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Life Arts    H4'ed 4/10/14

Jay Sherry Sees Jung as an Avant-Garde Conservative (BOOK REVIEW)

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For Jung, the French Revolution represented the Left (page 61). After the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia in 1917, communism also represented the Left for Jung. He was anti-communist (page 210). During the Cold War, after World War II, Jung was a staunch anti-communist, as were most Americans.


Now, if we were to take the contrast that Yuval Levin works with in his recent book The Great Debate: Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, and the Birth of Right and Left (2014), we would have to align Jung with Edmund Burke (1729-1797), not with Thomas Paine (1737-1809), even though Jung did not usually advocate specific political policies.


For Jung, the Symbolist movement in the arts represented the avant-garde (page 61). However, when the movement known as modernism in the arts emerged later on in his life, he had a strong distaste for it (pages 47, 191). So did Adolf Hitler, who considered modernist art to be degenerate. But Dr. Sherry does not mention this point of similarity between Hitler and Jung.


Now, after commenting on "Jung's anecdotal anthropologizing" (page 80), Dr. Sherry then includes the following quotation: "'He had opinions about everything'" (page 81). Throughout his book Dr. Sherry provides an ample array of Jung's many opinions.


Now, if we understand what Jung terms intuition to be the psychological function that we employ whenever we detect patterns (page 80), then we could say that Jung's own intuition was in over-drive in producing his numerous opinions based on his anecdotal anthropologizing. For understandable reasons, people might get tired of listening to Jung's anecdotal anthropologizing.


Dr. Sherry reports that "Jung characterized Hitler as the medicine man leader in contrast to the other two [Mussolini and Stalin] who fit the profile of the chieftain type" (page 165). According to Dr. Sherry, Jung thought that "Hitler was highly susceptible to information coming from the unconscious and so was in tune with the collective unconscious of the German people" (page 165).


Oddly enough, if we were to take Jung's claims about Hitler being a medicine-man leader type seriously, then we would have to note that Jung himself had certain characteristics that he attributes to the medicine-man type, as Jung's recently published Red Book (2009). But of course he was not a political leader.


For the sake of discussion, let's say that Hitler may have been "the medicine man leader" type. Would this way of understanding Hitler have helped President Roosevelt or Winston Churchill formulate more effective ways to cope with him? I doubt it.

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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; 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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