Thursday, November 05, 2009

Jung-Mania hits Manhattan (UPDATE)

Hmm. Well, The Red Book is the big story in publishing this season, which on one hand is exciting because it seems such an opportune time for it to be revealed, and unbelievably depressing since it sets us up for yet another round of the commodification of Jung. The Brits seem to get it right, discussing the book in a sober, respectful tone:
As World War I raged through Europe, Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung embarked on a somewhat psychedelic journey of self-exploration. During long periods of "self-experimentation" he met heroes and goddesses, wise men and serpents, battled his demons and re-discovered his faith in God.

"My entire life consisted in elaborating what had burst forth from the unconscious," Jung said of this experience later in life. He documented his imaginary journey, illustrating the most powerful revelations by hand, in a leather bound tome he named the Liber Novus, or new book, but which came to be known as the Red Book - BBC
OK, but here's where the trouble starts:
..this week, as publisher W.W. Norton agreed to release its first ever full-length version, New York's Rubin Museum of Art announced it will display it on exhibit, the Associated Press reported.

And in honor of its unveiling, the museum is launching a Red Book dialogue series, pairing each personality with a psychoanalyst to interpret the work. Sessions featuring Sarah Silverman and David Byrne have already sold out, though $25 tickets can still be purchased to see Billy Corgan, writer Alice Walker and philosopher Cornel West. Even Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey is slated to grapple with the Red Book, though on a date still yet to be determined.- Paste
I'm sorry, what do any of these people have to do with Carl Jung? Here's Business Week's take on one of the big shows:
After spending an evening listening to Robin Chase, co-founder of Zipcar and current CEO of GoLoco, dissect one of Carl Jung’s paintings at the Rubin Museum of Art last week, I’m convinced that obsession is the core of the entrepreneurial spirit. The Rubin has invited numerous artists, intellectuals, and executives to sit on stage with a Jungian analyst and respond to a painting from Jung’s legendary Red Book diary, which famously chronicles the psychologist’s descent into madness. - Business Week
Entrepreneurial spirit? I'm missing something. But this "descent into madness" - is that the emerging narrative here? Here's the New York Times illuminating take on Silverman's appearance:

In 1914, after falling out of favor with Freud, C.J. Jung lost his mind. Some scholars say he lost it by design, cultivating a psychic crisis to plumb the depths of his unconscious. The “Red Book,” an illustrated manual of the Swiss shrink’s inner world, is the product of all that plumbing.

The leather-bound volume was considered so bizarre — and dangerous — that Jung’s heirs kept it under lock and key until 2007. Now, W.W. Norton is set to publish an English translation, and the Rubin Museum, in New York, has Jung’s original manuscript on display. Amid all this psychic danger, in walks Sarah Silverman.

She began tentatively. “It looks like a very contained world. Snakes. Turtles. Really nice tiles. Um, fire and water,” she said. “Am I doing this right? There’s no wrong, right?”

...Silverman glanced again at the image. What else could she see?

“My father’s penis.” Her smirk was resplendent. “Kidding!”

Sigh. Well, all I can say is that as annoyed as I got with the mainstreaming of Jung in the 90s, the way the American media is treating all of this reminds me of some Saturday Night Live skit where Galileo or Issac Newton appears on Wheel of Fortune. The disconnect is pretty much the same. Jung doesn't belong in today's mainstream media. And certainly not in politics:

Pelosi has a sense of humor and an intellectual curiosity often obscured in partisan standoffs. She can't wait to get her hands on "The Red Book," the inner musings and torments of the late Carl Jung, and she diverts herself by reading cookbooks that her husband, businessman Paul Pelosi, says she never uses.- SFGate
This is a bit more to my liking:
The Flaming Lips have recorded my generation’s Dark Side of the Moon. Listening to Embryonic—the Oklahoma band’s 12th album—is like watching a movie: a strange, majestic, hypnagogic movie. Or are you watching a dream? Or are you experiencing the collective unconscious of eternity? Or taking a stroll through the dark corners of Wayne Coyne’s mind? Is it a coincidence Embryonic is being released one week before Carl Jung’s The Red Book, the 100-year old manuscript which will be a guided tour of Jung’s descent into madness and hallucination? No. The connections are manifest. The hallucinations are real. If you and I dream it, then it will be so. So buy Embryonic, turn out the lights, silence the phone, feed the dog, and drug the wife. Lie down in dark comfort.
This is very timely, since I've been thinking a lot of the cost of trying to cling to the superficiality of youth when middle age has its own rewards:
Psychoanalyst Carl Jung was the first to divide life into transitional phases. In his 1935 book, Modern Man in Search of a Soul, Jung argued that if the first half of life is devoted to forming the ego and establishing oneself in the world, the second is focused on a search for meaning in all that effort. For Jung, middle age didn’t hold negative connotations.

Jung felt that if people treated the natural loss of physical prowess as a signal that it was time to develop new dimensions, then this transitional period could become truly transformational. But if the loss of youth was met with denial, fear or negativity, then decay and possibly breakdown was in store.
My wife and I had a discussion about this after a convention recently where we saw one too many middle-aged heavy metal heads trying to pass off as teenagers. Nothing looks so old than a middle-aged person trying to look like a teenager. Accepting the passage of time doesn't have to mean sitting down to die in a rocking chair. On the contrary.

This was brought to mind when I saw Ian Hunter back onstage rocking with Mott the Hoople, even though he's a mind-boggling 70 years old. I think the idea that rock 'n' roll is about youth is shallow, and ignores the ancient shamanic tradition that the best rock draws upon. It brought to mind martial arts masters and how their practice changes with the passage of time. The body will break down and beauty will decay. But soul is eternal.

But I'm confident the hype will blow over soon and the reader can then delve into Jung's psychedelic (in the truest sense) visions unmolested by the media and their ever-reductive impositions on complex ideas. I'll let the man have the last word...
"The knowledge of the heart is in no book, and is not found in the mouth of any teacher, but grows out of you like the green seed from the dark earth...But how can I attain the knowledge of the heart? You can attain this knowledge only by living your life to the full..." Carl Jung

UPDATE: Well, here's an unfortunate sync with the "head shrinker goes crazy" meme we discussed earlier: an Army psychiatrist goes on shooting rampage, killing 12 and wounding 31.

SYNCH LOG UPDATE: Monday, I delved into my childhood experience in a heathen school play, and lo and behold this Village Voice report which reads: Holy Tyr! Queens voters made American history tonight, when they chose Dan Halloran as the nation's first openly heathen elected official.


  1. I am back for this one, just couldn't keep my mouth shut on this one. Plus I saw the porch light was on so...

    While personally I could give two "hoots" less if any of these "celebrities" analyze/read or comment on Jungs book and/or work, cause it's just a fad for them anyways. This months flavor of the month so to speak (redundant but weeks flovor of the month sounded worse).

    I will have to say that I coundn't make it through that video with the co-founder of twitter. Nothing like Jung IMO. What a joke, that comparison was. Typing your every thought to say "HEY LOOK AT ME" and thus ignoring the world going on around you (i.e. young girl at the mall best friend in tow ,but her head is shoved in her phone/computer ignoring the friend right there beside her) is the same thing Jung was doing in his time? I don't make the connection.

    PS wonder if they told Sarah Silverman Jung associated with Nazi's. But hey that might require research before taking on a project.

  2. Very interesting, the gathering storm. Just a couple of observations...

    Firstly, and where regards Twitter- I always believed that the site at its very best is somewhat resonant of the Collective Unconscious. And I wonder how wrong such a statement might really be.

    And lastly, in defense of rock and roll, I recall a dj once describing the music of Tom Waits as rock for adults. So I believe such a concept can exist. In the same vein, wasn't it Tom Robbins who said once, "It's never too late to have a happy childhood"?

    Great blog hereabouts, all in all. cheers!

  3. Love the new flaming lips. Cone said its the most drug damaged album yet. Kind of like today is the most drug damaged day I had but I been sober for five months. Maybe not. Thanks for all the hard work. Steve martin and alec baldwin hosting this years oscars. Holla.

  4. Again, excellently writen, especially the part about middle-agers^^

    Im really curious to read the book, and also listen to the FL Version of DArk Side of the moon (my favorite PF Album).

    Greetings from Germany

  5. The rich were the celebrities of Jung's day, and he spent A LOT of time with them so Jung DOES belong it today's politics. He worked closely with his friend Allen Dulles in parts of Operation Paperclip, helping bring in Nazi war criminals to the USA, who evaded all prosecution and of course, help start the CIA and NASA. "It's the CIA, stupid" is my new mantra. Sure we're all connected to a collective unconscious (not really a new idea, but a catchy new name), and by ignoring the manipulation of the masses by the elite mind control machine, (how could Jung have missed that one?) and the horrors perpetrated by the elite war machine, one gets the results we see today.

    Jung seemed to blame fascism inner needs and projections of the un-individuated human, but it was just as much based on the manipulation of fears and ego by controlling the media, and religious imagery. Twas ever thus? Hypnotism the fundamental axiom of the human condition.

  6. Further proof that the people who run the world are a bunch of nitwits.

  7. Wow, this book looks amazing. Thanks so much for the heads up Chris. It is not coincidental that this book is now being released after so much time hidden away. Maybe the world needs the knowledge more than ever that is contained in the book. There is so much that is becoming aligned for a massive shift in the way in which we live and think. Perhaps this book can help seed some sort of change in the collective consciousness. However, even though having celebrities promote the book may seem on the surface to 'cheapen' it in some way, at the same time their promotion may help spread this knowledge further than it would make it otherwise? They are just playing their part in the grand narrative.

  8. QO- I can never tell if Sarah Silverman is making fun of sociopathic narcissistic personalities or is one herself. Or is there a difference? I've enjoyed a lot of her work, but not recently.

    Jung did not "associate" with Nazis- they took over the psychiatric journal he edited.

    Nilskidoo- I'm totally keyed into Rock and the Collective Unconscious, and I can maybe see David Byrne, but overall it's just a little tenuous. Why not Sting or Peter Gabriel or Maynard James Keenan who are seriously into Jung?

    Just- Yeah I can't wait to hear the new Lips.

    Dyna- It happens to us all, no?

    Caldron- Whoa- slow down there. Dulles had Jung write up profiles on the Nazi hierarchy throughout the war for psyops purposes. And it's the unindividuated person who's most likely to be manipulated by the media, both mainstream and so-called alternative. Both use fear as a sales tool. I'll be posting an interesting Jung excerpt on mass psychology tomorrow.

    Anony- Well, it's further proof of the dumbing-down of our culture, for sure. There are no well-known psychologists of the non Dr Phil variety to call on?

  9. SuperJ- we sure could use a massive shift right about now. It's weird- I've been well-aware of the degrading qualities of media culture and have written about them, but when it starts to invade things like this is when you realize you can't ignore it any more. So maybe it's good on one hand, and I've no problem with Cornel West or David Byrne, but the whole thing just seems so superficial to me. It's just a way for them to affirm their own hipness than expose the work.

  10. CK, we can always expect something real from you. Thank you. It does ring somewhat crass to let a comic and personalities of a media world in on the Red Book, don't we hear enough of their world view already. The mind of Jung is something to take quite seriously.Dennis (wv-inooftic)

  11. Brilliantly put Dennis- "don't we hear enough of their world view already" indeed.

  12. Wow... How utterly lame and mismatched to marry these "celebs" with, out of all possible books, the Red Book. It's like making an actor governor. It's like John McEnroe teaching kids patience. Is the point to really critique/celebrate the work or to demean it by subjecting it to comedians who think it's Freud's work? It seems the real observation here is the lack of understanding we, as a society, hold in regards to Jung (or toward human unconsciousness).

    Could it be that Twitter is the EXACT opposite of the collective unconscious? Twitter is collective yes, but conscious, and focused on mundane minutia ("I just ate an apple. Mmmmm, so good."). It perpetuates instant thought without regard to meaning, purpose or reflection as to WHY one needs be constantly "connected". It only sees meaning in what can be transmitted through physical, technological means. The only thing UNCONCIOUS about it (Twitter) is its mindless preoccupation with the material, external and physical meanings generated; indicative of our present obsession and bent toward materialism (in all its forms)- our constant search for meaning and solutions through technology. Although Twitter may someday demonstrate a convincing use to me, I have only really seen its incessant need to delude the masses, dilute the mind’s focus and critical thought. At least blogs welcome critical thought and interaction. Twitter is the sh*t end of the stick; the other side of the spectrum.

    “Convincing evidence of increasing superficiality of modern scientific and philosophical thought is its persistent drift towards materialism.” - Manly P. Hall

    (My apologies if I offend any Twitter heads out there. I just find it rather unnecessary to report mundanity to the world.)

    Again, I do find the celebs (and Twitter) offer a sort of cross sectional view of our societal understanding of such subject matter. I mean taking Jung’s deep introspectional, psychiatric study of himself and making it a display of only outward importance. Twitter? No one knows what to do here. They are at a loss for words.

    I can only offer the comparison of handing a Rubik’s Cube to a baby to discover how it was engineered.

    As for a great Flaming Lips album that really speaks Jung to me? Zaireeka; 4 CDs/stereos play at once with different sound elements from each composing a narrative. Alchemy of the 4 elements combining to create the 5th element.

    In the meantime, I’ll quietly await the arrival of my backordered/pre-ordered Liber Novus.

  13. It is of course interesting and not a coincidence that Dr Jung is back in the collective minds of contemporary culture. And of course the limelight will pass quickly, as this is the nature of contemporary-media-fed culture.

    It is heartening that Jung’s gift of identifying the archetypical aspects within humanity is being re-introduced to a broader audience. It has been of value to me and will be of value to others. The more the merrier.

    Well put Dennis… The value is in our own interpretation… as it pertains to us. When we dip into the primordial soup that is the collective unconscious, it is for our own spiritual sustenance.

  14. Years ago Sarah Silverman was on Mr.Show with Bob & David (Dave Cross). She was pretty funny on that show but, to be honest to much "I am a Jew, I am a Jew" for me. If I was Jewish I think it would bug me even more. I don't know what it is with some Jewish comedians nowadays but, it is a little much to keep pointing it out or even to make fun of it. Just my opinion/taste.

    On the Jung Nazi connection. over at SYNCHRONICITY's Blog they did a post about "Further notes on Miguel Serrano" and Jung, linked below. I am not a fan of Nazi's either but I do think that guys sigil worked into his bead frame is a wickedly great idea. You can see my argument that didn't get me much favor there at their blog, but hey that's me. I try not to judge people, much less dead ones. But I would have to say IMO Jung may have had more of a connection /fascination with the Nazi's then that that is on the surface, but I don't blame him. LOOK AT THAT GUYS BED FRAME, AWESOME IMO.

  15. PS As I have been just reading your blog and not commenting, your readers missed about a million 17 stories in the news. The number also holds significance cause my wife was born on a 17.

    Here are a few recent ones. Much less the million other 17's I have seen oddly placed and spoken in movies etc...

    17 Biggest Buddhas on Earth

    British nuclear experts 17th floor UN fall

    Man Aged 112 marries 17 year old girl

    Plus don't know if you heard about the Leonid Meteor Shower Expected Nov. 17

  16. Cheers Quark- that Serrano link was fascinating, particularly the Wylie anecdote.

  17. Great post, Chris,
    I almost feel that there is an intentional degrading of Jung for this event. For what purpose, I don't know. Its like the powers-that-be truly understand the work of great thinkers and then toss it upon the masses like its shadowplay, as if there is a ritualistic reason to 'cheapen' the material. Now, I strive to understand works like Jung and although a good portion is difficult to grasp I make an honest attempt.
    It bugs me because I'm just turning twenty-one but I've had long ardurous road for self-discovery and not even almost to the end; and these socialites think they could just skim over such profound material and have the public think they're some sort of illuminists??
    Damn, this world is very wrong.

    ps-What I don't know is was Dr. Jung actually going mad when creating Liber Novous?
    Sorry for the rant Chris.

  18. The superficial treatment of The Red Book, its characterization as the production of a mad celebrity, or its personification as mad celebrity itself, is precisely what the Jung family must have been trying to avoid all these years. But at least we have the book to explore.

  19. I don't know if it's appropriate to point out here, but today's shooting in Florida transpired at the GATEWAY CENTER at 1000 LEGION PLACE. Since I started reading this blog, I can't help but read some significance into names like these...

  20. I associate the Red Book being the Red Heads Imagination and his or her ability to call forth the forces of nature, the weather 214the domain of possiblities above people's heads. The light bulb illusion. It seems to me through interpretation of movies and such that Red Heads are the carriers of Red Books and the majician wants to control this unknown x factor, books being a container for the word. The red book meme: Libra , library, storehouse of knowledge, fiction and nonfiction alike, the book is bound and contains the page, leafs, (of a tree). The red book is the force of the melatin from Dune, the power to decipher ones fate to redirect it. September the month for the Children of the Corn, Sep - 7, check in all corners.. the upside down L. The red book has to do with the RedHead. It was the only redheaded Jew in the last Cohen's brother's movie that the story evolved around, beginning with a boy listening to tapes, actually inventing his own story while taking pictures of a fly.
    People deep into the occult, ie.. certain levels of masonry are often taped with a Red Book on their desk or shelf. In the recent Resort movie, can't remember the name, the female redhead mentions that the menu/agenda looks like a red book and she carries around into the next scene. Later on, she is referred to as a Jack Russell Terrier. I've read somewhere that the HOUSE of RUSS used to be known for being a family of Russian RedHeads. Russian/Moscow. Ma's Cow - The Matrix's Hathor. The Sacred Cow. The brotherhood of the Ma, Mom, Mommy -helps give us code as to who's who. Supposedly the OWL tribe are the Natives and Black People, the DOG tribe - Caucasions and white people, and DRAGON TRIBE - Asians. Now it's more complicated than that. I've seen the OWL motif played out it does seem that there are certain people that SCOTLAND YARD's assets reside with and are attempting to PUNK out, capture their spark. The seed contains the matrix... the fractal embedded.

    My mind works like gobbedly gunk but your blog seems a great reference for me.

    I have a lot to share, and need help sorting things out. I don't believe I can do it by myself.

    Sorry for unloading. I'll try to refrain.

    The dragon annuaki "PARENTS" - parents- are said to be returning. EA - ENKI - supposedly wanted us to be equal and ENLIL, (yahweh) wanted us to be slaves.

    Does the redbook (a magazine, or book, or menus) symbolizes the one, captured, contained as a preistess that UNION JACK can use to peer into the future, gain insights from the past, and ultimately mislead the "VILLAGE PEOPLE" to the "HILLS" and gain an army of "DOPED, DUPED" chi'd up people out of focus from their own center, banded together like a fasces symbol, with the taping of their "FACE" see bottom,asshole - they start to believe they are donkey's, working for the strong one.

    Perhaps my comments belong more on Celtic Rebel's page as he seems to go there more often, and sense that the synchromistic tendencies that we pick up on are a ruse to direct those unsuspecting under someone else's control.

    It's like standing one leg, the fool upside down, where evil and this entrapment begins. The force of the earth requires some sort of entrapment, a foot stool or one foot agasint the fence. I've seen this in movies too often, even referenced by a woman from NJ as giving it up... (telling it as it is - it's like you got one foot on the ground) and then the man is stopped by the POLE ICE on a bridge.

    In the brotherhood of the sewer, Either you get juiced here on earth (OJ) and become a battery or you drink Milk and eat eggs!

    It's a battle of the bases and the acids.

  21. Hi Chris,

    Terrific post! You're such a consummate intellectual! It's not that you seldom display it; it's that it just pours through whether you want it to or not. And you're always thinking and analyzing...completely enviable!This post is the prime example of what sets you apart from the rest. Careful, you have a following, you know! Does the true leader ever want to lead?

    Now about that Red Book. Because so many well-heeled intellectual wannabees are so anxious for this book...will it be affordable to the masses? Have you heard a price?

    Chris, great work and thank you, thank you for all you do here!

  22. Hmm Well I was just searching on Google for some psychic readings and psychic articles and just came across your blog, generally I just only visit blogs and retrieve my required information but this time the useful information that you posted in this post compelled me to reply here and appreciate your good work. I just bookmarked your blog.

  23. This is one book I want on my shelf...the English version,that is.
    I thought it would be in I didn't worry too much about it until I saw this post,and realized they've translated it into English.

    Cheers Chris.

    It's now on my wish-list at Amazon.