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The Time Has Come for American Men to Manifest the Overman in Their Lives

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Duluth, Minnesota (OpEdNews) April 30, 2014: More than three decades before the Fifth Dimension recorded their hit song "The Age of Aquarius" (1969), C. G. Jung (1875-1961) pointed out that we are entering the Age of Aquarius. No joke. Let me explain.

In the 1930s, when Adolf Hitler's Nazis were rising in Germany, Jung conducted a seminar in English about Friedrich Nietzsche's Thus Spoke Zarathustra in Zurich. They used an English translation. But of course Jung's native language was German, and he had studied Nietzsche's works in German. Therefore Jung was not bashful about criticizing the English translation when he thought it was deficient.

In the seminar on May 22, 1935, Jung made the following statement: "The symbol of our time and the coming time is Aquarius, the man with the vessel to catch whatever flows, and he must transform it into the fertile water of life. The symbol of the time before was the Fishes, and they are able to swim. . . . Therefore we must be careful not to swim as if we were fishes, but remember that we are human; and we must not resist by shutting ourselves up and defending ourselves blindly."

This passage appears on page 140 of the 1998 abridged edition of Jung's Seminar on Nietzsche's Zarathustra, skillfully edited by James L. Jarrett. The passage appears on page 500 of the 1988 two-volume edition, edited by Jarrett.

In the two-volume edition (on page 1165), but not in the abridged edition, Jung refers to the pope as the Fisher King (in the seminar on June 16, 1937). Evidently, many of the followers of the historical Jesus were fisher people. To this day, the pope of the Roman Catholic Church is a fisher of people -- the Fisher King, figuratively speaking. So Pope Francis today is the Fisher King. As Jung says, "we must be careful not to swim as if we were fishes" -- so that we don't get caught by the Fisher King -- Pope Francis. He's fishing for people, you see.

In the United States today, there are many former Roman Catholics. Basically, they are on the right track -- get away from the Fisher King, Pope Francis. (Disclosure: I come from a Roman Catholic background. However, for many years now, I have not been a practicing Catholic.)

Of course there are also many former Protestants in the United States today. Perhaps we could refer to former Protestants and former Catholics as former Christians. All former Christians could be eligible for living in the Age of Aquarius, but they must not be careful not to swim as if they were fishes.

However, in the Age of Aquarius, you must enter the sea, the symbol of the collective unconscious. But how can you enter the sea, but not swim like a fish? Perhaps we could imagine ourselves as surfing the sea, figuratively speaking -- but dealing with and working through whatever may rise to the surface as we go.

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Fortunately for all former Christians and secular humanists from other religious backgrounds, or no religious background, both Nietzsche and Jung have surfed the sea of the collective unconscious long enough to report back to us about their respective experiences.

Jung's report can be found in his recently published Red Book (2010), edited by Sonu Shamdasani.

Nietzsche's report can be found in Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Tragically, Nietzsche (1844-1900) subsequently descended into madness in 1889.

Arguably, the most famous idea in Nietzsche's Zarathustra is the idea of the Ubermensch, which Jarrett says translators today prefer to render as the Overman. But in Jung's day, this term was rendered in English as the Superman.

In the 1988 two-volume edition of Jung's seminar, Jung on December 5, 1934, suggests that Nietzsche's Superman is a super-Protestant (page 286). But Jarrett, perhaps wisely, omits this passage from the 1998 abridged edition. (Like Nietzsche, Jung was the son of a Protestant pastor.)

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Over against Jung's suggestion, I would propose that the Overman is post-Christian.

However, for all people whose cultural conditioning has taken place in one Christian tradition or another, the process of initiation into becoming an Overman in their actual lives will probably involve undergoing an inner experience that may resemble being crucified, but hopefully without actually dying physically -- but dying figuratively instead, to their old Christian cultural and personal conditioning.

People who dot not come from a Christian background will probably have to undergo a comparable inner experience.

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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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