THE REVOLT OF THE DEMONS
by Lewis Mumford
The New Yorker, May 23, 1964
AS the nineteenth century drew to an end, most people believed that the demons that had plagued mankind all through history were at last disposed of. If they were not mere phantoms, they were at least safely locked up and so would never trouble man again, though they might still on occasion torment individuals. Disease would be wiped out through inoculation, pain would be banished by anesthesia, poverty would be overcome by machine-made plenitude, and no personal problems would exist that the rational mind, aided only by the scientific method, could not handle. Herodotus boasted of the ancient Greeks that they were emancipated from silly nonsense; that is, from belief in astrology, magic, transmigration, divine kings, and perverse, mischief-making gods. But this claim seemed even more applicable to the modern mind. Nor was it entirely an illusion; the thin, icy crust of rational behavior actually grew thicker in many areas and concealed the turbid black water beneath. Yet there were cracks in the crust even so, and before our century had well begun, the demons broke out again, precisely as Dostoevski had predicted in his "Letters from the Underworld."
What has happened to mankind this last half century is inexplicable in terms of either the sanguine ideology of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment or the nineteenth-century doctrine of Progress, the main props of this hope. We should still perhaps lack sufficient clues to the condition of man today had it not been for the daring discoveries made during the last decade of the nineteenth century, mainly by a middle-aged Viennese doctor named Sigmund Freud. His "The Interpretation of Dreams," published in 1899, exposed the devious mechanisms of human irrationality, and though it took eight years to sell the six hundred copies of the first edition, the book has had an impact on the modern mind similar to that of Galileo's "Dialogues" and Darwin's "The Origin of Species." From our present vantage point, it is easy to see that, symbolically, this book marked a turning point in history. It took a little time to realize what was happening to our innocent hopes of automatic perfection, but it is obvious that nothing has been quite the same ever since. Freud did not intentionally release the demons that now claim dominion over us; his great distinction was that he made them visible, and in a sense, by sheer familiarity, made them respectable. For he alone, by his fresh interpretation of dreams, had found a passage to the catacombs where the demons lurked.
Though Freud was a happily married man, with a large, well-beloved family, he had been going through a severe neurosis, marked by a quasi-intellectual but deeply emotional attachment to another physician, Wilhelm Fliess. It was in the analysis of his own dreams during this ecstatic but tormenting period that Freud came face to face with a long-unvisited territory of the mind. With an audacity born perhaps of desperation, he risked his reputation as a scientist to expose the irrational elements that -- as Plato long ago pointed out in his parable of the black and white horses -- have always been ready to invade the human psyche. These forces are so ambivalent in their manifestations that their victims in the past were regarded with awe, as the favored possessors of higher powers, or thrown into cells, as if they were criminals. Because Freud dared so greatly, twentieth-century man has an insight into the worst disorders of human behavior such as only great poets or religious teachers like Shakespeare and St. Augustine ever had before.
Freud's exploration of the hidden sources of human behavior, with the aid of the long-discredited key he had found in dreams, encountered severe disapproval from the medical fraternity for the next generation. He could hardly have succeeded in making his ideas known, still less in getting them accepted, if he had not had the help of a closely knit band of disciples, all grounded in medical science but unusually open-minded about his astonishing discoveries, partly because they -- Ferenczi, Rank, Jung -- were in the throes of their own psychoneuroses. Through their own experience they had come, like Freud, to suspect that neurotic difficulties were a normal phenomenon, an acute manifestation of "the psychopathology of everyday life," whose cure lay in bringing the repressed portions of the psyche into the light and air. That proved only a partly effective therapy, but it came as both a revelation and a promise of blessed relief.
Of all these followers, the one whose figure now stands out most sharply, as nearest to Freud in stature and total achievement, is Carl Gustav Jung. Jung's recent book, "Memories, Dreams, Reflections" (Pantheon), dictated and written mainly at the very end of his life, rounds out the picture of the whole development that began with Freud's classic interpretation of dreams. Jung, junior to Freud by nineteen years, was predisposed by his own unruly fantasies to make the most of Freud's new approach to mental disturbances, but perhaps his greatest contributions, if we can trust his own account, came after he had broken with his Viennese master and plunged into the severe neurosis that marked his own middle life just as Freud's had been marked.
"What would we give for such an autobiography of Shakespeare?" Carlyle wrote in 1828, two decades after the word "autobiography" had entered the English language. Jung's work, with its copious disclosures of his inner life, is perhaps as near as one can get to such a literary confession -- profuse in subjective materials, dreams, premonitions, projections, but relatively bare of data about more commonplace external events. For all that, his narrative tells us much about his boyhood and invites us into the lonely cell of his old age, even if it barely touches -- in an account of his travels and his dealings with his patients -- upon the busy, productive, yet secretly devastating years that lay between. The very title of the book, "Memories, Dreams, Reflections," mirrors its subjective emphasis, for a good many of the memories are concerned with dreams, often admonitory or prophetic ones, whose description and interpretation became his life work. Yet the travel letters that Jung wrote to his wife, Emma, during his famous trip to America in the company of Freud to attend the conference President Stanley Hall, of Clark University, had arranged, show that he had a sharp eye and a healthy appetite for the outer world. As Jung grew older, however, it would seem, his inner world enveloped him to such an extent that the most commonplace reports from that domain often engrossed him more than far more significant external events. While he accepted many social responsibilities and duties --treatment of patients, participation in psychoanalytic conferences -- it was the hidden domain of his life that he valued, and this is what, in his final backward glance, he chose mainly to expose.
Twice during the past year I have slowly gone through Jung's autobiography in an attempt to get a rounded view of this teasing, many-faceted personality, and at almost every point I have found Jung's figure accompanied by the huge shadow of Freud. Each of these men was to establish a special school of psychoanalysis, dominated by the strong personality at the center, but the view of Freud's most faithful followers -- that these men's characters and careers were utterly unlike, that Freud was the rigorous scientist and Jung the unreliable mystic -- are belied both by the evidence of Dr. Ernest Jones's three-volume biography of Freud, published during the last decade, and by Jung's present self-revelation. Such antagonisms as existed between the two men were due as much to their likenesses as to their many residual differences.
Both these psychologists were the sons of fathers unsuccessful in worldly affairs; both grew up in comparative poverty; both were favored children; and if Jung was disturbed by the patently unhappy relations of his parents, seemingly a result of their sexual incompatibility, Freud was equally upset by the private intimacies of his parents. Both men loved the rural scene, but Freud was torn away from it at the age of three, while Jung remained a country boy at heart, at home in the forest and the barnyard, accustomed to the superstitions and smut of this environment, with its cruelty, its open sexuality, even its occasional incest and sodomy. Both physicians were trained in the rigorous, confidently determinist science of the late nineteenth century, and disciplined in objective observation and respect for the impersonal criteria of truth. Yet they were in varying degrees fascinated by dubious occult phenomena -- poltergeists, ghosts, thought transference, clairvoyance, and prophecy -- as well as by non-scientific systems of interpretation, like numerology (Freud) and alchemy and astrology (Jung). If these are sins, Freud was nearly as great a sinner as Jung. Though usually Freud took care to conceal his intellectual temptations and peccadilloes, he at one point considered proclaiming an open alliance between psychoanalysis and occultism.
To honor these physicians of the soul sufficiently, one must remember the intellectual atmosphere in which they worked, with its dogmatic mechanistic doctrines. One of William James's austerely scientific colleagues told him that if psychic research brought forth indisputable evidence of the existence of ghosts and an afterlife, he would suppress that truth in the interests of science. Similarly, orthodox medicine in the eighteen-forties had flatly rejected as fraudulent John Elliotson's demonstrations of painless surgery under hypnotism. The great contributions psychoanalysis has made to the understanding of human behavior could have been achieved only by such recklessly open- minded -- indeed, often overcredulous -- men as were Freud and Jung. Both of them had the courage to realize, as in Freud's rephrasing of his favorite Shakespearean quotation -- borrowed from his master, the psychiatrist Charcot -- that there were more things in heaven and on earth than were dreamed of in current scientific philosophy or were discoverable by its one-sidedly "objective" methods. The two men's readiness to deal with psychic leftovers, seemingly the rubbish and garbage of conscious life, was responsible for their most original contributions to psychology. (Many of our contemporaries, following in some measure Jung, have been tempted to regard the leavings and dribblings of the unconscious as a form of human sustenance superior to food, but that is another story.) At one in their basic understanding, Freud and Jung nevertheless developed along different lines, for Freud overvalued the ego, Jung the unconscious. It turns out that Jung was a sufficiently open-minded and contradictory personality to part company even with himself at the end of his autobiography.
Both men had minds and characters of extraordinary complexity; both used the austere protective covering of science to enter realms too private and subjective to be handled by the ordinary methods of science; both clung to their authority as physicians to escape the odium of seeming a new kind of medicine man, performing lengthy incantations and magic ceremonies to exorcise demons and to lift curses. Both anticipated -- correctly, I believe -- that the unconscious world they dared to explore would lead them far back to the very origins of human culture, and so both manifested, at a quite early date, an interest in archeology and prehistory. Indeed, Jung remembers that when he was a student he played with the thought of becoming a philologist in order to learn Egyptian and Babylonian, while Freud's desk was covered with an array of little statues that bore witness to his lifelong attachment to archaic images.
Goaded as he was into his exploration by his own unconscious, Freud was quite as tempted as Jung to treat occultism as a coordinate branch of "metapsychology." But he anchored himself for safety in the matter-of-fact science of the nineteenth century. In 1921, in discussing telepathy, he approvingly declared, "Analysts are fundamentally incorrigible mechanists and materialists." This was perhaps true of their conscious intentions but false as related to their unconscious preoccupations. Freud's touchiness over Havelock Ellis's calling him an artist rather than a scientist reveals the weak spot his early faith in mechanism made him wish to cover, for his conscious philosophy had not been modified by his own new discoveries, which should have made the mechanistic universe of his youth as old-fashioned to him and his followers as it now is to the disciples of Einstein, Planck, and Bohr. Jung came later, with the better grounding in philosophy and history, if not in languages, that a student in Basel, the home of the great historian Jakob Burckhardt, could get, so he moved with greater freedom over the whole field of human culture. Jung's skepticism, unlike Freud's, extended even to the exact sciences, though it did not prevent him from entertaining the truths of religion, which came by quite another route.
Curiously, even in the matter of the dominant dogma of Freudian analysis -- the central role played by sex from infancy on -- these men were closer together than is usually realized. True, Jung broke with Freud over this very point by strongly denying the Master's insistence that sexual repression was the sole source of neurotic symptoms (a belief Freud stubbornly equated with psychoanalysis itself), for he was far more ready than Freud to admit that unbearable burdens and misfortunes having nothing to do with sex might be responsible for many mental disorders. Instead of holding, as Freud so long did, that the disclosure of an infantile traumatic experience was the only means of cauterizing the festering neurotic wound, as a physician Jung was ready to enlist the troubled patient's philosophy or religion to bring about the cure. "We need a different language for every patient," he observes in his chapter on his psychiatric activities. "In one analysis I can be heard talking the Adlerian dialect, in another the Freudian.... What matters most to me is that the patient should reach his own view of things. Under my treatment a pagan becomes a pagan and a Christian a Christian, a Jew a Jew, according to what his destiny prescribes for him."
In method, Freud would allow no departure from the psychoanalytic procedure of seeking with limitless patience for the infantile sexual basis of a neurosis. In the act of giving sex its rightful place in the human economy, he created a dogmatic theology of sex and sought to excommunicate as heretics those who did not accept every item of his doctrine. (This notion fostered the almost comic annunciation, by Dr. Wilhelm Reich, of the orgasm as the sole vehicle of human salvation.) Such a curious departure from the ways of science inevitably calls attention to Freud's own sexual repressions, as well as to the compulsive substitute gratification -- his smoking twenty cigars a day -- that possibly caused and certainly aggravated the cancer of the jaw that poisoned his last sixteen years.
If the facts were not extremely painful, the contrast here between the two great analysts would be amusing. For Jung was visited by overpowering sexual impulses whose open expression shook his whole life to the roots, and these impulses were visible, just as Freud held, in his earliest childhood reactions. When he was a child of four, Jung discloses, he had a dream -- a singularly Freudian dream -- dominated by a towering phallus, twelve to fifteen feet high and two feet thick, with a hairless head and a single eye at the top. This vision was followed by a confrontation with evil, in which he dreamed that God defecated upon his own altar. In the dream, Jung says, the gigantic phallus did not move, but he had a feeling that at any moment it might crawl off the throne like a huge worm and move toward him. And he heard his mother's voice cry, "That is the man-eater!"
Jung relates this dream, as he does all his later dreams, with graphic exactitude and bland, if not almost blind, naivete, but he confesses that he had never communicated it to anyone until he was in his sixties. This would seem a significant repression, though the fact that his admission came only in old age leaves doubt as to when, in his increasingly dream-ridden world, this particular image actually appeared to him. Was it a projection or an elaboration of maturity, protectively relegated to infancy? "When I die," Jung smilingly told a friend of mine, "probably no one will realize that the old man in the coffin was once a great lover." Jung's sexuality, in short, was no less overwhelming than Freud's, but it seems, since he fully enacted it, to have been far less obsessional, while Freud, apart from his fond marital relations, apparently sublimated his ambivalent sexual impulses by making them both the center of his thereapeutic method and the dominant theme of his writing. In the final phase of Freud's life, the Eros theme was supplemented by the death theme, the power of Thanatos (both Eros and Thanatos conceived of as deities), yet in almost his last words on the subject he held forth the hope that a resurrection of Eros might save the world from the forces of destruction.
Unlike Jung, Freud refused to commit, save for a few details, his intimate life to paper, and he rejected and disparaged the efforts of anyone else to write about it. For all his immense physical courage in facing pain, he quailed at such an exposure. As far as he could, he destroyed the data he had set down for an account of his inner life, and we would lack the most significant clue to this development had it not been for the precautions taken by Dr. Fliess's wife to preserve Freud's letters to him. Freud's words on the subject demand to be quoted: "Whoever undertakes to write a biography binds himself to lying, to concealment, to flummery, and even to hiding his own lack of understanding, since biographical material is not to be had, and if it were it could not be used. Truth is not accessible; mankind does not deserve it, and wasn't Prince Hamlet right when he asked who would escape a whipping if he had his deserts?"
These are strange words to come from the father of psychoanalysis, for the method he fabricated is nothing less than the art of autobiography carried to such exhaustive lengths in the interest of self-understanding that no painful event, whether relevant or seemingly irrelevant, remains unexposed. Freud's rejection of biography is, in his own vocabulary, a classic example of "overdetermination." If lies and concealment are inevitable, if it is indeed impossible to obtain material, what becomes of psychoanalytic purgation? To clinch his objection, Freud insisted that even if one could get hold of material, one could not use it, for it would reveal the subject's weaknesses. Freud openly feared, in his own case (if Jung quotes him accurately), that the truth about his inner life would destroy his authority. As to this judgment, Freud was surely wrong. His struggle to get at the dismaying truth about his own psyche, as revealed by his dreams when he was under Fliess's influence, must count as one of the heroic episodes of science; it gave him authority to do unto others as he had done unto himself. But when his life was nearly lived out, he was wrong to suppress the record of it, for only he, with his sharp intellectual scalpel and marvellously deft touch, could have examined the morbid psychal organs without injuring the patient or cutting short his life. Such an act would have confirmed Freud's authority, much as Augustine's "Confessions" add their weight to his philosophy and theology.
JUNG, on the other hand, though almost equally reluctant, was persuaded by his publisher, the late Kurt Wolff, and by Dr. Jolande Jacobi, one of Jung's associates, to assist a younger colleague, Aniela Jaffe, in the preparation of a biography. And he did his part so well that the result is an invaluable document, though it is unsystematic, spotty, and far from complete, exactly as one would expect of an old man -- now relapsing into dream, now flashing unexpected illuminations, sometimes cannily concealing what everyone else knows, sometimes revealing intimacies that tell far more. In "Memories, Dreams, Reflections" Jung appears to have maintained a rigid reserve about parts of his life one would legitimately like to learn more of, though, if rumor can be credited, certain relevant passsages about his sexual and marital relations have been omitted at the request of the surviving family. This omission -- or deletion -- is unfortunate in the case of a man whose personal experiment in open erotic relationships influenced the marriage of more than one patient who came to him for advice. One would like to know his final judgment in maturity upon his efforts to maintain a continuing bipolar relationship between two psychologically contrasting types, a Griselda and an Iseult. In this respect, Jung's confession goes no further than Freud's own minute autobiographical notations. In fact, the sum of his wisdom at one point seems to be that he can make no judgment about his own life. That is a singular confession. Did his life not bear further reflection, or did it teach him nothing?
If Freud opened the door to the dream world, it was Jung who took possession of it, to such a degree that the demons and angels, the tormentors and redeemers, of the unconscious increasingly displaced in his mind the everyday figures of existence. The territory of the unconscious had long been suspected, and even sporadically visited, as the unknown continent of America was occasionally visited before anyone identified it or sought to colonize it. Every artist and thinker realizes that more goes on within his mind than he is aware of, sometimes with astonishing results, such as the famous dream of the University of Pennsylvania archeologist H. V. Hilprecht, in which a Babylonian priest showed him how to put together in a meaningful sequence the widely separated fragments of an inscription that had baffled him. In the nineteenth century, Karl Edward von Hartmann, in Germany, and Samuel Butler, in England, had indicated some of the scope of the unconscious processes. Even before that, the quick, probing mind of Emerson had more than once, like a divining rod, dipped sharply to point out these functionings. Emerson not only observed, in his "Journal," that by way of "beasts and dreams" -- read "evolution" and "psychoanalysis" -- man would "find out the secrets" of his own nature but elaborated on the second intuition in his essay on "Demonology." "Sleep," he said, "takes off the costume of circumstance, arms us with terrible freedom, so that every will rushes to a deed. A skillful man reads his dreams for his self-knowledge.... My dreams are not me; they are not Nature or the Not-me: they are both. They have a double consciousness, at once sub-and ob-jective. We call the phantoms that rise the creation of our fancy, but they act like mutineers and fire on their commander; showing that every act, every thought, every cause is bipolar, and in the act is contained the counter-action."
It was in dealing with those who were the victims of unconscious repressions and unconscious psychic replacements that in the eighteen-eighties a new school of psychologists -- Charcot, Janet, and Breuer -- opened the way for the explorations of Freud and Jung. Nor were these intrepid investigators alone; a group of physicians -- Ivan Bloch, Krafft-Ebing, Havelock Ellis -- were exploring all the devious byways of sexuality, gradually closing in upon the basic expression of sex, while psychologists like William James and F. W. H. Myers were delving into a whole variety of possibly related phenomena indicating the working of an unknown psychal factor that failed to behave in terms of the known properties of mass and motion.
The common source from which, seemingly, these erratic manifestations arose came to be called the unconscious -- seemingly the same source from which the conscious mind draws the memories, hints, images, ideas, anticipations, projections that are convertible into poems, dramas, philosophies, scientific theories, aesthetic monuments. Both Freud and Jung made themselves at home in the unconscious realm, but Freud put higher value on the potency of his conscious mind and he was reluctant to accept the testimony of his senses when upon one occasion Jung, in his presence, apparently became the catalytic agent of two unidentifiable explosions in a nearby bookcase; on the other hand, Jung from his youth on was quite apt to surrender to the unconscious and immersed himself in all its fantastic presentations, including such poltergeist phenomena as those explosions.
For Jung, the world of dreams became -- to a degree matched only in adolescents or in neurotics -- the supreme reality; nothing else fascinated him so much, nowhere else did he find such major values and such rewarding themes. For a long time, however, he concealed this attachment. Instead of openly challenging current medical practice, as Freud did, only to become resentful over the inevitable rebuffs, Jung affected an air of scientific detachment and non-involvement, though his doctoral thesis was in fact an examination of a youthful psychic "medium." But from the time he equated Freud's discoveries with his own observations of neurotics and psychotics in a mental hospital, Jung committed himself to the unconscious and treated its sane and insane manifestations as equally "normal" and equally real. He also found there "the matrix of a mythopoeic imagination that has vanished from. our rational age." By that discovery he made meaningful and in some degree usable a vast treasury of seemingly confused religious and poetic intuitions other ages had accumulated -- material that the nineteenth-century mind had patronizingly dismissed as unscientific, as of course it was.
Freud's concern with sexuality and Jung's with the unconscious were, in fact, complementary, and they restored to modern man two important provinces he had, at his peril, ignored. This restoration was a precious gift, but -- as happens in the fairy stories -- the implications of it were ambivalent and the consequences have proved unexpectedly disastrous. For it turns out that the unconscious is as full of double-talk as the Delphic oracle, and that if Emerson's commanding demon was a blessing, Hitler's was a curse. In the end, Jung himself, in his final self-revelation in his old age, after sinking more deeply into the unconscious than sanity usually permits, was forced to admit that consciousness is the transcendent gift of life.
Jung's lifelong devotion to the unconscious was prefigured in his youth in the form of a special ritual, which oddly paralleled mankind's own prehistoric expressions. He attached significance to a stone he had found and a small manikin he had carved; he hid them in a secret place in the attic, to which he made furtive visits. With the knowledge of symbolic ritual his own teachings now help to elucidate, we today can see that both the fetishes and the ceremony announced as plainly as any verbal declaration his future career. But Jung, like Freud, had another qualification for investigating the unconscious; he had an exceptional -- indeed, an incredible -- capacity for remembering his dreams in the minutest detail. So exact are Jung's descriptions of his earliest dreams that one is tempted to mistrust them as possibly much later inventions till one remembers Goethe's minute descriptions of his own juvenile feelings and fantasies in his "Poetry and Truth." (This similarity is perhaps the only plausible reason for believing the legend Jung mentions that Goethe begot an illegitimate ancestor of Jung's, though the symbolism of "Faust, Part II" is Jung's veritable spiritual ancestor. )
After having some difficulty -- again like Freud -- in choosing a career, Jung settled for medicine, but at the last moment switched from internal medicine to psychiatry. Both men seem to have been prompted by their own as yet unformulated needs to move from the safely scientific domains that treated the diseases of the body to those shadowy areas where the same rigid system of classification and diagnosis was being applied to the disorders of the mind. Jung had already separated these two aspects of life in his recognition of his own two personalities; the conventional, extroverted personality who studied science, prepared for a career, got ready for marriage, and the daring private personality, who had confronted God in his fantasies and who felt that God was terrible as well as benign and could lead him into temptation as well as deliver him from evil -- indeed, would offer him grace only if he dared to sin.
For Jung, dreams were more gripping than wakeful life; he often felt he was living simultaneously in two different ages and being two different persons. This feeling of living a double life persisted to the very end, even in the dwelling he built for himself at Bollingen -- a tower that was by intention an ancestral home, a refuge for his family "ghosts," where he continued that dual existence. Though in the course of time this rural refuge became by various reconstructions a whole, many-chambered house, he kept it in the homely mode of the seventeenth century, and except for the matches with which he lighted his fire, it belonged in style to his forebears. Here he lived life as they had lived it, feeling that he was actually seeking answers to problems they had been unable to cope with or come to conclusions about. Jung denies that these were split personalities in the neurotic sense, but his diagnosis is not beyond challenge. As his life lengthened and his thought developed, Jung No. 2 (the Jung who was absorbed in the exploration of the unconscious) tended to suppress No. 1. As with two eyes that do not focus, one eye became virtually blind.
Jung's decision to concentrate upon No. 2 seems to have been made, though secretly, even before 1900, the year "The Interpretation of Dreams" appeared, for he early became interested in spiritualistic phenomena. But when he was appointed assistant at the Burgholzi Mental Hospital, in Zurich, at the age of twenty-five, he was on the surface obeying No.1. "With my work at Burgholzli," he observes, "life took on an undivided reality -- all intention, consciousness, duty, responsibility. It was an entry into the monastery of the world, a submission to the vow to believe only in what was probable, average, commonplace, barren of meaning, to renounce everything strange and significant, and reduce anything extraordinary to the banal."
In rejecting the ordinary standards of common sense, Jung, like Freud, divested himself of every impediment to the exploration of the unconscious, as a cave explorer does when he leaves all his outdoor gear at the mouth of the cave and begins his dangerous crawl through its dark passages. This required not only hardihood but self-confidence, and both men possessed these qualities to an unusual degree. Both, too, stumbled on magnificent finds, for, once at home in the darkness, they discovered images and symbols far more wonderful, and possibly more ancient, than those of Altamira or Lascaux. These two explorers opened to view an inner world that had never been so fully exposed and explored before. For a while, Freud and Jung travelled through those caverns together. Even after the tensions that were always developing in Freud's circle caused Jung to go his own way (was not Freud himself the tyrannous, jealously possessive "Old Man of the horde" whom he projected into the dim human past?), their common commitment to the unconscious remained absolute. They had discovered an inner space whose richness made all outer space seem empty of meaning.
In Jung's mythology, the unconscious becomes an entirely independent realm, eternal rather than transitory, containing the residue of man's entire collective past, and in the act of receiving reports from, the unconscious, by way of dream, Jung ushers us into the presence of mythological figures, for him the eternal archetypes -- the nurturing Mother, the Wise Old Man, Hierosgamos (the Sacred Marriage), the Hero. Even his curious interest in alchemy was engendered by his belief that the alchemists, for all their use of chemical retorts and crucibles in seemingly materialistic experiments, were in fact manipulating and playing with the symbols of the unconscious. Unlike Freud, Jung examined the unconscious not merely for an oblique insight into his own propulsive drives and projections but for the wise guidance of his life, and it is by his illustrative examples here that he involuntarily reveals the inadequacy of such untutored guidance, with its obscure hints and archaic instructions -- often as banal as those he rejected in the everyday life of the No.1 personality. Among the prophetic revelations of his unconscious, by which Jung set great store, was an overpowering vision he had had in October of 1913 -- the vision of a catastrophic flood sweeping over Europe, with mighty yellow waves full of drowned bodies and the "floating rubble of civilization." This dream, uncanny in retrospect because it was soon verified by events, may be placed in the same category as Mme. Blavatsky's much earlier and even more realistic vision of the destruction of whole cities by nuclear blasts. But neither dream was more timely or more prophetic than Henry Adams's conscious, rational anticipation, in 1905, of civilization's approach to a world catastrophe within half a century, with explosions of "cosmic violence," or Patrick Geddes's prediction, in 1911, of the breaking out of a general war by 1915 unless strenuous efforts were made to prevent it. The unconscious no doubt played its part in these latter prophecies, too, yet in no way were the reports of the unconscious superior to those in which an acute intelligence was at work.
Jung was not unaware of the dangers he ran because of his overcommitment to his own dream world. He makes this plain in the chapter on "Confrontation with the Unconscious." "It is of course ironical," he notes, "that I, a psychiatrist, should at almost every step of my experiment have run into the same psychic material which is the stuff of psychosis and is found in the insane. This is the fund of unconscious images which fatally confuse the mental patient. But it is also the matrix of a mythopoeic imagination which has vanished from our rational age. Though such imagination is present everywhere, it is both tabooed and dreaded, so that it even appears to be a risky experiment or a questionable adventure to entrust oneself to the uncertain path that leads into the depths of the unconscious." Risky it was. What warded off a dire outcome for Jung was a group of factors in their outer world that both Freud and Jung seem to have underrated in their psychotherapy. Jung deals with it only in a brief paragraph, which I shall cite in a moment, for it has a manifest bearing upon the rehabilitation of our own disordered world -- a world that is once more increasingly open to the invasion of the demons, now that most of our traditional guards have been disarmed and expelled.
Whereas Freud was for the most part concerned with the morbid effects of unconscious repression, Jung was more interested in the manifestations of unconscious expression, first in the dream and eventually in all the orderly products of religion and art and morals. In interpreting flying saucers, for example, he made perhaps a more realistic appraisal of these unidentified objects than did people who expected them to contain visitors from another planet: he saw them as unconscious projections of modern man's need for the intervention of higher powers in a world menaced by its own scientific- mechanical ingenuities -- typical hallucinations of an age that could conceive of Heaven only in the very mechanical terms in which it had conceived the forces that threatened it. Even Jung's much-debated interpretation of what was happening in Hitler's Germany in the thirties was not without insight, though his conduct justifies the suspicion that he himself, like all too many equally intelligent contemporaries in Europe, had momentarily turned to the same demonic powers for salvation and let himself be carried away by them. (How otherwise could he have stooped to cooperate with the Gleichschaltung of the psychoanalysts by assuming the presidency of the Nazi-controlled German psychological society, and how else could he have remained in that post after the blood purges and the sadistic attacks on the Jews had begun?) Though Jung's cooperative attitude has been justly criticized, here again there is a hardly less reprehensible Freudian parallel. On Dr. Ernest Jones's own lame confession in his biography of Freud, the Freudian group, with the Master's consent, allowed their Jewish members to resign in order to preserve the integrity of psychoanalysis in Nazi Germany.
All in all, a close reading of Jung's memories and dreams brings up problems quite as vexing as any in Freud's biography; above everything else, one wonders how is it that a man with his acute intelligence could place such weight on dreams as to remember them more accurately than most people can remember actual events -- especially on dreams that often, even after he interprets them, seem so thin, so vapid, so tediously circuitous and unrewarding in comparison with their maturer manifestations in works of art, achieved partly by conscious effort. Does a father have to appear in dream, as Jung's did, after his death to make the son brood for the first time over the problem of life and death? Is not the death itself a sufficient reason? Or does one have to be "psychically infected" by contact with the primitive in Africa to succumb to infectious enteritis? Like so many familiar manifestations of the "occult," the product itself often seems mockingly trivial and disappointing, not worth the effort needed to dredge it up from sleep.
This overweighting of the raw stuff of the unconscious appears to be as one-sided as the total neglect of it by a dogmatic "scientific" materialism. At one point, it leads Jung to say, "Knowledge does not enrich us; it removes us more and more from the mythic world in which we were once at home by right of birth." He is partly right, of course, for much of our accurate but sterile knowledge, while useful for contriving power mechanisms, does little to nurture what is properly human. But the knowledge that led man eventually to leave his mythic world was the knowledge of good and evil, the perception that the heavenly paradise of the unconscious was actually filled with both demons and angels, and that it was not a safe guide for earthly waking life until consciousness had selectively transformed it and shaped it in order to give the angels the upper hand.
THERE is a baffling contradiction between the overpoweringly demonic psyche that concerns Jung himself and the poised, equable figure that Jung presented to his patients and his readers. Though by their own confession both Freud and Jung were neurotically vulnerable, their outward existence was almost a model of normality and impeccable professional respectability, for both, living out long spans of life, were rewarded by grateful patients, by contemporary honors, and by a popular acclaim such as few living prophets have ever received. The one time I beheld Jung, on his visit to this country in the thirties, he gave a quite commonplace lecture, yet he redeemed it by his presence, which seemed that of a shrewd old peasant, his own archetypal Wise Old Man, a man whom one would go to for advice in the barn if not in the clinic. Those who were his patients during what appears to have been an emotionally seething -- indeed, almost shattering -- period of his life felt the same reassuring touch and were healed by it. If his final testament and his collective works often happily produce the same response, it is not merely because he gives the reader such easy access to his unconscious domain but also because he discloses a vivid intelligence and a many-sided personality, at home in literature and religious mythology, and equally at home in science, though his mind was open to experiences that science on its present postulates rejects. It is Jung the whole man whose presence was reassuring, whose therapy was so often salutary. If one knew only the solitary explorer of the unconscious, one might have little faith in his unverifiable reports.
But just at the moment one begins to be impatient with Jung's habit of introducing his privately minted ideological coins from astrology and alchemy as if they were the common currency of the realm, some wisdom derived from his total experience, not from his unconscious alone, will break through. Most remarkably, this comes about at the end of the book, in his unexpected appreciation of consciousness itself. Here, against the commitments of a lifetime, he makes a magnificent about-face. Earlier, in his commentary on the Book of Job, in which he sides with Job and gibes at God's arbitrary ways, as Captain Ahab defied and taunted the inscrutable powers, he asserts that "the statements of the conscious mind may easily be snares and delusions, lies, or arbitrary opinions, but this is certainly not true of statements of the soul." Yet in his final testament Jung reverses that faulty judgment. "If the Creator were conscious of Himself," he notes, "He would not need conscious creatures; nor is it probable that the extremely indirect methods of creation, which squander millions of years upon the development of countless species and creatures, are the outcome of purposeful intention. Natural history tells us of a haphazard and casual transformation of species over hundreds of millions of years of devouring and being devoured.... But the history of the mind offers a different picture. Here the miracle of reflecting consciousness intervenes -- the second cosmogony. The importance of consciousness is so great that one cannot help suspecting the element of meaning to be concealed somewhere within all the monstrous, apparently senseless biological turmoil, and that the road to its manifestation was ultimately found on the level of warm-blooded vertebrates possessed of a differentiated brain -- found as if by chance, unintended and unforeseen, and yet somehow sensed, felt, and groped for out of some dark urge." This is not, naturally, a new wisdom; what is important is the fact that it came from a mind that had lingered so long in the darkest caverns of the unconscious and had been so fascinated by the images thrown on the walls that one might well have feared for his safe return.
IN handling their own lives, both Freud and Jung, it becomes apparent, practiced two kinds of therapy -- the one they used on their patients, which brought their repressed impulses to light and loosed the secret grip of the unconscious on the rest of the personality; and, for themselves, an even more ancient system of therapy, which was collectively developed by mankind in a spontaneous effort to cope with the irrational outpourings of the unconscious. The secret of the second mode of therapy is such an open one that neither psychologist seems to have given it sufficient weight in his system, though later physicians, when baffled, have fallen back on one or another aspect of it. Yet Jung, as I have already hinted, had more than a glimpse of the factors that in the past had given men enough stability and sanity to keep the demons under some sort of control.
Jung's testimony about the group of facts that brought about his emergence from his own neurosis, if all too brief, is emphatic. "Particularly at this time, when I was working on the fantasies, I needed a point of support in 'this world,' and I may say that my family and my professional work were that to me. It was most essential for me to have a normal life in the real world as a counterpoise to that strange inner world. My family and my profession remained the base to which I could always return, assuring me that I was an actually existing, ordinary person. The unconscious content could have driven me out of my wits. But my family, and the knowledge: I have a medical diploma from a Swiss university, I must help my patients, I have a wife and five children, I live at 228 Seestrasse in Kusnacht -- these were actualities which made demands upon me and proved to me again and again that I really existed, that I was not a blank page whirling about in the winds of the spirit."
Here again the lives of Freud and Jung bear the same testimony. Each of them had a stable center of erotic interest and domestic responsibility, in a lifelong marriage that included the rearing of many children. The sexual discipline and order that family life imposes, with its integral gratifications, sacrifices, abstentions, sublimations, kept their libidos fastened to biological and social realities. However loose sexual ties may be in premarital relations among primitive peoples, every culture has recognized that erotic maturity involves a basic commitment to reproduction or to some direct sublimation of the reproductive functions, in vicarious fatherhood and motherhood. Freud and Jung, fortunately, experienced both modes of commitment; not merely as family men but as teachers and physicians, they perfected themselves in the parental role.
In addition, each of these physicians, day after day, year after year, spent no small part of his energies in the exhausting auditions of psychoanalysis, treating a long procession of patients. Even after Freud was riddled by the pain of his cancerous jaw, he maintained this discipline for sixteen years with exemplary fortitude, almost until his death, at the age of eighty-three. As with primitive man, work for them was at once a personal function, an economic necessity, and a compulsive ritual whose daily repetition served, like the prayers of the faithful, to alleviate anxiety; above all, this life-nurturing routine was a means of keeping in check, for a large part of the day -- in his prime Freud often received patients till nine in the evening -- the inordinate, crazily destructive impulses that they might have found it impossible to control had they been "free;" that is, open to the demonic incursions of the unconscious. Through their devotion to reproduction and breadwinning, the nurturing parental functions, Jung and Freud kept their hold on reality. But they had still another anchor: stability of residence in an identifiable historic city, maintaining an orderly pattern of social relations that included many affectionate personal ties. No matter how far they might wander in their travels or in their minds, the continuity of their personalities was supported by the continuity of their homely urban environments. Such changes as Zurich and Vienna underwent physically in the lifetimes of these men were neither cataclysmic nor spiritually disturbing. In short, the conditions that maintained their psychological balance were precisely those that our fantastically dynamic ideology and technology have for the last century been heedlessly overthrowing.
From this general interpretation of Jung's "Memories, Reflections, Dreams" many valid conclusions might be drawn. But the most obvious of them recalls one to a principle that mankind at large took for granted until seventeenth-century science, following Galileo's lead, discarded it. And this is to give as much weight to inner subjective experience, issuing forth in dreams, proposals, feelings, memories, anxieties, prophetic anticipations, mythopoeic projections, moral values, works of art, as to the "external" world of actions, inventions, controlled observations, lawful obligations, mechanized production, quantitative measurements of every kind. Though we call these last "the world," it is only a half world, and often a poor half at that. If man had not developed his subjective life sufficiently to produce articulate language and its derivative arts of symbolic interpretation, all the present attributes of the "objective" world would have remained dormant and unconscious, waiting for the midwifery of the human mind.
In the inner life, Freud and Jung discovered, non-repeatable events and singular moments may exert a greater force on a person's development than his habitual day-to-day tasks; similarly, manifestations of care and sympathy and love, such as the good analyst gives his patient, may be as essential to human health and balance as mother love is to the infant, who -- experiments on both monkeys and human beings have shown -- would be ill-nourished on food alone, even in sufficient quantity. Both the outer world and the inner world are real, but each needs the correction of the other, and if one is deformed or suppressed, the other loses an essential link with reality and to that extent becomes irrational and uncontrollable. Most contemporaries would grant that wanton subjective fantasies and wishes need to be corrected by what Freud called the reality principle, but they fight shy of the notion that our mechanically conditioned minds and our implacable, overordered external world need the correction of variegated memories and dreams, of aesthetic expressions, traditional values, historical meanings, and ideal purposes not derivable from the immediate environment or even from man's original biological constitution.
In one respect, unfortunately, Freud's analysis of the psyche was one-sided and Jung's was incomplete. Because they derived their most original insights from dealing with mental illness, both men tended to magnify the negative, "sinful," self-absorbed, often self-destructive aspects of the unconscious mind and to forget the important positive functions that it furthers. In a word, they overplayed the role of the disruptive demons and forgot the healing offices of the Nine Muses. Freud has made everyone aware of injuries in infancy that might induce permanent morbid effects, but he needed Adler's reminder that defects and weaknesses were often a stimulus to compensatory efforts that more than made good the loss. And the possibility that blessings, reversing traumas, might leave a permanently benign imprint on the personality seems never to have occurred to Freud, though even passing expressions of interest, love, loyalty, and praise (as in Emerson's first talk with Thoreau) may actually keep on reverberating through a lifetime.
Jung remained more amenable to such integrating experiences, especially whenever he found them confirmed by appropriate "archetypal" dreams. Unlike Freud, he did not look upon primitive rites and customs as absurd misinterpretations of natural events, nor did he despise religion as a childish illusion. What both men did was to open the passage for two-way traffic between the inner and the outer world. That all by itself was a lasting contribution. But they necessarily left to others the task of replenishing and fortifying the inner life. Neither stressed sufficiently that the fuller understanding of the dynamic potentialities of the unconscious would bring with it a demand for a firmer discipline and a more sedulous conscious direction, though Freud, in an early paper on psychotherapy, pointed this out when he observed that "it is only by the application of our highest mental functions, which are bound up with consciousness, that we can control all our impulses."
Our generation, far from accepting this challenge, has acted on the contrary principle; the more rational minds have utilized their intellectual functions to further the automatisms of the Space Age, while those who reject the kind of half-life world that is left have unconscious, returning to a level lower than that of any primitive tribe -- the frustrating, inarticulate, demon-haunted inner state that may well have existed before graphic symbols or words had yet been formed. When Jung directed his patients to their traditional religions in an effort to apply discipline and order to the outpourings of the unconscious, he at least built on a solid historical foundation, though one now badly dilapidated. But only those who are still firmly attached to traditional values and historic continuities can guess what sort of effort is actually needed to transcend the limitations of both worlds in their present extreme forms.
Once we read the lessons of Jung's life and teaching correctly, we shall perhaps understand why the advances of science and technics have cheated us of their original promise, for they have led to the increase of predictable, mechanically perfect order, automatically spreading over and dominating -- for a price -- every aspect of our existence. Not only that, but they have brought on devastating eruptions of the unconscious, along with wholesale collective regressions into more infantile modes of life. The more objective and efficient the control on one side, the greater the subjective disruption on the other. The demons that seventeenth-century science promised to exorcise have returned even in exact science, all the more dangerous because they are concealed under the sterile garments and surgeon's mask of science itself. In any detached appraisal, the rocket with which we propose to shoot a man to the moon has the same degree of rational utility -- or, rather, irrational futility -- as the Great Pyramid, an equally superb technical achievement, by which an Egyptian Pharaoh proposed to secure his passage to heaven. As for the current dreams of "human improvement" prompted in biological circles by suspiciously hypermanic excitement over DNA, who but a Nobel Prize winner would now be so innocent as to trust a Nobel Prize winner with their execution? The very readiness to spring such proposals at the first hint of the possibility of direct genetic control over human breeding indicates severe psychological disqualifications -- including a crass lack of historical awareness and objective self-knowledge.
Our Victorian ancestors overlooked the possibility that their lopsided technological rationalism would produce an increasingly purposeless and irrational world, to which only machines, with no internally transmitted history and no spontaneous inner promptings, could be permanently adjusted. Today, to counterbalance this unilateral commitment, a correspondingly savage rebellion has taken place in the unconscious. From the normally creative minds of poets and artists has come an explosion of anti-life in images that correspond to the outbursts of delinquency and criminality that haunt our daily affairs and that, collectively, actually threaten the existence of mankind.
By a total inversion of human values, the favored leaders and mentors of our age prefer disease to health, destruction to creativity, pornography to potent sexual experience, debasement to development. It is not by accident that the French writer Jean Genet, who has lately been hailed by a shallow but popular Existentialist philosopher as the saint of our time, is a hardened criminal who establishes his claim to our pious appreciation by publishing the memories and fantasies of homosexual experiences with which he accompanied his solitary exercises in masturbation. Jung's youthful God, who defecated on his own altar, is now worshipped by all those who equate the creative act solely with defecation. This obvious infantilism may be the ultimate revenge of the unconscious upon an increasingly overorganized and overmechanized existence in which there is no way of consciously intervening in the automatic processes or expressing human intentions except by disgusting acts of defilement and by rabid destruction.
The first effect of the discovery of the role of the unconscious was to release the demons -- and even to give them temporary authority -- but Jung's mature reflections point to something of greater importance. He believed that the unconscious is not merely the hiding place of the demons but the province of angels and ministers of grace, which he called the "archetypes." These last are symbols of all the inner forces that work toward unity, health, fullness of life, and purposeful conscious development. But while the destructive impulses can act promptly and undo in a few seconds what it has taken a lifetime to put together, the superior functions of the mind require continuous, delicate care, for they draw upon the deepest layers of human experience, and they develop fully only when there is free and easy intercourse between the conscious and the unconscious, between the values, meanings, purposes derived from man's infinitely varied past and the new potentialities that the conscious mind continually brings into existence. No system of education that rests mainly, as ours incresingly does, on one-generation knowledge can replace that experience, even if it is the product, as ours is, of a vaster assemblage of scientists than, all told, existed before from the beginning of time.
Our age has been creating a system of intellectual and practical organization that favors mechanical automatism and abolishes human autonomy. But if we read further in the story that Freud and Jung were the first to unfold, we shall perhaps be ready to question many of the demoralizing "advances" we now meekly take to be unchallengeable. Too much of our labor-saving now turns out to be life-eliminating. If we feed our essential organic and human activities into the machine, what meaning or value will remain in the residue? Many of us are proud of our having devised a computer that can play chess with a man, but what will become of our pride when computers deign to play only with computers? Will psychiatric care restore our mental balance if the "point of support in 'this world,'" of which Jung speaks, that sustained both him and Freud disintegrates any further or disappears? Will any quantity of tranquillizers, sedatives, and aphrodisiacs make up for the demoralizing absence of meaningful, life-sustaining daily activities? "Our cult of progress," Jung remarks, "is in danger of imposing on us even more childish dreams of the future, the harder it presses us to escape from the past." In that sense, the reputed "avant-garde" in science, art, and technics turns out to be the rear guard -- so many defeated and bewildered stragglers concealing their pathetic rout by counting every loss a victory. What a great number of our contemporaries still mistake for unconditionally desirable advances in modern civilization looks like an excellent prescription for sending mankind to the loony bin.