Peter Kingsley’s CATAFALQUE (5): Prophet and Scholar

It is difficult to get an idea of the text’s content and style, the reviews I have seen do not quote much, and are mainly dithyrambic, praising both Kingsley’s authenticity and his scholarship.

To get an idea of his prose, you can hear a sample chapter being read here.

This is a great reading of a powerful text. However, I am ambivalent about Kingsley’s approach. There is too much certitude in his manner. As stated in a previous post, Jung affirmed in his last interview that the major difference between his own approach and Freud’s was that when Freud thought he « knew » something he was certain of it, whereas Jung felt he was always full of doubts.

In other words, in relation to psychic experience, Freud was a metaphysician and Jung was a phenomenologist. Kingsley rightly critiques the widespread adulteration of Jung’s testimony of psychic reality to make it fit into secular consensus « reality ».

However, rather than sticking to the phenomena Kingsley re-metaphysicises experience and talks about attaining « absolute » reality.

In short, I am enchanted by Kingsley’s narrative, I share his critique of the domestication of Jung’s message, I am inspired by his experience, but I reject his certainty.

Kingsley is an uneasy hybrid between Prophet and Scholar, and the one fecundates the other and vice versa, but sometimes they sterilise each other. The second volume is 350 pages long, and is composed exclusively of footnotes. This demonstrates an impressive amount of scholarly work, but sometimes the prophet superposes himself on the scholar and scorn replaces justice (cf. Kingsley’s disparaging remarks on Hillman, Nietzsche, Edinger, etc.).

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