Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Mysteries of Carl Jung and His "Red Book"



Above, Carl Jung's Red Book, "Liber Novus" (new book).



Above, page from Carl Jung's Red Book.

From the Philemon Foundation, which is devoted to publishing the full collection of the works of Carl Jung, including "the Red Book": "During WWI, Jung commenced an extended self-exploration that he called his “confrontation with the unconscious.” During this period, he developed his principal theories of the collective unconscious, the archetypes, psychological types and the process of individuation, and transformed psychotherapy from a practice concerned with the treatment of pathology into a means for reconnection with the soul and the recovery of meaning in life. At the heart of this endeavor was his legendary Red Book, a large, leather bound, illuminated volume that he created between 1914 and 1930, and which contained the nucleus of his later works. While Jung considered the Red Book, or Liber Novus (New Book) to be the central work in his oeuvre, it has remained unpublished till this day, and unavailable for study and unseen by the public at large. The work can be best described as a work of psychology in a literary and prophetic form. It is possibly the most influential unpublished work in the history of psychology. Its publication is a watershed that inaugurates a new era in the understanding of Jung’s life and work.

The years … when I pursued the inner images were the most important time of my life. Everything else is to be derived from this. It began at that time, and the later details hardly matter anymore. My entire life consisted in elaborating what had burst forth from the unconscious and flooded me like an enigmatic stream and threatened to break me. That was the stuff and material for more than only one life.

Everything later was merely the outer classification, the scientific elaboration, and the integration into life. But the numinous beginning, which contained everything, was then.”
— C. G. Jung


NY Times article link here

The book will be available on October 7, 2009. The Philemon Society offers a special deluxe edition.

The Rubin Museum of Art will display Jung's original "Red Book" from October 7, 2009 through January 25, 2010.

Brooklyn Beat here: As noted in the fascinating NY Times magazine article by Sara Corbett on the publication of the Red Book, which has been awaited as a "Holy Grail" by students and practitioners of Jungian psychology since Jung's death in 1961, just as there is a great deal of anticipation by some, curiosity by others, there also has been reluctance and concern on the part of Jung's descendants. The book, which has been compared to "the Book of Kells" or Blake's "Songs of Innocence and Experience" is not an academic work in its true sense, and may be looked at as Jung's private and personal journal in which he documented his explorations into inner space as he sought to encounter and experience his own "soul." At this point, Jung, who had broken away from Freudian analysis, began to explore new forms of analysis that may have been less focused on science than on spirituality and use of creativity as a tool to understand and heal the self.

Nevertheless, given the time and context in which Jung began these explorations, whether as result of intellectual curiosity or a personal breakdown, some critical studies, notably the books of Richard Noll, have questioned the uncomfortable proximity to Aryan, Nordic, paganistic beliefs and cults, which emerged at the same time as Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party. Uncertainty about the nature of the Red Book led to its suppression by Jung's family and estate for many years. Noll draws cultic comparisons with the followers and practitioners of Jungian psychology.
In any event, the fact that the "secret" Red Book, which was originally locked by Jung in a cupboard in his Swiss home, and was later kept under tight security in a Swiss bank vault, had begun to be leaked anyway, just as Jung was the subject of scathing criticism by Mr. Noll and other authors, with claims of Jung's not-so-hidden anti-Semitism, the family decided to make the book available to the public.

While the book has itself been a mystery for many years, the controversy surrounding Jung and his ideas suggests that its publication could create more new questions and debates than it could ever answer.

Nevertheless, while its publication will clearly lead to further debate, it also will provide new knowledge about the history, origins and direction of one of the main branches of psychology and one of its foremost practitioners. --BB

The Beatrice Review interview with Richard Noll


Richard Noll's books include "The Jung Cult" and "The Aryan Christ"


More on Richard Noll

Text of an interesting lecture on the "Enigmatic Origins of the Jung Cult" by Jan Garrett

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