In this part of the discussion, Michael Aaron Kamins (MAK) and myself (TB) talked about Peter Kingsley’s recent book CATAFALQUE: CARL JUNG AND THE END OF HUMANITY.

MAK: I really wanted you to just give a quick critique of Peter Kingsley’s CATAFALQUE, and because it seems like it’s a book that’s made a lot of waves and is popular especially among people who have actually never read Jung or any of the classical Jungians, and then the book sets itself up as if this is the real Jung that you’re getting from Kingsley, and it’s preposterous in my opinion as someone who’s been reading Jung my whole life and I’m just not seeing what his point is really and you had some good writings on that. Do you think you could summarize some of that briefly?

TB: In a sense I would apply James Hillman, who Kingsley disses from the very beginning of CATAFALQUE, and Wolfgang Giegerich to help sum up Kingsley’s argument. So I would say that lots of what he says in criticizing the orthodox Jungians is exactly what Hillman and Giegerich say.

In THE SOUL’S LOGICAL LIFE Giegerich goes through the idea that we have to find the concepts that are implicit in Jung, he goes through some of the different orientations that you can find in Jung’s works including MEMORIES, DREAMS, AND REFLECTIONS, and then he goes through the errors of the Orthodox Jungians, and he gives lots of the same criticisms that Kingsley does, and he even refers to some of the same chapters or quotations that Kingsley uses to what he thinks is great effect.

MAK: Which is wild because all Kingsley does is rip on his predecessors in a really uncharitable way as though there was no one other than him that understood Jung.

TB: This is because of his supposedly amazing experience with the « goddess ». Maybe he had some amazing experience, maybe he did go and “incubate” a Vision somewhere.

I watched a couple of films of Kingsley’s, I bought a couple of these films because to get to listen to him talk you have to pay. There is a film where he talks about a dream where he is on a mountain and he had started doing a Jungian analysis.

In this dream he was on a mountain with all sorts of strange complicated hieroglyphics, and there were people all over the mountain working on it, doing meticulous research, going higher and higher, and the analyst supposedly told him:

get down off that mountain, come down to the ground, ground yourself, you’re not supposed to be on that mountain you’re a human being who walks on the earth or something like that, and that sort of broke his energy. Later he talked with some Jungian who is very well known, Robert Johnson, who’s written several books on the Jungian experience, who met Jung after he had a similar sort of dream, and Jung validated it and told him to avoid the orthodox Jungians and to go on working on his individuation alone.

MAK: Wolfgang Pauli had a dream like that – that Jung interprets in PSYCHOLOGY AND ALCHEMY. Pauli had the dream about the Rainbow Bridge, and Jung suggested he had to walk under the bridge, because only the gods can walk on rainbows.

TB: I think that’s a bad side of Jung. It depends, who knows?

MAK: It’s comparable though the way I get it, it’s comparable to what you’re saying about whether you have to get off the mountain.

TB: Yes, it’s comparable. You have to decide in each context – is it a neurosis? is the dreamer fleeing from life? or is it some amazing spark of creativity? If you think it’s a neurosis you bring them down, and if you think that there’s something creative going on there, you encourage them to keep on the mountain, or to walk on the bridge.

MAK: So what did he have? do you think that Kingsley was being encouraged to come down from the Mountain, the Rainbow, the Rainbow-Mountain?

TB: If you want to be really nasty maybe he should have come down. Come down from his high horse, or his High Mountain. Nobody likes that.

I remember the analyst who was the head of the French New Alchemists, Etienne Perrot, an alchemical Jungian analyst in France. In one of his books, he at least had some power of self-criticism, he recounts an experience of the same sort. He had a patient who had a dream similar to Kingsley’s Mountain Dream and Pauli’s Rainbow Bridge Dream.

He doesn’t say what the dream is, but he brought the dreamer down to earth and that night Perrot dreamt that he saw this guy playing in an incredibly beautiful symphony and the music was just so incredibly creative and beautiful, and so the next time he saw him he apologized for his interpretation and said that’s the way you must go on.

So you never know, and you can become over-systematically deflationist, even where it’s not right.

MAK: It’s quite different from Hillman’s approach with dreams. Hillman is just letting the image be a living thing like an animal.

TB: Yes, so Hillman would never say come down to earth off the mountain and I don’t think Giegerich would either. Giegerich would say to Kingsley: at last you’re getting up to the level of the concept that’s the way to go.

So Kingsley’s complaint about Jungian analysis is justified but it’s also a case of selection bias. He’s taking bad, or not on the ball, analysts and he’s generalizing that. He thinks he’s the only one who’s seen through that.

MAK: He’s doing it to always make himself seem like he’s somehow superior. It’s very strange, there’s something there that I just found it was really difficult slogging through his book it just seemed like it’s all about how there’s only a few people that have really kept this tradition of wisdom alive, going back to Empedocles and Parmenides, and it’s Jung and Kingsley that are the only ones that really know the truth of what the ancient Greeks knew. That’s almost literally what he’s saying.

TB: He doesn’t talk about Heraclitus…

MAK: Very important point, he doesn’t talk about Heraclitus.

TB: …because it’s too flowing, too fluctuating, too liquid for him.

MAK: Yes right.

TP: and I don’t know, you’ve read more Giegerich than me, but I would have thought that Giegerich would like Anaxagoras because he put Nous or mind as the supreme principle, which makes one think of some forms of Zen Buddhism.

Giegerich would determine everything that CATAFALQUE takes literally, including Jung’s dream about the end of Humanity, Giegerich would take that as metaphorical of passing to the level of the spirit and the concept. Because there are no prophets for Giegerich. Maybe Giegerich is going too far on that point, who knows? But Kingsley is certainly not a prophet and Jung was not a prophet either.

MAK: Yes, but you get the impression from Kingsley, though, that Jung should be seen as a prophet, that’s how I read him.

TB: That’s why he can’t take Jung metaphorically, he’s too portentous. So when he talks about Jung’s final dreams, that’s an attempt to make what he says seem really important and incredibly intense, because it’s about Jung’s final dreams.

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Un commentaire pour POSTSCRIPT ON CATAFALQUE – text

  1. dmf dit :

    Cliquer pour accéder à Saban%27s%20Alternative.n.pdf

    « For the modern mind, dogmas, qua dogmas, are a red rag to a bull, because the modern mind wants to be autonomous and insists on accepting only what it finds credible on the basis of its own judgment. Jung did not establish a dogma. He had, on the contrary, reproached Freud for having made, as Jung saw it, a dogma out of his sexual theory. And with all his innovations, Hillman did not want to simply replace Jung’s psychology, providing an alternative, an external other, for it. He wanted to re-vision it, re-vision it from within itself. The “re-” shows that he wanted to rework the same. A kind of alchemical further refining and deepening of the same prime matter. Similarly, I did not want to externally substitute my scheme of things as an other for that of Hillman’s archetypal psychology. I offered to archetypal psychology much rather a way of how to critically re-think itself. The same, not an other. « 

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