Fundamental Things, from C.G. Jung

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Currently reading Gary Lachman’s “Jung the Mystic” and nodding my head over the pages describing Jung’s secret mission, partially aided by the CIA, to diagnose Hitler as mentally ill and remove him from power. (Spoiler: He failed.)

It takes me over to his (Jung’s) “Civilization in Transition,” published in 1964*, which reads as though written today, proving that despite our so-called progress, our nature and our pressing developmental tasks continue to remain unchanged.

One relevant fragment (though it’s really hard to choose), pp. 242-243:

“The struggle between light and darkness has broken out everywhere. The rift runs through the whole globe, and the fire that set Germany ablaze is smouldering and glowing wherever we look. The conflagration that broke out in Germany was the outcome of psychic conditions that are universal. The real danger signal is not the fiery sign that hung over Germany, but the unleashing of atomic energy, which has given the human race the power to annihilate itself completely. The situation is about the same as if a small boy of six had been given a bag of dynamite for a birthday present. We are not one hundred percent convinced by his assurances that no calamity will happen. Will man be able to give up toying with the idea of another war? Can we at last get it into our heads that any government of impassioned patriots which signs the order for mobilization should immediately be executed en bloc?

How can we save the child from the dynamite which no one can take away from him? The good spirit of humanity is challenged as never before. The facts can no longer be hushed up or painted in rosy colours. Will this knowledge inspire us to a great inner transformation of mind, to a higher, maturer consciousness and sense of responsibility?

It is time, high time, that civilized man turned his mind to fundamental things. It is now a question of existence or nonexistence, and surely this should be subjected to the most searching investigation and discussion. For the danger that threatens us now is of such dimensions as to make this last European catastrophe like a curtain-raiser.”

*The original article, “Epilogue to ‘Essays on Contemporary Events,” was first published in 1946. This explains “the fire that set Germany ablaze is smouldering and glowing.”


20 thoughts on “Fundamental Things, from C.G. Jung

    • Yes — and a humongous narcissist. Sigh.

      His own children did not recognize him as their father when they were little, because he spent no time with them. He was a lousy husband (probably an understatement, given that he brought his mistress into his marriage and expected his wife to accept her — which she, saintly (?) as she was, did), and a vain opportunist. His narcissistic a-hole factor was quite high.

      And as self-aware and actively searching for truth as he was, his own narcissism was beyond the reach of his awareness. I’d posit it was the source of much of his inner suffering, and it does not seem as though he was able to come to a resolution of the conflicts it caused him, despite some accounts to the contrary. But that’s just my preliminary guess — I hope to read up more about his life.

      But, yeah, he was able to diagnose and describe human condition and its maladies in ways that few ever could.

      He is a good example of someone who experienced the process of positive disintegration in his life — was even actively psychotic for a time — and emerged from it on a higher level of (at least partial) personality integration. His narcissism remained, though.

      I find it absolutely fascinating.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I really liked David Cronenberg’s film, “A Dangerous Method”, where Michael Fassbender plays Jung and Viggo Mortensen plays Freud. Good stuff. Keira Knightly is in it, too, as a gal who likes to be spanked, and, if Keira Knightly would ever want to spank me, I’d be honored, and aroused. πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

      • Wait. What? I zonked out on Viggo…


        That was one of the uglier episodes in Jung’s life. Reading his correspondence with Freud from that time, where Freud-the-father-figure absolves his apprentice-son from any responsibility for what was essentially an abuse of his patient, makes one’s blood boil. Well, it makes my blood boil, to be exact — don’t know about others.

        But this is such classic example of narcissistic abuse and collusion between professionals blind to their own misdeeds. Some say the standards were different at the time, etc., but I call BS — abuse is abuse, no matter the era.

        Narcissism really is the enemy of all things good and decent, including truth and reason. The only good thing about it is dismantling it — which is what Trump/ism may lead to, will see.

        Liked by 2 people

  1. Hitler the physical being died, but Hitler the spirit is not only alive and well on planet earth today, it is spreading everywhere. If there is one thing we can be absolutely certain of for the near future, say under 50 years, it’s a state of endless war. Not because it is inevitable because of this or that social/environmental condition, but simply because warring is innate to man’s spirit. Ancient and modern history makes that abundantly clear. Man is an antagonist. His antagonism is fed by psychological dysfunctions fed by a multitude of belief systems too numerous to enumerate but added together they spell: W-A-R. To look for solutions within the “natural” order of things is to guarantee failure. Man is an unnatural being, an “alien” construct which operates at its best (worst) when aided and abetted by religious beliefs; any “technology” beyond that used by the apes, and of course, innate greed. To resolve man’s conflicted and conflicting nature that very nature would have to be “killed” and replaced with something altogether different with no connection to the old nature, not even memory.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hitler the physical being died, but Hitler the spirit is not only alive and well on planet earth today, it is spreading everywhere.

      Yes, this.

      And the rest of your comment as well, Sha’Tara.

      There is a way to resolve our conflicted nature, however, and it is, for one, through positive disintegration. What needs to disintegrate is our egocentrism — or narcissism — and confrontations with our shadow, like the one presented now by Trump/ism, provide just such an opportunity.

      There is a way out, or above rather, through transcending our primitive nature. We have it in us — we as a species, not necessarily every individual. But we forget what’s what and become complacent and arrogant, and so then the Trumps come along to help us remember again, if only for a while, what matters and why.

      There is logic and wisdom to these processes, felt in our bones (if you are a mystic), but also observable and documentable; we are just very slow learners. In our defense (?), we are a young species.

      Though maybe, as you say, humankind will go extinct, thanks to its own stupidity and greed and narcissism, to be replaced — or not — by something better. I don’t know.

      What we are seeing here today, however, is what we’ve seen many times before — only the world’s gotten smaller and thus the stakes higher, so the danger to our survival is greater.

      As a practical matter of immediate survival, some clear-eyed adults should remove the Jungian six-year-old from the proximity to dynamite and other weapons *now* — then we can sort out the rest somehow (or not, but).

      Liked by 1 person

      • Quote: “As a practical matter of immediate survival, some clear-eyed adults should remove the Jungian six-year-old from the proximity to dynamite and other weapons *now* β€” then we can sort out the rest somehow (or not, but).”

        So true. What continues to amaze me is how many progressive bloggers continue to see Trump, not only as the great enemy of corporatism and banksterism, but as the victimized saviour of America. That staggers the imagination. One fact alone, if we ignore everything else he’s done and said, how can a bona fide member of the billionaire corporate elite be anti his own clan, his own species of exploiters, abusers, misogynists, narcissists and too often, pedophiles? He’s just handed another whopping 50 billion dollars to the military, and that’s supposed to mean he’s interested in easing global conflict tensions and increasing the overall standard of living within the country?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Trump, the savior? Well, yes — in his own bigly mind, and those similarly narcissistically deluded. The man is inherently destructive — and this really should be obvious already, especially to people on the left.

        It just shows how morally confused so many people are.

        When Jung talks about the Germans’ infatuation with Hitler, he uses the term “hysteria” to describe this seemingly incomprehensible phenomenon. But it sounds like a narcissistic collusion, of the kind that heals all wounds and turns the country into a paradise flowing with milk and honey for all (deserving superior people), for now and ever after, amen, believe me.

        Reading his essays on Hitler, Germany, and WWII is quite depressing, because they are so directly applicable to Trumpian America. Just change the names, and the processes are exactly the same.

        Among the dynamics involved there he stresses the Germans’ disavowal of guilt, collective and individual, which is a hallmark of narcissism (he does not use that word). Growing in their arrogance and beliefs in the glorious reign of the “thousand-year Reich,” and completely withdrawn from their shadow with its pain and guilt, the Germans readily followed their savior straight into hell.

        As a result of that mayhem, they did reckon with their shadow and accepted their guilt after WWII, as humans should. That was their karmic lesson, as it were.

        We, Americans, are in for our reckoning, as our capacity for experiencing / admitting guilt, and lately even shame, is non-existent after being actively discouraged, purged even, for decades now. Thus Trump.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. ‘As a result of that mayhem, they did reckon with their shadow and accepted their guilt after WWII, as humans should. That was their karmic lesson, as it were.’

    Or not.

    The sinister sight of Germans applauding immigrants into their country made me shiver. Too OTT. Normal people don’t behave like that. They give comfort if they feel really strongly about it (and are usually part of some aid organisation) but they don’t make the effort to turn out and applaud a bunch of poor, foreign immigrants.

    I don’t think so.

    The repressed shadow, methinks. Personally. Bet it made them and their nation feel good about themselves for a short while.

    Germany has a long history of terming Turks ‘guest workers’. ‘Guests’ can be turned out at any moment because they didn’t fulfill their part of the social ‘contract’ as a guest, and it’s always the ‘guest’s’ fault. The host, of course, is by implication both dominant and generous.

    So we’ll see if Germans have accepted their guilt. I think they’re trying too hard.

    It has to be said that every nation has guilts. The British have a pretty foul history of massacring the natives. In the 1950s we tortured Kenyans in the Mau Mau and not until 2013 did we begin to face up to our own monstrosity.

    But a fascinating article. it never occured to me that Jung was an N.

    Life is very strange.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, it is — but it’s also wondrous and… not so strange. πŸ™‚ There is spiritual logic and wisdom to it, only that we don’t want to see it and/or forget, because we are so blind and arrogant and stubborn. Narcissistic, in a word.

      I don’t mean spiritual in a religious sense, although religion has tried to capture that wisdom and logic and transcribe it into language we could use and understand, with mixed results.

      My atheist friends would scoff and roll their eyes, no doubt, reading this; but the older I get, the more clearly I see it (not that it’s clear at all).

      Jung may have been slightly autistic. As a child, he played alone and couldn’t stand company of others. He was always an odd one out, made fun of at school because of his “professorial” ways. Clearly a gifted kid, withdrawn into his inner world, he largely remained so throughout his life, trying to integrate, with varied success, his outward persona with his true inner self. Other people were mostly a background noise for him. He remarks somewhere how dismayed he was to discover that other people exist even when not in contact with him. That’s breathtakingly narcissistic, yet he was self aware enough to admit it and maybe try to work on it — though maybe not.

      He remained terribly self-centered — but others happily catered to him and his moods, which included rageful outbursts over silly things. Fun.

      The Germans may have overcompensated; but they wanted to do the right thing — and it’s not just Germany’s problem. The mass refugee crisis, let’s remember, is the legacy of American wars, while America under Trump is trying to wash its hands of the responsibility. This cannot end well.

      There’s that ironclad spiritual logic teaching us that continuing avoidance of responsibility (and guilt) will have catastrophic — but also possibly transformative — consequences.

      The refugee crisis requires coordinated planning and cooperation of all world countries now. Those that wash their hands off of their part may think it’s the right thing — and it may seem so, short term — but that’ll have to change, whether they want it or not. There’s that logic again, telling us that we are all parts of the whole, and cannot close our eyes to the suffering of others without it eventually affecting us, and usually in most unexpected / unwelcome ways. They also call it karma, I think.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t know, why would it need to be replaced? But if replacement is mandatory, there’s a turkey farm up the hill from here, I might be able to make a trade and send you a mid-sized gobbler. At least you’d get the right sound effects…

      Liked by 1 person

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