and dynamics of the trickster pattern when one finds oneself forced into relationship with that pattern is more likely to lead to a "problematic" relationship with the trickster.  Such a lack of awareness is more likely to lead to destructive "acting out" of trickster pattern characteristics.

Yet it would be wrong to assume that the relationship with the trickster can or should be avoided in all situations . . . and it would be even worse to believe and insist that one who finds him or herself in relationship to the trickster pattern should be able to act as though that relationship didn't involve the compulsive force of certain affects, attitudes, or acts, or that the suppression of these compulsions was a "good" or constituted some sign of "egoic health".  That no more demonstrates egoic health than one who is "in love" (another dynamic pattern) would demonstrate health by acting cold, disinterested and cruel toward one's lover.

With Giegerich, the presence of the trickster pattern is not inherently bad or pathological.  In fact, I think it is a tremendous asset.  It may even be an expression of Giegerich's acute "sensitivity" to the psychodynamics of the Jungian tribe and identity.  In other words, one who is "sensitive" or well-attuned to the "soul" (of the tribe) is likely to feel and be inclined to channel some aspect of a "soul dynamic".  The trickster has a very poor reputation among Jungians.  It's almost a dirty word (and I wonder if this is due to a prejudice/ignorance of Western civilization in which Jungians partake, where trickster figures play no essential roles as they do in tribal cultures . . . for example, in traditional African and Native American tribal cultures). 

I feel the trickster should be understood as an expression of the Self (as opposed to, say, of the "shadow").  The trickster is a representation of the dynamic dissolving aspect of the Self system.  Where a system (like the psyche) is fed with a constant and abundant stream of information that must be sorted, filtered, and organized, static arrangements of information will accumulate and eventually become obstacles to the dynamic principle of organization on which the whole system operates.  Those static or ossified arrays will have to be dissolved in order for the system to function optimally.

This ossification of informational arrays is par for the course of egoic operation and development.  The ego depends on keeping its essential organizational information in efficient scripts that can be quickly called up and implemented.  The collection of the most frequently used scripts constitutes a significant portion of our selfhood.  But due to the nature of the formulation and use of these scripts, over time and in changing situations, the subroutines that rely on these scripts can end up using them dysfunctionally or non-adaptively . . . picking the wrong (or at least less ideal) tool, by force of habit, for a particular job of processing information.  The systemic principle of organization (i.e., the Self) has to therefore have a mechanism for breaking down old, inefficient, or obsolete scripts.  That mechanism need not be sophisticated.  For most things, good old pressure build up will do the trick.

If that Self principle could be assigned a representational persona and narrative pattern of action, it could be the trickster.  That is, the trickster is one of the primary emergent patterns of such dissolution . . . specifically where cultural mores and habits that become ossified are concerned.  Where culture is fairly functional and/or pliable and well-related to the Self principle, the dissolving agent could be a devouring animal or monster, some kind of sacrificer or ritually wounding initiator . . . or equally, a guide, psychopomp, mentor, or an animi figure or lover/partner.  But the trickster is more likely to be a chaotic or instinctual/appetitive force that radically defies a tribe's mores, maybe even destroying the calm stasis of society in either crude or very creative ways (whereas with an animi figure, old affiliations and ego constructions might be dissolved by "falling in love").


My observation (supported by intuition mostly, and still requiring many more data to rise to the level of "theory") is that trickster patterns appear in tribal (group) psychology and the individual psychology of one related powerfully to a tribe who feels the tribe requires serious reform or has taken a wrong turning or has habitually ignored something extremely important.  For such an individual, the shaman archetype or pattern is usually more consciously activated than its shadow twin, the trickster.  Although both archetypal identifications (especially among Jungians for whom archetypal identification is considered taboo) typically have a number of aspects and dynamics operating beneath the level of conscious awareness, and shaman identifications may be consciously resisted (again, especially among Jungians trying to uphold the cultural taboo), these identifications still tend to present themselves more to consciousness than trickster identifications.  But I have yet to see or experience a situation in which one pattern occurs without the other.

From the "collective" psychology of a tribe that is presented with an individual influenced by the shaman/trickster pattern, that individual will much more likely be seen as a heretic, betrayer, scapegoat, or crank . . . if the individual has enough status and impact on the tribe.  Where the individual has lower status within the tribe, s/he is more likely to be rendered "invisible" (like Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man).  Essentially, tribal identity constructions render such individuals as "outside" of and strange to accepted conventions.  When invisible individuals do something to "break through" the habit (or perhaps taboo) that has rendered them invisible, the tribal consciousness will experience it as an assault, and probably attribute hostile or insane intentions to the still-largely-invisible individual (we see this theme also in Ellison's novel).


The First Jungian Movement of the Shaman/Trickster Archetype: Michael Fordham

In Jungian culture, the invisibles fall too far below the radar to track most of the time, but there are three major instances of individuals with high enough status in the tribe "channeling" certain aspects of the shaman/trickster pattern of reform/criticism.  The first was Michael Fordham, who was the most distinct personality behind the founding of the "London school" of Jungianism, called the "developmental" school by Andrew Samuels in his pivotal Jung and the Post Jungians (1985).  Although in some ways this led to the most radical split in the Jungian tribe, I confess that I know only very little about it from a psychological perspective.  Very little has been written, so those who could provide the psychological contexts are those with personal knowledge of the relevant experiences and people.  What we can (and what I do) know is that the developmental school is still the dominant Jungian school in Britain and has had enormous influence on all forms of Jungianism, largely through the Society for Analytical Psychology (SAP) and its journal, The Journal of Analytical Psychology (JAP).  These institutions and their members have been extremely prolific, especially since the 1980s.

Jungian developmentalism is strongly influenced by and devoted to making connections with post-Freudian psychoanalysis.  Fordham placed a great deal of emphasis on Melanie Kline's work and the developmental psychology of children.  Developmentalism has always been critical of Jung on a few specific issues, but rather than truly attempting to "reform" these alleged defects, Fordham and developmentalism instead chose to supplement them with post-Freudian theories.  Fordham's claims placed less emphasis on Jung (and classical Jungianism) being "wrong" or flawed than it did on Jung being "incomplete" or subject to certain lacunae.  It is, at least superficially or by its own self-representation, an "eclectic" Jungianism, and from its beginning (as best as I can deduce from the literature out there), it has really sought to splinter off from classical Jungianism ideologically rather than focus on altering classical Jungianism.

This splintering is perhaps facilitated by geography.  Jungianism in London has almost from its very beginning been the product of Fordhamian interpretations and additions/substitutions to classical Jungianism.  But the splintering of developmentalism is also facilitated by its (to my mind) strange relationship to psychoanalysis.  Developmental Jungianism has sought to essentially return to the Family Freud, even though it has had to do so relegated to the role of redheaded stepchild (at best).  I find this approach irrational and suspect that it is riddled with complexed motivations . . . some of which may be rooted in a sense of Jungian shame of Jung-as-father.  Fordham never really had an important relationship (or even really correspondence) with Jung, and I really don't know if he himself felt any such shame or perhaps bitterness toward Jung, or if he did, why.

With later "post-Jungians" of the developmental school, this shame and bitterness is much more clear.  And it is characterized (understandably) by the developmentalist relationship with or courtship of psychoanalysis.  That is, the psychoanalysts (starting with Freud himself) have always been Jung's most virile and influential critics (even to call them "critics" is a euphemism; defamers is, especially in the first half of the 20th century, technically more accurate, because many of these criticisms included falsehoods and/or extreme exaggerations of the flaws, not only in Jung's theories, but primarily in his personal character).  It is arguable, but I think that psychoanalysts (and those influenced directly by psychoanalysts) have done even more harm to Jungianism than Jung and Jungians themselves have done.  Although, I regret to say, it is a very close contest.

All the more curious, then, that the developmentalists have (often rather pathetically) courted psychoanalysis and petitioned it for inclusion.  Beyond the acts of psychoanalysts destructive to Jungianism, Jungianism itself was in numerous ways designed intentionally to be a kind of "anti-psychoanalysis".  Jung's analytical psychology was largely founded on reactions to and criticism of Freud's ideas about the psyche.  Some of the reasoning behind Jung's deviations from psychoanalysis are ignored or forgotten in developmental Jungianism, where, beginning with Fordham, some of these deviations are "corrected" to return to something resembling the very Freudian ideas Jung sought to oppose and differentiate analytical psychology from.  The idea that developmentalism was merely filling in lacunae in Jung is a sublimating rationalization.

In any case, due to the unusual splintering/regressing (i.e., "back" to Freudianism) and lack of available information, I cannot detect or trace any shaman/trickster pattern in Fordham or other founding thinkers behind developmentalism.  Still, it is clear from the way Fordham is (often reverentially) referenced by developmental Jungians even today that he functioned as a kind of shaman and culture hero for this Jungian splinter tribe.  Complimenting that is evidence of conventions and taboos that prevent developmental Jungians from writing too critically about Fordham's (often somewhat vague and jargon-laden) ideas.  Such defiant and more extreme kinds of critiques in developmentalist literature are left entirely for Father Jung alone . . . where they still are not usually reformative, but more typically reinforce the Fordhamian splintering that defines the tribal identity of the developmentalists.  Most developmentalist criticisms of Jung either deconstruct his character or seek to reject and extricate those ides of Jung's not compatible with developmentalist ideology (usually things that smack of "nativism").


The Second Jungian Movement of the Shaman/Trickster Archetype: James Hillman

The first Jungian who seemed to be truly infused with the shaman/trickster dynamic was James Hillman.  Although Hillman is associated with a "school" of Jungianism (i.e., "archetypal psychology"), Hillman's approach to classical Jungianism was more reformative (or, to adopt his term, revisionary) than Fordham's splintering/regressive approach.  Archetypal psychology became differentiated from classical Jungianism mostly because many classical Jungians did not want to embrace Hillman's revisions.  But Hillman did offer his (at least earlier) writings as critiques and revisions or extensions of classical Jungian thought.  There is also with Hillman less of an indication that his reformative conflict was with Father Jung than seemed to be the case with Fordham and the developmentalists.  Rather, Hillman's primary gripe (coming on the Jungian scene about two decades after Fordham) was with the tendency of classical Jungianism to ossify and become dogmatic, lacking creativity and an ability to grow or branch out.

Hillman was the first prolific and highly influential Jungian who sought to really rekindle the project that Jung had begun.  That is, a creative, exploratory project of understanding the psyche.  Hillman reacted against the habit of many Jungians who devoted themselves entirely to interpreting, praising, and reiterating the words of the master.  In this sense, his quarrel was with the obedient and unimaginative/unoriginal sons and daughters of Jung, who had lost the innovative flame of their father . . . the innovative spirit analytical psychology initially defined itself by (and which was continuously over-praised by Jungians, but very rarely practiced).  Hillman was the first real anti-fundamentalist of the Jungian tribe.

And this is a surefire recipe for activating the shaman/trickster archetype.  I think this archetype was especially clearly expressed in Hillman's attempts to valuate the puer in Jungian culture and thought.  He was (and I assume remains) a champion of the puer and a critic of its opposite pole, the senex.  Classically (even to this day), Jungianism has been hellbent on identifying with the senex pole, especially its positive aspects: wisdom through experience, serenity in the face of chaos and transformation, hesitance to jump at every shooting star (knowing the predictability of their paths), focus on long term cyclic repetition rather than on the mercurial rise and fall of more "affective" (but also creative/artistic) movements.  The Jungian idea of the good senex is one that exudes a kind of faith-based confidence and intuitive certainty that the observation of historical and personal cycles from the perspective of old age might provide.  It is religious (or "spiritual"), never doubting God or the Self or unconscious, believing in the profound value and meaning of synchronicities, accepting that divination may provide answers and not caring if the means of those answers are mysterious or unexplainable rationally.  The Jungian senex has no need for science due to its great and comfortable "wisdom".  Science is a "flash in the pan" compared to mysticism and religion.  Its alleged obsessive rationalism is the product of foolish and youthful egoism and lack of experience and overemphasis on materialism and superficiality.  The Jungian senex sees deeply through layers of meaning and time . . . to the core of things.

That is the unwritten PR that forms the senex-based tribal identity of the Jungian (especially the classical Jungian) tribe.  It is, to put it gently, a ridiculous load of utter horse shit.  It is an inflated, self-comforting delusion that enables Jungians to pompously and flakily avoid the inconveniences of change, growth, unknowing, error, and at times even shame.  It is a recipe for stasis and evidence of a complex.  If everything just runs in cycles anyway, why, there is no reasons for change or growth or progress.  That is also not a very good representation of Jung's approach to the psyche.  Yes, he was interested in mysticism and a bit prone to senexy-identifications, conservatism, and spiritualistic aggrandizement.  But he was not a lazy, fraudulent, uncreative, fundamentalist and follower.  Jung was a prodigal and a pioneer (if more by personality trait than as a theorist), a true creative dynamo who cranked out a huge, complex, and truly unique opus of collected works.

But, Jung was (perhaps his entire life, but definitely for at least the first half of it) a true puer, a flying, innovative, explorer and adventurer of the psyche who flirted seriously with a predominantly aesthetic and artistic writing style and approach to psychological thought.  Jung the would-be conservative and senex made some efforts to undermine and deny (as Peter denied Christ) his own artistic/aesthetic streak.  Jungians following him chose to follow what Jung said rather than what Jung actually did . . . and like followers rather than free thinkers, they made these contradictory simplifications into laws to be obediently followed rather than analyzed and understood (and deconstructed). 

Jung sought to hide and deny his own puer qualities (which he was no doubt ashamed of in various ways and which had frequently gotten him into trouble both in his relationships and as a thinker) . . . or he masked them with faux-senex wisdom proclamations and the "corrective" privileging of the "second half of life".  The Jungian puer/senex complex begins with his own personal complex.

But it went entirely unrecognized and unexamined until James Hillman came along and, probably more or less compulsively, tried to explode it.  And such explosion of an ossified complex requires the dissolving dynamic of the Self . . . as represented by the shaman/trickster archetype.  Hillman's "sensitivity" or "intuition" availed him of this archetypal energy, and it defines his creative work and role within the greater Jungian tribe (especially during the heyday of archetypal psychology).

Regrettably (for both Hillman and for Jungianism), Hillman's tweaked awareness and appreciation of this archetypal energy was and has remain inadequate to the task of generating effective reform in Jungian culture and thought.  As much as Hillman valuated and embraced the puer, he did not (I feel) understand the archetypal dynamic adequately, either as a theorist or an individual battling with the archetypal dimensions of his personal complexes.  Hillman always wrote and acted more like a man "possessed" by an archetype than one consciously channeling its energy.

Also, some of his personal behavior (perhaps driven by the archetypal "possession") enabled many classical Jungians to make him over into a scapegoat and more or less excommunicate him.  This (both the initial "sin", and the excommunication) drove a long-raging war of identity for Hillman that, from what I can see, was never functionally resolved.  I.e., his Jungianness and its role in his individual (and potentially individuated) identity was never adequately understood or functionally "healed".  As his personal quest to understand his identity went on (usually through public creative expression in his books), his Jungianness and role in the Jungian tribe became increasingly muddled, and the engine of archetypal energy that originally drove him began to undermine and spin him around more than it enabled him to channel something useful into Jungian culture.

Hillman suffers the fate of most habitual puers: he functions somewhat as a critic and opponent of the tradition he is driven to reform, but he does not know how to harness and distill his creative energy into a construction or reconstruction that serves to truly heal or remedy those aspects of the tradition that were sick or broken or stuck.  He can make the tradition dizzy with curious gusting and swirling about, but he can't figure out how to make it well again.  He is only as effective as he is able to maintain a kind of theater of energy and motion, a sense that change is possible and exciting and real.  But then the play ends, the curtain goes down, the lights go up.  The audience leaves the theater entertained, perhaps moved, maybe even inspired . . . but without really being changed or being enlightened enough to make essential changes.

Hillman is ultimate only an entertainer and performance artist of theatrical Jungian fantasies.  In other words, I don't feel he has grasped the shamanic aspect of the shaman/trickster archetype well enough.  He has not realized that the "point" of the archetypal energy is to heal through transformation . . . to heal, and not merely to dazzle, entertain, or mercurially (but only superficially) inspire.

Jungianism has learned nothing of use from Hillman . . . and continues to be just as stuck in its original complexes as it would have been if Hillman had never existed.  In other words, the archetypal energy behind Hillman has not broken through into Jungian consciousness.  There is no functional Jungian language to make sense of what James Hillman means to the Jungian tribe.  Hillman himself was never able to weave this language together in any coherent form (or understand it himself) . . . and none of his followers and fans has managed to see him psychologically and objectively enough to understand his important role in the Jungian tribe.  At least as much, no Jungians have been able to understand what the Jungian tribe really is objectively or even that there is a Jungian tribe.  Lacking this objectivity, the complexes, archetypal energies, and pivotal tribe members that help construct and maintain Jungian tribal identity are not understood in this all-important context.


The Third Jungian Movement of the Shaman/Trickster Archetype: Wolfgang Giegerich

The third member of the Jungian tribe who lives and works within or in relationship to this shaman/trickster archetypal energy is Wolfgang Giegerich.  And he is in various ways the strangest Jungian emergence of all (so far).  His personal psychological orientation to Jungianism combines some of the defining elements of both Hillman and Fordham.  He is a revisionary of archetypal psychology, expressing some of the same values and ideas Hillman originally introduced (in somewhat different forms).  He has all of the puer spirit of Hillman, tending to attract acolytes to his very unique and specific style of languaging (which is the kind that must be either believed or disbelieved, or that, like poetry or poststructuralist philosophy, asks the audience to suspend disbelief in order to participate in the narrative and voice of the performance).  But like Fordham (or at least like developmental Jungianism), Giegerich wages a kind of war against Father Jung on a very personal level. 

It is a different war than Fordham waged.  It is not anchored in anything like a "regression" to psychoanalysis, nor does it seek to court any stronger or larger intellectual tribe.  Rather (and as above), it is more like a Freudian war of the Son with the Father for the throne and right of succession.  Giegerich (like Hillman) approaches Jungianism like a reformer.  But (like Fordham) he really implies a splintering from classical Jungianism.  Or, more accurately, a replacement of current Jungianism(s) with Giegerichism.  Developmental Jungianism, after all, is really Jungianism in name only . . . but practically speaking, it is Fordhamism.  But Giegerichism differs from the style of Fordhamism in that it is not at all eclectic.  It is a very unique product of Wolfgang Giegerich's personal philosophy, inspired by a reaction to Jungian psychology.

I'm not suggesting that there is no other historical context to Giegerichism (Hegel, of course, and postmodernism, each rather refracted, come to mind).  What I am suggesting is that historical intellectual contexts have much less to do with Giegerichism than psychological and Jungian tribal identity contexts do.

This is a massive oversimplification, but it is still a helpful signpost to say that Fordham was driven by a psychic movement (in the Jungian tribal psyche) organized around shame and repentance toward the primary accuser (and "Original Father", Freud), Hillman was driven by a psychic movement to dissolve and reform fundamentalist Jungian ossification around a faux-senex complex, and Giegerich is driven by a psychic movement that is like a desperate regurgitation of all the Jungian "baggage", all the complexes, all of the swallowed poison that Jungianism had hoped to stomach in the name of shadow-repression . . . or in the name of what I would call the Demon introject.

That is, I rank these movements by degree of desperation on one hand and by degree of "utter Jungianess" on the other.   Fordham's split was not really the result of much desperation in the Jungian tribal psyche . . . and it expressed a shame element in the Jungian psyche that was not predominant in Jungians overall, but which came to speak for a growing group of (especially British) Jungians that could only embrace Jungianism if it was at least superficially made compatible with psychoanalysis.  Perhaps it served as a refuge for "lapsed Freudians" who could not follow Freud dogmatically and absolutely because they had a mysterious temptation to understand and incorporate the compelling, mystical otherness of Jung.  Post-Freudianism in the latter half of the 20th century especially (when numerous fissures in the psychoanalytic tribe had not only developed but differentiated themselves) made it possible for strange chimeras like a Freudian-Jungian hybrid to exist.  As developmental Jungians have always been fond of pointing out, some of the post-Freudian psychoanalytic renegades like Bion and Winnicott developed theories that (despite giving no credit to Jung) more closely resembled Jungian ideas.  The door was opened . . . and it seemed to serve a powerful (if not very well analyzed) need.  But that chimeric need also required some kind of reparation (or at least repression) of the deep enmity and conflict and trauma that had characterized early Jungian/Freudian relationships.

Hillman's desperation was much more characteristic of the universal Jungian "soul" than Fordham's relatively "niche" compulsion.  It had nothing to do with psychoanalysis or any other outside tribe.  It was an organic eruption . . . even if never fully actualized.

Giegerich's desperation (i.e., the Jungian desperation expressed through Giegerich) is no longer merely a reaction (like Hillman's) to the ossified Jungian fundamentalism that was so strong, perhaps especially in its reactive polarization against the rise of Fordhamism in the late 50s and 60s.  It has swallowed the whole history and character of Jungianism, including its tribal splintering in the aftermath of Fordham and Hillman, including its repeated (and renewed with the writings of Richard Noll and others in the 90s) traumatic defamation at the hands of Freudians and the academic social science and humanities that has developed with a great deal of Freudian DNA in its heritage.  Giegerich's channeled desperation includes the many years of growing shame Jungians have felt at their Father and founder.  It includes the now obvious and probably no longer alterable history of ignorance and exclusion of Jung in academia.  It includes the history of Jungian failures to really achieve or understand the mysticism of individuation they inherited and the component time and energy seemingly wasted on introversion, the inner life, the individual journey.

Giegerich's writing is like a river that flows along a bed cut out by all these Jungian traumas, failures, and disappointments.  Those things carve out an undercurrent that becomes the subtext of Giegerich's convoluted, jargony interpretive dance of quasi-postmodernist Jungianism.  What I am saying is that Giegerich, even more than Fordham or Hillman, seems to me like an emergence of the Jungian "unconscious" in this particular "post-Jungian era", where the survival of Jungianism has now clearly shown itself to be serious challenged (partly because of its own shortcomings and partly because all psychotherapies and depth psychologies are on the cusp of falling back into the the past of the 20th century from which they were born).

Despite my obvious misgivings concerning Wolfgang Giegerich's ideas, I feel he is the most complex and perhaps "pure" expression of the Jungian "soul" yet to surface in the Jungian tribe.  But this is not the romantic "good" kind of soul Jungians (and Giegerich in his own unique way) so often blather on about.  This is more like the half black/half white soul as Jung himself rather archaically and theologically depicted it.  The soul that could just as well seduce and lead the "ego" (identity) to its doom as prove to be its inspiration and even salvation.

And so I think, in classic Jungian fashion, there is some validity to looking at Wolfgang Giegerich as both a potential savior and a potential destroyer.  And, again as Jung himself suggested, the coming of the soul/unconscious tends to be destructive when it is received (by "consciousness") unconsciously or without adequately sophisticated awareness of the potential danger it represents.  That is, if we cannot recognize Giegerich as a kind of autonomous movement of the Jungian tribal psyche, increasingly embracing and exalting him will, I believe, contribute to the demise of Jungianism (or could at least stand as a symbolic representative act in its play . . . The Rise and Fall of The Jungian Tribe).

As I have made clear, though, I disagree with Jung's tendency to paint the unconscious/soul/anima as half positive and half negative, as potentially destructive unless "conquered", assimilated, or integrated.  Giegerich is an excellent example.  He will not be conquered, assimilated, or integrated.  Which is to say that what he represents to the Jungian tribe is genuine, is really the so-called "unconscious" welling up in its old compensatory (and artfully obscene) form to counterbalance an exaggerated attitude in Jungian consciousness or identity.

And it is this genuineness (as expression of the Jungian soul) that makes Jungians susceptible to Giegerich.  I just don't see how Giegerich's writings could possibly have any appeal to someone who is not a member (of some form) of the Jungian tribe.  If one is a Jungian, Giegerich can reach into your soul and touch the Jungian identity complexes that are a subtle but essential part of the whole Jungian package.  What the fascination with (or affective response to) Giegerich tells us about ourselves is that we are Jungians.  We might not like it (and if we find Giegerich compelling, we most likely don't), but we are Jungians nonetheless, and we cannot escape our Jungianness.

Those who read Giegerich and come away nonplussed are probably not Jungians, not really identified with their Jungianism (or are substantially detached from it).  And by nonplussed, I don't merely mean that they dislike Giegerich or his ideas or his language or his criticism of Jung.  I mean that they just don't have the slightest clue about what he is writing about . . . nor the slightest care.

Wolfgang Giegerich, at least the literary (and perhaps public) persona version, is a purely Jungian creation . . . or more accurately, "emission".  We have conjured him to act as psychopomp and guide to the Jungian soul.  And whether we follow him to an empty and sterile oblivion or finally wake up and start learning something about ourselves because of the way he makes us feel, think, and identify (or disidentify), i.e., because we remember our training (or at least reading) and begin to analyze our "countertransference" reactions and fantasies . . . well, that is up to us.

Now when I repeated that I disagreed with Jung's idea of an always dangerous (as well as potential helpful or useful) "unconscious", I meant to apply that disagreement to my assessment of the Giegerich phenomenon as follows.  Wolfgang Giegerich (as phenomenon) is not inherently dangerous.  He is not really a devil (even though I have theatrically referred to him as such in the past).  He is really us (Jungians) . . . as viewed in a mirror we barely understand.  He's a little bit intuitive genius, a little bit madman, at least a little bit inflated charlatan (a big part of the Jungian shadow).  He is (or is built from) all those bits of Jungiania that we don't really understand, see clearly, or have much control over.

And this is why he compels and fascinates us.  This is why he has devoted followers (his own brand of Bacchae?) and rabid detractors.  He is our tribal personal shadow . . . but (as we know when it is convenient and also totally unchallenging to us) this personal shadow contains a number of untapped aptitudes and intelligences and not only things we don't want to be.  But because Giegerich is very compelling to a growing number of Jungians, there is also a kind of seduction at work.  He is piping a tune that we cannot help but obey.  He is finding a way not only to expose the Jungian shadow (and even criticize it), but also a way to make us identify with it.

Psychologically, the situation is a bit twisted . . . and if it were all boiled down to a clear language with a revealed subtext, I don't think most of us (who currently do) would buy into it.  We would probably recoil in repulsion (as we normally do when we see our shadow projected onto/reflected by someone else).  But we are "in thrall" with Giegerich and his irresistible piping . . . so we willingly act out fantasies and embrace ideas that, out of the other sides of our mouths, we are habitually condemning.


Giegerich pulls off this magic trick by using a dummy for his ventriloquist act.  And the dummy becomes the prop guilty of all the "Jungian sins" that Giegerich himself is (in a slightly different language) also advocating and usually enacting.  But the dummy draws all our attention.  We don't see the ventriloquist's mouth move.  We believe the act . . . that it is the dummy who is saying and doing those things we agree are condemnable and misguided.  That dummy, that prop, of course, is C.G. Jung.

Giegerich plays off this dummy version of Jung so as to seem his perfect critic, analyst, and moral and intellectual superior.  Giegerich communicates all of these superiorities and exaltations at the dummy Jung's expense subtextually.  He doesn't simply come out and say, "I am better than this dummy in every way."  But if one is a very clever human intellectual and one's working partner is a wooden dummy, well, it's pretty obvious who's the genius and who's the prop.  To be more specific, the literary device Giegerich uses to set up dummy Jung's inferiority and its indirect exaltation of Giegerich as ideal Jungian personality is tone.

There is a lot of linguistic dancing about.  A lot of very vague philosophical sounding terms (and many unclear neologisms or new uses of older terms) are spun.  Long, complex sentences, buzz words, prestidigitations.  And mostly these just provide context and theatricality for the tone of the subtext, which is where Giegerich's voice and message really ring out.  That is, these textual on-stage maneuvers don't really make much (if any) sense.  The believers adamantly believe that they do, but I can't make any real sense of them . . . and I adamantly believe that one must have to be a believer to believe they make sense (and with that belief comes the belief that their sense is profound . . . as of course only nonsensical magic words can be to true believers).

But in my various conversations with Giegerich's supporters who try to translate his beliefs (free of incomprehensible jargon), I have never come away feeling that his ideas could be truly translated into simpler, clearer, and truly profound statements about the psyche.  What usually happens to these would be translators is that they cannot translate Giegerich's ideas without resorting to his magical power words . . . which of course is no translation at all, merely a recited mantra still meaningless to nonbelievers.

What actually kind of shocked me (and made me sit down to work on these essays) was that the Casement article in the JAP, the bravest and most concise attempt yet to summarize and translate Giegerich, also ends up resorting to the recitation of meaningless mantras.  Also interesting is that these slightly clearer translations of Giegerich's ideas (freed as they are from the theater and thrall of the Giegerich phenomenon and subtextual tone) come across as absolute rubbish and quackery.  And Casement's translation (of the text sans subtext) is really pretty fair and well done . . . except for the outrageous and barely recognized (save a meagerly apologetic final paragraph . . . an appendix, really!) admission that she presented Giegerich with neither useful context nor any criticism at all.  How does the spell of the Giegerich phenomenon manage to weave such magic!?

Well, I believe it is the specific Jungian psychological susceptibility (and identity complexes) I have described above.  But this is complex magic.  It is not merely that Jungians are hapless fools.  Everyone has a kind of latent susceptibility to a "magic" that can totally undo them . . . like a secret password to the mechanisms of their identities.  We often never learn that such things exist let alone what our unique one is (unless of course we are trauma victims, in which case we probably have experienced these re-traumatizing magic passwords that trigger us or shut down our "firewalls" on many occasions).

Jungians, not coincidentally, are trauma victims . . . and ones that have been re-traumatized time and again for decades (almost a century now) . . . all the more so since the rise of post-Jungianism, which has finally decided to take a kind of panacea (of denial/dissociation) for this trauma that brings many side effects but no cure.  But Jungians don't seem to recognize that they are traumatized.  This is made easier by the post-Jungian willingness to make Jung a personal scapegoat, to cast Jung the man into the Jungian shadow.  And with this scapegoating, the modern post-Jungian doesn't have to either identify as a trauma victim or bother to recognize his or her traumatization.  Of course, it is felt as regrettable that Jung caused so much disgrace for Jungianism in so many different ways.  It's a real bummer to be a Jungian some of the time because of that.  But so long as we keep apologizing, keep distancing ourselves from Jung and keep trying to make overly generous appeals to the most virulent Jung bashers, the psychoanalysts and the (Freud-rooted) academic postmodernists . . . then we can live nearly shadow-free.  Really, as soon as we figure out how to totally cure ourselves from our Jungianness, we will be right as rain.

And that (developmental Jungian) fantasy and complex is not irrational.  If these post-Jungians manage to simply de-Jungianize themselves, they will be free.  Free of Jung, free of Jungian identity and the Jungian tribe.  Free of the complexes and traumas of its histories.  Trauma only disturbs those who are identified with it and with the traumatic history and memory.  Obviously, I don't find this a very functional solution . . . certainly not on a psychotherapeutic level.  No Jungian analyst would tell their patients who have suffered traumas that if they hurt, they should just become someone else entirely, someone who doesn't have those wounds and experiences.  That would be considered a defense, a delusion, even a psychosis.  But that is the path many Jungians today are walking along . . . unconsciously, not really understanding the direction or the destination.  But the fear and the pain know . . . and many Jungians have already done everything they can to bury those troublesome impediments.


Wolfgang Giegerich is not walking this path.  He's going the exact opposite direction . . . right into the Jungian heart of darkness.  And his criticisms of Jung (and Jungianism) are like the edutainment performances of a seasoned tour guide.  The effect is that his audience wants to turn around and escape the oppressive and dangerous ghetto of old Jungianism.  And this means less competition for Giegerich, who not only doesn't want to escape the ghetto, he wants to reclaim it.  It's more of a coup than a civic gentrification project.  He is not trying to make Jungianism livable for Jungians who are besought with fantasies of flying away or shaking off their Jungian shackles.

The irony is that there will, I am willing to bet, never be a true Giegerichism, a school of psychology entirely founded in Giegerich's theories.  Because even though he's the ventriloquist and Jung is his dummy, he simply has no act without that dummy.  No scapegoat, no one to play off of.  No context in which to have an identity.  No tribe.

As a psychopomp for Jungians, Giegerich is not really a truth-teller.  He is not really a mentor or teacher.  He exists and has significance (like so many movements of the unconscious that manifest as personages) only while engaged in the act of guiding the ego (here, the aspects of tribal Jungian identity in all Jungians).  In other words, he is a catalyst, a conduit, a way of moving a psychic organization of personality from one complex state into another.  Not a prophet but a trickster dissolving the Jungian identity . . . seemingly for personal gain, power, glory, attainment . . . but really because that is the particular dynamic the soul calls for now.  He is an unreliable narrator . . . which is the best kind of narrator one can have to get at the truth.  So long as one recognizes that such a narrator reveals truth through the mechanism of obvious misdirection.

Giegerich is a player on the soul's stage.  He has an exquisite role . . . a role only a particularly gifted . . . destined, really . . . actor could play.  I really don't know if Wolfgang Giegerich personally desires the Jungian "resources" his rhetoric is directed at removing from Jung's vault and transferring into his.  If such a motivation existed, it would almost definitely be unconscious and well-repressed.  I see no indications that Giegerich is a self-conscious charlatan.  I think he believes in his rhetoric.  I think he is just as swept up in it as his biggest fans . . . even more so.  Giegerich does write like a prophet (while simultaneously condemning Jung for doing the same) . . . and prophets do what they do to be rewarded by their gods.  Or because they are treated like prophets by their followers.  And that is intoxicating.  It is much easier to believe in the validity of one's prophecy when others believe in the legitimacy of your prophethood.  And it is, in turn, much easier to believe in a prophet who believes in him or herself.

I don't think Giegerich has a personal goal.  He probably just wants to keep writing, keep practicing psychotherapy, keep giving lectures, keep being Wolfgang Giegerich . . . especially the Wolfgang Giegerich that stirs the Jungian soul so powerfully.  That is the real reward.  The teleology I spoke of previously, that "desire" to overthrow Jung and take over Jung's resources and throne . . . that is the fantasy of the persona of the Giegerich phenomenon . . . the trickster archetype that wears the cloths of the Jungian soul.  In the archetypal narrative, we can laugh at that trickster because we know the throne he seeks is already worthless and undesirable, that his is a fool's quest.

I know almost nothing about Wolfgang Giegerich the man . . . but Wolfgang Giegerich the phenomenon is just so fascinating, I admit I am not that curious about the man.  Giegerich the man, in the little he has exposed himself in his writing, doesn't intrigue me that much because he shows no sign of being aware of Giegerich the phenomenon.  He is critical of Jung the phenomenon and charismatic personality in ways that better apply to himself (or his own phenomenon) . . . and in his more personal comments (from the extensive personal correspondence with Ann Casement for her JAP article . . . which she quotes from extensively), he seems to demonstrate a lack of real awareness of his own prophet-like status and persona by both bringing up the topic and flatly declaring the he is not any such thing ("I do not offer myself as a kind of guru [in clinical practice]", p.540) . . . that he is just a psychologist.  He demurs.

Now, a Wolfgang Giegerich who actually had deep insights on and some critical distance from the Giegerich phenomenon, that individual would intrigue me.  That is someone whose cleverness exceeds his compulsive identification with an archetypal movement of the psyche, whose devilishness is appealing (to a somewhat twisted fellow like me).  That is a quality that I think Jung had (maybe not enough, but still quite noticeably).  It gave him depth . . . and it gave him a tangible shadow.  I always liked that about Jung . . . and it is why he never really became a prophet or guru for me (not that I could imagine anyone filling that role for such a crank as myself).

I didn't want to believe in Jung while denying his shadow.  Rather, I empathized with him, with his overt shadowiness.  I felt a sense of kindred spirit with him.  I didn't aspire to be "like him".  I already was "like him" more than it was doing me any good.  I aspired to learn from him . . . to figure out how to survive being myself from someone who was engaged creatively and intelligently in the same kind of struggle.  I knew never to believe his magic acts . . . because I knew those tricks.  What I needed to learn (as a very young man just beginning to immerse himself in Jung) was how to survive being a person who knew those tricks and was compelled to perform them.

I could be wrong, but I don't see that in Giegerich.  Not only because of his demurring comments, but because he simply lacks (by a large margin) adequate sympathy and admitted empathy with Jung the trickster, prophet, dark magician, charlatan, sinner, and regular, self-conflicted human being.  Giegerich's dummy Jung is a dupe . . . a mere prop.  But Jung was not, as far as I can discern, any kind of dupe or dummy.  Jung was a more complex man than Wolfgang Giegerich is, I strongly suspect.

But what dominates Giegerich's ventriloquist act is the perpetual and repetitive beatdown of Jung.  Why does Wolfgang Giegerich need to perform with a dummy Jung?  Why does he need Jung to be so flawed, so wrong, to hapless?  Why doesn't he need Jung (or the image of Jung in the Jungian tribe today) to be healed, complexified . . . not "forgiven", but truly understood and placed back in the protagonist's role of the narrative that defines the Jungian identity?  Not because he really was a swell guy, a true prophet, a genius, an intellectual revolutionary, but because he was an extremely complex and unique human being filled with many facets and fascinating experiences . . . all of which were profoundly psychological (in the sense of operating by the complex and logical laws of the dynamic psyche).

I have an innate distrust for anyone who is not ethically driven to heal what s/he is part of and realizes lies broken and diseased.  Giegerich doesn't make a functional effort to repair Jungianism.  He only seeks to wrench it away from Jung (and on largely false pretenses and through sleight of hand tactics).  Of course, I am continuously surprised and appalled not merely by the ignorance in Jungians of the tribal soul and identity, or by the traumatic wound that still bleeds within it . . . but mostly by the almost complete disregard and disinterest in doing anything to treat it.  When I encounter Jungianism (as I do every day in my writing, reading, and or reflections), I see vividly, unequivocally, a wounded being lying in the street, suffering . . . even calling out.  And I immediately feel sympathy for this being . . . all the more so because I recognize it as part of something that was once so generous to me, so enriching.  I don't know that being . . . but I know it.  It is familiar, it is an essential part of what made me who I am.

And so I go to it . . . sloppily, confusedly, sometimes running over with feelings . . . and sometimes no clear thoughts to go with them.  And I kneel down by its side.  I don't know what to do.  I'm not an expert.  I touch its arm hesitantly, I hold its hand.  "Someone will come soon," I say.  "Someone will come who can help you, who will know what to do."

But no one ever comes.  Everyone just walks by, sometimes stepping over the fallen body like it was invisible . . . or was not "human" and alive, just a pothole in the road.  I don't know what to do . . . so I start haranguing these people . . . or I start singing a song of pain and lamentation . . . a blues.  Because I know how to do that.  I learned that many years ago.  But people usually just walk by street musicians, too.  And if you are doing something a little unexpected and maybe not that pleasant (like lamenting), you probably won't even get any loose change in your hat.  Or maybe you'll just get a little . . . because that's all you are worth to these people who have better places to be and not enough time to get there.  That is all you and the suffering body you are sitting next to are worth.

That is how I feel, and that is why I keep doing this grating street musician routine.  And that is why I don't think Wolfgang Giegerich has any interest in healing Jungianism or is even really sympathetic with the Jungian tribal soul.  The "soul" of Giegerich's mantras is a quasi-delusional kind of personal subjectivity that reflects his own inflated sense of self-worth.  It is the "whatever-he-wants-it-to-be" . . . some kind of stand in, another prop that works along with the dummy Jung to acquire personal profit for Giegerich.  It is not a true Other to serve, raise consciousness of, treat, heal, or even praise.
You can always come back, but you can’t come back all the way.

   [Bob Dylan,"Mississippi]

Matt Koeske

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Re: Wolfgang Giegerich as an "Archetypal Phenomena" (complex?) in Jungianism
« Reply #4 on: October 08, 2011, 04:42:53 PM »
Giegerich and Me, Our Jungs, and the Jungian Tribe

I have segued into a more personal reflection because I think it is essential to this analysis and critique of the Giegerich phenomenon to address some of the obvious similarities between Giegerich and myself.  These similarities are not, probably, matters of personal traits, beliefs, or experiences.  Rather, they are matters of psychic experience with the same archetypal phenomena and dynamics.  I am every bit as embroiled in these archetypal currents of the shaman/trickster as Giegerich or James Hillman.

This is one of the reasons I think I have a good deal of insight into the Giegerich phenomenon.  I have wrestled with some of the same angels and demons . . . and I've lost a lot.  I have also learned a lot . . . and keep learning more (which is never really enough . . . but at least more is better than less).  I know the signs of personal struggle with this archetypal pattern and energy.  Jung exhibited the signs abundantly.  The Red Book project is the most substantial and thorough demonstration (but also case study and analysis) of this struggle within Jung.  Jung came up with a very clever, and very difficult to pull off, way of coping with his sensitivity and closeness to the archetypes (a combination of patriarchal modern "heroism" and scientific detachment . . . both of which, just to make the whole thing all the more psychologically fascinating, were social forces or attitudes Jung fervently condemned and have become bogeymen in a Jungian culture that is still deeply infused with them). 

I ultimately feel his tactic was wrong . . . was not functional or prescribable, not truly reparative, and certainly not progressive.  But even as a failed experiment (taken scientifically rather than religiously), it is useful, and we can learn a huge amount about a number of psychic phenomena from it.  It is a true and generous gift in itself.  But beneath this overt gift, there is an even more valuable act of generosity.  Namely, Jung's willingness to struggle mightily and genuinely with being and trying to understand himself (as more than ego, as both I and Other).  To struggle and to share so much of that struggle with us.

It doesn't matter to me that I think he came up with a flawed, even somewhat dangerous as well as impractical, solution.  That solution didn't really stop him from carrying on the struggle in various other forms (and often the texts that came out of this were also shared with us).  I admire this capacity to struggle with both habitual selfhood and with "internal" Otherness in Jung.  I don't need him to give me the right answer about how this struggle should be carried out.  What I need, respect and have always needed and respected is his willingness to persist . . . and to allow that to be exposed in his writing and life in various ways.  And on a less subjective level, Jung produced a large and sophisticated body of theory and, more importantly, collected together and saw inherent patterns in a massive amount of data.  Some of his theories help orient a contemporary depth psychologist investigating the psyche, while others distract or turn out to be dead ends.  Both the dead ends and the sound foundations are equally useful to a progressive depth psychology. BUT ONLY WHEN THE PSYCHOLOGIST PERCEIVES AND UTILIZES THEM IN A SCIENTIFIC MANOR.

That is, the fact that some of Jung's ideas or reasonings were wrong and some were incomplete or need to be relanguaged is not a defect of analytical psychology if we actually treat it as a psychology, as a scientific pursuit.  Science benefits from failed experiments and from preliminary, but incomplete successes.  This increases knowledge.  The problems many post-Jungians have with Jung's alleged "errors" and oversights have developed in an unscientific context.  In other words, they are affect-driven and largely subjective.  There are, behind these failures of objectivity, personal, emotionally-overpowering complexes that compel many Jungians today to misuse Jung's theories and data because they are ashamed or angry at or disappointed by Jung (as Father).  I am suggesting that this is a kind of "acting out" on the part of these Jungians . . . although it is rationalized by claiming that science is a stunted worldview or has nothing to do with psychology or that Jung was never scientific anyway (or was a failed or incompetent scientist).

But these rationalizations entirely miss the point, which is that Jung was a superb and tremendously innovative collector and valuator of psychic data.  He may not have mapped out the entire psyche perfectly, but, phenomenologically, he was a pioneer in showing us where and what it was.  Not in his theorizing (which he himself constantly cautioned was imperfect and could be a slippery slope), but in his data collection.  What he saw as relevant and related is precisely the data set that we still need to be working with to develop a sound and truly modern depth psychology.  Jung excelled in pointing out the general direction in which we need to look in order to understand the complex human mind.

This realm of data analysis and scientific phenomenology is where Giegerich, in my opinion, fails.  It is the stuff of the subjective reason I am opposed to most of Giegerich's theories and prescriptions for psychology.  It is, for me, an area of shadow projection, even, because I find Giegerich's attitude problematically self-serving, irresponsible, and slightly delusional (in an inflated sense).  It is precisely the kind of approach to psychology that I do NOT want to take and strive constantly to eschew.  BUT . . . it is hard to do so.  Intuitive and creative thinkers, especially those driven and inspired by archetypal patterns and rhythms, are presented with a great many tempting but preposterous and self-serving (or Demon-serving) "strokes of genius".  Some of these really are sound . . . but most are not.  It take tremendous vigilance and devout self-analysis to be able to differentiate the two.  And just ignoring all these "wellings up" is not a solution, because those minority of intuitive inspirations that are sound are indeed the real and only truly useful indicators of progress.  Pure rational analysis and detachment will not turn up anything valid.  We need the hypertrophic pattern attribution and recognition of intuition.  A psychological theorist is only as good as his or her pattern recognition is accurate.  And the only way to assure decent accuracy is to practice intense self-analysis, to always question one's subjectivity and complexes in the effort to discern how these things are influencing and perhaps distorting the "objective" patterns in psychic phenomena (what Jung meant by the "objective psyche").

Giegerich not only fails to do this, he rationalizes the failure and the notable difficulty of trying to be objective by coming up with a convoluted and passionately moralistic excuse for why not just the practice but the mere hope of obtaining any objectivity in psychology is wrong (wrong, and not merely flawed).  He purposely misses the point of scientific imperfection.  Rather, he doesn't acknowledge that science (unlike philosophy) is not directed at perfect theory, nor does it claim to be able to produce perfect theories or perfect knowledge.  Science is dedicated to a progressive ideal founded on constant self-questioning and revision.  Scientific theories are place holders while constant acquisition and analysis of data really drive the revision of these placeholder explanatory theories.  There is no absolute truth, only what appears to be best supported by the data.  And this is only held with the qualification that more data collection will likely either refine or refute current placeholder theories. 

The depiction of science as a narrowed-minded, rigid, uncreative, and ideological kind of "rationalism" is already a serious (and I think, complexed) illusion commonly held by most Jungians (regardless of school).  Giegerich takes this anti-science fantasy and ideology and runs it through a series of fun house mirrors, taking its hyperbole to the level of the theatrically grotesque.  That Giegerich's argument for this depends on ridiculous distortions of logic and sense (even as "logic" is one of Giegerich's appropriated buzzwords) only makes it easier to believe for a Jungian audience already wanting to believe science is worthless and can be ignored, but lacking a strong enough rationale to dismiss it absolutely.  Giegerich seems to offer such a rationale . . . although his rationalization is really only a bit of prestidigitation.  That is, I am saying the Jungian audience is willingly misguided because they empathize with the sentiment of the trick.  A willing suspension of disbelief.

Giegerich's argument for why psychology should be freed from the realms of science and everything else are problematic in their vagueness, logic, and (lack of) proof.  But they are complicated and have a quality that is at one time both very simple (i.e., of course we cannot have a perfectly "objective" science of mind, because our subjectivity and necessary use of mind to study mind is inescapable), and very complicated and philosophically and linguistically labyrinthine.  The equation of this argument can be boiled down to the following subtextual components: 1.) an obvious commonsense statement: psyche cannot see psyche with perfect "detachment and objectivity", 2.) a lot of linguistic and intellectualist flourishes, complex sentences, back turns, and razzle-dazzle, and 3.) a strong, unmistakable, but still subtextual emotionalism or moralism that forcefully says, "This is Right and Good, and contradictions of it are ethical failings or condemnable idiocies.

In other words, 1.) a simple but irrelevant fact, 2.) a couching of that fact's simplicity and irrelevance in illogical and complicated obfuscation, and 3.) an emotional and moral appeal to the audience that because #1 is obviously factual, the obfuscation of #2 supposed to justify it must also be factual . . . and shame on those who fail to see this Truth.

The Giegerich of such arguments, language, rhetoric, and tactics is a charlatan, and one who can prey upon many Jungians, because they are the right "suckers born every minute" for this particular sell.  It is a bit of a curiosity to me that more Jungians don't think of Giegerich as a charlatan (for these fairly straightforward reasons mentioned above).  I have no illusion about the intellectual sophistication of Jungians.  Ours is not a culture of the world's foremost geniuses.  But Jungians are not quite the morons that Hillman once made them out to be.  It is not an intellectual stupidity that prevents Jungians from progressing or makes them susceptible to Giegerich's snake oil salesmanship.  It is a complex, an Achilles Heel, a particular susceptibility characteristic of the Jungian identity.  It is a desire to escape their tribal shadow and to bask in the comfort of their wish fulfillment fantasies.  That, coupled to a subconscious frustration and disappointment with Jung.

Giegerich hits all the right triggers to open up the Jungian mind to propaganda and manipulation.  These kinds of strategies and approaches, even though I doubt Giegerich is using them to be intentionally manipulative (i.e., I think he believes his own PR), are the reasons he becomes a shadow figure for me.  These are precisely the kinds of things that I would avoid doing at all costs and would find ethically impaired.  Are they ethically impaired?  I don't know.  If intentionally deceptive, yes, of course.  But if Giegerich is an adamant believer in the truth of these smoke and mirror theatrics, then I'm not sure.  That his rhetoric and theatrics fools (too many) Jungians bothers me.  But it is the woolly minded susceptibility of Jungians that bothers me the most . . . not that Giegerich himself is playing the role of the deceiving charlatan.  To see Jungians being so susceptible to this kind of obfuscating and misleading rhetoric bothers me because I too am (and consider myself to be) a Jungian.  I know there is a part of me that could be taken in . . . but it is a shadow part, an aspect of my Jungianness that I have fought hard to overcome and reject . . . to depotentiate.  I have done so, because I realized that it only fed a self-deluding (and ego protecting) fantasy that is a fine fantasy if we want to see Jungianism as a kind of provider God that blesses those (and only those) who are faithful and obedient.  But I have come to reject this (what I feel is the most common ) approach to Jungianism.  For years now I have been primarily concerned with what Jungians can do to improve, heal, and progress Jungianism. 

I did originally benefit from Jungianism (from reading Jung, at least).  It was momentous, transformative, and perhaps even salvational for me.  But I don't have the disposition of a believer, acolyte or disciple.  The reason I found Jung appealing enough to "follow" him at the beginning of my adult journey was that he showed nothing but disdain (at least in his essays) for disciples.  He claimed not to be a prophet, a carrier of sacred truth.  He was an investigator, a regular man searching for logical and rational answers to vast mysteries, hungering for the "numinous", yes . . . but his real and deepest devotion was to keeping his feet on the ground.  Jung was (and suffered the hubris of) a Ulysses who would strap himself to the mast just to hear the exotic death song of the sirens while (trickster-like) slipping out of the clutches of death itself.  He respected his "crew", at times even "loved" them (and tried to save them).  But his quest was between him and the gods.  He didn't, I think, really thrive on followers who treated him like a guru.  Even if that tempted him at times, I don't think it ever fulfilled or could have fulfilled his real hunger . . . which was for "adventure" and investigation in the psyche, experimentally seeking, curiosity and passion to know.

Although I sensed some of the flaws with this drive, I also very much identified with it.  And so, when I found myself indebted to Jung, I felt an obligation to repay him . . . not with obedience and worship, which I felt to be a disrespectful and inadequate payment . . . but with a singular and honest individual's attempt to carry on the investigation and "mapping" of the mysterious "deep" psyche that Jung had started.  What I came to find (very quickly) was that this style of repayment was extremely rare among Jungians . . . and that Jungians themselves tended to be the greatest hindrance to the progress of the Jungian program.

I have been struggling to figure out why this is ever since.  There isn't merely one reason . . . and that is why we have a splintered Jungian tribe.  With the classical Jungians, the issues are usually pretty clearcut.  The first wave of Jungians made Jung into a prophet and guru, denied or conveniently ignored his shortcomings (both as a theorist and a human being), and seemed to be a little too much in love with what Jung and Jungian belief provided to them . . . a kind of religious salvation filled with a meaningful, "symbolic life" and a sense of identity that was bolstered by a feeling of self-confidence (and often an inflation) that they were doing what was good, right, and true . . . that they had a special knowledge and insight, a "wisdom".  They could see themselves as contented senexes who "had arrived", had seen the light, had been saved.  They were touched by God.

This trend in Jungianism (sometimes even beyond the classical school) still exists, although it has suffered and developed a degree of shame.  "Jung" has let down the classical Jungians of this ilk more than he has anyone else.  But those who remain "classical" and somewhat "fundamentalist" tend to repress this shame and disappointment.  I suspect that this repressed shame leads these Jungians to be more susceptible to inflation as a compensation for the "depression" the subconscious shame afflicts them with.

Developmental and archetypal Jungians deal with the shame of Jung differently.  They are "out of the closet" more in this regard.  They openly express their disappointment (although they couch this personal feeling in criticism, a kind of self serving sublimation of these hard-to-process feelings).  But these non-classical schools also have other ways to escape from the worst "hellfire" of the shame at Jung, the Father.  They have other places (tribes, more accurately) to escape TO, places that classical Jungians don't have or allow themselves.  Developmentalists have psychoanalysis, which is a wonderful tonic for the "problem of Jungianness", because not only are there some distinct disagreements between the tribes, Jung has long been a loathed and ridiculed scapegoat figure in the psychoanalytic tribe.  Therefore, there is no better "retreat" to find justification and support of frustration and disappointment with Jung.

That is not to say that developmentalists openly or even knowingly "hate" Jung.  Nor that they willingly embrace all of the ostracizing and neglect psychoanalysis has traditionally held for Jung.  I don't think most developmentalists want to get rid of their Jungianness completely.  They just want it washed of its shadow . . . and a repentant scourging with a psychoanalytic whip, it is hoped, will purify them.  Perhaps this is more true of the "older" developmental Jungians.  There seems to be a movement in developmentalism of "Jungians" who are mostly psychoanalytic in their beliefs, but find themselves attracted to certain aspects of Jung, which they pluck out very eclectically.  It is possible that developmental Jungianism has been growing more and more psychoanalytic, feeling less and less of a need to cling to a deeper sense of Jungian identity.  Jung has become a dehumanized corpus that they can dissect and use pieces of as desired.  What I fear about developmentalism, is that it will eventually only find its Jungianism inconvenient, and this brach of Jungians and Jungian thought will lose all sense of value and understanding of what Jung's project was.  To me, that would be a great loss, both intellectually and personally.

Some archetypal Jungians also have places they can retreat to to escape the stigma of Jung and the shame of Jungianism.  There isn't as consistent an ideology (and alternative tribe) as there is with the developmentalists, though.  One trend I've seen emerging is an increasing appeal to academic postmodernism and poststructuralist thinkers . . . which, like psychoanalysis, is a very tribal group within the humanities (with some infiltration into the social sciences, especially sociology).  I am not very impressed with postmodernism.  I feel about its pundits much the same way I do about Giegerich (with the way Giegerich uses language to obfuscate meaning).  I never really saw postmodernism (steeped in social constructivism) as truly compatible with Jungianism, which to my mind (and in my interpretation of it) is much more grounded in science and in biological nativism.  I was taken aback when I first began observing the new crop of postmodernist Jungian faithfuls (usually leaning toward the archetypal school at least in their sympathies).  But I eventually realized the appeal and the points of crossover. 

The points of crossover are Jung's anti-science statements and his emphasis on the "personal equation" and the way subjective and personal psychological qualities, habits, and familiar environmental and social contexts contribute significantly to the way ideas are constructed.  In Jung's hands this psychological observation and critique of the subjectivity behind intellectual and scientific thinking was insightful and prudent.  But with the postmodernists, it becomes a grotesque crusade, a tribal war against the other, a declaration of "chosenness" and righteousness.  It excuses a lot of sloppy thinking, and so long as one is preaching to the converted, the shouting of amen resounds impressively.

And this brings us to the appeal.  Injecting postmodernism into Jungianism allows for a continuation (if slight reinterpretation) of the sloppy Jungian thinking that has always been so prominent.  I don't think Jungianism really needs postmodernism.  Jung's notion of the personal equation is more robust, more useful, and does not become an anti-science ideology at all.  But postmodernism has another appeal: markets.  Postmodern sympathies grant Jungians (notoriously cut off from academia for decades) access to academic markets never available to Jungians before.  Some of the archetypal-leaning Jungians have roots in academic postmodernism and try to pursue the dream of infusing Jung into postmodernism (and vice versa).  I'm not sure this is feasible . . . and it might border on delusional.

I don't claim to understand the academic postmodernist market and tribe that well.  But my sense is that 1.) it has strong roots in Freud and in "blank slate" social constructivism and is unlikely to have any interest in Jung and Jungian ideas, and 2.) academic postmodernism represents, I think, a kind of dark ages in academic humanities.  It is not without insights, but it excels at making much ado out of very, very little and turning observations too obvious for previous thinkers to bother expounding into elaborate "philosophies" that require devout specialists (i.e., "priests") to interpret and teach these sacred documents. It still has a great deal of influence, but I see no signs that it continues to grow or is even really capable of growing.  In fact, its influence seems to be waning, its fad fading.  I could be wrong, but I wouldn't be surprised to see the sloppy, tribal, highly ideological, linguistically ridiculous kind of academic postmodernism that has defined the tradition mostly gone from the universities 20 to 30 years from now (and hopefully much sooner).  In other words, I think those Jungians that want to merge with postmodernism are backing the wrong horse.  And this demonstrates a dangerous lack of common sense on many levels.  Especially when we recognize that no school of Jungianism today is trying to make inroads and allegiances in science or with, say, a more scientific psychology like evolutionary psychology . . . with which Jung's Jungianism is actually much more inherently compatible.  This fact makes me inclined to think that part of the Jungian attraction to academic postmodernism is really the self-congratulatory excusing of rigorous thought and self-scrutiny it promises.  It is a misleading temptation . . . but regrettably, it is well-rooted by this time (also with some developmentalists) and is unlikely to die out before either all of Jungianism dies out or all of postmodernism does.

The gist of my brief (and fairly dismissive) rundown of the contemporary Jungianisms is that they are severely stunted . . . for a variety of reasons, but all of these pointing back to similar cultural complexes.  We can find clear roots of these complexes in Jung's personality, in his obsessions, and in his relationships (especially with Freud and the Freudians).  My beef, to be clear, is with Jungianism.  I don't hate it.  I don't look down on it.  I lament for it.  I am not making a claim that Jungians are dim, and that I am brilliant by comparison.  I am trying to find a way to help, to give back to Jungianism.  And what I appear to be best at (best being a relative term and not the same thing as "good") is critiquing and contradicting Jungian trends.  It is not my deepest desire to be a critic of Jungianism.  I'm not even convinced that Jungianism warrants a real criticism devoted to it (i.e., an outsider criticism).  And I would much rather be collaborating, brainstorming new ideas, encouraging and facilitating progressive Jungians doing great work.

But, from what I have seen (obviously many other Jungians disagree), there are no progressive Jungians.  And I can't be considered a progressive, because there is no means of distinguishing my writings and opinions from that of a crank.  There is no capacity (from what I've seen in the literature and especially in IAJS discussions) in the Jungian world to understand what the hell I'm on about.  I'm not even a Cassandra.  I'm nothing.  Im invisible . . . an inaudible an indistinguishable background noise easily tuned out.  And beyond that, I (by the standard of other Jungians) am not really a "true" Jungian.  I'm a blogger interested in Jung with no official Jungian background, credentials or indoctrination.  Yet, oddly in IAJS conversations, I am the only one who freely and regularly calls himself a Jungian.  Most of the others (Jungian analysts and scholars among them) demur.  "Jungian" is a pejorative term in today's "post-Jungian" culture.  Now, if that isn't a sign of true disease, I don't know what is.

Ultimately, I feel relegated to being a critic of Jungianism.  It is done as an ethical obligation, a debt of gratitude and solidarity I owe Jungianism . . . and especially Jung himself.  Which is why I also have such a strong negative reaction to Wolfgang Giegerich.  Another similarity between us is that we two are the harshest and most radical Jungian critics writing today (that's Jungian critics, not critics of Jung).  Of course, I am not writing in a way that gets through to Jungian ears (for numerous reasons, many of which are my own fault or products of my own limitations as a thinker and writer).  In this collective of two, there is bound to be a focus (for me only, of course) on what differentiates us. 

Giegerich writes a kind of criticism that, although justified and generally appropriate in some ways, ultimately feeds a destruction of Jung and Jungianism . . . a destruction of what I feel is valuable and still useful in Jungianism.  And he feeds a Jungian hunger (and complex) for a kind of adolescent revenge against Jung the father.  I think Giegerich envies Jung bitterly.  He would happily depose Jung from the head of the tribe.  My approach is very different.  I am deeply grateful to Jung . . . and I don't consider my (many) disagreements with Jung to be indications that he was a moron, "bad philosopher", or hopeless politically or morally inept.  I understand his logic, why he made the choices he did and developed the theories he did.  I find his interpretations of the data always, always useful, intelligent and insightful.  There is much more to be learned even from Jung's oversights and missteps than has so far been garnered by Jungians.  He should not be treated like a failed prophet . . . but like a pioneering scientist or proto-scientist.  He was like an alchemist to today's chemist.  We shouldn't buy into the propaganda that (as with alchemy and chemistry) Jung was a poor thinker, lousy scientist, hopeless theologian, etc.  He opened up or broadened many avenues of psychological investigation.  He valuated the psyche as something complex, autonomous, and worthy of our greatest attention.  He didn't merely assign subjective laws to it.  He allowed it (usually, not always) to be what it was.  And he observed like a scientist.  But he didn't always interpret like one.

There is something in Jung's approach that has been lost since Jung died.  And no Jungian has managed to rekindle this flame.  It is not a coincidence in my opinion, that no Jungian has tried to see Jung as scientific or utilize scientific reasoning and a scientific approach to data in the development of Jungian thought.  This is not a well-traveled but always failed line of thought in Jungianism.  It simply has never been attempted.  In fact, it is tabooed.  But a scientific approach to Jungianism and to the psyche IS compatible with Jung's project.  And I'm not talking about tests on rats in a lab.  I just mean the application of standard data collection and analysis and a willingness to pay attention to what scientists from other fields are saying and doing (not only those that can be bent into supporting some existing Jungian or psychoanalytic idea).  What I am proposing and trying to pursue myself is not radical, nor is it "un-Jungian".  There is no rational reason to eschew this kind of approach.  The problem really is in Jungians.  What Jung did, the way he approached his work, was much more sophisticated than the way Jungians have approached psychology. 

Jung was an experimentalist, a (relatively scientific) phenomenologist, an empiricist . . . in his approach to data.  Psychic data.  It is not "science" per se that has been lost . . . but the spirit of experimentalism and the valuation of and careful attention to data.  Wolfgang Giegerich, more so than Jung, is a theorist . . . not an experimentalist.  He does not base his thinking in the observation of data, but in what he calls the (intuited) "logic" of the soul.  But this "soul's logical life" is deeply and intentionally subjective.  It never becomes objective, attaining a legitimate Otherness. For Giegerich, this is psychological truth and a pillar of his theory.  But an essential valuation of the psyche as Other, as autonomous, that is fundamental to Jung's approach is entirely lost in Giegerich's.  And this is a great loss for analytical psychology.  Where the psyche is relieved of its autonomy, subjectivity or ego steps in.  This egoism, beneath its elaborate cloak, is very much the same as the kind of "heroic" patriarchal egoism that Jung both struggled with and at times condemned as egoic inflation.  The Giegerichian subjectification of soul is a cleverly disguised ascent of the solar heroic ego, a shedding of illuminating light on the darkened Other, Self, or soul.  An appropriation and not a valuation.

Of course Giegerich appears to give a great deal of praise to the "soul", but this "soul" is specifically a construction of Giegerich's cleverness and languaging.  It is largely a product of Giegerich's ego, and therefore this ego is the real recipient of the praise.  As is typically the modus operandi for Giegerich, this "solar" attitude is an amplified-to-distortion interpretation of one of Jung's own attitudes.  As can be seen perhaps most easily in the Red Book, Jung struggled mightily to valuate the soul/anima as Other.  He could only grant it ("her") so much inherent value . . . always balancing his small statements of valuation with more powerful criticism and attribution of negative (ego-destructive) intentions.

But Jung's position on soul is ultimately (if more "classical" as opposed to quasi-"postmodernist") much more complex than Giegerich's because Jung's equivocation demonstrated a moral struggle on one hand and a fairly strict devotion to psychic data on the other.  That psychic data was especially equivocal for Jung because of his own sexism and unresolved equivocation regarding women and what he classically felt to be "feminine".  Jung's Red Book experiment ends with the step by step eradication of psychic autonomy or Otherness, ending finally in the rise of the "mana-personality" Philemon, who uses "word-magic", "logos", or grandiose, prophetic, philosophical theory to turn the originally differentiated and autonomously powerful emanations of psychic Otherness into a mumbling horde of "the dead" who are vaguely dissatisfied with Christ (or perhaps Jung's own impersonation of Christ).  And this inflated, patriarchal stance toward the autonomous psyche is essentially what we get from Giegerich, too.  Giegerich is another kind of Philemon, another mana-personality dispelling the autonomy and objectivity of the soul with word magic while presenting "her" in a golden cage.


Wolfgang Giegerich does have the cleverness, innovative mind, and archetypal or "complex-driven" energy to be a profoundly useful and important Jungian.  He seems to intuitively sense most of the important Jungian issues.  His line is always well-baited and well-attended by the nibbles and tugs of the Jungian complex-fish in old Lake Zurich.  But he doesn't manage to reel these fish in and have true conversations with them.  Perhaps he is too busy being a Jungian or being subject to the Jungian diseases to really allow these complexes to speak.  Instead, he has many fish tales . . . even a whole mythology of them, complete with numerous rationalizations for why these fish never have to be met face to face (or confronted with sympathy and spared human consumption . . . in exchange for "granted wishes").

Regardless of my disagreements with and criticisms of his thinking, I fully accept that Giegerich is essential to today's Jungianism.  He seems to have emerged from the Jungian psyche like an autonomous complex.  In his persona, his phenomenon, the Jungian soul is revealed in all of its diseased complexity and powerful affect.  The problem is that the Giegerich phenomenon itself is not being adequately objectified by other Jungians.  Instead, they are more often succumbing to the complex he represents.  But taken objectively (rather than followed or believed in), the Giegerich phenomenon has a great deal to teach Jungianism about itself.

I don't know if that will happen.  I suspect it probably won't.  So the more important question to ask is: will Jungianism survive its flirtation with the Giegerich phenomenon?  If not, what will be left?  And if so, how will the damage possibly be repaired?  It's possible that the emergence and growth of the Giegerich phenomenon is a sign of the end of Jungianism.  Yet, if the sign could be read properly, this could prove to be an all-important turning point of Jungian thought and the Jungian tribe.


The last thing I would like to say is that my seemingly (and no doubt actually) hyperbolic critique of the Giegerich phenomenon does not only derive some of its worried and even disgusted affect from personal shadow projections onto a personage that represents the kind of attitude I definitely do not want to take toward the Jungian tribe whose survival and adaptation, whose "soul", I care deeply about.  I am also digging into a vein of compensatory energy, trying to unearth (even if somewhat grotesquely) the kinds of forceful critical analysis that Jungians rarely seem to do.  Of course, Giegerich offers similar forcefulness and affect, although mostly directed at Jung (and at certain other Jungian attitudes).  In analyzing the Giegerich phenomenon, I am mirroring Giegerich.  I am using (translated into my own idiom) a Giegerichian mode of rhetoric and argument. 

This is not entirely compulsive . . . nor is it some kind of eye for an eye execution of revenge.  In many ways (perhaps hard for a reader to see, but very noticeable to me) I do this out of a kind of strange affinity with Giegerich.  It is an homage through deconstructive reflection.  It is a kind of oblation given both to the Jungian gods and to the spirit of the Jungian complex that I feel drives Giegerich's writing.  On the sacrificial fire, it is not so much Giegerich that is being roasted as it is me.  I am stepping into the theater, donning the appropriate mask, participating in a Jungian drama (perhaps even a tragedy).

In other words, the reason I write about the Giegerich phenomenon with such overt vitriol and excess is that I feel a kind of wonder and a love for it, for this complex and mysterious expression of the Jungian soul.  I respect the very "soulfulness" of the Giegerich phenomenon.  I do not in any way condemn it.  I want to dance with it . . . even if that dance is a dangerous one.  But the way we Jungians have approached this autonomous expression of Jungian soulfulness is something that I feel must be condemned.  Giegerich is what we need . . . but Jungians have not taken Giegerich as they need to in order to grow or to heal the Jungian identity. 

Giegerich himself is a gift, a great gift . . . perhaps "of the Jungian gods".  But it takes a wise tribe to be able to incorporate and honor a trickster . . . to keep him close, feed him well, but not grant him license to utterly dismantle the tribal identity.  It is important to have such tribal tricksters, because they remind us how arbitrary tribal identity is, how arbitrary and fragile soul is.  But the wise tribe honors, respects, and lovingly placates the trickster so as not to be tricked by him.  The trickster is thus employed in the service of the tribal soul and not treated with "hysterical" blindness and rigid rejection, which end up turning the trickster into a kind of tornado ripping through the tribe.  Even more foolish is to place a crown on the trickster and grant him leadership of the tribe.  This feeds him on a dangerous diet of inflation. 

My suspicion is that tribes only raise their tricksters to rulership when they are in terrible need of self-annihilation.  That is, they are unconsciously giving themselves an ultimatum.  They need to seriously transform or die out, and the elevation of the trickster is a catalyst that will kick that process into hyper speed.  Thus elevated, he will drive the tribe to one of the two inevitable conclusions.  In this sense, the whole complex is a motion of the Self system trying to dissolve anything that disrupts its dynamism.  From the ego's perspective, sometimes only the threat of eminent and absolute annihilation will enable one (or a tribe) to see its predicament (and hopefully its redemption) clearly. 

More than that, in such situations, something in the egoic attitude (of individual or tribal identity) must truly die.  And that ritual murder requires a perpetrator.

There have been two clear death knells for the Jungian tribe in the last decades.  One was the high profile assault on Jungianism by Richard Noll, and the other is the Giegerich phenomenon. We are left with the difficult choice of whether this coming death will transform us progressively or dispose of us forever.  Noll couldn't take on the role or ritual murderer of the diseased Jungian identity because he was not a Jungian.  Giegerich is a true Jungian and a creature of the Jungian soul.  If ever there was a man for the job, it's him.

You can always come back, but you can’t come back all the way.

   [Bob Dylan,"Mississippi]

Matswin

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Re: Wolfgang Giegerich as an "Archetypal Phenomena" (complex?) in Jungianism
« Reply #5 on: November 08, 2011, 04:03:36 AM »
Of course, if Giegerich identifies with the trickster archetype, then it violates the Jungian tenet of disidentification with the archetypal unconscious. You are right in that Giegerich seems to offer no real solutions. My argument is that Giegerich tries a neurotic solution, "The Happy Neurotic Island" in the way of Modernity and Technology. I wrote this little article back in 2000, maybe it is in need of a revision. Please correct any misunderstandings on my part about Giegerich's teachings.
http://home7.swipnet.se/~w-73784/beastrev.htm

Mats Winther

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Re: Wolfgang Giegerich as an "Archetypal Phenomenon" (complex?) in Jungianism
« Reply #6 on: November 13, 2011, 12:25:10 PM »
My position probably falls somewhere between the anti-modernism of your essay and Giegerich's preposterous taunt about soul as maximizing profit, etc.  I feel that many of Giegerich's ideas are determined by shock value.  It surprises me that so many Jungians take him seriously . . . but I guess that says something about Jungians.

I'm not convinced Giegerich does this consciously, but it seems that he tries to present things that are meant to contradict Jungian conventions.  So, most Jungians are strongly anti-modern and neo-tribal.  Therefore, Giegerich attempts to explode this relatively unconscious habit by trying to locate soul in the modern city or in global capitalism.  This is helpful in shocking a Jungian reader into awareness of his or her habitual beliefs and attitudes . . . but it never really helps Jungians know what to do with these newly recognized habits and complexes. 

That is the trickster aspect in Giegerich.  The trickster explodes or dissolves conventions, but never offers useful reconstructions.

I do feel there is a legitimate connection between soul and technology, though.  But I am defining technology as the creation of anything that facilitates human needs or resolves a human problem.  Technology need not have anything to do with modern gizmos.  Languaging is technology.  A successful poet finds a new way to use language to express something that could not previously be expressed (or that once made sense in a certain languaging, but that languaging no longer proves satisfactory to a later generation).

Some technologies enable people to remain "unconscious", and others help aid consciousness to facilitate the Self.  I think that, in general, though, technologies are neutral.  Modern technologies like the internet and smart phones are good examples.  They facilitate learning, communication, functional organization of people, etc.  But they can also be used for innumerable destructive, hateful, and self-deluding purposes.

Technologies can distract us from the value of ethical consciousness.  Perhaps the tendency of technologies to make things easier can encourage dependencies and relax our sense of responsibility for our actions.  But overall, we are a technological species.  We require technology in order to be human and fulfill and express our nature.  And yet, ever-changing technology is always anchored by that nature. It never really enables humans to transcend their nature.  Rather, the problem with unmans is that they are continuously losing touch with their nature . . . and must kept inventing new ways of reconnecting to it.

I'm not sure if Giegerich's proposals are "neurotic" exactly.  They are took tricksetrly to be simply neurotic.  But this means that they function as a kind of test (for Jungians only).  It is as if they challenge Jungians to see through the ruse the trickster is presenting.  NOT merely to reject that ruse as "of the devil".  But, alternatively, believing that the ruse is some kind of profound new truth is also to fail this test.  It needs to be seen through in a way that enlightens or broadens Jungian thinking.

But I don't think Giegerich could possibly be doing this intentionally.  He takes himself too seriously, and he would have to be fairly crazy to act out the trickster with such conscious devotion.  I mean, the genre of Jungian writing is not a novelistic genre where the author speaks to the audience through an unreliable narrator or communicates something other or opposite to what the narrator is seemingly communicating.  That approach would not be considered acceptable coming from a psychotherapist or even  philosopher who is expected by the audience to address issues directly and with functional analysis.

So I feel forced to conclude that Giegerich is a bit possessed by the trickster.  He himself doesn't really see through the trickster's ruse . . . and becomes a kind of mechanical prophet for the trickster.  He tries to speak "truth".  But despite all his advocacy of logic and philosophy and intellectuality, he is a creature of feeling and affect.  He is tuned into the rather repressed and dysfunctional feeling level of Jungian identity and thought.  And he seems to want to illuminate this.  He takes that illumination as a righteous action.  But his feeling-based righteousness is held captive by the trickster, which winds it all up in a thick covering of seeming philosophical intellectualism.

That is, because of the trickster possession, Giegerich's feeling insights into Jungian culture and identity must be funneled through a distorting kind of oracular pronouncement.  He can't come directly at that feeling or express the feeling intelligence.  He must make a pact with the trickster in order to get to that feeling.  In this way it is made both exotic and adequately unintelligible to the Jungian mind.  Perhaps this is because the Jungian mind doesn't speak "feeling language".  It is quite dumb and "illiterate" where feeling is concerned.

But wrapped up in tricksterly complications, feeling can distantly and distortedly be perceived and participated in.  But there is no consciousness is this.  Feeling is like the "inferior function" for Jungianism, which may be why it has elected to employ the trickster to point the way to it.  But as long as this feeling remains wrapped up in this trickster dialect, remains thoroughly disguised, feeling will not really come into Jungian consciousness.  Only when that tricksterism is seen through can the feeling nature of what Giegerich is channeling be understood.  But where Jungians fail to see through it, they only feed an already constellated complex or delusion.
You can always come back, but you can’t come back all the way.

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Matswin

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Re: Wolfgang Giegerich as an "Archetypal Phenomena" (complex?) in Jungianism
« Reply #7 on: November 16, 2011, 02:55:57 AM »
Giegerich's notion of "technology" could perhaps be understood as the "playing of games", which would rhyme with the understanding of his standpoint as based on the trickster archetype. Historian Johan Huizinga, who wrote a book on the culture of play, says that the game playing element was once extremely important, especially in Chinese civilization. C.G. Jung regarded games as of the utmost importance to the sanity and well-being of men and their societies. "Civilisations at their most complete moments," he said, "always brought out in man his instinct to play and made it more inventive." He would point out how in ancient Greece games had a religious origin. "One of the most striking testimonies to the quality of the English spirit," he once said, "is the English love of sport and games in a classical sense and their genius for inventing games." (Cf. van der Post, Jung and the Story of Our Time, p.45.).

Jung's argument is borne out by research. Aztec noblemen seem to have been obsessed with a game called Patolli, very similar to Ludo. In the Bronze Age, according to the following study, gaming was more important  than was earlier thought. Almost every tenth artifact found at Mohenjo-daro is game related, including different forms of dice and playing pieces.  "Gaming in Mohenjo-daro - an Archaeology of Unities."  Elke Rogersdotter, 12-Jan-2011:
http://gupea.ub.gu.se/handle/2077/24042

The medievals were obsessed with Fox and Geese. There are carvings everywhere. In Gloucester Cathedral there are several Fox and Geese boards incised on the stone seats. Boardgame patterns, especially nine-mens' Morris (merels), were often built into the walls of churches and monasteries. By 1997, in a project that was prematurely discontinued, researchers had documented over one thousand morris boards in an historical and archaeological context. They also occur on vertical surfaces, as on a roman marble slab that is part of the throne of Charlemagne, Aix-la-Chapelle.

Arguably, technology and its many gadgets could be seen as a grand game-playing activity. Facebook, for instance, what is that all about? It is like a social game where social points ("friends") are collected. Apparently, when people have time and energy to spare, they start playing games. But it has a neurotic backside.  The Russian chess master Chigorin, at old age, is said to have burnt his chess set, realizing how much valuable life had been wasted on it.

Arguably, there is a contradiction between individuation and the gaming motif. The latter can arrest  individuation. On the other hand, it is important to the sanity of the collective. But today, the game playing element is so over-whelming that many people will probably meet with the fate of Chigorin.

On a stone in Bollingen Jung made the following inscription:

Time is a child—playing like a child—playing a board game—the kingdom of the child. This is Telesphoros, who roams through the dark regions of this cosmos and glows like a star out of the depths. He points the way to the gates of the sun and to the land of dreams.

This Telesphoros is the trickster. Jung also made a picture called "I am the Game of the Gambler", featuring the trickster as both the game and the gambler.



When Giegerich says that technology replaces individuation, he perhaps intuits that the game playing element, the motif of the trickster, today constitutes an overwhelming power. This trickster, in the above image, represents Jung's shadow, I believe. Jung was aware of the conflict between the trickster and the self as the archetype of individuation.

Mats Winther

Matswin

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Re: Wolfgang Giegerich as an "Archetypal Phenomena" (complex?) in Jungianism
« Reply #8 on: November 17, 2011, 06:15:55 AM »
Arguably, we are always involved in the playing of games. The share market is a kind of game, and so is the whole competitive market system. Board game players are calculating "variations", and they learn "opening variants". Musicians are also creating "variations". Matisse realized that he could set two colour fields in opposition on the canvas, thus inventing the game of modern art, where new variations are continually discovered. 

We are very much enticed by this jumble of variations. In the modern world, technology has facilitated game playing immensely. Evidently, technology has had a strong impact in the share market. Moreover, I can now play chess or Xiangqi at any time over the Internet. I can partake in the diverse social games, too. In this thought activity of mine, I discover new intellectual variations, which seduces me into even more game playing.

Technology has amplified the principle of play, and people go astray in the endless forest of variations. It's as if the Wheel of Samsara is rotating faster and faster. The trickster archetype grows in dimensions to become a devil. The consequence is that individuation risks coming to a halt. In that technology facilitates play, individuation becomes quenched in a jumble of variations that keep the individual busy.

Mats Winther

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Re: Wolfgang Giegerich as an "Archetypal Phenomena" (complex?) in Jungianism
« Reply #9 on: November 20, 2011, 05:15:45 PM »
Technology has amplified the principle of play . . .


Mats, this is the sentence that makes most sense to me.  I don't recognize technology as a function of game playing.  But games certainly make an excellent example of how we like to invent arenas to exercise our nature in . . . in this case, our habit of thinking in ordered constructs and solving problems through abstraction and representation.  The abundance of human board/mind games is perhaps a testament to a hypertrophic mental trait for finding reductive patterns in complex phenomena.  It shares something with our tendencies to narrativize, confabulate, rationalize, and assign agency and mind to dynamic systems.

The technology comes in where we invent the specific games and sets of rules for play that allow these "instincts" to be expressed.  Yes, those games can become obsessing and distract us from other important things (like other instinctual needs), but I don't see the habit of technology as responsible for any harm that might come from that distraction.  The drive of technology is neutral.

And there are many other things (more "heinous" than games) that distract us and lock us into unhealthy obsessions.  Our attitudes and beliefs are typically our most severe prisons, I think.  Like the rules of games, they create walls, dead ends, a set of static rules that limit the ways we think, perceive, feel, relate, etc.  But unlike with games, we are often not aware of these rules and fail to recognize them as arbitrary or often that they are harmful to us and/or to others.

Even with games, it is less the game itself (which need not be entered into "pathologically") than it is our attitude or approach toward these games that can become problematic.  To my mind, you seem to be locating "culprits" in specific (often cultural and usually modern) objects . . . which become "others".  But my perspective is that "othering" itself is a kind of "game", a habit, an arbitrary habit.  The rules of such games are Us and Them, Right and Wrong, Good and Bad.  And that habit, too, I recognize as "instinctual" for our species . . . as a factor of our habits of tribe and identity.

I think we all make our own games, our own rules (or unconsciously adopt them, more commonly) . . . and we call this our life or our identity.  The process of individuation is often a matter of exploding these arbitrary rules (perhaps one demolition after another).  But I really don't look negatively on the "gaming" of identity construction and belief.  I don't think we can opt out.  We can't just "fold" (other than through death).  There is no way to make the gaming of identity perfectly non-arbitrary or righteous, or true.  But the hand we can guide in this creation, where we can "play" god of the universe of our identity or self, is in the weaving of sound narratives.  We have the capacity to make some of the universe we choose to exist in . . . because our attitudes and beliefs are not really absolute and unchangeable.  We can endeavor to write (and rewrite) creative "rules" into our games of selfhood (and that too is the instinct for technology in action).

I see two general principles that are involved in doing this functionally: the capacity to see through or recognize the arbitrariness of all identity constructions and the determination to practice integrity, sympathy, and ethics in the approach to self-creation.  Much of this boils down to: don't lie to yourself.  Know why it is you make every choice you do or abstain from actively making choices.  What is my real motivation in making every assumption I make?

The path of individuation begins with the cultivation of this discipline.  It dissolves, pares away, sees through.  But creation is more complicated, more subtle . . . more demanding of our ethical integrity.  It involves play, I think.  Arbitrary structures are constructed, but the goal is to construct them in a way that enables ethics, integrity, or what I call valuation.  Such creation, though arbitrary, though based in language and never eternal is what makes the sacred possible.  That is my personal sense of "Logos": sacred-making language that operates not by a perfect and absolute "truth", but by principles of integrity, ethics, valuation.


The trickster archetype grows in dimensions to become a devil. The consequence is that individuation risks coming to a halt. In that technology facilitates play, individuation becomes quenched in a jumble of variations that keep the individual busy.

Your outlook is too restrictive for my taste.  I don't see the trickster archetype as something truly demonic (or Demonic in my own lingo).  For me, the trickster is as aspect of the Self . . . the Self's dissolving instinctuality that breaks down arbitrary cultural attitudes and beliefs and asks us to see through them, keep them flexible and devoted to the facilitation of the Self (rather than serving the Demon or the static ego looking for rules for perfection).

It is primarily in Jungian (and of course rooted in Christian) thinking where archetypal tricksterism becomes associated with the devil and evil.  The Christian devil is a symbol representing anything that requires habitual conscious attitudes to change (after one has been "saved" or "has faith"). It is then imagined that to change is "to be tricked" away from the righteous path.  The scapegoat is manufactured to blame for seducing one away from utter stasis.

The Christian and Jungian attitudes toward the trickster are sick.  They derive from a cultural sickness in each case.  In tribal cultures where the less distorted trickster archetype plays an import an role, there is the collective sense in the tribe to keep the trickster close to the creation/destruction/change of culture.  In that way the trickster is employed and can at times function as the left hand of the Self.  Jungians would try to exile or starve the trickster (never employ it).

That's why we get it through Giegerich.  Jungians use Giegerich to delude themselves.  He is the "trickster's revenge" because we couldn't figure out how to consciously valuate and employ the trickster in Jungian culture.  We have no healthy way of looking at our habits and conventions, our attitudes and beliefs.  They are all God's Commandments . . . or else they are invisible barriers we accept without ever thinking about them.  So all destruction of these arbitrary identity constructions comes from the unconscious, through compulsion and complex.  And since consciousness plays no functional role in this, Jungians run a terrible risk of completely destroying themselves.

That's what I think Giegerich would do if "embraced" by Jungians.  His energy and talent is entirely invested in demolition . . . and for all he destroys, he gives worthless paper currency in exchange.  We pay him to blow shit up, because we do not know what to do with the old Jungian ideas and attitudes.  We see only ruins.  Blow them up!  We don't need them.

And of course, at just the right time, a man with an endless supply of explosives appears . . . and that distracts us from really asking ourselves why we want Jungian shit blown up.  We don't want to blame Jungian ideas and habits for failing us . . . and hide from the realization that we have failed them (in our tendency toward upholding petrified dogmas or simply ignoring vital aspects of Jungian inheritance, because they demand more intelligence and discipline or perhaps creativity form us).

But we can blow up too much and for the wrong reasons . . . or we can get caught up in the destruction and not realize that we must also start creating, and creating ethically.  Instead, we blow shit up and wait for a new and better identity to be provided to us . . . a new savior to come.  That childish and irresponsible hope is what allows Giegerich to wear prophet's robes in Jungian culture.  We foolishly expect that anyone so skilled at demolition must have a grand plan . . . something exquisite for us to believe in.  Jungians don't understand the difference between a tribe and a doomsday cult.

But none of this is the trickster's fault.  The trickster should be gleefully blowing shit up.  But the tribe needs to utilize that special skill to see through its outworn ideas and beliefs . . . and to find the inspiration and courage to change and grow.  Giegerich could be a real asset.  But he must be laughed at and laughed into the heart of Jungian identity.  Not worshipped.  We can't look to the trickster to save us, only to tear down the walls we thought were true and eternal, but that actually kept us from moving.

The trickster is like a mirror than we don't want to look into.  We think if we can just look away again and again when the mirror is near, we will be able to avoid harm (and change).  But the mirror of the trickster is a great gift.  It begs us to approach its reflection consciously and responsibly.  It's appearance indicates that a new responsibility is upon us . . . and to the extent we ignore the trickster, we shirk that responsibility, driving the trickster to become more explosive.  We keep putting the awareness off until the trickster can "possess" us.  That is, we give up all consciousness, all responsibility.  The trickster can march us happily to our doom, then.  We haven in essence, created the trickster to do this for us.  Because if we cannot recognize that there are valid reasons not to be utterly destroyed, then we need to be utterly destroyed.  That is "the will of the Self" . . . where there is no consciousness, no acceptance of responsibility, no ability to see through, no capacity to valuate.

It's not that identity, in such cases, should be utterly destroyed.  It's that identity requires agents of responsibility willing to "redeem" and facilitate the enshadowed Self.  Where no one would step forward to try to treat and repair identity, to take some responsibility, it could (through the trickster) careen toward its self-destruction.  That act and spirit of taking responsibility work to employ the trickster and make it into an asset.

Following that the point of my critique of the Giegerich phenomenon is not to wag a finger at Giegerich and turn him into a scapegoat to be lynched.  Rather, I mean to employ the consciousness and energy required to make the Giegerich phenomenon into a consciousness-raising enterprise instead of a consciousness-sacrificing one.  That has to begin with seeing through the Giegerich phenomenon and owning it (as part of Jungian identity).

I don't expect or ask Giegerich to change in any way.  The question is how to employ him.  Much like with Richard Noll.  Noll can and should be employed to raise Jungian consciousness . . . not to repress the Jungian shadow.  That Jungians seem to have no clue what to do with these opportunities for consciousness suggests to me that they have no concept of tribe and identity . . . and therefore no functional concept of or relationship to Self.  Instead of spurring consciousness or individuation, these events seem to be gobbled up by the Jungian complexes . . . which are like channels that divert the flow of life away from living and toward death of nullification.
You can always come back, but you can’t come back all the way.

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Matswin

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Re: Wolfgang Giegerich as an "Archetypal Phenomena" (complex?) in Jungianism
« Reply #10 on: November 21, 2011, 03:16:01 PM »
The definition of the word 'individuation' implies a process of "othering", that is, to differentiate out of group identity. To see the "Other" is necessary for a true relationship to develop, so it not anti-social. 

Webster's Dictionary gives:

(1) : the development of the individual from the universal.
(2) : the determination of the individual in the general b : the process by which individuals in society become differentiated from one another.

We are averse to being existentially alone, disconnected from everything else in the universe. Individuation is experienced as a painful process. So I don't think it can be viewed as a habit or a game. Games are self-gratifying, even addictive. The self as a goal of individuation is a 'complexio oppositorum'. It seems contradictory that utmost individuation, which leads to a distinctive character and consciousness, is also the archetype of totality, or of God, which Jung has argued. I think it has to do with the fact that individuation is a necessary prerequisite for attaining that divine form of unconsciousness which is the mystical union with God. Individuation implies that consciousness is extended, as you more and more stand out from collective unconsciousness through disidentification, thus gaining a perspective. But at a point in time one must allow oneself to sink back into the darkness of God. Unpolluted by collective identification and unconsciousness one may descend into that other form of unconsciousness, the dark night of the soul, as into a bath. Hence the disidentified and differentiated individual once again becomes one with God.

Jung often cited that anonymous 12th century philosopher who said that "God is a circle whose centre is everywhere, whose circumference is nowhere." It means that the centre of God is the differentiated individual. So a human being can only attain wholeness by becoming an individual, i.e. differentiating himself out of unconscious wholeness and collective identity.

A person who is enveloped in playing games all day upholds an unconscious attitude and cannot attain a liberated consciousness and individuality. It is remarkable how much time people spend in playing games. For instance, many married couples devote much time and energy to the matter of food, the planning of next dinner, going to the supermarket, etc. It's not manly, this continual search after paltry gratifications. It's like a little mouse running around in a labyrinth, searching after tidbits.

You seem disappointed with the Jungian movement. I have argued that a remedy can be found in the inclusion of the trinitarian spirit. According to this argument, the Jungian paradigm itself develops into a game playing activity, keeping its adherents busy like little mice in a labyrinth. Obviously, many succeed in playing the role of Jungian scholars. Many amateurs are involved in games that are reminiscent of the New Age movement. I suppose there is a grain of truth in Noll's notion of The Jung Cult.

How can one solve this problem, this obsession with playing games? The following is an excerpt from "A SERIOUS CALL TO A DEVOUT AND HOLY LIFE By William Law" (1729).

»The happiness of a life wholly devoted to God farther proved, from the vanity, the sensuality, and the ridiculous poor enjoyments, which they are forced to take up with who live according to their own humours. This represented in various characters.«

WE MAY STILL see more of the happiness of a life devoted unto God, by considering the poor contrivances for happiness, and the contemptible ways of life, which they are thrown into, who are not under the directions of a strict piety, but seeking after happiness by other methods.

If one looks at their lives, who live by no rule but their own humours and fancies; if one sees but what it is which they call joy, and greatness, and happiness; if one sees how they rejoice, and repent, change and fly from one delusion to another; one shall find great reason to rejoice, that God hath appointed a strait and narrow way, that leadeth unto life; and that we are not left to the folly of our own minds, or forced to take up such shadows of joy and happiness, as the weakness and folly of the world has invented. I say invented; because those things which make up the joy and happiness of the world are mere inventions, which have no foundation in nature and reason, are no way the proper good or happiness of man, no way perfect either in his body, or his mind, or carry him to his true end.

As for instance; when a man proposes to be happy in ways of ambition, by raising himself to some imaginary heights above other people, this is truly an invention of happiness, which has no foundation in nature, but is as mere a cheat of our own making, as if a man should intend to make himself happy by climbing up a ladder.

If a woman seeks for happiness from fine colours or spots upon her face, from jewels and rich clothes, this is as merely an invention of happiness, as contrary to nature and reason, as if she should propose to make herself happy by painting a post, and putting the same finery upon it. It is in this respect that I call these joys and happiness of the world mere inventions of happiness, because neither God, nor nature, nor reason, hath appointed them as such; but whatever appears joyful, or great, or happy in them, is entirely created or invented by the blindness and vanity of our own minds.

And it is on these inventions of happiness that I desire you to cast your eye, that you may thence learn, how great a good religion is, which delivers you from such a multitude of follies, and vain pursuits, as are the torment and vexation of minds that wander from their true happiness in God. (ch.XII)

http://www.jesus.org.uk/vault/library/law_serious_call.pdf


Mats Winther