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Life Arts

C. G. Jung Foresaw the Future (BOOK REVIEW)

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Duluth, Minnesota (OpEdNews) June 1, 2014: In the two-volume hard-cover edition titled NIETZSCHE'S ZARATHUSTRA: NOTES OF THE SEMINAR GIVEN IN 1934-1939 BY C. G. JUNG, edited by James L. Jarrett (Princeton University Press, 1988), C. G. Jung, M.D. (1875-1961), the Swiss psychiatrist, makes the following statement:

"The unconscious first produces aspects of the historical symbolism [such as the symbolism in the Christ myth: the Resurrection, the Ascension, the Second Coming] which becomes modern or advanced, or anticipates the future through the interference of a definite consciousness" (page 243).

(Jarrett did not include this passage in the 1998 abridged paperback edition.)

No doubt C. G. Jung thought that he himself represented "the interference of a definite consciousness" anticipating the future of individuation -- the rebirth, or the psychological and spiritual equivalent of the Resurrection, in this life here on earth, of more and more individuals in Western culture -- and elsewhere.

Then after their rebirth, they may also subsequently experience the psychological and spiritual equivalents of the Ascension and then of the Second Coming in their personal lives here on earth.

Jung suggests that Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) wrote THUS SPOKE ZARATHUSTRA in the 1880s in the midst of going through a proverbial mid-life crisis. But Jung sees the individuation process as the central work that one undertakes in the proverbial second half of life -- roughly, after the age of 35. Thus if Nietzsche wrote ZARATHUSTRA as part of a mid-life crisis in the 1880s, it would at the most indicate only the inception of the individuation process in his life -- or the initiation of the process. Tragically, he did not live long enough to complete the individuation process and experience psychological and spiritual rebirth. (Nietzsche descended into irreversible madness in 1889. He died in 1900.)

Basically, Jung's way of commenting on specific passages from Nietzsche's book is to highlight certain words and images in a given passage and then call to mind specific possible parallels from art and literature and the comparative study of religions -- and anything else that he can think of. But Jung's way of association can stray far from Nietzsche's texts at times. To their credit, the people in the seminar do their best to pepper him with questions and comments. Oftentimes, however, their questions and comments just spur him on in his associations.

In addition, Jung sermonizes a lot. Of course Nietzsche's book features a lot of sermons he has constructed for the fictional Zarathustra to deliver. So I guess Jung's sermonizing kind of fits in with the spirit of constructing a commentary on the sermons Nietzsche has constructed.

Moreover, in nothing Jung says is he succinct. His motto appears to be, "Why say something in only 50 words when you can say it in 500 words?"

Perhaps you've heard the expression about taking something with a grain of salt. I would recommend taking Jung with a grain of salt.

In addition to discussing individuation a lot, Jung discusses the unconscious a lot, and he also discusses the personal shadow a lot. Basically, he says that each person must deal with his or her own personal shadow. You see, when we have not assimilated our own personal shadow, we tend to project stuff in our personal shadow onto other people, which is not an admirable tendency.

Another one of Jung's favorite terms to use and repeat is "enantiodromio," which he acknowledges that he has borrowed from Heraclitus.

Now, Jung claims that Nietzsche was an introvert. This claim about Nietzsche strikes me as sensible and accurate.

Next, Jung invokes his understanding of the way "enantiodromio" works to claim that Nietzsche's unconscious was extraverted.

Then Jung claims that Nietzsche's fascination with the ancient Greek god Dionysios and with the Dionysian spirit show the extraverted tendency of his unconscious. Makes sense to me.

Nietzsche wrote each of the first three parts of ZARATHUSTRA in ten days each. The fourth part took him longer to write. After he had completed ZARATHUSTRA, he went on in a frenzy of writing creatively to complete other works as well -- before his descent into madness in January 1889.

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www.d.umn.edu/~tfarrell

Thomas James Farrell is professor emeritus of writing studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). He started teaching at UMD in Fall 1987, and he retired from UMD at the end of May 2009. He was born in 1944. He holds three degrees from Saint Louis University (SLU): B.A. in English, 1966; M.A.(T) in English 1968; Ph.D.in higher education, 1974. On May 16, 1969, the editors of the SLU student newspaper named him Man of the Year, an honor customarily conferred on an administrator or a faculty member, not on a graduate student -- nor on a woman up to that time. He is the proud author of the book (more...)
 

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Great review. Thank you. I've been a Jung and Ni... by Shirley Braverman on Sunday, Jun 1, 2014 at 5:34:23 PM