two new things from two old rascals

freud and jung : who doesn't love them? you could make a great fi... oh wait. you could also make a dreadful film about them that takes way too many liberties and i find keira knightley a little ... how shall i put it? pouty? and she always looks as if she's acting? and as for michael fassbender, he is just too damned good looking to be jung.

but like many people who did some interesting thinking a long time ago, some of it was useful and still is — and some of it was, but no longer is and some of it never was and never will be, and some of it has been co-opted by people whose intentions are ... questionable.

apparently freud wrote, in a letter to jung in 1906 : “Analysis is, in essence, a cure through love.” i've never seen this before but i haven't read much freud. it does seem like an odd thing to say from one so keen on maintaining professional distance and being a blank slate, but perhaps this was why?

i rather think freud wanted to have his cake and eat it, and if you've seen 'a dangerous method' you might be tempted to say, and so was jung. in fact there is a lot you could say about that, or i could.

in newspaper profiles of famous people the question is sometimes asked by lazy journalists : which person, living or dead, would you most like to have dinner with? and then they say something really boring like shakespeare or plato or some such. i would say, can i have two? jung and freud, but before the feud.

or, if they have to be living, i would say : arnon grunberg.

en nu ga ik nog even een ouwe koei uit de sloot halen.

jung :

‘I've treated a lot of old people. What is striking is that the unconscious usually completely denies the threat of total annihilation. So I encourage my patients to do exactly that: to go on living as if death doesn't mean the end. That doesn't necessarily mean that there is life after death, only that there is something in us that believes that.’

I found this quote (which I had also not seen before) in an interesting article in Dutch from De Groene by Arthur Eaton in which he talks with Sonu Shamdasani, the editor of C.G.Jung's Liber Novus: The Red Book, about, amongst other things, the way in which the alt right has co-opted some of Jung's ideas. That in itself is hardly surprising since both the old and the so-called new right have a history of appropriating ideas which they wilfully (or through ignorance) misunderstand in an attempt to lend legitimacy to their cause by including some names in their half—baked rantings. In this they are no different from the so called New Age 'movement' who do the same with Jung, quantum physics etc.

I like the idea that it is valuable and useful to believe in something, but what that something is, is not unimportant. To allow someone who is dying to believe that they are not going to die is tricky. I have worked with people who I felt were not ready to face the fact that they were going to die very soon. And some people die like that.

But it is the ego, consciousness, which rejects the possibility of its own annihilation, and this is at the core of the human condition. Instead of encouraging people to live as if death doesn't mean the end, I would suggest what is needed, the work, is fully realising the finite nature of the self — but not almost everyone is ready for that.

It does make me wonder if Jung ever read Being and Time?

archive copy of de groene article

#work #death #love #psyche