THE JUNGIAN TURN: individuation and sublimation, multiplicity and becomings

The Jungian turn is the turn towards a pluralist and diachronic model of subjectivity. It implies the abandon, pure and simple, of the Freudian/Lacanian tradition. This is clearly the turn that Deleuze and Guattari begin to take in ANTI-OEDIPUS, and that we can see in, a nearly pure form in Deleuze’s cinema books, where psychoanalysis is just ignored, no longer needing even a refutation.

Christian Fauré has published a very interesting un article on the difference between synchronic politics and diachronic politics. I agree with him as to the existence of a hegemony of the synchronic, not only in politics but in almost all domains, and of the need to reinforce diachronic tendencies. However, one must avoid exaggerating the difference into an exclusive opposition, but treat it rather as a preliminary distinction on the way to a new composition. I am in agreement with Christian about the need to develop the type of  diachronic thought which nevertheless contains a healthy dose of synchrony, to prevent it from falling stupidly into chaos.

To show that this distinction concerns much more than the political domain, Christian cites the domains  of attention (distributed attention distribuée vs deep attention)  and of linguistics, as well as psychanalysis. Here I am not totally in agreement with him, as he states that Freud invented the diachronism of the unconscious. It seems to me that Freud tried to synchronise both theoretically, with the topics, and practically, with set-up of the analytic session, an unconscious that others, notably Nietzsche, had begun to diachronise (this is the thesis of Deleuze and Guattari, and also of Michel Onfray). I would argue rather that it is Jung who diachronises the unconscious. Admittedly, he synchronises the psyche again with  the notion of the collective unconscious (which has nevertheless the merit of pluralising the unconscious), but this is in effect subordinated to the diachronic process of individuation (as is shown in his autobiography, MEMORIES,DREAMS, AND REFLECTIONS, and even more clearly in THE RED BOOK, the account of his schizophrenic voyage through the greater than personal unconscious after his rupture with Freud). One can recall the passage in A THOUSAND PLATEAUS where Deleuze and Guattari defend the Jungian conception multiplicities against the monist and reductionist vision propounded by Freud.

Of course the archetypes are on the synchronic side, but they have the advantage of pluralising the unconscious (and thus of relativising the Freudian Oedipus). The diachronic side is that of individuation, and also that of the alchemical model of the sublimation of the primal matter..One knows the importance of alchemy for Artaud, and I think that the presence  of Artaud as conceptual persona in the work of Deleuze and Guattari is an indicator of their proximity to alchemical (and no longer analytic) psychology of Jung.
My sentiment concerning the archetypes is that they are synchronic at the beginning of Jung’s work (for example, in SYMBOLS OF TRANSFORMATION, where his model is still mythological) , and that they are diachronised after his confrontation with the unconscious. The anamnesis  in both cases goes back to the more-than personal dimension of the psyche, ie it is both individual and transindividual. But after his controlled psychosis, Jung accentuated the importance of the personal myth, of individuation, and of active imagination. His model was alchemical and no longer only mythological. Evidently the synchronic aspect continued up to the end, but Jung emphasised that his autobiography and THE RED BOOK were the true keys to his work, so he gave primacy to the diachronic.
I think that all this is in agreement with what Deleuze and Guattari affirm in  ANTI-OEDIPUS : Freud unleashed processes of the unconscious, but he repressed their pluralist (multiplicities) and radically diachronic (becomings) dimensions.

I first read Jung in the early 70s, and I didn’t like him for precisely the reasons given by Christian: the biologism, the universality and the perennity of the archetypes, an appearance of « spiritual » irrationalism. It is only after discovering the work of James Hillman (a post-jungian who articulates a “pluralism of the psyche”), towards the end of the 70s, and after a rereading of Jung’s works in the light of Hillman’s most radical texts that I began to see the theoretical utility of Jung. Hillman tells us that any image can be an archetype if we approach it outside ideological fixations, as bearer of depth and intensity, free to resonate on all levels of meaning. Hillman drops all the scientistic rubbish of innate, biological, universal structures, that many (including most “Jungians”) associate with the name of Jung. I think that what Hillman did with Jung is comparable to what Lacan and later Deleuze and Guattari did with Freud, only more far-reaching.

What I like about both Jung and Hillman is their treatment of the multiplicity of voices and images that compose us and traverse us. Psychological faith is ambiguous for me, either a pious conviction that all will be well or a more open confidence that movement and change are possible and that we can take care of things to at least give more chance to the positive processes and becomings. I think Jung’s ideas of the polytheism of the psyche, of individuation and of (alchemical) sublimation are still useful, as is the concept of  “synchronicity” if you think it outside of Providence or any other onto-theological framework.

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