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JUNG'S DENIAL

From Chris Wayan's journal, 1994/12/16

I read Jung's autobiography today: "Memories, Dreams, Reflections." Juicy stuff. I often anticipate his interpretations, especially of his own dreams--but I find his own strangely limited! 20 years ago when I read "Man and his Symbols" I had my doubts, but could only point to a sexism and a certain solemn rigidity that I was hesitant to criticize, especially since he was so much better than Freud. Now I have a flood of strong personal reactions. Jung's a lot like me--his dreams are familiar, they speak my language (unlike most people's which seem almost as grim and hidden and buried as their waking behavior).

Yet his background, his waking style, and his dream INTERESTS are so different. Jung's a thing guy, not a people guy--all those houses, castles, vaults, art objects, altars, thrones.... Yet he meets dream spirits amazingly like my own--like the dove-girl associated with twelveness. Plenty of these shamanic encounters, but he neglects them, or sees these spirits as forces or principles, rather than personalities. An odd sort of reduction I find very European.

Joseph Campbell found a big contrast between 1) farm-empire religions, all order and hierarchy, from their motifs and mandalas to their jealous gods to their priests and churches, vs 2) hunter-gatherers' religion, full of shamans' encounters with spirit beings who lack formal hierarchy--all about character and knowledge and action, not structure at all--growing from the openness of nomadism and the uncertainty of hunting and gathering. Campbell suggested the old shamanic path was more suited for times of great change, like now... and I agree.

I see more and more that just because I have been "swallowed by my anima" in Jung's terms--surrendered to my dreams, treated "unconscious" forces and dream-spirits as my friends and equals, not as things--does not make me a fool. As I note my disagreements I see them not as symptoms of my immaturity in Jung's view, but as defining my character and culture, deeply different from Jung's--different from anyone likely to end up as a working therapist or an academic, for one thing! I'm more like that anima of Jung's who annoyed him by insisting "those mandalas you draw are art." Ha.

I start indexing all the cool scenes in the book, marking things every page or two, before I notice the book already HAS a printed index. But... NONE of the things I found important enough to list are there! Their index is all abstract principles, not dreams. No "God shits on church", "Dove girl's view of the conscious mind" or "Jung causes poltergeist rappings, scares the bejeezus out of Freud".

Well, okay--there's one item on both our lists--the appalling "idiot child" episode. A man who wanted to be a therapist but "never dreams" finally recalls one: of a crazy kid locked in a black vault. How's Jung help him free the kid? He doesn't. He sees it as a "latent psychosis" and backs away, actually lies to the guy, helps him seal the kid up again. All I can think of is The Cask of Amontillado. Whenever jargon like 'latent psychosis' starts flying, I hear a lawyer covering his ass. Guy goes to Jung with a dreambaby shrieking for rescue, and Jung lies to him! Papa knows best? That's as low as Freud!

Jung belittles his anima, too--especially for a guy who invented them. He warns about surrendering to them--you'll get all moody and girly, you know. But not Jung! There he is doing art, and he balks, saying "What the hell is this, I'm a SCIENTIST!" and his anima says "It's art, stupid!" and he says... "How like a woman." I mean, really! Suddenly even my idiocies start to look reasonable...

Jung was a shaman in denial--but still a shaman, and one of considerable power. Arguing with Freud about paranormal phenomena, he felt heat in his belly and caused poltergeist crashes in the next room--an absolutely classic pattern! Yet he denied its significance, to keep a respectable anthropological distance from his "primitive" (i.e. nonwhite) colleagues around the world, to stay 'in' with white Euro-American academics... who still mostly called him a New Age nut behind his back.

What a poor old wannabe!

Time to take a break now! Put the book down, vacuum my room, go to the laundromat. The coin-dispenser runs out, so I go get change from the shop next door. The cashier's cute and frieldly, flirting with me. The attraction's mutual. But other than going back once, I can't think of anything to do or say to her.

So I go back to reading Jung in the laundromat--my nice, safe, dead friend. Who wouldn't approve of me, of course. One shouldn't marry those animas!

It was such a nice wedding, too. Jan '88, in a scandalous pagan interfaith church, with dream-pictures above the altar, Silky in her crown, wearing a human body for once so I didn't actually marry a horse and scare our relatives. But still, I dreamed I married my familiar spirit--and I think it was real.

Damn. Now I'll never be a great scientist!

Oh, well.



LISTS AND LINKS: Jung - Freud - shamanism - denial - dream weddings - more mad rants - Silky's Wedding - My dreams answer Jung's dreams

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