The Eagle soars in the summit of Heaven, The Hunter with his dogs pursues his circuit.
o perpetual revolution of configured stars,
o perpetual recurrence of determined seasons,
o world of spring and autumn, birth and dying The endless cycle of idea and action, Endless invention, endless experiment, Brings knowledge of motion, but not of stillness; Knowledge of speech, but not of silence; Knowledge of words, and ignorance of the Word.
All our knowledge brings us nearer to our ignorance, All our ignorance brings us nearer to death, But nearness to death no nearer to GOD. Where is the Life we have lost in living? Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information? The cycles of Heaven in twenty centuries Bring us farther from GOD and nearer to the Dust.
Right after posting my longer piece on Jordan Peterson, I ran across this video with Edward Edingerbeing interviewed by Lawrence Jaffe, a Jungian analyst himself, having written two books on Jung. Edinger, however, was a prolific writer who in this video, tells us that he wanted to mediate the complex depths of Jung for those of us who want to know Jung better. Edinger was successful in this, with many books worthy of reading and rereading. His books are available at InnerCity Books – Edinger’s page there. InnerCity Books is a publisher devoted to producing the books of Jungian analysts only. It is an excellent resource.
The contrast and comparison with Jordan Peterson is stark. Edinger “gets” it and he communicates it without pretense, drama, or polemics, but with deep passion.
Jordan Peterson may or may not get Jung, But he certainly does not communicate Jung in any deep way.
In this video, Edinger is deeply moved by his relationship to Jung and to what Jung has brought to humanity. The emotional reverence that Edinger shows for Jung is something that I can completely relate to, particularly as I am reading The Red Book and discovering it in a way that was not open to me just a few months ago. Exploring Jung is the most humbling, yet uplifting experience for me. I would recommend this video for any student of Jung, and certainly for anyone embarking upon diving into The Red Book. That book is a deep dark ocean and any knowledgeable and enlightened insight or guidance you can find, as you make your personal exploration of it, is worthy of your time. The journey is personal, but use every resource at hand that makes sense to you, and then leave them at the shore.
You may have trouble deciphering one of the words Edinger uses a number of times – Weltanschaung – German for “world view”.
Here you can find a transcript of this wonderful talk.
There is no superfluous word or thought in this interview, but I will quote two longer passages that are particularly meaningful for me:
“I consider Jung’s work primarily, and I think he did too, primarily to be a scientific accomplishment. What he did was to discover through his own personal experience both individually and with patients, he discovered the objective Psyche. The Psyche as an objective entity as contrasted with a subjective entity. That led him into a region of such immense dimensions that he then spent the rest of his life trying to describe and present some of the major aspects of the nature of the objective Psyche as he had discovered it.
So he is primarily, fundamentally, a scientific genius, who has made a totally new discovery; a totally new dimension of being has been laid bare. And following that discovery he was obliged to create a whole new methodology of approaching it, because since it’s a new object, it cannot be approached by the old methodology that physical science used. Physical science requires a methodology different from the science of depth psychology, because the nature of the subject matter is different.
The Psyche requires a methodology that engages the whole person. Physical science, by its nature, excludes a significant portion of the whole person as irrelevant. But, dealing with the Psyche requires an engagement of the whole person. That’s a totally new approach, and people have yet to learn it. Jung teaches us how to do it, but we still have to learn it. He was obliged to create that whole new methodology in order to deal with the new subject that he’d discovered, the subject of the objective Psyche, and this is what he’s done in all of his mature work. That’s how I think of him fundamentally.
26:50 However, what he discovered when he discovered the objective Psyche and started to explore it, was that it is the Source of religion, of philosophy, of art, of mythology, of worldviews of all kinds. It’s the Source of those. Therefore, although we say quite accurately, “No, Jungian Psychology is not a religion, it’s not a philosophy, it’s not a worldview, but nonetheless, it deals with the Source of all of those, and it has also discovered in the course of realizing the practical aspect of encounter with the Psyche, which is psychotherapy, it’s discovered that psychotherapy, if it’s going to be complete in the individual case, involves the individual’s discovery of a religious standpoint and a worldview. So that Jungian Psychology, when it’s applied does lead to religious consciousness and to the emerging awareness of a new worldview, even though Jungian Psychology itself is not itself a religion or a worldview. It’s as though it is more fundamental than that.
Just because Jung talks about religious imagery and religious phenomenology many people superficially think he is a religionist. Or as you said earlier, he’s a mystic. That’s not true! He’s an empirical scientist of the Psyche. That’s what he is.”
I consider the The Red Book to be the record of Jung’s inquiry into the nature of the psyche. I can see now the point that Edinger is making. Jung was working scientifically, in the only way possible, given that he was using the human psyche to explore itself. That scientific exploration led to mysticism and religion. Jung should not be criticized for what his explorations revealed. He was a unique explorer in science, since he was not afraid to go where the data and his experiences took him, even though many would dismiss his findings out of hand…for now.
And this exchange occurs immediately after the preceding one:
29:00 Jaffe speaks:
“As you have have spoken of Jung as an Epocal Man, and you have explained that you mean by that a man whose life inaugurates/constellates a new age in cultural history, can you tell us more of this idea and have there been other Epocal men.”
“You see I have a perception of Jung that I’m afraid practically nobody shares. I’m almost alone in that; speaking of being alone. I mentioned earlier, he’s a whole new species. We know from history that when an individual carrying new consciousness arrives on the scene that often inaugurates a new epoch. The two examples that I’m thinking of particularly are the examples of Christ and Buddha. I believe that Jung belongs to that order of individual.
When a major new level of consciousness emerges then it has to have some huge collective effect, but it may take several hundred years to bring into visibility, but will eventually be seen for what it is. That’s how I see Jung. (Quoting Jung in the following:)
311 of Volume II of his Letters. It summarizes in a nutshell the basic idea behind continuing incarnation. Here’s what he says, “Buddha’s insight and the incarnation in Christ break the chain of suffering through the intervention of the enlightened human consciousness which thereby acquires a metaphysical and cosmic significance.”
Now of course, you’re not going to get that in one reading. But what he’s referring to there is the Buddhist notion of the chain of suffering that involves desirousness leading to frustration and finally to death that repeats itself endlessly. The chain of life that goes round and round; it can never be broken.
That’s what he’s referring to. He says two things break it, Buddha’s insight breaks it and the incarnation in Christ breaks it. He doesn’t say “broke it.” He doesn’t use the past tense. He uses the present tense, which means that Buddha’s insight and incarnation in Christ are current happenings which have the effect of breaking the chain of suffering through the intervention of the enlightened human consciousness, which thereby acquires a metaphysical and cosmic significance.”
For me, Edinger has distilled down, here in this interview, Jung to his essence. There is an alchemical quality to this video somehow, as he gives form to the deepest truth of Jung. It is a process of purification and clarification that Edinger is engaged in here.
Peterson is using Jung to understand the world better and to help preserve the things he feels are valuable and useful. Edinger is using Jung in the way I think Jung intended – to change each one of us and to change the world. Peterson is using Jung to maintain the status quo, albeit with improvements. Jung was a change agent – a profound one. Peterson is not. He sells Jung short. Edinger does not. The world cannot afford to sell Jung short, but I have no doubt that in the long run, that would be impossible. But the sooner Jung is more broadly appreciated, to facilitate this Deep Wake-Up in human consciousness, the better.
I have the habit of reading a large number of books at the same time, hopping from one to another as my intuition, thoughts and feelings take me. I find that either a book is so intense that I need to take breaks to digest the material – The Red Book by Jung. Or a book is interesting but I get the sense that I have absorbed what I need for now so I leave it for a time – returning in a day or two, or a year or two.
In any case, I would recommend this, The Integration of the Personality, but it’s no longer available – I don’t believe it is found in Jung’s collected works. I made the mistake of buying a number of Jung’s collected works volumes before this came out. If you love the Kindle format as I do, for ease of storage, access, note-taking and searching, you might want to consider this omnibus of Jung’s collected works. When pricing out the individual volumes of the collected works, this really is a bargain. If you become an avid student of Jung, you will almost certainly get to the point of wanting to own all of the collected works.
But I digress, The Integration of the Personality is worth reading for any serious student of Jung as it helps to provide more information and insight on individuation and the structure of the psyche. It gives greater perspective on some major issues and helps to provide more historical background for Jung’s thinking. These central topics always bear further reading from Jung.
And the book is available for free by download – including a Kindle version that works very well. There are errors in the scanning process so some of the words are mangled, although the context makes virtually all of them clear. But most gratifyingly, each page of the book is shown in an image at the appropriate point in the text so you can easily check the actual text from the book to make everything clear. I am humbled by the generosity of people to make such valuable texts available with a click, without robbing any copyright holder.
As I have been exploring and writing, my major theme has been the evolution of human consciousness that I see, that is fundamental to our existence. I have termed this “deep evolution” to differentiate it from the standard and scientific notion of evolution that began largely with Darwin. My notion of “deep evolution” is much broader and much deeper (naturally) than this conventional view of evolution that is used to help to maintain the hegemony – the dominance of the materialismview of existence. The other view of the basic starting point of existence is idealism.
I have discussed these ideas from the beginning, because everything starts with this basic view of our existence. Materialism holds that physical stuff is the first substance of and in existence and that somehow consciousness comes from that stuff. The contrasting view of idealism is that consciousness or mind is the primary stuff of the universe and that physical stuff arises from that. I’ll be talking more about these ideas because they are so central and seldom discussed by many people beyond philosophers and those found before nice bottles of wine. Most people of a scientific bent scoff at the idea that there is any debate. They deny metaphysics as a valid line of inquiry because “how could we ever know?” But of course metaphysics is the basis of all knowledge and cannot be avoided. You have to start somewhere and science would like to deny that there is a step before science. There is. What came first? Stuff or consciousness?
This idea has stayed with me for years and I was listening to Stephen Colbert on the current Facebook scandal that is helping to layout before us what is happening in our world and in each of us. Evolution is happening and that evolution is deep – very deep. It is best understood as a change in consciousness that humans periodically experience in a fundamental shift. This change indicates a shift that is epochal. Humanity has likely been in this shift for at least a hundred years, but it is impossible to characterize and demarcate a change that is continuous. When does a person become an adult?
But we are in this period of what I am now calling the “Deep Wake-Up”. It is both personal, within each one of us, and it is cultural and social, ultimately involving the entire human species. Watching Colbert in these two comedy monologues stakes out much of the territory of this wake-up in a wonderful explanation of what we seem to be facing.
Very briefly, personal data from tens of millions of people, gathered via Facebook, was used by a company, Cambridge Analytica, to help shape public opinion to elect Donald Trump. An investigative news team approached Cambridge Analytica posing as a wealthy political candidate to find out what could be done to help deliver votes and success for this pretend candidate.
We have entered a new phase of the information age that now includes big data. Essentially, many companies are constantly collecting personal data on all of us by any means they can – credit card purchases, computer and phone search histories, loyalty programs, Facebook and all forms of social media and a thousand other sources. Personal assistants we have in our home are listening into our conversations and keeping that data for future reference and cross-referencing to build bigger and more sophisticated profiles on all of us. (I have no intention of having one of those listening devices in my home.) Big data is also used in many other fields to discover correlations and relationships that can make our lives healthier, safer and more productive. Big data is simply a tool, but a very powerful one that is available for misuse as much as any tool. And science, modeling and data analysis can be wrong and mistaken – horribly wrong, as well as used for nefarious purposes.
Computers and digital storage is so cheap now that all this data can be maintained and companies are constantly mining it to help sell stuff to us. And that includes selling us on ideas and political candidates. A relatively simple personality test that you take for fun (and free) on the internet can be cross referenced with your age, guesses at your income level, political interests and they can get a pretty good idea whether it is worth trying to persuade you to vote for a political candidate, and what kind of message you are most likely to respond to. This is using modern psychology based on materialism – figure out the sophisticated biological robots and use that to make them feel better, feel worse or buy stuff.
Here is what one of these guys from Cambridge Analytical has to say on this – as videoed in this segment:
“Its no good fighting an election campaign based on the facts, because actually it’s all about emotions. The two fundamental human drivers are hopes and fears, and many of those are unspoken and even unconscious. You didn’t know that was a fear until you just saw something that invoked that reaction from you.”
This is hardly news. Freud and later Jung explored the unconscious and now we take it for granted. But now, big data is providing the tools, and social media is providing the path, to push our buttons and prey on our shadows and our unconscious, if and only if ,we remain asleep – largely unconscious. This is where the deep wake-up is so important. But this deep wake-up is not a moment of enlightenment, revelation, or awakening. This deep wake-up requires a fundamental and ongoing shift in our consciousness, our awareness of our Self. This does not last a moment or a limited period of time, but is to last for the rest of one’s life in an ongoing process of expansion, growth and evolution. This requires our individuation as Jung set out in his work.
Individuation is a process that each of us can and should go through, but many resist the call of that part of us that seeks to know our Self. It is a process of becoming that which we intend to be, deep down in our soul. It is a complex and arduous task as I am discovering myself, but one that cannot be ignored without serious consequences and this Facebook scandal shows how open to manipulation people can be when they remain largely asleep to so much of their psyche – their unconscious, as these political strategists know and use.
I again see that all roads in this lead to Jung – the most important thinker in the last five hundred years, I believe. We have before us the fork in the road that each of us has before us now. Do we choose to live in a world dominated by materialism, in the philosophical sense, where humans are little more than biological robots that can be manipulated by relatively simple psychological mechanisms, based on highly sophisticated computer algorithms sifting through mountains of data? Do we remain unconscious of most of the content our psyches so that we remain strangers to our self, and better known by faceless corporations? Or do we recognize that consciousness is fundamental and begin the arduous, but infinitely rewarding task of individuation, as we make conscious so much of our selves that lies below the surface of our awareness? It is work to be sure, but to ignore this challenge is to allow our personal destinies to be determined by forces outside of us, beyond our truest intentions, our true feelings, and the deepest core of our being and our becoming.
The people Stephen Colbert are mocking in these two videos have embraced the materialist worldview to their core. For them, life is essentially a meaningless game played out in a cold universe where life is just the result of an incredibly unlikely dance of impersonal molecules. You may as well have as much fun and pleasure in this life before it ends in a cloud of dust. People are biological robots and only fools would see otherwise, according to the materialists. Jung saw otherwise and recognized that this materialist worldview was really an aberration in the history of humanity. I see this materialist worldview as a necessary and functional stage of human evolution that is now burning itself out. It is based on fundamentally flawed premises and metaphysics. It is useful in a narrow sense, but without the broader context that Jung explored, it is completely inadequate to allow humanity to thrive. It cannot last, but as the materialist view loses it’s domination. we will go through a very messy time of it. Waking up through individuation is the best and essentially the only strategy to navigate these troubled waters. Trying to play the materialist game, which requires one to remain largely unconscious (and essentially asleep) cannot succeed in any way apart from in that very narrow materialist game that is ultimately only as satisfying as the ephemeral joy of the diversions of modern culture – having a thousand “friends” on Facebook etc.
As I wrote earlier, I believe Jung was summoned to help in this process of the transition to a new epoch in human consciousness – what I am now calling the “deep wake-up” – for individuals and humanity as a whole. I think it is clear that Jung is the single most important person in this evolutionary jump we are undergoing. It is now up to each one of us to take up the cause of our own deep wake-up and help to wake up the rest of humanity, through our own individuation and consciousness – not by protests and direct political action, except insofar as they help to nudge people to examine their own lives, leading to their individuation. We are all individuals, in this together.
It is vital not to become discouraged by these events – well okay – a little. But the materialists are doomed to fail – they cannot remain dominant in our culture because very simply they are wrong about the nature of reality and the nature of human consciousness. I have absolutely no doubt that Jung and millions of people are correct and those big data miners and manipulators are wrong because they are missing the most important data point. Reality starts with consciousness and stuff is derived from that – not the other way around, upon which their entire worldview is based. Deep evolution is proceeding. The deep wake-up is proceeding, within us and without. And if I am wrong, it doesn’t matter anyway. In the materialist worldview, existence ultimately has no deep meaning. Personally, I find that inconceivable. Either way, the materialists cannot sustain their worldview.
Peterson is a clinical psychologist and professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, but he has become a potent social and cultural critic. He gives every indication that he relishes this new role.
New Yorker magazine has a goodarticle on Peterson – it is less than sympathetic, but a good overview nevertheless. It concentrates on the political and cultural battles that Peterson is best known for, but it gives a good picture of Peterson the philosophical media star. The piece is precipitated by the recent publication of his second book, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos. I suspect that Peterson believes that the world can and should be less messy and less complex than it already is. Hence we require an antidote to chaos. I think he is wrong in that basic assumption. Chaos is the mother of existence and it can never be tamed or treated with an antidote no matter how well intentioned. I prefer Carl Jung’s formulation:
“In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order.”
Peterson is a provocateur That can be a useful function in society, but I think he is wasting a lot of his thinking and his good ideas, by making them less accessible to those he could inform or influence. Like so much of the internet, and the present world of ideas generally, he is preaching to the choir – his choir. He is certainly deepening the understanding of some people, and perhaps many people, but I question how much influence he really has beyond producing a rallying cry and a body of thinking that resonates with his group of supporters who are numerous and not afraid to engage others to the point of acting like jerks – at least on line. Isn’t the purpose of communication informing and perhaps influencing? And that requires acting with respect and civility.
Peterson has a huge amount of respect for Carl Jung, and is certainly influenced by Jung and his writing. He’s interested in a broad range of writing and ideas and he can bring together a wandering, yet coherent story.
I have two issues with Peterson that makes him a less interesting intellectual figure for me.
Firstly, he plunges into the political arena. As a former eager political follower myself, and a highly opinionated one at that, I now find that nothing turns me off a thinker more now, than a highly political commentator. As a student of Jung’s ideas, I find that politics is so full of the shadow and projections, leading to virulent tribalism, and combat, that it becomes a swamp that I have no interest in visiting. I can discuss politics with a friend or two over wine, but I value the wine much more than the politics and I am now content simply to give my opinions, while listening to others. I no longer attempt to change anyone’s mind or opinion – exchanging insights and opinions is my goal in these conversations. Politics involves too much of our unconscious to be a useful public exercise for me.
Ultimately politics is about power, making it a complex subject that, for me, can only be discussed intelligently in small groups and even then one must be respectful and willing to listen at least as much as speaking. No shouting permitted. For me, any psychological discussion or any psychologist in the media who spends a lot of time in politics is much less interested in real psychology that is useful to the individual, which ultimately leads to the social changes they seek, and more interested in polemics. They are usually preaching to their tribe and more interested in validation than adding to the world of wisdom. But to each his own. I respect other people’s passion for politics and debate, but I now actively avoid it.
Secondly, Peterson is speaking very much to a masculine audience in his content and in his style. I have no particular problem with that, although it again speaks to his aiming at his audience and tribe, and being less interested in spreading his ideas where they can achieve more. I don’t suggest that women can’t or won’t appreciate what he has to say, or that it cannot also apply to women, but his style is very masculine and I think that is a conscious decision on his part.
As a man I find it easy to relate to his style, but I prefer a more balanced approach. Peterson is appealing more to the mind and less to the heart. He is full of ideas and“logos” – order and knowledge rather than “eros”– mysticism and the imagination. Jung himself stressed the importance of opposites and few are as fundamental aslogos and eros. So for Peterson, who so admires Jung, to be so centered in logos is a disappointment for me. I’m also concerned that Peterson does not adequately explain or present Jungian ideas because of this masculine centered style and content. I am speaking here not so much of gender, but the masculine approach and perspective, which is more dominated by logos. Of course women contain the masculine as well and men contain the feminine. A woman can be just as “logical” as any man and any man can be infused with eros or emotion as much as any woman, but there is a certain style that is masculine and one that is feminine. The goal of each of us is to become more integrated, using each when appropriate for our goals and the expression of our Selves.
Peterson, himself, says that the majority of the people who watch his many YouTube videos are men. Peterson can speak with passion, but largely within the field of logos. He is not attempting to broaden the reach of his ideas. That does not mean that I would expect nor want him to water down his ideas – only to expand the range.
It is not as easy to speak to eros in our culture. Most people in our culture are more interested in ideas than imagination and mythology – the world of eros. But I am disappointed that Peterson seldom moves beyond the world of ideas even to inform and remind his audience of the great importance of the world beyond logos. Art is seldom discussed, which is an enormous oversight given his respect for Jung ,and Peterson’s apparent desire to be considered a broad and deep thinker.
This leads to my discussion with my brother. Listening to Peterson can be very entertaining and interesting, but my brother is looking for inspiration and guidance and in talking with him I came to some important conclusions about myself and Peterson. My brother is looking to make changes in his life and that has been my own goal for decades and in the last few years in particular. As a person drawn to science and the world of ideas – logos – I have spent much of my time collecting, pondering and exploring ideas. I have certainly grown and changed over the years, but less than I would have liked and I am more eager to grow and change now than ever before.
As I have absorbed more Jungian thinking, as well as others’, I have come to realize just how sterile logos is without eros. And logos is not enough to change – to evolve. Most people’s problems are not centered in the world of ideas, but in the expression of those ideas and to change that, you have to enter the world of eros and do the work, beyond thinking and even beyond simply acting. Mythology, emotions, spirit can change a person and lead to valuable ideas being put into service, but simple knowledge of an idea, even an extensive knowledge, is not enough. At least it hasn’t been for me. I am now doing the emotional and soul work that allows ideas to flow and have an effect, but it is not easy. It is not nearly as easy as absorbing or learning a new idea.
Very few people don’t have a pretty good idea of what they need to do for a better and more fulfilling life – at least in material terms. The challenge, even for the material things in life, is to put those ideas into practice and that’s the hard part. Reading another self-help book of ideas or listening to another YouTube video seldom leads to real change that makes a difference or lasts, unless you’ve also addressed the emotional and spiritual content, within yourself, attached to those ideas. I haven’t found any button to push, or lever to pull, to accomplish those changes so many of us seek. I haven’t found any book or video that has led to enlightenment and change through ideas appealing to my logical mind, except to the extent that they inspire me to go deeper into myself to address the real issues beyond the ideas and knowledge of logos – into the land of eros.
This leads to what I think is most indicative of Peterson’s oversights and limited views. Carl Jung’s most personal and most important book is The Red Book.Peterson does not seem to speak of it at all – certainly he has no significant references to it that I have found and he has many Youtube Videos and nothing of it on his book lists –one andtwo. The Red Book is in neither list. There are total of eleven books by Carl Jung on the lists. This is not meant to be a criticism necessarily of Peterson as a thinker, but I do intend it as a major criticism of Peterson as a Jungian thinker and as an honest advocate of Jung and his ideas. In the first list Peterson is revealing the most important books that shaped his own first book, Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Beliefand one of Jung’s book is in that short list – Modern Man in Search of a Soul. For that short first list Peterson warns people that: “Trigger warning: These are the most terrifying books I have encountered.” So he is not afraid of challenging books and The Red Book is certainly all that and more. Yet he says nothing of this, the most significant book of Carl Jung.
From what I have found so far, you cannot be a serious student of Jung without seriously considering The Red Book. I’m not suggesting that Peterson is not such a serious student – he may be in private. But if he is really an advocate for an improved human condition and if Jung is central to that, then I think he has to be an advocate for The Red Book in some way. He has to at least point to it – help to direct people to it. He should discuss it in a way that introduces it to people. If he really wants people to understand and know Jung and his perspective, then The Red Book cannot be ignored.
I am not saying that The Red Book is some sort of intellectual or moral litmus test for a Jungian – there can and should be no such thing. But if you are seriously interested in Jung then you cannot avoid The Red Book. For someone trying to teach and bring people to a greater understanding of their lives through Jung, confronting and opening people to The Red Book is imperative.
For Jung it marked his journey in crisis and in confrontation with the major elements that make up his body of work – the soul, the Self, the unconscious, archetypes, active imagination etc . There is a belief in Jungian circles that all of Jung’s later work really arose out of his confrontation with, and exploration of these elements that he documented in word and paintings in The Red Book. As I explore The Red Book on my own, I am coming to the same conclusion. Without The Red Book, Jung can turn into another logos-centered teacher, but he is much more than that, which is what the world needs.
I am like Peterson in that I think in words as well – logos. I’m working to expand my consciousness to embrace eros. Logos is not enough and that is my major problem with Peterson. He has part of Jung down and teaches that, but I find that part of Jung is not Jung. Jung is a whole body of a perspective that is so broad and deep that one must honor that breadth and depth. And The Red Book is central to that. Jung deserves a better introduction and advocate than Jordan Peterson.
Everyone finds their own path and Jung stressed that above all. The Red Book showed us Jung’s path and we cannot ignore that, as we make our own way if we are use that path to help to guide us in a general direction, but not to follow in Jung’s or anyone else’s footsteps. I would love to see and hear Peterson embrace that and spread Jungian ideas. The tension and polarity of logos and eros is not optional. I think that Jung discovered fundamental aspects of what it is to be a human, navigating in this physical reality. You certainly don’t have to be a student of Jung to successfully be on the path of evolution and fulfillment. But I do think that Jung discovered, or rediscovered aspects of our reality that cannot be ignored. Eros and logos are among the most important of those discoveries. We are drowning in this ocean of logos in our modern culture. Eros rises.
“Science is not enough, religion is not enough, art is not enough, politics and economics is not enough, nor is love, nor is duty, nor is action however disinterested, nor, however sublime, is contemplation. Nothing short of everything will really do.”
As I read and write more, this is becoming central to my thinking (and feeling).
I would distill it down to:
“Logos is not enough. Eros is not enough. Nothing short of everything is enough.”
Western civilization, which is expanding to becoming embraced by the entire world, is in transition. The domination of logos – the domination of materialism and science has run its course. Logos remains dominant, but that dominance cannot and will not be allowed to continue.
It is not a case of human survival – it is a case of human evolution, which is now largely psychological and cultural. I am not complacent about human survival, but I must admit that I am not really concerned about the survival of the human species. I am confident of that. We have been surviving for better than half a century with the possibility of a nuclear Armageddon. But survival is not enough – it has never been enough.
I’m more concerned about reaching a healthy state of life that embraces Eros as well as logos, the feminine principal as well as the masculine. The problems of the world reside within each of us – as psychological, spiritual and soul problems.
We face enormous challenges as a species, but our problems largely arise at the personal level – the level of the psyche and the soul.
Cyrano De Bergeracis a play by Edmond Rostand, with a number of movie adaptations. It is the story of Cyrano, a great wit, poet, swordsman and lover of life, but with a tragic flaw – an enormous nose. He considers himself too ugly to find love, yet he loves his distant cousin Roxanne. She considers him a great friend and confidante, while she falls in love with a very ordinary, yet handsome soldier, Christian. She asks Cyrano to protect the young soldier, which he reluctantly does. But first, Cyrano’s ode to his individualism and strength pointing to individuation. This is Eros in the sense that Jung wrote of it. Eros in this sense is much more than just love or sex. I’ll be writing of Eros vs logos a great deal since it is central in our lives and in our culture.
This speech stirs my soul. It expresses a great belief in following that soul one finds inside.
“Shall I use the fire God gave me to burn incense all day long?
No thank you!”
So Christian falls for the beautiful Roxnne, but she craves Eros – poetry, and Christian can only bring simple logos. He cannot connect with Roxanne and she spurns him until Cyrano reveals his heart to Roxanne, feeding Christian the lines as if they are his own. Roxanne falls in love with Cyrano, thinking he is Christian, by his poetry and Eros, expressed from the heart.
Go to 56:30 in the following video of the full movie, to find Christian determined to proclaim his love for Roxanne, stopped by Cyrano, who knows that his prosaic prose will reveal his shallowness to Roxanne. Christian stubbornly continues and fails as Cyrano knew he would. Christian pleads with Cyrano to help him and he reluctantly becomes involved, to infuse Christian’s words with the Eros of his own soul and goes on to speak to Roxanne in the darkness beneath her balcony so that she is unaware she is hearing Cyrano, and not Christian as she believes.
When Christian is floundering in expressing himself as Roxanne requires, she asks him to:
“Gather your dreams together into words.”
He cannot. Cyrano can and does. So should we all – as well as words can perform that task. Dreams are like art – they defy the attempts at logos, yet try we must. In an evolutionary romantic relationship, the woman coaxes and encourages the Eros lying within the man. Roxanne inspired Cyrano to bring his Eros to flower. Men crave that even if they are unaware.
The language is a treat throughout the play even though we are not hearing it in it’s native French.
Cyrano De Bergerac is one of the great characters of the stage, and the play or the movie is well worth seeing. The character of Roxanne is not that well developed, and in this version of the movie as well. One wonders what a man like Cyrano is attracted to in Roxanne. For me this is a minor detail since the play is about Cyrano and his internal struggles and passions. Roxanne is more a foil or simply a vital part of the plot rather than a fully formed character in her own right. True romantic relationships require two strong characters. The play is part of the long line of romantic tales that are so central to Western culture – the desire to transcend this earthly reality by finding “the one”. Romantic folly in some respects, but the Eros and passion are wonderful to behold. It’s a fun and exhilarating, yet tragic story.
Jordan Peterson is a star on YouTube and in popular culture. I’ve been writing a longer piece on him, but have been distracted so it sits unfinished. This will help to get me going as I post this teaser.
Peterson is a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto and a clinical psychologist. He has morphed into a social critic with a very large and sympathetic following. I find him interesting to a degree, and he does have important things to say, He considers Carl Jung to be a significant inspiration and source of his thinking, which is true, up to a point. From this video, that is apparently a number of years old comparing it to Peterson’s current appearance, Peterson was more in touch with the complete Jung in the past than he is now.
The story is intended for kids, but obviously there is more going on than a simple story intended for kids, which is almost certainly why Peterson is reading it to a class of adults.
Peterson is a complex character and I am finding that he is not alone in his using Jung as a springboard to launch into other ideas, while leaving behind much of Jung’s value. I’m not sure if this is good or bad – broadening people’s exposure to Jung, but misrepresenting him in the process. I came upon a book just this past weekend that seemed of great value and very Jungian, but for me it went off the rails and Jung’s essential nature was lost.
I don’t want anyone to think that I consider there to be an official “Jungian” doctrine, because there isn’t, and Jung would be absolutely the last person to support such a thing. But Jung does bring some essential and basic ideas to the culture that cannot be ignored without changing the essential nature of his body of work. The more I read beyond Jung, the more I keep circling back to return to Jung – not because Jung espoused a particular doctrine, but because he went out of his way not to do that, yet he gave a structure and approach to psychology and to life that I intend to explore for the rest of my life.
Jung was never a polemic. There are some who are inspired by Jung who revel in their arguments and confrontations. I think that loses an essential part of Jungian thought.
“I am not a mechanism, an assembly of various sections.
and it is not because the mechanism is working wrongly, that I am ill.
I am ill because of wounds to the soul, to the deep emotional self,
and the wounds to the soul take a long, long time, only time can help
and patience, and a certain difficult repentance
long difficult repentance, realization of life’s mistake, and the freeing oneself
from the endless repetition of the mistake
which mankind at large has chosen to sanctify.”
The poem was quoted in full in the opening page to a book I received just this morning: