Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Forever Jung

For a long time, I have been receiving Google alerts about C. G. Jung. Fifty-five years after his death he continues to be relevant. Pretty well all of these alerts have linked to articles about his studies in psychology and what he had to say about mythology, dreams and alchemy. But a couple of weeks ago, I got one on the current American political scene. While not as surprising, and far less delightful than the marriage proposal I also received satirizing the same political scene, it gave me pause to wonder about why Jung is now being dragged into modern politics.

I do not think he would have been that happy to have been so recruited when he was alive: The thing shared by so much political writing is "...ism". We have conservatism; socialism; communism; even fundamentalism. Jung did not take kindly to such things as he wrote in On the Nature of the Psyche:
"...the more highly charged the collective consciousness, the more the ego forfeits its practical importance. It is, as it were, absorbed by the opinions and tendencies of collective consciousness, and the result of that is the mass man, the ever-ready victim of some wretched "'ism.""
The mass man, of course, is the target of every politician and the collective consciousness can so easily become the mob mind. This will be the fourth time I have used this other quote from Jung:
“… what did Dionysus mean to Nietzsche? What he says about it must be taken seriously; what it did to him still more so. There can be no doubt that he knew in the preliminary stages of his fatal illness, that the dismal fate of Zagreus was reserved for him. Dionysus is the abyss of impassioned dissolution, where all human distinctions are merged in the animal divinity of the primordial psyche – a blissful and terrible experience. Humanity, huddling behind the walls of its culture, believes it has escaped this experience, until it succeeds in letting loose another orgy of bloodshed. All well-meaning people are amazed when this happens and blame high finance, the armaments industry, the Jews, or the Freemasons.” [Jung notes (44): "I wrote this passage in spring, 1935"] C.G. Jung, Psychology and Alchemy, p.89f. First Princeton / Bollingen Paperback printing, 1980.

Perhaps we should be less worried about what politicians say, and more worried about us reacting to such. I always try to ignore politicians: I do not listen to them and I never vote for them. At 66 years of age I can tell you that such behaviour will prevent wrinkles caused from frowning or laughing; and will also help to prevent stress-related diseases. It will keep you young and individualistic.

John's Coydog Community page


  1. As an archaeologist in my pass, I particularly enjoy your blogs on Celtic cultural materials. My interest in archaeology ranges from prehistoric to historic. I am always searching for information which is stimulating and information. Your blog certainly fits these criteria.
    In my quest to contact Bill Blackburn, I came across your blog of Oct. 29, 2013. In 1983, I had the good fortune of being a student in his Children's lit class at the U of C. Even though the years have passed Bill left a lasting impression on me. I often wonder how things turned out for him, as I recognized the saddness he carried within himself. Bill was one of the most intelligent and intruging individuals I has the pleasure of knowing. I appreciated his encouragement to question and dig deeper into ones thinking. On learning of his passing I realize that I will never have the opportunity to tell him how he made a difference in my life.

    1. Hello, Tannis,

      I still remember Bill talking to me about "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn" in _Wind in the Willows_ and how he believed it to have been written, originally, as a separate piece. Bill was larger than life: someone who should have been born in a different era. His interest, for example, in Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton was hardly surprising as he was very much like Burton in so many ways -- even in being a swordsman. I doubt that anyone could have treated Bill with indifference. Those of an overly bureaucratic temperament, or the fearful and weak did not like him as he was such a contrast to them. I was quite relieved to find that all of my friends liked him. Who, of any merit, could not.

      He knew when he was appreciated and was only shy when praise was given him, but I'm sure he knew that those who listened to him were changed as a result.

      Thank you for your kind words about my blog. I like to think that I am passing Bill's legacy on. Paying it forward, so to speak.



  2. Thank you John for your response. Wind in the Willows was one of my favorite stories as a child because of this I read it to my grade one/two students. I remember being critisize for doing so by my school principal. I stood my ground. Telling her it was a classical piece of literature and that children needed be exposed this type of writing. These children came from homes with little income and education. Oh the interesting discussions we had about how characters treat each other, how to solve problems between friends and how language changes though time. I understood how Bill felt because he had a different way of approaching life. There are days I feel the same. I am going obtain a copy of one of Joseph Campbell's books seeing it fits my way of thinking about anthropology and the use of mythology in cultural development. I taught school in Calgary for twenty four years always in high needs schools. I believed children needed teachers that could inspire and never give up on them. My first degree was in archaeology and anthropology from the University of Calgary, years later I decided to take a degree after in education. I sometimes stopped by Bill office to discuss the useless course I was taking from the Education Department. It was a pleasure to have someone as a sounding board. I look forward to hearing from you again.

  3. My, my, Tannis, Criticized for reading Wind in the Willows! What would he have done had you chosen Roald Dahl, instead? It was also one of my favourites when I was very young. My parents lied about my age so I had my own library card when I was four. They no longer had to keep taking me to the library, I could go on my own. When I was seven, I liked Jack London most of all.

    Bill once asked me which character I liked the most in Wind in the Willows and was surprised when I said Mr Toad. He had thought I would reply "Ratty". I told him that I liked Toad's enthusiasms. Nowadays there is so much that is "the only thing!"

    My late wife, Carin Perron, was also a teacher: "Teaching", she said, "is a subversive activity". She was also an artist and a poet (international award winning):


    It's an old website that I keep frozen in time.

    She was part of a salon before we met that had the pretentious title of Salon d'être, and we kept it up for years, poets, artists, musicians, actors, many teachers, all trying out their stuff on each other. Everyone took turns in hosting it. Great fun.

    The best book to start a Joseph Campbell library is _The Power of the Myth_. It is his interviews with Bill Moyers and he really opens up about his views. From there, dive right in with his Masks of God Series starting with Primitive Mythology.



  4. Thank you for the information. Now is locating the materials you have suggested. You were so luck to have a library close at hand. I grew up in a rural farming community near Duchess, Alberta and attend school in the village. There was no libraries close at hand. We relied on the goodness of family members to send high quality books as gifts for us to read. Thank goodness they made such excellent choices. I have my copy of Wind in the Willows sent to me in 1959, I was able to read the chapter Bill talked you able. I always felt it was different from the other chapters. I plan to reread the book maybe there is good reason this chapter was included.

  5. Hi Tannis,

    My library was Wood Green public library in north London. I spoke to someone a while ago who was raised on a very small island in the NE U.S. There was a small library on the island and he read just about every book in it, fiction and non fiction. I might have had much greater choices but read far fewer authors and subjects!

    If you ever win the lottery:


    The Power of Myth can be ordered from Amazon.ca:

    http://tinyurl.com/zzce9mg $17.10 CDN (13.99 Kindle)

    The nicest four volume set of the Masks of God on the market right now is this one:


    All first editions and first printings and with their dust covers.

    On Amazon.ca the new paperback issues are:

    http://tinyurl.com/hufey4s Vol 1 Primitive mythology $25 CDN

    http://tinyurl.com/hgw85gf Vol 2 Oriental mythology $22 CDN (9.99 Kindle)

    http://tinyurl.com/jxqk9y2 Vol 3 Occidental mythology $20.89 CDN

    http://tinyurl.com/jfsdp27 Vol 4 Creative mythology $20.70 CDN
    This volume is about the Medieval, Arthurian, Tristan and Iseult etc.

    Postage would be free on orders above $25.



  6. Thank you again. I will be busy ordering these reading materials.