Saturday, January 9, 2010

Tongue tied by Jung

“I should advise you to put it all down as beautifully as you can — in some beautifully bound book,” Jung instructed. “It will seem as if you were making the visions banal — but then you need to do that — then you are freed from the power of them. . . . Then when these things are in some precious book you can go to the book & turn over the pages & ... See Morefor you it will be your church — your cathedral — the silent places of your spirit where you will find renewal. If anyone tells you that it is morbid or neurotic and you listen to them — then you will lose your soul — for in that book is your soul.” C.G. Jung

I went to the Jung exhibit last night, at the Rubin Museum of Art. The Red Book of C.G. Jung: Creation of a New Cosmology.

The Red Book has got to be one of the greatest art books of all time. Since, however, I'm out of my depth in praising C.G. Jung or art books--so much is being written now--I'll do what I do best: react and remember.

The remember goes back to my early twenties when I lived with my sister's family. I had a little room (at the top of the stairs) and, looking back, was absolutely unconscious and absolutely conscious of my lack of consciousness. Mandalas were happening back then, we were interested in Jung, though I think some of my friends read more of him than I did. I liked to draw mandalas, however. I wanted to be closer to the meaning, the essence, the godhead, the cosmological bouquet.

My little nephew asked me what I was doing. I'd set up a card table with a stack of paper and fine German marking pens which had learned from the rainbow. "Drawing," I told him. A meaningless comment. He was around six and I didn't know how to go into my concept of the center, my desire to leave earth yet stay. . .or marijuana.

Memories, Dreams, Reflections, Jung's reflection and exploration, was one of the books we all read, as we all read Siddhartha and Be Here Now. I say "exploration" because it is hard to imagine, especially having seen this exhibit, Jung devoting his time to anything that didn't further his compassion for his full being. So "autobiography" doesn't fit the bill. I see now that his was the truest (as compared to analytical chat) way to understanding. I saw his split and reconciliation as mirroring mine.

I feel that split or a split or division or alienation, not from myself or from a God (which may be arrogant for me to say, but there you have it). I am alienated from younger generations, from so much of New York commercial culture, from most jobs I've had and most co-workers. I'm not alienated from poets and artists--then the relationship is the usual we agree/we don't agree; this one's a sweetie or genius/that one's a jerk. The sang froid necessary to thriving in a market place culture is utterly alien to me.

Since I am meant to thrive. Since I shouldn't be so distant from so much. I deduce this "split" in my exists and that Jung would have agreed. The value of aging is that I love more and more of my various parts. Accept even the angriest and ugliest. It's not that I'm unhappy. It's that I'm incomplete. That my ocean doesn't quite meet my shore.

Jung had a way into his lack of completion. His distance from our spiritual nature. Since he had a robust family life I assume he was connected to the part of us existing out in the world. "The world." I say that a lot, as if I lived on a satellite and flew the occasional mission to, and from, life.

A talkative docent who is also a shrink was guiding two of his friends through the exhibit. He was orienting the work to Jung's life and European history. I asked if I could listen in and he welcomed me. We talked about symmetry and perfection, water, Christianity, Dachau. I like to talk. I need to draw. Above all, I need to keep writing. I worry I am so preoccupied with "getting well" and smoothing out parts of myself that impair functionality that it leaks into my work and weakens any chance for universality (something I want). I received an email remanding me to spend time with more "elevating matters."

I would say I wish I could be different than I am but that would negate Sarah Sarai. What struck about Jung's work, or what I am mentioning here (the art reminds me of Henry Darger, the brilliant "outsider") is that he used it as a way inside. I want that for myself.


  1. Thanks for sharing this. I just got The Red Book but am almost afraid to open it - like I need to ready myself for the journey - not just through the book, but further into myself.

  2. Tell me how it goes. By the way, I was told the very last few words are mis-translated. That last word means possibility or something like that. Beats me. THANKS for reading this. I worry I shouldn't show how on the edge I am (or feel) some days. Who the heck knows.