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Selected Letters of C.G. Jung, 1909-1961
By GERHARD ADLER
PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESSCopyright © 1984 Princeton University Press
All rights reserved.
To Sandor Ferenczi
Dear Colleague, 6 December 1909
Your letter has certainly hit the mark. These things were in the air. You can well imagine that I often felt a proper fool when, because of your position, I found myself thrust into the role of a usurper. But I don't feel like a usurper at all, rather one of the workers who is doing a special bit of work. Whether I am recognized or not recognized as the "crown prince" can at times annoy me or please me. Since I gave up my academic career my interest in science and knowledge has become purer and amply compensates for the pleasures of outward esteem, so that it is really of greater importance to me to see clearly in scientific matters and work ahead for the future than to measure myself against Freud. No doubt my roving fantasy caters to this and particularly the unconscious, but that must be so and is the necessary undercurrent of all creativity. I believe that if we succeed in putting the work above ourselves (so far as this is possible at all) we free ourselves from a lot of unnecessary encumbrances and unwanted responsibilities brought by ambition, envy, and other two-edged swords. What does one want actually? In the end it is always the one who really is or was the strongest that remains king, even if only posthumously. As always, we have to submit trustingly to this natural law, since nothing avails against it anyway. Ambition is for the most part the same as jealousy, and therefore crippling and nonsensical. Haven't we seen that with the American mania for setting up records? All beauty gets lost in the process — a grave loss which our science can hardly afford.
Won't you translate your lectures into German' They would surely be accepted by Bresler, for instance. Have vou anything in mind for the 2nd half of Jahrbuch II?
Congratulations on Freud's recognition!!!
Best greetings, JUNG
To Hans Schmid
Dear friend, 6 November 1915
In the meantime, and after long reflection, the problem of resistance to understanding has clarified itself for me. And it was Brigitta of Sweden' (1303-1373) who helped me to gain insight. In a vision she saw the devil, who spoke with God and had the following to say about the psvchology of devils:
"Their belly is so swollen because their greed was boundless, for they filled themselves and were not sated, and so great was their greed that, had they but been able to gain the whole world, they would gladly have exerted themselves, and would moreover have desired to reign in heaven. A like greed is mine. Could I but win all the souls in heaven and on earth and in purgatory, I would gladly snatch them."
So the devil is the devourer. Understanding = comprehendere = [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], and is likewise a devouring. Understanding swallows you up. But one should not let oneself be swallowed if one is not minded to play the hero's role, unless it be that one really is a hero who can overpower the monster from within. And the understander in turn must be willing to play the role of Fafner and devour indigestible heroes. It is therefore better not to "understand" people who might be heroes, because the same fate might befall oneself. One can be destroyed by them. In wanting to understand, ethical and human as it sounds, there lurks the devil's will, which though not at first perceptible to me, is perceptible to the other. Understanding is a fearfully binding power, at times a veritable murder of the soul as soon as it flattens out vitally important differences. The core of the individual is a mystery of life, which is snuffed out when it is "grasped." That is why symbols want to be mysterious; they are not so merely because what is at the bottom of them cannot be clearly apprehended. The symbol wants to guard against Freudian interpretations, which are indeed such pseudo-truths that they never lack for effect. With our patients "analytical" understanding has a wholesomely destructive effect, like a corrosive or thermocautery, but is banefully destructive on sound tissue. It is a technique we have learnt from the devil, always destructive, but useful where destruction is necessary. But one ca-n commit no greater mistake than to apply the principles of this technique to an analysed psychology. More than that, all understanding in general, which is a conformity with general points of view, has the diabolical element in it and kills. It is a wrenching of another life out of its own course, forcing it into a strange one in which it cannot live. Therefore, in the later stages of analysis, we must help people towards those hidden and unlockable symbols, where the germ lies hidden like the tender seed in the hard shell. There should truly be no understanding in this regard, even if one were possible. But if understanding is general and manifestly possible, then the symbol is ripe for destruction, as it no longer conceals the seed which is about to break from the shell. I now understand a dream I once had, which made a great impression on me: I was standing in my garden and had dug open a rich spring of water that gushed forth. Then I had to dig another deep hole, where I collected all the water and conducted it back into the depths of the earth again. So is healing given to us in the unlockable and ineffable symbol, for it prevents the devil from swallowing up the seed of life. The menacing and dangerous thing about analysis is that the individual is apparently understood: the devil eats his soul away, which naked and exposed, robbed of its protecting shell, was born like a child into the light. That is the dragon, the murderer, that always threatens the newborn divine child. He must be hidden once more from the "understanding" of humanity.
True understanding seems to be one which does not understand, vet lives and works. Once when Ludwig the Saint" visited the holy Aegidius incognito, and as the two, who did not know each other, came face to face, they both fell to their knees before each other, embraced and kissed-and spoke no word together. Their gods recognized each other, and their human parts followed. We must understand the divinity within us, but not the other, so far as he is able to go by himself and understand himself. The patient we must understand, for he needs the corrosive medicine. We should bless our blindness for the mysteries of the other; it shields us from devilish deeds of violence. We should be connivers at our own mysteries, but veil our eyes chastely before the mystery of the other, so far as, being unable to understand himself, he does not need the "understanding" of others.
To Marianne Jung
Dear Marianne, London, 1 July 1919
It was sweet of you to write me a letter. It has made me so happy that I am writing you a letter too. If you can't read it, Mama will read it to you. I have bought a doll here. It is carved from brown wood and comes from India. But it is for Mama. I shall bring it with me in my trunk. I am staying here in a big house. About fifty thousand cars go by every day. Every morning at half past ten the Guardsmen ride past in golden breastplates with red plumes in their helmets and black cloaks. They are going to the King's castle and guard the King and the Princes and Princesses. The King has his golden throne and his golden sceptre in another castle, in a high tower. It has windows with thick bars and iron doors. By day the crown is in the tower on top and you can see it, in the evening it sinks down with the sceptre into a deep cellar which is shut with iron plates. So no one can steal it. In the crown are precious stones as big as pigeon's eggs. Round the castle are three walls and moats and soldiers stand at the gates. London lies on a big river where the seaships go. Every day the river flows downwards for 6 hours and then upwards for 6 hours. When it flows downwards, the ships that arc going away float out into the sea, and when it flows upwards the ships that have waited outside come into the city.
Just think, more than twice as many people live in London as in the whole of Switzerland. Chinamen live here too.
Many loving greetings to you and Lilli,
from your Papa
To Hermann Hesse
Dear Herr Hesse, 3 December 1919
I must send you my most cordial thanks for your masterly as well as veracious book: Demian. I know it is very immodest and officious of me to break through your pseudonym; but, while reading the book, I had the feeling that it must somehow have reached me via Lucerne. Although I failed to recognize vou in the Sinclair sketches in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, I always wondered what sort of person Sinclair must be, because his psychology seemed to me so remarkable. Your book came at a time when, once again, I was oppressed by the darkened consciousness of modern man, and by his hopeless bigotry, as Sinclair was by little Knauer. Hence your book hit me like the beam of a lighthouse on a stormy night. A good book, like every proper human life, must have an ending. Yours has the best possible ending, where everything that has gone before runs truly to its end, and everything with which the book began begins over again — with the birth and awakening of the new man. The Great Mother is impregnated by the loneliness of him that seeks her. In the shell burst she bears the '"old" man into death, and implants in the new the everlasting monad, the mystery of individuality. And when the renewed man reappears the mother reappears too — in a woman on this earth.
I could tell you a little secret about Demian of which you became the witness, but whose meaning you have concealed from the reader and perhaps also from yourself. I could give you some very satisfying information about this, since I have long been a good friend of Demian's and he has recently initiated me into his private affairs-under the seal of deepest secrecy. But time will bear out these hints for you in a singular way.
I hope you will not think I am trying to make myself interesting by mystery-mongering; my amor fati is too sacred to me for that. I only wanted, out of gratitude, to send you a small token of my great respect for your fidelity and veracity, without which no man can have such apt intuitions. You may even he able to guess what passage in your book I mean.
I immediately ordered a copy of your book for our Club library.' It is sound in wind and limb and points the way.
I beg you not to think ill of me for my invasion. No one knows of it.
Very sincerely and with heartfelt thanks, c. G. JUNG
To Hans Kuhn
Dear Hansli, Bunambale Bugisu, Uganda, 1 January 1926
I promised to write you a letter from Africa. We left England on 15 Oct. for Lisbon, Malaga, Marseille, Genoa. On 7 November we were in Egypt, in Port Said. Then we went through the Red Sea, desert on both sides, high cliffs and not a blade of grass. At night the temperature was 30° [86° F.] and by clay 32° [nearly 90° F.]. On 12 Nov. we reached Mombasa. East Africa. Before sunrise it was already 28° [82° F.]. The whole town consists of huts which are thatched with grass, Negroes and Indians everywhere. Tall coconut palms. Two days later we took the train (narrow gauge) up into the interior, where the great plains are. We travelled for 24 hours. The earth there is quite red, and red dust swirled about the train so that our white clothes turned all red. We saw Wild Masai with long spears and shields, they were quite naked and had only an ox skin draped on. They had bored through the lobes of their ears and hung such heavy brass rings in them that the lobes were 10 cm. long. The women wear iron rings round their ankles, sometimes up to the knee. We travelled through jungle where monkeys were sitting in the trees, then we came on unending plains where we saw whole herds of antelope and zebra — two ostriches raced the train. Finally we were in Nairobi, capital of Kenya. There we bought two guns and 400 cartridges. We also hired four black servants and a cook. Then we went on by train for a whole day until the line ended. We hired a truck for all the baggage, tents, utensils, etc. and drove 100 km. We came into the jungle and then into the land of the Kavirondo. Then we marched 5 days with 48 bearers until we reached the foot of an extinct volcano. This mountain is called Elgon or Msaba, it's 4300 metres high and about 6o km. wide from base to top. We trekked our way up for about 12 km. until we came to huge and impenetrable forests. There we camped. Almost every night we heard lions, often leopards and hyenas prowled round the camp. We stayed there for 3 weeks and climbed the mountains and took a look at the wild natives. I learned their language. We slaughtered an ox. Immediately great eagles came to steal the meat. We shot at them. Then the natives came and begged us for the guts and feet of the ox. They at once put them on sticks, made a fire, waggled the guts through the flames and ate them half raw. We dried the meat in the sun. The camp was pitched at 2100 metres. I climbed up to 2900 metres. Up there the bamboo forests are full of black buffalo and rhino. These animals are very dangerous. We always had to keep our guns at the ready. We killed three big poisonous snakes. One of them suddenly came down a hill and wanted to attack Mr. Beckwith, but he was able to shoot it in the head in time. It was all green and about 8 feet long. I am bringing 2 snakeskins home. A week ago we travelled westwards round the southern foot of the mountain and are now 2000 metres high. Lots of buffalo and leopard here, also giant snakes. Tomorrow we set out for Lake Victoria. It is so big that it takes a steamer 13 days to go round it. On 15 Jan. we journey up the river for 6 weeks as far as Egypt. I am coming home at the beginning of April and shall soon be in Bollingen again.
Many greetings to you, your parents and brothers and sisters, DR. C. G. JUNG
To Frances G. Wickes
My dear Mrs. Wickes, [ORIGINAL IN ENGLISH] 6 November 1926
Nobody, as long as he moves about among the chaotic currents of life, is without trouble. So I say again: Don't worry about myself. I am on my road and I carry my burden just as well as I can do. You got worries enough — more than enough. Thus, inasmuch as it is not for your own sake, don't worry about the things I have to deal with. There is no difficulty in my life that is not entirely myself. Nobody shall carry me as long as I can walk on my own feet.
If you are troubled about me, ask yourself what the thing is in you that troubles you, but don't assume that I trouble you. I am doing my best to be up to myself. Nobody can do it for me.
Yours cordially, C. G. JUNG
To J. Allen Gilbert
My clear Dr. Gilbert, [ORIGINAL IN ENGLISH] 2 January 1929
Please be kind to your fellow beings! Don't think that they are all damned fools, even if they say excitingly foolish things, even if they are the most inconsistent idiots. Allow for one grain of wisdom in all their foolishness. Can't you conceive of a physicist that thinks and speaks of atoms, yet is convinced that those are merely his own abstractions? That would be my case. I have not the faintest idea what "psyche" is in itself, yet, when I come to think and speak of it, I must speak of my abstractions, concepts, views, figures, knowing that they are our specific illusions. That is what I call "non-concretization." And know that I am by no means the first and only man who speaks of anima, etc. Science is the art of creating suitable illusions which the fool believes or argues against, but the wise man enjoys their beauty or their ingenuity, without being blind to the fact that they are human veils and curtains concealing the abysmal darkness of the Unknowable. Don't you see that it is life too to paint the world with divine colours? You never will know more than you can know, and if you proudly refuse to go by the available "knowledge" (or whatever you like to call it) you are bound to produce a better "theory" or "truth," and if you should not succeed in doing so, you are left on the bank high and dry and life runs away from you. You deny the living and creative God in man and you will be like the Wandering Jew. All things are as if they were. Real things are effects of something unknown. The same is true of anima, ego, etc. and moreover, there are no real things that are not relatively real. We have no idea of absolute reality, because "reality" is always something "observed." And so on. I am sure all this stuff gets your goat, but that's not the point. The point is that if you create a better theory, then I shall cock my ears.
Cordially yours, C. G. JUNG
Excerpted from Selected Letters of C.G. Jung, 1909-1961 by GERHARD ADLER. Copyright © 1984 Princeton University Press. Excerpted by permission of PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS.
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